Monday, November 05, 2007

Time to move my blog

I have spent a month or so, playing with new stuff and I am ready to start keeping my blog up to date at a brand new website. Its not perfect, and I still need to work out some kinks, but I have been learning how to manage a web site, how to add my own stuff and overtime, I will add new and different stuff as I get more geeky with the technology.

So check out You will notice I am moving my recipes to that location as well, so I will be able to add many more.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Parent Day

We did our parental duty and visited our son, who is a freshman at St. Mary's College last Saturday. A quick flight to Oakland and a ride on BART to Walnut Creek where Will met us. We spent most of the day in Walnut Creek, having coffee, lunch and shopping for wardrobe items that he realized that he needed after spending 6 weeks at school. After lunch, we headed to campus and helped him unpack the new items in his dorm room. Male dorm rooms have not changed since I lived in one, but it iss always nice to see such quality reading in a dorm room, although I will question his taste in DVDs.

After a quick visit with his roommate's family and a quick tour of the campus, Will took us back to the airport for our short flight home to the OC. We left with the knowledge that Will has adapted well to college life and seems to be enjoying himself and learning at the same time. Too bad college life can't last 40 years, as it is a fun time.

In December, we will make our parental inspection of Nicky, but that one is a lot harder. A 14 hour flight to Wellington. But we get to ride jet boats, hike glaciers and ride on trains.

I think I am going to like making parental inspections.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Do you know the way to?

It started as a little trip to pick up my fall shipment from Tablas Creek Winery in Paso Robles. It ended up as an adventure cruising the back roads of San Luis Obispo county sampling some wine and some excellent food. The weekend got a little more extravagant when dining at our favorite restaurant, Citrus City Grille, the owner over heard our plans and arranged what he thought was a stay at EOS Winery. When I confirmed with the winery, they let us know the only place to stay at their winery was on the cellar floor. We quickly arranged a stay at a friends condo in San Luis Obispo.

We left Orange at 5am, ate at a truck stop in Lebec so we could arrive at EOS on the west side of town, for our arranged 10:30am tour. The tour ended up as a conversation with the assistant wine maker as my buddy, a microbiologist, talked yeast with the wine maker. After we learned more about yeast than any of us needed to know, we went down and sampled all of their really nice, food friendly, very drinkable wines. We walked away with many of their desert wines and bottles of their better whites and reds. Other stops in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo included the following:
  • Cass Winery: Wines were so so, but the rural setting along with the sit down tasting on the patio along with a very nice cafe made the whole experience wonderful. We enjoyed a very nice cheese plate ($17) while we sipped our wines. I felt guilty not buying any of their wines as the whole experience was worth more than the cost of a bottle.
  • Eagle Castle: A castle looking building built as a huge tourist and bus trap. The most fun we had their was watching a mini bus tour guide who reached the breaking point while dealing with an unruly, drunk tour group.
  • Tablas Creek: We enjoyed a private tasting of my fall shipment and along with the wine, they served various types of food (tomato salad, green salad, sliced smoked ham and beef stew) that complemented each of the wines served. All wine tastings should be done this way.
  • Claibourne & Churchill: They are in Edna Valley, and although they were out of many of their wines, the ones we tasted were very good. They are releasing their new wines next week and I think I might have to get some.
  • Kynsi Winery: A very small family run winery housed in an old dairy. It was fun to see sisters argue over the phone. I am willing to go back just to see if things change. Wines were good but nondescript.
In the middle, we had dinner at Villa Creek, a very nice restaurant in Paso Robles. We had just come from Tablas Creek, so we weren't that hungry and our wine senses were numbed, so we limited ourselves to split entrees and some gelato. Well worth a trip back there.

So, six wineries in two days. California has 4,800 wineries. I am looking forward to many more adventures.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Where everyone is going

My daughter lives here now. Our adopted "son" is already there and owns a house. His wife and their two dogs left our house last night to go here. Annette Will and I are heading there before Christmas, so I thought I would play a commercial for the location.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Is Whole Foods still a grocery store?

