Homemade Pasta

Friday, July 31, 2009

Primo and Prima came over Friday night. We had a fabulous double-date night at our house watching Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - Cradle of Life and making homemade pasta. Yummers!

On the counter, he added flour, semolina flour, and eggs.
It was in the middle of this that I asked him if I could use a mixer to combine ingredients. He was like, um...yeah, but with a dough hook. So I took out my mixer and showed him and he rolled his eyes. I guess he didn't know I had a dough hook. LOL! He added a tad bit of water during this process.

Next, knead the dough. This was tough. Both Primo and Don took turns kneading the dough.
Does it smell right? Yes, yes, it's right.
Wrap up the dough in plastic and let it set in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Time for a wine break. In my case, time to give the babe a bath. It was then that they did the preliminary rolling.

Bathtime over, and the rolling of the pasta had begun. At this point, we realized that a young Gerard Butler was in the movie with Angelina Jolie!
Mari got in on the rolling action as well!

Much, much rolling later, and I understood why you need more than one person to make pasta. That tray of fettucini was looking divine.

Oh, and did I fail to mention that Primo was making two kinds of sauces on the stove: Marinara and Vodka sauce. DIVINE! (it was at this point that we discovered that more expensive canned tomatoes was worth the extra money. Mari's palate agreed!)

After the pasta was cooked, we loaded up the bowls to enjoy the fruits of our labor (after giving thanks to God, of course). And in case there was any doubt if any one liked it, I had 2 bowls, Mari ate 4, and both Stacy and I were eating the sauce like soup with the french bread. Not a lo-cal meal by any means, but boy did it satisfy the soul!

Napa Vacation - Day 3, mostly

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tiny sunbeams peeked through the curtains, taunting us from our slumber. The near distant hills serenading us like mermaids, calling us to their delicious grape fields. We had lofty plans of waking early to get in a swim workout, but no one wanted to pull from sleep.

My phone started chirping and it was my daily morning photo of Mari. She was already dressed and out and about for the day. She was spending time with her Nina and Nana and looked like she was having a ball. I stretched and my belly was still happy from last night's gluttony. Primo had said that he wanted to be out earlier today because it was going to be our most aggressive day. Also, today was hat day. I didn't bring a hat because I don't really have one. Instead, I packed my tiara. When I bought it for the wedding, I hoped that I would get to wear it more than just that day, and I have worn it about a dozen times already. Fun! Fun! Anyway, I lazily got out of bed, leisurely went down to eat some breakfast, and after getting gas, we were off and away.

Again, it was chilly in the morning, but we knew it would warm up. First stop was Silver Oak. It was a beautiful drive out there. I love how the morning greets the day, fresh and new. Again, I was taken by the scenery to want to do anything but zone out and drive. Gorgeous! We arrive and the large wooden doors seem a little daunting, and the dark, mood lighting in the winery makes for an intimate setting. But the smile from the lady pouring the wine was so welcoming and all of the sudden, the setting changes. We were giddy and we knew that today was going to be a SPECIAL day.
I love how the wines are smiling at us, really detailing how rich and full-bodied Silver Oak really is. I've had it before we came here and wasn't disappointed. I was expecting pretension and waht I got was far from. I was definitely pleasantly surprised by the experience. And moments later, we were off.

