Boston Wine Expo 2015: Valentine’s Day

Last weekend was Valentine’s Day, which, in my world, can be spent in no better place than with the ones you love and with plenty of booze. This year I had the opportunity to attend the Boston Wine Expo  with my boyfriend for a wonderful Valentine’s Day of love, wine, and wine expo 2015

The Boston Wine Expo is hosted Valentine’s Day weekend in Boston. This year we were expecting a blizzard of epic proportions – estimated to have the strength of a Category 2 hurricane. I had been biting my nails all week, praying that my boyfriend would be able to fly in from Los Angeles and that the Boston Wine Expo would still go on.

boston wine expo valentines dayThis was our first Valentine’s Day together (aww!) and I was hoping that the plans I made for us wouldn’t be ruined. Someone must have been listening because my Valentine flew in on time Friday night and by Saturday afternoon we were trudging through the blizzard to the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center. Despite Sunday’s Grand Tasting cancellation because of the storm, Saturday’s event was great!

Neither myself nor my boyfriend had ever attended the Boston Wine Expo so we were excited to experience it together. The Expo did not disappoint! A big supporter of small businesses and startups, I was happy to see a number of small wineries and local Boston companies as well as small businesses from different parts of the country…and wine, of course.

The World Trade Center is huge and between the food demonstrations, wine-inspired shops, and tastings, there was a lot to see! Sectioned with rows of wines on the inside and food and companies on the perimeter, the Expo was surprisingly easy to navigate despite its size. I enjoyed the New York and Florida wine sections – two states overlooked for their production in the wine industry. There were 25 wineries from New York present and it was the first time that NY wineries took part in the Boston Wine Expo.

new york wineries boston wine expoOn the Boston front, my fan-girl favorite Boston wine company, 90+ Cellars was holding court in the center of the room. They had 4 pallet tables set up for tasting both 90+ Cellars and Ironside Cellars wines. I had been meaning to try Ironside wines and was happy to get to taste their Cabernet Sauvignon.

ironside cellars boston wine expo

But in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I was on the hunt for something pink and fun to drink. Not that I need any excuse for rosé, but nothing says Valentine’s Day like pink wine. The good folks at 90+ Cellars sent me over to Gerard Bertrand for some of their Crémant Rosé and Gris Blanc. Monsieur Bertrand was on point with his delicate bubbles and crystalline rosé. gerard bertrand gris blanc

Wine app and local Boston startup, Drync, was a sponsor of the event. The Drync app, which allows you to scan, rate, find, and buy wine you love, was keeping track of the most popular wines.

drync app boston wine expo

Throughout the day, the Drync team rushed from table to table awarding the “trending” wines on their app with a flag. This not only made the Expo exciting and tied to social media, but it also allowed for attendees to easily follow the user-rated best wines of the day. I’m not exactly a wine connoisseur, so I appreciated being able to rely on the taste buds of Drync users who probably know more than I do about wine.

Once we were tasted-out, the shopping began. Second Glass, the company behind Wine Riot and wine inspired t-shirts, had a table set up at the event. I had seen their shirts before and jumped at the chance to grab one at a reduced Expo price. There’s nothing like shopping after drinking wine, am I right?

second glass drink wicked local tank topMy boyfriend and I snagged matching “Drink Wicked Local” shirts in Boston colors, purely by coincidence and not at all because I’m a weirdo who wanted matching shirts. He got the t-shirt and I got the tank top so we’re arguably not really matching. I love the tank top – cute and soft and perfect for anywhere, including the best yoga studio in Boston where I prefer to sweat out the alcohol I consume.

Despite the weather dumping buckets of snow upon Boston, everyone was in good spirits. One of the things I loved about the Boston Wine Expo was that the crowd of attendees was a mix of different ages. Boston is a young city, which lends itself to bars full of a relatively homogeneous group of young professionals and college students. But the Expo drew people of varying ages and relationships – from couples to friends and groups of singles – just looking to have a fun Valentine’s Day.

90 plus cellars orange sunglasses

I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to attend The 2015 Boston Wine Expo. We spent a snowy day drinking and learning about wine, patronizing small businesses, and having fun – a perfect first Valentine’s Day event in Boston!

Note: I received two free press passes to the Boston Wine Expo, but all opinions and sassiness are my own.

4 Day Food Tour of Los Angeles

Recently I found myself on a trip to Los Angeles thanks to a professional obligation and some personal stuff. Since it was a long weekend on account of Martin Luther King Day, I made the most of having to be out in the sunny California weather for business and got myself there Thursday night to front-load my weekend with fun.

