Review: Brix Chocolate

During one of our visits to World Market, Scott pointed out this Brix chocolate to me and said I should try some.

I read the description and saw that it was chocolate developed to pair specifically with wine.  Since I like dark chocolate with red wine, this was a no-brainer purchase for me.  In the cart it went and I haven’t looked back.

This chocolate is very smooth and melts on your tongue quickly.  Velvety chocolate nibbles for a post dinner treat.

I normally stick with their darkest variety but for Christmas, Scott got me a sampler pack.  It contained four little bricks of all of their chocolates.

The chocolate is presented in brick form with the idea that you break off a piece to nibble as you like.  Much like how a cheese plate is presented for wine tastings.

With each chocolate there are wine note pairings and suggestions.  After trying all of the chocolate I have to say that each flavor goes with most wines.

The milk chocolate, which I’m usually not a fan of, was amazing.  Creamy without being overly sweet and obnoxious.  We had that with prosecco which paired perfectly.

I almost always have this chocolate on hand now.  So very yummy! And perfect for when you just want a little bite of something.

If you like having a little dessert with your wine or if you’re hosting a wine tasting and are looking for a little something different to put out, I highly suggest trying this chocolate.

Disclaimer: This chocolate was bought by us. My review is my own.

Keep It Simple

For Christmas 2011, one of the gifts that Scott gave me was a large cast iron skillet. I’ve talked about my love for cast iron before and I was not so subtly hinting that I would really enjoy a larger skillet.

I have a 9in cast iron skillet which is perfect for some things but not perfect for everything.  A larger one would allow me a little more variety of uses.

Oh Christmas my wish came true and I was gifted with a 12 inch cast iron skillet.  I even got a little handle holder and trivet for it as well!

Every year for Christmas Dinner, Scott and I enjoy a standing rib roast.  It’s our once a year splurge and so worth every penny!

This year, I put my brand new cast iron skillet to work right away by using it for Christmas Dinner.  It worked out perfectly!

It wasn’t long before I used it again to roast some veggies.  Scott was having leftovers and I was in the mood for some veggie action.  I chopped up some:

  • Red Onion
  • Green Pepper
  • Blue Potatos
  • Yellow Squash
  • Carrots
  • Sundried Tomatoes, reconstituted in hot water water

Tossed that with olive oil and seasoned with:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Red Pepper Flakes

Roasted at 400 for about half an hour, until the potatoes were tender.  Once the veggies were done, I pulled the pan out of the oven and splashed on a bit of red wine for “sauce”.

Placed the veggies on some cooked barley, topped with shredded parm and dinner was served!

Very easy to put together and super filling!

Dinner and meals don’t always have to be a complicated affair.  A few simple ingredients can go a long way to creating something filling and comforting. Keep it simple!

Camelot Cellars Cranberry Dinner

This past Monday evening I had the pleasure of dining at Camelot Cellars. Camelot paired up with local caterer, Laura’s Catering, to create a dinner around the cranberry.

Cranberries are one of the staples of fall and winter dining.  Typically we see the cranberry turned into a sauce and drizzled on top of turkey or perhaps on a dessert.

This dinner featured cranberries at each course and it was an interesting twist to the winter classic.

Each course of the meal was paired with a wine from Camelot. The wines accentuating the tartness and sweetness of the cranberry.

Janine, the owner of Camelot, created the dinners because she wanted to provide another way for patrons to get to know each other and the winery a little bit better.

We started off with a creamy cranberry soup, which I unfortunately do not have a picture of.  My camera did not want to focus on the soup properly leaving me with very blurry pictures.  It was a lovely deep pink soup that was smooth with hints of cream and garlic in the background.

The soup was paired with Camelot’s Symphony wine.  A white wine made from the Symphony grape which was a grape created specifically to make wine (at least this was my understanding! I hope I got that right, Rick!).  The wine went well with the soup helping to tone down the sharpness of the cranberry.

