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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Wine Tasting - Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva 1998

"Show me an empty wine bottle and I will show you real estate worth having been occupied."

May you have a tremendously wonderful day!  May the birds sing you a song, may a smile upon a stranger's face bring you warmth within, and may the conclusion of your day bring some fond memories.

O-M-G were Tiffany and I treated to some mighty fine wine this afternoon!  As a going away gift from a peer in my old office I was given the exquisite gift of vino.  Never has a finer Tempranillo from Rioja met our lips and washed our palates.

Chucky's Point Score:  94
Tiffany's Point Score:  95

Marques de Riscal Rioja Reserva 1998

Appellation:  Rioja,Spain
Grape Varietal(s):  90% Tempranillo, 10% Graciano and Mazuelo
Rating:  90 points Wine Enthusiast
Price:  Unknown (gift)
Vintage:  1998
Alcohol:  13.0%

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "A most perfect storm of a wine.  A Rioja in a class by itself!  From the tawny precursor to the initial whiff on my nose, I knew that I would be in for something special.  This is certainly the 'bring out the best' stuff from the vintner.  Amazing tannins lead to perfect ambiance on my palate. A wine deserving of slow lingering sips. I think that I am going to cry when the bottle is empty!"

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "OMG, WOW!  I'm in pure heaven!  Where do I begin?  As soon as we uncorked this gem the bouquet jumped right out of the bottle bursting with bold cherry aromas!  If I didn't already know what kind of wine this was I would guess a very expensive elegant Bordeaux!  The bouquet definitely delivers on the palate.  The outer rim of this wine in the glass has that lighter more orangy look that is supposed to mean this wine has aged very well.  I've been waiting a long time to discover that on one or our bottles that we opened!  I'm totally in love with this gem!  Thanks <name withheld>!"


Marqués de Riscal Reserva wines are basically made from grapes from tempranillo vines over 15 years’ old, grown in the best clay-limestone soils of the Rioja Alavesa. This variety withstands oak- and bottle ageing well thanks to its good balance of acidity and fine tannin. The Graciano and Mazuelo varieties, whose presence in the blend does not exceed 10%, provide crispness and a lively colour. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature of 26ºC and the maceration time is never more than 12 days. Riscal reservas spend around two years in American-oak casks, producing a wine which corresponds to the classic Rioja style: fresh, fine, elegant and very suitable for laying down for many years. Before release for sale it spends a minimum of one year rounding off in the bottle.

Tasting notes 

Cherry-red colour with good robe. Spicy, balsamic aromas of great complexity, with notes of ripe dark berries and light toasted nuances.  On the palate it is full and tasty, with good structure and rounded, elegant tannins.  The finish is long and fresh, with a slight reminder of the fine oak.

I feel so very fortunate to have uncorked this wine!  Had circumstances not been just so I might not have had the pleasure.  So many things had to lineup for this wine to touch my lips.  Having held my prior job.  Having met my peer.  Having decided to submit my resignation and move one.  For my peer to have chosen this wine.  A good wine is fate.  Fate that the vineyard was able to produce the grapes needed to produce the wine.  The time and luck afforded for the grapes to mature so perfectly.  And the effort and trade required to bring it around the world into my wine cabinet.

I shall not embellish upon our tasting sheets.  They're so eerily similar and both attesting to the merits of the wine.  If you can find yourself a bottle you will be amply rewarded for doing so.

Hi-dee hi-dee wines-make-remarkable-gifts-ho my friend.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Breathing the Fresh Air

"Happiness begins inside one's heart."

Hello my friend!  May you be blessed with positive thoughts throughout your day.

It's here!  I've turned in my office keys, emptied my desk, and have received my final paycheck.  Oh what a relief!  For the better part of 10-years I have been subjected to undue stress and frustration.  Well, that's over now.

It was a pleasant last two weeks and they held an unexpected going away luncheon for me yesterday.  If I leave with but a single memory it was yesterday when the owner wished me well and thanked me for my 8-years of service.  Eight years???  Um... Er... I've been with this company for 2-weeks short of a decade my dear employer.

With the exception of leaving my hometown for school and leaving school for my first career/job, I've never voluntarily left a place of employment (until now).  I had also promised Tiffany that I would be out of there before my 10-year anniversary of service.  It felt so truly weird leaving by my own volition.

It's an amazingly wonderful feeling that I awoke with this morning.  I've always been so lucky in choosing my employers until this last one.  It was a difficult lesson learned but I am happy to report that I left knowing much more than I arrived having known.  I suppose that this may be the true measure of success?