Due to a set of strange but appropriate-for-me circumstances, involving a non-lethal stabbing and health-related family obligations, I’ve found myself in a long distance relationship with a man who is currently living in Santa Monica. This seemingly frustrating situation works out surprisingly well for two people who haven’t done the whole relationship thing in a while and who are secretly trying not to freak out about liking someone while contemporaneously really liking each other. Ain’t love grand?

Anyway, my time in Los Angeles was nice reprieve from the cold Boston weather and looking back from the snow covered tundra called Boston, a huge tease. I spent the weekend doing everything that is physically impossible to do in Boston during the winter, which mostly meant eating without wearing a sweater and three pairs of socks and being outside. Here is my food journey through La La Land.

“People who love to eat are always the best people.”

-Julia Child

Breakfast & Brunch

TACOS POR FAVOR – My first breakfast in the LA area was at a strip club in Santa Monica. Ok, not exactly, but close enough. Tacos Pour Favor, a storefront Mexican place, is adjacent to a gentleman’s club and home to my favorite breakfast burrito of the weekend (yes, there was more than one). My only regret with these breakfast burritos was that I didn’t have room for more in my stomach. Boston is severely lacking in good Mexican food, nevermind breakfast foods, so these breakfast burritos were my jam.


BRICK + MORTAR – We found ourselves at Brick & Mortar on a Saturday in Santa Monica. It was the perfect spot for brunch and people watching. The restaurant offers bottomless mimosas and a Bloody Mary bar stocked with more toppings than you can fit into your glass. The mimosas hit the spot and quelled any insecurity I was feeling being the only non-dolled up woman in the joint. Santa Monica is a breezy fun beach town but I had underestimated the LA vibe that would be present.

brunch brick and mortar LA

In the crowd of fedora-wearing tan people, I chowed down on the egg sandwich on a pretzel croissant. It was huge. Like, can’t eat this all, why didn’t we split something, huge. However, I like to think I was doing my part for the carbohydrate food group, as it was getting little love from the other tipsy brunchers. While the couple next to us split a bowl of fruit, my man friend ordered the chicken and waffles – this is why we get along so well.

brunch brick and mortar santa monicaAROMA COFFEE & TEA – In the true “do it all” spirit of my trip to LA, we ventured out to the Valley where we brunched at Aroma Coffee & Tea. The line was out the door when we arrived, provided some quality time for me to chat with his mother and brother who had joined us for brunch (wait, whaaaat? spoiler: it was great). Aroma is in an old house set on a cute street in the Tujunga Village area of Studio City.

My huevos rancheros were amazing, and once again, too much food. I’m starting to think that chefs in LA get excited when someone orders carbs and pile enough food to feed 5 people. I subbed garlic fries for the breakfast potatoes which was probably the best decision of the day. There were plenty to share, which made me happy that I wasn’t the only one keeping the vampires away with my breath. I wasn’t brazen enough to take a picture of my food in front of the boyfriend’s family – they can find out later how weird I am.


IN-N-OUT – The first thing I did upon arriving in the land of fame excess was to get my greasy carb loving self to In-N-Out. Apparently I’m not alone, as the In-N-Out closest to LAX was packed, but the drive through went faster than expected.

in-n-out sign

It had been over a year since my last experience and I could not have been more excited. I opted for a cheeseburger, animal style, with fries, secretly eyeing my bearded companion’s Double Double. It took massive amounts of self control to actually take the picture of the food before devouring the greasy goodness in 2 minutes flat.

in-n-out LA

THE CHURCH KEY – Hailed as West Hollywood’s best new date spot and featured on this season’s Best New Restaurant, The Church Key did not disappoint. The American Dim Sum style restaurant nailed it with both cocktails and food. We sipped on the Yoda’s Staff and Fashioned Chai, which was recommended by the server.

the church key LA

A chronic sufferer of cocktail indecision, I’m was appreciative of the help – it was a toss up between the Chai and the Alfred, the Butler. My favorite dishes were the Mediterranean style Ahi Tuna Tartar (with pomegranate arils, Greek yogurt, and pistachios) and the Angus Beef “Shabu Shabu”. We also got the Crispy Pork Belly, which was good, but not something I’d order again. Pork belly is one of those things that I want to love but can’t – it’s just too fatty for me.

church key LA review
church key LA review


HIGH ROOFTOP LOUNGE – On a beautifully clear night we found ourselves at the High Rooftop Lounge at the Erwin Hotel in Venice Beach at sunset. It’s the only rooftop lounge in Venice Beach, making it a prime spot for both people and sunset watching.

high rooftop lounge venice beach


EVELEIGH – We checked out Eveleigh, a restaurant and bar in a residence sitting on an orchard in Los Angeles. Totally normal. It was packed, as it was a Friday night, but we managed to squeeze in at the bar on the outdoor patio to grab some drinks. Both the front and back of the restaurant have outdoor patios that, despite having ample seating, have an intimate feel.


