Monday, July 30, 2012

Peach Party {Edible Monterey Bay BLOGPOST}

Santa Cruz’ FoodShed Project returns this week with a “Peach Partay” featuring ice cream making and peach grilling with The Penny Ice creamery, peaches and fruit tree lore from Frog Hollow and an educational stone fruit adventure with Food What?!

Click here to view this post on the Edible Monterey Blog.
Photos courtesy of FoodShed Project
Peach Partay: This Wednesday, Aug. 1 from 3-5pm, Downtown Farmers’ Market
food_shedRecent years have seen farmers’ markets blossom from just fruit and vegetable stands to weekly street fairs where those same local, organic farmers’ displays are now punctuated with arts, crafts, and food trucks. People don’t just go to farmers’ markets to pick up produce for their meals; people go to farmers’ markets to support local growers, shop, eat al fresco, and meet with friends. For many, a trip to the farmers’ market is a scheduled outing. It’s a weekly party. And, now, marketplaces are taking on another role—education and outreach.

This summer, the Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market (SCCFM) kicked off the FoodShed Project that focuses on the connections between farmers, food artisans, and the community inside our local foodshed. All of the FoodShed Project events are free and hosted at the Downtown Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market except the special September event – La Comida Del Pueblo de Watsonville – which will be at the Watsonville Farmers’ Market. A foodshed can be defined in a variety of ways. But, most simply, it includes where a food is produced and where a food is consumed and everything in between – the land on which it grows, the route it travels to get to market shelves, the tables on which it’s served, how it’s being prepared and presented, and the waste that is produced.

From its inception in 1990, the SCCFM has had the goal of providing educational programs within the community. With a grant funded by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program, and in a partnership with the Ecological Farming Association, the FoodShed Project’s series is bringing that plan to fruition.

FoodShed_Project-1The FoodShed Project’s monthly events shine the spotlight on seasonal food items, showcasing them with tastings, talks, music, cooking demonstrations, and activities for the entire family. Youth from Food, What?! have been hired to lead educational scavenger hunts and lend helping hands during the mini cooking classes and demonstrations at each event. The FoodShed Project hopes to grow their partnership with Food, What?!— and nurture the local agriculture industry—by funneling young, food‐justice leaders into local agriculture‐related jobs in the coming years.

The FoodShed Project series kicked off in June with their Strawberry Bonanza and continues through October on the first Wednesday of each month.

Nicki Zahm, Foodshed Project Director, recounts how eighty or so people sat, two or three on a hay bale, eyes glued to the preparation of strawberry shortcake guided by Erin Lampel of Companion Bakeshop. Then Sandy Brown from Swanton Berry Farm took over the show, fielding questions about labor, pesticide use, and ecological practices in strawberry growing. After the presentation, the crowd dispersed and the Food, What?! youth leaders led market goers on an informative strawberry scavenger hunt, answering the questions posed on the posters located at various farmers’ market stands. “What do farmworkers call strawberries and why?” read one poster.

FoodShed_Project-2Throughout the Strawberry Bonanza, kids and adults alike visited the arts and crafts table and danced to the local bluegrass band Moonshine Jubilee. As the event neared its end Zahm came across her five‐and‐a‐half‐year‐old nephew, a spider man mask painted over his eyes. She asked him, "What did you learn about strawberries?" He folded his small body over at the waist, mimicking the action of picking berries, "Farmworkers call strawberries 'la fruta del diablo' because they work long days and have to bend over like this when they are picking."

The second FoodShed event, Livestock Lowdown, revealed some interesting food shed facts to market goers: chickens raised in feedlots have so little room they have to take turns laying down; pasture‐raised livestock is higher in vitamin E, beta‐carotene, vitamin C, and omega‐3 fatty acids; green pasture draws greenhouse gases out of the air and stores them in the soil where it increases soil fertility benefiting the environment. Local butcher Chris LaVeque of El Salchichero and Chef Brad Briske treated the crowd to a barbeque demonstration and tasting.

