Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wines of Mendocino

First a digression to explain why I was so excited to attend this tasting. If you are just here for wine thoughts feel free to skip this paragraph. I had always assumed that I would drink while I was pregnant. Not nightly, but one glass of wine each Saturday night with some sort of decadent dinner. However, it turned out that wine both smelled and tasted awful to me. Which, given life circumstances, was probably a very, very good thing. So instead of my weekly glass of wine, I wanted something else to enjoy. I tried soda and lemonade but both made me feel like a child at the adults table. Silly I know, but honest. Finally at Chez Panisse one night I discovered the joy of Navarro grape juices. Served in a wine glass, I could almost imagine I was having wine. Which, life circumstances again, was very important to me. I had enjoyed Navarro wines pre-pregnancy, but their juices are what convinced me, post pregnancy, to join their wine club. I have yet to regret that decision. For the record, the first glass of wine post pregnancy was a glass of Tempier Rose at Chez Panisse Cafe, 10 days after giving birth, celebrating my first real outing post c-section with my mother. K slept in her carrier on a chair at the table. Maybe that explains her love of rose?

Anyway, when the invitation to attend the wines of Mendocino arrived in my in box I was eager to attend. Not only was there a seminar attached--my love of seminars being well-known, but I've realized over the years that despite my love affair with Navarro, I drink little wine from their neighbors.

First off, the seminar. I have said this too many times to count, but I love a wine tasting with a seminar. Having concluded at some point that I attend tasting more to talk than to taste, a seminar is perfect for me. Educational! Often amusing! Easier to justify to suspicious coworkers when I disappear during the day. Something about saying I am heading to a seminar just goes over better than saying I am off to taste wine. Anyway, Tuesday's seminar was titled "The Grape Grandparents of Mendocino County" and featured numerous speakers including moderator Glenn McGourty and Charlie Barra. From Charlie's delightful look at the beginnings of grape growing in Mendocino through a look at today's green practices in the county it was entertaining and educational- perhaps even all one could ask in a seminar. Highlights included Charlie mentioning that he had been farming organically for 60 years but had only known it for the last 15 and getting a sense of the importance in this region of not just winemakers but of the farmers as well. Given my mother's farming background, I admit to a soft spot for farmers.

I then moved on to the tasting. Usual disclaimer, I made absolutely no attempt to taste everything. I will admit that I left at the end of the day with Navarro remaining at the top of my Mendocino list. But there are more worth seeking out. I'll list a few highlights below:

Chiarito Vineyard 07 Nero D'Avola: As soon as I saw this on the list I had to try it. Turns out that this was the first Nero produced in the US with 03 as the first vintage. At $36 dollars and only 48 cases made, this is not an easy to find everyday wine but worth seeking out.

Demuth Kemos 08 Anderson Valley Chardonnay Indeed, a chardonnay. Another one with limited availability and not one I would drink often. But this was a very well made wine that I would recommend to any CA Chardonnay fans.

Esterlina 07 Anderson Valley Reserve Pinot Well made, not as overwhelmed with wood as many I tasted.

Foursight Pinots I tasted all three. Of particular interest was the 07 Zero New Oak

Goldeneye I tasted 3 more pinots. My favorite was the 07 Gowan Creek

Londer I liked both the 07 Anderson Valley and the 07 Paraboll pinots.

Navarro Well, I did not taste much of their wine, given that most arrives in my wine club shipments. But, the muscat blanc was lovely and it was really impossible to head home without that bottle of Gewurztraminer.

Phillips Hill More pinots. I liked both the 08 Beeson Tree and the 08 Oppenlander Vineyard.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Portland (with a little bit of IACP)

Onward to Portland. Having arrived back at SFO around 6 p.m., I headed home for dinner with K before unpacking, doing laundry, soothing the semi-hysterical cat and repacking. The next morning it was off to the East Bay for our UC Press Road Trip to IACP. That's right, with about 12 hour turnaround it was off to Portland. Or, as I had been calling it, 10 hours in the backseat of a Prius.

The drive? Well, I will say this, Northern California and Oregon are beautiful. On the way up it snowed and on the way back Shasta was glorious on a bright and sunshiny day. That said, it is a very long drive. With a stop for lunch in Ashland both ways it was a 10-11 hour day in a car. Not that the company was not lovely, but did I mention that it was a very long day?

