As many of you know, I love the ocean and desperately miss it now that we live inland. What better way to celebrate my 38th birthday this past week then to take a long weekend at the coast? We feasted on wine, cheese, and crackers, filled our lungs with the salt air, and were lulled to sleep each night by the constant crashing of waves on the shore. It was wonderful, and I was home.
(Re-posted from my food blog.)
The skies were dreary and overcast. My wool pea coat was a must and was destined to be drenched multiple times. A pub and a pint by a crackling fire beckoned, but I was on a gastronomic mission – to eat at as many great restaurants in Winchester as possible.
We were visiting my sister, a recent Masters graduate from the Winchester School of Art. People had made fun of our culinary pursuits while in England – don’t they boil everything? – but we persevered and were rewarded with a week’s worth of wonderful meals. Winchester is actually a hub of a town with a teeming culture.
To begin our eatery extravaganza, we did in fact choose a pub. We were in England after all! At the Royal Oak, I opted for the Fish & Chips, and I was not disappointed. The haddock had wonderful flavor, the batter light and crunchy. The serving was huge – too much to consume in one sitting. The only unfortunate aspect was that it was presented on a wooden tray that had obviously been abused with frequent washing. (I was also not a fan of mushy peas, sorry!)
Trying Indian food was a must. I grew up in Yuba City (it’s often referred to as “Little India” because of the large Sikh population), which means that I also grew up with Indian cuisine, and I was curious to experience the differences – if any – from across the pond. The waiter didn’t believe that I could handle the spice in my meal, I ordered madras, but I could have handled more. We shared some lovely garlic naan and a bottle of Riesling for a very satisfying meal.
At Rimjhim, we waited – and waited – for the bill. We had encountered the lovely, non-pushy restaurant culture in Great Britain. They’ll let you sit there for hours if you don’t tell them you’d like the bill that last time the waiter or waitress stops by and asks if you’d like anything else. (When we ended up wanting dessert at another place after our meal, we had to practically pounce on a member of the staff in order to procure our bill.) After being left alone for what seemed like an eternity, we finally walked up to the register.
With traditional pub food and Indian out of the way, the next stop on our culinary journey was, of course, Italian. Zizzi was a bit haughty, and they sat our riffraff selves in a corner behind a life-sized statue of a horse, but my Ravioli Di Capra was divine, and the Barbera De Asti Superiore 2010 D.O.C.G., Chiarlo Piemonte was quite lovely with the food. It did sport more than a touch of Brett, to which I’m very sensitive (I think it tastes like Band-Aids), so it wasn’t my favorite, though that Brettanomyces, along with its restrained mineral characteristics, made it very European.
On our last day, we kept it Mediterranean and headed to Spain. El Sabio had a wonderful assortment of tapas. My choice of three dishes, Croquetas De Setas y Queso de Cabrales, Ensalada Mixta, and Albóndigas en Salsa de Tomate were perfect and packed with flavor. We shared a bottle of Tempranillo, Marqués de Verdellano for a very easy-going, and very filling, lunch.
I think our favorite stop of all was The Black Bottle – not a restaurant, though they do offer food, but rather a wine bar. With a card that had been charged from money given at the register, you could choose wine by the glass in 125 ml, 175 ml, or taste sizes. I had a grand time skipping around and sampling various wines from the automated dispensers until I happened upon my favorite, Masseria Pietrosa Malvasia Nera, and had a glass. I love it and am hoping to find a distributor here in the States. Thank goodness I live with a wine buyer!
All in all, our gastronomic tour of Winchester was a rousing success. We had a wonderful experience, and with all of the walking we did, I managed not to gain any weight, so, WIN!
My Charles and I just returned from a trip to England. What a beautiful country! The weather was what we would have expected, and wasn't any different from what we used to experience during December on the North Coast. We visited my sister's heart-home, Winchester, as well as checking out London, Stonehenge, and Avebury. I'm still suffering from jet lag, so for now, here's a photo dump of our wonderful holiday.
This last weekend, we decided to extend our time off a couple of extra days and travel to the Ruby Mountains in Nevada. We had been working so much on the house, we hadn't even had time to take our new camper on its maiden voyage. At the end of the trip, I wrote down snippets from the most memorable aspects of our mini vacation.
