Sunday, February 26

Brunch at Scarpetta

Now this is living.  Or rather this is eating. The Montage Beverly Hills Brunch Buffet can be summed up in one word: lavish. 
 A brisk walk through the elegant (ok it's a little Venetian Vegas Tacky, but I'm trying to build suspense for the best brunch you will ever experience .. yes experience), you pass by a quaint lounge where a petite women lazily strings a harp.  Taking a left along the veranda takes you to the hostess stand at Scarpetta. 
The outdoor speakers broadcasting the performance indoors was reason enough for me to request an outdoor table overlooking the fountain on a perfect 75 degree day.

Once I ordered my $17 bottomless mimosa and $10 flat water, it was off to explore the spread.

What makes this place out of this world amazing to me is that there is a representative from the Beverly Hills Cheese Store (- the most coveted of all food stores -- the cheese Mecca, heaven on earth -- carrying the rarest and loveliest of cheeses, truffles olives and more -- they're so incredible, they don't even need a formal name -- they are THE cheese store). So while Matt went to scope out the shmorgasboard, I stopped at the cheese station to chat up the lovely connoisseur.  I told her to surprise me with a plate, and she promised to deliver the decadent cheeses and accompaniments table side within the next 15 minutes.

So off to the kitchen, where you walk through the actual prep stations to begin piling your plate higher and higher.   Overwhelmed and anxious, you'll first stumble upon a pastry station with scones, muffins, croissants and baguettes served aside fresh preserve spreads.  Choose wisely and don't fill up here, the croissants are enormous! 

Next on to the raw bar, with succulent crab, jumbo shrimps, seared ahi tuna, seaweed salads, raw salmon and an assortment of sushis.  Go ahead! Get your money's worth!  These are the items that turn this brunch into a $68/person affair. The salmon has a lovely citrus flavor and the tuna was tasty, but the sushi was nothing special. 

Back to the kitchen for a slice of the meats and all of the vegetable side dishes, which are light but packed with flavor and absolutely scrumptious.  The prime rib is served with a variety of reductions and glazes, all of which looked delectable, but rather heavy.  I tried just a bite of the meats with horse radish and a red wine glaze.  I put a bit of pasta on my plate as well, but wasn't exceptionally impressed.  I would skip the pasta next time around.

When the cheese plate finally come I already felt as if I was pregnant and close to birthing a food baby, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the creamy sheeps milk cheese, rich goat cheese, powerful blue and sweet brie.  With honey comb, figs, pistachios and a cracker assortment, I was in absolute heaven. 

A brief 20 minute break to sip my mimosa and enjoy the thanksgiving meal lull one suffers after eating 3 times one's body weight in a single sitting.   The desserts are located in a the bar area, which is perfect - because it's dark and hidden so you can avoid being seriously judged for taking one of all 20+ desserts offered.  You can't go wrong with the mini cookies, little custard filled doughnuts, and mousse cups.


Lessons Learned:
1.  Go to the cheese station first, as it can take some time to have your plate made and brought tableside.

2.  Sit outdoors, there's the most beautiful and relaxing fountain, the tables are expansive, and the heat lamps are a blazin'.

3. survey the scene before you start piling up.   Think strategically and don't waste calories on the non-exotics (i.e. california roll or sliders)

4. Get the french toast with the Nutella and Ricotta spread first with some bacon or other breakfast essentials.  The syrup is vermont fresh and the french toast is absolutely out of this world.  Come back up for the raw bar and the carved meats, try a little of each of the vegetable side dishes, they're so flavorful and pair nicely with the meats.

4.B.  No really, get the french toast.  I have never, not at the Griddle, not even in France, seen french toast done so impeccably.  Soft gooey middle with a flakey cinnamon sugar encrusted crust, it basically begs you to drench it in dar k grade A maple syrup.  But the real zinger is the nutella ricotta spread - it's simply ingenious.

5. Don't get hung up on the croissants and pastries.  They're good, but the ones you'll get tomorrow at Urth Cafe are just as -if not more- delicious.

6. Have everyone in your party chose two or three desserts so you can reach some sort of dessert consensus on what everyone just can't leave without taking a spoonful. I know your full, but the desserts are not to be overlooked!  My favorite was this fabulous tapioca-like caramel pudding and the peanut butter cookies.  But you really can't go wrong with the poached pairs or little chocolate lava cakes either.

