Category Archives: Food & Beverage

Renwood 2004 Barbera: $6

Renwood 2004 Barbera

Yay, finally a wine under $10 worth writing about! Tonight, I had dinner with friends at Coalfire Pizza (you HAVE to go, if you live in Chicago – it’s super chill and offers delicious pizza) after a failed attempt to go to Piece (March Madness is STILL not over – argh!). We arrived at Coalfire to realize it was BYOB. My wine connoisseur friend, Chris, and his girlfriend Suzelle, immediately made a beeline for nearby Randolph Wine Cellars to pick something up. According to their account of the events, Chris headed to the fancy wines he knew. Suzelle, meanwhile struck up a conversation in the front of the shop. After she mentioned that she was dining with friends at Coalfire and asked for a suggestion, the staff recommended a 2004 Renwood Barbera.

Fast forward 20 minutes… With the wine open, we all toasted Suzelle’s birthday as Chris recounted the goings-on at Randolph Wine Cellars. He got to the point of the story I recounted above, when he stopped, and said, “Have a few more sips. Then I’ll tell you the rest of the story.”

So, we had a few more sips, deemed the wine delicious, and Chris continued triumphantly: “So, the last part of the story is that the wine cost $6 a bottle!” A little background: Chris does not skimp on quality when it comes to wine. The night before his birthday, he generously shared a couple bottles of Stag’s Leap Artemis with us. The Artemis averages about $50 a bottle, depending on the year. And it’s quite good.

I had tasted the Renwood’s Old Vine Zin on several past occasions, and it was not particularly memorable. But the Barbera was delicious – I’m not an expert at identifying tasting notes, but it had a lot a fruit, and almost a caramel-y, smooth finish. And just a touch of smokiness, probably from whatever oak whence it came.



Amy’s Mattar Paneer: $4.50


Anybody who works with me knows about my *small* obsession with Indian food. It’s a fairly recent thing for me; getting older apparently makes spicy food yummier.  Or maybe it’s living in a big city, with an abundance of international restaurants that cater to my every food whim?

The one thing that is for certain is that Amy’s prepared meals are TASTY. And the Indian variety are a lunchtime staple for me. The Mattar Paneer meal, which consists of savory rice, peas, paneer (which is like cottage cheese, with a consistency of firm tofu), and chick peas in a delicious tomato gravy, is my favorite. Spiced with cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and mace, it’s the perfect balance of savory and delicate.

What I especially like is the heartiness of it. I’m not a vegetarian, but I try not to eat meat daily, and this meal makes me full despite being vegetarian. The best part is that all ingredients are organic. I know that “certified organic” is a loose term by FDA standards (read the Ominvore’s Dilemma if you want to know why), but I like the idealism of it all.

Bigelow Constant Comment Tea: $6

Constant Comment Tea

My mom and mom-in-law will probably be on board with this one: there is nothing more comforting than a cup of Constant Comment tea. (Note: link shows price for case, which is 6 boxes – thanks for the correction, Valorie!)

Strong, slightly sweet tea flavored with spices and orange rind, Constant Comment will always take me to a happy place. The best part? It comes in caffeinated, decaf, and green tea varieties.

I’ll never forget when I was first “leaving the nest” to start my career in Atlanta, and my parents were helping me stock my first apartment in Dunwoody. Dad triumphantly appeared, grinning ear-to-ear, at the checkout with a 40-bag box of Constant Comment Tea. I loved that he knew how much it would make me feel at home.