What Wine Should I Order On A “Girl’s Night Out”?

(This week I am participating in a Problogger (ProBlogger is an on-line collection of resources dedicated to helping bloggers to find their voice and to create blogs that are both profitable but also making the world a better place) challenge with 200+ other bloggers where we are write a new blog post each day for 7 days.  We receive a challenge each day and today our challenge is:   to create a piece of content based upon a Frequently Asked Question.  The question I am answering is “What wine should I order on a “Girl’s Night Out”?)  http://www.problogger.com/index.html

Ordering wine when out with the girls has often been challenging for me.  The gals always agree that a white wine would be nice but beyond that we can’t decide…Pinot Grigio , Chardonnay, Riesling or sparkling? A night out with the girls is one time that I  drink a wine that is a little more fruit forward than the wines I enjoy with my husband because he likes heavier big bold reds.

Vinho Verde wine is the answer for me and my friends.  These wines are among my favorite summer wines because they have a light effervescence.  The Vinho Verde wines that I am describing here are  fruit forward bright wines that may be perceived as “a bit sweet” by those who enjoy a very dry wine. From Portugal these wines are drunk very young, known as “green wines” and they have a lower alcohol content for easy sippin’.  The region where these grapes are grown is along the Atlantic Coast of Spain known as the “Costa Verde or “Green Coast”.  A refreshing note about these wines…vinho verde wines are often not expensive ($9 -$12 range – restaurant prices will be a bit higher).

Most of the best wines are made from Alvarinho, the same as Spain’s Albariño. However, there are many other indigenous grapes that are also used, including Loueiro, Trajadura, Azal and Pederna.

vinho verde gato

I love this bottle of Vinho Verde because of the cat (gatão is the Spanish word for cat).  A blend of trajadura, loureiro, azal tinto and avesso grapes

To my palate this wine is fruit forward and teetering on a tad of sweetness, but does not go over the sweetness curve too far, otherwise I would not have enjoyed it.  Citrus notes with a touch of pineapple and a nice little bit of effervescence.

vinho verde wine

Conde Villar Vinho Verde is also a nice choice. A touch of lemon and apple notes along with the fun light effervescence.  Round and soft with some acidity.

Another delightful surprise about Vinho Verde is that this wine is also available in a rosé.

Rose vino vherderose vino vherde 2

Ela Vinho Verde Rosé ~ Bright berry notes.  Fruity yet dry. Refreshing! Beautiful fuchsia color in the glass.

Click below to read an enlightening article in the New York Times by Eric Asimov on the unfortunate marketing of rosé wine as a “summer accessory.”

Another idea to try on a girl’s night out is a “flight” of wine. That way we all get to try a little taste of delicious wine and maybe find a new favorite. That’s how I discovered Vinho Verde wine!

Speaking of girlfriends, I have some very special ones. One of my bubbly friends gave me this beautiful glass butterfly plate…I can’t wait to serve hors d’oeuvres to my guests on it. She brought this to me from Nashville.  Thank you bubbly friend!

butterfly plate 2


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Fun and Frolic In Your Own Backyard ~ Food Tours!

If you want an excuse to visit a city close by or far away…

or you would like to entertain out-of-town guests with little fuss…

or just looking forward  to slowing down and relaxing while you are served fabulous food all afternoon…

my recommendation is to take a food tour and have a bunch of fun!!!

cropped-hotel-roanoke-2.jpgFood Tours have become very popular all over the world and chances are that you can find a tour as close as your own backyard. Don’t limit yourself to just one tour ~ enjoy a craft beer tour,beer deschutes 2

a Sunday brunch tour…with Bloody Mary’s made with local ingredients perhaps…

bloody mary

a historical and cultural food tour or a wine tour. Since I’ve participated in many of our local food tours I thought it would be helpful to share these 10 tips to keep in mind when planning a tour:

  1.  Let the Food Tour company know about any food allergies or food preferences (vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.).  They should be able to accommodate at least the most common food restrictions.
  2. Take a friend or friends to enjoy the experience with you and take lots of photos to enjoy and salivate over after the tour. A food tour is the perfect way to entertain out-of-town guests…you can enjoy their company, feed them well and you won’t have to do any cooking!