7. Take your time and enjoy yourself!  This is an expensive meal! Plan on spending 2 hours at brunch and really soaking up the experience. 

8.  And for god's sake spring for the mimosas.  I know, I know, you just spent so much on food and it's not even noon, but $17 for bottomless mimosas at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills?  That's not a bad deal now is it.

9.  Oh and this should go without saying, but wear lose fitting clothing. And go with your cousin Eddie or equally daft so you can totally pig out with abandon in front of your company.

Monday, February 20

Weekend in Stowe, VT: SKIING

1. don't ski if there's a frost bite warning.  You didn't listen to me and bought tickets anyways because your a true new englander and you ain't afraid of no frigid ghosts.  Dummies.  Go back inside and get a turtle fur neck warmer, you're going to thank me when you hit the top of the mountain and the thermometer reads 26 below.  yepp. below.

2. Waste no time or money at the mansfield base lodge.  The food is akin to fast food, but less tastey and double the price and you won't find seating, ever.  Eat lunch at Octagon on top of the mountain or Cliff house if you're feeling fancy.  Another fabulous option is the great room grille and spruce bar.  Get the chili (the real one - don't try to save calories for the chicken chili like i did).  With all the fixins.

3.  Save your hot chocolate craving and opt for apple cider, it's locally brewed and tastes orgasmic. ok i'm pushing it with orgasmic, but in below 26 degree weather warm sand would probably go down okay.  Either way, I'm a sucker for locally produced ..and the cider really is damn good.

4.  Get cheddar cheese.  on everything.  Also locally produced and it's incredibly sharp and scrumptious.

5.  Don't get a half day.  You only save $10.  Stop whining, get out of bed, and make a day of it.

6. If you're on a snowboard, don't attempt Toll Road, Armandos Alley or Cut Across.  You'll end up cursing up a snow-storm as you unstrap your board to walk "down" the uphill trail.

7. Keep chapstick readily available for Upper Sterling.  It's so pretty you'll want to stop and steal smooches at least twice.

8. Ear warmers are a gimmick.  And an embarrassing fashion faux pas one at that.

9. waterproof mascara, chapstick and ...if you must.. bronzer.  that's it.  You'll get judged more for wearing makeup and "looking presentable" then you will for letting your freckles and (gasp) real skin color show.  Ski resorts are one of the last places where pretty isn't measured by the length of your eye lashes or tint of your cheeks.  Lets embrace this chicas.

10. return your ski cards (fancy huh!), you'll get reimbursed $10.

Thursday, February 16

Weekend in Stowe, VT: DINING

   Boasting the NY Times praise "The world's most Decadent Breakfast", the Dutch Pancake House at the Grey Fox Inn is a Stowe must.
   The menu offers more than 80 variations of the dutch pancake, which is a magical 12" crepe-like pancake with anything and everything baked into or sprinkled atop. To be difficult, I made up my own with bananas, blueberries, toasted coconut and walnuts... and it truly was decadent.  These pancakes give you an excuse to let the locally produced maple syrup free flowly.  I also had the joy of sinking my fork into a dutch pancake with eggs, bacon, and cheddar cheese baked into it.  Might sound unappealing, but I wasn't shy with the maple syrup on this unique twist on the traditional breakfast either.
   Oh and the mimosas are only $6.50, and the bloody marys are made with locally distilled vodka. 5 stars.

Weekend getaway to Stowe, Vermont : LODGING

   As a life long New England skiier and snowboarder, I have conquered nearly every acclaimed mountain in NH VT MA and ME.  Stowe, however, was one of the few areas I still hadn't visited.  Known for the superb conditions and quaint villages, my boyfriend was surprised I had yet to ski one of the top rated mountains in NE, and after my weekend there -- I'm surprised too!

  With a gondola that takes you straight from the lobby to the mountain, the best lodge is hands down the Stowe Mountain Resort and Spa.  The resort is elegant but comforting with live piano music, local artisan cheeses and drinks in their den that's conveniently nestled at the base of the Mt Mansfield.   The best rate we found was for a double occupancy room for a $300 and change. 
Stowe Mt lodge: enjoying wine and cheese!