For the first time in our lives, my Charles and I purchased something big and new -- something to make our camping easier. We ordered a camper from Four Wheel Campers, and we love it. They built it on site in Woodland, California, right outside of Sacramento. Not only was it great to be able to get everything to our specifications, it was terrific to know that it was being built just down the hill from us -- made in the USA and close to us as well.
We got a few extra features because we knew they'd come in handy in the long run. One was a pull-out awning for those sunny days in the desert. The other was something that I insisted on -- an outdoor shower. I paid for it with my freelancing funds, and I think it will save us money in the long run, as we'll no longer need to stop at motels to clean ourselves of all of the desert dust and sweat.
The best part may just be that now not only can we easily take the pup camping, we can go wherever the truck can take us. We can make camp on BLM land far from anyone else and enjoy the solitude that we're constantly seeking. I'm so excited for our first trip! All we need is a weekend where we're not working on the house or my Charles isn't working extra. Yep, it might be a while, but I'm really looking forward to it.
*We didn't get anything from the dealers. We just really love our camper and thought we'd share.
Spring means a trip to Death Valley. We travel down 395 because it’s a beautiful trip, much better than blasting down the valley. After getting south of Topaz Lake, the same thing happens each year – all of my cares seem to evaporate, and I’m calm. Driving by Mono Lake always brings us joy, and visiting The Barn for some good, old-fashioned burgers in Bridgeport has become tradition.
Then we point the car towards Death Valley, nearing one of our favorite places in the world. The first Joshua tree sighting still makes me giddy. They’re like old buddies that I’ve been missing. I have to keep myself from throwing an arm around their trunks and pressing my face into their spiny bark.
After setting up the tent and getting the campsite organized, it’s time to hike. This year, we hiked up a couple of different washes, following the water-carved paths up to the top of hills as well as wandering along Mable Canyon. The way to the canyon required four wheel drive, but the washboards, rocks, and gullies were worth it for the hike.
Since it was a very dry winter, there weren’t any wildflowers this year. The vistas and geology were as impressive as usual, though, and the lack of flowers meant that we didn’t have to deal with as many people. Since one of the things we love about vacations is finding solitude, we ended up not missing the bloom that much.
This may be our last camping trip using the tent. We’re beginning to have trouble sleeping on the ground and are missing some creature comforts, like shelter from the high winds. We’ve been seriously considering a cabover camper. It will give us shelter and a bed but still allow us the freedom we enjoy.
As always, vacation wasn’t nearly as long as we wanted it to be, but it was lovely while
I took A LOT of sight seeing photos on our vacation, so I thought I'd break them into two posts. This collection is all from Yellowstone National Park. .
Many cherished childhood memories involve my grandparents' ranch in Montana. Learning how to ride a horse (practically before I could walk), gathering eggs, milking the cow, the smell of horses and alfalfa dust and dew -- staying on the ranch in the summer was always a glorious adventure.
Though the ranch is different and my grandparents are in their eighties, it still felt the same -- their down-to-earth humor filled the house. There's still a freezer for meat and another just for ice cream. And there are still horses -- scads of beautiful, sweet-tempered horses. My grandpa Peary's dearest dream was to be a horse rancher. While their income, at least when I was younger, came from beef cattle, those horses have always been dear to his heart. Most of us Hannums caught that love of horses, too.
First up in my vacation photo recap is the rodeo. It was a high school rodeo, and my cousin Wyatt was a part of it, so there are quite a few photos of him. It was also my Charles' first rodeo. We enjoyed it immensely.
My Charles and I took a two week vacation. It was glorious. During the first week, The Concord House finished escrow! I love how the internet has made it possible to continue needed tasks without having to sacrifice some much needed time off.
We went to Montana to visit my grandparents, and I took tons of photos along the way. I took so many photos, in fact, that I'm going to share them in a series of posts: Sightseeing, The Grandparent's Ranch, and Rodeo. I've downloaded all of the images to my computer, but I still need to sort and edit. Until then, check out this up close and personal shot I got of a buffalo in Yellowstone.