Amavi 2014 Sémillon

Tonight I’m drinking the Amavi 2014 Sémillon.  According to the winemaker notes on Amavi’s website, it:

smells like: honeysuckle, orange blossom, lemon zest, wet stones
tastes like: granny smith apple, grapefruit, honeydew melon
mouthfeel: refreshing acidity, rich & balanced structure
drink with: rich fish & shellfish; spicy dishes

Varietal(s): 85% Sémillon, 15% Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard(s): 46% Les Collines, 29% Seven Hills, 25% Goff
Appellation: Walla Walla Valley
Oak Program: 100% neutral French Oak

amavi-2014-semillon

I paired mine with some leftover Étouffée from our fabulous local Cajun restaurant.  It goes nicely with the spice of the dish.  It is perfect for this hot summer Pacific Northwest evening!

I could have sworn that I had some photos of my visit there last summer, but I can’t seem to find them, so you’ll just have to check out their website to see how amazing their setup is.  If you go, sit on the deck.  Trust me, just do it…

Happy Sunday, I hope your week gets off to a good start…

 

San Diego 2016: Mission San Diego de Alcala

The Mission San Diego de Alcala was the first mission founded in Alta California, in 1769 by Father Junípero Serra. The location of the current mission is the second location, having been moved to more fertile soil five years after the mission was established. The original site was on a bluff overlooking the water, where the Presidio was located (there is a park preserving the site, but no original historic structures remain), so it is aptly named Presidio Hill. The Presidio was also founded in 1769, a few months earlier than the Mission.

The front of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, California's oldest mission, founded 1769.

The front of the Mission San Diego de Alcala, California’s oldest mission, founded 1769.

Colonists began arriving shortly after the mission was built, but sadly, there was an uprising by the Native Americans, who killed the priest and two other people and burned the mission.  It was rebuilt at the original site as a fireproof adobe, but in 1774 it was moved 6 miles inland along the San Diego River to ensure a consistent water supply.  Like other missions from the time, it was destroyed periodically by earthquakes; in this case earthquakes struck both in 1803 and 1812.

Most of the current mission was rebuilt in 1931; at that time only one wall of the mission remained, and the rest was a ruin. The mission has a self-guided tour, where you can walk through the priest’s quarters, the church, the garden and a smaller chapel. The tour was interesting, as there are several informational signs detailing what life was like for the priests and the Native Americans living at the Mission.  It is an active Catholic parish, so if you want to go inside the chapel, you do need to time your visit so that it is not during Mass.  Or, alternatively, you can attend Mass and experience it in this beautiful historic church.  The Mission San Diego de Alcala is designated as a Basilica, or a church of historic significance.

A view of the Mission church

A view of the Mission church

 

The altar in the Mission church

The altar in the Mission church

The garden was beautiful, with lots of blooming flowers, including several interesting colors of Bougainvillea.  The mission also has two historic bells in the bell tower with a description of the history of the bell. I love reading about the little details of a place. The three small bells on top are copies of originals. The large bell on the bottom left (in my photo taken from the garden) is an 1894 recasting of the original Mater de la Rossa bell. It is the largest of the two larger bells, weighing 1200 pounds!  The bottom bell on the right is from 1802, and weighs 805 pounds.  It is amazingly intricate with a crown motif on the top.  The cross at the top of the bell tower is made from timbers from the original Mission.

What a unique color of Bougainvillea!

What a unique color of Bougainvillea!

 

A gorgeous Hibiscus flower at the San Diego Mission.

A gorgeous Hibiscus flower at the San Diego Mission.