Next up, we went into the hills of the valley and when I thought we might've been lost, wondering, where ARE we going, when we arrived: Joseph Phelps Winery. Captivating and mesmerizing can't begin to describe the beauty of this place. I had tingles when we turned the corner and saw this. Could you imagine if that was your backyard? Seriously, gorgeous. I immediately fell in love and the light in the area was gorgeous. The tasting was held outside on the terrace and I spent all of time snapping photos. These pics are SOOC, no edits whatsoever.
Mmm...these were all of the wines that we tasted. I liked the dessert wine, because it was sweet, but it was one of the other more full-bodied wines, the $200 a bottle Insignia, that I preferred. No, we didn't buy one. We were perfectly happy with the taste.
Next up, was Mumm Napa. I was starting to get a bit of a headache because hunger was kicking in. This was a sparkling wine spot and on the outside, it looked like there might've been food. We were seated and immediately, they gave us crackers. I hoped they gave us fruit and cheese, but that was for a separate tasting area, so the crackers would do. We were connected with one of the friendliest women we would see during our trip. She was like an old fashioned southern woman, oozing gobs and gobs of hospitality. Delilah generously poured us our tastings and then hooked us up with a few extras. AND she gifted Stacy and I with a fun wine bracelet straight off their DVX bottle (which we were able to taste both the 2000 and 2001 variety.
I took a short break, to visit the ladies room, but then found myself in their fine art gallery. I saw some wonderful photography completely shot on film and that is what inspired me to do this post with all shots SOOC (straight out of the camera). Sidenote: The first one of me, the self-portrait, is cropped and the coloring is adjusted, but all of the rest are. Anyway, I browsed their entire gallery alone and it was so cathartic for me. This trip was definitely allowing me the most time to myself that I have had in nearly a year and a half. I did a lot of thinking, a lot of praying, a lot of assessing, and giving thanks for my blessings. The whole experience yanked on my creative strings and I scurried back after my sojourn to really enjoy the rest of the day. They had an amazing sale and while there, I picked up a shirt for both Mari and Me. Oh, and I fell in love with Ansel Adam's Moonrise.

Next, we headed back in town to Beaulieu. As soon as you walked in, they handed a glass of wine to you and directed you over towards the tasting area. I didn't want to participate in this tasting, so I wandered off and snapped some photos.
Of course, the boys didn't pass up the opportunity to partake. Yes, it was a quick stop, but why not, right? At least that's what Carlos thought.
I did like how all of the labels from the wine made an interesting pattern on the wall. The angles made me think of waves.
Again, we were there for only 15 minutes, when we headed back to V. Sattui for a picnic lunch. I was not in the mood to snap photos because I was zoned in, focused on my meal. I had to wait in line for about 10 minutes, bypassing the extra 25 it should've taken me, thanks to a gracious woman who gave me her number in line because she was leaving. Hello, out there, thank you!! I ordered 3 different kinds of sandwiches, roasted garlic, some ravioli, and garlic mushrooms. After I had my order, I went outside and met up with the group on the picnic table. We all shared the food. Some dove into their cheeses, others bought some pate to share, and still others had some amazing olives, and brie. MMMmmm...we were sufficiently full and headed on out.

We drove all the way out to Rutherford, but because they were having a special event (a wedding, I think) we were unable to enjoy a tasting. We did grab this nifty shot of a very patriotic cow, though.
Instead, we decided to stop at the Mondavi Family's Charles Krug based on the recommendation of my co-worker. It was really quaint and I was excited to witness an artistic create a water color on the fly. It was nice. So I finally wander in and keep walking to check out the area. When I walk back near the area of where the family was, I slapped the guy in the red shirt on the arm with my floral linen scarf. (Thanks Gen! Loved my scarf and used it a lot!!) I looked up and was horrified. He shot me an incredulous look. I was completely embarrassed. There I stood, stuttering and harried, I-I-I-I'm so, so sorry and scuttled away. I thought he was my primo because he too, was wearing a red shirt today. Clearly, I was tired and not thinking. Dangit. Oh well, I was bound to make an ass out of myself on this trip and I was only too grateful that I didn't trip and pitch a wine glass towards a wall of expensive bottles that we'd have to buy.

While here, I got my first glimpse of an aerator. Doesn't it make that look even tastier than normal? I think so.

And here is where this post ends. The next post is a journey all its own, because after all, it was magical, ethereal, and if I would've enjoyed a fresh cappuccino, it very nearly well would have been heaven on Earth (minus my little one, of course). Seriously, it was like walking into a story book from my childhood. Don't believe me? Well, here's a taste...
This was just the beginning of our journey.

