September 10, 2015

Competitive Wine Tasting For A Cause

Do good and drink wine.

Now there’s a philanthropic idea I can stand behind.

Allow me to introduce you all to Bacchanalian Society of Omaha. They throw competitive wine tastings that benefit local nonprofit organizations.

bacchanalian

The Fall 2015 Gathering is coming up – Oct. 8 – and they invited me to attend so you guys can hear about it. Twist my arm, right?

 

Here’s the lowdown

1. All Bacchanalian events raise money for a different charity. They try to vary between different types of causes, but all directly serve Douglas, Sarpy, and/or Pottawatamie counties. The Fall 2015 Gathering benefits the Literacy Center

2. Prices to fundraisers are kept low to attract younger do-gooders and the rest of us who’d love to be more charitable but can’t afford the price of $100+ gala tickets.

 

About Competitive Wine Tastings

Photo courtesy The Bacchanalian Society of Omaha

Photo courtesy The Bacchanalian Society of Omaha

 

I was intrigued by this too, so I asked Katy Spratte, Bacchanalian Society of Omaha Vice President, to give first-timers a primer on what to expect and some tips for bringing the winning wine.

  1. Teams of 1, 2 or 3 people bring three bottles of the same wine fitting the event’s theme. For the Fall 2015 Gathering, white blends will be featured.
  2. Two of those bottles are bagged (to hide what they are) for the tasting; the third is set aside for the winner.
  3. Every attendee gets a set of voting cards, three green for the wines they like, and one red for the one they don’t. 
  4. Start tasting some of that wine, y’all.
  5. Vote.
  6. The teams that brought the five highest ranked wines divvy up each team’s third unopened bottle.
  7. The lowest ranked wine will be returned to the team that brought it.

 

Tips to winning this thing

  1. Look for wines with mass appeal. Think smooth and mellow stuff.
  2. Since we’re talking whites here, make sure you chill your bottles before the competition.
  3. Wines have ranged from $4 a bottle to $100… most expensive doesn’t always mean better. Katy said the last winner of a white theme (2014’s “West Coast Whites”) won with an $8 bottle purchased at Cubby’s in the Old Market.
  4. Local or Midwestern wines haven’t fared well at past events, so consider that when making a purchase.

 

Spirit World in Aksarben and Corkscrew in the Blackstone District are offering 10% off for all “bach” attendees who purchase their competition wine there; just mention Bacchanalian Society of Omaha.

 

If you go

Bacchanalian Society of Omaha Fall 2015 Wine Gathering

When: Thursday, Oct. 8; doors open at 7 p.m. and bottles popped at 7:30.

Where: Hot Shops Art Center, 1301 Nicholas St.

Cost: Early birds can register as individuals for $20; price goes up to $25 later. Teams of 2 or 3 can register for $57. Register here

May 5, 2015

5 Things About Big O Bocce

I’ve been thinking about getting in some sort of sports league lately. One to be social but maybe a little active.

So I joined a bocce ball league.

Spoiler alert: My team isn’t going to win this league.

This year.

My #bocceomaha team, Joanie Loves Bocce. @momontheside #DontKnowWhatWereDoing #omaha #MidtownCrossing

A post shared by Kim Reiner (@ohmyomaha) on

Didn’t know people played bocce ball in Omaha? And they’re like, our age?

There are 70-odd teams in the Big O Bocce league at Midtown Crossing this spring.

 

 

Bocce panoramic

 

Bocce ball is not a physically demanding sport, and can be played with a beverage in your hand – making it appealing to older folks and college-aged kids alike.

(Wait, does that make me an “older folk”?)

 

5 Things To Know About Big O Bocce

 

Bocce title

 

1. Anyone can play it.

I’ve never played bocce ball until last Tuesday. Nor had any members of my glorious bocce ball team, Joanie Loves Bocce, played. We had to google how to play.

So you can bet we were worthy adversaries.

Luckily our opponents had never played either, so there wasn’t a whole lot of pressure.

In case you were wondering, we lost to Balls Deep. I’ll let you come up with a joke right here.

Joanie Loves Bocce has serious game face, though.

Joanie Loves Bocce has serious game face, though.

Take heed, though, there are some competitive souls out there.

2. Anyone can play it but that doesn’t mean everyone’s good at it.

There is some skill to bocce, so even though we can all throw a ball, it’s not so easy to master. Being a competitive person, I had a hard time coming to terms with this. Kim wants to win.

3. League play is at Turner Park 

Put two and two together – sports and a public park – and you wonder if alcohol is involved. Well. Yes and no. People brought coolers, people purchased beer from Brix. But, it’s a public park so no one was throwing a kegger in Court No. 3. Everyone seemed pretty responsible, but having fun.

