Weekend Review

So I was home for a week…leaving on Wednesday to teach courses in Portland, OR.  But I managed to get quite a bit done during the week I was home.

A girl should be so lucky to have a husband who came home from work early on Friday to whip up some enchiladas made with real New Mexico chile’s that he mail ordered while you were out-of-town.

I’ve got to work on my heat tolerance…but flavor was spot on and the perfectly ripe avocado was nice and cooling!

Before I left, I had picked out some paint to match the paint color in our master bathroom.  This looks like a hallway…but it is actually our closet.  Through that door is the main hallway of our house and the red continues the entire length.  This led me to feel like our closet is in the hall…and over time, it started to really annoy me.  Don’t get me wrong…as reds go…it is a lovely hue, and we’ve got the same red on another wall in the family room…but it just didn’t belong in our master hallway closet.

I used two coats of primer (that is some seriously dark paint), and was amazed at how much I liked it, even before any real paint made it onto the walls.

…and here is the final result…

I *LOVE* it!  The color is Benjamin Moore Wish…and closely matches the bathroom which is through the door on the right.

It brightens up the space and makes the whole space feel like a master suite, instead of a bathroom off of a hallway with a closet that leads to the bedroom.  I’ve been thinking of painting the bedroom as well…but it is not as pressing now that the transition is not so jarring.

Woody had a geobiology conference at Caltech all day Saturday, and I attended a friends tenure celebration after getting coffee and catching up with a friend.

Mark clued us in to a pop-up store happening this weekend…so we headed to 3rd and Fairfax to get some chilaquiles for breakfast from Lotería at the Original Farmer’s Market.  Stuffed we headed to an unexplored area of the city…the Arts District, just east of downtown LA.

The pop-up itself was interesting…all american made, all menswear, and very  hipster…as such, we were warned of beards and selvedge denim.  We didn’t purchase anything…but ogled some hammered metal cuff bracelets, canvas aprons, pretty surf boards, pomades, vintage styled rucksacks and saw a lot of stripes, wool, denim, and leather.

Had we known of all the interesting places to grab a bite to eat, we would’ve skipped 3rd and Fairfax and headed directly here.  Despite having just eaten, we couldn’t pass up a handpie from Pie Hole.

We opted for the beef hand pie…which was warmed up for us.  It’s delightfully flaky crust and savory beef inside was perfect…not juicy, but not dry either.  I would definitely stop by this place again, if I was in the neighborhood!

Across the street was another place that is now on our list…Wurstküche…a place full of sausages, Belgian fries and beer…what’s not to like?

And then, because we had not had enough pastry…I made a quiche…which was one the better ones in recent memory.  Full of kale, mushrooms, pancetta and Gruyère with some zucchini on top – made more delicious as we had a friend over for dinner whose wife and baby are out-of-town.

All in all, a delightful and productive weekend!

Now it’s time to finish the laundry, get organized and pack up for Portland!

So it’s 2013…

Turns out (shocking, I know) I took a lot of photos during 2012…perhaps too many.  Some made it up here, but at least 80% did not.  I found a neat little app (memovy) that will time-lapse photos from your phone and add a little music to it as well.

(also, I mistakenly titled it 2013…when it should really say 2012…but I can’t change it now…so deal)

Here’s a quick recap of 2012…

We traveled to…

  • Monterey, CA
  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Portland
  • South Africa
  • San Francisco
  • Mammoth
  • Jackson, WY
  • Yellowstone
  • Arizona
  • Idaho
  • Sonoma
  • DC
  • Santa Barbara
  • Princeton, NJ
  • Georgia
  • Lander, WY
  • and probably a few other places I’ve forgotten.

We…

  • Attended two college graduations
  • Threw a joint 60th birthday party
  • Celebrated from afar another 60th birthday
  • Went wine tasting (three times)
  • Went on at least 2 fishing trips
  • Quit a job
  • Then got a job with NOLS (bucket list)
  • Cooked a lot of good food
  • Completed a Triathlon
  • Lost 10 pounds
  • Had papers published
  • Breathed new life into our 12-year-old Subaru (According to our checkbook, it should last another 12 years now)
  • Reconnected with a friend from high school
  • Reconnected with at least 5 friends from college
  • Watched our nieces and nephew grow up (way too fast)
  • Visited family
  • Had family visit us
  • Drove MANY miles
  • Worked hard
  • Threw a Christmas party
  • Had friends visit us
  • and I’m sure there is more…

Here’s to an even better 2013 filled with more adventures, road trips, friends and family!

Sunday in Salt Lake

After two days in San Fran, I flew to Salt Lake and Woody headed home to Pasadena to take care of Cleo.