Although our trip was based around IACP, we actually spent very little time at the conference itself. We signed up late, so many of the sessions I had hoped to attend were fully booked. We made it to the opening session to hear Ruth Reichl talk about the demise of Gourmet and later Kim Severson in her Ellen Degeneres interviewer role. Both were everything one could hope for. We also attended the IACP Awards Ceremony, with Ruth and Kim as co-hosts, where we were delighted as Jeri Qunizio's Of Sugar and Snow: A History of Ice Cream Making was awarded the first ever IACP Cookbook Award for Culinary History. Congrats to Jeri and for all of those who have not seen the book, let me know. A full list of winner's is available at: We also took advantage of the attendees in town to meet with two forthcoming authors: Anne Willan and Marilyn Tausend. Suffice it to say that I am very excited about both projects.

What was interesting to me about planning my food in Portland is that for the first time in a longtime, I did very little research. I tend to be a bit compulsive about my travel-food planning, but between our relatively last minute decision to attend and my trips to LA and Las Vegas, I did not have the opportunity for my usual research. Instead, twitter and my coworker Kate made most of my decisions for me, in some cases down to the menu item to order. So, thanks to Lisa, Anthony, Sarah, MaggieJane, and the numerous others who offered twitter and offline advice.

So where did we eat? Our first night at Le Pigeon was the trip highlight for me. I started with Sea Scallops with salsify, and oyster mushrooms followed by Beef Cheek Bourguignon to finish: profiteroles with foie gras ice cream and caramel sauce. For wine a glass of Tsinandali (Rkasiteli/Mtsvane) Vinoterra ‘07 Kakheti, Georgia to start followed by a bottle of Cerasuolo di Vittoria COS‘06 Sicily for the table to share. The service was impeccable, the food lovely and the foie gras ice cream one of those things one either loved or hated. I loved it.
The next morning we had an early breakfast at Bijou, Cafe, which Kate had tried and liked on an earlier trip. My eggs, toast and bacon were perfectly cooked and the tea refilled repeatedly. I liked the space a lot with its high ceilings and ceiling fans.
After that we head out to explore a bit with stops at Voodoo donuts-very good but a bit much frosting, Pearl Bakery--great salted caramel macaron and a few others. Strangely I had no appetite for lunch but revived enough for a very good cocktail with fries at Ten-01 followed by a glass of wine at Vino Paradiso before dinner at Clyde Commons. Clyde Commons had been suggested by several and had the added plus of being at our oh-so-hip hotel, the Ace. I liked the look of the menu quite a bit but was rather disappointed in my overly salty chicken pot pie.
After that, it was off to the Gastronomica party at Fenouil. To be truthful, I was rather sad to have eaten as the passed appetizers and sweets all looked great. Highlight for the party for me was asking Ruth Reichl about @ruthbourdain. Some pictures are available here:

Thursday morning we met for breakfast at Kenny & Zukes. I had the 222 :2 Eggs (scrambled), 2 Slices Pastrami & 2 Latkes. The latkes seemed more deep fried than I had experienced before, but the pastrami was excellent. Lunch that day was at the Heathman Hotel with Marilyn Tausend. For me? Gnocchi with spring vegetables including fiddle head ferns and peas. I was happy to have vegetables, and after salting a bit, found it light and enjoyable. Dinner was at Gruner, also highly recommended on twitter. By then some of my coworkers were jut about done with food, but I quite enjoyed both chicken liver canapes and the house made bratwurst and saucisson with sauerkraut and yukon gold potatoes. As I have said before, if I can survive the night of 30 courses with Mark Miller, I can handle several day of intensive eating.

The next morning it was a bagel from Kenny & Zukes for the ride home. Excellent bagel, long ride.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fridge recipes: Red Quinoa

Several months ago I bought a package of red quinoa from Rancho Gordo. I bought it for two reasons: One, quinoa is by all accounts a so-called super food that we all should eat more of and, two, it was really pretty. Of course, best intentions aside, it has been sitting in my cupboard. I keep thinking I will do something with it but end up with frittatas or roast chicken or pork. Today though, exhausted from my sleepless travels I decided to cook with food that was in the house. What follows is my very random quinoa recipe.

