Alas, it is all coming to an end.

In a few hours I will board my last long haul flight of this trip and make my way back to London.  I have mixed feelings about it if I’m honest. This flight signals the end of my sabbatical and the beginning of real life and it also presents a crossroad where there is no defined way forward. I have a lot of decisions to make in the next few weeks and it all feels a bit daunting. At the same time, it is exciting. I know my life is changing and I know that change will be a good thing. 

I want to say that this experience has dramatically altered my outlook on life but that would be overstating things a bit. I have opened my heart and my mind just a bit wider and am seeing things around me just a little bit differently. I still feel mostly the same. 

When I return to London, I have a week straight of reunions, business meetings and catch ups with people that I have never met. Wish me luck!


Alas, after almost 4 months away from my home in London, I am returning to Battersea this Thursday. I miss my friends and my lovely flat so I am very much looking forward to being surrounded by familiarity soon.

I have spent 3 ridiculous months traveling and kicking up my heels (learn more on findingnewladders.wordpress.com) Though I did not drink much wine (and no yummy wine…but one gets through somehow) while I was gallivanting around Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, I have truly made up for it since coming to California on my way back to London. I have developed a keen appreciation for beer in Southeast Asia but whenever I was craving a good red, it came chilled and very likely from a box (not necessarily a bad thing but its the easiest way to communicate the lackluster situation I found myself in).

Since coming to the US, I have tasted many delicious red wines. My friends Dave and Amie hosted me for my first week in Menlo Park. Dave is known for his amazing wine collection and he did not disappoint while I was visiting. In just visited my parents in Seattle for the weekend and found a number of bottles that I had forgotten about. They were residual from my last visit when we went out to Leavenworth for wine tasting and debauchery. I opened a few 2008 Merlots, a 2007 Cabernet Franc and a Reisling (that had spoiled). I have come back to SF this morning needing a detox. For reals.

Unfortunately, I stumbled upon The Barrel Room in Rockridge, Oakland and couldn’t help but be nosey. And of course it is happy hour. The inside is set up like a wine shop but also houses thick wooden tables and an overly extensive, region-specific (currently Germany, Austria, Switzerland), rotating list of wines by the glass. There is also a kitchen but I am unsure what exactly is offered. Happy hour is mystery wines and mystery beer. I.e. the landlady picks what to open – likely something obscure – and there is a flat cost of $5 for beer, $7 for wine. I tried the mystery wine which ended up being Mondeuse, made in the French Alps. Tart cherry and light/medium body. I unfortunately wasn’t a real fan but it was interesting which I guess is the point. I then moved on to one of my favourites, Zweigelt from Burgenland, Austria. Deep purple, black cherry and charred oak. Boom!

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I could stay here forever. The main thing that will hold me back is a) the cost and b) the unclear situation on foodstuffs (I’m starving). I love the concept though. Stop by if you see this place and let me know what you think!

Just saw this recipe and am desperate to try it. Huge variety of possibilities and pairings 🙂

Homemade Delish

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I think this is such a fun pizza crust to make especially with the kids.  Not only is it simple; but it’s gluten-free and healthy.  You can make any topping for this pizza.  My kids only wanted plain and I was fine with that because they were getting the veggie part from the crust.  The seasonings that go into the crust really make it delicious.  The crust is thin. It’s very satisfying. This will make 2 small size pizzas or one large. I hope you enjoy and treat yourself to a glass of wine with it.

This recipe can be found in my new cookbook.  Purchase your copy here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/search.ep?keyWords=Homemade+Delish&categoryId=107107 or if you have any questions please feel free to email me.


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Bangkok and beer

I arrived in Bangkok a day ago and have been soaking up the sites, smells and sounds. Literally.

My hotel is in Chinatown, the commercial hub and foodie heaven. Though there isn’t a Western shop or sign in sight there is randomly a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf downstairs. Just in case I guess. Such a contrast to the street outside with its hussle, grime, entrails and amazing spices that waft the most incredible smells through the air. Its out of place and somewhat ridiculous (an Americano was the same price as a large beer) but just by being there, its easing my transition.

Outside the coffee shop I witnessed a wine tasting today. I didn’t snap a pic because I didn’t realize what was happening until I’d walked by. It wasn’t a public tasting, it was a distributor showing his wares to the hotel manager. Why I found this interesting is because there isn’t wine on any menu that I’ve seen. Anywhere. Its beer or cocktails. I don’t really mind, Singha beer is ridiculously good and its refreshing in the 30+ degree heat.

I’ll let you know if I discover any new gems on my travels. If you want to follow my journey, I have started a sister blog: findingnewladders.wordpress.com

Lots of love from Bangkok

I have spent the last 3 weeks with my family in Minneapolis where they are currently experiencing a ‘winter blast’. In other words, -30 degree weather planned for the next few days. I’m not from Minneapolis so this whole negative degree thing doesn’t actually make sense to me. Thankfully, I am flying out today and heading for the warmer climate in San Francisco. Starting tomorrow I am officially on sabbatical. I am taking 3 months off from my work and life in London and traveling around Southeast Asia. I feel woefully unprepared but excited about the unknown. I am documenting my trip at my new blog, FindingNewLadders.wordpress.com.

So, how were your holidays? Did you enjoy your time with family and friends? Or did you go traveling and experience a different culture?

