Thursday, June 28, 2012
The horse “whinnied” last night. Audrey and Constance, our resident Black Widow spiders, have spun egg sacs in both the garage and the front porch.
And I’m about to make the worst shot ever in our Oakley city Bocce league. Trifecta, muthah!
We had a really nice jaunt up to Napa this past weekend, courtesy Lot 18, whose Wine Country Pass for select joints meant that we could cruise fee-free. What a relief! Kath later checked out non-participants; neighbors routinely charge $20+ tasting fees.
We’ve discovered, that Highway 29 or Silverado Trail, no matter how many balloons are affixed to the “Open Today!” sandwich board, caveat emptor (which I think is Latin for “You’re gonna get boned.”)
So Kath and I are up in Napa, and we call another little place on our Lot 18 list to see if they can squeeze us in. Not enthusiastic, but yeah, OK. We meander, (literally) for 30 minutes up a mountain east of the Silverado Trail to reach RustRidge, a working ranch, winery and B&B.
Kathy and I ended up having a great tasting with winemaker Susan Meyer, another generation of land stewardship messed up by sibling squabbles. Self-taught or not, Ms. Meyer makes, from estate fruit, what Kath thinks is the best Chardonnay she has ever tasted: the real deal. And the baby horse, bred to be a champ (wait, chomp?) has greatness ordained.
Kathy and I visited only a few wineries this weekend; a rarity for us. But we encountered a couple of stories of sibling squabbles concerning the winery property.
It was all put into relief since we had just rented “The Descendants” the night before.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Guys, please excuse me for the catch-all thang going on this week, but I hope that y’all will forgive the arachnid, cinematic, avian and philatelic vibe, all in one post.
OK, there is going to be nothing chronological about this rambling, but the CoCo vibe is unmistakable.
Friday night, Kathy and I did a belated birthday (hers, not mine) dinner: a Tuscan-styled three-course fest paired with appropriate vino.
Caprese, roasted pork loin sided with mushroom gnocchi, and kale accompanied by rosemary potatoes: It did not hurt that Kath and I had the best convos with our “family style” (that was the rule: no table reservations) tablemates.
Check out Kath’s photo: Michelle was the cool court reporter who, if I was any judge, could drop the bomb: She knows which attorneys whisper to the jurors, as if to circumvent, but she don’t play that. “Your honor, I can’t hear counselor,” Michelle civilly tells the judge. End of story: the courtroom theatrics on the part of counselor are done.
Nuff said. Apparently there are judges, working their way through a million cases a week, who need a reporter to be accurate. You got a grandstander shyster who wants to win this one? Michelle may not be the one reporter you want to cast aspersions on.
No further questions, your honor.
Hey, our local cinema-plex is doing the hardcore community outreach doo.
Now, while I don’t want to look a gift copyright-expired-DVD-OK-for-exhibition disc in the mouth, I do have to give kudos to RAVE Cinemas management for engaging the digital tech to hit everything.
Dude! I watched “Cyrano de Bergerac’ on a bad DVD transfer at RAVE. Sweetness! I’d never seen José Ferrer’s performance in this classic. Homes won, oh, I don’t know, AN OSCAR!
And now, I, old-skool, am buying stamps. Who is featured? Fifteen guesses. And the first fourteen don’t count. José. And the Don is smiling.
His son, with then-wife Rosemary Clooney, is Miguel, who played anal-retentive Special Agent Albert on “Twin Peaks.” Oh, and the lead in “Where’s Marlowe?,” a crazy late-90s neo-noir with “Mad Men”’s John Slattery as his biz partner.
Ferrer-pere is so arrogantly wonderful in “Cyrano” that it’s actually jarring to see his avuncular mug smiling from postage. Each time I affix his visage to a utility bill, I envision his deadly wit and mortal swordplay. En garde, Pacific Gas & Electric! This time, I shall spare thee, varlet Comcast!
Hey, Audrey is back! Our black-widow spider pal has made a return, looking plumper than ever. A couple of months ago, Kath and I saw the makings of a bad web in the garage; shortly thereafter, we saw what we thought was Audrey. Now we have a bad web on the front porch (Audrey’s previous domain), and have seen a ready-to-burst black widow, while still having the web in the garage. Kathy thinks that Audrey is in front ready to give birth and that our other tenant, Constance, is chilling in the garage. (Though, I’m sorry to break the news that temps in our Northern Cali ‘hood are not “chillin’.”)
Oh, and this week we discovered one talon-equipped raptor mofo fending off dive-bomb attempts from other birds, from atop our backyard Sequoia redwood tree.
