Why are you a Thirsty Girl?

When Thirsty Girl initially contacted me with an inquiry as to my interest in guest-blogging, I was at once intrigued and inspired at being presented with a chance to become involved in their mission to celebrate the passion for living from a feminine perspective.

The site, founded by Leslie Sbrocco, is a powerful platform for showcasing the many forms of girl power exhibited in our collective lust for life. Women know they can quench that thirst in many ways, and what struck a chord with me was TG’s explicit acknowledgment of the importance of absorbing all that life has to offer, regardless of how the choice manifests itself. Whether embodied by a group of sorority sisters getting together over cocktails to share in the latest harmless gossip, or lifelong friends coming together to offer support to each other in more difficult times, both are expressions of the thirst that are to be celebrated and acknowledged.Salsa

Since my own point of view mirrors Leslie’s concept that the opportunities to unite and bond over food and drink are endless, contributing to Thirsty Girl seemed to me a perfect fit.

Upon some small reflection, I began to ponder: What made me a “Thirsty Girl?” What resonated most about their message? Is my status reflected in my insatiable desire to share the best of my dining experiences with the world, or is it bigger than that? Does my passion for savoring every moment spent with family and friends elevate me to Thirsty Girl? Questions bred more questions.

I was born inquisitive. My earliest memories are colored by a fever to explore my surroundings. Curiosity isn’t all that unusual. Most of us arrive with the desire to scrutinize our environment; it is how we come to learn the world around us. But my questioning, tasting, experiencing — always felt bigger than others. I couldn’t seem ever to be satisfied with the answers I received. There had to be more. But what?

The toddler’s mantra of “what’s that?” often accompanied by a chubby pink finger pointed at the object of the inquiry, be it a blade of grass or the cotton candy wisp of cloud that floats serenely in the sky above, seems to have followed me into adulthood. As children, we struggle with the balance between the safety of our mother’s arms and the pull of the world around us. That childish thirst for knowledge eventually blossoms into friendships with our peers. We all long to be accepted, to be something more than alone. Soon, we begin to respond to the driving force of puberty; we sense our bodies can serve us by bonding us with the opposite sex. We experience and experiment. Eventually we learn to love those who are not our blood, and if we are really lucky, we discover what it means to have a best friend and partner on this incredible journey. As we form each new relationship, we never lose our basic appetites to explore, to be safe, and to connect. The deepest thirst in all of us is for companionship.

When I began writing about food, I wanted to explore the rituals. It seems to me that eating has never been merely about satisfying a physical hunger. Dining is for most of us rooted in our own histories and as complex an experience as the myriad flavors in a well-developed dish. Raised by a Midwestern mother and Italian father, I grew up in a culture of gatherings around food. Every meal was something to be shared with family, and eating was the central feature of every holiday or occasion. Most of my earliest memories involve dining with some portion of my large family unit, enjoying a lavish meal at the communal table. For the first two decades or so of my life, all of these meals took place in Oakland, California, so I chose to focus my blog there, where it all began.

Everyone’s relationship with food is different, but no one eats only for sustenance. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar or a fool. From the time we are born the things we taste are linked to a deep and primitive sensory recall. Every time we experience a remarkable flavor, we are either transported to a past memory, or actively making a new one — as the sensations of taste, smell and companionship color the moments of our lives. I see bad food more as missed opportunity to add another beautiful recollection to the life experience, than as a failed effort to create, though both views are valid. To this day, I cannot smell garlic browning in butter without thinking of my grandmother. I cannot eat a caramelized bite of succulent Easter ham without remembering my favorite aunt and the times spent around her table. When we enjoy these

experiences with others, they remain with us forever. I am of the undying opinion that in order to benefit fully, to participate completely, we must savor the love between the slices of bread broken.

It can be as simple as bonding over buttered popcorn and a movie with a friend, or as complicated as sharing a “marker meal” at a traditional once-in-a-lifetime event, like a wedding. Each of these events augments our friendships, expands our families, enhances our lives. Every time we come together to enjoy a repast, we broaden the collective memory. Weddings, birthdays — even funerals — all such occasions serve to cement in us a cognizance of all others present as we celebrate them. Years later we look back and we remember. We remember what we ate, and more importantly, with whom we ate it.