I laid off the wine for most of my trip in an effort to relax and prepare. That said, I definitely indulged enough (and sometimes a bit too much!). Our family tends to opt for wine and cognac during the holidays. I love red wine during the rest of the year but during the holidays I like to drink white wine with my sister and mother. This year, my sister stocked up on Evolution, a fruity and easy drinking mid market wine (for an idea of her normal thought on wine, see the comic below that she shared with me…her version of wine tasting!). Evolution is good though – they are consistent year after year with their white blend (never tried their red blend). Its not cheap ($14.99 per bottle) but she was able to get a discount by buying in bulk (it is the holidays after all). It was just delicious and perfect with our Christmas day salmon dinner. We pair the cognac (or you can use brandy) with fresh egg nog and nutmeg for a festive treat or blend it with ginger ale and sweetened lime juice (so so good).

Whatever you ended up doing, I hope it was exactly what you wanted it to be.

Wine Tastes Like Wine

The weekend is almost here. What are your plans?

My parents are coming into town from Seattle tomorrow afternoon. I am very much looking forward to it. My dad loves an English pub so no doubt I’ll be taking him out for a beer & burger as soon as he touches down. My mum is excited to see the countryside and otherwise just loves hanging around London. The itinerary is somewhat open for their trip at this stage (I did manage to get them tickets to Book of Mormon on Wednesday afternoon) so do let me know if you have any favourite haunts that I should pass on.

Oh yeah, it’s also my last weekend as a 32-year-old. Sunday I’m having a nice little drinks gathering – I reserved the old wine cellar in the oldest wine bar in London for the whole day. Um AWESOME. Friends are coming from all around London and I couldn’t be more excited to have mum and dad there as well. Even though its tough getting older – I really like being 32 – I am happy to take the step into another year.

To celebrate, I will be tasting a few gems and some old favourites. Not sure exactly what I will pick at this stage but one thing is certain: In my cellar there is a Grand Cru Burgundy with my 33rd Birthday written all over it.

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Friday awesomeness


London, Love

The singer/songwriter/DJ Imogen Heap has always made me dream of London. When I was  24, I could think of nothing more fantastic that to live and work in London – mainly to be near a boy that I thought I was in love with. London represented everything I felt I should be experiencing in my twenties: long commutes, no money, teeny apartments, weird roommates, broke friends, long nights with lots of booze.

This song in particular caught me every time and whirled me into a daydream about what my life would be like when I finally got to London – falling in love, making excuses to stay together longer, rainy nights remedied through open fires and warm cuddles.

Now that I live in London and have experienced a different side of this dream, it still strikes a chord. It feels more like a song of happy chances and taking risks. Or not. I’m older and more, ahh…seasoned shall we say…but I still love this song. I have been to see Imogen twice, once in London’s Albert Hall. She’s brilliant. She forever reminds me of a hopeful, if slightly naive, time in my life.

Autumn Nostalgia

I always get a bit nostalgic in September and October.

It reminds me of starting a school year with new clothes, new classes and new things to learn. Everyone seems full of buzz for the possibilities that lie ahead. As I have gotten older I’ve become more nostalgic rather than buzzed. Thinking more about my Christmas holidays (and shopping) and counting the days until I can have my first eggnog latte from Caribou Coffee in Minneapolis.

This year is different. This year I have a feeling of momentum. Momentum building around me and under me and propelling me forward. Anyone with me? For quite a while now I have been standing on a fence. I climbed the fence this time last year when I held my first wine tasting in my flat in London. I had 11 lovely people humour me by listening to my driveling on about wine. I was in heaven.

Unfortunately, I stopped doing it.

Spring came around and I took a ‘break’ to focus on my day job. I took on a wider role at work and started doing longer days and working on the weekend. That left very little time to prepare and deliver tastings. I now find myself 4 months later and missing the buzz. That buzz didn’t really come from putting on wine tastings though. It came from taking a risk and doing something that I loved. Showing myself that I could be more and do more with my skills than I was  working behind a desk.

I read this article the other day and it just hit me. I gave up. I gave up right as I was gaining momentum:

“Think right now about something you keep stopping. You committed to it, but then you suddenly quit because it started to require a little extra elbow grease. A project at work, a relationship, a fitness goal. Remember why you started it, then push onward. Because the more you stop and think about quitting, the longer it’ll take to get to your desired result. Or worse, you’ll never know what it feels like to reach the finish line.”

full article here

But luckily that momentum has come back. Maybe its nature telling me that I am turning yet another year older in a few days and if I’m going to do something different, the time to start is now. So here we go…again.

I’m still looking forward to my first eggnog latte though. Yum.

Hi all,
Apologies for the long silence. Its as they say – life took over. Here’s my update:
– I’ve done a few wine tastings. One was on a yacht, for 45 people, as part of my friend’s new venture, Yachtlegend.com. Check it out and sorry for sailing.
– I’ve been doing my day job (it does kind of rock).
– I’ve been drinking some lovely, lovely wines – and have now become addicted to the idea of going to Chile for some further ‘research’.
– I’ve visited a winery in Majorca (yes, they have them – lots of them. The one I went to was in Pollenca.
I will post a few of the adventures shortly, and please do accept my humble apologies for being silent for so long.

Countdown to our Valentines Day tasting: T minus 1.5 hours! I’ve finished the fresh olive bread, the artichoke & spinach dip is ready for the oven and the Lemon & Green cake poms are almost ready for their sprinkles!

And of course the wine is ready as well:
Champagne & Port cocktail to start things off.
a bit of Carmenere to spice it up
and perhaps a bit of Tempranillo to bring some fruit to the table…
What else to finish off but Baileys & coffee?

I’ll post the final menu, wine list & song list (it is St Patrick’s day after all) after the tasting.

Poms & wines    Olive & artichoke

Hope you are enjoying your day – make sure you put a bit of Irish in your steps!

Kristen Xx

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