“Santa Gria” Sangria Recipe from NJ’s Valenzano Winery

Making Christmas a success for the kids can get pretty stressful. Trying to buy gifts for every kid in the immediate and extended family and verifying that everyone was treated fairly is a huge pain in the ass and a lot of work. There’s traffic getting to the mall and Target, there’s crowds everywhere, there’s annoying people at your family gatherings, and sometimes, it’s just a lot to deal with. For this reason I’m doing a public service and posting this recipe for “Santa Gria” Sangria that I found on a bottle of Santa’s Little Helper Wine from the Valenzano Winery in Shamong, New Jersey.

The Valenzano Winery always puts out cool special edition wines, and to see one this Christmasy is tremendous. Santa’s Little Helper wine wears its holiday cheer smack dab on the front of the label which includes holly, a silver backdrop of snowflakes, and Santa kicking back with a Christmas cookie and his favorite drank. Yes drank. It was my choice and I’m owning it. I established that the label is holiday themed, but the contents are to an extent as well. It’s made with both cranberries and white cranberries, as well as blueberries and grapes. It’s probably really sweet and perfect as a base for Sangria or Santa Gria as shown in the recipe below from the back of the bottle.

Usually, a lot of imbibing goes on during the holidays. If you’re like me and you don’t have kids, having some cocktails is less about “needing one” and more for sheer amusement. Let’s be honest, Aunt Rhoda’s intense perfume is a lot easier to handle when you’re buzzed and Uncle Todd’s lame jokes become somewhat to even mildly funnier. Don’t want to give that rat bastard too much credit.

Parents have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to make Christmas special for their kids. Christmas can be amazing at any age, but this is a holiday engineered for the children. As much as we think it’s still ours because the naughty Mrs.Claus costumes come out of the closet and we drink spiked egg nog, it’s not for us. But it’s important to not get stressed out and enjoy the festivities, so mix yourself up a drink!

We raise our tipsy hands, which are presently holding moose mugs, to you, the hard working parents who bust their asses to give their kids the best Christmas possible. I know my parents did it each and every year and I am so very thankful for that. Ahhh! Let’s go find your sister!

Blue, Blue Wine!

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F*ck politics. The Sexy Armpit is no place for politics, although it’s appropriate that I mention that New Jersey is a blue state. We’re not just a blue state because of our democratic leanings, but also because we’re known for our blueberries. In the song “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” Billy Joel sings about “a bottle of red, a bottle of white,” but what if Billy was feeling patriotic and wanted to cap off his bender with a bottle of blue? Jersey Wine can make that happen with their Blueberry wine which I picked up the other day and tried it with Miss Sexy Armpit.

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I’m far from a wine drinker, but I’m totally a sucker for gimmicks. For those of us who aren’t into wine, Chianti or Pinot Noir doesn’t mean a damn thing, but show me a variety of fruit flavors and I might just fall for it. The liquor store at the local Wegman’s had a display of Jersey Wine which is made from Jersey grown grapes, or in this case blueberries. Out of the various flavors and varieties staring back at me, I went for the blueberry since it was a flavor of wine that I’ve never tasted. I’ve had cherry and several others, but they’re all too sweet for me nowadays. Not sure why I thought blueberry would be any different, but I wanted to support the local wine company.

After bringing the bottle home, we let it chill in the fridge for a few days since that’s what the label instructs. Last night it was time for the taste test. In the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t going to be a life changing experience, but I figured it was worth a shot. It was merely a coincidence that Miss Sexy Armpit had a new glass that she wanted to christen. What better way for her to taste this fruity concoction than in this hand painted Jersey Girl wine glass by Lolita that her mom found at Macy’s!

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On my first sip, the blueberry flavor was prominent, but so was the sweetness. The taste wasn’t overly sweet, but it was still a few levels too sweet for my liking. It lacked any bite which was nice, but drinking one small glass was quite enough for me. The fruit flavor would be good for a mixed drink, but the problem is that blueberry is a novelty flavor and isn’t used much in mixed drinks, or elsewhere, so I don’t see it taking the world by storm. It’s probably best used as an after dinner drink. If you enjoy blueberry and prefer your wine sweet, then I recommend this, but otherwise I’d pick up one of their more mainstream varieties. If you want something with more kick, another alternative is to buy the Jersey Wine Chianti and make the Jersey Girls drink that’s painted on the bottom of the wine glass:

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The Jersey Girl Wine Glass is available at this link via Designs by Lolita 
(A Martini glass is also available.)

The Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival

Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival 2009

Do you enjoy watching Guy Fieri, Tom Colicchio, and Ingrid Hoffman? Then you should have been at the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival that took place all weekend at Harrah’s, Bally’s, Showboat, and Caesar’s. If you couldn’t make it, The Sexy Armpit was there to experience it for you. Oh and some guy named Emeril Lagasse was there too. Now, I’m no Tommy Salami (he’s my Guy Fieri), but allow me to recount the trip, from breakfast through dinner.

Our attempt at a nights sleep at Harrah’s was interrupted by some maniac screaming at his girlfriend in a nearby room at 2 a.m and trying to break a door down, while we were also graced by having a troop of guidos staying in the connecting room who never learned how to speak at normal decibel levels. By some miracle, my girlfriend and I did manage to get some rest in between all the Riff Raff. If only Riff Raff was in an adjacent room maybe we’d actually be invited to get up in the middle of the night to do the time warp with him again.

I was opposed to eating breakfast because I knew we’d be in for a day of engorging ourselves with a variety of different kinds of food and liquor. My girlfriend convinced me that we would need some breakfast because we wouldn’t be eating for a while. I caved in. We went downstairs to the Sack O’ Subs in Harrah’s and placed our order for breakfast. I was excited to find out that they offer wheat wraps as an alternative to regular sub rolls. It’s become a standing joke with my friends at work that I ask if they have “wheat wraps,” everywhere we go, as in “Yo, you got wheat wraps?” in my best, albeit unintentional, Nick Moore from Family Ties impression. “Ay, yo Mallory, you got some wheat wraps?” Roasted peppers and eggs on a wheat wrap was my breakfast of choice and damn it was delicious. It was cooked up perfectly, and I dabbed on what tasted like hot pepper relish that was in little clear containers stacked by the pickup counter. Sack O’Subs’ lineage can be traced back to the legendary White House Sub Shop in A.C which opened in 1947.

It was on to Bally’s where Sunday’s chapter of the Food and Wine Festival was happening. The line to get in was intimidating at first, but it went quickly. Before we knew it we had our wristbands and wine glasses and we were about to wreck house. An interesting tidbit about me is that when I go into these trade show type events, I tend to pretend that I’m in a first person shooter. I want to annihilate each table and leave dust in my path. I have no time for dilly dallying. If mofos want to linger around and ask silly questions then I’m taking my sample and moving on! To make the whole event go quicker, why don’t they just sit me down somewhere and bring me all the samples? That would be a cool overload, which is rare.

From Pinot Noir samples to Magic Hat brews, I downed it. I don’t even drink that much, but we were there and it was free. As I walked through the aisles I wondered how it was possible that people weren’t aware of some of these brands. For instance, does Blue Moon beer really need to advertise and give out free samples? It doesn’t seem like they’re hurting considering every girl and every girly man I know LOVES sipping it. To me, I don’t care if your drinking gourmet beer, strawberry flavored beer, milk stout, or Mr. Fancy Pants Oatmeal Brew…it’s still f–king beer. Beer’s been around for an eon without having all these exotic additives, so let’s cut the crap OK? Of course, I’m joking if you love Blue Moon, you’re NOT a girly man, but on the other hand, I may very well be. Perhaps the best drink I tasted all day was a Pina Colada from Bally’s Bikini Beach bar which was graciously served to me by a young girl in a teenie weenie bikini. Those are the best kind. It was possibly the greatest Pina Colada I’ve ever had.

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As for the actual food, there were only a few products that left a big impression on me. All you need to do to get my attention is put “Jersey” in your ad or sign and I’ll stop in my tracks and squint my eyes like Batman does in the intro to Batman the Animated Series after targeting some thugs. And coincidentally, “weed” is also a grabber, so when I saw the sign that said “Get Your WEED at the Jersey Shore” I naturally stopped in my tracks for a taste test of southern style Jeremiah Weed’s Flavored Iced Tea Vodka on the rocks (nothin’ to do with the pigtailed cowgirl with the bare midriff, of course). The flavor I tasted combined two of my favorite drinks, Iced Tea and Bourbon. Scarily easy to drink, it’ll probably sneak up on you and make you sick without even realizing it because it tastes so good. Go easy on it!

