Sunday, May 20, 2012

Winter in Manhattan Odyssey: Final Weekend

            "Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity."
                                                                   Khahil Gibran
                                   Well, it was hard to believe but my Winter in Manhattan Odyssey was at it's end!  And, I am absolutely thrilled that I gave myself this gift especially as it was such a wicked winter.  I was planning on flying down to NYC Friday after work, but thankfully I am able to watch the manifest numbers and saw  that my chances on getting on the flight stand-by were slim to none.  So, back to my good old Megabus.  Managed to jump on an earlier bus than planned and got to “my apartment” earlier than I would have had I flown.

Rosa Mexicano, photo courtesy of their website
                Decided to treat myself to a nice dinner, owed it to myself after another long week at work.  Went over to Rosa Mexicano on the corner again as I had a craving for Mexican.  Got a lovely small carafe of white sangria, and a wonderful tasty dinner with the fish of the day.  Not even sure what kind of fish, but a meaty white filet cooked in an aromatic tomato based sauce.  Got home just ahead of Roomies and chatted for a bit.
The Antiques Garage
The Garage Flea Market, photo courtesy of their wbsite
                                K and I had planned on getting a bite to eat Saturday before she went to work.  Lazy morning, and made plans to head to K’s apartment in late afternoon.  So, off I went to do some shopping, first in the neighborhood to pick up a few things I had bought at a small gift shop the week before (I try to frequent smaller local shops when I can as they need our money more than anybody right now..sometimes that’s hard though cause they’re usually more expensive..), TJ’s, and Bed Bath and Beyond.  Then I headed over to the Garage Flea Market in Chelsea (an annex of the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market on W 25th St. between 6 & 7 Avesnues) where I found a treasure for a friend.                                                                 

Over to K’s to give her the Bed Bath and Beyond finds for her bed, then off to dinner at Artisinal again.  It was delicious, but the service was frustratingly slow that night.  (Been having bad experiences with poor service at restaurants lately, in New York and at home, and I really am not that fussy.)

Cheese fondue @ Artisinal, photo courtesy of their website

        K went off to work and I headed to the UES to see “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged” that Roomie was stage managing.  It was thoroughly zany and entertaining.  Home we went for my last night in “my” Manhattan apartment.  I left Roomie and Daughter to chill together and retreated to my room. 
Flea Market Cafe
                K and I met at the Flea Market Café for brunch and a lovely young Lady from K restaurant joined us. I am glad that my Girls know I am pretty opened minded and will accept them as they are and also accept any Person they want to bring into our lives.  It saddens me when I meet so many young people whose Families wouldn’t accept their lifestyle, or their sexuality, or whatever or whomever they want to be.  As I explained to the Girls in the past year, I will love them, respect them, and support them no matter what, short of becoming a mass murderer.  At that I draw the line.

                       K and I then treated ourselves to mani-pedi’s (one of the few things to be had in NYC relatively cheaply!)  K then headed up to New Haven, and I went home to finish packing up my winter apartment.  Roomie and I visited, and I gave her a true Boston gift, a cobalt blue Cod Pitcher from Shreve Crump and Low as a keepsake and huge thank you for opening up her home, and heart, to me.  I truly came away from my Odyssey with so much more than I had planned, or anticipated! I am blessed!

                        I saw, explored, and ate at so many of the places I had wanted to.  There are still so many more that I want, need, to see.  I will.  And, now I even have a small, but wonderful network of my own in Manhattan!  My Odyssey did not cure my dream of living in Manhattan.  I would in a heartbeat.  But, I know for a certainty that it is Manhattan I want to live in, and for that much money is needed to do it comfortably.  So, for now this will suffice.  Again, I am blessed.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Winter in Manhattan Odyssey Weekend Eight: Saturday and Sunday

Chelsea Market from Ed U
            "Wine is sunlight held together by water." 