1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
2 cups chicken stock (I used home made from Soul Food Farms chicken)
asparagus (I used 2 bunches from the farmers market)
4 beets (I had them in the fridge)
2 T Olive Oil, divided, I used Hudson Ranch
2 T pine nuts, toasted (also, in the fridge)
1 lemon (from the tree in the backyard)

Put quinoa, water and stock in a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. At the same time pre-heat your oven to 400 and put asparagus, I snap the ends, and beets in a roasting pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. I like my asparagus to retain crunch and these were plump so I roasted them for 20 minutes. I then removed them from the pan and put the beets back in to roast for an additional 25 minutes. Allow asparagus to cool and cut into approx 1 inch long pieces. After beets cool, remove skins and cut into approx 1 inch pieces. Add to quinoa. While asparagus and beets are roasting, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet on the stove until they just being to color. Toss all ingredients together, add juice of 1 lemon and more olive oil, I used about 1 T. Serve warm or chill.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Now onto the Awards

It will surprise few of you that after the blowout Saturday night and the concerts and the smoke and the dryness of Vegas, Sunday was a bit of a rough morning. We even gave in to the lure of room service as Amy had some work to do.

We did manage to motivate ourselves for the Awards show itself. For those who wonder, I ended up in a black Nanette Lepore dress with Alex's cowboy boots. Jason, that hat did not come to the show. The people watching at this event was amazing from very young looking soldiers in their cress uniforms to beautiful gowns to not so beautiful gowns that looked like the belonged at a prom in the 80s. And, of course, men in cowboy hats. We had been warned that the doors would close at 4:30 and to arrive early to be in our seats ahead of time. Given the high quality people watching that was a good thing. Our seats were up and to the left of the stage, allowing us to see not just the performances, but backstage as well. I also found out the answer to my long time question of what award show guests do during the tv commercials. (The show aired live on the East Coast.) It turned out we watched clips from older shows and ads for albums. We also had countdowns to the return from commercials so we could cheer appropriately.

The show itself was 3 hours long, pretty much to the minute. Highlights included an opening number with Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and special guests including Charlie Daniels on the fiddle. For me the other highlights were Taylor Swift who flew in from across the arena, landing quite near us before ending up on stage to sing with a chorus, Brad Paisley with his water act, Brooks and Dunn singing My Maria and watching the celebs in the front rows dance (Taylor Swift with the repeated first pump, looking like the 20 year old she is), and Toby Keith with Wayman's Song. Whether or not one is a country fan, the opportunity to see the stars of the genre on one stage on one night is an amazing opportunity. I agreed, in my not very knowledgeable way with most of the award winners, though I did feel Taylor Swift deserved entertainer of the year. But, hard to seriously argue with the fans choice of Carrie Underwood. And yes, I have an opinion. Wow.

Afterwards we headed back to the room to change out of our awards clothing before getting a text inviting us to come down for the All Star Jam. After wandering in circles a lot longer than we should have, we found the backstage entrance and settled in with drinks, well, water for me, and watched some of the "up and comers perform. Highlights for me included a couple of covers: Sharp Dressed Man and American Girl. It was fun and loud and late and nice to be backstage.

Vegas Day Two--L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Saturday dawned bright but perhaps not so early. At least for my roommate. Due to some internal clock I was up at 6:30. Several hours later we motivated ourselves to head downstairs for s surprisingly good bagel with egg, cheddar and bacon at the Stage Deli outpost. It turned out to be next to the sport book area of the casino. Nothing like dog racing.

We then descended again into the bowels of the Grand Arena to get our passes for the day, this time for rehearsals and the Fremont "Experience " shows. First up for us was Faith Hill, practicing not for the awards show but for the Brooks and Dunn tribute on Monday night. She was casual in jeans and a long sleeved t shirts and quite likable as she not only sang, but told a story as well. After mis-telling the story she stopped to laugh at herself for "messing up her own story." Helpful fans handed her joke reading glasses, which she donned, albeit briefly. She was followed by her husband, Tim McGraw, also practicing for the tribute show. He was also in jeans and a t-shirt, but also a black cowboy hat. He complained about the difficulty of one of the lines in the song. Next up was Brooks and Dunn themselves. At this point, it was clearly time for a nap.

