A crowd waits to try Pilot Peak wines
When my Charles and I discovered that there was going to be a wine event at the River Cats Ballpark followed by a baseball game, there was no hesitation -- we bought tickets then and there. Four wineries participated, Pilot Peak, Nevada City, Chateau Routon, and Mount Aukum. The first two are from our area of the foothills and the latter two are around the Fair Play area. (Which is south of us and in a different county, among other things. Don't you love foothill town names, btw? We have Rough and Ready, they have Fair Play -- fantastic!) We discovered that Fair Play didn't experience the late hard frosts that our area did. While their crops are later because of the long cold season, they didn't lose any of their grapes.
Mmmm... Nevada City Winery
The other thing that we quickly discovered is that our wineries were, ahem, better (and more popular), and the people were friendlier. To the right in the pink shirt is Delia. My Charles and I love her. She's the store's wine rep for Nevada City, and she's such a character! The Fair Play folks were nice, but they seemed a little uncomfortable with the whole event. The Mount Aukum wines were refined, but their retail prices are hard to swallow. I also noticed that I was getting the same cologne-type nose with every wine we sampled. I soon discovered it was actually from the man who was pouring. Oh well. So while I enjoyed their varieties, I have no idea what the real aromas of their wines were.
Here's the wind-up...
After sampling and chatting and sampling and chatting, (and getting a bit of food. They had hot dogs with spicy ketchup rolled in what seemed to be tortillas and a small fish sandwich with a mild tartar sauce.) baseball commenced. This was the first time we've watched the River Cats this year. They were a fantastic triple A team last year -- so fantastic, in fact, most of them are playing for the A's this year. This season's team isn't quite as great, but it was baseball, there was a wonderful delta breeze, and I had a slight buzz on, so it was an enjoyable evening.
However, because the team isn't quite so great this year, the game wasn't too compelling. We'd never seen the River Cats lose. Well, until Wednesday, that is. We were sitting behind third, so we had a good view of the outfielders and the grounds crew between innings. There was always a lot to watch, including a silly race that included the River Cats mascot running around the bases with his tail tucked between his legs in a rather suggestive manner. Out of the corner of my eye... Well, anyway, the view of the Sacramento skyline was nice, especially as the sun set.
Golden bridge for the Golden State
The bridge lit up into its evening golden splendor. I always love to watch the bridge turn from baby poop yellow to a glowing Sac town wonder. As soon as the glow begins to fade, flocks of crows begin to fly in front of the bridge on the way home to their nightly roosts. I adore watching their large groups dotting the horizon.
There is a scoreboard in there somewhere...
After the sunset, the regular comedy of the minor league sound guy commenced. I like how ridiculous some of the sound choices -- and music choices -- really are. I truly enjoy the cheesy songs that each and every one of the players choose to herald them to the plate for their at bats. Do you really need a theme song? Does Nickelback really get you that pumped?
I'm so hardcore
This guy cracked me up the most. His song was Guns and Roses' Welcome to the Jungle. Every time he walked up to the plate, I heard that song blaring away and then looked up at his super-huge mug glowing on the scoreboard and laughed. Every time. It never got old. Obviously, this Eric guy is hardcore! Can't you tell?
#3, please, please, please
By the seventh inning, my Charles and I were incredibly hungry, (those little hot dogs did not cut it!) so we headed out for some grubbage on the way home from the park. (We've never left a baseball game early before, but the lack of scoring from the River Cats just wasn't that interesting, and we had work the next day.) Thank goodness of Auburn's In-N-Out!
Is this too stereotypical Cali?
A hamburger, fries, and a fresh pink lemonade, and my belly was one happy, contented thing. Hooray for In-N-Out! They're open late, they're super fast, and their food is old school diner yumminess. While going out to eat is a real treat for us, sometimes we just want a burger and fries.
Wine and amazing food – these are the things my Charles’ and my dreams are made of.
Last night, our area’s newest tasting room, Grass Valley Wine Company, had a pre-grand opening. Four wineries share the space: Montoliva, Pilot Peak, Solune, and Bent Metal.
The Company is located in an historic building on Mill Street in downtown Grass Valley. The interior is rich with walls of brick, murals, and gorgeous accessories including plush couches and leather stools. Multileveled, it’s a glorious place for events or just to hang out with an excellent bottle of local wine.
For the pre-grand opening, tables were set up around the perimeter of the lower level, each table representing one of the four wineries. Two choices of wine and one excellent dish from Jim E’s were available at each stop.
My Charles and I started at Montoliva’s table. Mark Henry, the owner and winemaker, was pouring. He was also the lovely individual who invited us to the event, so starting at his table just felt right. Plus, he’s such an easy person to talk with, it made it easy for us to relax and feel a part of the group as a whole. Mark’s table had the most wonderful roasted tomato and goat cheese tarts, and they paired gorgeously with his yummy wines.
photo by GVWC
We then drifted, talked, and made our way over to Solune’s table. This was exciting for us, as we hadn’t had a chance to make it out to their winery and taste their wines. It should come as no surprise that they were terrific, and their food for pairing was a braised sausage. I didn’t try the sausage, as I was still rather full from an early dinner and the amazing goat cheese tart, but my Charles enjoyed every bite.
