Yalumba winery from Australia makes many different varietals of both red and white wines.  Viognier, a grape of French origin is an interesting and unique grape.  Yalumba makes several bottlings of Viognier.  This is their “Y Series” and for $11-13 is an excellent value.

Viognier is often characterized by aromas of melon, peach, and pear and is one of the more floral accented grapes that you will have the pleasure of encountering.  On the palate you’ll notice hints of lemon zest in this refreshing and juicy white wine.  It pairs well with fish, chicken, summer salads (non-vinegar based), and many light appetizers.

– The Wine Buddy



nursery shopping

June 29th, 2012 | Posted by admin in FLOWERS | Outdoor - (0 Comments)

I started the day going to my favorite nurseries to shop for plants for clients.  The day was sunny and gorgeous, all the variables that put me in a great mood.  I stopped at the first spot, bought some wonderful plants, and headed out to another spot.  My senses were on fire, gorgeous plants everywhere.  They had so many plants, standards, and interesting items I haven’t seen elsewhere.  I started to fill a cart… then another cart… all in all 4 carts of flowers were filled to the brim.  I was with a friend but we could not push all four carts into the checkout line.  When as we tried to move one cart to pay shoppers started taking items off our other carts!  There is, I thought, a nursery etiquette… you do not touch another gardener’s cart.  If you see something on a cart you can’t find you ask… you don’t grab.

Now one of us had to stand guard on the plants.  I spent another hour at the shop just refilling plants that were taken, and even then as I stood in line with two carts, seeing my two paid carts ahead of me, patrons were still trying to take items off them.  I love my time shopping and picking the perfect plants for my clients but this day was a bit offsetting.  I made it back to my clients and worked till 7pm, which was not my plan.  The plants were wonderful and as my hands hit the dirt and the magic began the stress of the shopping disappeared.  It is amazing how gardening relaxes and brings you peace.


A fuchsia standard, begonias, coleus, nico vine, lobelia, and impatiens… perfect for shade.


Sometimes the simplest planters are the best. This is an old clay pot birds nest fern and hybrid begonias.  Easy!



recipe: squash blossoms

June 28th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Side Dishes - (0 Comments)

Another great day at the market and I had to pick up the beautiful yellow squash blossoms.  There are so many ways to enjoy the treat but I just love them in a beer batter fried in Canola oil.  You can stuff them with cheese and bake, or just roast with a bit of olive oil and sea salt.


• 1 bunch (12-14) squash blossoms
• 1 ¼ cups of flour
• 1 bottle of beer (your choice) add less beer if you want batter to be thicker
• Dash of chili powder, salt, and pepper
• Canola oil (¾ inch in frying pan



• Heat oil in frying pan.

• Mix flour and beer with spices.

• Coat blossoms and fry in oil.

• Place finished blossoms on paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

• To keep warm and crisp put on a sheet pan and keep warm in oven.


You may want to double this recipe as they disappear faster than you can make them!



father’s day dinner and wine 2012

June 26th, 2012 | Posted by admin in WINE - (0 Comments)

Our main course was grilled Armenian shish kabob (lamb & beef), blended with onions, tomatoes, assorted peppers, and accompanied with a side of Armenian pilaf and Armenian bread.  RECIPE: Armenian Shish Kabob  (Click to Read)

When I hear lamb, I think Australian Shiraz.  When I hear grilled anything, I think Zinfandel.

We started with a MollyDooker 2008 “The Boxer” Shiraz (91 points from the Wine Spectator).  The big fruit forward Australian Shiraz with its peppery complexities made us say “wow”.