 

The Bell Tower at the San Diego Mission

The Bell Tower at the San Diego Mission

In the garden there is an area with the stations of the cross, and interestingly they have an abstract representation taking center stage.  If you aren’t familiar with the stations of the cross, they are:

  • One: Jesus is Sentenced to Death
  • Two: Jesus Takes His Cross
  • Three: Jesus Falls
  • Four: Jesus Meets Mary, His Mother
  • Five: Jesus is Helped by Simon
  • Six: Veronica Helps Jesus
  • Seven: Jesus Falls a Second Time
  • Eight: Jesus Talks to Some Mothers
  • Nine: Jesus Falls for the Third and Last Time
  • Ten: Jesus is Stripped
  • Eleven: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross
  • Twelve: Jesus Dies on the Cross
  • Thirteen: Jesus is Taken Down from the Cross
  • Fourteen: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
The abstract representation of the Stations of the Cross

The abstract representation of the Stations of the Cross

Off the courtyard is a small chapel (La Capilla), with the altar and choir stalls that were brought over from a 17th century Spanish convent. They were amazing.  The stone floor in La Capilla came from Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City. 

The altar of the small chapel, La Capilla, at the San Diego Mission

The altar of the small chapel, La Capilla, at the San Diego Mission

 

The choir stalls in La Capilla

The choir stalls in La Capilla

 

Some of the Native American artifacts in the Mission museum

Some of the Native American artifacts in the Mission museum

The Mission San Diego de Alcala was beautiful and it was certainly worth a visit to see this historic site.  And it brings my total of California Missions up to 6.  I still have so many more to see!

 

Oliver Gazes

My gorgeous boy is so irresistible!  Happy Wednesday Everybody!

He's such a pretty boy, even if he wouldn't look at the camera...

He’s such a pretty boy, even if he wouldn’t look at the camera…

San Diego 2016: Balboa Park Afternoon

Our server at The Prado gave us a really good tip. She told us about the Imax movie, National Parks Adventure, that was playing at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. We managed to rush over there and get our tickets just in time for the next showing, and tucked into our seats just as they were starting the movie. It is narrated by Robert Redford and features Conrad Anker, one of the most famous mountain climbers and adventurers alive today. It is totally full of spectacular scenery of our National Treasures. The Prairie Dogs are adorable, and the aerial photography is amazing. It is worth seeing if it is playing someplace you’ll be!

After the movie, we checked out a little shop for some souvenirs, then made our way over to the Japanese Garden. The Japanese Friendship Garden was founded during the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition, and has several Koi ponds, Bonsai trees, a Zen garden for meditation, and a tea house (separate admission fee for the tea house). I was a bit disappointed that you could only see the Zen Garden from inside.  I would have liked to sit out in the open air to enjoy it.  We wandered up and down the paths of the two acre garden, and found some cute ducks chillin’ in the lower stream. We just did the garden, but it would be fun to visit a Japanese Tea House at some point in my life!

Angela checking out the Koi at the Japanese Garden

Angela checking out the Koi at the Japanese Garden

 

Some of the Koi at the Japanese Garden

Some of the Koi at the Japanese Garden

 

A view of the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park

A view of the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park

The Koi were amazing – big and beautiful and they swam right up to you. I’m sure they were expecting their dinner… I started naming them, because of course I’m just like that. And the bonsai trees were pretty. It takes such talent to train them in those tiny, pretty shapes! We even found a couple of lizards hanging out on the paths. One of them was not impressed that Renée touched him!

My lizard friend at the Japanese Garden. He liked us until Renée touched him...

My lizard friend at the Japanese Garden. He liked us until Renée touched him…

 

My girls at the Japanese Garden. Aren't they adorable?

My girls at the Japanese Garden. Aren’t they adorable?

 

Me at the Japanese Garden at Balboa Park

Me at the Japanese Garden at Balboa Park

After we left the Japanese Garden, there was talk of finding a restaurant that had karaoke (this was NOT my idea). I have to admit that I was a bit relieved that we couldn’t find any place, as I am an absolutely terrible singer… Instead we went back to the resort and walked down to the beach, to a restaurant called Draft. We ordered beers – they have close to a gazillion on tap from all over the country. I had the Bell’s Brewery Amber Ale. And the grilled watermelon salad was to die for. It was so delicious! I hate to admit that I loved it so much that I didn’t even offer to share. I hope you can understand and forgive me… My friends ordered chorizo flatbread, which was also very good, but spicy!

