The Perfect Irish Coffee (Sunday)

I know, I know. I have not posted for a minute and if you could just believe me there are some pending drafts I just haven’t finished. I figured the best way to get me back into the writing on this blog habit would be with something that has literally become a tradition in this house. So, the back story bits.

This story began when my friend at Luscious Lushes , Thea, invited me down to San Francisco to meet up at the The Buena Vista for a plane to party welcome for friends arriving from Australia. They had a tradition of visiting around the new year and the prior year the lovely Lil joined us for our annual Post Christmas Mac n Cheesy celebration during her visit (which will hit its ninth-year next weekend). On this occasion we showed up for a little pre coffee visit and then headed to the restaurant which became one of the most memorable times at the location. I will not go into full details of the day into evening to protect the innocent but, there were many Irish Coffee cocktails enjoyed, which the restaurant is famous for. There may have also been a few bottles of bubbles, but it was the perfect way to introduce us to Lil’s gent as fully unfiltered shenanigans. We met our BFFs for the evening that wouldn’t let us leave because no one else walking into the establishment seemed as fun as us, I had to agree on that point. Such conversations during our shared seating began on getting clarity if daddy meant father or who’s your daddy (this kind gentleman did bust out the black card to overflow whiskey, Irish Coffee and other items until late). Then, in a fabulous moment Lil was introduced to twerking via video and at one point Lil joined by yours truly may have twerked along the length of the street from front entry to rest area across the building to prove it could be done. Pretty sure we brought the laughs that make your cheeks hurt from smiling so hard while deliriously happy tears flew from your eyes like confetti, but this I know for sure, twas memorable indeed. After three staff changes, five plus hours of dominating a table and we will not discuss how much of the alcohol liver spanking, the evening came to a close. If I recall, I was hosting the annual Mac n Cheesy party the next day, but don’t worry I know some one that will correct me if I am in error on this detail. Pictures do suggest that is how things slice out, no food pun intended, maybe.

We first learned about these Irish Coffees from a Food Network episode of The Best I Ever Drank I believe, but time and synchronicities, who knows. If you want to learn more feel free to read about it: HERE   We enjoyed the tradition of the Irish Coffee and after entertaining this drink elsewhere we decided The Buena Vista was our favorite, but let’s just say we don’t visit enough or I have a hankering for loving to enjoy something then perfecting it for myself. Whatever the reason, I decided that the Irish Coffee should become a staple for us as Irish Coffee Sunday became a thing of noted tradition in our house. I looked up the recipe for the famous Irish Coffee’s at The Buena Vista and my husband began to craft while I taste tested to discover our perfect happy place sipper. The first detail for us was the glass. Most people visit the restaurant and enjoy a happy dose of three cocktails, give or take a measure or switch up. For that we use large clear coffee mugs that fit the equivalent of three of The Buena Vista glasses so we only need one. The added benefit of this for me also, is when it comes to the one lump or two of sugar being added to the larger drinking vessel it is not as much sugar per ounce, as I’m not too into the sweets. We have been gifted the proper glasses from The Buena Vista for our guests that may not want to commit the way we do in same measure so now there are options. It is fair to say that we have carried on our Irish Coffee Sunday for enough years that we have invited and had others invite themselves over and I must say during an evacuation due to fires at one time, we found it a gift to open our doors to provide a moment of what felt normal to friends in flux and worry.

Now I am sharing the details of what the throw down is here so maybe you too can enjoy an Irish Coffee Tradition so we don’t have all the fun, even though our company is legendary. Sorry, couldn’t help myself and I really did laugh out loud at that because even if I’m not fun to some I am a blast for me! Harnessing squirrels now and on to the details.

To get your glasses ready, fill them with hot water to warm your mugs. Let them sit for a few minutes to get the glass warm and then dump the water or repurpose it for a soup, your choice, just get it outta the glass.

To the base of the glass decide if you are a sweetheart or not and drop in your one lump or two of your sugar cubes of choice.