The FoodShed Project’s August event – Peach Partay – is this week. Wednesday, August 1, from 3‐5pm, at the Downtown Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Market. Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate peaches, those voluptuous, luscious gems whose flavors just scream “summertime!” Make ice cream and learn peach grilling skills from Kendra of Penny Ice Creamery. Listen to a guest from legendary Frog Hollow talk about fruit tree care and history. And follow Food, What?! on an educational stone fruit hunt. I’ll be there, picking up peaches, learning from experts, tasting delectable treats, and supporting local growers. I hope you’ll join me.

Photography Honorable Mention: Point Lobos State Reserve {Catch-Up}

Weston Beach is Picture Perfect contest deadline of March 28, 2012

Honorable Mention: Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park {Catch-Up}

Half Dome through a rose-colored lens contest deadline of March 14, 2012
This received honorable mention for both photography and writing.

Half Dome is the quinessential Yosemite icon. It's hard to miss. Hikers volley for permits to ascend the dome and reservations are snatched up within minutes. I've taken long shots of the dome from Inspiration Point, I've taken shots off the top after climbing up the backside of the beast, but my favorite view of this geological enigma is from Glacier Point. At sunset. It's almost as if the setting sun shines a spotlight on Half Dome; it's the last thing illuminated in the valley before the sun completely disappears for the day. And even when it's beyond the horizon, you can still sit and watch the sky turn an entire painter's palette worth of colors—from rosy pink to deepest indigo.

Writing Honorable Mention: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park {Catch-Up}

Best Campsites in California contest deadline of March 7, 2012

Clinging to the cliffs south of Big Sur is one of the state parks that bears the name "Pfeiffer." This park, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, is a family favorite for two reasons: first, McWay Waterfall, a frothy white stream that drops from a steep cliff to a turquoise cove below; second, two of the most secluded state-run campsites you will find. Ever. Don't be fooled into booking a spot at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. It's not the same place. Julia Pfeiffer Burns's campsites are accessible only by hike. It's a short hike, but it is steep—downhill going in and uphill coming out. So, pack lightly or bring a wheelbarrow. When I was fortunate enough to book both sites for my son's birthday camping trip one year, we picked up the parking tags from the wilderness station and the ranger asked, incredulously, "How did you get the two best campsites in California on a holiday weekend?!" Lots of planning and a little luck.

Photography Honorable Mention: Smith Rock State Park, OR {Catch-Up}

The Wild West Lives contest deadline of March 7, 2012

Walking along the aptly named Crooked River in Terrebonne, Smith Rock State Park feels like a trip back to the Wild West. Unconquered. Pristine. Sheer cliffs of tuff and basalt make the park a mecca for rock-climbers. The silouette of the rock formations make it a favorite destination for photographers. But it was the lighting that struck me as memorable. The entire hike felt as if I had stumbled into a painting.

Photography Honorable Mention: Garrapata State Park {Catch-Up}

Who Needs Video Games? deadline of March 7, 2012

Too many kids sit inside. Maybe reading a book, but more than likely, parked in front of a television or in front of some gadget that begins with an 'i'. Too many kids need toys. Now I am not saying that my kids don't have toys or that we don't have a television, but - really? - who needs those when you have the outdoors, great weather, and vibrant imaginations. I took the boys down the coast to Garrapata State Beach because it's on the closure list for July of this year. Truly sad. We stayed for hours, digging in the sand, skipping rocks, and - like Indiana Jones - using beached macrocystis stipes as whips. What fun!

Writing Honorable Mention: Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens {Catch-Up}

Gray mist meets vibrant blooms contest deadline of February 29, 2012
The Mendocino Botanical Gardens's logo is perfect: waves and flowers. That's what you get at this oceanfront wonder. Hiking trails wind through canyons whose walls are carpeted with ferns of all kinds; rocky cliffs form the border of the property where the land meets the sea. Depending on the season you might encounter giant airy rhododendron or petal-rich camellias in expertly manicured gardens. We happened through the garden when the fuchsias were flaunting their vibrant blossoms—ruffly, hanging flowers in every shade of pink and red—everything a feast for the eyes.

Photography Honorable Mention: Montana de Oro State Park {Catch-Up}

Around the Bend contest deadline of February 29, 2012

A wide stream flowed into the ocean, skirting the edge of the rocks. And though the waves crashed wildly - and loudly - against the stepped cliffs facing the open ocean, our littlest ones just walked around the bend for some smoother, calmer water where they could splash themselves and others more safely. The different kinds of rocks glimmered in the sunlight and had them hunting and sorting rocks for hours. But they always kept their eyes on the bigger water where the bigger kids were able to play.