The second course was a light mixed green salad with dried cranberries, toasted sliced almonds, and crumbled blue cheese all topped with a balsamic dressing.  I’m not sure if the dressing was made with cranberries or not but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a touch in there.

The salad was light and refreshing after the rich soup.  This dish was paired with Camelot’s Vieux Chateau du Roi, described as a French Burgundy style wine.  It was a light red that kept the freshness of the salad alive.

The main course was a ravioli filled with dried cranberries and ricotta cheese.  It was drizzled with a garlic cream sauce and sprinkled with orange zest and chopped basil.  The orange was a strong flavor of this dish and it complimented the cranberries very well.  My favorite part of this dish was actually the sauce.  It was light and creamy, which is exactly what you hope for when eating a cream based pasta sauce.

The wine for this dish was Camelot’s South African Pinotage.  This was a light red that also had a bit of a smokey nose to it.  This was my favorite wine of the evening.  So much that I bought a bottle of it! Such a great red and the flavors are complex enough that you can pair it with appetizers or it can stand up to a heavier dish, like a roast.

Dessert was a cranberry and apple crumble/cobbler combo.  It had aspects of both.  The crust and the topping were my favorite.  Very buttery and flaky. Perfect way to end a meal! Camelot paired one of their ports with this dish.  By the end of the evening the port was a little too much for me to handle and I couldn’t finish my pour! But it was tasty and a nice end of the evening drink.


The second picture of these is my favorite. I liked the way the lighting and the color came out.

There was much chit-chatting and talk around the table.  Camelot hosts these dinners at their long Tuscan table which seats 12 people comfortably.

The centerpieces were done by a local florist and they smelled amazing.  Fresh flowers at dinner were a lovely surprise and much welcome after all the gloom and rain we’ve been having.

This was the second themed dinner that Camelot has hosted.  In November they hosted a pumpkin dinner which was so popular that they did it twice!

They are hoping to have more dinners again starting in the spring of 2012.

To stay updated on Camelot and all their events (like their masquerade ball!) please connect with them!

Twitter: @CamelotWines

Facebook: Camelot Cellars Winery 

Website: Camelot Cellars

You can sign up for their newsletter via their website.

Janine has some great events coming up in the new year so make sure that you stay connected with Camelot.  Thanks to Janine for hosting a great dinner! It’s always a good time when you get a chance to sip some wine at Camelot!

Wine Tasting At Camelot Cellars

You should know by now how much I love Camelot Cellars which is a wine bar/boutique located in the Short North area of Columbus. In case you don’t know, you can read more about Camelot and how to use some of their wine.

It’s a great place to go for a relaxing evening or afternoon of sipping wine.  Plus with the remodel (which I’ll be talking about in another post!), there’s more comfortable seating along with free wifi access.

Business meetings can be a lot more fun and have a higher attendance rate if you meet some place casual.

Scott and I recently purchased a Groupon for a wine tasting for two and took advantage of that one evening.

The wine tasting is a very intimate and detailed experience. If you want to learn more about wines and how they are made, Camelot has exactly what you’re looking for.

You sample six wines, providing you with a taste of different styles of wines.

The wines picked for the tasting rotate so it is not the same thing all the time. This not only encourages the ability to have repeat visits but also means you’ll have opportunities to learn even more about wine.

With each sample of wine you get a full description plus a detailed outline of how that style of wine is made.  You also get to learn where that style originated from and how what you are drinking might be a tad different from what you’ve had in the past.

By sampling wines, you gain experience and a chance to expand your palate.

It’s also a very relaxing setting! There’s no rush to sample wines, you can take as long as you like and ask as many questions as you like.  The staff at Camelot are extremely knowledgeable and will help you with anything that you need.

One of Camelot’s main goals is to help you learn about wine and help you discover new wines along the way.

