One would think that after the experiences of The French Laundry and Jordan Winery the rest of the trip would, by necessity, head down hill but that was not the case. We had a tour of the Von Strasser Winery, which a friend had suggested we visit. It is truly a jewel among the wineries. This is a small winery owned by an Austrian. He is the only American to have interned under Lafitte Rothschild. The limited varieties he produces are nurtured from vines planting to final bottled wine on site, allowing him total control from start to finish. This would be a great winery to add to your itinerary if you are ever planning a trip to the California wine country.
Lunch was at the Culinary Institute of America in St Helena. Enjoying the delightful cuisine on the patio under towering oaks overlooking vineyards cannot be improved upon. It was the day before graduation so the young students were assisting the regular wait staff. We talked to several young chefs; all excited about the next phase of their careers. One young man was going to work in a restaurant in Copenhagen.
The afternoon treat was a tour of Del Dotto. This family-owned winery does barrel tastings in the cave. Again, we were the only ones in our tour group, conducted by the son-in-law so we were treated to some special wines that weren’t normally a part of the tour. That evening, we had dinner at Zazu. It was a total change of pace; an old farmhouse located several miles out of a town. It is known for its fresh food right from the gardens outside the restaurant. Talk about a culture shock! Many of the diners could have stepped right out of the Hippie era, complete with long hair, now turned gray, faded flowered dresses and shirts and Birkenstocks. Food was great.
On Friday, we headed to San Francisco for a couple of days. I was delighted to be able to visit Naomi Tickle in Petaluma on the way. Naomi comes to Atlanta every few months to work with companies and conduct seminars on face reading. She also has extensive training on color but more about that next week.
I love San Francisco, despite its extreme contrast. World famous San Francisco Opera and symphony coupled with the extraordinary setting are contrasted with homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks and bizarre “happenings”. We experienced both. Wicked was playing and we were able to get matinee tickets. My daughter had seen it in Chicago and had raved about it so this was a treat. While I was raving about the costume design, the guys were super impressed with the lighting. It was a fabulous production so if you ever get a chance, I highly recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity.
That night we were trying to make dinner reservations, and our concierge told us that the “Bay to Breakers” event was in town and the hotels were packed. We didn’t get the significance of that until the next morning. It is a race from the Bay to the Breakers and apparently half the younger crowd surrounding the bay area comes to San Francisco to participate. When we went out for breakfast, people were pouring out of the hotels in every costume imaginable. This event so typified the “other” side of San Francisco. It was evident that these people were not actually participating in the run: flip- flops, bumble-bee tutus and ostrich feather boas are probably not the best running attire! One group asked us to take their photo so they invited me to join them while Joe took a photo of them. They were among the least wildly dressed.
My birthday turned into a birthday month and was an incredible experience. However, it is a good thing significant birthdays don’t happen every year or I would never survive!DSC01159