Writing Honorable Mention: Jacks Peak County Park {Catch-Up}

Honorable Mention in Writing contest deadline of February 15, 2012

Pristine Stand of Pinus Radiata
Perched at the highest point on the Monterey Peninsula, Jacks Peak County Park offers sweeping vistas from Moss Landing to Carmel, fossils from the Miocene, and one of the last remaining natural stands of Monterey pines in the continental United States. The Skyline Nature Trail, at less than a mile, is a nice way to stretch your legs and get a glimpse at the local flora. But for the more ambitious choose a longer trail, grab your camera, fill a water bottle, and take a Claritin because if you hit the trails on a windy day, you will leave dusted with yellow pollen from those towering pines.

Photography 1st Place: Pinnacles National Monument {Catch-Up}

Congratulations! You won 1st Place Photography in the Weekly Worldwide Contest. contest deadline of February 15, 2012

What Remains...
The Pinnacles National Monument is nestled in the Gabilan Mountains of Central California and is what remains of an ancient volcano. As the volcano eroded, what remained were towering spires, sheer rock faces, and narrow talus caves formed by tumbling boulders. As a release site for the endangered California condors, you'll often see those majestic birds gliding along the ridges, riding the thermoclines. And, during certain times of the year, the talus caves will be closed as they are home to a colony of Townsend's big-eared bats.

With this win, I received a commission to shoot three places of my choosing. I chose...

(1) The Cheese Shop, Carmel, CA

Are you a caseophile? Does the mention of a cheese you've never tried send shivers of excitement up your spine? If so, stop by the Cheese Shop in Carmel, where rounds, wedges, slivers, and tubs of cheese are piled along one wall and in a refrigerated case. You are invited to amble up to the counter and sample various cheeses as the knowledgeable staff gauge your preferences through friendly conversation. This time around I was introduced to three different cheeses I'd never had: gjetost, a brown goat's milk cheese from Norway that looks and tastes like caramel; a bleu cheese from Oregon's Rogue River valley that is wrapped in pear-brandy soaked grape leaves; and an aged gouda from the Netherlands that tasted vaguely like coffee--walking out with pieces of those as well as some family favorites.

(2) Parker-Lusseau Pastries, Monterey, CA

Yann Lusseau and Anne Parker, husband and wife pastry chefs extraordinnaires, have three stores in their sweets empire; this location, which opened in 2002, is housed in the Fremont Adobe in downtown Monterey. Though the building is clearly labeled with an earthquake warning, the treats are the worth the risk. From the traditional canelés, a distinctively shaped thick custard with a caramelized crust to the Kouign-amann, layers and layers of buttery dough that opens like petals of a flower, everything is made with care and quailty ingredients.

(3) Monterey State Historic Parks' Pacific House Museum, Monterey, CA

We strolled up to the Pacific House Museum, as we have many times in the past, only to be faced with a piece of paper taped on the inside of the glass door: "Due to state budget cuts, the adobes are now closed. Please enjoy the gardens in the rear." No more exploring the Native American exhibit on the second floor that highlights the local tribes in the area; no more looking at the different leather brands from the ranches up and down the coast. What a travesty! Instead, we did as instructed, making our way to the Memory Garden behind the Pacific House Museum. A mossy raised fish pond teeming with water lily pads and barren, gnarled arms of wisteria cling to exposed beams all add to the sense that you are stepping back into time. Just not too far back because the garden used to be the site of bull-bear fights.

Writing Honorable Mention {Catch-Up}: Picchetti Winery

Honorable Mention in Writing at - for their February 1, 2012 deadline.

You do not happen upon Picchetti Winery by chance. You drive there with purpose—and with direction—winding up into the rolling hills above Cupertino, curve after curve. Once you get there, you don't want to leave. Rustic barn doors reveal a tasting room full of wood—wooden tables, wooden barrels, a wooden bar—and warmth. Grab a bottle, or two, and picnic on the lawn, or uncork their '08 zin and take a stroll on the Zinfandel Trail.