Hells' Kitchen Flea Market from Sandra Y
      Saturday woke up to a lovely sunny day, and ventured out at around noon. Headed down and over to the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market (39th between 9th and 10th) and poked around.  Didn’t find any treasures that day.  This Flea Market is an awesome place for vintage clothes and tons of costume jewelry, vintage and otherwise. So, I headed instead to the Chelsea Market.  I love that so many cities, large and small are turning old abandoned warehouses into something.  In this case, the Chelsea Market  (9 Ave between 15 & 16 Streets ) is a mishmash of shops, restaurants, pickup foods, and popup shops, usually sample sales of some sort.  (Sample sales in NYC are a thing to behold, since it’s the fashion mecca of the US.)     
The Green Table from Jando S
            I was in the mood for a nice sit down lunch and The Green Table caught my eye, and I’m glad it did.  It is a “sustainable” restaurant in that it uses and sells truly local (NY State area) foods and wines.  It was delicious, tough decision on what to eat, and the Bartender guided me to some great selections.  I started with a Bellini using locally made juice and Prosecco.  I then had lamb sliders with a lovely glass of Sauvignon Blanc, finishing lunch with an apple-almond tart and rosemary ice cream and coffee.  Awesome. 
                While I ate I watched  the Bartender who so kindly helped me in my food choices.  She was great at what she did.  For the millionth time I started questioning what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Blah, Blah…As the restaurant got quieter She and I started to chat.  Something new in NYC, she was an artist!   Grew up in Maine, went to the Boston Conservatory, hit the Big Apple to make her way, did it for a few years, went to Florida, came back to Manhattan with her screenwriter boyfriend for another go around.  Now she has decided to teach theatre to children as well as work on her own craft.  Everytime I start to worry about K, I meet someone who proves to me that it is absolutely worth going for the dream.  It’s wonderful to have the gumption, guts, and fortitude to “go for it”.
View from The Highline
The Highline
          I then poked around some of the shops and sample sales before heading out and onto the Highline.  Another brilliant, and beautiful idea.  The Highline is a new, and still being developed, park built on a raised railroad track that runs along the West side affording beautiful views of the Husdon River on one side and what feels likes an insider's view of some really wonderful buildings on the right side. 
The Hotel Chelsea from Wikipedia
         I followed the Highline to its present end at 20th and continued to 23rd heading to my Wine 101 class that K had given me for Christmas.  As I walked along 23rd eastward I literally bumped into the Hotel Chelsea.  I knew of this Hotel as it has famously housed so many artists, literary, music, and otherwise over the years…Dylan Thomas, Tennessee Williams, Bob many.  (What is really kind of interesting, coincidental, weird, is that I started reading “Just Kids” by Patti Smith a couple of days after this and so much of her life with Robert Mapplethorpe center around her life with him at the Hotel Chelsea!  One of my favorite scenes of the book is when she describes walking into the restaurant attached to the Hotel and already there were Janis Joplin and her Entourage, Jimi Hendrix and a Girl, Grace Slick and the rest of Jefferson Airplane.  All there were getting ready to go to upstate New York for a festival in a little town called Woodstock..WOW…)

NYC Wine Class, ready for class
NYC Wine Class, photo from their website
                On I walked until I got to the site of my Wine 101 Class.  I was the Oldest, and only single, person there.  But, it was a great night.  The space was beautiful.  Andrew Harwood  started the School and was very fascinating, smart, and brave.   I forget where and what he studied for undergrad, but did study in the Hotel Restaurant Program at Cornell for graduate school.  Heading to Europe to explore after graduation, he worked in a vineyard in Hungary, then France, then back on US soil in California, and came back to the East Coast and started NYC Wine Class (167 West 23rd Street. 212-647-1875) in 2004.  Brilliant, and enjoyable.  Highly recommended.  Thanks K!

               Stopped into the Gingerman to personally thank K, visited for a bit.  Then went home, visited with Roomie, and hit the hay!