Now add my favorite bits, the booze. Non-negotiable for us is the Tullamore Dew Whiskey as used at the restaurant and full disclosure, the only thing we use that brand for. In good measure and in a threefold serving size glass add 3 oz (1 oz if you are using the polite sized glasses).

Fill your glass half way with coffee, preferably a medium roast. We use Taylor Lane Sonoma Roast with the occasional spin of Bourbon Barrel Aged coffee found at Prohibition Spirits when you can purchase it solo not with a kit (it is a bit of a spendy coffee, but pretty darn tasty). Stir to dissolve the sugar cube then add more coffee leaving a half inch of space for the cream.

Oh, the cream, this is another taste tested non-negotiable switch we’ve done. Honestly, your house your rules, but we really did the hard work for you so you don’t have to. We use Organic Strauss Family Creamery heavy whipping cream and you can make as much as you want. We have occasionally used some for fruit because breakfast occasionally accompanies Irish Coffee. If you ask my akita the cream is for her and has switched from begging when scooping the last bits out of the bowl to now arriving in the kitchen as soon as she hears the hand-mixer whirl on. We add just a pinch of sugar to the cream and seldom but, occasionally one teaspoon of Bailey’s Irish Cream and then whip to desired consistency.

You can do the pour over the spoon method to add the cream to the remaining space in your glass, but I like the thick fluffy clouds of whipped cream to be spooned into my glass. We occasionally shave some chocolate over the top and now the husband is getting fancy on occasion and cutting out a heart design to sprinkle the chocolate because that is so adorable.

With all that said, thank you for reading and hope to see or hear you enjoying a fantastic Irish Coffee on a Sunday near you!


Cool Weather Cocktail – Pearly Spiced


As winter has settled in Northern California and the medicine aka liquor cabinet is overflowing, I decided to share my newest cocktail creation. Fall and winter bring out my love of pears. Poached pear desserts (which will be a later post), pear cocktails, pears in salads…you get where I’m going with this, I’m sure.

Inspired by my need to shuffle things around in my booze laden shelves I tripped upon magic, shook it up with ice and poured it lovingly into a martini glass. What a welcome greeting after a long work day for myself and my husband.



1 1/2 oz of Hanson Ginger Vodka

1 1/2 oz Napa Valley Distillery Pear Brandy

1/2 oz Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice

1/4 oz Agave Syrup

3 dashes (drops) Bitter Girl Bitters Pear Jordan

Bosc pear sliced thin – 1 slice per cocktail


Combine the ingredients in your favorite cocktail shaker with a few cubes of ice. Shake it up and strain into a martini glass containing a Bosc pear slice already resting for garnish. This can also be enjoyed over a nice large ice sphere in your favorite cocktail glass.

I was being realistic knowing that the martini glasses slanted edge was perfectly poised for my enjoyment. I discovered once, after a long work day that dripped into night, that walking into a home and hearing the sound of a shaker is a bit sexy to my ears! Creating this cocktail for the husband was a lot nicer that saying how’s your day. It was more like, here’s a cocktail and hello lover…oh & hello to you to my other half.


Cheers to the New Year and happy sipping!

Vegas Uncork’d Day 1 – The Gordon Ramsey experience

I happen to be a big Gordon Ramsay fan; not as big as the lady that painted a picture of him, flew in from Sweden just to be on the wish list for the VIP meet and greet, but a fan. I have cooked with his recipe for salmon en croute to perfection as well as others, read his book Humble Pie and can say that I have actually dined at his two unnamed mentors’ restaurants. I appreciate the humor; get the brand and he is the nicest person when we’ve met him. In conversation, my husband had a moment where Gordon gave him a very sincere thank you. Unfortunately, I am unable to share because I can’t give away all the secrets. What I will share is that the hospitality and courtesy for privacy in our home area, as well as a neighboring county is well appreciated. Not sure how long that will last with the paparazzi style generation, but it made me proud to know I live in such a loved space.

