Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Vacation n stuff

Wow. We're having a foodie vacation to end all foodie vacations.

Really.

I'm not as cool as Karla, so I don't have pictures of my food, but DAMN we've been eating well. The hubbie and I are in Sonoma, CA - one of the epicenters of good vino. And we're less than a hop, skip and/or jump away from THE epicenter of the American wine industry - Napa. Now, folks 'round here (i.e. Sonoma) say that Sonoma is for wine and Napa is for auto parts. I disagree... but Sonoma wines really really don't suck. And the wine tours / wine tastings don't suck either.

So here's a list of our favorite tours:

-Benziger
-Hess Collection

Okay. So I cheated. The Benziger winery is the only one I listed that's an actual winery tour - ya know, the vines, the land, the caves, etc. Hess is just a really kick ass modern art museum in the guise of a winery. Yeah - the wine's good, but really the flaming typewriter is the true draw.

And here's our list of favorite things to taste:

-Benziger (yeah - they're that good)
-Sinskey
-Bell

Okay, okay. The Sinskey experience this week wasn't all that it could be. (They're not in the Army this week - har har!) But based on prior tastings and bottles - damn, that's good wine! And even if this week's tasting wasn't perfect, the staff presented with wines with knowledge and humor. That definitely counts for something. For example - hubbie and I had great wine at Etude - I mean really really good. But for the first half of the tasting, the staff member leading the session seemed as enthusiastic as a stick in the mud. He warmed up... eventually. Or maybe we got drunker and cared less. Who knows, and who cares. He didn't really help his wine sell. The wine had to take up his slack. So that's why Etude, although outstanding, didn't make the list. But Benziger. Hmmmm... Benziger. Benziger just blew me out of the water with the goodness and the sustainable agricultural practices and the friendly people and the quality and the lusciously fabulous GOODNESS of the wine. (Did I mention the goodness?)

So yeah, we're now a member of their wine club. Go figure.

Now, before I get to Bell, Acacia deserves a honorable mention. There is a man there named Mike. And he is funny. No - really really funny. He works at the tasting desk and does other odd jobs part time. I know he has a wife and a dog and that he thinks the entire world revolves around his needs and wants. Fortunately for us, he needs and wants to be entertaining... and he is. So if you're in the area, hit Carneros and see Mike. If' he's not there, Acacia probably doesn't deserve an extra trip. But if he is, oh boy, life is good.

On to Bell. Bell winery is small - like only nine permanent staff members small. But they have these wines... and they are good. The staff is good too. We managed to score a tasting during the bottling and the director of hospitality and marketing was quite happy to show us around. How cool is that? Her winery had a major thing-a-ma-joober going on and she took the time to shuttle our ignorant butts around. But oh - the wine - it was so good. I'm currently sipping on the 2002 Sonnette... ya'll you WISH you were my taste buds right now.

Oh yeah, you SO do.

San Fran is up next, and hubbie and I have been fortunate enough to score reservations at the French Laundry. Exciting! A restaurant that literally EVERYONE raves about. I can't wait. Last night we ate at Cyrus - another restaurant with a killer rep. I had seared foie gras with rosti and a carmelized onion like thing. SO GOOD. The previous course was Japanese Pen Shell with sweetcorn and pickled ramp greens. Sounds horrible, doesn't it? But then, there's this article on the Pen Shell that makes it sound like a tolerable bivalve. But only tolerable, right?

You'd be wrong. So very, VERY wrong. 'Cause it was so good. Yum. Ramps! Chewy but not tough goodness! Sweet corn! Yay!

So the foodie vacation continues. I can't wait. French Laundry, here I come!

4 comments:

Kathy said...

I am so jealous of your wine tours. Here's a bonus though, Spec's carries wines from all the wineries you listed except Bell.

doctawife said...

Whoo hoo! Bell distributes 95% of its wines to restaurants and the wine club (at least that's what the nice lady at the tasting counter said) so that doesn't suprise me.

We're also bringing back two cases of wine... I think we'll be set for a while.

Eileen the Jellomonster said...

Waaaaah! The Ween is jealous.

'Nuf said.

Jaye Joseph said...

I found you through Karla, and I just have to ask that you please describe French Laundry in detail. I am so jealous!