Trazzler Photography Honorable Mention: Heller Estate Organic Vineyards {Catch-Up}

"Congratulations! You won Honorable Mention in the California Wine Contest."

Heller Estate Organic Vineyards
( contest deadline of February 1, 2012)

Trazzler Honorable Mention: Fremont Peak State Park {Catch-Up}

I began submitting images to earlier in the year - for their weekly photo contests - and thought I should play catch-up and let you know how I've been doing. This image received an honorable mention...

Fremont Peak, San Juan Bautista, California
( deadline of February 1, 2012) 
A drive up to Fremont Peak State Park feels other-worldly. On many of the trails you look down on the clouds that muffle the noise of the roads below. It feels peaceful, serene, and remote despite the relative ease of your journey there. On certain nights, there are guided star-gazing tours led by knowledgeable volunteers. And you really feel like you're in heaven then, with the stars seemingly right at your fingertips.

Sipping Wine Among the Vines: Touring Holman Vineyards {Edible Monterey Bay}

This is posted on the Edible Monterey Bay blog: here. (July 2012)

Wine tasting is always enjoyable. Gaining access to a winery’s cave is a treat. But to receive an invitation into the vineyards is an oenophile’s dream come true. At least it’s this wine‐lover’s dream. And, this week, for the first time Holman Vineyards opened up their gates and invited their wine club members and guests to take a stroll through the vines. Rocky soil beneath your feet, fresh summer air, and sun‐baked hills that stretch as far as the eye can see, and—of course—a glass of wine in hand made for a truly charming vineyard tour.

Double_PouringNick Elliott, Guest Services Manager at Holman Ranch, met us at the Holman Vineyards’ tasting room in the Carmel Valley village and four of us loaded up into his vehicle. On the way Nick gave us a history of Holman Ranch and talked to us about the vineyards that are planted on 19 of the 400 acres that make up the Ranch. We wound through the property, up a dirt road, and headed to the lower vineyard of Pinot Noir grapes that were planted in 2007 and sits at approximately 1100 feet elevation.

Before we even set foot through the final gate, Nick broke out his corkscrew, distributed glasses, and poured us each a generous portion of their 2010 Pinot Gris. The slightly fruity aroma swirled with notes of mango and honey, but the whisper of citrus created a crisp finish. It made me wish that we had some ceviche—tender chunks of fish marinated in lime juice and spiced with fresh peppers—to go with it.

vineyards_tourAs we sipped the wine, we walked through the olive grove which Holman harvests to produce its extra-virgin olive oil. We paused and Nick pointed out the different kinds of olives. The Italian trees on the right were taller and the leaves had a dusty sage hue to them while the French olive trees on the left were stouter with brighter green leaves. Holman hand‐harvests and cold presses the olives, bottling the oil onsite and offering them for sale at the tasting room and through the company’s website.

Reaching a slight plateau, we stopped, tasted more of our wine, and soaked up the evening sun, reveling in the 360‐degree view from that vantage point. All around us were Pinot Noir Dijon clones 667 and 777, acres of them.

grapesTo me, Pinot Noir means ‘love’; it’s definitely my wine of choice and Holman Vineyard’s 2010 ranks high on my list. Aged in French oak for a year, it’s a full‐bodied red with robust cherry on the nose and a slight earthy layer of tobacco. It’s luscious.

In French, Pinot Noir literally means “black pine” and refers to the pinecone shape of the grape bunch on the vine. These bunches were still green, but will ripen and be prime for picking in less than a month.
Nick noted slight differences in bunches from one end of the row to the other and discussed how the terrain affected the grapes. We were standing on sedimentary soil where the larger chunks of rocks and slope of the vineyard aided drainage for the vines. The grape bunches on the steeper end of the row were slightly larger and contained plumper fruit than those on the more level ground.