Pub Crawl & Danny Boy cocktails hit the spot for these whiskey fans!
Fish & Chips with Mushy Peas

There were actually a few event options to dine at a Gordon Ramsay establishment, but we casually dined upon arrival to Las Vegas at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill because we needed a travel weary cocktail and satiation. Besides, I had to see if the fish and chips could compare to my extended families. It is good, but going to the Highland Games in Northern California just screams to enjoy the best fish and chips at Taste of Britain. Sorry, I digress…must have a craving. We chose to have dinner at the new Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen Restaurant located at Caesar’s Palace. The event day had started with the Saber Off and a glass of prosecco. We enjoyed a few shopping hours and were ready for dinner. As we waited for the doors to open, we enjoyed conversation with other patrons discussing the event and what others had tried before. I loved the conversation as well as the building anticipation for what would be a fantastic experience.

Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace
Gin Cocktail greetings and the fantastic little touches like the little cards with show quotes.

As the doors opened everyone was greeted with a refreshing gin cocktail aptly named Notes From Gordon which consisted of gin, peach syrup, lemongrass, orgeat and peach soda, then the guests were guided towards a cocktail and hors d’oeuvre reception. The TV shows season 14 winner, Michelle Tribble and season 10s winner, Christina Wilson were a true joy to talk to. I really loved engaging in multiple conversations with them both throughout the evening about the show, their life now and of course amazing food. The array of hors d’oeuvres were perfect bites from avocado toast with heirloom radishes and sunflower seeds, beet cured salmon with golden beets and lemon creme fraiche, pepper-crusted watermelon with prosciutto and goat cheese, meatballs I devoured so fast I forgot to take notes on, arancini with the perfect kiss of truffle and a bounty of prawns and charcuterie. They were serving two cocktails that we had to partake in, for the name of research, however I failed as I have since lost my notes. I looked over at my husband and all the sudden my great grandmothers voice rang out of me as I told him we should walk away before we have no room for dinner. She did always comment on how I loved to just snack all day and not want to eat a full meal.

Avacado Toast with Heirloom Radishes & Sunflower Seeds
Beet Cured Salmon with Golden Beets & Lemon Creme Fraiche
Pepper-Crusted Watermelon with Prosciutto & Goat Cheese
Michelle Tribble on the left & Christina Wilson on the right
Arancini that I literally had to walk away from before I ate them all!

Kitchen views as the diners were being seated

The guests received their table numbers and started to zigzag towards the appropriate placements. Part of the entertainment for me at these types of events can usually include the conversations at the table. We sat with some local entertainment business owners and a couple that flew in just for this dinner. As we were seated, we decided another round of cocktails were in order and began to open the envelopes in front of us. The envelope contained the full recipe for Michelle Tribble’s pepper crusted watermelon, lemon goat cheese with cucumber coulis. The center contained an autographed photo of Michelle with Gordon Ramsay outside the restaurant and to the right lay the menu. I immediately spotted a local to me wine, Landmark chardonnay, that brought back that hometown love. During our dining experience Gordon mingled with the guests and we enjoyed the entertainment of randomly selected guests participating in the blind tasting challenge. I took a video as two ladies from our table participated and sent it to them to enjoy later. It was rather difficult to not laugh as I was taking photos during the commentary which occasionally made me laugh so hard, I was doubled over.

Golden beet salad with greek yogurt, kumquats, pistachio granola and white balsamic vinaigrette
Beef Wellington with potato puree, glazed vegetables and red wine demi-glace

Our first course was a golden beet salad including greek yogurt, kumquats, pistachio granola with white balsamic vinaigrette. It was a perfectly palate awakening and refreshing start to the richness that awaited us and I chose to pair it with the Landmark Winery chardonnay instead of the Justin Winery sauvignon blanc which I had enjoyed earlier. Both wines would have been perfectly paired depending on the flavors you wanted to enhance from the dish. I prefer to quiet the zing slightly. The main course of beef wellington with potato puree, glazed vegetables and red wine demi-glaze did not disappoint. In all fairness though I do not eat a lot of beef, but I am a sucker for a good beef wellington. I’ve enjoyed beef wellington done three ways for Christmas before and have become smitten with the individually wrapped wellingtons. I paired this with the Justin Winery cabernet sauvignon and though tasty I could’ve upped the game on that pairing if I had access to the fuller wine list. Swoon to the moon for this dish. The evening meal concluded with sticky toffee pudding that may have been tasted and then brought back to our room for breakfast because that’s how we roll on vacation. Let them eat dessert for breakfast! Honestly, we concluded the meal with a glass of cognac instead.

Sticky toffee pudding

We lingered to meet Gordon Ramsay and speak with him a little more and share our appreciation for a fantastic first impression meal as we began our Vegas Uncork’d experience. We later found ourselves in true Vegas fashion unready to turn in for the evening. On our way back to the room we stopped to enjoy a whiskey flight before tucking ourselves in to ready us for another day of delicious morsels and libations.

Next up Vegas Uncork’d Day 2 – The Grandest Tasting

I’m Back!

Apparently studying wine almost killed the blog…oops. A full-time job that was less than savory combined with a full time study routine taught me that sometimes I am not able to succeed in all the things at once. I hope to start writing more currently on this blog as well as my writing forums and other manuscripts during my current reinvention.

Cannot wait to share my food and wine adventures with you. Because, after all, I may have been quiet here but, I was fully living out loud in real life.

Wine Bloggers Conference – Take 1

I have had the desire to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference for years, and really wanted to go to Lodi last year. However, time was usually not the best for my schedule or other life reasons would impede me from going. This year, as they celebrate their 10th year, it is back where it began…in my back yard of Santa Rosa. I put it on my schedule early so that other things wouldn’t creep in to push it off until another year and I am excited as well as nervous to be attending!

Life within the last month has felt like it is moving at the speed of light, but pockets of joy in tragedy always shine a little sideways. Living with the different conversations after the firestorms of Sonoma and Napa counties has really reminded me why I love this community. Watching chefs, farmers, business owner, neighbors and wine makers come together to care for those in need has been heartwarming.

I feel honored to get to share my love of wine and food from our counties bounty with others as well as spend time with likeminded lovers of the vine! I’m looking forward to meeting some of you beautiful people from social to put in a little real face to face time. There are so many sessions I am looking forward to attending and it will be hard to narrow down on a few.

“Enrich Your Wine Vocabulary” should hopefully bring insight on how to stay true to my voice while delving into wine descriptors during wine reviews. How do you bring the common aromas and flavors that us wine educators share with just the right hint of your own spiced word choices? Hello, this session has the phenomenal Andrea Robinson! I have a little vine chat dream with that powerhouse!

I am looking forward to the Wine Discovery Session with Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC. As a certified sommelier, there is nothing more exciting to me as wine discoveries. As someone knee deep in studies for my CSW, I can’t wait to bring the knowledge to the forefront and learn about this region. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the region will be an honor to experience in the glass.

“Live Wine Blogging” sounds intimidating and exciting all at once. I love taking notes to share with others and I am curious to see how this will unfold for me, the lover of pen to paper. Will I take to the Twittersphere or do short posts during the brief interviews? I guess you’ll have to follow to see how this will shake down.

“Legal Issues Every Blogger Should Know” is something that I am very curious about as my day job revolves around compliance issues in finance. I am looking forward to learn how compliance relates to my blog. There are other items I hope are touched on like copy write issues with photos as well as some I may not even be thinking of right now. As odd as it may sound to some, I’m excited to learn what this power hour may unfold.

Bring on the education and camaraderie! You can follow me on twitter & Instagram @gotchabygrapes for my Wine Bloggers Conference shenanigans.