For once, I had one of those glamourous, Twitter-worthy food weekends, and my Twitter access went down. So I saved it up:
Saturday morning: Swirling, smelling and spitting. With the every-other-year Charlotte Wine & Food Weekend coming up in April, the organizers held the first Charlotte Cru Wine Competition, a blind tasting of 28 or so wines that will be featured this year.
They lined up 50 judges, mostly members of the wine group Charlotte Cru but also a few media types and wine wholesalers, and put us to work. It really was work. To keep on schedule, we had about 1 minute per wine to judge them on visual, aroma, texture, taste, finish and overall impression. Working that fast, you're just going on first impressions, so you have to trust your instincts.
All flights were blind, meaning you're presented with four or five glasses in a category, say, "whites under $50" or "reds over $50," but nothing on what kind of wine it is. Pity -- as the wines flew by, I encountered the pinot noir of my dreams (and it was in the under-$50 category) and a few wines I wouldn't taste again on a bet.
Winners will be awarded medals, and are supposed to be available in local wine shops around festival time. For myself, I'll have to wait for the Vintner Tasting in April to see if I can identify that pinot.
Saturday night: Who says this girl is a food snob? For my birthday, the two handsome men in my life took me out to dinner. They offered up the name of a cutting-edge place we all like. But I said, "No boys, this is an occasion for the Beef & Bottle."
I'll admit it: I love the 'Bottle. I love the booths in the dark front room, the Frank-and-Dean atmosphere, the glass-enclosed bar that looks like a fish tank. I love the cheesy cheese spread with crackers, and the plate of chopped-up iceberg lettuce with a tray of vegetables for building your own salad. I love the groups who always seem to be having so much fun, like the three guys in bow-ties who walked in just ahead of us.
And I love their steaks, with that char-grilled taste. Simple steaks, simple sides, short wine-by-the-glass list. Yes, Charlotte has fancier places, but Beef & Bottle is purely what it is. And for my 51st birthday, I wanted to appreciate things that get older but stay just fine the way they are.
Sunday night: A perfect spread of dips for Super Bowl watching -- guacamole, pico de gallo, hot cheese dip with sausage. And a perfect game to go along with them.
Who Dat who loved that game? That would be me.