Not only can you play with a beverage in hand, you can pretend to measure distances as well.

Not only can you play with a beverage in hand, you can pretend to measure distances as well.

4. The real fun is afterward.

Sponsors of Big O Bocce – Cantina Laredo, Black Oak Grill and Chicago Dawg House – rotate offering post-game specials. We went to Cantina Laredo last week, and they offered $2 tacos and $2 Tecate beers. I’m excited to see what the other places will offer teams.

5. Summer league is on the horizon.

Will Joanie Loves Bocce be back? Who knows. But if you’ve got 5-8 friends, pool together your registration fee of $35 each and join the summer league. Registration starts May 25. You guys get a tshirt and an invite to the end-of-the-year party, and if you’re any good, maybe a trophy. Top scoring fees get money to donate to charities of their choice in addition to a trophy.

 

Disclaimer: I was provided complimentary registration in exchange for telling you about Big O Bocce. It was kinda unspoken that I wouldn’t tell you any rules or provide any “how to” tips because clearly, I have no idea what I’m doing out there.

 

April 7, 2015

Girls Night Out To Mamma Mia

“Mamma Mia” is one of those Broadway shows that have been around for decades and every time you meet a woman who hasn’t seen it, you’re a little surprised. But they’re out there, so I’m guessing when the Broadway touring production stops in Omaha April 24-26, there will be pockets of newbies having a ball watching it for the first time.

 

"Mamma Mia" runs April 24-26 at Omaha's Orpheum Theater.

“Mamma Mia” runs April 24-26 at Omaha’s Orpheum Theater.

I’ll be there on opening night. Omaha Performing Arts, who is my employer and the presenter of this show along with Broadway Across America, asked me and a few bloggers to write about the show before it comes to Omaha. I’ve seen it once already and I have a few opinions on it, so I agreed to it.

 

What you need to know about “Mamma Mia”

"Mamma Mia" is about friendship and the bonds between mothers and daughters.

“Mamma Mia” is about friendship and the bonds between mothers and daughters.

  1. It really is a great girls night out show. This is one you’ll want to see with friends, your sister, your mom…anyone but your husband. I took Mr. Wonderful to see this bright, cheerful musical when I was a young newspaper reviewer who always wanted her beau to accompany her to shows no matter what. He kinda dampened my fun (not once would he join in with me in singing “Dancing Queen”). He’s not the target audience; it just wasn’t what he’d call a good time. While he rolled his eyes, all around me groups of women were laughing, dancing, having a ball. Lesson learned.
  2. It’s all ABBA music. You probably already know this. The creators faithfully kept the ABBA songs whole and managed to write a musical around them. It’s not a jukebox musical, but a traditional musical whose story is moved forward each time someone sings a song. It’s a fun time if you enjoy an ABBA song or two (or the whole catalog); it’s a drag if you don’t. Haters gonna hate.
  3. There is a plot to the musical. It’s not complex, and its meaning will seem more profound if you have had a drink before the show, but there’s still a nice storyline to it. It’s about mother-daughter bonds, the bonds between friends, and getting older (but not getting old).

Which circles me back to why this is a great girls night out show: No guy can relate to the difficult but profoundly meaningful relationship that is the mother-daughter relationship.

 

What guy wouldn't want to see a musical with ABBA music that focuses on female friendships? I mean, really.

What guy wouldn’t want to see a musical with ABBA music that focuses on female friendships? I mean, really.

Maybe I’ll see you there on April 24! I won’t be there with my husband.

 

If you go

“Mamma Mia”

When: Friday, April 24, through Sunday, April 26. Performances are Friday at 8 p.m.; Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 1:30 and 7 p.m.

Where: Orpheum Theater, 409 S. 16th St.

Get tickets 

Tip: Do not wait to get your tickets! Tickets are selling well and will not get any cheaper.

 

December 22, 2014

Heritage Opens In Downtown Omaha

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. My meal and drink was provided by the restaurant in order to experience all Heritage has to offer. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

Omaha’s newest restaurant, Heritage Food and Wine, held a soft opening this past weekend. Located just north of the Orpheum Theater in downtown Omaha, it’s in a downtown area that’s becoming a known for good, locally-sourced food.

Heritage is located on South 15th Street in downtown Omaha.

Heritage is located on South 15th Street in downtown Omaha.

My dinner companions were fellow bloggers and social media hotshots – Lisa at amomontheside.com and midwestmammas.com, Dana at triwivesclub.com (and also momsgoodeats.com and part of travelingmom.com), Janelle at bakesinslippers.com, Sarah from saraheatsomaha.com (and Yelp), Liz at LPObeauty.com and Kris, a brand-builder extraordinaire.

Bakes in Slippers and Momsgoodeats, AKA Janelle and Dana.