Napa Vacation - Day 2B

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Last I left you, we were headed towards Cuvaison for a private appointment tasting. They had another group coming in an hour, so we would have to rush our tasting. Everyone had their individual tasting and we sat in the very open and airy Carneros tasting room. Had we not had a story, the experience would've been very different. I really wanted to learn more about their sustainable winegrowing practices, but as it was, I sat their doing my best to pretend I was Oprah-rich. Unfortunately, even if I were Oprah-rich, I doubt I'd be a snob. I would walk in like Paula Deen, welcoming everyone regardless of their place.

As the story went, no one could speak, except for Simon. No one was to address Mr. Sias directly, all questions/comments went to Simon, then on to Mr. Sias. That is, except Contessa Bianca. It was VERY difficult to keep everyone quiet and not snickering when our hostess would leave the room. My "brother" and his wife did an excellent job and playing like they didn't understand any bit of English. I grew quickly bored of the scheme and went out to capture the beauty of the place.
Lush, lush fields of grapes, snaking along the hills in a symmetrical pattern. Everything was so colorful and vibrant, it was hard to believe it was real. The air was so clean and refreshing. I didn't know how much of a change of pace I needed until I was situated in this very spot. It was so quiet and for a long, long, long time, I was COMPLETELY and totally alone, consumed with just my thoughts and the occasional CLICK-CLICK-CLICK of my camera.

I was about to feel bad about our little trick when I realized that she didn't at all take into consideration my suggestion about there not being any paper towels in their uber-modern bathrooms. Not even a cloth handtowel! Yikes. I also learned that she overcharged us for our tastings, and then when we corrected her, she "refunded" the money, and ran the proper amount. Only, she didn't refund the money, she charged that original amount AGAIN, as well as the correct rate. Unfortunately, we didn't discover that until after we'd returned back to the hotel.

Next stop, Domaine Carneros. This was another sparkling wine place and I was completely unimpressed with the taste. I was, however, impressed with their spacious, mediterranean villa style property. Lavish was an understatement. This place was Michael Jackson over-the-top. With the old ornate details, ridiculous steps to the top, and the over all decor. However, the staff was extremely friendly and their views of the valley were captivating. In the distance there were these fake sheep. I HAD to have a photo of them and I must point out the little black sheep too. I like this photo not because it has the sheep, but also because the the palm tree and pond. It is like a perfect oasis amid of vast sea of vineyards.
Just before heading up, I guess I was also a bit peeved they they wouldn't let us lunch on their patio. I later discovered it was because they also served food, but still. We eventually had our picnic at the bottom of the steps and it was still delicious. Loved the jalapeno cheese and I tasted blue cheese filled olives for the first time. They were pretty good. Oh, and it here that I first discovered Napa Valley Soap. A friend of mine had told me about it and upon sight, I was giddy at the connection with back home. I enjoyed the smell of the citrus pomegranate scent I chose. I didn't see it again and there's a tiny bit of me kicking myself that I didn't buy it. Lucky for me, though, Don surprised me with one of their soap bars. It smells delightful!

Afterwards, we hit up Trefethen. These wines were delicious. I very much enjoyed this chair they had inside. It was like your grandmother's arms, embracing every bit of you comfortably and wholly. They had this courtyard that had taken a page right out of the secret garden. It was full of lemon, lime, and orange trees, lots of flowers, and of course a big tree with a vine-like tree enwraptured on the outside of the big tree, like they were doing a newlywed dance. This spot allowed for different bits of sunlight to peek through the leaves and formed these awesome shade patterns on the ground. Again, I was alone for a bit, playing with my camera and I even paused for a self-portrait. I went back inside to wash my hands when I had a Lucille Bond moment. There were all of these bubbles in the sink and I couldn't get them to go away. The sink kept filling and filling up. I started scooping them into the trash can after I turned off the water. When they had faded about halfway, I gave up and walked out.
We then headed back to the main road and made a quick stop at Sutter Home. Their tasting room was similar to all of the other rooms we'd been to with one exception. All of their ceiling fans revolved on the one moter. They were connected with a series of conveyor belts that turned each fan simulataneously. It wasn't like witnessing an amazing 4th of July fireworks show, but it was still pretty cool. Much better than a plain card trick, that's for sure. Here is where I was able to pick up 4 fairly decent bottles of wine for my mom on her budget. They don't carry this variety in the store and they were going to make great gifts for her friends.
Next on the agenda, we hit up Hall just before dinner. We were their last tasting of the day and we'd made it just before they closed. This was a neat visit, because Stacy's maiden name is Hall and she was able to get some gifts for her family here, with their last name all over it. Pretty cool! Just a few people took part in the tasting. The rest of us were starting to feel a bit wiped out and sun-shocked.