All the wines at Camelot are made in house and several of them are award winning wines. Stop in to have a glass or call up Rick to set up a tasting.  You won’t be disappointed!  When you stop in, tell them I said Hi!

Camelot Cellars
958 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43201
t: @CamelotWines f: Camelot Wines

Ohio Summer Spritzer

Yesterday evening, Camelot Winery unveiled it’s new look with a Grand Re-Opening event.  I was lucky enough to get invited not only to the event but to also provide some appetizers as well.

The inside looks completely different and definitely has a more welcome and cozy feel to it now.  You can expect a full post on what’s new soon!  The event was a huge success and many people arrived ready to check out the new look and to sip on some wine.  Luckily I was able to make my way around the place a few times and got a chance to chat with friends and introduce myself to new people.

For the appetizers I made mini cheddar corn fritters using Ohio Sweet corn.  I made 240 little fritters with the expectation that most people would take two.  I don’t know about everyone else but Scott and I definitely had more than two!

To help celebrate the new ownership and new look of Camelot, I put together a summer inspired drink featuring one of their wines.

Andrea’s Ohio Summer Spritzer

  • 1 Bottle of Camelot’s Sonoma Dry Creek Chardonnay
  • 3 Peaches, sliced
  • 1/2C Fresh Raspberries
  • 1/2C Fresh Blueberries
  • 1 Liter of Seltzer, refrigerated

In a large pitcher, add fruit and then pour wine over top.  Let chill in fridge for at least six hours before serving.  Gently stir occasionally as the the wine and fruit mingle in the fridge.

When ready to serve, add in the seltzer and gently mix.  Serve and garnish with fruit from the pitcher.

To help keep the drinks cool, freeze some of the blueberries and raspberries.  Add them to the drink when serving, they are decorative and will help keep the drink on the cool and crisp side.

Camelot Cellars

My friend Janine recently bought and took over Camelot Cellars earlier this year.  Having a friend who owns a wine shop is a beautiful thing, in case you were wondering.

Camelot Cellars is a boutique winery located in the Short North district of downtown Columbus. Camelot is a winery in that they create and bottle their own wines.  However they do not have a vineyard in Ohio.  They buy juices from all over the world and then create the wine in-house from those juices.

This means that when you buy an Italian Pinot Grigio (which happens to be my favorite white), you are getting exactly that.  A lovely wine that was created from juice directly from Italy.

Calling Camelot a boutique winery is accurate because it is way more than a place that sells wines.  It has so much to offer its customers.

You can go to Camelot for a relaxing moment and enjoy a glass of wine or two.  You can try flights of wine.  You can schedule to have your very own tasting. Either as lovely intimate date or with a group of friends. You can have small business meetings at Camelot and discuss financials over a burgundy.

Camelot also provides free wifi to it’s customers!

You can meet a group of friends for drinks and to catch up.

Camelot has a lot of award winning wines that you will be able to taste and try out. Brendan or Rick will be there to take care of you and if you tell them I sent you, you might get an extra little splash in your glass.**

**Probably not, but at least you’ll get a smile and a nod confirming that yes, they know that goofy lady.

You can even take it one step further and create your own wines.

Oh yes friends, you can custom blend your own wines. This is one of the many upsides to Camelot producing and bottling their own wines.  It allows customers the freedom to try their hand at blending wines as well.

If you don’t want to blend a wine, you also have the option of creating custom wine labels for a party or event that you’re having.  Camelot can also be rented for wine parties which is great for maybe fundraising efforts or a great way to spend a birthday or bachelorette party.  You can have a wine party for any reason!  You’ll pick out a wine and then you can customize a label.  Camelot has a few examples at their shop and someone will be there to help you along in creating and then labeling your wine.

Now that you know a little of what Camelot is about, I have to tell you that Camelot will be changing! Not the concept, just the interior. Don’t worry! Janine has big plans for the inside and it’s getting completely made over.  The bar will be bigger and there will be lots of comfy chairs and little intimate nooks and crannies so that customers can go in and feel cozy as they have their wines.