Photo #7 Soup and Sandwich

3. Think about the weather – if it’s too hot or too cold for you then most likely you won’t enjoy the tour. Take the tour when the weather suits you.  Plan ahead for rain or inclement weather. Take a  rain slicker and/or an umbrella if needed. Always wear comfortable shoes appropriate for walking.


4.  Become familiar with the food tour’s cancellation policy. The  policy should be clearly stated on the food tour’s website.

5.  Review the food tour’s website and look for words such as “local”, “history” and “culture” and references to the eateries you will visit on the tour which is usually evidence that the food tour company is working closely with the local food experts to give you a unique and enjoyable experience. If you can’t find the information you are looking for on their website,  just ask the food tour company…they are happy to answer questions and provide all information needed for you and your guests to have a fabulous tour.

chocolate paper 4


6.  On-line reviews about the food tours can be helpful such as Trip Advisor. Expect to taste something different on the tour since the restaurateurs enjoy highlighting their specialties on the tours ~ peanut soup served with homemade spoon bread in a miniature cast iron pan at the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia  is just one yummy example.

7.Make sure the walk is not too long or strenuous for you.  Also make sure transportation is provided on wine and craft-beer tours or have a designated driver so you can maximize your fun quotient on the tour.

8. Check (on the food tour’s website) to see if gratuities are accepted by the tour guides.  At the end of the tour take time to complete an on-line review of the tour.

9. Allow plenty of time for the tour. You don’t want to feel rushed as you enjoy your last spoonful of gelato or morsel of fresh coconut cake!

10. Fall in love with food tours…allow yourself a little extra time in the city you are touring for sight-seeing or shopping. Then plan a return trip to visit as soon as possible!

Please visit Roanoke Food Tours website for food, craft beer and wine tours in Roanoke and Lexington, Virginia:


river and rail salad

In addition..Four Food Tour Feel Goods:

  1. In many cases you will be supporting a local small business that operates the food tours.
  2. You will also be supporting local restaurants, cafes, eateries and wineries and when you return home you can encourage others to visit the places you enjoyed the most.
  3. The food tour may provide coupons at the end of the tour so you will be able to enjoy those on a return visit.

cheese store

4.You may meet someone fascinating such as the lady I met that owns the cheese shop in Lexington, Virginia…the cheeses she sells in her shop are AMAZING!

Meg Hall is the owner of Cheese To You, Fine Artisan and Curated, Name-Protected Cheese.  As she explains, her expertise is cheese and she continues to broaden my understanding of cheese through travel and education. I am a member of the American Cheese Society, and regularly attend the Society’s conferences and professional development seminars. I’ve  also completed the Master’s Cheese Class coursework at the New York City’s Artisanal Cheese Center.




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Lexington, Virginia ~Love Local Food Tours!

Red Henred hen risottored hen blackberriesred hen wine

Our Lexington, Virginia food tour continues…this tour was packed with so many delicious and delightful eateries that I cannot fit all of the information into just one post! For a review of the dessert specialties offered on this tour please visit: https://beckysbubblesblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/food-tour-lexington-virginia-how-sweet-it-is.

One of my favorite stops on the tour was The Red Hen Restaurant has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Southern Living and Virginia Living Magazine.

Chef Becca Norris who owns the Red Hen Restaurant with her husband Chef Matt Adams shared with us their philosophy of farm-to-table: “Good food is not meant to be thrown in a  truck. It should be picked and eaten.”


Becca graciously served us Risotto with Mushroom Duxelles with Pecorino Cheese in local pottery bowls.  She happened to have just picked some blackberries so she shared those with us too.

Please visit the Red Hen blog ~ great content and delicious photos!!!