We opted for Top Notch Resort and spa instead, at $220 a night.  The hotel is very unassuming. The parking lot and front entrance seem uninviting and far from glamorous, but as the porter grabs your skiis and ushers you into the foyer, the charm of this hotel becomes apparent.  Typical Vermont decor, with carved wood, moose heads mounted, fireplaces roaring, throws and nicknacks strewn about.  Quintessential Vermont hotel from every aspect of the lobby and structure of the resort.  If the entire hotel kept with this rugged comfort then I would have been more than pleased with my stay, but they added elements of luxury at every corner that took my stay from a 3 star up to a 4.   The HD plasma tvs in the room were nearly 50", the bathroom was stocked with luxury grapefruit infused products,  and the bed was enormous and plush.  They seamlessly blended the modern luxuries with the bed and breakfast style decor.

  The rooms are lovely, but the real selling point for TopNotch is their spa.  With worldwide recognition, they have created a true oasis nestled into the slopes of VT.  Full service salon, spa, yoga studio, fitness center, indoor/outdoor tennis courts with instructors, suana indoor/outdoor pool and jacuzzis with a doting and extremely professional staff.  A+ on amenities.

   The only complaint I have is with the food - or lack there of.  They could have seriously wooed me with a wine and cheese hour following the ski day, some apples and granolas with the complimentary coffee, or even some fruit for sale in the little gift store.  Moreover, the restuarant Normas was very sub par.  Tacky decor squished into an extremely cramped dining room with a menu struggling to deliver exotic and refined when they should have focused their attention on taste and comfort.   The fondue cheese fries were just french fries with a very mild cheese dumped on top, reminding me of the orders I'd place at 4AM at the college diner.  Startlet chicken salad comprised of a basic chopped salad with two dainty chickens atop.  The dressing was fresh and zesty, but the little birds were overcooked and the presentation was poor.   The rest of the meal bored me, but the real disappointment was the dessert. The apple tart was a glorified puff pastry filled with apple sauce and accompanied by the worst ice cream I have ever wasted calories on.  This was the first time I've ever been disappointed by ice cream - but this truly was that bad.  The texture of custard, but with the flavor of chalk.

Wednesday, February 15

Valentines Day

What a fabulous holiday.
    A day dedicated to celebrating love and appreciating the special bond you share with another person.  A bond held together by a mutual love for one another's idiosyncrasies ...a bond that creates inside jokes out of mundane occurrences and breathtaking memories out of the ordinary, a bond that's so wonderfully unique that you couldn't possibly describe it in a way that makes sense to an outsider.
  Okay, so I'm a hopeless romantic ..who is also hopelessly in love with someone who still makes me blush, giggle and pop my leg mid kiss after three years of dating. But still, Valentine's day is a jubilation of love ..and underneath the overpriced singing cards and the blind robbery by edible arrangements, there is something so raw and beautiful about that.
As I have so stealthily hinted above, if you're not careful, it's easy to let Valentines Day turn into a commericalized nightmare.
Price fix says it all.  Taking a perfectly good restaurant, hiking the prices, cramping in seating and turning waitstaff into zombie-like fast food churning engines can transform a once elegant restaurant into a glorified wendy's at noon ...with linen napkins. I personally prefer a romantic home cooked meal or a small quaint hidden gem.  I'd even opt for a ordering an appetizer and pizza at the bar, but as the dinner hour neared we finally succombed to the Vday pressure and bokoed a last minute reservation.

We chose a Back Bay Italian restuarant I've been meaning to try - Sorellina.  The decor is gorgeous - extremely modern and spacious with eyecatching artwork strewn half hazardly on the walls.  i love how the restaurant is so unimposing, you have to really know about it to find the tucked away entrance facing copley square. 

While the decor was nice and the menu intrigued me - I couldn't shake the feeling that we were at a speed dating event. As a former waitress, it takes a lot to pull criticism of waitstaff out of me - but our server was extremely pushy and demanding.  She left me rushed when I was craving relaxation and romance.  I thought the food was absolutely delicious, and while expensive, I enjoyed the small but  creative dishes.

I ordered the Endive Salad, which consisted of  8 or so delicate endives with large wedges of a sweet and creamy gorgonzola, apples and walnuts. The dish was petite, with a beautiful presentation and a rich flavor.  I also tried the bucatini pasta - eggs, crisp pancetta, smoked bacon and we subbed a pink vodka sauce for the creamy white sauce. The flavor was bold and I enjoyed the texture of the crunchy meats against the soft pasta.

Matt was less than impressed, especially when our meager meal and 3 glasses of prosecco still brought us over $100.  We ended up grabbing drinks at City Table and Matt ordered the Ragu he had been eyeing.  Back up to the hotel room for cake and champagne in front of a real fire place.  I'm smiling just remembering it now.