The two days in SLC have been filled with swimming, cooking, a Christmas party, catching up, delicious food, wonderful snowstorms, fun times with nieces, plenty of wine, some more cooking, playing games and making Christmas cookies.

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Serendipity in Wine Country {aka: Sonapanoma with wynne, woody & will}

We stole away to Sonoma for a weekend as somebody had to initiate Wynne (a couple of years late) into formal wine tasting!

We convened in Oakland and headed northeast towards Sonoma and Napa…then there was Berkeley traffic.  A phone call later…we were headed back into Berkeley to a waiting table at Chez Panisse.  {serendipitous}

It was a pilgrimage of sorts…and apparently meant to happen.  Each night there is a set menu…almost like enjoying an amazing dinner at a friend’s house without them eating with you.  It did not disappoint.

The next morning, we strolled around Sonoma before most of the shops opened and settled on breakfast at Sunflower Caffé, drawn in by the breakfast sandwiches and the parmesan waffle with house made mostarda.  I intend to recreate this sandwich soon – it was that good!

I love me some cheese.  I have a soft spot for jack cheese and an even softer spot for Vella Dry Jack.  I had no idea they had been around for so long…since 1931!  We walked over, sampled some cheeses, picked some up for a picnic later and then crept around the side to peek through the screen door at the actual cheese being made.  And we were caught, but instead of being run off…we were invited in for a quick look at the whole process by one of their very proud cheese-makers!  SO COOL!  {serendipitous}

Since we had breakfast and cheese, it seemed only appropriate to then get our wine on a bit and we headed to Ravenswood and MacRostie.  If we have learned one thing from our previous wine tasting trips…it’s that you should always ask the winery staff where they would go if they had the afternoon off.  Often they’ll direct you to places that are up and coming or off the beaten path.

We asked at MacRostie and were given a list of places to hit, including a lunch spot not to be missed – The Fremont Diner.  I would drive 50 miles out of my way to stop there.  It was that good.

We sampled the reuben, grilled cheese, a chicken slider, brisket and the pecan pie!  The grilled cheese may have been the most surprising with fresh goat cheese, asparagus sandwiched in between 2 slices of charred bread!

The weather cooperated fully and later that afternoon we stopped by a champagne house, Cline Cellars and squeezed in an olive oil tasting at The Olive Press.  The most surprising oils were the citrus olive oils – they press the raw citrus at the same time as the olives and so the flavor seemed much crisper and cleaner than some that add an essential oil concentrate to regular pressed olive oil.  We decided we might have to order some rather than attempting to pack it home in our luggage.  We finished out the early evening with some calamari and beer at Hopmonk Tavern

Woody joined us the next morning and we headed to Duckhorn, a favorite on a previous trip and the location is stunning.

Other stops included Freemark Abbey, Heitz Cellars, and Elyse, and Alpha Omega.

2003

2012 (surprisingly similar)

We opted for dinner on the early side…(mostly out of desperation and empty stomachs) at Mustards Grill.  Everything was quite good.  Standouts were the fresh tamales, asparagus appetizer and steak frites served with watercress sauce.  I’ve got plans to recreate that soon as well.  Day 2 Ah-Mazing!

Perfect weather greeted us again the next day and we began at Mumm and took the full tour to see the exact process that makes wine into sparkling wine…including spotting some little itty bitty grape babies just waiting for the sun to plump them up and grow into grown-up grapes!

Next – Frog’s Leap.  This was one of my favorites…mostly for the ambience.  Adirondack chairs nestled in gravel underneath a pergola, lawn games to play and some really good wine.

We also stopped by this place, and made another stop here before heading back into the town of Sonoma to another one of my favorites.

Hawkes was all about the Cabernet Sauvignon and for good reason…they seemed to know what they were doing.

For our last evening, we had a late dinner reservation at El Dorado Kitchen…all plates were cleaned…and I’ve assigned myself the task of recreating a raisin caper puree that was part of a seared scallop dish.

Last day, we stopped at a few places for some last tastes and then the trip mandated that we stop once more at The Fremont Diner.  Woody enjoyed the Spicy Fried Chicken that was so spicy, “it would set a cheatin’ man straight!”  I had the burger, and it may have had the best burger crust e-vah…they have a serious flat top working in the back.

Certainly a memorable trip and one that makes me want to start planning our next venture up that way.

Kind of a Big Deal…

Alright…I’m doing some proverbial tooting of the familial horn…specifically in regards to my younger brothers.  They are kind of a big deal!