              Sunday was a simple day.  I have lost the need to be constantly going while here!  A patient who used to live and work in Manhattan (and kept her apartment on the UWS..I want it!!) told me that New Yorkers don’t do what I do.  I told her that, of course, they don’t have to get it all in in three months like I’m trying to!  But, I will say that I’m proud of the fact that I have inspired my Roomie and her Partner to get out and take advantage of their city more, and partake of some of the endless opportunities, and “stuff” that New York offers!  That being said, K and I met at Café Jule, the wonderful little place just around the corner from me, for brunch.  I then went home to her place and hung out till it was time to catch my Megabus.  (It is amazing how you can feel a bit like being in a cattle call with them, especially in New York as you wait in a parking lot, literally.  The Megabus workers keep pretty good control of the chaos, and as a young Englishman noted with his charming accent, we got what we paid for, didn’t we?!)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Winter in Manhattan Odyssey Weekend Eight: Friday Evening

           “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
                                                                           St. Augustine
Photograph of McKim building and Madison Avenue entrance
The JP Morgan Library, phot from their website
 After the tour, I finally made my way to the JP Morgan Library (Madison and 36th Street).  It is free on Friday evenings from 7-9 pm.  I had read about a Shakespeare exhibit beign held.  It also has a tremendosu collection af art as well as the library.  I also found an interesting exhibit of art from a private collection belonging to a Fashion Designer.  The piece I found most interesting was by the Cuban photographer Abelardo Morrell.  (My family has a personal connection to him, so that was a treat.)
Image of Amazing Grace
John Newton's Amazing Grace, photo from the JP Morgan website
            I then wandered upstairs and saw an exhibit called "Diaries".  I initially walked away, but decided to turn around and go in.  I am so glad I did as it turned into another OMG experience.  There were diaries from a myriad of people from throughout history!  Albert Einsteins' mathematical musings done during his first trip to Japan.  Nathaniel Hawthorne, EB White, Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, a witness to the Boston Tea Party, and so many more.  Thrilling and remarkable!

William Shakespeare, photo from JP Morgan's website
          Finally down to see the Shakespeare exhibit.  It was focused on a "newly discovered" portrait that is believed to be one of the only ones done while William was alive, and that he may have actually sat for.  Oh, to listen to the pseudo Intellectuals spewing, was almost worth the price of admission! (0$ for that evening!)

            Completed by day with a quick stop at The Gingerman (right around the corner) tos chat with K and have a glass of the Frambois that I learned to love.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Winter in Manhattan Odyssey Weekend Eight: Friday

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

                  Another tough couple of weeks, stayed home last weekend, and looking forward to getting back to Manhattan as it seem spring may finally have sprung, so it will be nice to explore in warmer weather.  Got on Megabus late after work on Thursday.  These late night buses are kind of nice as they’re less crowded, and quiet as most people, myself included, tend to crash.  Got “home” and climbed into bed around 2:30 a.m.
                Alarm set for 8:30 as I had to be in Greenwich Village by 11:00 for a Foodie Tour of Brooklyn.  Except for walking across the bridge and having pizza at Grimaldi’s in DUMBO, I had not explored much of Brooklyn and wanted to.  I figured this would be a good taste of Brooklyn, literally and figuratively.  A nice group of people were already on the small bus when I arrived.  Isaac our Guide, and the driver quickly got us underway.  Isaac was a great host and guide having grown up in Brooklyn, he knew a lot of anecdotes and history.  I found this tour on , actually, so I got it for a great price (about half off!).  It’s given by the Fun Tours Company, and this tour was called “The Best of Brooklyn Multicultural Food Tour.”  claims that “a trip to Brooklyn is like a trip around the world”.  And, it set out to show us just what that meant. 
Yonah Schimmel's Knish Bakery
from Urban K
Our first stop was actually on the LES (Lower East Side) on Houston Street at one of the oldest Jewish knish places in the city, Yonah Schimmel (on E Houston between 2nd Ave and Chrystie St).  Wonderful.  (I felt pretty with it as I had found this place on my own years ago, and had bought knishes for breakfast on Wild Berry Traveling’s first and only private tour of New York City.  (A small company, Wild Berry Travelling!, I founded the year my Daughter, K, graduated from college to try and fulfill my dream of travel.  Alas, I never had the time to really make it work, and then the economy crashed anyway……I am still the go to for many friends and family when they do travel, especially to New York City.) 
Brooklyn Bridge Park from Michelle W
                After having our Jewish delicacies, we headed over the Williamsburgh Bridge into Brooklyn. We travelled along Bedford Avenue, the main thoroughfare in Brooklyn.  We drove through a Hassidic Jewish neighborhood, feeling like a step back in time.  We went into DUMBO (Down Under Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges) and meandered into Brooklyn Bridge Park.  And, we ended our Brooklyn journey at Sunset Park.  Tasting delicious foods and learning interesting tipdbits all day.  I never knew how large and varied Brooklyn is.  It was a great tasting tour in every way.
Sunset Park from Yin Y
             As always, I met and enjoyed many of the people on our tour.  In particular was a Lovely Lady ,who in a divorce many years ago ended up with her Children, and an apartment on the Upper East Side.  Upon hearing of my Odyssey, she asked if I would be interested in her apartment.  After renting her Pied a Terre for many years, she took the opportunity to keep it this past year, and “shared” it with two others.  She asked if I’d be interested in being part of that arrangement in the next year.  After much thought, I had to regretfully decline, as this Odyssey was an awesome, but very extravagant gift to myself.  Perhaps in the future…(I did stay in her place this past August for a weekend, though, to see K in a sing-through of a rock opera!)


