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Don't Stop Believing

Hold on to that feeling – the feeling that you can eat and drink what you want; the feeling that wine is meant to be savored; the feeling that you deserve that fancy meal. These are all ideas that go by the wayside in the New Year. Gym memberships are bought and credit cards are clipped. This is the year that my fitness and financial goals will be met, we think.

The mixture of sage, mint, parsley, panko and golden raisins that I rolled into a butterflied leg of lamb

But as anyone who ruefully looks at barely worn running shoes and untouched yoga mats can attest, it's easy to be lazy. To spur on my resolution to get in the best shape of my life for my June wedding, I set an aggressive workout schedule of yoga, rock climbing and capoeira, and vowed to have at least two days a week of no alcohol, cheese or meat. So far so good, but my water and steamed tofu with scallion sauce pairings aren't exactly blog-worthy. A big part of my social life is inviting friends over for my experiments in food and wine, so concurrent with my healthy eating and fitness schedule, I also slotted in one more decadent, home-cooked meal per week.

Last Sunday, my fiancé and I had six friends, one baby and one four-legged companion over for a feast of Union Square Café's Roasted Stuffed Leg of Lamb and traveling cookbook authors Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Napa Cabbage and Red Onion Salad paired with the 2007 Cadence Bel Canto Cara Mia Vineyard Red Mountain Red Blend. This mid-weight, Cabernet Franc-driven Bordeaux blend from Walla Walla, Wash., had just the right tannic grip for the lamb, although I wouldn't hesitate to pair it with a fuller wine. The Cadence's notes of black cherry and plum wonderfully offset the salad's bite from the red onion, while also deepening the sweetness of the plumped raisins in the lamb's herb filling. The meal tasted all the better as I was celebrating having ascended my first 5.11b climb that morning, and feeling not at all guilty for feeding my sore back muscles some extra protein.

Quinoa, napa cabbage and red onion salad and herb-stuffed leg of lamb

I don't normally spend this much for a bottle of wine, but considering all the wine I'll be abstaining from this year, I felt that the splurge was justified. In fact, I might use these weekly dinners as reasons to buy and open some fancier bottles. If you are what you eat, drink and do, then I want only the good stuff.