First…is Liam…I’ll mention him first as he’s got a case of middle child syndrome and I wouldn’t want to add to that…he runs/cooks/manages/etc. this place with his partner and executive chef, Chelsa Best and they make amazing and delicious items in an unexpected locale – Bountiful, UT.  You can see some of their summer menu items here from my visit in August.  But I had occasion to be back in the Utah last week and squeezed in a dinner at eatery 1025 with Rory – the other brother – also known as ‘the boy’.  Please forgive the rough iPhone photos…it continues to boggle my mind how hard it is to hold the iPhone still while holding back your drool.  Also…we neglected to get photos of half the things we ate…just how it goes!

Prior to this delight arriving at the table, we were served some crusty bread with garlic oil and pecorino with black pepper.  Seen above is the toasted polenta cakes with a wild mushrooms and goat cheese mixture on top with sharp arugula and a balsamic drizzle.

The evening’s special salad was Sweet potato and spinach with a citrus vinaigrette with goat cheese, pistachios and dried cherries.  A nice early spring salad, a light vinaigrette with the weight of the sweet potatoes.

Melted Brie Bruschetta.  Normally this amount of cheese would be rich in the extreme…and it was decadent…but underneath that melty goodness lies a layer of a lovely fruit jam which changes often.

The Boy ordered the zucchini pasta (no pasta involved) which is served with sausage and ricotta salata.

And I could not resist the chicken marsala served with mushrooms, pancetta, and seared green beans.

The seared green beans were an unexpected and totally necessary component of the dish…just enough char to add depth.  I am looking forward to searing some green beans myself after that.

If you are in Utah…or if you are passing through…(I-15 is nearby)…make sure you stop by.  It is worth the small detour and you’ll be supporting a local business.  Also…please note their panna cotta is amazing and I had a butterscotch pudding that changed my mind about the butterscotch as a flavor in general (as in – mention butterscotch and I tune out…no interest).

Alright moving on to The Boy…he makes beer…both brothers make beer but this one does it for income currently and works for Epic Brewing Company (note: must be over 21 to view the site) in Salt Lake City.

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He’s brewed and been a member of the team for over a year now and added one of his own personal recipes to the repertoire.  Rio’s Rompin’ Rye Ale!  Pretty exciting to see your own brother’s beer on a shelf in a liquor store…and a Utah liquor store at that!

He is making some delicious brews and finding his place in the world!  And as of the other day is now in Chicago for a few weeks for brew school.  Any recommendations of joints to hit up while he is there will be passed along!  I sampled another fine brew while in Salt Lake…

It is similar to a black IPA…a recent obsession of Woody’s and mine and was a welcome end to a long day of classes!  You might even be able to find some of these epic brews in your neck of the woods…they are all over the place lately and are constantly touring their beers around the country!  Keep an eye out.

As I said…Liam and The Boy…kind of a big deal!

Christmas on Oakdale

Busy hardly begins to describe our December…and with that, we decided to not travel this holiday season.  We both come from large families and would love to see everyone…but sometimes it is good to have some quality time in your own home.  It is nice to feel like we are our own little family and begin some traditions and create our own celebrations.  This is not to say that we wouldn’t love to see our families a lot more often, and especially during the holidays…but a lot comes with the visiting – like flights, and airports, luggage, dog-boarding for Cleo, holiday travel hassles, , and sometimes all that can leave you feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation.  So this year, we planned a family stay-cation!  It’s been great and FaceTime and Skype allow for some good family visiting as well!  Here’s a look at the goings-on around here.

I squeezed in a bit of time to craft a few things in an attempt to not only think about work during the early December weekends…

We made Krumkake’s to give to friends and coworkers…

We wrapped gifts and tied up packages with string…

We went last-minute grocery shopping for only the necessities… 🙂

When planning to lounge around the house for a few days, play some video games, catch up on some reading and generally laze about…it’s important to have the makings for queso and lil’ smokies in the house!

We made homemade bread…

We cleaned and tidied to make sure the house felt festive and we could enjoy it…

Somehow, presents continued to appear underneath the tree…

We cooked and opened some special bottles of wine…

We enjoyed the living room and the fireplace…

We opened presents…

And Christmas day was topped off with some homemade Turkey Tetrazzini…

Since then, not much has been photo-worthy…Woody’s been enjoying his ‘Maschine Mikro’, learning how to sample and mix…click here for a taste of his original mixing.

I’ve been ferociously reading through a few cookbooks we received, logging in some time on the Wii playing some Lego Harry Potter (years 5-7)…and generally enjoying the first consecutive days that neither one of us has been to work in…I-can’t-remember-how-long!

I hope your holidays have been equally relaxing, enjoyable and filled with the people you love!

Cheers to the end of 2011!