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Winter in Manhattan Odyssey Weekend Seven: Sunday

        “Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” 
                                                               Francis Bacon

Woke up to expected rain, read for awhile, a bookclub book that is definitely speaking to me, “The Gift of an Ordinary Day” by Katrina Kension.  Then decided to head up to the Whitney Museum (on Madison Avenue @ 75th Street) for awhile.  Being a rainy Sunday meant I was not alone in that decision, but it was a nice couple of hours.  A special exhibit of Edward Hopper and his friends was great.  The MFA had a huge exhibit of his work a few years ago, but there many works at the Whitney (many actually at home at the Whitney) that I had not seen before, including a lovely piece of the Queensboro Bridge right next to “my” apartment!

Queensborough-Bridge - Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper's "Queensboro Bridge"
from Sarah K
Walked home, getting caught in a heavy rain shower, but it was mild temperature wise so kind of nice.  Grabbed my book from the apartment and went next door to the Bistro Vendome, again for a $25 prix fix brunch.  I had a nice glass of wine, potato leek soup, and mussels merniere.  Delicious.
As always, the weekends go far too quickly, so back in a cab to the DYAS bus at Grand Central for the ride to JFK, to wait for my delayed flight home.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Winter in Manhattan Odyssey Weekend Seven: Saturday

      "Of all the means to ensure happiness, by far the most important is friendship."  Epicurus

Met Photograher Friend in “our” lobby, and jumped in a cab together to the West Village.  She loves going to these gallery tours, and with Everyone’s crazily busy lives, often goes alone.  I was thrilled and delighted to join her as this was a “to do list” of mine, but it was daunting.  What made me feel good, and comfortable, was that even She feels it can be daunting and she’s an Artist.  Another wonderful afternoon and the weather was very co-operative as well.

Rafael Risemberg is a treat and his tour was amazing.   What is truly incredible is that Rafael started doing these for the love of it, and recently gave up a tenured teaching position at a New Jersey college to dedicate himself to this adventure full-time!  I keep meeting these amazingly brave people, perhaps it will eventually rub off on me?!  This particular tour was through the West Village and SoHo.  It was his first tour in the West Village.   (  212.946.1548 )

So much of Manhattan and its neighborhoods keep changing, much in direct correlation to the economy.  I can remember when SoHo became the haven for artists about 3o years ago due to its having decayed, but the spaces where open, and lent themselves beautifully to artists’ needs: cheap, big spaces with great light.  Then it became THE place.  Today on a Saturday afternoon it’s pretty tough to navigate the sidewalks with the crowds, locals and tourist alike, shopping.
With the shops, cafes, and tourists came the gentrification that forced Artists up to Chelsea, where there are around 300 galleries.  Unfortunately that neighborhood now is forcing many artists to the last bastion of “affordability” the Lower East Side.  So, actually, now it’s possible to find Galleries in neighborhoods all over Manhattan, which makes a gem like Raphael all the more valuable.
Being the extrovert that I am, I always end up chatting with People.  Our group this day was rather large, around 40 people.  But, before we started I had a lovely chat with a Canadian Woman who had just returned from working with an NGO in the Congo for three years.  She’s on a bit of a sabbatical until she settles into her next adventure.  My only regret is that I didn’t get her information, as she was truly interesting, and my thoughts are personally headed in that direction? (in dream shape at this point..)
             Another Lady I ended up chatting with a bit used to work w Tim Zagat and they’re the brainchildren behind “Restaurant Week”!  She now works for “Hillary”, in an Ambassador type program to make America friendly to the rest of the world.  I do have her info, and I will be getting in touch!