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The award for best chili ever goes to Pistol Pete’s Steakhouse and Saloon in Pleasantville, NJ. I gulped down a sample cup of chili that the guys at the their table handed to me, and I was immediately sold. Just by that tiny portion I was able to savor the chunkiness and intense flavors their Chili had. Literally amazing. The next time I’m in A.C, that’s where I’m going for dinner.

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Unfortunately we weren’t able to get into the show Guy Fieri was running, but we were able to sit in on Aaron Song’s demo. I’m like a 5 year old, aside from cartoons and pro wrestling, I actually don’t watch much TV, so I had no idea who “The Asian Guy” from Hell’s Kitchen was. Sweating profusely, Song was entertaining as he cooked, when he wasn’t being buried by fellow chef Guy Mitchell who was clearly trying to live out his dreams of being the next David Letterman. Regardless of his culinary accomplishments, Mitchell had no business with a microphone, especially considering the extremely racist Chinese and Japanese jabs he continuously took at Song (he didn’t even know the difference between Chinese and Japanese). Damn Emeril for making these cooks think they’re all entertaining! This wacky chef routine is getting old! Next thing you know we’ll be heading to the Stress Factory where they feature Stand-Up Chefs. Instead of one liners, he’ll throw appetizers at you. In between his shtick, Song whipped up macadamia encrusted scallops drizzled with wasabi verblanc sauce and asparagus rolled in Italian pancetta. Champagne was also handed out like it was gatorade on the sidelines of a New York Giants game.

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Ketchup has always been my favorite condiment, even to the extent of finding it in my stocking on Christmas morning, but barbecue sauce is in my top 3. You can’t really lose when it comes to barbecue sauce because they all have strong points. There aren’t many BAD barbecue sauces out there, some are serviceable and do the trick, while others bowl your mouth over and make you want to jump into the bottle and bathe in the sauce. Upon sampling two pieces of meat dunked in the sweet and spicy versions of Funni Bonz barbecue sauce, it made me want to grab a basting brush and start lathering myself up with it. The only thing that comes close to comparing the feeling I got when I came in contact with this sauce is when Saul first introduces Dale to the Pineapple Express weed in Pineapple Express. Saul hands Dale the bag of bud and tells him to smell it:

DALE: Ohhhhh!
SAUL: what do you want to bathe in it?
DALE: I just want to live in here
SAUL: Yes, you want to BE it?
DALE: Oh my God! I just want to shove it up my nose and have that smell all day! That’s amazing…
SAUL: Shove it anywhere you’d like.

Later, after trudging through torrential downpours on our drive home, we dunked some delicious breaded chicken in both the spicy and sweet sauces that I bought. I was literally licking the spoon as if we had just made chocolate chip cookies. Do your damndest to get your hands on several jars of Funni Bonz BBQ sauce! The company was founded by 2 best friends from New Jersey. For more visit http://www.blogger.com/www.funnibonz.com or http://funnibonz.blogspot.com/

I left this event with one complaint. If you’re an exhibitor or salesman for a company at this festival, you need to step up your game. When it comes to food and alcohol, you need to be smooth. People want free stuff when they go to these events, not to be given the hard sell. When they get samples and free swag, they’re more apt to recommend your product to friends. So if I hear you utter the phrase “You want to buy some?” it’s probable that I won’t. I want to hear information as to why I want your product in or around my mouth. Fill my ear with the subtle nuances that make your product better than its competitors. Does it have natural ingredients? Damn, do I have to do your jobs for ya?

The Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival has been going on since 2007, and judging by this years expansive event, it will only get bigger. If you find yourself watching Food Network constantly and you have an appreciation for fine cuisine and liquor, then make it a point to be a part of it next year!