photo via Eveleigh website

AREAL – On the same day that we brunched at Brick + Mortar, we also went to Areal for an evening cocktail before heading out for the night. Areal was yet another California restaurant and bar with ridiculously inviting outdoor seating that made me cringe at the thought of going back to snow-covered Boston. When we got there the temperatures had dropped to a “frigid” 50something so we imbibed at the bar. My drink was great, a whisky one, and kept warm in the low temps (ha, ha, haha).

areal santa monica

GOLDEN ROAD BREWERY – No trip of mine is complete without beer and my trip to LA was no exception. I took the opportunity to maximize my time in LA by inviting friends I wanted to see to the brewery. Both friends have adorable pugs and thanks to Golden Road Brewery’s outdoor area, I was able to enjoy beer while playing with dogs – it doesn’t get better than that! We got two flights, one regular, one IPA, which were yummy and will be reviewed in another post.

The best thing about Golden Road Brewery was the outdoor dog-friendly area. The area is large, spanning the front of the Brewery and Pub and wrapping around on one side. It’s covered on top to protect beer drinkers from the sun – a must in LA. Both the beer and the company made it a great visit.

golden road brewery LA dog patio

With only 4 days in the Los Angeles area, I ate and drank more than most do in a week. This was by no means a complete food tour of LA and only left me wanting more. I have no doubt that I’ll be back in the Spring to continue stuffing my face in front of the pretty people California. In the meantime, I will be dreaming of patio dining, while eating chili and enduring the long Boston winter.

Love in the time of instagram

A recent text message conversation had me thinking about dating in a time of social media. Particularly how strange and telling, yet remarkably organic, it is.  If you’re like me and you’re a self-proclaimed social media guru, chances that you’re going to date someone and NOT stalk the ever loving crap out of them on social media is slim to none.  Facebook pictures of college exes that make your stomach turn are nothing.  I’m talking about how after a couple of cocktails you both realize you’re on Twitter and Instagram and make the bold and possibly regrettable move of following each other and delving into the mind of someone who you barely know.  And any fantasy you ever had of this other person is gone forever.

What sounded like fun while you’re trying to network or make new friends or get more followers will morph into a wrath of agonizing insecurity and self doubt.  Do I post too many selfies?  Why was he liking all of my selfies late at night?  That’s kind of creepy.  I bet he’s wondering what my butt looks like naked with all of the burger pics I post.  Man I post a lot of burger pics.  Mmm, burgers… Why can’t I keep my food offline?  Control yourself woman! Speaking of which, he hasn’t answered my texts all night.  Is he on a date? He just ‘grammed chocolate cake for TWO at the hottest new restaurant in town. Who’s that girl who liked his pic in 30 seconds?  Oh crap, that’s me–UNLIKE, UNLIKE!

You’re no longer mysteriously sexy (attributable to the burgers pics you post) and any veil of anonymity is completely gone.  He’s knows you’re not out tearing up the town.  You blew your cover showing off your yoga pants and free wine that you got in the mail.

But that’s ok, because chances are he’s just as bad as you.  You’ll find that poem posted 63 weeks ago that would be better off as lyrics to a Goo Goo Dolls song written on a bathroom stall at a rest stop in Ohio in 1998.  The cleverly crafted tweet posted 6 days too late.  The Zorro Halloween costume taken a LITTLE too seriously.  Or the cat memes.  So many cat memes. OMG, did you really go out with a man who posts cat memes?!

It’s a strange world we live in and even stranger to date in.  That’s love in the time of Instagram.

how to “network” aka “pick someone up” using linkedin

While I’m off at my legal convention in California, I’m throwing down some more advice.  For my first batch, see my post about legal advice.

If you’re a professional in the working world, or hoping to be, LinkedIn is a valuable networking tool.  It’s also one of the stealthiest pickup best job hunting sites around.
You’re probably thinking, “Yeah ok, crazy lady, who uses LinkedIn to pick up a potential partner?” and the answer is everyone.  I know this because I’ve done it.  I also joined Friendster back in the day to make a connection with a hot guy at a party but that’s completely irrelevant and proves how old I am…but in case you’re wondering, we dated for a year.
Say you’re looking for a new job, or relocating to a new city, or just want to feel important so you’re looking through your contacts, checking out the “people you might know” feature, and boom! Super hot guy/girl with job in your field.

