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!

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.

This past weekend, we…

…drank coffee

I watched some soccer…

…enjoyed late breakfast/early lunch with this girl at this place.  (delicious huevos!)

…made some progress cleaning up this disaster…

 {I can’t believe I just shared a pic of ‘the room’…although I’m comforted by the fact that I think everyone has one of these…the room/closet/corner/garage where stuff gets stashed away…hidden…never to be spoken of again…hoping that little elves will magically appear and clean/tidy/sort/rearrange it for you!}

Moving on…

I organized my fabrics using these (having seen the idea over here and here)…

We ate pasta carbonara for dinner…

 Dinner was followed by planning for Sunday and watching True Grit…which we enjoyed, but it was certainly not our favorite Cohen brothers movie…and ended a bit abruptly for my taste!

Now Sunday…Sunday – we had a real adventure.

This past Christmas, Woody and I gave each other one of these – a Watermaster Raft by Big Sky Inflatables.  The idea being that we would be able to access a lot more water for fly fishing on our own without hiring a (very $$$$) guide.  Woody has been dreaming of one of these for years…and they finally arrived in February and until yesterday…we hadn’t had the chance to get them out and take them for a spin.

Need I remind you that we live in LA county…and open water (not including the ocean) is a bit hard to come by.  We researched and found this tiny lake just outside of Wrightwood, on the eastern side of the San Gabriel Mountains.  They stock it with trout and there are no motorized vessels allowed.  However…I would classify it as a large pond…lake is stretching it a bit.

This was the first time to set up the rafts….

Just as advertised, very easy…unfold, get out the foot pump, attach it and in a few minutes, half the raft is inflated.

There are two bladders, so if one fails…the whole thing won’t sink.

There is a foot strap so you can pick you feet up.

Everything is very light weight and when the whole thing is packed up, it’s fits in its own dry bag and only weighs 38 lbs.

The raft itself only weighs about 23 lbs., so once it is inflated and ready to go, it is very easy to launch.

 Getting situated…the seat needed some adjustment.

It comes with flippers as well…and was very maneuverable both with the oars and the flippers.

Very easy to paddle…and on a flat pond with little wind and no current…almost a bit too maneuverable….which bodes well for moving water.

Despite what the pictures might portray, we were not the only ones at the lake…there were easily 15 people already fishing from the shore when we arrived and probably closer to 35 people by the time we left…including a lot of children and families.  Also…this lake was stuffed with goldfish…big goldfish, and goldfish that hung out in the shallows only to be taunted by boys and girls under the age of 7 who tried repeatedly to catch them using anything they could other than a rod and reel.

When we were done, we just hauled the boats out onto the grass, removed the accessories and deflated the bladders and let them dry a bit before folding them up and packing it all in.

We took the long and scenic route home on the 2 or the Angeles Crest Highway.  It was Woody’s first time driving through and the first time I had seen it since the Station Fire swept through the San Gabriel mountains  in late August of 2009.  Click here for an aerial infra-red shot.  Great photos and a map can be found here

(seen from the 10 and the 110 interchange.  The smoke actually created its own weather systems!)

It was amazing to be driving and looking in almost any direction and realizing that everything in view burned.  All of it.  And also amazing to see how it changed the landscape as well.  It is a very different forest now and will be for a long time!

We stopped for some groceries and then headed for an afternoon snack and beer at this place.  This is our favorite pizza…E-V-A-H!

 The Avocado Festival…sounds weird…but it is scrumptious!  The beer…also tasted very good!

Then we headed home and hung out with Cleo…since she felt a little ignored by not being invited on the adventure!

 How was your weekend?  What did you do?

Easter – or day of much food!

So Wynne arrived late Saturday evening…we watched a little Top Gear, as we recently discovered that they added many seasons to the Netflix library, and Wynne had not seen an episode yet, and then headed off to bed to leave the Easter bunny to hide some eggs and deliver chocolate.

Okay, I think the Easter bunny must have taken one look at our fridge full of raw eggs and ran the other way.  But chocolate found its way into our home.

We put together a little basket for all of us, a fresh tangerine, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, bunny chocolates from Judy, and a bag full of miscellaneous Easter goodies and a wind up bunny for Cleo!

Wynne is not a regular coffee drinker so we tempted her with an attempt at recreating the coffee we had in Vienna with frothy steamed milk, and a little shaved dark bunny ears chocolate on top.

Cleo’s day started out with a walk and breakfast…and then some quality time with a wind up chick…she slobbers it to death and tries to crunch it up!

And then we had more coffee…delicious!

We walked through our neighborhood to the Athenaeum at Caltech for brunch at 1.  To be clear, this was not my only plate…just the first one…the brunch was incredible, including fresh king crab legs, shrimp, oysters, fresh salads, roast beef, leg of lamb, smoked salmon, eggs, waffles, pancakes, mashed potatoes, green beans, and of course desserts!

We walked back home in the afternoon breeze, made some phone calls and decided dinner should be a simple plate of deviled eggs.

We spooned the mixture into the eggs, and topped with fresh dill and a little paprika.  Even Cleo got to enjoy one!

I’m pretty sure that a main reason that WOody looks forward to Easter is for the deviled eggs.  It marks the beginning of deviled egg season…and means that spring has really arrived.

Happy Easter!

Morning rain…

Even in LA, we are having a late spring.  (I might get kicked by those I know suffering through a bi-polar, flip-flopping, spring-winter cycle currently happening in Salt Lake and most of the west for even saying such a thing.)  Many a morning recently have been a little chilly, foggy/dreary and damp – great for the lawns and the water bill.  I grabbed my camera for a few shots before work one morning.