 To be showered with affection and surprised (and okay.. the best present I could ever ask for!) by someone who I am still so incredibly head over heels in love with does make me a little biased, but Valentines Day is still magical to me - and this year was no exception. A day to make me stop and remember that I am the luckiest girl in the world <3


Wearing my Valentines day present :) :) :)


Ragu at City table.  Yes, Matt was still hungry!

Friday, February 10

Motorcycle Diaries - My year in motorcycle pictures.

Favorite Spanish movie?  Easy.  Diarios de motocicleta.
from Scottsdale, AZ, to the Grand Canyon,  to Cape Cod, to Manhattan Beach, to Beverly Hills, here's my rendition. Subtitles to come..


Lessons Learned:
1. While it might look cool to take off the windshield on the bike, you don't want your face to be the substitute, like Matt's face unfortunately was.
2. Don't wear shorts, a dress, or skirt on the bike or you may end up with a 3rd degree burn on the inside of your leg, like I unfortunately am now forever branded with.
3. Don't ride the bike during the day in Arizona in the dead of the summer or you may end up finding yourself in a 120 degree barren wasteland, like we did.
4. Don't ride the bike during the night in Arizona in the dead of the summer or you may end up wasting an exuberant amount of money on tacky sweatshirts, hats and gloves from overpriced tourist traps, like we did.
5. Don't try to snap photos while riding on the back of the bike. It's more dangerous than I make it look!  Also don't try to steal kisses, tickle, sing or give wet willies, they don't go over well with the driver.

Fashion Fridays

In honor of Fall fashion week, I'll leave fashion friday's post in the hands of the timeless fashion editor Caroline Palmner of Vogue.

Vogues A-Z fashion week list

Thursday, February 9

Merecedes Benz Fashion Week, Fall 2012 -- February 9th

How jealous are you that I get to watch all of NY Fashion Week from the comfort of my desk? Props to working for a modeling agency.  Now if I could only convince them to send me to the actual shows.

FEB 9th
9am - Nicholas K
10am - BCBGmaxazria  *excited!
11am - Richard Chai
2pm - Tadashi Shoji ***

Nicholas K - Not entirely impressed, but I do like the neutral color scheme and the cowboy hats intrigue me. The re-introduction of loose fiting capris coupled with shimmery fringe tank tops seemlessly blends comfortable & edgy with a touch of feminity. 

BCBG - what an entrance. Love how they set the bar for the show with two of the most fabulous jackets ever. I am a slave for BCBG.  Like always, reinventing fashion with a limited palate of colors and block patterns.   Thank you for keeping fur jackets at the forefront of fall '12 too. 
                                                                           why can't this be me?

Richard Chai - My intitial thought was that I liked the line, for a Banana Republic ad. But what a pleasant surprise the show ended up being!  Obsessed with the silky plum colored pattern tops, wide leg pants in what looks like velour, and the boho-esque skirts that are really pants!  Nice touch with the napsack & unique collars for the males.

Tadashi - you hold such a special spot in my heart.  The ultimate romantic line with silky fabrics that cascade over the models and patterns that beg for a second look. The detailing is beautiful and the execution seamless.

FEB 10th
2pm - Rebecca Taylor
3pm - Rebecca Minkoff
6pm - Nicole Miller ***
7pm - Charlotte Ronson 

FEB 11th
10am - Lacoste
11am - Jill Stuart
3pm - Herve Ledger by Max Azria ***
6pm - Tibi
7pm - Monique LHuillier

FEB 12th
2pm - Tracey Reese
3pm - Custo Barcelona
4pm - Diane Von Furstenberg ***

FEB 13th
10am - Caroline Harrera
11am - Carols Miele
3pm - Reem Acra
5pm - Bibhu Mohapatra
6pm - Betsey Johnson

FEB 14th
10am - Badgely Mischka ***
11am - Vera Wang
3pm - Dennis Basso
8pm - Narciso Rodriguez

FEB 15th
10am - Michael Kors ***
2pm - J. Mendel 
3pm - Milly by Michael Smith
6pm - Anna Sui
7pm - Vivienne Tam  ***

Wednesday, February 8

Observations through the steam of my hot cocoa

So I'm cold and grumpy. To torture myself i've decided to do a cute little photo comparison.