Post nap I had hoped to make it to Lotus of Siam. However, the phone was busy repeatedly and we did not want to head out there without a reservation so we decided to head downstairs to eat. Our first thought was Nob Hill, but after sitting at the very not crowded bar for 10 minutes without even a glance we decided to move on. Looking back, that was probably or best decision of the weekend.

For slightly further down the carpeted path was L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. Thinking we could just go in and have a nibble or two we decided to chance it. After all, there was a foie gras burger on the ala carte menu calling my name. We were seated immediately at the counter, next to a charming man who turned out to be a regular. (Brooke, let me know about the books.) Not only did he have wonderful advice about the menu, but he knew everyone in the place from the head chef to the bussers. I imagine that service would have been wonderful anywhere, but sitting next to Brooke certainly meant that degree of attention that makes one feel very special. So much for a simple nibble, after realizing that we wanted just about everything on the menu we went for the Seasonal Discovery Menu with wine pairings. Kind of a lazy way of dealing with wine. I'll post the menu and pairings below and then offer some comments.
    l'avocat rafraichi d'une fine gelée de pamplemousse à la coriandre
    Avocado and cilantro flavored grapefruit gelee
    aux fines lamelles de raves à l'aigre-doux: King crab on a turnip disc with a sweet and sour sauce
  • First two courses were paired with: Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuve
    cuite en coquille à l'huile de ciboulette épicée
    Sea scallop cooked in the shell with chive oil
    blanche sur une flamiche aux asperges et lard fumé
    White onion tart with smoked bacon and asparagus
  • Served with Sancerre, Domaine de la Poussie 2007
    chaud de canard au confit de kumquats acidulées
    Duck foie gras with confit kumquats
  • Paired with Sauternes Chateau Lamothe Guignard 2004
    en filets, jeunes poireaux étuvés au gingembre
    Dover sole filet, baby leek with ginger
  • Mersault-Blagny 1er Cru- Domaine Matrot 2005
    au foie gras, caramélisée avec une pomme purée truffée
    Foie gras stuffed free-range quail with truffled-mashed potatoes
    de bœuf à l'échalote
    French-style hanger steak with fried shallots
  • Bordeaux Margaux Blason D'Issan 2004
    en biscuit dacquoise, gianduja à la feuillantine au goût chocolat
    Hazelnut dacquoise, gianduja crunch and chocolate ice cream
  • Banyuls Grand Cru Domaine Sardane 2001
    en crème glacée à la mousse de noix de coco sur une transparence de Champagne
    Fresh passion fruit in a coconut meringue, Champagne brut
  • Quebec-LaFace Cachee de la Pomme, Cidre de Glace Neige 2005
    Coffee or Espresso
Before I get to the individual dishes, I feel a need to offer a sentence or so ode to the bread basket. We were served three items, two rolls and what seemed to be croissant dough in a circular shape. All three were memorable. As for the food, there was nothing on the menu that was less than great. Highlights for me were the scallop which was both beautiful and fresh. It reminded me why scallops became so popular. The asparagus tart was served on a truly wonderful puff pastry dough. The asparagus was lightly cooked an shone against the smokiness of the bacon and the sweetness of the onions. Amy, strangely enough, does not like foie gras so I admit to eating both of our portions. Having just canned kumquats last weekend, I was delighted to find a creative way to pair them. Not, of course, that I cook much foie gras at home, though I could. For my main I had the quail which was probably the best version I have ever had. It was cooked perfectly and stuffed with foie gras. (As I said, so much for our light meal). Of the two desserts, I adored the passion fruit tart. Unlike most passion fruit items I have had, it made me think about the fruit part of the word.

Now a word or two on the wines. First of all, it was an incredibly generous amount of wine. Seven mainly full glasses over the course of the meal. My favorites were the sancerre, as it enhanced without overwhelming the food, the Meursault and the Ice Cider. I had only had ice cider once before on a trip to Montreal and adored it. Does anyone know if I can get it in the Bay Area?

This was not an inexpensive meal. The food was $168 and the wine pairings $105. But, given the service and quality of the food, it was a fair price. It actually brought back memories of eating in Paris. And not the Paris casino in Las Vegas. I would go again. Well, maybe if our furloughs end.

