Vineyard Cake, when Napa and Sonoma are on my mind.
With the searing news footage, the loss of lives, the destruction of homes, and the terrifying speed and ferocity with which this catastrophe all happened, Wine Country weighs heavily on our minds lately.
The series of deadly conflagrations that swept through Napa and Sonoma counties in a flash in the past two weeks left an indelible mark. Lives will be forever changed. Rebuilding will be a long, slow, painful and costly process. The fires of 2017 – and all they wrought — will not soon be erased.
We donate money. We volunteer our help. Still, we feel rather helpless in the face of the enormity of the destruction.
What else to do? In the months, and years to come, simply don’t forget. When the regions are no longer front-page newspaper stories or the lead item on the 6 o’clock news, don’t let Napa and Sonoma fall off your radar. Buy the wines to enjoy this Thanksgiving. Or send a bottle to friends across the country for Christmas. Plan a trip to Wine Country in to support hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and tasting rooms. Moreover, as you get ready to do your annual income taxes, take a deduction and do good at the same time, by making a donation to the Napa Valley Community Foundation or the Community Foundation Sonoma County.
And then bake this cake.
That may sound like a crazy idea, but there is something to be said for really being present in the moment, for taking the time to focus singularly on a place or a thing, that makes us truly appreciate it.
A view of the Oregon coast.
Gleneden Beach, OR. — If all you know about this state is its artsy, quirky city of Portland, take a drive to the central coast to see a whole ‘nother side.
That’s just what I did when I was invited with a few other food writers a few weeks ago to stay at Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, following its multi-million-dollar renovation and opening of its new restaurant, Samphire.
The hotel is about two hours from Portland. Its 250 acres of forested land hug the rugged coastline that gets its share of sunshine and misty days at this time of year.
The view outside my room at Salishan.
The 500-case wine cellar at Salishan.
You’ll be relaxing in no time at the spa.
The 205-room property was developed in 1965. The cozy, rustic-chic hotel is decorated with $500,000 worth of art, created by Native American, and other Oregon and Washington artists.
Blue Jade corn growing in the Wente Vineyards produce garden.
That Livermore’s Wente Vineyards makes first-class wines is a given.
But the oldest, continuously operating family-owned winery in the United States makes so much more on its 2,000 acres in Livermore, as I found out when I was I was invited for a tour recently.
Extra virgin olive oil. Herbs, fruits and veggies galore grown in its own garden. And even beef.
Yes, The Restaurant at Wente gets 12 steer a year from its own herd that graze on the hillsides. Like Japan’s famed Wagyu, these Black Angus cows get some special treatment, too: two glasses of its Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon daily for the last 90 days of their life.
Chef Mike Ward.
Master Gardener Diane Dovholuk.
“We don’t get them drunk,” Wente Chef Mike Ward says with a chuckle. “It helps them metabolize food better so they can eat more.”
Escape to esc for this incredible dessert.
Normally when we think of the esc button on our computers, it’s not with fondness or pleasure. It’s usually characterized by banging on the button out of frustration because our screen has frozen.
But there’s another esc in town now, one that’s sure to leave you mellow and chill.
It’s the name of the new lobby lounge wine bar/cafe at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley in East Palo Alto.
If you’re used to hotel lobbies being places you only hang out in to kill time before check-in or check-out, esc will surprise you with its comfortable mix of plush couches, upholstered easy chairs, and bar stools.
I had a chance to check it out last week, when I was invited in as a guest of the hotel to see the newly completed space.
Illuminated on the wall.
Take a load off in the newly revamped lobby lounge.
On a laid-back weeknight, people were working on laptops, and relaxing with glasses of wine, a few of which conveniently come in your choice of 2-, 4- or 6-ounce pours. You can even try Blend 122, the hotel’s new signature red wine by Byington Vineyards of Santa Cruz, a rich, robust sip that opens up as it sits in the glass.
A Jell-O for adults only.
When sommeliers and Champagne producers admonish people to drink bubbly more often rather than just for the most special of occasions, they probably didn’t have this in mind.
In fact, when a publicist sent me a sample of the Taittinger Prestige Rosé, I was almost afraid of telling her how I planned to enjoy it.
Yes, in a grown-up version of Jell-O.
But when I spied the beautiful and super easy recipe in the new “Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes For The Home Cook” (Lorena Jones Books/Ten Speed Press), I couldn’t hep but want to try it.
The cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is by Elisabeth Prueitt, co-founder with her husband Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s beloved Tartine Bakery and Tartine Manufactory.