In Nacogdoches, I rarely went to the bar. I blamed this on the fact that there were no cool bars in town (unless you were 22 years old and/or like sports, both of which I was not). Since moving to North Carolina, I have visited many bars. Many of them are very cool. And I have come to realize: I still don't love the bar. Once in a while, for a birthday or a special event, okay. On a random Saturday, when I could be attending a movie or a potluck or a game night? No, thanks.
That said, I do like to hang out with people and drink - I just prefer to do it in a smaller and more intimate setting. Enter: Wilmington Wine.
It's a small wine shop, located just five minutes from our house, which graciously hosts wine tastings every Friday night from 5pm to 8pm. Despite going and enjoying myself more than once, I always forget about it. This past Friday I remembered, and I was so glad we went.
We met up with some MFA friends at around 6pm (much better than the 9:30pm start time of most bar outings) and sampled five different wines. The theme was Valentine's Day and I tried my first Prosecco (sparkly and pleasant), a port (too sweet for me), and one wine that tasted suspiciously of smoked meat (it was described as having a pork flavor, which kind of grossed me out). As is customary, we each bought a bottle of wine after tasting the selections and opened a few of them in the store, sharing our bottles with the rest of our group. And then we bought more bottles and headed to a friend's house, who had thought ahead and stocked her kitchen with cheese, crackers, soup, and crusty bread. It was perfect a night and we were home by 11:00pm. Way better than an evening at the bar.
On Sunday evening, my friends S. and J. came over for dinner. They both celebrated birthdays recently and I wanted to make them dinner as a belated gift. S. has a pretty serious gluten allergy and J. is a dairy-free vegetarian (exactly like me!) so I had to get creative with the menu. I settled on the following:
Gluten-free pasta with slow-cooked tomato sauce
Marinated Italian tofu (from Veganomicon)
Roasted broccoli with lemon garlic sauce (from Pinterest)
And a gluten-free, dairy-free vanilla cake with chocolate frosting and sliced strawberries (from a boxed mix, because I don't usually bake gluten-free and I was scared. Thanks, Betty Crocker!)
Dinner was a delicious success and no one had an allergic reaction. Whew! After our friends went home, I put on all the clothes I owned and crawled under five quilts and two dogs, because earlier that day our furnace decided it no longer wanted to light and we were without heat. Which normally isn't a problem, since North Carolina is having the mildest winter ever, but for the last two night's it's been in the low 20s and that, my friends, is not a good thing. Especially when you don't have heat. Remind me to call the landlady today.
Speaking of today, it's back to the grindstone. I have a very busy week ahead, which includes handing in a story for workshop; reading ~75 pages of creative nonfiction and the book Bird by Bird; workshopping five student stories for our class; reading at the MFA Anti-Genre Reading; getting ready for Nathan's birthday party; and all the usual stuff I do every week, such as keeping the dogs alive and going to the YMCA. In fact, I better start now.