After this meal, we ended up heading over to the concerts on Fremont Street arriving in time to sit in the VIP lounge for Luke Bryan before heading over a few blocks for the "pit" for Miranda Lambert. Luke Bryan was fun and relaxed. Miranda Lambert was show to dance to. At that point it was time to head back to the hotel to crash.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Vegas Day One

Ah, culture shock. On my flight out from SFO, I finished Terry Theise's galley. I'll write more about it in another post, but, suffice it to say I was immersed in thoughts of riesling and terroir and the Mosel. Stepping off the plane at the Vegas airport, with its lights and slot machines and smoking was a change.

Our original agenda had included Amy picking me up at the airport and later heading to dinner at Lotus of Siam. Turns out neither of those things happened. Traffic was bad and I ended up beating Amy to town by several hours. I took a cab to the hotel, checked in, and, wisely, napped. After Amy arrived, we headed into the bowels of the Grand Arena to meet with her ACM insider who gave us our tickets to the show Sunday, wristbands for access to shows Friday and Saturday nights and mentioned that we might be able to see some rehearsals that very night.

So rather than heading across town to Lotus we ended up at Craftsteak, essentially across the hall from the arena in the MGM. The food was better than I expected and service was quite good. I started with a Manhattan, which if lacking the flavor of my homemade brandied cherries, was excellent. Amy perhaps wisely went for prosecco. Having not eaten since a pork bun at SFO, I ate a few too many of the warm parkerhouse rolls with butter. To start we shared the fried zucchini blossoms which were served attached to the young squash. We then both went for the surf & turf entree: filet mignon with in my case lobster and in her case scallops. I had a glass of Cep Syrah and she had more prosecco. My filet was perfectly cooked and although the lobster suffered by comparison to the recently discussed Neptune Oyster version, it was still sweet and tender. Like a lot of food in Vegas, it was both enjoyable and over priced.

By the time we finished our entrees it was time to head over for rehearsals. The arena was set up for the swards, with an elaborate stage and multiple cameras. When we arrived Reba McEntire was on stage. Reba is one of my daughters favorites as she is a redhead and sang on one of K's favorite songs: Cowgirls Don't Cry. Reba will host the ceremony. We heard just a little bit of her before she disappeared off behind stage to be replaced by a stand-in. She was followed by Carrie Underwood, who 3 times performed her new song Temporary Home. Finally Rascal Flatts played Unstoppable three times as well. To an outsider, all three performers seemed focused and hardworking, interacting little with the 100 or so of us in the audience.

After rehearsals and a margarita we headed out to walk the strip. I've never been to Vegas before so it was interesting to see that it really is a sort of adult Disneyland or perhaps a larger, gaudier version of the French Quarter. But that may be my response to the open containers. Finally, we headed back to the hotel, too tired to see one last show.

On tap for today, more rehearsals: Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Toby Keith followed by a Miranda Lambert concert. Hoping to fit in dinner at Lotus of Siam as well. More later.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rhone Rangers

The day after Rhone Rangers I was asked to write up some thoughts on the event. They have ended up here:
Note that this article was written almost entirely on my trip to Disneyland. That explains quite a bit.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April Can Jam: Herbs

I must admit that I was disappointed when herbs was announced as the focus of the April Can Jam. Not that I do not love herbs, but here in the Bay Area the markets are full of rhubarb and strawberries. That, and I am down to my last jar of strawberry jam.
However, we forged ahead with our usual decision to engage in several projects on canning day. Lisa's parents were in town and her father worked on a pepper relish that looked and smelled wonderful. For our can jam item, Lisa and I made two kinds of pickled beets: yellow with herbs and red with herbs and red wine and the recipe I will describe below: Kumquats with Mint.

Kumquats aresmall, oval citrus fruits. They are usually between one to two inches long and have leathery orange or yellow skin. The fruit has a sweet outer skin and a tart inner flesh. The fruit can be eaten whole or some people prefer eating only the skin.
Our recipe was based on one from the classic Ball Home Preserving book.
Makes six 8 oz jars and in our case several jars of syrup which we did not process but did refrigerate.

3 lbs kumquats, stems removed
2 2 tbsp baking soda
Boiling water
1 cup mint leaves (we tied them into a cheesecloth bundle)
6 cups granulated sugar

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine kumquats and baking soda. Add boiling water to cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Transfer to a colander over a sink and drain thoroughly, rinsing 3 times. Prick each kumquat twice with a toothpick to prevent bursting. (We used a fork).