I’d sing, “California, Here I Come,” but for the fact that I’m already here.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
I’m probably flogging a dead Riedel here, but sometimes the Contra Cost County/Oakley blog idea of being surrounded by vitis vinifera growing in the most outrageous places (120-year-old Zinfandel vines producing beside the Kmart?: talk about your Blue Light special) leads to the frustration of never fully knowing what amazing wines are being made from Grapes in Da ‘Hood.
So, last Sunday was an overdue trek to neighboring Brentwood to visit the winery and tasting room at Hannah Nicole Vineyards, pretty much the only local concern with working grape-erage used to make their own stuff, as well as an oh-so-civilized facility in which to sample it.
A few weeks previous, after a nice Sunday of yoga (Kath), swimming/sauna/steam (me) and multi-store groceries for the week chez nous, I chirped, “Hey can I buy you a glass of wine at Hannah Nicole?”
Kath responded that she was thinking the same thing, but that our last visit, although buoyed by the ambience and bottle purchase enjoyed while nestled in comfy chairs, was preceded by a tasting fee that would define any wine guide’s entry of “skimpy pours.” Damn! Because the stemware was so friggin’ elegant.
Enter livingsocial.com. Once again, Kathy gots the hookup to bargoons, and this one with Hannah Nicole was one to bite on.
We arrived at HN; Giovanni Mandala was creating a vibe with his acoustic guitar among the myriad im-vibers picnicking outside. Expecting a packed tasting room gangbang inside, I was elated to have Kath and me welcomed one-on-one with a smile and knowledge of the Web printout we were bearing.
OK, the pours were just as cheesy as we remember them, but our pourer had no probs letting us “revisit,” and the wines at Hannah Nicole are darn tasty. Part of the livingsocial deal was that we walk with a bottle, comp tastings and two stems. After das swirl, Kathy and I knew what to pick as “das bottle.” (Even splitting glass pours in an effort to double up on selections, we still had to jettison two selections from the menu.) Like many wine snobs, I elected to toss the two Rosé wines from our tasting itinerary. I am such an idiot.
Kathy and I purchased, and consumed, a deliciously refreshing bashful blend on the beautiful Brentwood grounds of HN.
Hey, so we discovered that the only varietally bottled wines in the Hannah Nicole portfolio not grown onsite are the Chardonnay (Napa), and this particular crazy Zinfandel.
We’re told that the Hannah Nicole 2009 Contra Costa County Zinfandel is crafted from fruit plucked one-and-a-half miles from our house. Rose and Laurel. (Hey, it ain’t just an intersection, it’s a label!)
Tasting notes can be all over das map:
The color is lighter than one might expect from old vines, and yet K thinks that I am nuts for smelling bacon fat on such a light frame.
Cloves on the nose, cranberry and allspice. There is fruit there, but it needs to hit that berry thing to match heft on the palate with a looooong finish.
Man, aren’t tasting notes the most bogus thang around?
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Guys, you would not believe the scene last weekend in our little agricultural corner of CoCo County.
Now, we wrote last time about our latest foray to pick cherries and strawberries. It’s our third season here, and we’ve always heard the legends about Memorial Day being the unofficial starting pistol to U-Pick frenzy. That’s why we always jumped on the weekend before: Sure, the cherries might not be as dark, but we at least avoid the fabled crowds.
Man, the legends are true.
Last Sunday, a full week after the U-Pick starter’s pistol sounded, Kathy and I went to gym, she for a yoga class, me to swim and sweat out the week’s booze in the sauna.
And then we decided to venture closer to home to pick fruit. Armed with enough cash to do the do (U-Pick is a ca$h-only deal), we used our Farm Trail Map to discover what was open seasonally.
The peaches at Pomeroy Farm were ripe and plentiful, and despite the one-lane road, relatively accessible despite the comings and goings of clueless drivers.
Check out Kath’s photo: the fruit was just begging to be picked, and twisting a peach off its stem was a breeze. Of course, one peach weighs a lot more than a handful of cherries, so even at a bargain $2 per pound for 20 minutes work, Kathy surrendered $36 worth of folding dough-re-mi.
And then it gets goofy. We motor to the other end of the street and experience that “U-Pick Uh-oh” moment. We literally could not travel across the main drag on the same road due to all the vehicles turning off said drag to hit the farms.
Dude, we saw carpool vans full of would-be pickers, even a school bus obviously rented for the occasion. We finally made it across the intersection, but when we glimpsed the parking-flag-sporting attendant working her auto-centric semaphore magic up ahead, we realized that it was time to bail. Making a right turn still took us 10 minutes.
By then it was time to head back to Oakley and bask in 18 ell-bees of fresh peaches.
Kath and I can fully dig that fruit ripeness waits for no one, but, in CoCo, a U-Picker is going to have to wait for everyone. At least after Memorial Day.
I’ve checked its date on the 2013 calendar, and the alarm clock is already set for 51 weeks.