Every time we spend quality time with the people who matter to us, we are given an opportunity. Beyond the pleasure of the food shared is the chance to connect, either to maintain a treasured relationship or perhaps form a new one. Each meal, each moment of our life, can be as meaningful as we allow it to be. I think that’s the point of being a Thirsty Girl — to be open to the possibilities — to be someone who doesn’t let even the smallest droplet of life go unappreciated, because she is aware, every moment, of the monumental waste contained in even the tiniest missed opportunity.

Thirsty Girl CosmoIf we pay attention, each of us can be enriched by the human experience, coming together, united over a good meal and a glass of wine. Life should be about possibility. That’s what motivates me, maintaining the constant state of awareness necessary to capitalize on opportunity. I choose to be awake, present enough to taste everything life has to offer. Every day is an opportunity to participate in the making of new memories.

We all have a choice: to sit in the car and watch life go by, or to be aware enough to taste all that life has to offer. You gotta be a Thirsty Girl, or you’re gonna miss the ride.
Angela Lazear is the writer of East Bay Food Scene, Essays on the Ritual of Dining and a former Thursday Thirsty Girl.

Jane Ferrari

Jane FerrariJane Ferrari is not simply a Thirsty Girl but Yalumba employee, and company crusader. Born in Adelaide, Australia and an inveterate traveller, she’s been around enough to know that the blend of elements that makes up Yalumba and the Barossa (Australian Wine Country) is rare indeed, and worth taking the time and trouble to explain to people, whether industry insiders or consumers.

Her official job title – Winemaker, Communications – scarcely gives an indication of her expansive personality. Put simply, her work encompasses public relations and wine education, yet Ferrari is no PR fluffy, no charcoal-suited jargon-spinner turned out from a corporate mould. She’s jeans, boots and a laid back straight talker, with a taste for Barossa Shiraz and an open soul. There’s no fake or frippery with Ferrari – when she preaches the Yalumba gospel, you realise that she’s doing it because she’s passionate about the place; she leaves the distinct impression that she wouldn’t waste her breath on anything she didn’t wholly believe in herself.

Her passion is as infectious as it is heartfelt. Spend an hour or so with Jane – in a London boardroom, at a New York tasting, at the Angaston winery, it doesn’t matter where – and you’ll find out more about the heritage and culture of Yalumba and the wider Barossa than most locals learn in a lifetime. Much more than just a winemaker, she’s a born story-teller, a canny judge of character (whether people or horses), and has a knack of sizing people up and knowing how to put them at ease – though no one’s immune from the occasional wry observation, courtesy of Ferrari’s down to earth brand of wit and humour.

To say her life has been colourful would be something of an understatement. The daughter of an Italian migrant surveyor, she grew up on Aboriginal missions and in Alice Springs as her father worked on the construction of schools, silos and airport runways. A lifelong passion for horses and racing nearly saw her become a vet; but, somehow, somewhere along the line, vineyards and winemaking took over. A degree at South Australia’s renowned Roseworthy campus and vintages with Wolf Blass Wines’ legendary red maker, John Glaetzer, were followed by a spell in the Sydney spirit trade with United Distillers, where research and development on emerging premixed spirit drinks vied for attention with the many attractions of the nearby Randwick racecourse.

Jane’s current role was made for her – it’s the sanctified version of what she’s been doing for years – with the only real difference being that she now spends much of her time on the road, talking, tasting and explaining the Yalumba difference in her inimitable style to distributors, retailers and consumers across the globe. As she says herself, in a world that is becoming more and more reliant on technology, it’s important to take things back to a more personal level. Cheers to that.

Yalumba Wines

Erica Bethe Levin

Erica Beth LevinErica Bethe Levin began her career at Northwestern University as a Journalism major at the Medill School of Journalism. Being “Cheeky” came early, very similar to how being a Thirsty Girl does.

After graduation, Erica worked as the Company Coordinator for the Lookingglass Theatre Company where she managed the entire artistic department, including casting, script-reading and budget management. To switch it up again, Erica join the PR Firm of CF&A, with clients that included the Radio City Rockettes, the Apollo Theatre and Lynda Carter (yes, Wonder Woman).