After the tour, Photographer Friend and I met up with her 16 year old Daughter for a bit of shopping and a bite to eat.  They’re both delightful and fun company!  Then we jumped in cab for the ride home.
Roomie was home when I got there with Partner, and the Teens were out and about.  We had a wonderful chat.   These are definitely erasing the business relationship and forging what I feel is a wonderful, deep friendship.  Ended up just hanging in for the evening, drinking Prosecco, eating crackers and cheese, and getting to know, and care for my New Friends more and more.  Great night.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Winter in Manhattan Odyssey Weekend Seven: Friday

    "Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for your where there were only walls."    
                                                            Joseph Campbell
                 Last couple of patients cancelled Thursday so I headed over to South Station to try and get on an earlier Megabus than the 9:30 one I was booked on.  I stopped by the desk to change my ticket and the young woman told me to just talk to the bus driver.  (I had missed buses in the past, and gotten on earlier..if there’s a seat, they’re usually very kind about it.)  Well, the 6 pm Bus Driver was not.  He denied three of us getting on early, there were seats available.  I was not pleased and shot off an email to MegaBus.  The 7pm Driver was kind, and let a few of us on who had booked later buses.  When I got “home” to NYC that night, I was grabbing a very late bite to eat, chatting with Roomie, and saw that MegaBus had responded to my email already.  I sent another thanking them, and commented on the courtesy and kindness of the second Driver.  They in turn thanked me for that and said it would be put into his file!  (MegaBus still continues to impress me.)
             Friday, woke up to sunshine, had coffee, showered, and decided to treat myself to a lovely lunch!  I had a lovely brisk walk across town, by the Park, to Central Park West.  I decided I deserved to check out Jean George (considered one of the best Chefs in the world).  His restaurant is located in the Trump Tower and Hotel. It amazes me that in the worst economy in our lifetime many very expensive places are flourishing.  The restaurant opened at 12:30pm.  I walked in through a gorgeous entry with vats of floating yellow chrysanthemums, to find the restaurant totally full.

 I made a reservation for an hour later and meandered over to the Time Warner Center, poked around some stores (bought some lovely Christmas gifts for the Girls!), and thoroughly enjoyed a Dali exhibit.  Not necessarily a fan usually, but these were large sculptures, and yes one of his big fat men was included…but included were some incredibly beautiful ones.  My favorite was a Dancer with her dress of two layers flowing.  I learned that Dali was a fan, and patient, and then friend of Freud, and a sculpture was included of his commemoration of their relationship.
Daytime @ Jean George from Stevie M.
Back to Jean Georges, and sat at the bar.  They offer a three course lunch for $30.  A deal in even a “regular” restaurant, and, I must say a bargain here.  The tuna tartare rivals my former favorite at the Modern at the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art), followed by slow cooked skate served over black beans, avocado, and a great sauce, and totally filling me up was blood orange pana cotta.  Wonderful.
Becoming an expert on my Iphone, I discovered a movie theatre close by on Broadway showing “The Fighter”, so off I went.  Another movie that Everybody said was excellent, and I must agree.  I always love seeing films based and filmed in Boston.  And, surprisingly, I have many connections to this movie, albeit a bit removed.  My Co-worker's cousin casted the Sisters and her close friend  is one of the producers!  One of the sisters is the Daughter in law of one of my Mom’s oldest friends.  Fun movie not so much, but moving, and excellent.
I had planned on heading to the Morgan Library and popping into the GIngerman to see K.  But, Roomie had texted me an invite to her Neighbor and Friends’ for dinner.  Not really hungry, but grateful for the thought, and the opportunity, I went.  Friend is a photographer who does a lot of NYC events, and celebrities (check out her website:,  and her Husband is an ad executive at Ladies Home Journal.  Very interesting, and enjoyable.  An hour or so after we came home, Friend called to invite me to a gallery tour tomorrow! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spa Day in Napa