Our next stop was Pilot Peak and their awesome wines. This time, I couldn’t say no to Jim E’s creation – chicken, wrapped in bacon, with chipotle basil sauce! Mmmm… taste sensation heaven. I was tempted to take another, but my full tummy and good manners prevented such a social faux pas. And again, the wine paired perfectly.
The last table was Bent Metal’s. Their wines were paired with meatballs in a Dijon mustard sauce, which I wanted, but that lovely bacon had taken up the last of the food room in my belly. My Charles said they were mighty tasty, and I was content with that. This was the first time either of us had met Judy Brown of Bent Metal, and I gotta say, she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met in Nevada County.
While this could have been the end of our evening, we decided to extend our night just a tad further by purchasing a glass of wine each. My Charles chose Solune’s 2006 Petite Sirah. The grapes were sourced from Clarksburg, and the wine was fantastic. While it would be good with steak, you may think I’m nuts, but I think this wine would also go terrifically with sushi, especially ahi. There were enough levels that told me they’d compliment the green saltiness of nori, the smoky base of wasabi partnered with tamari, and the flavors of the tuna, that I’d love to try this pairing. I had a glass of Pilot Peak’s LiVedo, one of my favorites, and one that I thought would end the evening on a high note. I was right. Oh, for evenings that end on a contented sigh…
A year ago, we bought our house. It was a short sale, so it was a very long, very drawn-out process in which we were never confident that we would prevail. Our patience and dogged clinging paid off, and my Charles and I became first-time home buyers.
Don't worry. The icicles were the first things to go.
Fast forward to our one year anniversary of home ownership, and we have so many projects waiting for our attention. Our original plan was to wait for the dry season and paint the exterior of the house. Call us crazy, but we aren't too partial to the color scheme of the Coco's Restaurant franchise. (Coco's is my Charles' dad's favorite place to eat. We hate it, but we take him there because we love him and want him to get to eat something that he enjoys.)
But then we had a really wet late winter and spring. It was good, because we desperately need the water around these parts, but it exacerbated an existing problem. When we had the inspection, we were told that there was a little dry rot behind the worthless trim that followed the edge of the deck that connected to the house. It shouldn't be too big of a problem, we'd just need to replace some of the lower siding and put in some flashing. That wasn't too intimidating. We planned to do that when we were about to repaint the house.
Except I found this one rainy day when I grabbed for my drawing board.
Well, it didn't look like this when I was reaching for my drawing board, but after I discovered my board was moist and growing mold and so was the wall it was leaning against, this came soon after.
And now we come to the reason why I haven't been able to find anything in my office. I shoved my desk out of the way to tear out some of the wall and peel back the carpet. My Charles and I were quickly dismayed to find that part of the subfloor had been destroyed as well as nastified, and we realized that the external paint project would now have to go on the back burner. My cute, little office, my very own sanctuary, now needed a bunch of work.
How did all of that water get into my office in the first place? I thought it might be my sliding glass door, but it was fine. It wasn't the roof. Thankfully, it's sound. So we pulled back that stupid trim to discover more of a problem than the little bit of dry rot we had originally anticipated. Nooooo! Way more of the siding was water damaged than the inspector thought. What was worse, the deck was attached to the house and wasn't just screwed to the deck supports, it was also nailed. To. Everything. So much, much work.
After seeing what my Charles uncovered, he discovered just how colorful my language can get. (He already had an idea. Journalists' use of the swear word dictionary puts sailors to shame.) So now we're a bit stuck. We have a huge chore to fix the exterior, we only really have one day off a week since we go to the bay area every weekend to see my Charles' dad, and our savings are being eaten away by that same 220 mile round trip we take every week. Hence the chaos which was once my organized office/studio.
So now we need to replace part of the subfloor in my office, replace the flooring, replace the insulation and drywall on that external wall, and repaint the area. (That was something I wanted to do anyway, but not like this.) On top of that, we need to fix the outside so that the work on the inside is not all for naught.
UPDATE: Okay. Sometimes I am a whiny baby. Seriously, there are tons of people in the world that need a dish out of time and money a lot more than we do. Hell, even when we're feeling overwhelmed, at least my Charles and I have this:
I apologize for the pity party.
I've been neglecting my own blog because I've been writing weeklies for the National Cooperative Grocers Association's Eat Local! America website. Excuses, excuses. I hear ya.
Actually, my Charles and I are looking forward to a little event involving two of our favorite things, wine and food, later this week, and it promises to be amazingly blog-able. So check back in a few. I'll try to get pictures too. I just have to find the battery-charger for my camera. It's lost in my office, which is another issue I'll blog about soon.
We spend time each week at the VA Hospital in Martinez, California. My Charles' dad is in the hospice unit.
One of the things that really gets to me about the hospital, and it's not just the VA, every hospital I've ever been to has that smell around mealtime. That imagine-the-most-unappetizing-smell-you-can smell. It's wretched.
And even if the folks staying in the hospital aren't going to get any better, shouldn't we allow them to experience the simple pleasure that comes from eating good food? Instead of serving "meals" that are mostly bland with a slight tang of antibacterial soap, why not create entrees that might actually tempt patients to eat?
That's why I was so heartened to read a recent NPR article. What might take the trial into full-fledged reality is the fact that hospitals could save a lot of money by making meals with local and organic ingredients.
New hospital meal plans with honest to goodness real food -- do you think you could put a rush on this?