We loaded up the car and went across the street to V. Sattui. I wasn't expecting us to do a tasting here. Ithought we were done for the day, but since they were open, we squeezed in another. I browsed their market area, salivating over the pastries and deli delights. I bought a couple of eclairs, some carrot cake, and roasted garlic. I was going to snap some quick photos, then sit and enjoy them while the group finished up. Well, I ended up being mesmerized by all that was going on that I spent more time taking photos then I did eating my food (which I didn't eat until the end of the next day and it wasn't so great by then). There were quite a few people visiting, but it wasn't too much out of my comfort zone. I liked how then had picnic tables sprinkled throughout their property and it didn't seem like they were short of a resting spot for anyone who wanted it. I was told the wines were pretty good, and I was hoping my eclair was delicious. Brother, I actually found a shot glass here, so I got it for you. :)
I love how they made use of everything. Old wine barrels were turned into chairs and tables. They also had places for recycling. I especially appreciated this because they generated their own trash by having a market available for the picnic crowd. This not only kept their grounds clean, but was good for the environment. I wish I would've gotten pics of the cases and cases of empty wine bottles. I did get pictures of a whole lot of other things, including this adorable couple celebrating our birthday. This is one of my most favorite pics that I took of them.
Of course, there has to be farming equipment in a winery. I couldn't help but love that bright yellow tractor a few steps away from me. It smiled at me as I took the photo. Isn't it fun how all of the colors in this photo get along?
We finally headed on over to dinner. We made a last minute decision on the drive over as to what we were going to have: Italian. YUM! To say this place was delicious is a generic statement kinda like saying that the pope wears red shoes. Duh! This was a meal that I'd been wanting all day long. No, I must say, this is the kind of pasta that I've been wanting to eat in months, since the last time I'd gone to eat at Mi Piaci. I crave that kind of fresh, homemade pasta so much that if I had to eat it everyday for a year, I'd be the first to sign up for it and ask if I had to eat it for another 5 years too because it was that good. I'd first tasted pasta that scrumptious back when I happened upon it in Rome. SQUISITO! So where did we go for our meal? Bistro Don Giovanni. The pizza I had was ok. Nothing to brag home about. It was filling and good, but I wanted more. When I tasted bits of everyone else's dish, I ordered fettucine with red sauce to go. I was going to be a piggy later on in the hotel room and gobble it up (indeed I did, sharing an itty, bitty bite with my beloved. Sorry it wasn't more, babe! I was being selfish and gluttonous.) THEN, as if that wasn't just simply amazing, we enjoyed this dessert bostini trifle that has me inisisting to Primo that he learn this immediately!! I'd lost all sense of politeness with this dish. I dug my fingers deep into the glass, caramel halfway up my arm, covering my wrist, chocolate coloring my knuckles. I'm certain it was all over my face, kinda like when Mari eats chocolate. OMG...It was like I took a bath in that dessert. To top it all off, it was a community dessert and some how I was lucky enough to be the one who got to "lick the bowl." HAPPY DANCE!

Vanilla Custard, Chocolate Cake
Clear Caramel, Toasted Almonds
Whipped Cream 7.50

Seriously, I'm wishing we had some RIGHTNOW. Primo, can you hear me? RIGHTNOW! ;) This trip is a trip of indulgence in every form. Sight, sound, smell, touch, and especially taste. I've fallen in love with my husband all over again, as if that were even possible, but it was, and is. Ahhh...bliss.