"The world is full of people looking for spectacular happiness while they snub contentment."
                                                    Doug Larson
                The first, and only other time I had been in Napa was twenty-five years ago.  I had talked my Brother’s Girlfriend, now Wife, into coming to San Francisco with me to crash in his Hotel room.  He was there on business and always stayed in pretty special places.  It was quite amusing to see how frustrated he got with all our “girl stuff” making a mess of his room.  Apparently he had changed from when we were kids as he now liked his room just so!  We took one of those days and spent it in Napa, specifically Calistoga.  As this was well before the internet days, I don’t remember how I planned for that trip, but I knew I wanted to head here.
                We had a wonderful day, beginning with a spa morning at Dr Wilkerson’s, the first mud bath and spa in the area.  That was followed by a wonderful lunch and some wine touring.  As I was driving that day, and doing just a day trip from San Francisco, I had to be careful then as well.  I remember touring Berringer’s, the popular wine of the day, especially for its white zinfandels.  Yes, I was a fan.  Time and tastes do change!  That was followed by Sterling Vineyards, which today is considered one of the highlights of the Calistoga area.  It’s a treat as you take a tram up the hillside to get to it, and the architecture is beautiful.  Our finally vineyard that day was Menage a Trois.  It was tiny at the time run by a couple full-filing its dream (a familiar theme in Napa).  I see that wine often at home now, and the Vineyard looks to have tripled in size in those years.  That quick trip was precisely why I wanted to stay in Calistoga this time.
Indian Spring Spa, photo from their website
I decided to upscale my spa experience a bit.  Calistoga now has many spas to choose from.  Again, I relied on the Wine Way Inn website and chose one “out of the hat”.  I spent the better part of my last full day at Indian Springs Resort.  What a treat!  It was a nice walk through town from my Inn to get there, and it’s a lovely place.  Upon entering the Spa building, I immediately relaxed.  It smelled wonderful.  I checked in and was quickly brought to the locker room to change into a comfy robe. 
                I then was ushered into the mud bath room, took a quick warm shower to rinse off, whereupon I was guided into a bathtub full of hot mud.  The Attendant then covered my body totally with mud including cheeks and chin.  This is supposed to open pours and smooth skin.  It’s quite an interesting experience, was in there for 10-12 minutes, which was plenty.  Then, of course, a shower to get all the mud off, and into another warm mineral bath for about ten minutes.  I then spent some time in the very hot steam room.
Buddha Pool, from their website
                At that point I was brought to my own room and wrapped in warm blankets.  After a short rest, Marco Gonzales came to bring me to his massage room.  He gave me one of the best massages I have ever had.  He includes a wonderful massage of the face.  Following that, Marco led me into the garden that houses the Buddha Pool.  Relaxed there for a bit and then headed to the pool.  From their website:
Pool , from theri website:
                "A trip to Indian Springs is not complete without experiencing our Olympic-sized mineral pool. The pool is the heart and soul of Indian Springs. Built in 1913, the Mission Revival-style pool replaced the original 19th century "plunge."  The view from the pool is of the nearby mountains and steam rising from Indian Springs' geysers. The 230-degree geysers keep the mineral pool at 102 degrees in the winter and 92 degrees in the summer. The water's warmth adds a healing element to the bathing experience...soak, rest and then soak some more."
                I made one mistake that day.  I tried to do too much.  I didn’t go into the pool as I wanted to try to get to one more Vineyard, Frog’s Leap.  My younger Daughter had been camp counselor to the owner’s daughter at Skylake @ Yosemite Camp  one of her college summers.  And, two patients recommended it the week before my trip.  Alas, too much to do in too little time. Next visit.
Vermeill Tasting Room. from their website
                Instead, on the walk home to my Inn, I stopped into a couple of tasting rooms right in Calistoga.  Dick Vermeill, a famous football coach, has Vermeill Vineyards with lovely tasting room with lots of memorabilia from his football days.  Was given a free tasting by a nice young lady, and the wines were quite good.   And, I also went into August Briggs (love their label, real wine connoisseurs hate to hear this, but that is often how I buy wine at home!), where I enjoyed some time with yet another nice Lady, and tasted some more great wines.  Their $5 tasting fee is waived if you buy wine.
Bar @ Barolo where I ate, from their website

                After some time back at the Wine Way Inn reading, writing, and relaxing (in the afternoons Inn Guests are invited to have some lovely Cabernet that the wine has produced for itself), I meandered downtown again for dinner.  I was tempted to eat at Jole again, but the chicken at Barolo was highly recommended, so I went there.  It was delicious, almost embarrassed myself as I ate every possible nugget, and wanted to gnaw on the bones, but I didn’t.  Both Jole and Barolo are located in the Mount View Hotel.