Martini signred hen wine

Our risotto was accompanied by a lovely 2014  rosé wine from Barren Ridge Vineyards in Fishersville, Virginia.  Chambourcin, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Vidal Blanc grapes blend perfectly into a beautiful pale pink dry rosé. Bright strawberry notes. A beautiful summer wine!

Stonewall Jackson gardenbeets

The Red Hen Restaurant gets many of their herbs and some fresh heirloom produce from the historic Stonewall Jackson House garden located across the street from the restaurant.

Red Hen at Home

Meal Kits prepared by the Red Hen’s Chef Matt Adams are available at the Blue Phoenix Cafe and Market  in Lexington, Virginia. The kit includes all of the ingredients you’ll need for a delicious meal with step-by-step instructions to prepare the meal.


Examples of meal kit menus:
Arctic Char w/ Fingerling Potatoes, Cherry tomatoes, Dijon Crème & Dill
Serves 2

Moroccan Skirt Steak, Harissa Spiced Coucous, Chermoula, & Kalamata Olives
Serves 2 – 4

BBQ’d Pork Kebabs w/ Cilantro Lime Rice
2 – 3

Grana Padano Crusted Organic Chicken Breast w/ Yellow Squash, Basil & Caper Linguini
Serves 2 – 3

We had the pleasure of visiting the Blue Phoenix Restaurant on our tour…

salad phenoix

Wow, you know the chefs are special when they put an edible orchid on your salad. This lovely plate was served at the Blue Phoenix Restaurant.  All Vegetarian All the Time with lots of vegan and gluten free options.  We enjoyed the Counterfeit Crabcake ~ hearts of palm – zucchini cakes served on a bed of spring mix, local tomatoes, red onions and house-made Chesapeake Sauce.


Another marvelous restaurant that is included on the tour is the Southern Inn Restaurant.

neon sign

Neon signs are no longer allowed in Lexington proper, but this one was grandfathered in since it had been hanging in front of the Southern Inn Restaurant since 1932.

fried chicken

As gals of the south, my grandmother and then my mother made the best fried chicken, but the Southern Inn makes the BESSSSST fried chicken!  It is marinated overnight in buttermilk and then double-breaded before frying.

A fun fact about Lexington is that there are rumors of ghosts ~ to be expected in a historical city.  On the tour be sure to ask your tour guide Amelia about the friendly children ghosts in the Southern Inn kitchen ~ so much fun!

wine 2

Rockbridge Winery created this wine label especially for the Southern Inn.


Southern Inn’s wine list is a pleasant surprise:


electric carelectric car charging station

There were surprises around every corner in Lexington as we noshed our way through this iconic city.  As we listened to our tour guide tell us about the history of Lexington, we found this “Gem” (the name of this electric car is Gem!) parked behind one of the older brick buildings with it’s charger station nearby.  1930 meets 2016!  Isn’t this car cute? Actually it is a great utility vehicle!


pure eats photopure eats

Hamburger Place Pure EatsPure Eats hamburger

Pure Eats Restaurant (1930’s renovated cottage style gas station that used to be a Pure Oil) serves the General ~ Bold Rock Cider and OJ ~ the Pure Eats version of a Mimosa and the Keydet ~ Bloody Mary Mix & Devil’s Backbone ~ Pure Eats version of a Red Eye.

We sampled the BEST hamburger at Pure Eats. They are known for the “Best Burger in the Shenandoah Valley”.  Lucky college students that have this eatery right down the street!

As their menu explains:  We serve fresh, local, single-steer hamburgers from Buffalo Creek Beef, processed here in Lexington at Donald’s Meats.  Topped by melted Swiss, Cheddar, American or Pepper Jack cheese and served on a toasted kaiser roll with your choice of lettuce, grilled onions, raw onions, pickles, tomato, mushrooms, jalapenos or thick-cut bacon, this is as good as a burger gets.  


Sides include golden beer-battered fries, sweet potato fries, beer battered onion rings, fried mushrooms, fried pickles and Rt. 11 Chips.