With that, good night everyone. Day 3 was a doozy. It too will be divided into two parts, with a very special section highlighting an incredibly amazing winery all it's own.

Napa Vacation - Day 2A

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Like I said, we awoke at 6:30 Napa time (8:30 in our world), so me, Don, and Ada got up and headed to the little gym in the hotel. It had two tired treadmills, a stationary bike, an elliptical machine, an exercise ball, and one wall lined with mirrors. I busted out a quick mile, then did four minutes alternating 20 air squats and 10 pushups. Man it was tough! After we built up our appetite, we grabbed our towels and headed to the dining lounge area.

We loaded up on breakfast sandwiches, waffles, bananas, mini omelettes, yogurt, and juice. Yummy! Then, we headed back to the room and cleaned up for the day. I wanted to be comfortable and mostly warm. I opted for my long black cotton dress with flip flops. Ada let me borrow a necklace that went perfectly and that's when I remembered the turquoise necklace I wanted to pack was in my workout bag at the bottom and that's why I couldn't find it. ha ha! We grabbed some fruit and went on our way.

First stop, Artesa. They told me that This place was beautiful and had breathtaking views. Wow! No seriously, it was incredibly breathtaking. The sun was fully awake, gently kissing every peak and valley. The green and blue so vibrant, it was like tasting every juicy bit of summer. The clouds lazily lingered in the distance, so plush, providing the perfect backdrop to our day. We had to walk up a hill and immediately, you notice this sharp sculpture in the middle of a calm and serene pool.

Then, there was this artistic and non-threatening fountain to our left. The angles sharp, yet the water inviting. It made you want to dance in the waters, bathing in the beauty of the day. It was hard to believe this was the first stop. It could only get better, right? We had several more stops along the way and before I go further, I'm warning you that this post will probably be broken up into more than one part because it was a jam packed day!
Anyway, we went inside and split a tasting. It was so pretty inside that I felt like we were in a modern art museum, not a winery. On their veranda, there were even more breath taking views! After wandering around, we'd come back in and enjoy another wine in the tasting set.
I really enjoyed the full flavor of the Muscat (a dessert wine), so we made our purchase and headed to the ladies room before the next spot. The room was decorated so nice and I got a fantastic photo of Babs!
Anyway, we headed out to the next spot: Nicholson Ranch. This smaller winery was decorated with a heavy dose of Tuscan flavor and a small pinch of Greco-Roman flair in the distance. Why? Because immediately adjacent to the winery was a patch of land with columns and statues and of course, there were some horses posing amidst them. It cracked me up, it was so awesome! Because right?...horses and columns go in a vineyard...only in Napa Valley. :D
We were getting a bit hungry and the bananas and apples weren't satiating our need to snack. While at Nicholson Ranch, we munched on some cheese sticks and then we realized that we wanted some cheese. So we headed into Sonoma for Vella Cheese Factory. Yummy!! We bought some jalapeno jack and toma cheese. (the only place in the world it is made!) It was fabulous. That jalapeno was just the spice I wanted!! Sidenote: I REALLY wanted jalapenos with my eggs during breakfast, but all they had was this jalapeno-like sauce. It was ok, but I really wanted a pepper. I was ecstatic that we found this cheese.