Bakes in Slippers and Momsgoodeats, AKA Janelle and Dana.

The atmosphere

It’s pretty modern looking with some interesting light fixtures.

Look up.

Look up.

The lights were dim for the evening, so if you’re thinking on wooing someone with some mood lighting, here you go.

Foodies are going to flock Heritage since many working here have come from places like V. Mertz, Dante’s and The Boiler Room. If that’s not your scene, you won’t be impressed by that, and you probably avoid places that attract foodies anyway. However, if you like to eat good food, you’ll want to try this place out.

The straight forward menu. You want something from the garden? Got it. Want something from the sea? Easy.

The straight forward menu. You want something from the garden? Got it. Want something from the sea? Easy.

You can be adventurous in ordering or stick to what you know. Menu’s pretty straight forward.

 

Drinks

I first noticed the beer list – small but a great selection (Delirium Tremens, folks). Then I pondered the extensive wine list – now we’re talking my territory – but my crew that night was ordering craft cocktails, so I followed suit.

I joined Liz in requesting “something fruity with rum.” I’d tell you to get it if I knew what it was. The bartenders know their stuff, though, so if you’re a cocktail novice like me, just tell them something vague and they’ll make something spectacular.

It turns out I would’ve been more than fine getting wine. They have a certified sommelier on staff, which explains the enviable wine cellar. Next time, I’m pairing stuff with wine.

 

The food

That’s what you really want to know about, right? It’s comfort food.  Things are served family-style, which I liked a lot since it allowed for us to try a lot of food instead of being saddled with one entree and wishing you could sample someone’s food.

Huge fries and biscuits with honey, yes please.

Huge fries and biscuits with honey, yes please.

 

Being family-style, things come on small plates and there’s no appetizer, entree, dessert order to things. Instead, the menu is divided into garden, pasture, sea and coop (and cave – the charcuterie option).

 

Sweet potatoes like your mama never used to make.

Sweet potatoes like your mama never used to make.

 

Among the dishes I like: Sweet potatoes with carmelized white chocolate and marshmallows; house pickles; smoked salmon and gravlox; roasted vegetables; and the creamed kale that came with the duck breast. There were some incredible homemade biscuits too.

 

There's no way to photograph creamed kale and make it look good. Just take my word for it, it was good.

There’s no way to photograph creamed kale and make it look good. Just take my word for it, it was good.

Would I bring my kids?

I wouldn’t feel out of place doing it – there were some dishes I mentally checkmarked as things I bet they’d eat. I could see bringing them along if we were having a nice dinner out with their Grammy and Grampy.

However, this seems more to me like a great date spot to hit before a show. Or even better, to go with a group of friends so you can order a bunch of plates and taste a lot of stuff.

 

If you go

Heritage Food and Wine
Where: 316 S. 15th St.
For reservations: (402) 991-0660
April 11, 2014

Birthday Celebration Day 5: Vino Van Gogh Giveaway

Stock photo by Praveen (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en). Photo has been edited.

Stock photo by Praveen (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en). Photo has been edited.

 

I don’t have the booming social where a girls night out needs to be more than just drinks. I’ll take anything if it means I don’t have to say “potty” in a conversation.

But, it is fun to be out with friends doing something in addition to having a drink. Being creative while drinking, for instance.

Painting and drinking, specifically.

I don't always paint while holding my wine glass, but when I do, I'm sure to slosh my wine on my apron.

I don’t always paint while holding my wine glass, but when I do, I’m sure to slosh my wine on my apron.

I recently took another Vino Van Gogh class (read about the first one here). This time, it was a special night out – a birthday celebration for my sister-in-law (belated, but she doesn’t mind).

So, we sipped some, painted some, laughed a lot.

Here we are with our finished masterpieces.

Here we are with our finished masterpieces.

My first experience was similar. Vino Van Gogh classes are held at different locations around Omaha – from bars to restaurants to retail locations like the one we were at recently, Vine + Branch. The location is different each time but I’m learning that the atmosphere is similar: Relaxed, supportive and festive. Two different teachers, two different styles, but both were encouraging with a side of sass. You aren’t going to learn a lot of technique just enough to help you paint something like this.

So if you’re looking for more instructional painting classes, perhaps look for a different sort of school.

It’s mostly women in the class, though my first class had a few couples on dates.  Drinks and food are additional costs – you’re not required to drink (it just helps). I found a glass of wine loosened painting inhibitions – we started out worrying about every brush stroke, but about 20 minutes into it, woowee, who cares, let’s add a little more color here and a little swoosh there.

* * * * *

Giveaway!

Vino Van Gogh Collage

Do you have a need to tap into your inner-artist? Does the sound of painting with a glass of wine within reach sound just about right? Do you have three friends who need a night out? Or maybe you have a special someone who’d join you on two dates to two different classes?