Hi-dee hi-dee life-goes-on-ho my friend.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

One More Day Before Life Begins

"I'm not getting older.  Everyone around me happens to be getting younger?"

Greetings and best wishes to each and everyone!

First and foremost, I dedicate this portion of my blog post to our dear departed friend Lani. She passed away this morning as measured by the heartbeat but she will never truly depart our warmest thoughts and happiest memories.  I cannot say exactly where she is at this moment.  I just envision her hugging lots of dogs, cats and other animals with the expression of ecstasy marked upon her face.  You tell me, where do really good people go?  There you shall find my good friend Lani.

Guess what my friends?  This time tomorrow night I shall have concluded my 10-year career with my current employer.  I have been so desperately wanting to get out and move onto somewhere that me and my talents are appreciated.  I so yearn to cure this condition that I call "brain rot".

I feel as though I am leaving kindergarten.  I will admit that I love what I do for a living, I love my customers and I love my peers.  I only dislike my management chain.  I simply haven't any respect left to offer them (different blog post for another day).  However, I am proud to say that I have done nothing less than give 110% every single day and never shall my customers receive less.  They truly butter the bread which makes my living.

On Monday I move onto a different employer.  An employer where I have been instructed to refrain from using the term "employee".  Everyone is instead "family".  No such thing as a "corporate office".  Instead it's a "home office".

They're paying me more than I ever could have imagined and far more than I had hoped for.  They're giving me a benefits package to make anyone envious.  I gladly move on with my life and finally am back to a career where my actions and skills can be appreciated.

I'm not asking much.  I simply ask mutual respect.  That's not much is it?  Trust me my friend, not every job automatically comes with fairness and respect.  Me?  I would be happy digging ditches, mowing lawns, or just about anything else as long as I am treated fairly.  Me?  I'd rather be poor and happy than rich and miserable.

When I walk into that door on Monday morning, I shall have finally arrive home!  I shall not look back nor dwell on the past.

Hi-dee hi-dee more-blog-posts-as-things-progress-ho my friend.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day 2012

"You can fool me once.  You can fool me twice.  Okay, you can perhaps get me a third time too.  Oh no!  Not again!  You fooled me a fourth time.  Hey ~ five times is too many, okay?"

May this wonderful day bring you eco- and green- blessings.  May your footprint become lighter on this spectacular planet of ours, beginning today.

Ugh!  Tiffany and Chucky missed the Central Florida Earth Day festivities down at Lake Eola Park in Orlando yesterday.  It would have been our third annual trek but we were unable to partake.  So... what did we do instead that was so darned important?  I'm glad that you have asked.

Panera Steak & White Cheddar Panini sandwich

Panera's Introduction to the World

Well... after buying two Steak & White Cheddar Panini sandwiches from Panera Bread, we headed back to our local Honda dealer to purchase a 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid!  We traded in a 12-year old Mercury for this new automobile.  From 18/26 MPG (city/highway) to 44/44 MPG, I'd say that it was a very nice way to celebrate Earth Day 2012, wouldn't you?

2012 Honda Civic Hybrid

I begin a new job a week from tomorrow and honestly believe that this may be the last job that I ever have.  I truly hope to retire from the new company.  I haven't even began working for the new company but they have treated me nothing short of spectacular so far.  From pay to benefits to lots of intangibles, it's that dream job that I could only wish for.

But...  There's always a but isn't there?  It's almost 25-miles across town one-way.  And from where I call home to where the new job is located, there are no direct crosstown routes.  Luckily, there are many ways to get to the new job but it's over and down or it's down and over.  No matter how I travel abet a single undesired route, lots of traffic and lots of red lights.

Lucky for Chucky (hey... that rhymes), I'm no last minute employee.  I always arrive early and I always arrive calm and refreshed raring to go.  This new job shall be no different.  I'll just leave in the dead of morning and arrive home having to deal with lots of bumper-to-bumper traffic along the way.  This will simply become part of my new but wonderful life.

From what I have been reading I might expect around 40 to 41 real-life MPG but that's not bad.  Along the path to and from work I'll breathe well knowing that it's a tree hugger's automobile.  A truly green choice and no leather interior!  A dream car for a dream job wouldn't you say?

Oh?  The two animal flesh panini sandwiches?  After we negotiated our vehicle but before we decided, Tiffany and I went to lunch (vegetarian, naturally).  We promised the Honda salesman and his manager that we'd grab lunch for them.  Guess what?  We purchased our new vehicle from carnivores, wouldn't you know.