As the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of CheekyChicago.com, Erica is responsible for all editorial content, the management of the editorial calendar, the management of Cheeky’s freelancers and professional columnists, Cheeky’s twice-weekly email marketing campaigns, public relations for the company and company bookkeeping and accounting. Additionally, Erica aids in ad sales and event planning. Erica also writes content for all pages of CheekyChicago.com.

Since launching Cheeky, Erica has been recruited to contribute content to many reputable media publications. She is currently the Midwest Contributor for Jetsetter.com (the luxury travel spin-off of the Gilt Groupe) and a Contributor and Correspondent for NBCChicago.com. She is also a correspondent for NBC’s new digital television station, Chicago Non-Stop, covering a wide range of Chicago topics.

Erica was recently inducted into Northwestern’s prestigious Council of 100 as the youngest member ever. C100 is a group comprised of Northwestern’s most successful female graduates, who focus on mentoring current female students and young alums. Erica also lectures on entrepreneurialism, communications and social media and marketing at Northwestern University and at various high schools and panels throughout the city. If that isn’t TG material, I don’t know what is.

You can connect with Erica on Twitter at @CheekyErica or with the Cheeky Chicago account @CheekyChicago.

www.cheekychicago.com/erica-bethe-levin

To check out all of Erica’s CheekyChicago.com articles, click the link above.

Jill Silverman Hough

Jill Silverman HoughJill Silverman Hough is a cookbook author, food and wine writer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor whose forte is making food and cooking simple yet special. Thirsty Girls love to drink … AND eat.

“A recipe doesn’t have to be complicated to be indulgent,” she says. “Sprinkle a roast chicken with lavender, substitute dried cherries for raisins in a batch of oatmeal cookies, serve grilled salmon on a bed of arugula—all these things take almost no effort, yet they’ll make your otherwise ordinary dishes taste and feel like fancy food.”

As this week’s TTG Jill makes food and wine approachable to everyone, isn’t this what being a Thirsty Girl is all about?

Her work has appeared in Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, Fine Cooking, Clean Eating, Napa Sonoma, and other magazines. And her cookbook, 100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love, premiered in April 2010, with 100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love out in April 2011. A regular and popular presenter at cooking schools throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Jill lives in Napa, California.

Even better, Jill just published a book for any foodie, wine lover, or beautiful-food-picture-lover entitled, “100 Perfect Pairings: Main Dishes to Enjoy with Wines You Love.” Cheers to that.

You can connect with Jill on the web in the following places:

http://www.jillhough.com/

Twitter: @JillSHough

Facebook: 100 Perfect Pairings

Alie Shaper

Alie ShaperAlie Shaper was drawn to wine making—oenology—because of its careful balance between science and art, something that Alie innately understands. Originally an engineer, she realized in the early 2000s that though she loved science, her career was missing the passion she felt for art. Alie began on the path to learn the art of wine making, eventually becoming more and more invested in the industry. Learning how to make wine inexorably lead to the idea of actually opening her own winery. A native of New York State, Alie wanted to incorporate the urban feel of New York City with the state’s nature that produces the grapes for New York’s growing wine industry. Thus began Alie’s career as an urban wine maker, opening Brooklyn Oenology Winery (BOE) in 2006.

Alie wanted BOE to become part of the thriving local industries of Brooklyn and New York State, so the wines are made solely from New York grown grapes at a custom crush facility in Long Island. She then incorporated her love of art into her wine making to celebrate the spirit of Brooklyn’s artisanal entrepreneurship, so each BOE label features the art of a different Brooklyn artist. The labels peel off so customers can continue to enjoy the label art as a souvenir. She spends much of her free time visiting local galleries and open studios looking for inspiration for her next label. Alie is also very committed to supporting animal food safety, so proceeds from her “Friend” Reisling go to the Pet Food Product Safety Alliance.

Opening the BOE Tasting Room in November 2010 was the next step for Alie and the winery. The tasting room not only offers all of Alie’s wines, but also cheeses, charcuterie, spirits and more, all made and produced in New York. Her long-term goal is to bring the winery to the Williamsburg space, so that BOE truely becomes an urban winery. BOE is part of the greater New York wine industry, so by doing what she does, Alie and BOE’s message is to drink and love local wines.

Why is she a Thirsty Girl?

“I am a Thristy Girl because I am dedicated to producing local wines (and making them well) and to Brooklyn and other local artists. If you have to eat and drink three times a day, it better be good! BOE is part of the greater New York wine industry, so by doing what I do, I’ve made BOE’s message to drink and love local wines.”