Moving from the rows of clone 667 to clone 777, Nick showed us the difference in the leaves. The leaves of the 667 were smaller and had five lobes while the 777 leaves had only three lobes and were significantly larger. Nick asked, “Can you imagine rolling these leaves into dolmas?” I definitely can.
Nick discussed future plans for the Ranch, including small sites for intimate gatherings beneath the craggy oaks that dot the vineyards. And though this news hasn’t been officially released yet, for Pinot Noir lovers, this is something of which to take note: Holman Vineyards is looking at creating a six‐pack of single Dijon clone pinots in limited release. Right now they have the 2010 Hunter’s Cuvée Pinot Noir which is created from clone 115. I tried it recently, in my wine club selection, and loved the sweet vanilla and berry notes. It paired well with grilled lamb lollipops and a sour cherry chutney. So, when they do offer the six‐pack with wines made from six different Dijon clones, I’ll be one of the first to say, “Sign me up!”

Also coming up, Holman Ranch is
partnering with Edible Monterey Bay for
its August installment in the Pop‐Up
Supper Club series. At this farm‐to‐table
dinner, guests will feast on a meal
prepared by Chef Terry Teplitzky, of
Marina’s Wild Thyme Deli and Michael’s
 Catering. The menu, based on fresh, seasonal offerings from Serendipity Farms, will pair with Holman Vineyard’s 2010 Pinot Gris, 2010 Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2010 Chardonnay and the 2010 Hunter’s Cuvee Pinot Noir. A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit the Food Bank for Monterey County, which delivers more than 6 million pounds of food to 90,000 area residents every year. The event affords you an opportunity to dine among the vines, feast on seasonal foods, sip local wines, and enjoy the company of fellow philanthropic foodies. It’s not to be missed.

This vineyard tour was the first of many that Holman Vineyards will offer in the coming months. I can’t wait to sip wines among the vines again soon. Join us next time!

A Culinary Adventure Down the Coast {Edible Monterey Bay}

This article is posted on the Edible Monterey Bay blog: here.
A transporting hike and brunch at Big Sur’s Restaurant at Ventana

1aThe third installment of Edible Monterey Bay’s pop-up series brought me, with a good friend and fellow foodie in tow, to the Ventana Inn and Spa for a hike and a brunch. What a thrill to head down the coast from Monterey on a soggy morning and find Ventana enveloped in a bubble of sunshine!

Gathering in front of The Restaurant at Ventana, our group of culinary adventurers chatted amicably before heading off on a trail led by Stephen Copeland. A long-time Big Sur resident and owner of Big Sur Guides, Copeland—part naturalist and part local historian—egaled us with stories of Hatfield and McCoy-style feuds between Big Sur landowners and reminisced about Lolly Fassett who started the Nepenthe Restaurant after nurturing the local community nightly with her roasted chicken and stuffing.

Copeland recounted that Orson Welles, from whom the Fassetts acquired the property in 1947, had purchased the original cabin, for his wife, Rita Hayworth, as a haven from Hollywood. Despite the seemingly endless views of the dramatic coastline in both directions, Hayworth purportedly declared: “Orson, this is so cute, but I will never spend the night here.” Whether she did or not, Copeland wasn’t sure, but he did know that a few years later the Fassetts bought the property from Welles and began the transformation into what Nepenthe is now, a Bohemian cliffside restaurant where both locals and tourists flock. Nepenthe, in Greek, means “that which chases away sorrow.” And it is aptly named. Just setting foot in that vibrant place makes you smile.
As we wound along the trails, Copeland conducted what he jokingly called “Redwood 101.” He discussed the trees’ lateral and vertical growth. He talked about the faces in the bark. He told us how redwood trees reproduce, with the younger trees creating tight rings around their parents. Copeland explained how the Esalens and Salinans, the Native American tribes who called the area home, viewed the redwood family rings as sacred places. Circles of life. The tribes performed marriage rituals in the middle of these towering trees; they brought elders to the circles of life to die. At one point during the hike, our group stood in the center of one of these circles. Surrounded by sixteen giants, we inhaled the citrusy scent from the forest duff beneath our shoes and heard the energetic chirps of the wood sparrow. “Listen. If you come into the Ventana wilderness and you don’t hear that,” Copeland gestured towards the source of the noise, “leave. Leave quickly. It means there’s a predator nearby.” And with that caveat, we headed out of the redwood circle and toward the restaurant, comforted by the constant chirp, chirp, chirp of the birds.
With stomachs rumbling and relaxed from the fresh air and sunshine, we were greeted by Kara Stout, Ventana’s Food and Beverage manager, who guided us to the patio. We settled beneath an arbor embraced by gnarled honeysuckle vines whose heady scent is stronger than you would expect from such wiry blossoms.