I’m lucky because Janine wants the process documented and I get to do just that!  Whooo! So look for more pictures later this month as we sneak in and take some pictures of the demo and remodeling process.  I have lots of before pics (these are just a few) so I should be able to do some side-by-side comparisons.

The huge Grand RE-Opening of Camelot Cellars will be on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 from 6pm-9pm.  There will also be valet parking as well, so no worries about where you’ll park downtown!  Yours truly will be there and I’ll be providing some healthy and fun hors d’oeuvres.  Come chat with me, meet Janine, and check out Camelot Cellars!

Camelot Cellars
958 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43201

Call or stop in and speak with Janine or Rick who will help you out with any questions you have.  They will still be open during renovations and you will be able to try some wines or set up an event.

Beef Stew

I have fond memories of some foods growing up and some not so fond memories.  Beef stew wasn’t one of those things that I looked forward to when my mom made it, sorry mom!

I always thought of beef stew as a hearty dish with lots of veggies, tender beef, and most of all a super thick gravy.  When I moved out, this is what I always strived for when making beef stew.  It took me a few years, some experiments, but I finally came up with a great beef stew that simmers away in the crockpot filling the house with enticing smells and the comfort of coziness.

I will forewarn you that while this does cook in a crockpot it does take some effort to get it there.  You have to be willing to work and love it a bit before allowing it to go off on it’s own and do it’s thing.

If you do that, then you’ll get a great bowl of stew at the end of the day!

Andrea’s Beef Stew

  • 2lbs Beef Stew Meat, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 4 Large Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2C Frozen Peas
  • 2C Frozen Corn
  • 1/2C Green Lentils, uncooked
  • 2C Frozen Green Beans
  • 5-6 Potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2TBSP Unbleached All-Purpose Flour plus 4TBSP, Heaping
  • 1 Quart of Beef Stock
  • 1C Dry Red Wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3tsp Garlic Powder, plus additional
  • 1tsp Ground Sage, plus additional
  • 2TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • Olive Oil for cooking

Set your crockpot to low and add in the potatoes, peas, corn, lentils, and green beans.  Once the stew meat is cut into bite sized pieces, place in a storage bag (or glass bowl) and sprinkle with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Not much, just a touch.  Then add in 2TBSP of flour.  Shake until all the pieces are coated.  In a medium sized sautee pan, heat olive oil, about 1TBSP over medium heat.  Add in a few pieces of stew meat, do not crowd the pan.  This may take two or three batches to get all the stew meat seared.  Sear meat on each side for about a minute then remove from pan and place in a bowl.  Repeat until all stew meat is seared.  You aren’t cooking the meat here but just giving it a nice little crust on the outside.  Add the stew meat to the crockpot.

Add in the onions and carrot to the hot sautee pan.  If you need to add in more oil, do so but not too much.  Sautee and add in the seasonings, including the Worcestershire sauce.  Cook just until you can smell the onions and they just start to soften. Add in the 4 TBSP of flour, stirring until the veggies are coated.  Cook for another minute or two.  Add in the red wine and half of the beef stock.  Cook until the mixture thickens and starts to simmer.  Remove from heat and pour mixture into the crockpot.

Stir all ingredients together, place lid on the crockpot and cook for at least 6 hours.

Stir, taste to see if more seasoning needs added, then spoon into bowls and serve hot.

So while it does take some prep work, I promise you that by the end of the day when you’re tired and dinner is ready, you’ll be thankful you took that time.  Everything is tender and the red wine adds some depth to the dish that you won’t get just from using stock.

You might think sage is an odd herb to use but I really love it paired with earthy dishes.  Beef is deep in flavor and full of earthy tones. Sage goes great with that and the red wine makes everything stand out.

You’ll want to use a red wine that you would drink and you want it to be a spicy dark one, like a merlot or cab.