In my previous post Where am I going to shop?, I lamented about the closing of the local Whole Foods that was replaced with a much large Whole Foods that is farther away. But being a good foodie, I was willing to give it a try. Over the last week and half I visited three times: Sunday of Labor Day weekend, a week night after work, and last Saturday as part of my weekly shopping. Before I talk about inside the store, let me first rile about its location. Its about as far away from a freeway as you can get in Orange County. Traffic around the shopping center where its located was bad on Sunday and the weekday (it was impossible right after work). Parking was terrible, and with more stores going in, including a Best Buy next door, will only get worse. So those three things put the store at a huge disadvantage. But lets go inside.
  • The produce section was larger and quality appeared the same with some more variety (they had more types of peppers)
  • The fish market expanded and now has a selection of whole fish
  • Whole Foods meat and poultry always seem good but expensive. This week, they were reasonably priced, so they get a nod as long as prices stay lower.
  • Alex, my favorite produce guy is still there, but he leaves for school next week
  • Didn't see a lot of regular paper goods and cleansers
  • They had a whole lot of places to buy prepared foods including Italian, Mexican, Brazilian, Japanese, ice cream, bakery goods, smoked meats, grilled foods, etc.
With all the prepared food stations, it feels and acts much more like a lunch time cafeteria that also has a small grocery store inside. So will I go back? Probably. The quality of the produce keeps me coming back and with the expanded fish section and hopefully lower meat prices, that will be enough for me to spend a larger portion of my Saturday shopping. What will keep me from going there is if the new Sprouts or Mothers stores that are proposed to move into Tustin offer what I am looking for in a grocery store and skip the cafeteria look and feel.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Surviving the Heat

Its been hot here. Brutally hot. Normally, if you are within 15 miles of the coast here in Orange County you can get some warm days, but the nights cool off, so sleeping is bearable. But a few weeks out of the year that big ocean 12 miles away does us no good and our house gets hot. Last week was one of those weeks, but we survived and are now enjoying the cool afternoon ocean breezes. One of these years we will spend the money to add air conditioning to our humble abode. Needless to say, all cooking, cleaning and physical activity was put on hold during the heat wave.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Where am I going to shop?

The local Whole Foods store closed this week and opened a new larger store in an outdoor mall in a location that is slightly farther away and much more inconvenient. With this move, and with the kids now gone from the house it has made me evaluate my shopping needs. For the past year or so, I would travel down to Whole Foods and buy produce, fish, some good tortilla chips, cheese, some Kashi cereal I couldn't find elsewhere, and some other odd and ends, then travel across the street to Alberstons to buy meat and chicken, paper goods and cleaning supplies. Our milk is delivered to our house, and I would occasionally shop at Claro's for great deli meats and Italian cooking supplies. With Whole Foods at the center of my Saturday shopping moved farther away what am I going to do?

What I liked about Whole Foods was their consistent high quality of produce, whether it was farmed organically or using standard practices. Other produce markets nearby lacked the consistency of quality. I didn't really care about organic. What I cared about was the freshness of the product (did it last long enough at my house) and does it taste good. Usually a store brand tomato, whether organic or not, has little flavor. Now give me an heirloom or locally grown tomato and yum.

So here is what I want in a grocery store.
  • A good selection of fresh, flavorful produce (I will measure variety by how many chile peppers types do they carry)
  • A good fish market (regular grocery stores fall flat in this area)
  • Reasonably priced meat market (Costco would match this criteria, Whole Foods does not)
  • It would be nice to have regular old tissue and paper towels in the same market
  • I rarely buy prepared foods from any market, so the less of this the better.
I will check out the new Whole Foods this weekend, and report back next week. Who knows, maybe I will be blown away and buy prepared meals for my wife and I for the entire week and give up cooking. After all there are only two of us at home....

On second thought, cooking is my hobby and that would take away the enjoyment of cooking for my wife and friends.