Hi-dee hi-dee it's-a-great-feeling-to-be-going-green-ho my friend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Marshall Tucker Band - Can't You See?

"No matter what ails you.  No matter what your woes.  I can most certainly assure you that there is someone out there somewhere who would be willing to trade places with you in a heartbeat and without reservation whatsoever."
 - Chucky - The Fat Vegetarian

Greetings my friend.  It's a most beautiful day if would simply allow it to be so.  Don't allow negativity around you to direct your path.  Go forward.  Go forward with a smile, an open heart, and an open mind.

Friday, April 13th ~ A most wonderful day in Chucky & Tiffany's life, indeed!  After many years searching to get out of a Hellish job, Chucky has landed his dream job.  But... This was just the beginning of a most wonderful day my friend.

Chucky & Tiffany held tickets to a concert featuring The Marshall Tucker Band.  These guys, abet member changes, have been going strong for 40-years so far.  I know ~ I'm aging myself, aren't I?  But I cannot hide behind the grey hairs which I have earned.  I can only dye my hair and live as if I were forever young.

The Marshall Tucker Band (04/13/2012)

The video?  Copyright infringement?  Actually, "No."  They encouraged the crowd to whip out their cell phones and cameras and go ahead and put those videos up on YouTube.  It's not like it's studio quality and it might even encourage you to go out and download one of their iTunes.

Myself?  I only recorded but a few snippets to enjoy as fond memories of a most excellent day.  Tiffany and I had not been to a concert in quite some time.  Our musical tastes differ.  She's into Country and I'm into Classic Rock.  But ~ We do meet that acoustic crossroad on some bands.  Marshall Tucker being one of them.  :) 

Hi-dee hi-dee life's-simple-pleasures-endure-ho my friend.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Peace & Traquility" brought to you by Tiffany

"I don't believe in reincarnation but if I did I would certainly not wish to come back to my next life as a farmed animal!"

A cup of my finest greetings to you my friend!  I'm still in high-heaven after landing my new job but more about that in a later post.  In the meantime I'll share the excitement and terrific feelings with you.  Have nothing short of an exceptional day.

Today's is a short clip from cinema photographer & most excellent wife, Tiffany.  This is her second time using our new 1080 dpi HD handheld video cam.  Don't know what you expect but I, for one, am impressed.

Triplet Lake, Casselberry, FL (-81.325901, 28.6719419)

It was this past Sunday.  The lake was entirely ours.  Well... Ours and the turtles, the snakes, the alligators, the birds, the bass, the gars, the ducks, the sand hill cranes, the ibises, the coots, the osprey and a few other wildlife I suppose.

Tiffany and I did our best to be polite guests, leaving no footprint behind, and picking up after prior visitors when trash was spotted.  I don't know ~ maybe the resident creatures of Triplet Lake live a nicer life when we leave in appreciation?  Isn't life just grande?  All you have to do is open your eyes, mind, heart and take a breathe.

Hi-dee hi-dee isn't-life-worth-taking-a-moment-to-savour-ho my friend?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Green Day Cafe 2-16-2012

"I'm a bona fide 'Gumper'.  I work for a Bubba Gump Software Company."

Greetings and salutations of the most magnificent kind my friend!  Good thinks are about to happen to Chucky and I wish to share a piece of these wonderful feelings.

I was getting a wee bit sick and a little bit tired of my Monday blog post simply sitting out there so I thought that a change of pace was most certainly in order.  I browsed through some incomplete Draft posts to find these scrumptious pictures.

It was a most delicious February evening when these pictures were snapped.  I won't delve too much on the words but will allow the visual tastes to smoulder in your mind.

Black beans and rice

Who doesn't love black beans and rice?  Actually, back when I was a young whipper-snapper carnivore I despised beans of any type!  It's funny how we mature (notice that I refrained from saying "getting older") and our tastes improve (notice that I refrained from saying "change").

Buffalo Hummus Salad and Mushroom Brie Soup

I'm typing this in the morning and I've just eaten breakfast.  What's wrong with me?  I'm getting the Green Day Cafe urge just by looking at this picture.

Sunset Spring Salad with tofu and Mushroom Brie Soup

Salads are better understood when you think about the last time you actually saw a depressed rabbit.  Mother Nature sure makes some wonderful things doesn't she?  Guess what?  Vegetables are a eco- friendly replenished resource.