Movie sign

Sign on street corner from the movie Sommersby  that was filmed in Lexington in 1993, starring Jodie Foster and Richard Gere.

More to come about this FABULOUS tour in future posts…


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Food Tour – Lexington, Virginia – How Sweet It Is!

food tour sign

 Welcome to the first in a series of blog posts about the Lexington Food Tour that I enjoyed with my bubbly friend on Saturday. The tour treated us to all kinds of healthy and delicious foods followed by fabulous desserts.  Life is short…so let’s eat dessert first!


shoes Amelia

To start the tour us gals need shoes the color of sherbet…these lime sherbet shoes belonging to our fabulous tour guide Amelia are appropriate walking shoes for the tour.

food tour shoes

My shoes the color of rainbow sherbet are not appropriate for the tour. Fortunately I did not wear them on this walking tour.

robert e lee hotel

We started our tour at the Robert E. Lee Hotel, home of the Rocca Bar and Restaurante. On this particular day the restaurant graciously offered samples of Zeppoli…delicious ricotta fritters, powdered sugar and nutella sauce on the side…to visitors who happened by. The people in this town are so friendly!



When was the last time you saw one of these?!  Pay telephones in booths in the Robert E. Lee Hotel lobby.

pure eats photopure eats

One of our stops on the tour was this  1930’s cottage style gas station that used to be a Pure Oil. The current building (photo on right) still has many original details including the blue tile roof and the “P’s” on the chimney. Since 2011, the building has housed Pure Eats Restaurant.


Pure Eats DoughnutsPure eats doughnuts maple

Pure Eats Restaurant DELICIOUS doughnuts ~ made fresh every day in the restaurant. IF they have doughnuts left over at the end of the day they take them to the Security guards at Stonewall Jackson Hospital and Washington and Lee University. Now that is SWEET!

Pronto gelato


Although we were served  a lot of delicious food on the tour we were always ready for the next course because we knew it would be tasty and delightful and the walking in between the seven tasting venues gave us a little respite between bites. Our last course was Fig and Cardamom Gelato at Pronto Caffe & Gelateria. We enjoyed talking with one of the owners Franky who shared how he learned to make gelato in Italy – a fascinating story that you will enjoy on the tour. His teacher told him that Vanilla Gelato should “taste like a butterfly on your tongue”.

This lovely caffe also serves Espresso Affogato (1 flavor gelato “drowned” in espresso)  and Moscato Affogato (1 flavor gelato “drowned” in moscato wine) delizioso!  Over 15 types of gelato offered daily. Salads, soups and sandwiches are on the menu too.


gelato 2

 coffee sweetcoffee sweet cup

After the tour relax and have a cup of Lexington Coffee Roasters coffee…take some beans home to enjoy the next morning.  http://www.lexingtoncoffee.com/about-us


We were pleasantly full at the end of the tour but we wanted to take a little piece of Lexington home with us so we stopped at the Cocoa Mill Chocolatier to purchase some delightful and delicious chocolates to take home.  We brought a refrigerator bag with some bags of ice in it in anticipation of purchasing perishable goodies to take home. The Cocoa Mill Chocolatier makes award winning handmade artisan chocolates…received accolades from the Wall Street Journal, Bon Appetit, CBS Morning News and the Washington Post.


chocolate 2

If you love food…love the charm of Main Street…love friendly people…love local…you will LOVE LEXINGTON!  I will post more photos and memories from our Lexington food tour soon.


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World’s Largest Chocolate Fountain

chocolate fountain 2chocolate fountain 1

A World Class Chocolate Fountain at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas

A very pleasant surprise at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada…the “World’s Largest Chocolate Fountain” (recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records) displayed in the Jean-Philippe Patisserie on the promenade of the Spa Tower.  Created by their world-famous pastry chef, Jean-Philippe Maury, the fountain circulates more than 2,100 pounds of melted dark, white and milk chocolate dripping from 500 feet of pipes.  The fountain stands 26 feet tall surrounded by 300 pound glass viewing panels.  

chocolatechocolate 2


chocolate lady

Jean-Philippe Patisserie is also home to the “Chocolate Lady” (pictured above).  Made of 60 pounds of rolling fondant, 33 pounds of chocolate, 220 sugar flowers…it took the Jean-Philippe Patisserie team 150 hours to create this lady.

champagne and chill

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My Favorite Summer Sangria Recipes

On these lazy hazy crazy days of summer I am being a bit lazy but hopefully not crazy by posting some recipes that have been previously published…but they are so perfect for summer that they are worth repeating…relax and enjoy!