Lucky you, then. I’m giving away FOUR (4) passes to any Vino Van Gogh class in Omaha on any day you choose (assuming it’s not already a full class). The passes are codes you’ll use when registering for the class(es) of your choosing.

It’s easy to enter. You can get extra entries if you follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, plus you can tweet about this giveaway daily for an extra entry each day! Must be 21 or older to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. on April 27. A random winner will be selected by Rafflecopter, and I will contact that winner via email with details on registering for the class(es) he or she wants to attend. Total value of the tickets is $152.

Vino Van Gogh provided complimentary classes to me in exchange for my honest reviews. All opinions expressed are my own.

I want to thank the sponsors who are making Oh My! Omaha’s birthday celebration so awesome, especially Vino Van Gogh for providing the four free class registrations for today’s giveaway! Other great sponsors are Omaha Symphony, The Rose, Omaha Performing Arts, Omaha Children’s Museum, the Strategic Air & Space Museum, and Bluebarn Theatre.

 

Check out the other giveaways:

Win 4 tickets to see National Geographic Live’s Exploring the Red Planet – ends April 18

Win two tickets to see Omaha Symphony’s “Singin’ in the Rain” + a $25 gift card to Upstream Brewery – ends April 20

Win 4 tickets The Rose’s “Ramona Quimby” – ends April 20

Win 4 tickets to “Spank! Harder The Musical” – ends April 27

Win a family pass to the Omaha Children’s Museum – ends May 4 

Win 2 passes to the Strategic Air & Space Museum – ends May 4

Win 2 tickets to Bluebarn Theatre’s “33 Variations” – ends May 4 

 

April 10, 2014

Birthday Celebration Day 4: Spank! Harder The Musical Giveaway

Stock photo by Praveen (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en). Photo has been edited.

Stock photo by Praveen (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en). Photo has been edited.

 

Last summer, Omaha Performing Arts presented a production that wasn’t your typical Orpheum Theater fare. It had women hooting and whistling. It had me laughing to the point of tears.

What made women catcall at the grand theater while also making them laugh?

“Spank!.”

It was a parody of “Fifty Shares of Gray” with funny songs and over-the-top characters. It wasn’t high brow, to say the least, but it sure was fun. I enjoy anything that parodies pop culture and this targeted more than just the book series.

My friends and I had a fun time, sipping our girly drinks and blushing a time or two at some of the naughtier lines.

Nothing says classy like a girls night out at the Orpheum. To catcall the lone male actor on stage. At a "50 Shades" parody. We're classy ladies, we are.

Cheers to a fun girls night out!

It was a fabulous girls night out, and having not made it through even one of the books, I didn’t miss a beat and enjoyed a night of skewering one of the most popular series in, um, literature.

* * * * *

Could you use a girls night out? Or guys, want to win husband/boyfriend of the year and win your gal some tickets?

They’re coming back! The terrible and hilarious author, the domineering Christian Gray-like character and the naive  Anastacia-like character will return to Omaha.

SPANK_Retouch_with Logo-HIGH RES_smaller

Omaha Performing Arts is bringing the sequel to the Orpheum Theater: “Spank! Harder.” It’s playing two nights only, June 6 and 7, at 8 p.m.

OPA logo_colorWant to see it with three of your girlfriends? You can win FOUR (4) tickets to see “Spank! Harder” on opening night, June 6.

It’s easy to enter. You can get extra entries if you follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, plus you can tweet about this giveaway daily for an extra entry each day!

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. on April 27. A random winner will be selected by Rafflecopter, and I will contact that winner via email with details on retrieving the tickets. Total value of the tickets is $180.

I want to thank the sponsors who are making Oh My! Omaha’s birthday celebration so awesome, especially Omaha Performing Arts for providing the tickets for this giveaway. Other sponsors for this week of giveaways include: Omaha Symphony, The Rose, Omaha Children’s Museum, Vino Van Gogh, the Strategic Air & Space Museum, and Bluebarn Theatre.

Check out the other giveaways:

Win 4 tickets to see National Geographic Live’s Exploring the Red Planet – ends April 18

Win two tickets to see Omaha Symphony’s “Singin’ in the Rain” + a $25 gift card to Upstream Brewery – ends April 20

Win 4 tickets The Rose’s “Ramona Quimby” – ends April 20

Win 4 passes to any Vino Van Gogh class in Omaha – ends April 27 

Win a family pass to the Omaha Children’s Museum – ends May 4 

Win 2 passes to the Strategic Air & Space Museum – ends May 4

Win 2 tickets to Bluebarn Theatre’s “33 Variations” – ends May 4