Of course if you don’t drink wine, or don’t have any on hand just use more stock. If you can though, I highly encourage you to use the wine.

This is definitely considered one of my “Go Big or Go Home” dishes because this makes a lot.  Always perfect for leftovers and always perfect for freezing and using later.

Make sure to have some bread on hand for dipping and helping to get the last bits out of the bowl!

Winter comfort food at it’s best!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!

Holiday Party Foods 2010 Edition

Tis the season! Now is the time when everyone is out and attending holiday parties left and right.  Heck perhaps you are even hosting one!  If you need some ideas on what to make for your next gathering, OHC is here to help you out!

Just out of the oven

You can’t really go wrong with bacon and cheese right?  Bacon wrapped jalapenos are the answer! Very portable and can be made ahead of time.  Just heat right before serving!

Ham and Cheddar Potato Puff

Got leftover mashed potatoes?  Quick and easy potato puffs are great for appetizers! Even if you don’t have leftover mashed, use fresh!  These also can be made ahead of time and just need to be heated up before serving.

Pear and Brie Crostini

Maybe you’re going to a fancier party? Or maybe you just want to wow your friends? Pear and Brie Crostini is a great combo and a perfect way to put that cranberry sauce to use.  It looks gorgeous and tastes just as amazing.

Salsa is always a winner! And super easy to transport! Black bean and corn salsa will bring a fresh twist and taste to the party table.

Switch up pasta salad with some Orzo and Roasted tomato. Can be served warm or room temperature.  This also transports easily and can be made ahead of time!

These are just a few ideas for your next party or gathering but feel free to search OHC for even more ideas.

Happy Holidays from OHC!

Stretching The Drinks At Thanksgiving

If you are hosting and putting on Thanksgiving dinner, then you know that it can come with a hefty price-tag.  Whether you’re feeding two, 12, or 25, food costs money and so do the drinks that go along with it!

And even though everyone is hungry and ready to eat now, drinks tend to go the quickest.  Am I right?  Drinks are free flowing all day long, “because it’s a holiday!” and it’s easy to spend a lot of money just keeping everyone supplied.

If you are hosting, having guests chip in and bring a drink or five is a great way to keep your budget in check and also for others to show their gratification for your hospitality.

However drinks are still going to go quickly!  How can you make the drinks last longer?

By combining them with something else! Yes technically it’s a mixed drink of sorts but the kind that won’t kill your budget or have you wondering if you are going to run out of beverages.

White Wine can be combined with seltzer to make White Wine Fizzies.  These are highly popular here at the HQ.  Great for when you want a just a sip of wine but want a full glass of drink.  A splash of white wine (stick with the non-sweet varieties) in the glass, then top it off with some seltzer creates the fizzie.  Flavored seltzer works too!  Or you can add a twist of lime or orange to give it kick.  Frozen cranberries keep the drink cool and festive looking.  Seltzer is cheap, under a $1 for a liter.  Most all grocery stores carry them and even run deals on them.  If you prefer Club Soda, use that! A little bit more expensive then seltzer but it works just as well.

Red Wine can be combined with apple cider and warmed up on the stove or in a crock pot that has a warm setting.  Toss in some orange slices, maybe some cloves, and cinnamon sticks and you have a great drink.  If you think that might be overpowering for some guests leave out the spices.  Red wine and cider are perfect just on their own.

Okay, so you have some beer loving folks coming over.  If you get some of the higher-end cheaper beer (and this will probably be the only time you see me recommend cheap beer), you can mix a few bottles with limeade.  It has the flavors of a margarita but made with two very simple things.  A lime slice on the glass to garnish and you’ve got a tasty beverage.

If you have some hardcore fellas who won’t drink that, well then have them bring their own beer!

Stick to your budget this year and make those drinks work for you!  Stretch them out and everyone will be happy and you’ll be stress free!

Happy Thanksgiving from OHC!