My scrumptious grilled watermelon salad at Draft

My scrumptious grilled watermelon salad at Draft

 

Chorizo Flatbread and Bell's Amber Ale at Draft

Chorizo Flatbread and Bell’s Amber Ale at Draft

Unfortunately, it was cloudy and cold that evening, so the sunset was barely visible, and it was really too cold to sit out on the beach to watch it anyway! So we enjoyed our beer and food at the bar, and caught the tail end of one of the Stanley Cup Finals games.  Hockey isn’t really on my usual list of activities, but I enjoyed it with my friends.  And Draft was a great ending to a good day!

 

San Diego 2016: Balboa Park Morning

Our third day in San Diego was spent at San Diego’s premier park, Balboa Park. Balboa Park has a long history in San Diego, with land originally set aside in 1835 to be preserved in a natural state. Nothing was done with the land for a while, but in 1868 a park was created out of 1400 acres.

 

Improvements weren’t started until 1902 when a development plan was created, and then movement picked up when city leaders decided to host the 1915 Panama–California Exposition there to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal; 1910 – 1915 were a flurry of building activity. Much of the current aesthetic of the park was created during this period, and the Spanish Colonial Revival Style of most of the buildings was determined at this time.

The Bell Tower at Balboa Park

The Bell Tower at Balboa Park

 

The park is beautiful, but has had its fair share of controversy over the years. There have been the usual debates about whether to demolish or restore old buildings that were probably never intended to be long-term structures, the park went through a period where crime was commonplace, and there were several rapes and murders, and the usual issues with determining who would be responsible for funding special events and renovations.

 

But despite all this, Balboa Park is unique in that it contains several dozen museums and gardens within its borders, many of which are free for visitors. It is truly a spectacular place to spend some time – you could be here for days and still not see it all. On my trip, although I visited twice, I only saw a tiny slice of what the park has to offer…

 

We began our visit at the Visitor’s Center to get a map of the park and figure out the lay of the land (donation appreciated). We started out near the Museum of Art, checking out the outdoor sculptures – a good time was had looking at the art and becoming a part of it!

Allysa almost got eaten by a dinosaur...

Allysa almost got eaten by a dinosaur…

If you know what year this sculpture was made, you know what year these lovely ladies were born!

If you know what year this sculpture was made, you know what year these lovely ladies were born!

 

Then we visited the Botanical Building and checked out all the beautiful plants growing inside. There were many varieties of orchids, a million kinds of ferns, including staghorn ferns, and many other plants.  We lingered there, taking photos and pointing things out to one another.  Outside of the Botanical Building is a Koi Pond, with lily pads and ducks swimming around.  It is a popular attraction for children and adults alike.  Angela befriended a busker who was attending the local college; his musical talent will hopefully ensure that his dreams of being a professional musician.  Then we can say we knew him when…

The Botanical Building, with the pond in front.

The Botanical Building, with the pond in front.

 

The Botanical Building with a cool figural fountain in the front.

The Botanical Building with a cool figural fountain in the front.

 

Palms and ferns inside the Botanical Building

Palms and ferns inside the Botanical Building

 

Orchids at the Botanical Building

Orchids at the Botanical Building

For lunch we went to The Prado, apparently one of the more well known restaurants in San Diego. We all indulged in lunch time cocktails – because isn’t that what you do when you are on vacation!? I had a Passion Caipiriñha – it was fabulous! I had the steak tacos, there was still plenty of food, even after I shared with everybody! It was a great meal – with fantastic service!  And our day was only half done!

Renée got a little excited about her cocktails!

Renée got a little excited about her cocktails!

 

My steak tacos at The Prado. Amazing!

My steak tacos at The Prado. Amazing!

 

 

 

Tieton Cider Works Apricot Cider

Tonight I was craving something tart, so I pulled out this Apricot Cider by Tieton Cider Works.  It is a nice mix of sweet and tart, with the apricots really shining through.

Apricot Cider by Tieton Cider Works

Apricot Cider by Tieton Cider Works

A search of the Tieton Cider Works website revealed that they have cocktail recipes that use their ciders.  This one sounds delicious, although it would really pack a punch!