Find out more at about BOE on their website at http://brooklynoenology.com

Follow them on Twitter at @bklynoenology and on their Facebook page.

Chelsie Kenyon

Chelsie KenyonChelsie is a Thirsty Girl through and through. Her website, Dirt Cheap Wine is about sampling all that “five-buck-chuck” and telling you what’s worth a swirl. Not bad eh?

Chelsie lives in Southern California wine country and writes about food and wine. For the last 4 years she has been writing a blog (Dirt Cheap Wine) where she reviews wine that is $5 or less and her fans can check the site for the good, bad and the truth about dirt cheap wine. Her reviews are brief, down-to-earth and she writes them while tasting the wine she is reviewing. Chelsie also keeps busy with her organic vegetable garden, cooking, couponing, and writing about Mexican food.

She is the author of “Mexican Cooking” and Where In Temecula Wine Country: A Pictorial Scavenger Hunt, as well as a mom, reviewer, wine lover, recipe developer and all around Thirsty Girl. Cheers!

Visit Dirt Cheap Wine- Reviews of $5-or-less wine at

http://www.dirtcheapwine.net/

You can also connect with Chelsie on her Facebook Page

Dirt Cheap Wine Reviews on Facebook and on Twitter at @DirtCheapWine

Lauren Wulf

Lauren WulfLauren Wulf is a Thirsty Girl, but during the day she’s a website designer, writer and avid bargain hunter. Bargain hunting on wine maybe? Using her design savvy, passion for writing and love of a good deal, she combined her three favorite things and started the website, A Poor Girl’s Guide Chicago (www.poorgirlsguidechicago.com) in 2008.

On A Poor Girl’s Guide, you’ll find daily deals, designer looks-for-less, local coupons, happy hour specials, money saving tips, budget-friendly recipes, party planning ideas and more. A Poor Girl’s Guide is a website, bible, survival kit and go-to guide to living in Chicago on a budget. The mission is to scour the windy city for the best deals, coupons and money saving secrets — so you don’t have to.

Even if you’re not a resident of Chicago, Lauren hopes to make A Poor Girl’s Guide into a great resource for thrifty gals everywhere.

Lauren also currently contributes articles to CBS, Examiner and AOL On Sugar.

Read more of her work at: www.poorgirlsguidechicago.com, on Twitter @apoorgirlsguide, or become a Poor Girl on Facebook.

You can also find Lauren getting her wino on at the Thirsty Girl Wine & Food Tasting events in Chicago. Let’s raise a glass to that, cheers!

Amelia Moran Ceja

Amelia Moran CejaVineyard Worker to Award-Winning Vintner, Thirsty Girl, I think so. Amelia Morán Ceja was born in Las Flores, Jalisco, Mexico – an agricultural village with a population of 50 residents. Her earliest memories are helping Mamá Chepa, her grandmother, in the kitchen, and being involved in cooking. Stirring, chopping, cutting – she had already began her solo-cooking career – and TG status. After the family’s move to California, Amelia returned to Mexico had the opportunity to travel throughout Mexico where she discovered the richness and diversity of regional cuisine in every state.

After Amelia and Pedro, her husband married in 1980, they purchased their first parcel in their beloved Carneros in Napa Valley. From the get go, her philosophy in winemaking became evident – to produce wine that reflected the place where the fruit was grown, farming practices, and gentle approach in the vinification process. Most importantly, the wine has to complement all the food that Amelia loves, and therefore, balance in her wine became her mantra.

Ceja Vineyards was founded in 1999, and Amelia became the first Mexican-American woman elected president of a wine production company in the history of the wine industry. Under her leadership, Inc. Magazine selected Ceja Vineyards “Entrepreneur of the Year 2004” (one of seven) in the January 2005 issue. In addition, Ceja Vineyards was named “Best New Winery” in 2002 by over 90 of the world’s most prestigious wine writers, case production has increased from 750 cases to 10,000 cases per year, Ceja wines have received numerous awards and extensive media coverage, and Ceja wines are offered at some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the United States.

Her contributions to the wine industry were recognized on March 15, 2005, when she was named “Woman of the Year” by the California Legislature. “Amelia is a great role model for the next generation of Latinos,” said Senator Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata). “She has not only broken the glass ceiling in a very competitive business but has earned respect throughout the wine industry.”

