Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dispatches from the road - Days 2, 3 and 4...

After a decent sleep at the Motel 6 in Buellton (yes, even Goddesses have budgets), JD and I hit the 101 North to San Francisco.  Although there were scattered rain showers, it was a relatively easy drive.  We stopped in San Luis Obispo at the Apple Farm and breakfasted on eggs and sausage and those famous muffins.  Stopped in the gift shop and found ourselves in the middle of conversation about the Renaissance Faires - North and South.  JD and I are old rengeeks, and it's always fun finding like-minded folks.  Still, we left the Apple Farm a bit later than planned.

Driving north on the 101 takes you thru fields of grapevines, amazing ocean views, evergreen-forested mountain passes, and quick views of small farming communities like Gilroy (garlic capital of the world, I think) and Salinas (not so small), before heading into San Jose and the Silicon Valley.

We had a short unexpected stop just south of Salinas.  Cruising along, we noticed a helicopter circling around to hover over the highway.  And land.  On the highway.  Traffic, of course, stopped.  We assumed it was a Medivac helicopter, and were dismayed to see a second whirlybird land on the highway.  After a while, both 'copters took off in the general direction of Hollister, and traffic began to move.  The remains of the accident left no doubt that folks were seriously injured.  We sent good thoughts their way, and made our way cautiously out of the area.

The weather continued to clear as we approached the Bay area.  San Francisco is a beautiful city, although a bit challenging to drive thru - especially at the beginning of rush hour.  Gilda (our Garmin) did an excellent job of guiding us to Wil and Joe's home just south of the Castro, where we disembarked and unloaded.

Wil and I have known each other since high school - which means we've been friends a REALLY long time.  He has traveled all over the world, speaks several languages with a high degree of fluency, and has an excellent wine cellar.  After we unpacked, he opened a 2006 Darioush Cabernet Franc, and we washed away the dust from the road.  We walked a few blocks to the Eureka Restaurant and Lounge, one of Wil's favorites, and had an amazing dinner - Wil had braised pork shoulder, JD had wild mushroom ravioli, and I had the duck confit with gnocchi, spinach and dried plums in a Madeira sauce - all paired with a 2007 Faiveley red Burgundy.  Wonderful!

The next morning we were up way before the crack of dawn, as we had to meet Ian and other LearnAboutWiners at the Regency Center for a huge trade event spotlighting Burgundy producers.  After searching for an open parking facility, we found that Ian, Jared, MD3, Laura, and a few others were already there working furiously to finish the setup for the event.  It got a bit crazy just before opening, but all the wines for the seminar got poured (8 glasses of wine per person x 80 people plus 3 presenters), even though the presenters were a bit late, which made the prepouring of the wines even more challenging.  Kudos to all who got the wines poured without mishap!

The Terroirs et Signatures de Bourgogne / Burgundy wine tasting offered a training seminar for participants to revisit the fundamentals of Burgundy Wines and participate in a tasting of some of the Villages appellations.  Featuring some of the most renowned Burgundy exhibitors, this wine tasting provided the trade a unique opportunity to experience some of the finest wines of Burgundy. The 21 producers and wine merchants presented wines on their own table and on the Exhibitors’ Choice Tables.  Jared spent the day pouring red wines at the Exhibitors' Choice table;  I poured the whites, backing up Eric, another sommelier hired by Ian.  The exhibitors were happy, the folks who put this event together were happy, and Ian was satisfied that things went well.  This was a good thing, as the rest of the crew sans JD and me, were going to repeat this whole event at the Beverly Hills Hotel 2 days later.  It was a long day, but we learned a lot, and met some great people, and tasted some extraordinary wines.  My favorite of the day was the 2007 Domaine Parent Pommard Premier Cru, Les Chaponnieres.  Délicieux!

We made our way back to Wil and Joe's, where Joe was preparing a wonderful dinner for us.  We opened an Italian red blend that we brought with us - a WineShop at Home Misti Rosso - just to take the edge off the day of glorious Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays, while we watched Joe expertly create a roasted beet and goat cheese salad, a wonderful chicken and artichoke dish (need to get the recipe), homemade spaetzle, finished off with pear galettes from Joe's own Destination Baking Company (pictured left).  Please click thru to the link, and if you're in SF, run, don't walk, to this lovely bakery!  Wil opened a couple of bottles of Domaine Carneros Merlot to accompany this dinner, and we sat there and let everyone wait on us.  It was a wonderful way to end the day. 

Slept in a bit the next morning, as we didn't have to be anywhere, and over coffee, spent several hours on Ancestry.com with Wil.  Fascinating.  He's become quite the genealogist.  We finally got ourselves together and took Wil out to lunch at the Beach Chalet, a microbrewery in an historic building on the Pacific coast.  Yes, the Goddess drinks beer occasionally!  I had the Riptide Red, all toasty and caramel maltiness.  The description said there was a mild hop bitterness on the end, but it was smooth and sweet to my palate.  JD and Wil had other brews, which they clearly enjoyed.  Wil stuck to a Cobb salad, but JD and I had big well-made, meaty sandwiches (or did JD have fish and chips?).

After lunch, Wil guided us on a driving tour of the City by the Bay.  We drove all over - and I'll add some more photos after I upload them to my computer.  It was a beautiful day, ending with us grouped around the kitchen table, drinking Taittinger Domaine Carneros bubbles and chowing down on great pizza ordered in.  We stayed up pretty late reminiscing and telling stories.  Kind of a perfect day.

More about the trip north to follow.  Cheers!

1 comment:

John said...

Beach Chalet- Had beer, so fish & chips to go with, guv'nor.