  • 2 oz Oola Vodka
  • 1.5oz Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur
  • 1 oz Canton Ginger Liqueur
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 4 oz Tieton Apricot
  • 1 dash Bitterman’s hopped grapefruit bitters (sub Orange bitters)

Garnish with a sprig of thyme Instructions: Shake the gin, liqueurs, lime juice, and bitters in a chilled cocktails shaker with ice. Strain into a highball glass and top with Tieton Apricot Cider.  Gently stir to combine and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Have you tried any of the Tieton Cider Works ciders?  What did you think?  Happy Sunday Everyone! 

San Diego 2016 – A Little SUP-ping!

The second day of my San Diego trip began a little later than it might have otherwise, due to our late night of debauchery the previous night. We were all upright in reasonable order, but nobody was feeling particularly bright-eyed or bushy-tailed… We headed over to the hotel restaurant for breakfast, and had a “meh” meal with another round of horrible service. We decided at that point that we weren’t going to do any more hotel meals!

After breakfast, Allysa and Renée settled down for a nap, and Angela and I went over to the pool and hot tub. We relaxed and chatted, and spent some time just snoozing in the sunshine.

In the early afternoon, we lazily wandered down to the beach and found a restaurant for lunch called Sand Bar. They had amazing tacos! Their fish tacos are apparently award winning, but I thought the carne-asado taco was even better! Watch out for the spicy guacamole though, it really packs a kick!  I should have taken photos, but I totally forgot…  Fortunately Renée took one!  She’s my food porn soul sister…

A Carne-Asado taco at Sand Bar

A Carne-Asado taco at Sand Bar

After lunch, we went back to the hotel and Renée and I tried our mad skillz at Stand Up Paddleboarding. It was the first time either of us had ever been, and we got the briefest of lessons before we were set loose in the marina to SUP away. We both started out kneeling; it was much easier to keep your balance that way, but it is very hard on the knees. We both stood up and practiced paddling around – it was harder than I thought it would be to keep my balance!

Me, just starting out.

Me, just starting out.

There were a few tense moments as the wind was blowing me further out into the bay, and I was trying to keep my balance while paddling frantically to get back closer to shore… At one point I did consider just jumping off the board and swimming back in (I’m a strong swimmer), just in case no one was going to effect a rescue! I did manage to paddle back into calmer waters on my own though.

Me! Stand Up Paddleboarding!

Me! Stand Up Paddleboarding!

I had a great time– I was able to look down and see fish, sea slugs and little rays in the water beneath me! And that was just in the very protected waters of the marina.  I loved it! I will definitely do it again, but I don’t think I’m anywhere near ready for ocean SUP-ping. The water will have to be pretty calm… Think small lake on a calm day…

Renée and me, SUPping! Do we look like experts!?

Renée and me, SUP-ping! Do we look like experts!?

Angela and Allysa decided to walk to the grocery store for dinner items and set off for the 2 mile walk. Then Renée and I went and picked them up with the car when walking home with all those groceries seemed impossible.

We had a dinner of cheese, crackers, fruit and wine, and then headed out to take a cruise on the historic steamboat that is operated by the resort. The Bahia Hotel has two historic steamboats – ours was the Bahia Belle and a ride on the boat is free for hotel guests. There is a cash bar, a DJ with a dance floor, and an upper open-air level where guests can see the view, or the city lights after dark. It is a beautiful boat, but we were all still tired from the night before, so we were all duds…

The two Bahia steamboats, by day...

The two Bahia steamboats, by day… We were on the small, blue one.

 

One of the steamboats, at night...

One of the steamboats, at night…

We finished off our evening playing Deer in the Headlights – a card game that was billed as being sort of like UNO. Sound like fun? We thought it would be, but it turns out that it is fun only if you have the memory of a genius elephant… We had to consult the cheat sheet every. single. time. to figure out what cards to discard, who to give them to, etc. It was not a game suited to anybody who has had any alcohol, or is tired, or has the memory of a mere mortal, or is easily distracted… It was maddening! Pretty soon we decided that just drinking the wine without playing the game was better!

But it was still a nice end to a relaxing day.