Ha!  Don't try to get me on that "What about those plates, bowls and utensils Chucky?" line either.  Everything at Green Day Cafe is biodegradable and made from natural components.

Hi-dee hi-dee I'll-race-you-to-Green-Day-Cafe-ho my friend!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter 2012

"Love your neighbour,  yet don't pull down your hedge."

A belated yet sincere Happy Easter my friends.  If this is not in line with your religious persuasion, I then simply offer heartfelt wishes of happiness. 

A simple blog post this evening. Tiffany and I have both gotten into kayaking and I offer a simple piece of our new found love below.  3-1/2 hours on the water Saturday morning and 4 hours on the water this morning.  What a truly wonderful Easter sunrise that we enjoyed spending time with Mother Nature's children.

Bird Island, Triplet Lake, Casselberry, Florida

We have lots more kayaking video snippets and I will share a few with you now and then.  Until then, please do enjoy this short video and join us on Triplet Lake in Casselberry, Florida.

Hi-dee hi-dee oh-we-love-to-kayak-ho my friend!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

When is a Salad a Masterpiece?

NOTE:  It is with much regret (but many happy memories) that I must report that Wrap Planet is now out of business.

"I cannot remember whether I have Alzheimers."

Oh happy day my friend!  "Huh?"  "What?"  "Why so?", you ask.  Well...  You steer that vessel known as Destiny and you are at the helm.  If you encounter an obstacle in your path, simply steer your life around it.  Yes, occasionally you hit a rock/reef or scrape on some barnacles.  But you simply dry-dock the vessel for a short time and repair any damage.  Hey, Captain... Are you going to have a happy day or not?  If not, I will sail without you.

Chucky may not have the best memory but there is one thing for certain.  I most certainly remember the most excellent Asian Salad at Wrap Planet!  Even as I write these words I hunger for some delicious Wrap Planet food.  I sometimes simply have to sit back and reflect on how lucky I am to be within driving distance of this dining mecca.

What's this?

"Hey!"  "What gives Chucky?"  "That's only a picture of an empty plate."  Yes, my friend.  That's what you are going to end up with after you've visited Wrap Plate... an empty plate, change in your pocket, and a delicious & nutritious meal in your tummy.

"But... but... but Chucky ~ it's just a salad dude."  Au contraire my friend.  It's fresh crisp vegetables tossed in a fresh homemade dressing.  There's nothing pre-packaged or "fast food" here my friend.  Trust me... Olga at Wrap Planet is a phenomenon at mixing spices and the like.  Yes, she won't admit it but I dare you to attempt to replicate her dressings at home.

Voilà!  A culinary masterpiece!  Also known as the Wrap Planet Asian Salad.
Lettuce, snow peas, mandarin oranges, baby corn, red bell peppers,
roasted peanuts with sweet Thai dressing and crispy noodles.

I know that I keep posting pictures of these restaurant gems that Tiffany and I patronize.  And it's not necessarily that I expect each of you to be fortunate enough to live nearby and experience these establishments yourself.  However ~ perhaps I have piqued enough interest to where you:  (a) seek out that local gem of a business to visit or (b) elect to make yourself a fresh vegetarian salad of your own.

You will have to grant me this much ~ It's a beautiful salad and the ingredients sound delectable.  Vegetarian living is a truly wonderful thing for Tiffany and I.  It's been over two years now since we last consumed animal flesh and we haven't a single iota of regret.  We've never eaten better.  We've never eaten more delicious foods.  We've never eaten a more vast variety of tastes.  And we've met some truly wonderful people along our path to happy living.

Remember... With a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle it's not what you can eat but, rather, what you CAN eat!  I would venture to guess that at least 75% of what Tiffany and I consume we rarely or never ate while living as animal flesh-eating carnivores.  Oh yeah... No animals were harmed during the posting of this blog posting.  :) 

Hi-dee hi-dee we're-so-lucky-to-have-Wrap-Planet-available-to-us-ho!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tofuffalo Sandwich

"Red lights do nothing more than impede the flow of traffic!"

Salutations my fine friend!  Yes it's another day but that's no reason it cannot be a better one that the last.

Tofuffalo Sandwich.
No animals were harmed in the making of this sandwich.

Today is a simple little post.  Basically I found myself staring at a block of extra firm sprouted tofu in the refrigerator that was nearing its time.  Rather than see it spoil and become compost fodder, I thought that I should do something with it.  It was a weekend and I just finished entertaining some company.  I was tired and didn't feel like getting too creative.  Sometimes simple is just better.  