(All the quotes from my Napa trip I found on stones in the grass along the walkway of the Indian Springs Spa and Resort. I totally missed them on the way in, but noticed, and took the time to read and write them down on the way out!...Interesting..)
                       Tomorrow I will have my last amazing breakfast and head out to Truckee, in the Lake Tahoe area, to visit my Sister’s family.  Excited to see the Munchkins, and my Sister and Brother in Law! and go to a seven year old’s baseball game!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Napa Day 3

"Good friends, good books, sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."  Mark Twain

ParallelA very good friend of my younger Daughter’s from U. Mass followed her dream and moved to Napa Valley two years ago.  We made plans to meet at the Caves of the Vineyard she works for, Parallel Wines.  This is the lovechild of a group of friends from Utah who are passionate about wines and skiing, hence the name.  One couple retired to St Helena and convinced their friends to come onboard. 
Interestingly enough, one of the couples I have shared a couple of breakfasts with at the Wine Way Inn are part of a similar adventure with a Vineyard in Oregon that produces Pinot Noirs, Carabella Wines. (I will be looking for them at home.)  Judy explained to me that their friend explained at the beginning of this adventure that the way to go into such venture is to look at it as recreation, not investment.
Learning a lot about wine-making in Napa, since Parallel Wines is so small they are part of a consortium of sorts storing their barrels with Hunnecut  in Rutherford, a company that works with small vineyards. Phillipe Melka, one of the leading wine-makers in the Valley works with and guides them.  So many smaller industries contributing together to give us fine wines.  Ingenious.  Lindsay treated me to lovely private tasting of their great Chardonnay and Cabernet (Napa is most famous for these).  I decided to joined my first wine club with Parallel Wines!
Market, from their website
Tuna Carpachio @ Market
After our tasting we meandered over to St Helena to have lunch at a marvelous restaurant, Market.  Of course, being in Napa, we had to have some wonderful wine!  One of Lindsay’s favorite is from Schramberg’s, a light, crisp sparkling white.  It was delicious.  Lindsay’s first wine club membership was with Schramberg’s.  It was a long, leisurely lunch with wonderful wine, food, conversation, and friendship.  This is the reason this lovely young Lady fell in love with the whole culture around wine.  And she followed that dream!  Inspiring.
Sole with capers, green beens, over whipped potatoes
Brannon's, from their website
 Later, I poked around the shops of St Helena.  Then went “home” and relaxed and did some reading on the patio.  Lindsay and I met again later that evening for some dinner together in Calistoga.  We shared a lovely evening at Brannon’s sharing the scallop appetizer and loving our filet of sole entrees.  Lindsay brought a great bottle of Cabernet from her private collection.  In Napa Valley it is encouraged to bring your own wines from explorations.  Most restaurants do charge a corkage fee, but many Vineyards and restaurants have agreements where the fee is waived.
At the end of a really nice day, we both walked our separate ways home along the very quiet streets of Calistoga.  Thanks again, Lindsay!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Napa Day 2

 "The grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to                                             love, and something to hope for."   Joseph Addison