In a clean stainless steel saucepan, combine kumquats, mint, and 8 cups water.Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and heat gently for 7 minutes. Add sugar and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly but gently until sugar has dissolved and liquid has almost returned to a boil. Discard mint.

Pack kumquats loosely in jars to within a generous 1/2 of top. Add one mint leaf to each jar. Ladle hot syrup into jar leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rim and screw lid until it is fingertip tight.

Process for for 30 minutes.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

In spring a Girl's Mind

turns to baseball. My love of baseball often surprises those who do not know me well. They think of me as a basketball fan, as a short woman who still plays when she can. Of someone who longtime friends know had a Chris Mullin scrapbook in junior high. But, baseball was my first sports love.

The story begins long before I was born. I have a childhood memory of a story, possibly untrue, that my maternal grandfather once tried out to play major league baseball. In those days, baseball did not pay as it does now, and in the story, he turned his back on the game because with 17 children in his family they needed a stable and steady income. Even today I have no idea if the story was true, but it made an impact.

My father is from Brooklyn, born and raised. In fact, he met my mother when they both worked for the Brooklyn Public Library system. My older brother and the rest of my Dad's immediate family were all born in Brooklyn. Growing up, my father was a devoted Dodgers fan. He attended games, listened on the radio and followed the Dodgers we have all read about--Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, etc. He raised my brother and I on these stories. In the stories, his heart was broken year after year as his team was invariably the second best in baseball. As soon as I was old enough I read The Boys of Summer, which confirmed both my father's stories and the romance of the Dodgers.

Unlike my brother, I was born in Connecticut. By that point my parents had left Brooklyn to raise their family and settled in a small town west of Hartford. This is crucial, as geography in Ct apparently has a strong influence on baseball loyalties : We were on the Red Sox side of the line. I tend to think, that even had we been on the other side, we would have been Red Sox fans. Given my father's childhood loyalties, there was really no chance he could ever be a Yankees fan.

Many of my early childhood memories involve hearing baseball on the radio in the neighborhood as we played outside on long summer nights. We collected baseball cards, despairing over ever having a complete set of Red Sox. We traded cards, always excited to find a fan of a different team who might be willing to part with a much needed card. As we got a little bit older my father started taking us to games at Fenway. In those days, one could go to games at Fenway without spending hours online to buy tickets. He would pile my brother and I in the car, generally with our across the street neighbor Sean and later assorted other friends and buy tickets for the whole group in the bleachers. We were taught to keep score, following the game with pencils in hand. I still have memories of a program from one season with the cover "HOT" for the pitchers Hurst, Ojeda and Tudor. We cried in 1978 and although Tom and Sean would probably not admit it, in 1986 as well. We were, much like my Dad's beloved Dodgers, often the second best team in baseball.

Of course, we had favorite players. As my brother was the oldest, he had first choice and opted for Fred Lynn. I'm assuming that Sean and I flipped a coin as he went next and selected Dwight Evans. For those who remember the Red Sox outfield of theose years my player is obvious: Jim Rice. Rice was an unlikely favorite player for a young girl, famous for being sullen with the press and lacking the glamour of Lynn. But, I was loyal. His card was the one I searched for most. I tracked his at bats with the kind of devotion that in later years is generally only found in those who participate in fantasy sports leagues. Rice, for those who do not know, was a power hitter. Before Bonds, McGuire and the constant talk of drugs in baseball, he was a player that could make the stadium stop for an at bat. Would he come through with a home run or would it be the dreaded double play? Those moments stay with me, the silence that comes over the stadium as all eyes focus on one thing alone. Jim Rice ended up playing his entire career with the Red Sox. Wikipedia tells me that his career spanned 1974-1989, essentially my entire childhood. In 2009, when he was at long last elected to the Hall of Fame, my entire family called me within a 10 minute window.

I went to college in Baltimore where, pre Camden Yards, one could decide at the last minute to attend a game. Memorial Stadium was a relatively short walk from campus and we went to many games on the spur of the moment. Of course, once they built Camden Yards that all changed and tickets became both too scarce and too pricey for students. Cal Ripken aside, the Orioles were not my team. But, they had Jon Miller, one of, if not the best radio announcers in the game and listening to him was a joy, even when the games were not.

