Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to Boston

We've had a good week back in Boston. It's no California, but we love it.

We've spent almost every night this week in good company with friends, and that's always a good reminder about how sweet life can be anywhere. It is what you make it, you know?

It was our turn to host poker this week so that was fun. This was only my second game to join in on, and I felt much better about it after having actually studied the hands before this game. In the end, I lost everything... but Bryan doubled his money so we (as a household) ended up right where we started! At least I broke even last time we played. Maybe next time I'll take home a couple bucks.

Last night our neighbors/ landlords had us over for dinner. We got really lucky when we moved here. We really love our house and house mates and they are generous and kind to us for sure. We ended up having four hours of course after course of delicious Italian food and chatting about their recent trip to Italy and our trip to California.

Very nice indeed.

P.S. We've officially been in Boston for three years yesterday! Time flies!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our Last Day

We spent most of our last day on the far West coast! It was a perfect ending to our fun vacation!
 We drove out to Highway 1 and ate lunch at Hog Island Oyster Farm.

 They gave us 3 dozen oysters, a shucking knife and a shucking glove and Bryan went to work!

 He opened all the oysters!

After we left Hog Island we headed North up Highway 1, the coastal highway.

 It started out pretty foggy but cleared up the further North we drove.

 The water was so bright blue!

This is where the Russian River meets the Atlantic! I don't know if I've ever seen a river meet the ocean like this.

I don't know if you could tell from the first picture, but those are all seals laying on the sand bars!
We were making our way North to Hirsch Winery and Vineyards. One of our sommelier friends in Boston recommended this place.
There were wild blackberries EVERYWHERE! Bryan pulled over so that I could pick a couple to try. Much sweeter than the ones on Mississippi roadsides.

Pinot grapes! These are smaller, thinner skinned, harder to grow... they love warm days and cool nights which makes this area a perfect for them!

We had a hilltop tasting here!

On our way to dinner we stopped by the Russian River Brew Company so Bryan could taste their beer, Pliny the Elder... recently voted the best beer in the world!

Our final stop was the Culinary Institute of America for dinner. Students prepare the food under the supervision of some master chefs. Our dinner was very good!

What a wonderful trip we've had! I'm on the plane headed home right now! It will be nice to get home and sleep in my own bed tonight! (And eat lots and lots of salads this week to try to make up for all the amazing food we've had in the last few days.)

The Upper Valley

We started Thursday at Lancaster Estates. It was a bit of a drive to the top of the valley but I'm so glad we visited!

This shows how the grape vines are all grafted into American root stock. Apparently most grape vines, especially ones from France which are basically all of the major vines grown in California, are extremely susceptible to bacteria and rot. When the vines are planted on indigenous root stock they can live healthily forever! The root stock is below the knobby part a few inches above the ground.

The husband and wife that purchased this property and started Lancaster Estates built that beautiful house on the hill. They no longer live there but if you want to become a wine club member, you can stay there a couple nights a year!

The entrance to their cave.

Their tasting room inside the cave.

Inside the cave.
After Lancaster we visited Joseph Phelps. Their site was beautiful, but we didn't love their wines.

There were lizards everywhere this week!

Lunch at Farmstead was wonderful!

One of my favorite caves was Schramsberg's. This vineyard does exceptional bubbly! Their Napa champagne has been served by every U.S. President since the US-China peace treaties.

There are something like 5 million bottles in their mile and a half of caves (dug out in the 1800's with pick axes and buckets!) The bottles are each full of pressure, so full in fact that for the first 8 weeks that the new bottles are in the caves they are covered with tarps to protect passersby from being struck by the exploding bottles! A few explode out of every batch.

Our candle-lit cave tasting!

Beringer was our last winery of the day and it was just down the road from Schramsberg.

The house was originally built as a private residence. The house was beautiful!