A testament to the quality, beauty, and balance of her wines is readily visible in the wonderful restaurants that carry our Ceja wines throughout the United States ranging from French, Asian, and of course, Mexican food – we are the new American Table. ¡Salud!

Ceja Vineyards has been using Facebook, Twitter @ameliaceja & Youtube to build online presence since 2006.

Catherine Stanton Schiff

Catherine Stanton SchiffCatherine Stanton Schiff has always been a Thirsty Girl. She has spent the past two decades as a sales and marketing executive in the alcohol beverage industry, representing hundreds of brands, including Bacardi, Dewar’s, Bombay Sapphire, Stoli, Kahlua, Makers Mark, Sauza, Clos du Bois, Geyser Peak, Gary Farrell and Champagnes Perrier-Jouet & Mumm – just to name a few!

Catherine began her cocktail career as so many Thirsty Girls do, mixing up margaritas and serving drinks behind the bar. She loved the bar business so much, she created her own job coordinating liquor and beer promotions for El Torito’s six Massachusetts locations, going on to become the Regional Marketing Coordinator for all twenty-six Northeast locations. From there, Catherine was recruited to be part of the team that launched Pete’s Wicked Ale, the beer which took the country by storm during the microbrew explosion in the early 90’s. Catherine went on to work for Bacardi-Martini USA, Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine and Beam Wine Estates in on-premise sales and marketing management.

Catherine has lectured about her career and the alcohol beverage industry at Boston College (from where she holds a BA in Communications) and Emerson College. She has appeared on local Boston TV and radio, in The Improper Bostonian & Stuff magazines, The Boston Herald and Patriot Ledger newspapers and in several corporate on-premise training videos. She has won “Patrick Henry Creative Promotions” Promotion of the Year, Bacardi’s Regional On-Premise Manager of the Year and has been named one of the “Powerful People Who Make Nightlife Happen” by Boston’s Stuff Magazine.

Catherine produced and hosted a weekly radio program, Cocktails for Everyone!, on the VoiceAmerica Radio Network, where she interviewed the most influential members of the wine, spirits, beer and culinary industries, including the Head Thirsty Girl, Leslie Sbrocco. Catherine is currently the Massachusetts Key Account Manager for Brugal Rum, which is part of the Edrington Group portfolio and distributed by Remy Cointreau USA.

To find out more about Catherine’s adventures, check out her blog at

http://cocktailsforeveryone.wordpress.com/

You can also connect with Catherine on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/cocktails4evry1 

Jennifer Gaydeski

Jennifer GaydeskiJennifer Gaydeski is the Co-Founder and Editor of Savor & Sip Magazine, a new food and beverage publication in Las Vegas, focusing on the local scene and telling the stories behind an industry that defines Vegas culture. Jennifer has been in the food and beverage industry for over 15 years and moved to Las Vegas in 2008 to run a local wine bar and restaurant, which became a local gathering place for food, wine, live music and local art. Since 2009, Jennifer has been writing a wine column for a national publication and spending much of her free time working on her blog and social marketing endeavors. 2001 finally presented the opportunity to launch her own business and SLJ Media LLC and Savor & Sip Magazine were born. Jennifer’s goal is to use this publication to showcase local businesses and provide a resource for locals to celebrate the places where they work and play in Las Vegas.

Why am I a Thirsty Girl?I was born into a family that loves life…traveling, eating, drinking, loving and laughing along the way. I have always been thirsty for adventure and new experiences and have had the privilege of being able to live and work all over the country. After graduating from performing arts school, I worked on a showboat in Ohio, toured with a children’s theater company, and performed and directed at several theaters in Atlanta. Along the way I bartended and waited tables and eventually began managing restaurants and exploring my passion for food, wine and people. As far as I am concerned, the journey never ends, and I am determined to continue expanding my knowledge and fueling my passions. Chances are I will be doing this with a glass of wine in one hand and a fork in the other.

Cheers!

Check out Jennifer’s many ventures at her sites below or give her a shout on Twitter!

Grape Vegas

Twitter @GrapeVegas

Wine Of Course

Twitter @WineofCourse

Savor&Sip Magazine

Twitter @savorandsip