Next we opened a Seghesio 2007 Sonoma County Zinfandel (93 points from the Wine Spectator and the #10 wine of the year) which we are savoring while I write this.  Zinfandel may be the perfect wine for grilled meats.  Somewhat similar to the Shiraz, the up-front fruit and spiciness of Zinfandel is an excellent complement to anything on the grill.



recipe: roasted mixed veggies

June 26th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Side Dishes - (0 Comments)

Roasting veggies with fresh herbs and olive oil is ways good!  We added feta cheese but you can add Parmesan.  This is a great way to enjoy summer veggies.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees; prepare veggies of your assortment, dress with oil, herbs, and cheese.  Then cook for approximately 20 minutes.



This is Tammy Kleber’s recipe for her delicious “Three Cities of Spain” cheesecake.


• 1 ½ cups (5 oz) finely ground graham crackers or cookies such as chocolate or vanilla wafers, or gingersnaps.
• 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/8 tsp salt


• 3 (8oz) packages cream cheese, softened (I use Neufachel)
• 4 large eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 cup sugar


• 16 oz sour cream
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 tsp vanilla



• Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a springform pan.  Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

• Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer or food processor until fluffy and add eggs one at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.

• Put spring form pan with crust on a shallow baking pan (to catch drips).  Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan shakes gently.

• Let stand in baking pan on a rack 5 minutes.  Leave oven on.

• Stir together sour cream, sugar, and vanilla.  Drop teaspoonfuls of topping around edge of cake and spread gently over center, smoothing evenly.

• Bake cake with topping 10 minutes,

• Cool completely in spring from pan on rack. (Cake will continue to set as it cools)  Chill cake, loosely covered at least 6 hours.  Remove side from pan and transfer to plate.  Best when brought to room temperature before serving.




• 1 ½ pints (3 cups) blueberries
• ¾ Cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoons cornstarch



• Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over med-high heat.

• Bring to a simmer and cook until berries break down, about 4 minutes.

• Let cool, then refrigerate, covered until cold (up to 3 days).


Note:  Unlike the gluey topping you find in a can, this one cooks down to a syrup using the fresh berries.  Can try this with other berries and fruit as well.



farmers market potatoes

June 25th, 2012 | Posted by admin in RECIPES | Side Dishes - (0 Comments)

After a perfect morning of farmers market shopping I took the great items I had bought and made the potatoes, mushrooms, fresh thyme, and green garlic.  I also found the lemon oil at the market… it’s a great addition to pasta, veggies, and fish or chicken.  There is nothing better for cooking inspiration than a trip to the market.





Shoofly 2010 Shiraz – $8.99 at Total Wine.  This Australian Shiraz received 90 points from the Wine Spectator.  That is an incredible quality to price ratio.  I’ve had one bottle of it and I went back and bought 3 more.  Trust me; I’m not done buying this wine.  It’s a wine that you can drink now or continue to enjoy for the next 5-8 years.  Deals like this don’t come along too often.  I hope that you can find it at this price where you live.  Even if you pay up to $12 for it it’s well worth it.  Complex, spicy, and full of Australian fruit.  Love it!

– The Wine Buddy



We started our Father’s Day feast this year with an appetizer of sun dried tomatoes, wet mozzarella cheese, fresh basil from the garden on asiago cheese bread.  I paired this with Starborough Sauvignon Blanc 2009 from Marlborough New Zealand (90 points from the Wine Spectator).  The citrus in the lemon, grapefruit, grassy flavors and aromas paired wonderfully with the acid in the sun dried tomatoes and creaminess of the mozzarella.



places to go: bahr’s nursery

June 21st, 2012 | Posted by admin in PLACES TO GO - (0 Comments)

If you are from Highland Park you will probably know about Bahr’s, a small nursery with wonderful plants.  If you love geraniums then you have to come visit.  It’s a family business that Tom and Katheryn run but you will see Tom’s parents working too.  If you are looking for quality… meaning beautiful plants, large geraniums, a variety of impatiens, a large succulent selection along with gorgeous baskets, some perennials… stop in.  I could go on and on about the quaint personal nature of the greenhouses, the kindness and knowledge of the owners but really you just have to take a trip and visit yourself.