Reading Bethenny Frankel’s Naturally Thin reminded me of a number of my own tips and tricks for navigating special events, which typically include lots of yummy food and cocktails. I’ve been known to over-indulge at occasions like this, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to remind myself of a few of these practices before heading to a wine event at Vinalia last night.
Vinalia Restaurant, Lounge & Wine Bar is a sophisticated casual dining destination centrally located in Boston’s hip Downtown Crossing. Vinalia features an extensive menu comprised of fresh, seasonal contemporary American cuisine while offering an extensive wine program including more than 40 wines by the glass and weekly wine tastings.
Balanced Eating: Navigating Social Events
(Here’s my original post)
- Have a healthy snack before the event. I munched on a cherry pie Larabar around 4:00 PM, so I wouldn’t chowdown on everything in sight when I arrived at the event. I also filled up on water since I knew I’d be drinking wine in a few hours.
- Exercise on the day of the event. I didn’t do this one, but I did walk for 30 minutes at lunch and I plan to exercise later today.
- No skipping meals. No, sir! I’m not a meal skipper, and I don’t think I could have went all day without eating. Plus, it was Cookie Friday!
- Survey the scene. When I arrived at the Vinalia, I checked out the atmosphere, the lounge’s vibe, and chatted with my friends before ordering my first glass of wine.
I start with a glass of Sonoma Cutrer “Russian River Ranches” Chardonnay, which was the best (and most expensive!) glass of the evening. It was a nice Chardonnay with lots of character and complexity. It had a golden hue with lots of flavors all trying to break out. Honestly, besides a vanilla-y flavor, I couldn’t idenitfy the rest, so I looked up the wine description online to give you a better idea what this wine was all about.
Pretty aromas of jasmine and rose petal give way to tropical fruits like pineapple and mango. Roasted hazelnut joins nougat and almond butter, finishing with a touch of lime and lychee. Medium-weight and clean with a wonderful acid backbone, the wine expands in the glass, offering up grapefruit, lemon, pear and kumquat with subtle vanilla bean and herbal mushroom. The lingering finish displays hints of minerality, along with apple, lime and a surprising kiss of strawberry. A market basket of aromas and flavors.
Bottom line: This was an awesome Chardonnay! Shortly after settling into the evening with a glass of delicious wine, the food arrived. Instead of diving right in, I took a minute to see all of the options. The appetizers included: three different types of pizza (veggie, sausage, and pepperoni), nachos, and fried calamari. Initially, I wanted to dig into the nachos, but I took a minute an assess my hunger. I was actually pretty hungry and knew that nachos alone wouldn’t fill me up. I also knew that the veggie pizza was likely the “healthier” option– at least it had veggies!
- Fill your plate with lots of veggies. Well, this tip was kind of tricky. There weren’t many veggie options last night, but I did select a slice of pizza with tomato and basil.
- Be a food snob. At special events, I almost always try something new and different. If I can make it at home, I usually won’t try it. Of course, I’ve eaten pizza as well as the other appetizers, so this trick didn’t really work last night. However, after closer investigation of the nachos, it turned out that they weren’t regular tortilla-shredded cheese nachos. Instead, they were fried wonton nachos. They weren’t a healthier option, but I had never tried nachos made with fried wontons, so, of course, I needed a taste.
They were delicious! And I had a second serving!
- Pace yourself. After having a little bit of food and a glass of wine, I chatted with friends and enjoyed myself before eating anything more and ordering another glass of wine.
After my first glass of wine, I ordered a second glass: Oggi Pinot Grigio. I wasn’t as big of a fan of this glass as my first. I liked it, but compared to the Somona Cruter, it tasted “weak.” Both were flavorful, but the Chardonnay just had more “body” to it.
Oggi Pinto Grigio: The nose is very specific, pleasant and intense, with tones of flowers and fruit. Velvety and soft on the palate, it has a good structure with hints of flowers and fruit that resemble its aroma.
I drank a third glass of wine at Vinalia, but apparently, I never photographed it. I’m assuming I was too busy chatting about wedding stuff and running with my lady friends. 😀 My third glass was a J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay, which I also enjoyed quite a lot. I’d put it in between the Cruter and Oggi as far as my taste preferences go.
The 2007 J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay has a very attractive straw yellow color of moderate depth. The aromas are of lime zest, pear, nectarine and bubble gum–combined with the perfumed honey and toasty vanilla oak bouquet from the barrel fermentation, malolactic fermentation and sur lie aging–creating an elegant Chardonnay from Monterey’s Arroyo Seco AVA. The flavors are very clean, with nectarine, citrus, subtle floral notes and vanilla toastiness, producing layers of complexity with an excellent balance of fresh fruit acidity and palate weight. This wine is ideal for pairing with oven-roasted chicken, Dungeness crab or cream-sauced pasta dishes.
After spending a few hours at Vinalia, the group moved onto the Times Irish Pub, where I finally had a glass of soda water with a slice of lime.
- Cut yourself off before you start drinking. At the beginning of 2009, I set a goal to limit my “adult beverages” to 3 per night, so now, I try to stick to this number. Of course, after three glasses of wine, this is easier said than done!
And just when I thought the night was winding-down, out came the shots of Patron!
After taking the shot of Patron with my friends, I hung out a little while longer and drank a glass of water. After all of that booze, I was ready for bed. But, before heading to bed, Mal whipped up a pot of Annie’s Mac & Cheese for us to share! It was the best cheesy drunk snack ever!
We ate our Annie’s while watching The Office.
- Don’t beat yourself up. What a night! I overindulged in some aspects of the evening, but obsessing about them afterward is totally not worth it to me. I kept these tricks and tips in mind, but I didn’t let them prevent me from enjoying myself. Social events are supposed to be fun, and for me, eating and drinking is part of the experience!