Christmas Gifts: Better Late Than Never

Back in November, I made a Christmas list just like I’ve made every year since I was a little kid. I did NOT make a “Bucket List.” I wanted to make that clear from jump street. I do regret not having the chance to share with you some of the cool stuff I got for Christmas, so let’s hop in the DeLorean, (which I’ve adorned with a festive wreath) blast the modified Huey Lewis song “Three Weeks Back in Time,” and kick it up to 88 mph.
Many of the bloggers I read have offered detailed posts about their haul of gifts they received for Christmas. For me, this year was pretty light as far as quantity goes, but heavy on the quality. The PS3 was the most prestigious gift and one I know I’ll be getting many hours of enjoyment from. I can’t wait for the games DCU OnlineLegends of Wrestlemania, and Ghostbusters to be released for the system. I was also pumped that I got The Dark Knight and Step Brothers on Blu Ray. A few requisite pieces of clothing and several other perennial Christmas gift favorites came my way, and I was happy with everything. I’m not the type of person to not appreciate a gift. I’m happy to be receiving A gift let alone several of them. 
First, let me tell about a couple of books that I unwrapped:
I’m a huge fan of Disneyana so The Walt Disney World Trivia Book by Louis A. Mongello was right up my alley. The first page I opened to gave me a little piece of rock and roll info: Did you know that Steve Tyler and Joe Perry rode the Aerosmith Rockin’ Roller Coaster 12 times when they came to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (MGM) for a preview? These are the kind of tidbits I like to dish out when other people are in a serious conversation about global warming. Seriously, you know the next time you go on that ride you’re going to tell whoever you’re with, or whoever’s in range of hearing your voice. There’s plenty of other obscure facts in the book that’ll definitely make you sound like a Disney expert!

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The next book was a monster called 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener’s Life List by Tom Moon.  I love books like this because they often refer me to new songs or artists that I can add to my repertoire. It’s kind of like the feeling a girl gets when she goes into a shoe store, or a place that sells pocket books like the “Pocket Book Emporium.” Take it easy ladies, I just made that up.
I’m not supporting the term that’s presently being shoved down our throats by these brilliant journalists, (even before the movie came out) “bucket lists.” How many more books and magazine article titles can we read that say “…blah blah…BEFORE YOU DIE.” The most beautiful places in the world you MUST SEE BEFORE YOU DIE.”  I feel like I’m in some sort of warped death countdown. Please, we are all already aware that we are going to die someday, but I for one am trying to pretend that that day is still very far away. 
I don’t appreciate that I’m being pressured into thinking that I have to cram in traveling the world, donning my cap in the old Yankee Stadium, and having a 69 with Marisa Tomei while skydiving all before I die. None of those things are going to happen, nor do I even care about experiencing the first two, or even the third for that matter. You see, the 69 would have to take place on the plane before we put on all our gear because it would be too much of a bitch to unzip and tear it all off taking terminal velocity into consideration. When we land, I’m hoping I don’t die before I can parachute right into the parking lot of the local T.G.I Fridays, detach our chutes, and walk in and declaring “hey, we aren’t weird or anything.” After being greeted by the hostess and getting a few strange looks after asking to be seated (as long as we are making our last will and testament, I’ll opt to make the “I just flew in and boy my arms are tired” joke. Marisa bowls over in laughter commenting on how cute and funny I am. She then says something to the effect “Oh my God Jay, the feeling of winning an Oscar is nothing compared to how you make me feel when I’m with you.” Then a group of ’80s looking peeps come over to our booth (I requested the booth cause I’m near death and I feel I deserve special treatment because having a booth is on my bucket list.) Well lookie who we have here! It’s Katrina and the Waves singing Walking on Sunshine, which is a song that miraculously just plays whenever we are enjoying ourselves in any context. Sometimes it just plays when we are in a park, or as a matter of fact, anywhere where there are no speakers or stereo equipment. It’s hard to not continue laughing and purposely do more stuff that’s goofy when the song is playing. We bring all the shenanigans to a gradual close with a poignant kiss, and then we order the fish tacos and share a giant strawberry lemonade.
I’m now hereby referring to it as a “FUCK IT LIST.” You see, it rhymes with bucket! This is the list of times where you say “Ah FUCK IT, I’m going to die anyway right?” If I had a Prune Face Power of the Force collectible coin for every time I’ve heard someone say that I’d have amassed the galaxy’s largest collection of Prune Face Power of the Force collectible coins. Now that’s sure to get this country’s economy right back on track. Just knowing that all of the Prune Face coins are all concentrated in one spot will allow the federal reserve to rest easy rather than to worry that the coins are scattered all over the globe in old basements, toy chests, buried in backyards, or laying at the bottom of a sewer drain.
What was my point with that whole tangent? That bucket lists are moronic, nay…the idea of making a list for personal motivation is fine but why do we constantly have to buy into people’s lame trendy, phrases? What’s on my bucket list? To find the EXACT PERSON WHO CAME UP WITH THIS STUPID FUCKING MADE UP NAME AND KICK THEIR ASS UNTIL THEY OFFICIALLY RELINQUISH THE NAME AND WRITE A NOTARIZED LETTER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA WARNING JOURNALISTS AND COLUMNISTS NEVER, EEEEVVVVER, TO USE THIS TERM AGAAAAAIIINNN!
“…Where’s the Tylenol?” 
Welcome back folks! 