We left Vella Cheese and headed even further into the heart of Sonoma. While there, we visited the square and a little market. I was impressed that they had this refrigerated case filled with dozens of cheese samples. It was cheesy, cheese galore! I was giddly like I was 5 again, hopped up on the excitement of cheese. I don't know about you, but I LOVED cheese as a kid and one day my body said, no more lactose. Well, lately, I've been able to eat cheese to my hearts content and while I felt like I was taking a big risk, it was one I was ready for. Armed with my lactaid and other medicines in case of emergency. From this market's grill, I ordered some steak tacos. I was hoping they'd sorta emulate tacos from a taco stand. You know what, they were ok. Nothing to brag about, but it was a fitting lunch. The salsa had absolutely no kick and again, I was disappointed by the lack of heat. Oh well, we'd soon dive into our jalapeno cheese, so I could wait.
After that stop, we headed on over to Domaine Carneros, but when we turned in, we were intrigued by Cuvaison. It said tastings by private appointment only. So Primo called the number and threw on a fake British accent, claiming to be Sybil, Mr. Sias'(the real estate mogul from Texas) assistant. Could they possibly squeeze in his entourage of 11 that day because Mr. Sias would like to make a visit? They could fit us in if we got there in the next 15 minutes. SCORE!

The backstory: Mr. Sias was on holiday with his wife, Contessa Bianca. Accompanying them was her family...the Duke, her father, the Count, her brother with is wife Amanda (all who only spoke Spanish), her personal assistant and best friend, Miss Merryweather, Simon his assistant, Danika, the assistant's assistant acting as a translator for the family, the personal trainer Guy LeBeaux, and Claire the court jester.

With that, I'll leave you for the night so you can wonder more about our crazy adventure there.

Napa Vacation - Day 1

We welcomed the day with anxious excitement. Neither Don, nor I had ever been to that part of our country and we were excited to mark it off our list of places to see. Unsure of what to expect, we blindly packed the night before, guessing what to bring. At the last minute, I'd packed my newly purchased green hoodie (thanks Banana for the discounts! It's EXACTLY what I wanted for my birthday!!) and I was so thankful that I had. Immediately when we stepped out of San Francisco airport, I felt the bay winds. brrrrr...chilly dog!

The flight over was ok, but I was disappointed that there wasn't an in-flight movie. Oh well. We hit the ground running, immediately heading over to In-and-Out Burger for lunch. We had our burgers loaded and enjoyed the fries. The strawberry shake was your standard pre-mixed fare, I was unimpressed, but happy that we were able to eat something native to Cali. Anyway, off we headed towards Napa when the other car in our caravan signaled to us to let us know that they had to turn around to go back to In-and-Out to retrieve a rogue cellphone. While we waited for their round-trip, we had an impromptu photo session less than a mile from Candlestick Park. Since the Giants no longer play there, I didn't lament too much to not have the opportunity to catch a game, especially since they were on the road during our stay.
Anyway, when they returned, off we set on our journey. I wanted to read more of my book, but the scenery was too incredible, distracting me from her captivating words. I was especially excited when we passed over the C&H Pure Cane Sugar factory when we were going over one of the tolled bridges. MMMmmm...I love C&H and I fondly remember that was one of the brands that my mom used religiously as a baked good staple.

Then, there was this giant sculpture of a worker turning an old fashioned grape crusher (I'm certain there's a more specific name, but I don't know what it is) to welcome us to the Valley. It was quite lovely.
Then, we came upon a stop sign and encountered one of the most random trucks I've ever seen in my life. Yes folks, that's a giant piece of wood (or what remains of it) being used as a bumper.
First stop, Domaine Chandon. This was a sparkling wine place and the tasting included 4 different types to try. Since Primo is a member of their wine club, we were able to sit in the VIP section and really take in the luscious landscape. I'd wandered over to Etoile to check out their menu since we were going to be dining there on Thursday.

After some silliness, we left and headed over to St. Supery since it had been suggested to us by a friend of a friend. While we left unimpressed with their wines, we all seemed to enjoy their self-guided tour. (The only winery tour we would take during our stay.) They had these neat contraptions that when you pushed in, it would open a chamber that housed a specific smell that they used in their wines. I was especially taken back by fresh mowed hay. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. We passed on purchasing a bottle of wine, but I did pick up a really cute (and soft!) t-shirt for Mari.