Peach on leaf


This recipe was originally published in the South Roanoke Living Magazine, July 2016 issue.

Peachy Rosé Sangria

1 bottle Rosé

5 ounces Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach

6 ounces fresh raspberries

12 fresh strawberries, capped and sliced

2 tablespoons sugar

3 small fresh peaches, pitted and chopped

1 cup seltzer water

Ice for service

Place strawberries in a small bowl, sprinkle with sugar, stir to combine. Set aside.

Place Rosé in sangria pitcher.  Add Grand Marnier Raspberry Peach, raspberries, sugared strawberries and peaches. Stir to combine. Place in refrigerator overnight.  When ready to serve, add seltzer water and stir lightly to combine with other ingredients.  Serve in glasses over ice.


Peach Mimosa ~ Fountain Drink!

This is a recipe that I shared with my readers last summer…

Sandy’s Peach Mango Sangria 

In a large pitcher mix together:

10 oz. frozen peach daiquiri mix

2 cups sparkling water (I like S.Pellegrino sparkling mineral water for this recipe)

1/2 cup triple sec

1 ripe mango, pitted and chopped into small pieces

1 large ripe peach, pitted and chopped into small pieces

After all ingredients are mixed together, add:

1 bottle chilled (750 ml) rosé Korbel sparkling wine or cava

Garnish with fresh raspberries.

 Serve well chilled.

I enjoy Korbel Sweet Rosé “California Champagne” for this recipe.


peaches 1


Champagnes To Celebrate Summer!


soutrin champagne

Soutiran Brut Grand Cru Champagne NV

$45 range

50 percent Pinot Noir and 50 percent Chardonnay grapes from Grand Cru vineyards.  Full bodied. Toasty baked apple notes. Wine Enthusiast gives this bottle a rating of 93 points.

Hablin champagne

H. Blin Champagne Millesime

$40 range

Wine Spectator rated the non-vintage H. Blin Brut Champagne 91.   Wine Spectator  tasting notes: Kumquat, pastry, poached pear and macerated apricot notes mix in this creamy version, backed by a steely spine of acidity.

Vintage 2006 H. Blin Champagne

$48 range

Wine Enthusiast tasting notes:  Crisp, tight acidity and still-young, fresh fruitiness give this wine its initial brightness. Rich and full in the mouth, it also has a range of complex fruit flavors followed by hints of toastiness that will only continue to develop. It should be aged further, so drink from 2016.

champagne remington

$50 range.  You’ll recognize the name “Louis Roederer” as the same name you see on the Cristal champagne label. Fresh and creamy with almond, toast and citrus notes.

  • Wine Spectator rates Louis Roederer 92:
    Finely knit and elegant overall, this vivacious Champagne is creamy and satiny in texture, with layers of yellow plum, chalk, toast, glazed apricot and lemon curd. Offers a lingering, smoke-tinged finish. Drink now through 2020.
  • Wine Enthusiast rates Louis Roederer 92:
    To judge by the cork, this bottling has some age, giving it a toasty as well as fruity character that adds complexity to this baked-apple and citrus-flavored wine. 

    Chocolate Paper

    And this is how I like to consume craft beer – in chocolate!  These Deschutes Brewery chocolates are available at Chocolate Paper in Roanoke, Virginia.  A reduction is made out of the Deschutes Porter then combined with a rich chocolate ganache. Yum!


support local

Post It Sign in the Hometown Bank window, Roanoke, Virginia.


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