                                              February 2012 in Halifax, MA

                                          February 2011 in Beverly Hills, CA

Tuesday, February 7

Superbowlin' in Southie

Friday morning I chucked all of my precious belongings into an oversized tote and caught the train to Boston.

Initially, I planned to revisit Vegas for a superbowl weekend of binge drinking, gambling and trolling the clubs for Scott Disicks, but the New England fever got the best of me.

Maybe it was the prospect of trading stilletos and fake eye lashes for jeggings and flat boots.  Or cosmos and sushi for bud lights and buffalo chicken dip.  Or maybe my blood does have that NE pride running think no matter how much I deny it.   Whatever the reason, it seemed illogical, and even wrong, to spend superbowl Sunday anywhere other than Southie.

Friday flip cup with neighbors folded into putting in a 10 hour shift at Stats Bar & Grille. Stats is both horrible and fabulous at the same time.  You'll run into everyone you had forgotten about from college, or high school, or that random time you drank keg beer on an E street rooftop party. Its cozy and clean (somewhat of an anomaly), the food is scrumptious -- of course especially the pizza, nachos and buffalo chicken, and they serve pitchers of bud light for cheap!  I still spent $80, but two meals and a dozen drinks at $80 is qutie the bargain. Sat night at Whiskey Priest, of course.  We had to get classy at least one night, right?

Gameday started off at Cranberries, which I have to give a bunch of stars to.  This healthy and affordable cafe has everything from protein smoothies to homemade mufins to eggwhite omelettes and fresh soups.  The antique decorations, white washed walls and friendly baristas give a southern vibe to this hidden little gem. To experience the superbowl southie-style, we decided the only option was beer and making any appetizer we could douse in franks hot sauce.
                      Pats - epic loss.   Chelsea & Mary's southie superbowl party experience - big W.

Exposed brick? so southie.
slugging mimosas? not so southie. 
Buying your own andre champagne & generic brand oj to save money on mimosas? perhaps a little more southie.

Lessons Learned:
1.  If you're at a bar long enough to order brunch and dinner, you've been there too long.
2. You must fake a Boston accent or you will be demonized. ok fine, well you'll be suspiciously questioned about your origin.
3. Even if bars in southie have drink menus, they're going to snicker at you if you ask for one.  Don't do it.  If you did it anyways because you can't follow directions, then when the bartender does roll her eyes snort and say you're kidding you'll have a pitcher of pbr. with one glass.
4.  Southie makes everything buffalo.  And thus, everything tastes so good.  Just get the buffalo chicken wings/pizza/bites/omelettes and feel bad about it some other time.  Southie gals aren't calorie counters.  And they aren't particularly receptive to the non-southians who order plain salads with grilled chicken or (gasp) get egg whites.

Friday, February 3

Fashion Fridays

Some days, i'm filled with bitterness while window shopping through Copley Mall.  

Other days, I'm stopped in my tracks by the marketing geniuses dreaming up the next window display.  

This one is so utterly fabulous that I'm not even filled (too much) with spite that I might never own my own Louis (cue Jennifer Hudson's renting a Louie scene from Sex in the City)

Fashion Fridays

So in the never ending battle to stay chic and trendy while living on mere pennies, I come to you with my new blog idea (i know, this blog is all over the place).   I die for over the top trends and would wear anything fun and outragous, but unfortunately Boston doesn't share my same style obsession.  So here it goes.  The first of many Fashion Fridays.

My February affordable obsessions:
*Jeans: grey and dark blue (Macys)
*Nail polish: Rimmel steel grey (cvs)
*Makeup: Michael khors makeup line with Estee Lauder, esp the blush + eye shadow palette (Macys)
*Look: silky summer dresses in neutrals/light colors with a plain sweater over & tights
*Shoes: 6 inch + platform lace up booties (Bakers)
*Pattern: anything paisley, neutral or dark colors
*Velvet: get a pair of velvet skinnys! also long sleeve velvet dresses are a must (American Apparel)
*Tops: Fell in love with a white blouse/black color oversized shirt from the 80s hidden in my mom's closet. it has diamond buttons and detailing around the neckline. Found similar ones at (Zara)
*Accessories: (like always) over stated and layered jewelry & infinity scarves. Oh and those adorable little fur neck scarves, too cute. I'm big into dark grey & purple opaque tights too. Chain headbands. Light pink big rimmed glasses frames. (Francescas)

