Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 8th Garden

Here are some shots from the garden as of today. This year my focus was on tomatoes, as you will see, and many of them are doing well.

I do have some pole beans growing up some chicken wire - here's a future bean:

And some cucumbers also growing up the chicken wire:

And now for the tomatoes: San Marzanos -  

Green Zebra tomatoes-  

 Black Krims, always excellent producers:

Jaune Flamme tomatoes, looking gorgeous and turning color already (they'll eventually be orange):  

I don't even know what this is is because I lost the label in the transplantation process... but look how huge it is already!
And that's the state of the garden today!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Napa and Sonoma: One Last Trip for Two (For Awhile)!

We spent a glorious day in Napa and Sonoma this weekend. It was one last trip we wanted to take with just the two of us, since I am officially due this month! We already did the olive oil tasting and vineyard thing back here, so this time we went with a more historical focus, included Sonoma and Glen Ellen this time, and plenty of good food too.

We started at Napa Valley Biscuits, which opened last year and was featured in this month's Sunset magazine.

The place was hopping on a Saturday morning, and for good reason. Everything we had was delicious, and what we saw that we didn't get, we wanted to return and order next time. We split the Yardbird (biscuit, fried chicken, bacon, and gravy):
and the Pappy (crispy waffles, fried chicken, bacon, red pepper jelly, and maple syrup for dipping):
When we come back, we would love to try some of the other menu items like homemade cinnamon rolls and a from-scratch twist on a ding dong. On to Oxbow market, which was looking lovely and had a Farmer's Market in the parking lot (where we bought the sweetest Sugartime peaches and apriums to take home).
Also, we wanted to try the famous English muffins at Model Bakery. They are supposed to be the world's best, and we plan to see how they taste tomorrow at breakfast.
The Fatted Calf, because my husband can't resist artisan cured meats:
From there, we took off for Sonoma through the vineyards:

Once we arrived, we started by visiting the Sonoma Mission, the most northern of all the missions in California:
In the garden, they had this prickly pear bush. The fruits didn't look very prickly but I discovered that they in fact are covered in little tiny, microscopic thorns. Look, don't touch, people!

Then we walked to what had sounded like a nearby historical site, the Vallejo House, but which turned into a 2-mile trek in blistering heat. I recommend driving there, especially if you happen to be 8 months pregnant. No pictures because I was too focused on not getting heat stroke, but after my husband rescued me by fetching the car to retrieve me, and reviving me with ice water and AC, we moved on to our next destination: Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen.

I remember reading "To Build a Fire" in school, and of course I'd heard of "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang", but I didn't know much about Jack London before today. Turns out, Jack London was quite an interesting and ambitious character, his life colorful and thrilling, though brief. After reaching commercial success through his writing of adventure books and short stories, he bought over 100 acres of land in Glen Ellen, including this old winery building:

Besides using the cottage next door as a country escape from city life in his hometown of Oakland, London sought to create a self-sustaining agricultural model here, including terraced vineyards, pigs, horses, cattle, winery, blacksmith shop, you name it! Here are some of the grounds of his old property today:

We also got to tour the cottage where he died of kidney failure at the age of 40. He had picked up a tropical disease while sailing the South Pacific islands (cause that's how he rolled) and used mercury to treat it, which destroyed his kidneys. His heavy drinking and smoking didn't help either. But he certainly had an impressive life, and it was fascinating to learn more about him at this park.

Hungry after hiking around all of these sites, we returned to Sonoma for an early dinner at the famous restaurant in Sonoma Plaza called The Girl and the Fig, where we ordered this amazing cheese and fruit platter:

I felt justified in ordering this wonderful sirloin burger with housemade pickles and aioli for the French fries. All that hiking, you know.

And for dessert, we split the vanilla bean profiteroles with bittersweet chocolate sauce.

Conclusion: Flawless food and great ambiance at the Girl and the Fig. It's acclaimed for a reason and I would love to return again.

With that, we returned home to take delightfully cold showers and ponder how trips will be different when there are three of us, and look forward to the day that we can share all of the wonderful culture and beauty of Northern California with our daughter.