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Perhaps the gift most worthy of mentioning here on The Armpit, just for its sheer appropriateness, was one I gave rather than received. My father and uncle were both recipients of The Sopranos Chianti. If you’re Italian and from Jersey, you are almost certainly a Sopranos fan. Actually, if you are a living, breathing, human with a modicum of

appreciation for good television, then at the very least you should respect the show. You don’t want to see what happens when you disrespect it! 
Even though The Sopranos is gone, it’s spirit can live on in your wine glass during Sunday’s macaroni dinner. It’s pretty much just your basic Chianti, but it’s got an awesome Sopranos sticker on it which makes it fully connected to the show. If the makers of the Sopranos Chianti really wanted to make it something special they would’ve taken a cue from KISS in 1977 when they poured vials of their own blood into the red ink for their first Marvel comic book. All of the actors should’ve donated blood and then we could truly “drink in” the show. I’m messing with you, I obviously don’t have any interest in drinking blood! Well, I guess only if I was allowed to perform a bass solo, spit the blood out all over the place and wag my tongue. That’s 2 KISS mentions in one paragraph! Gene you now owe me $0.03 cents fucker!
My dad went all out this year and found a classic Christmas gift for me. He got me this really sharp Armitron Batman watch:

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This watch is a perfect gift for me since I’m a huge bat-fan. Some other Batman watches I’ve seen don’t possess the same quality or look as badass as this one. The watch is reasonably priced on Amazon.
As always, I had a highly enjoyable Christmas and I was treated tremendously. I know I’m getting old when I start saying stuff like “Christmas isn’t about the gifts,” and “I’m just happy to be together with the family.” No, in all seriousness, Fah who-for-aze and all that kind of stuff! I can’t wait ’til next year!

To Your Health!

An article I read yesterday claims that taking multi-vitamins can cause prostate cancer. Well whaddya know? A supplement that was supposedly meant to improve our health is now detrimental to us? Next thing you know we’ll probably be told to immediately cease the ingestion of water into our bodies because it’s toxic or something. “This just in, STOP DRINKING WATER!” NO WAIT…DRINK MORE WATER! It’s the healthiest thing for your body! All of these contradictory health reports are enough to make your eyes cross. Everyday in the news there is another claim about what you should or shouldn’t do in order to maintain your health. With all of these conflicting stories there seems to be no right or wrong answer. The best bet is to keep a good balance and not to drive yourself crazy reading and watching every bit of news regarding your health. While you might save yourself in one way by learning about something you should cut back on, you’ll be making yourself paranoid in the process and deteioriorating the one thing that you need more than anything…YOUR MIND!
As an example, I was always curious about the health benefits of beer. Some articles will tell you it’s excellent for your body to have beer occasionally because of the B vitamins and the positive effect it has on your blood pressure and heart. Another article will tell you that the alcohol will help trigger cancer and the carbohydrates will give you a big fat pot belly. Wine has always been touted for it’s antioxidants although it’s extremely high in sugar. What’s the deal? Can we live? I don’t even want to hear what they say about Kool-Aid. Are there no pleasures in life anymore? There is a light at the end of the tunnel! Frequent masturbation may ward off prostate cancer, although I hear it also causes vision impairment.