I know, quite a scowl on my face. But Fridays morning aren't my best when I spend Thursday nights at a launch of National Jean Company's new store on Newbury with free flowing prosecco floats and stoli drinks.
But anyways, how cute right? Perfect for Friday .. because I can sub out the white longsleeve for a silky top and the flats for heels and I'm ready to club it! (okay well maybe, a re-application of makeup and some fake eye lashes and i'd be ready to club it, but you get the idea)
Necklace: Gift from boyfriend for xmas  (but you could find a similar one at anthropologie for $20)
Shirt: Old Navy, $6   ...switch to white tank top $4, H&M
Fur Vest: Marc Jacobs, Gift from Mom for xmas (but you could find a similar one for $20 at h&m, bought an off-white one yesterday)
Skinny black dress pants: Target, $20, these are a god-sent.  Cotton-Spandex blend.  Fits like really thick leggings, but there is a clever pleat down the front and back that make them office appropriate. Bought them in Dark Grey too.
Ring: So Good Jewelry, $6
Shoes: Boutique in Naples, Italy, 10euros (similar ones at Zapatos)

TOTAL: $70

Observations from the bubbly.

The daunting pessimism about the future is inescapable today. Growing up in a country embedded in individualism and the pursuit of materialistic prosperity, my generation is embedded with the notion that success is measured solely by wealth. With an unstable economy and poor job market for college graduates, feelings of shame and hopelessness are rampant. Despite this, the first question we ask one another is “what do you do for work” and the first descriptor on a Facebook profile is “occupation.”

Granted it was the "I Heart Denim" Party and an excellent network opportunity for the niche group of Boston's fashion & entertainment professionals.  But why do we define ourselves foremost by our profession?  and why does the conversation end there?  I'm tired of being sized up because what I do to make a paycheck.  I'm equally tired of immediately passing judgement on others based on their titles, or lack there of.  I've dismissed countless new acquaintances on the basis of how someone answers my, "what do you do" interrogation.

It'd be nice, just once have someone say, "What are you passionate about"
                                                   Model Cub Staff @ I heart denim party

Thursday, February 2

Rapture Predicting via post cards? Ingenius!

Oh! A post card! How fun!

The important message here is that Rapture post cards are only 25cents each, which is a real steal.

And why wouldn't we spend our last hard earned quarters to send out this lovely, uplifting cards!

Perhaps the Rapture Group should invest some of their money into marketing; to have Jesus cause planes to crash into sky scrapers couldn't have been the best idea they bounced around.  If I was on their team of completely sane business professionals, I might suggest a picture of the souls of a bunch of old birds playing bingo rising up. 
you know, play down the morbidity card a little.

Wednesday, February 1

Homemade Red Sangria

Perhaps it was the 2 pitchers of Sangria I guzzled on Sunday, or the 60 degree day I enjoyed today (on Feb 1st no less), but I felt compelled to make sangria tonight to compliment my roast chicken, baked winter squash and grilled brussels sprouts.

The beauty of Sangria is you can use what you already have!

You'll need:

  • Cheap strong red wine:  really the cheaper the better - I like a red wine blend, try a shiraz
  • lemon juice, fresh or from the bottle -- or if you have lemonade that works too!
  • fresh fruit - buy whatever is on sale, but i like strawberries, pears, green apples and firm grapes the best
  • fruit flavored club soda: try pomegranate if they have it, or Polar's cinnamon or green apple
  • cinnamon sticks
  • Apricot brandy: You can sub peach schnapps, cointreau, peach or berry brandy, triple sec.  Whatever you've got throw in a splash!  Even if it's flavored vodka or rum... just make it a little splash. 
  • sugar
    1. Freeze grapes/strawberries (cut off tops of berries)
    2. Slice remaining fruit into bite-size pieces and refrigerate over night with a sprinkle of sugar on top
    3. pour wine into jug and leave out over night with 2-3 halved cinnamon sticks in the bottom
    4. Day 2: pour fresh fruit, flavored brandy, lemon into pitcher and refrigerate overnight
    5. When you are ready to serve the sangria, fill wine glass 3/4 way over 2-3 ice cubes.  throw in some frozen grapes and strawberries.  If you have an orange, kiwi, or lemon slice use as decoration.  Add 1/4 flavored soda water.

    Best accompaniment:  Humblefog Goat cheese, honeycomb and a toasted baguette.  Oh and of course a group of best friends :)

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