There, we parted ways. Half of us were headed to Oakland, the rest to visit Peju, then check into our hotel. The drive to Oakland wasn't bad. I was INCREDIBLY surprised with the weather. I was wearing a 3/4 sleeved flowy top with shorts and flip-flops. I was very happy that we didn't load up our luggage with the other group because I was c-o-l-d! I was loving every minute of it, but I was just not prepared. Luckily, I threw on my jeans, sneakers, and hoodie. I wrapped my linen scarf (Thanks Gen!) around my neck and head and shoved my cold hands into my pockets. We walked up to the ticket counter and paid our $9 for the most inexpensive seats they had to offer. They didn't have any coupons or discounts and instantly I missed my Rangers. They ALWAYS have some sort of special going on. And if you are really lucky, there's usually a fan w/ extra tickets so you just need to get in the gate. We didn't have any luck in that department. No worries, though, I was going to be able to scratch off another stadium from my list. We walked in and I immediately recognized this cement slab as a football stadium, not a baseball stadium. Hmmm...I disregarded it, especially when we were passing the concessions. Each one themed after the beer they carried, and boy were there many types of beer to choose from, not just Coors or Bud. However, the food was EXTREMELY disappointing. My fish and chips were burned, and when I requested some that hadn't been sitting out for a while, the guy shot me a disdainful look and I immediately regretted my food decision. I should've stuck with typical stadium food of brats or dogs. *sigh* After walking around most of the stadium, we just threw up our arms and settled on a random section to sit in. It was off the 3rd base line, closer to left field than the infield. Well, no sooner were we taking a bite into our nibbles when one of the workers demanded to see our tickets. She explained we were in the wrong section and said we better get to our seats and if they caught us again, we'd be thrown out. HMPF. Two things: 1. EVERYONE in that section was kicked out. 2. That section remained TOTALLY empty the entire time we were there. Heck, most of the stadium was empty and I felt really bad for the players. No wonder the A's are in last place. Seems to me that they do have some die hard fans, but they certainly don't know how to welcome them with open arms to their park, nor do they treat them right. Yes, we paid for a cheaper ticket to the game, but with the amount we dropped on parking and concessions, well, let's just say that I didn't feel bad for squatting in a seat that wasn't being used at all. What a waste! We left at the top of the 5th and those of you who know me know that's saying something. I have no desire to return to that stadium ever again. Oh, and the other good thing about it was that Ada acquired a souvenir cup, but more on that towards the end of our adventure.

After the game, we headed to the hotel and settled in comfortably for the night. We laid out our clothes and set our alarms for an early morning workout before heading out for more tastings. Plus, we didn't want to miss the free breakfast, which was actually quite tasty for being a free quick breakfast.

Day 2 was even more delightful than the first one and I had enough distractions that I only welled up once at the thought of Mari. But I knew she was having a ball spending time with her Nana, so then I was better.

A Dream Realized

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday, I awoke to my usual old bones, but was grateful for yet another day to celebrate life. Then, I realized that today was going to be an extra special day because I was going to witness a bonafide dream come true.

Just over a year ago, Primo walked into Le Cordon Bleu just for some information. At that point in time, he'd been here for a few months and realized that life was too short to live in wonderment and regret. That day changed his life forever.

He graduated at the top of his class, and to know him, this isn't a surprise. What is remarkable is that smile and laugh of his is bigger, bolder, and glows with every ounce of his being.
He was chosen to deliver the commencement address and the point of his speech was passion. Since I've known this guy, which has been quite a long, long time, he's LOVED to cook. When I picture our childhood, I see him cemented in the kitchen. I remember being amazed that he knew how to make enchiladas that melted in our mouth and we weren't yet teenagers. The food he cooks for me now is still every bit as good and satisfying. If you watch him cook, you can see that passion. If you have the privilege of eating a meal prepared by him, you will taste that passion. Long after you finish the dessert, you will hear the passion while conversing over a wonderful vino.

Cheers to you primo! Looking forward to celebrating in Napa!

*By the way, this is hands down my most favorite picture I've ever taken. It was completely accidental. I was screaming his name while he was exiting, camera ready, prepared to snap. He turned his head for a second and I snapped two pics. This was the 2nd one and I love how it turned out!
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