Here is another of my favorite photos from my road trip.
I stopped in at the Ackerman Winery in the Amana Colonies in Iowa; they have been making fruit wines since 1956. I loved the way they displayed their wines and the various awards.
I have had this wine for a while; it was one that I bought in 2016 after a tasting of Greek wines at our awesome local wine shop.
For those of you who don’t know Greek grape varietals, like I didn’t, Lyrarakis is the winery, Assyrtiko is the grape. The grapes were grown in Crete, and harvested in 2015. I was excited to try it, since I had never tried the Assyrtiko grape.
I couldn’t find much online about this wine; it seems that the winery started making the wine under a different label after 2015. I have no idea if they are using the same vineyards either. Than means you get my impressions exclusively. Aren’t you lucky!
The wine is a very golden amber color, more golden than a lot of the white wines I drink. On the nose, it smelled very floral, so much so that I wondered if I would like it, although clearly I had enjoyed it enough at the tasting to buy it. It has been a couple of years though and wines change over time!
On the palate, it has a very syrupy mouthfeel, a much heavier white than I am used to. It has a sweet flavor of lychee and passion fruit. So delicious!
I would pair it with something a little spicy, like Thai food. You’ll notice that I did pair it with my Spam Museum stemless wine glass, that I picked up on my road trip!
This was a very nice wine. I don’t remember how much I paid for it, but I think it was about $20. I would certainly buy it again!
When I was in Michigan visiting my family, my cousin and I took a day to head over to Lake Michigan. We had lunch at a brewery, did a little bit of shopping, went to a couple of the wineries in downtown South Haven, and checked out the lighthouse too.
We stopped at 12 Corners Winery tasting room in downtown South Haven, named for the Twelve Corners neighborhood where the vineyard makes its home, and did a wine tasting.
The Aromella intrigued me. It is a hybrid grape; a cross between Traminette and Ravat 34, developed at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY in 1976. It was renamed Aromella in 2013 (that took a while!). I have had Traminette, and like it, but I have never had, or even heard of Ravat 34.
The result is a sweet (but not overly so) white wine that tastes similar to Moscato, but with more floral flavors. The 12 Corners Aromella is estate grown, the residual sugar on this wine is 5.5 percent and the alcohol content is 11.8 percent. It was delicious and a great opportunity to taste a new-to-me grape! It is also reasonably priced at $14.99 a bottle.
If you have tried it, let me know what you think!
Day 3, Wednesday, March 28, 2018
After we went to the Sutro Baths, we still had plenty left on the agenda. We saw the Legion of Honor Museum when we drove by it, and one day I want to visit – but that will have to be a different trip.
We were ready for lunch, so we went over to the Magnolia Gastropub in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Oh wow, this place was good. I had the Bombay Bubbles IPA (YUM!) and the Fried Chicken sandwich with a salad. It was soooo delicious!
We did some window shopping and Lelani tried on some clothes at a cute little boutique.
After that we went to the Presidio at Fort Point. Fort Point was built between 1853 and 1861 to protect the San Francisco Bay at the height of the gold rush. It was designed in the Army’s Third System style, a style adopted in the 1820s, and was the only Fort west of the Mississippi River to be built in this style. It was in use as an active fort up through World War II, although it never fired a shot at an enemy.
When the Golden Gate Bridge was being constructed in the 1930s, there was discussion of tearing down the now obsolete fort, but fortunately the bridge’s Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss saw the historical significance of the fort and designed an arch that would allow the bridge to be built over the existing fort structure. I am so glad it could be saved. Unfortunately the fort is currently only open Fridays through Sundays, so we weren’t able to go inside. The interior is certainly on my list of places to see!
We walked along the water and climbed the steps down and up from the parking area – that was quite a workout! We considered walking across the bridge, and I definitely want to do it sometime, but we were worried that all the traffic and the people might be too much and too dangerous for a puppy. Next time – another thing for my bucket list!
We headed to another area of the Presidio for a late afternoon glass of wine at Sessions restaurant. I had their happy hour white (twice…); the Ressó 2017 Garnacha Blanc – it was delicious! I also had two oysters on the half shell, because at happy hour prices of $1.50 each, who wouldn’t?!! Well, someone who doesn’t like raw oysters, but… They were amazing!
We sat at their outdoor seating, and it was so nice to just sit outside on a glorious, sunny, hot, March San Francisco day. Those adjectives don’t normally go with San Francisco, and certainly not in March, so we really soaked it in! And the folks at Sessions allow dogs in their outdoor seating, you just have to take the dog in through the side door on the patio, so we could linger for a while. Our server even brought Shaka dog biscuits and a bowl of water!