When I moved to the Bay Area, rooting for the A's was not an option. As a Red Sox fan, there was no chance for another American League team. So, the Giants became my local team. Soon they had there very own new stadium in Pac Bell and even brought in Jon Miller to do play by play. I won't go into the Barry Bonds drug situation, but will say that the games I attended during his home run quests were electric.

Today, of course, we hear about Red Sox Nation. My daughter knows the Red Sox as winners rather than the heartbreak of my childhood. Her first live baseball game was a Red Sox victory over the A's in Oakland where it seemed that most of the fans were rooting for the away team. I relaxed my rules about non-traditional colors and bought her a pink Red Sox hat. She doesn't yet love baseball as I did. But, as I was driving home from work yesterday, listening to Jon Miller on the radio, I thought that this might be the year that she can learn to keep score, pencil and all.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fava Blossoms

Fava flowers from my garden. These are gorgeous, but I am looking forward to beans. Though, I have heard the leaves are tasty?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Eggs

The colors we are starting with this year.
Easter week re-post. This year we seem to have mainly green and brown eggs onhand and I am very curious to see how the colors come out.

 For several years now I have meant t experiment with so-called natural dyes for Easter Eggs. Thekitchn and Martha Stewart have published gorgeous photos of eggs dyed with vegetables, teas, and vinegar. This year, having just gotten back from Disneyland last night, I convinced my daughter to give it a try.
We started with a head of purple cabbage, both yellow and red onion skin and beets. We chopped the cabbage roughly and put in a large pot with water to cover. The beets were shredded and put in their own pot while the skins were peeled off the onions and placed in individual pots as well. I brought all pots to a boil and then simmered. I then drained the liquid into glass containers, added 3 tablespoons white vinegar and left to cool while I hard boiled two dozen eggs.

After allowing time for the eggs and liquids to cool, and for our guests to arrive we placed the eggs in liquids and refrigerated. The results are below. Can you guess which vegetables led to which colors?


So many blog posts have been written about visiting Disneyland. This post will make no attempt at all to be complete. I spent 2.5 days there this past week with my daughter (almost 8), my childhood best friend and her daughter (almost 6). Both girls have birthdays the first week of April so this was a bit of a birthday trip for both of them.

Katie and I flew down to LAX mid day on Wednesday and took a shuttle down to our hotel, The Grand Californian. Located steps from a private entrance into Disney's California Adventure, this is the newest of the Disney hotels. Unlike many of their properties, it is not filled with character images. In fact, the only Disney image at all in our room was Bambi on the forest scene shower curtain. Instead, the hotel is designed in an arts and crafts style, with exposed beams and multiple fireplaces. Our room featured one queen size bed and a bunk bed, as when informed of the possibility the kids wanted to try one. Although this hotel is often expensive, with the park pass and hotel fees it turned out to be very little more than a less convenient off-site property.

Just a few thoughts on rides:
My favorite was the Grizzly River Run in CA Adventure. Strapped into round "rafts" you cruise through the rapids and down several small and one large drop. We rode it at least five times. Other hits at CA Adventure were Soarin' Over CA, the large ferris wheel and the Muppets in 3D show.
At Disney itself, the favorites were Small World, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise and the Spinning TeaCups. The more adventurous almost 6-year-old loved the Matterhorn, Splash Mountain and Space Mountain. Katie avoided those.

The park was crowded as it was school vacation week, so we found it best to start early in the day at the parks and head back to the hotel for a swim before returning to the parks in the evening. Foodwise, well, it is Disney. I had a mediocre yet edible breakfast burrito in Disneyland one morning, a not great not bad club sandwich from room service, surprisingly good nachos at White Water Snacks in our hotel, a buffet with decent sliced beef and roasted asparagus also at out hotel at Storytellers Cafe. Drinkwise, the wine list was over priced and not inspiring. My friend had brought a couple of bottles and it was easier to just open them in the room. I did have a not-bad manhattan at Storytellers.

Other things of note: Great excitement to discover an I-Carly bear at Build a Bear in Downtown Disney. Also, Katie has discovered the joy of pin trading. The search for Hidden Mickey pins provided more fun than I would have imagined.