From the Vine

Another Birthday in the Books

The Urban Grape | Birthday Dinner

I am a wee bit obsessed with my birthday. I’ve traced the genesis of this obsession back to the bunny cake my mom used to make me every year. I started to anticipate my birthday cake months in advance, and even though we never knew what the weather would be on April 2nd (case in point, this weekend), we knew we’d be eating big slices of candy-dotted, vanilla-iced goodness that night. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced red licorice whiskers on your birthday.

With marriage came the shifting of the birthday planning responsibility from my mother to TJ. I’ll be honest and say that I had no faith that he could fill the big expectations created by my mom, but time and again he has proved himself more than capable of the task. This year was no exception, and he planned a celebratory night at Eastern Standard and The Hawthorne with a small group of friends in tow. It was the exact celebration I had been hoping for. With such a big night out on Saturday, I knew I wanted to celebrate at home with the boys on Sunday. But, what to cook?

All week I poured over my cookbooks, but I couldn’t get inspired. At 3 o’clock on Sunday I sat down with the new Bon Appetit Magazine hoping the perfect meal plan would be contained within. It was: cocoa and coffee rubbed steaks, grilled asparagus and spring onions, and farro and pea salad. An homage to spring and a good reason to get the grill ready for six months of constant use.

TJ made negronis while I prepped dinner and whipped up some Katharine Heburn brownies for dessert. It was a simple menu, but full of flavor and vibrantly green – the remedy to months of roasted winter root vegetables. The kids ate asparagus, a gift in itself. TJ and I drank the 2012 Realm “The Tempest,” his favorite new cult Napa Cab and one he feels is poised to soon eclipse better known labels. It was simple, it was sweet, it was just as perfect as the night before but in it’s own way. It’s what birthdays have become. The only thing missing was the bunny cake.

*About Realm*

Realm will be getting an exhaustive blog post after we visit them in Napa later this month, but in the meantime here is what you need to know: their story is amazing, and their wines are coming onto the scene in a big way. TJ has been raving about them for a year, and we’ve finally got three of their offerings at UG. Right now, you can still get their wines for a (relative) steal in comparison to better known Napa Cab producers. But they’re still a small producer, and as demand grows for their wines, so will the prices.

We drank the store’s last bottle of The Tempest last night (sorry!), a Merlot blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. It’s round and juicy on the first glass, a dark fruit Napa wine in all ways. But as it opens up it becomes decidedly European, moody and earthy with notes of tobacco and fall spices. 96 points Parker, if these things matter to you. It was a great pairing for the steak, which is what we cared about.

We still have the 2012 “The Bard” red blend in stock (99 points Parker), as well as the 2011 “Farella” Cabernet and 2011 “Dr. Krane” Cabernet. All are excellent wines, and worth exploring if you’re looking for new Napa rising stars! Please click the button below if you would like to inquire about purchasing these wines.

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