Our last sightseeing stop of the day was up at Coit Tower. I had been twice before and loved it each time, and so had Lelani, but the girls had never been. It was too late in the day to go up to the top (if you get the chance to you should), but we had enough time to do a circuit of the bottom part of the tower. That’s where (most of) the murals are.
The murals… Coit Tower’s murals were painted in 1934 as a part of a Public Works of Art Project, the first of the New Deal employment projects for artists during the Great Depression. They were painted in the Social Realism style, and depict commerce and industry subjects. Interestingly, I learned while fact-checking for this blog post, that there are more murals on the second floor that are largely closed to the public. However, you can see these murals, which depict recreation, if you take a tour (there are some free and some paid tours available). How did I never know this?! Yet another reason to visit Coit Tower!
We headed back to our AirBnB for a bit of relaxing before we walked up the street to Zen Sushi for dinner. This tiny, cramped restaurant had some excellent sushi! It was a great end to a really good day.
Day 1, Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Last fall, I decided I needed to take some time away, so I booked a long weekend to the East Coast. Flying cross country is always tough; for this trip I had to be on my airport shuttle at 4:10 am, which means getting my taxi at 3:40 am! I never get to bed before about 10 pm on nights when I am flying out the next morning, so you can imagine the sleep deprivation. It is so worth it when I get to board that plane though!
My flight was direct – and absolutely uneventful. I got my car, and made my way to Annapolis; it was only about a 25-minute drive there from the airport. I stayed at the State House Inn, a historic hotel that was originally a house. There are only 7 rooms, so it is really more an inn than a hotel – without breakfast though. They do have an agreement for room service from the Italian restaurant below. The State House Inn is over 200 years old, and perhaps as old as 300 years; however, there aren’t existing records that show when the house was built.
The upper stories are home/inn, and the first floor is commercial space (this floor is only visible from the back side of the house). It has undergone a variety of restorations, with the the most recent addition to the building in 1900. You can see the bones of the original building from Chancery Lane, which they say is the most photographed site in Annapolis because of the view of the illuminated dome of Maryland’s State House (you know I had to see that for myself). The alley was supposedly used by George Washington returning to Mount Vernon on December 23, 1783, after resigning his commission in the State House (there are stairs, so he must not have gotten on his horse yet).
Their website indicates that it is owned and operated by Naval Academy graduate Lieutenant Commander Marc Lucas, but I talked with the manager during my stay and she had indicated that there were new owners, so it is likely that the website is outdated.
For dinner, I headed across the street to the Red Red Wine Bar for a flight of wine and a charcuterie plate. The wine flights and meats and cheeses were delicious! They have a huge selection of wines by the glass and the bottle, and also have an extensive selection of whiskys, for my whisky drinker readers. The atmosphere was very nice, and the server was excellent, explaining all the flavors on the cheeses and meats so I could choose what I wanted. After my light dinner, I spent a little time wandering the quiet streets of Annapolis, looking in the shop windows, before heading back to the Inn for bed. Overall, it was a quiet evening, considering that most of the day was spent traveling. I was excited to see the sights the next day!
Day 2 – Saturday, May 27, 2017
Saturday morning Lelani and I were both up early (I mean remember I had basically slept the entire day before!), so we took a walk around the neighborhood and just enjoyed the quiet morning.
We got back, had the hotel breakfast, relaxed some on the hotel patios, and then the whole gang wandered over to Bacon and Eggs for cocktails. When on vacation you might as well go heavy on the relaxing! We all enjoyed cocktails – I had a Grapefruit Mimosa – YUM! Then we did a bit of shopping (Walla Walla has some really cool little shops), and found a shop called Trove that Paula loved, because their logo is a Fleur de Lis. She loves Fleur de Lis, and Trove had some really cute stuff! We also went to the farmer’s market, and checked out all the fresh produce and craft items. I got a pair of earrings and a pendant made from recycled glass bottles. They are gorgeous! Sadly, I broke one of the earrings (turns out glass earrings don’t fare too well when dropped on concrete), but I have been using the second earring as another pendant for now. Next time I am there I will be sure to get another pair of earrings – or several!
We also went to the Museum of Unnatural History. It is a tiny little place, created and run by a guy named Gerry Matthews with a very strange and creative imagination. He spent his career working in the film and commercial industry. Most notably, he was the voice of Sugar Bear, the mascot for Sugar Crisp cereal – now known as Golden Crisp. I am sure everybody my age remembers the voice! He then retired to Walla Walla and created this museum, a play on the many Museums of Natural History… Let me just say, Wow. There was just so much bizarre going on in such a small space… The exhibits are – well, there are just no words. He was there when we visited and he was happy to answer questions or dialogue about his creations… Lelani and Joel LOVED it! