Wednesday, October 22, 2014

#HoCoLife Ep 10: Wine, Zombies, and Candy

{via}
We've got quite an eclectic offering for you this week on the HoCoLife podcast!

First, we talk about how awesome it is that THREE Howard County, Maryland restaurants made the cut for OpenTable's Top 100 Wine Lists in the Country - that's pretty impressive!

Next, we discuss a benefit gala for the Howard County Center of African American Culture.

After that, we talk about zombies...because that's a natural segue from talking about a fancy ball...

Finally, we talk about some trick-or-treating options at Robinson Nature Center.

Tune in to hear all about it!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Howard County is for...wine lovers?

In my early twenties, I was a sweet white girl.

Nowadays, I'm a bold, spicy, slap-you-in-the-face red.



I'm talking about wine, of course. (Or am I?)

On an otherwise run-of-the-mill evening in my late twenties, I happened upon a truly Good Wine. It was a red - a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, to be specific. It was spicy and peppery and viscous and the flavors didn't stop after the wine made its way down my esophagus  - they kept going and growing, dancing on my tongue. In an instant, my eyes were opened to the wonders and possibilities inherent in fermented grape juice. Right then and there, I made a decision to slowly but surely educate myself about wine.

Luckily, I didn't have to look very far to find a good place to start. OpenTable recently named three Howard County restaurants in its 2014 Top 100 Best Wine List Restaurants in America. Phew - that's a mouthful (just like a nice old vine Zinfandel...).

The list was compiled based on five million OpenTable reviews of over 20,000 restaurants around the country. I now have a new found respect for the people who leave reviews on OpenTable.

AIDA Bistro & Wine Bar, Bistro Blanc, and Iron Bridge Wine Company beat out thousands of other restaurants, and if you've ever been to any of them (or - ahem - all three of them - on multiple occasions - as often as the Sous Chef and your budget will allow), you already know why.

You already know how much I rave about AIDA's menu, but did you know that Sous Chef and I also love going over to AIDA to enjoy a wine flight? On one particularly joyous Halloween a year or so ago, we enjoyed four wine flights, so by the end of the evening we had tasted twelve different wines, each one unique and exceptional in its own way. Much like the food, it's hard to find a wine you don't like on their list. Go do a flight or four and prove me right.

We've gone to Bistro Blanc a few times; its location in Western Howard County makes it more of a "destination" spot (we're very much homebodies who experience occasional bursts of jonesing for travel). Every time we've been, we've loved it. We've done the "fancy Blanc" for special occasions -  with its beautifully plated fine dining - and we've done the "jeans and a t-shirt Blanc", kicking back with a half-priced burger and a pint of craft beer on an ordinary Wednesday.

Iron Bridge is another great taste experience - the seasonal menu consists of smaller portions of impeccably prepared food. I once had a pot roast there that practically melted in my mouth; I'm salivating at the very thought of it. The ambiance there is intimate and cozy; it's a great place to gather on a cold winter evening.

I can't say I'm surprised that any of these restaurants are on the Top 100 list, but I will say that I'm impressed.

Drink well.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

#HoCoLife Ep 9: SNEAK PEEK at The Metropolitan Downtown Columbia!!

This is how much I love you:

From L-R: Senior Construction Manager Ron Bloom, yours truly,
Project Director Kevin Peterkin, and Pat Hiban

I quite literally donned a hard hat and highlighter-yellow work vest for you people. And voluntarily had my picture taken. For you.

Pat Hiban and I were lucky to get a private tour of the new Metropolitan luxury apartments that are being constructed in Downtown Columbia!



All I can say is...WOW.

With standard features like hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances in the units, awesome amenities like a dog grooming station and outdoor theater area, and its prime location in the heart of Downtown, these apartments are hot!



Tune in to today's HoCoLife podcast for ALL the details!





Keep in touch with the Metropolitan by liking their Facebook page.

Check out floor plans, amenities, sketches, and even apply for an apartment at their official website.

Please remember to invite me to your housewarming party.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#Gratituesday

{The weather's turned crappy and my back is acting up again. Time to focus on what I'm grateful for this week...}

Joel Osteen Radio on SiriusXM. I can't tell you how much I love this guy; he's so positive, so inspirational - it isn't possible to be in a bad mood when you're listening to his messages. He reminds us that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Harry Potter. I am officially 9-and-3/4-feet deep into a major Harry Potter bender right now. Sous Chef and I are prepping for a pilgrimage to Orlando to visit Harry Potter World and we're practically Rowling on the floor with all the fun we're having re-reading the books and re-watching the movies. I've never had such a good time "studying".

My 21 Day Fix challenge group. This program is no joke; a crash course in proper nutrition and killer  30-minute workouts every day of the week. It's unbelievably nice to have a group of people to share the experience with; to laugh and cry and motivate and inspire together with.

Home workout DVDs. When the weather makes its annual turn for the worse, there's nothing better than being able to stay inside and get in a good workout. No need to bundle up, go the gym, de-bundle, work out, re-bundle, roast from the combined re-bundling and boosted metabolism, come home, and de-bundle again. Plus, you get the added core work of having to readjust your footing the split second before you step on your cat. Love it!

My non-stick Calphalon pan. Nothing sticks to it. It gets a nice sear on meat. It sautes like a champ. It is amazing, and I love it more and more every day. We guard it with our lives. If someone ever tries to come over and use a metal spatula in it, we're liable to smack them over the head with a rolling pin without giving it a second thought. It's a really good pan.