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This weekend I ventured out of my normal five-mile radius shell.  Seriously, I actually got my ass on I-95.  I made my way south past a handful of exits off the highway, to hit up Delray Beach.  In high school, I would venture to downtown Delray on Thursdays for Jazz on the Ave to hang out with friends.  It was a little seedy, but artsy and pretty safe if you stayed on Atlantic Ave, the main road.  But, fast forward to 2010 Atlantic Ave and I spy a Rolls Royce, collagen-injected lips and guys-too-old-to-be-hanging-out-with-those-girls-who-look-16.  I guess those seeds got brushed to the side.  It wasn’t all plastic, though … I mean, I was there.  Oh wait, my Havaianas (fresh from the motherland, Brasil! My favorite Brasilian rocks!!!) are made of plastic. Does that count?!

People aside, I was in Delray for food; the annual Tastemakers of Delray Beach event was on.  A restaurant ‘crawl’ with 24 local places giving up food, wine, beer & cocktails.  It was a really good time, and it’s events like this that remind me how much I love to eat and drink.  I may not be the most adventurous eater, but … well, the old addage goes, if you can’t be an athlete, at least be an athletic supporter! Cevich, cab savs, guiness, ciders, butternut squash soups, sushi, chardonnays … I’m getting full just thinking about all the food and drinks!!!

Our first stop was Ziree, a sushi & Thai restaurant:

Next we made our way to Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine, and the Shipyard Summer Ale they were offering up was a great beer for the sticky, humid night! And, according to all my company that night, the lobster roll was a-may-zing!

Grabbing a Guiness and shepherds pie at Paddy McGee’s Irish Pub:

Fresh crepes from Crepes by the Sea:

Whether it’s music (Leslie), movies (Orly) or food (Jeremy), one comes to rely on a good source.  And, once I find that source (or two), I tend to be very loyal.  It’s my nature.  If I like something, I like it – and I honor the code through both good times and bad times.  For instance, after I saw Evita I thought, “Huh!  Madonna really can act and sing!”  Then, I saw Swept Away and thought, “Huh!  Madonna really isn’t a very good actress.”  Nonetheless, I own both Evita and Swept Away on DVD.  I’m veering from my original point here…which was…oh, a good source!

So, there’s a small wine store – Chill Wine – a few blocks from where I work and I have come to rely on the guy that works there for honest, solid recommendations.  I know, I know: he’s still a salesman.  But, also an enthusiast (there are surely damn good appliance salesmen out there, but are they really enthusiastic about washers & dryers?).  In any event, on my first visit, he pointed me toward some viogniers and, in particular, an Australian one – Shinas Estate Voignier.  And, to seal the deal, the label art was cool.  Sold. 

A few more visits, and nothing but a few more great recommendations.  Then, he points out a chenin blanc from South Africa.  Chenin blanc?  I had never heard of it, but given his description of the Ken Forrester Petit Chenin Blanc (crisp fruity flavors) and the price point (under $15), once more, I was sold.  Now, I am loving the chenin blanc.  I’m no expert on wine, so I can’t give you much more of a review than “I really like it, and it doesn’t give me a headache,” but I hope you try it 🙂 

From the International Herald Tribune:

Among grapes, only riesling rivals chenin blanc for versatility. The range extends from the steely dry yet profound Savennières to the lusciously sweet, honeyed wines of Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux.

The reason for chenin blanc’s versatility, as with riesling’s, is the grape’s remarkable acidity. Far from being a flaw, acidity gives a white wine structure, length and integrity, allowing it to exhibit its aromas and flavors without collapsing into a fatiguing puddle. A well-modulated acidity keeps a wine refreshing even if it is sweet. Too much acidity, though, can make a wine harsh.

 Read the entire article here.

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