Photo courtesy of theri website
                 In preparation for this trip (isn’t that almost as fun as the trip itself?!), it was a real treat that the Wine Way Inn had recommendations on their website for “activities”.  So, with their recommendation I booked a day with a chauffeur! with Beau Wine Tours(  Traveling alone is limiting in how much tasting you can do, so this was a way to be able to not worry about the driving, spend some time with other like minded people wanting to enjoy wine, and having somebody else make the decisions as to where to go!  Again, where to start with all the choices?  So it’s nice to have someone in the know guide you…and truth be told, I’m loving more and more when someone else makes decisions for me…)
Private Wine Tours of Napa Valley & Sonoma
Beau Wine Tours, from their website
            On Sunday night, Tom Paynter, “my” chauffeur called to tell me what time he’d pick me up and apolgize that he may be a bit late.  I assured him that was not an issue, on vacation with no time clock.  Isn’t that often the most wonderful part of vacation?  He also asked where I had already been so as not repeat any experiences.
When he arrived with the stretch limo I had a good little giggle.  Finally, my Chauffeur was driving me in the manner in which I should have been accustomed.  Besides checking out the limos, and “chatting” with the chauffeurs of my Daughters’ limos all those times in High School, I’ve been driven in a limo once, for my Dad’s funeral… So, to get into the stretch limo and have a lovely young Man pop a bottle of California champagne was surreal and wonderful!
Spring mustard season...
Spring mustard season, from their website
I spent the day with two lovely couples, aforementioned young man and his girlfriend who are college sweethearts, went to law school together at Columbia, and now practice and live in Midtown Manhattan.  The other couple was from Germany, here on Holiday.  They live near the German/French/Luxembourg border and work in banking in Luxembourg.  (Okay so most of the people who know me know my love for NYC, did you know that Germany is another of my favorite places?  Had the very fortunate opportunity to spend quite a bit of time there in my early adult life as my not so Gentleman Officer and Fighter Pilot flew there often.)  Interesting coincidences in life..or as an interesting Lady once said to me: “There are no coincidences, my Dear.”
Phot courtesy of theri website
2009 Chardonnay, Napa Valley
From theri website
Our first stop was Zahtila Vineyards, owned and operated by a woman named Laura.  So,obviously, I was going to love this place.  Carmen Meyer Tuerke, our tasting guide, or Agent of Hospitality as her card says, was lots of fun, and knowledgeable.  She shared with us Laura’s awesome story.  I am finding that pretty much Everyone has an awesome story, if you’re lucky enough for them to share it, and if you listen.  I came away with a bottle of their port style wine.  I love port, who knew California was making these?  Although like Champagne, if they’re not from Portugal, they can’t be called port.  They’re dessert wines, which often get a bad rap, or port-style.
Dutch Henry Winery stop was Dutch Henry Winery where another English Chap was our guide.  At both Vineyards so far we were greated by very friendly mascots,Puppies!  I’m missing my Callie. I came away with a nice red blend of theirs called Argos.
View from Rutherford Hill Vineyard
At this point Tom decided it was time for food.  Up a hill we went and pulled into Rutherford Hill Vineyard (I do believe I’ve seen them at home, perhaps even had some.)  Because they’re on a hill, the view was magnificent, the day was sublime, and Tom produced an awesome picnic lunch from the trunk of our chariot.  It doesn’t get much better than this, as my Auntie would say!
After lunch we went into the Rutherford Hill Vineyard tasting room where I hate to say it, the very lovely Lady who was our “Guide” for that tasting should be working in a very uspcale Ladies’ Boutique (ala the one in “Pretty Woman” where Julia Roberts goes cleaned up after been kicked out the day before and utters one of my Daughter’s most favorite movie lines: “I was in here yesterday.  You work on commission, right?  Mistake, BIG Mistake.”  And walks out with her bags and hair to meander up Rodeo Drive..)  No sales made by her to us.
View from Rombaeur Vineyard
Moose Rombauer
Photo from their website
Finally, Tom took us to Rombauer Vineyards which has another stunning view, and was friendlier.  They even gave you the glass to take!  They’re famous for their chardonnays, but I bought their Zinfandel, learning to appreciate reds more.  Will have quite the party this weekend with my Sister and Brother in Law, and leave them with some gifts!  
It was a truly enjoyable, and fun day.  Although truth be told, I was a bit wined out! (Hard to believe, isn’t it?!)  For dinner, I went downtown to the Calistoga Inn for a very nice spring risotto, and yes glass of sauvignon blanc..  When in Rome, or Napa..
 Most, if not all, Vineyards now charge a tasting fee.  There are deals, 2 for 1’s etc., understandable, especially due to the economy and the popularity of Napa.  We’re all spoiled now as there are so many ways to get inexpensive wine at home.  Trader Joe’s, the NH Liquor stores, and Bin Ends are my personal favorites.  Buying direct from the Vineyards is not cheap, but they promise a better wine…