Our first task: answer the question, “what would you like to drink?” I have to admit that I have never seen such a unique selection of brunch libations; I had a tough time deciding. There was, of course, the de rigueur bellini and ubiquitous mimosa. But it was the more innovative offerings that intrigued me. I vacillated between the St. Germain Royal—Roederer Brut with St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and a lime wheel—and the Hair of the Dog Punsch—lemon-infused Zaya rum with spiced black tea.

In the end I opted for the Hair of the Dog Punsch; punsch—with its seemingly errant “s”—is not actually a typo. Punsch, Stout answered when I asked, derives from a northern European spelling of this cocktail that is served hot. Though I was initially reluctant to order it because rum cocktails are notoriously syrupy sweet, I couldn’t resist the name. The concoction turned out to be surprisingly spicy and slightly bitter. It was quite enjoyable but a vivid contrast to the chilled, effervescent St. Germain that I sampled by sneaking a sip from my friend’s champagne flute.
4aAfter clinking our glasses amid celebratory toasts and well-wishes, we considered ten entrée offerings. Chef Truman Jones had fashioned a generous brunch menu with everything from chicken enchiladas to a classic Caesar salad and from homemade granola to a Big Sur burger. I ducked into the kitchen to snap some photos and inquired, casually, about the chef’s favorite. Eggs Benedict. That made my decision simple. It’s my favorite, too.

6bToasted English muffins were topped with steamed spinach and pillows of perfectly poached eggs. The applewood smoked pork loin was just crispy enough to lend texture to the mouthfeel yet soft enough to complement the silky eggs. And I was grateful that the hollandaise sauce added just the right amount of lemony flavor without drowning the dish.

The Californian Salad was a green and orange confetti of golden beets, roasted asparagus, and orange segments tossed with crisp romaine leaves in a buttermilk ranch dressing and topped with toasted almonds and buttery avocado slices.
Then there was comfort food at its best. The Shelton Farms Turkey Gravy Smothered Biscuits, first on the menu, looked positively decadent. I wasn’t familiar with Shelton Farms before this meal. A quick search showed me a company, run by three generations of the Flanagan family, whose website reads: “Our turkeys and chickens don’t do drugs.” I can certainly get behind a company whose philosophy is that their poultry – chickens, turkeys, and ducks – grow healthier when they are allowed to walk around in the open air and sunshine, free to scratch at the ground and peck away at whatever catches their fancy.

6cWhile I didn’t taste any of the other entrées, our table was lined with empty plates, indicating that all were delectable.

To say the view from The Restaurant at Ventana was breathtaking sounds needlessly hyperbolic. But I did—literally—catch my breath in awe when I looked up and down the coast from my seat on the terrace. Cloudless cerulean skies stretched in either direction as far as I could see. Stunning.

Table chatter ran the gamut from local food events, including the recent Cooking for Solutions, to recipes or culinary processes. And we imagined how we could use the sprigs of California sage that Copeland had plucked from the bushes for us. I’m considering a roasted chicken with stuffing in Lolly Fassett’s honor. Leeks, celery, rye bread, California sage, and lots of butter. I have no idea if her stuffing used California sage, or not, but I know it will be a tasty reminder of this third installment of the pop-up series from Edible Monterey Bay.

3bI’ll echo the sentiments printed at the bottom of our special menu: Thank you to Edible Monterey Bay. Yes, indeed, thank you! This was a truly enjoyable way to spend the morning…learning, imbibing, and feasting in one of the most scenic spots around.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Using a Molinillo

I just licensed this photograph for a textbook in a chapter about the history of chocolate: my son using a molinillo to whisk chocolate. Sweet!

It has sure been awhile since I've written a license agreement, but it all came flooding back to me: "one time, non-exclusive reproduction rights...print run not to exceed XXX...." Just like riding a bike.

Starting in Seattle

How many things would you plan during a 24-hour period? On your vacation?!? Well, if you're me - or my mother - five seemed to be a good number. Excessive? Perhaps. Fun? Most definitely.

