Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks

As we're about to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, I have so much for which to be grateful. My list could go on and on and on. But that would be boring. So I'm just going to focus this post on one person for whom I am thankful each and every day, and who just doesn't hear it from me enough. That person is my mom.

If you think that I'm a well-rounded, talented person (why thank you!) - you need to get a load of my mom. I get most of my best traits from her, I suspect (no disrespect to dad!), and I love her more than I could ever express. I just had the pleasure of spending some quality time with her - she came for a five-day visit and spoiled me rotten. As is our usual, we covered a lot of ground while she was here. She's been the one to teach me to love the backroads, to enjoy getting lost, and to delight in discovering new things. So that's just what we did.

The following is a photo journey of our recent time together, as it pertains to the theme of this blog - namely yumminess shared in the company of the ones we love. (I'm sticking to mainly images because I found out that dear mom doesn't actually READ this blog... just looks at the "pretty pictures" - hmph!) At any rate, enjoy the view, and if you're lucky enough, go give your mom a heart-felt squeeze. Happy Thanksgiving!

Adventures with Mom, November 2010

We hit the road. Took the road less traveled....
Why don't I live HERE?? I mean, get a load of that tire swing!

We enjoyed some great meals out...
Sol Food in San Rafael was at the top of my list of places to take mom for a killer lunch. I love love love this totally funky Peurto Rican cuisine hot spot. Despite being a bright green hole-in-the-wall, it's certainly not an undiscovered locale (just ask the Food Network). The Ensalada Con Pollo (baked chicken salad) and Tostones Con Mojo (Fried smashed green plantains with garlic and olive oil) keep me coming back for more.

We enjoyed a terribly mediocre meal out....
I say "enjoyed" because the company was stellar and sometimes that's all you need. But I'm sad to say that my mom treated Ran and me to a dinner out at the much-touted Bottega in Yountville, and we all walked away mostly disappointed. We should have stopped at starter courses and wine - those were by far the best components of the meal. Between the three of us, we ordered the soup of the day (butternut squash with toasted hazelnuts), the Brussels sprouts salad (shaved sprouts, seived egg, hazelnuts and a perfect light lemon-based dressing), and the cheese pudding (a savory Pecorino flan of sorts served with braised rapini and crostini). All were delicious. I loved the way the wines were presented. Instead of wines by the glass, they offered wines by the glass and a half, and they came in petit carafes to the table. It's the perfect amount of wine for me over the course of the meal, and the wine list truly was impressive. The only thing that tainted the starting course was the constant - and I mean constant - inquiries from the service staff to clear our half-eaten plates. I love attentive staff, but for the fourth time, yes! We're going to finish that plate. Sheesh!

Unfortunately, the good part of the meal nose-dived into the not-so-good part of the meal for our entrees. I got the rabbit, and although the meat itself was perfectly cooked, it was served with a sauce that was so overwhelmingly powered by vinegar, that it was almost off-putting. The acidity hit your nose far before the fork got to your tongue. Mom got the "Angry Prawns" - nothing special there, not even worth four more words. And Ran - on my pleading - got the daily pork special. I mean if you heard the server describe a slow-roasted herb-stuffed pork loin wrapped in pork belly with crispy skin, served with brown-butter sauteed apples over creamy polenta, wouldn't you order it too? Let's just say it was far better in theory than in reality. Ick. So - bummer. A big, expensive strikeout. Sorry mom.

We enjoyed some great meals in...
It was the opening week of Dungeness crab season... we had to do it.

We baked...
Two different kinds of cookies. You heard me right - yes, I baked (I had mom there to hold my hand, after all!). You'll be hearing about these two cookie creations soon (Tollhouse with a twist, and Cornmeal Ginger Shortbread).

We fed ourselves spiritually....
Mom was such a sport, and joined me for a candlelight Yoga class followed by an organic/biodynamic wine tasting, paired with raw foods. The evening was all about "focusing on mindfulness and gratitude for the Thanksgiving Holidays" - basically bringing awareness of how we're feeding our body and soul, and focusing on treating ourselves well. Mom did great in the Yoga class, declined the wine tasting, and pretty much dismissed the raw foods. Too hippie, I get it. :) But I, of course, loved the foods we tried (there was chocolate mousse made from avocados for God's sake!), and I discovered a wine brand that I now adore just on sheer principle: Aum Cellars. The wine I ended up liking most was the 2008 Howell Mountain Cabernet, and not just because the front label is stunning. The wine is crafted with love and attention, and the winemaker, Peter Hoffmann (on hand to pour for the event), writes on the back label: "Never surrender the opportunity to participate in the forming of the future." I need to print that out in 60 point font and plaster it in my surroundings. Namaste.

We drove all the way to Healdsburg just so mom could get her favorite cream soda (made by the Bear Republic Brewing Company)...

...and discovered that Healdsburg's Downtown Bakery & Creamery sells all of its various pastry doughs to go! It might just turn me into a semi-homemade baker yet - what a find!

We visited farm stands...
We stopped in at the organic Green String Farm in Petaluma (their promise of kale turned out to be false... but made for good wandering and pictures!).

And while I was in a meeting at the nearby Solano Community College, mom discovered THE find of the entire week: Larry's Produce. She picked me up with stories of produce flowing out of Larry's not in shopping carts, but wheelbarrows, and prices that would simply blow my head clean off. And she was right - this place, a seasonal farm stand in Fairfield (part of the Suisun Valley Harvest Trail) - was utterly fantastic. Indescribable. And freaking CHEAP. Despite already having loaded up on Thanksgiving groceries, I loaded up a wheelbarrow of my own anyway. I just couldn't resist. Sigh.

And then she was gone....
Mom departed town, but left goodies in her wake: a huge Thanksgiving gift tin loaded with Made-in-Utah products. I miss her already, but I'm feeling the love from home!

Love you, mom. Thanks for the tasty memories.

1 comment:

  1. Morry, Thank you for making me stop to reflect about what I am thankful for this season. Sadly there is no mom to hug anymore, but indeed I have good friends, of which you are one, to hug and be grateful for. The photos are stunning. Keep exploring, because it allows those of us less adventurous to have a virtual adventure. Happy Thanksgiving! - Miss C.