I really wasn't sure how it would come out but felt certain that it could not possibly be terrible.  Why not crumble the tofu into a cast iron skillet and cook it over medium heat until browned.  Remove it from the skillet, add it into a container and add in some Frank's RedHot sauce.  Mix it up and allow it to marinade overnight.

Grill a whole wheat bun, spread on some of the tofu in hot sauce, add some blue cheese crumbles and keep some bean sprouts on the side.  Wallah!  We have an easy, simple, nutritious, and low-fat lunch.

Tofu & hot sauce, blue cheese, and fresh sprouts on a whole wheat bun.

At the office today it could not have been any easier.  I simply tossed the sandwich into the microwave for 45-seconds, topped it with fresh sprouts and thoroughly enjoyed my tasty lunch.  I can hardly wait for another one tomorrow.  It was tasty and satisfied my pre-vegetarian Buffalo Wings craving.

Isn't it strange how sometimes the simplest things have the most incredible taste?  Peanut butter sandwich, grilled cheese sandwich, and now the Tofuffalo sandwich.

Hi-dee hi-dee keep-it-simple-and-keep-thinking-outside-that-culinary-box-ho my friend.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wine Tasting - Seven Daughters Rich Red Winemaker's Blend 2012

"We will review and rate no wine before we've the chance to drink it.  'Tis a terrible predicament indeed."

Greetings friend!  I wish you health, happiness and eco- friendly thoughts this day.  May your heart pulse strong, may your mind think clearly and may your green footprint tread lightly.

This was an interesting wine indeed.  It's a successful blend of seven grape varietals with a new one for Chucky and Tiffany.  Of the hundreds of wines which we have had the pleasure to taste, I do not believe that we've ever had the opportunity to taste the Alicante Bouschet varietal.  It's 17% of the bottles content so I shall deem it favorable.  Good job Henri Bouschet!

Chucky's Point Score:  90
Tiffany's Point Score:  87

Seven Daughters Rich Red Winemaker's Blend 2012

Appellation (See Note 1/):  King City, California
Grape Varietal(s):  35% Merlot, 17% Alicante Bouschet, 16% Grenache, 14% Zinfandel, 10% Syrah, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon
Price:  $10.99 (or 2 for $20) at Eat More Produce in March 2012
Vintage: 2012  (See Note 2/)
Producer: 7 Daughters Winery 
Alcohol:  13.8%

Note 1/:  Cellared ad bottled in and not necessarily grown in.  What does this imply?  Basically, there is a high probability that this vintner simply buys grapes from many crops from many growers from many places within California.  They don't grow their own grapes.  They purchase them from many sources then blend and craft their wine. 

Note 2/:  No year printed on the bottle label and no indication provided at the vintner's web site.  I am simply assuming this to be a vintage ready to drink from the bottle and young. 
Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "Wow!  This wine bustles with deep bold red aromas and taste.  Are my smells deceiving me?  I want to dive into my glass head first! A most delicious blend worth well more than its asking price.  Nice tannins, bold red taste and delicious follow-through.  What more can one ask of a wine?"

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "Love the smooth softness of this wine!  Started out very light, but the dark red fruits and cedar came out with each sip.  I think I would have rated higher if I had waited until the second glass!  Very nice blend of the 7 different grape varietals!  Once again 'Eat More Produce' has not let us down!"

From the label:

Seven Daughters is a unique blend of seven carefully chose grapes crafted into a smooth and intriguing wine.  Like you and your friends getting together ~ as different and yet so perfect together.

We enjoyed a glass with last night's dinner and I can almost swear that this wine tasted even better!  To this end, I suggest allowing it to breathe for a little while when consuming straight out of the bottle.

This wine is a big bold red oxymoron wine.  It packs a punch yet has the subtleness of a softer blend.  It's both elegant and crisp.  The folks at 7 Daughters Winery have blended a most interesting and delightful concoction.  On the initial sip you taste one thing and then seconds later you taste another.  Luckily, it's well-balanced so the tastes on your palate generally follow the notes upon your nose.

Hey!  For only $10 what can anyone ask for?  MOST certainly not a wine of this caliber.  However you think of this wine, I truly believe you will agree it's one heck of a vino value.  But... You better hurry before Tiffany and Chucky scurry back to Eat More Produce to scarf it all up!

Hi-dee hi-dee blended-wines-are-the-sugars-and-spice-upon-my-palate-ho my friend.