We landed in Seattle at noon and had until noon the following day to check out of the hotel and make our way to the pier. Right after ditching our bags at the hotel, we hopped in the car and headed downtown to lunch at Pike Place Market - clam chowder that was heavy on lemon and thyme, cioppino, and deep fried oysters.

Then we blazed past the line out the door of the original Starbucks, with a smirk and "resist corporate coffee" running through our heads, and headed out for the Fremont neighborhood to use my gift certificate to Theo Chocolate on a factory tour for four. We donned Caribbean Sea blue-hued hairnets for a sixty-minute taste and tour where we learned more about that Seattle-based organic, fair trade chocolatier. I've tasted their chocolates before and enjoyed them. But after learning about their practices and policies, I adore them, especially their fantasy flavor line, including their fig, fennel, almond in a dark chocolate; bread and chocolate; and coconut curry. Innovative, delicious, and good business practices. I'm a fan!

We rendez-vous'd with my parents to go up the Space Needle, which definitely was not on my list of to-dos - but the 360 degree views were stunning. We even paused long enough to sample some organic, local beer. We tried the Leavenworth Whistling Pig Hefeweizen from Fish Brewery out of Olympia, Washington. Cheers!

I've always loved Dale Chihuly's work. So, when I realized that he had a permanent exhibit in the shadow of the Space Needle, it was a must. Breathtaking colors, shapes, and textures. And we all had different favorites. By the end of that adventure, we were all starving. So, I asked one of the gals in the giftshop: where do you like to eat around here? She smiled then jotted directions to an Indian restaurant named Chutney. We strolled through the park, away from where all the tourists were eating, and dined on some truly delightful curries - a fish curry, a chicken curry, and a lamb curry - with the most airy naan I've ever had. It was amazing.

And if that weren't enough excitement for this stop, we squeezed in brunch with Eve, one of my friends from high school, and her family. Eve picked us up at our hotel and chauffeured us to one of her favorite brunch spots in West Seattle. It was nice to watch our boys skip stones together along the shoreline.

One of these days, we'll have to go back to Seattle for more than 24-hours. The city has a personality, some spunk, and lots of great places to eat and explore. Definitely my kinda place.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pill Sensitivities & Pressure Points

While I do not like being confined to a ship, despite seventeen levels to explore and 24-hour culinary delights, probably my biggest aversion to cruising: seasickness. Almost no one gets sick on these monstrous floating hotels. Almost. Unfortunately, I do. So, I loaded up on Bonine which has worked miracles in the past. Non-drowsy, it claims. Okay. It was certainly my drug of choice when Jake and I worked as divemasters. But somehow, over the years, Bonine is no longer a friend.

I'll let my kids' reactions tell the story - "Mom, I know why it's called a pill. When you take the pill, you become a pill." Nice. Or how about this one, after I ditched the pills - "Hooray! Mommy stopped taking her grumpy pill!"

Apparently I now have a sensitivity to Bonine that not only makes me drowsy (I was dozing off two times in the middle of the day!) but makes me crabby. Needless to say, after a couple of days, I ditched the pills and relied on these very fashionable bands that provide constant pressure to the “Nei Kuan” pressure point. The Nei Kuan pressure point, according to acupressure practitioners, is used specifically to reduce nausea and vomiting. It works. At least for me. Thank goodness.

Eating My Words

My parents love to cruise - as in they enjoy embarking on a week-long, or more, voyage on a cruise ship to visit multiple ports of call. I, on the polar end of that "love to cruise" spectrum, did not inherit that gene. So, after my parents took me to the Caribbean when I graduated from Cal, I swore off cruises. They enticed me back for cruise number two to the Western Caribbean when Riley was just three-years-old and Dylan was just shy of two years old with stops that promised good SCUBA diving. Sadly, we spent the entire week shipbound, trying to outrun a hurricane which dashed all dreams of tropical reefs of Roatan and Belize. That ship, the Norwegian Dream, I dubbed the Norwegian Nightmare and, once again, swore to never set foot on another cruise ship.

Fast forward almost seven years. My parents invited us on a cruise of Alaska's Inside Passage to celebrate their 40th anniversary and Riley's - belated - 10th birthday. So, here we are...with me eating my words.