In your head you’re already trying on his last name because, let’s face it, that’s something us chicks do when we see a super hot guy, unless you’re like me and have decided not to change your last name again professionally because it’s just too much of a hassle.  So maybe you try on your first names for size and any obvious celeb nicknames.
But before you get too involved, use the power of Google.  Google the crap out of that man to make sure you’re not creeping on some married dude.  Search for: “hot guy’s name married“, “hot guy’s name wedding” and “hot guy’s name registry“. While you’re at it, Google “hot guy’s name probation“, “hot guy’s name sex offender registry” and “hot guy’s name felony” just in case his company doesn’t believe in background checks.
If things come up clear, you’re golden.  You have to be stealthy about how you make contact because no one wants to come off as a stalking psycho.  Do you have any connections in common? Did you go to school together or at least the same school? Does he have a job that you’re interested in?  That’s not stalking, it’s called research.
Use any of those tools to connect and send a message along with it.  Something like “I noticed you’re profile and it seems like we had parallel lives 5 years apart.  How’d you end up in ABC city from XYZ college?” or “I’m relocating to this city/looking to broaden my network and noticed you’re involved in (insert association here that you’re stalked from their profile). Are the events worth going to?” or “Wow, I noticed you checked out my LinkedIn profile, are you stalking me or just doing research?”
Creepy? slightly.  Ballsy? you betcha. Successful? totally.
What have you got to lose?  In the worst case, you get no response.  If you ever meet in real life he’s that douche who couldn’t give a young eager professional 30 seconds of his time.  Best case scenario, you make a new friend/network connection/get a job or a boyfriend out of it.  
So go ahead, you creepy creepsters (because we all are), get LinkedIn, and get connecting!
This is a nonendorsed post.  In fact, I’m pretty sure LinkedIn be appalled at what I’m suggesting.

monday musings

1. When you’re scheduled to go on a date to a shooting range then out to dinner at a Malaysian restaurant, it’s completely normal to freak out about what to wear.  

This happened to me on Saturday when I was going on a date to, you guessed it, a shooting range and a Malaysian restaurant.  It was a second date so I wanted to look cute but I knew that heels would be totally out of the question at a gun range. Aside from the fact that heels coupled with my hot pink ear protection would get me laughed out of the range faster than a speeding bullet, high heels and gun safety just don’t mix.  Bringing a pair of heels to change in to crossed my mind but on a second date, would have put me into the “high maintenance” category.  

Never being one to miss an opportunity to dress up, I decided to channel my inner Lara Croft and pair tight blank skinny pants with flat black boots for the occasion.  But since it’s winter in New Jersey I skipped the sexy blank tank and opted for a sweater and cute necklace.  My inspiration was good in theory, but in practice I looked nothing like my muse.  Coincidentally, the gun range was full so I ended up rocking non-tomb raiding, casual date outfit at a restaurant with an awesome beer selection and then later at a bar for a scotch tasting.  

Sweater and Necklace: H&M // Pants: Israeli boutique // Boots: Sam Edelman (buy)
Back view.  Love the seams on the sweater.
2. Crowds at the mall two days before Christmas are not a deterrent for bargain shoppers.

I met up with my mom at the mall after Sunday brunch.  I was on the hunt for a cute short necklace and working on getting over my love-hate relationship with booties.  I got the necklace at Forever 21 and did some minor damage at Joe Fresh, a Canadian store that has amazing sales.  I said minor damage because of the insane sale they were having.  I got a pair of blue skinny jeans, a sequin-sleeved top, a long cardigan, a super cute ski-inspired sweater that I couldn’t find on the website and a pair of tights all for under $60!  Booties, however, may never find themselves on my feet.  As much as I want to love them, I just can’t do it.  

Recent Purchases 12/23/12

Shirt: Joe Fresh (buy)
Pants: Joe Fresh (buy)
Necklace: Forever 21 (buy)

3. Gifts from Santa must be wrapped in a different wrapping paper than gifts from parents.
I spent the rest of Sunday helping a friend wrap gifts for his kids and nephews and other family members.  After using my mad gift wrapping skills to turn footed pajamas into penguin-swathed works of art with ribbons and bows, my friend casually mentioned that I used some of the same wrapping for both the Santa and the non-Santa gifts.  Having never wrapped Christmas presents from Santa before, this was news to me.  Apparently kids notice these things (seriously?!) and this so little Jewish elf found herself schlepping to CVS for different patterned paper and drowning her sorrows at almost ruining Christmas in a marshmallow Santa.  No pic because, you know, evidence.

4. There’s nothing like finding a Pinspiration and realizing you have everything in your closet to complete the look.

If you don’t understand how exciting this is, get thee to Pinterest immediately!  You can find me there under the name moniker…or let me know if you can’t and we’ll work on it.

Me (left) and Pinspiration (right)
Top: Old Navy // Necklace: Stella and Dot (buy) // Jeans: Banana Republic // Boots: United Colors of Benneton // Purse: Onna Ehrlich (buy)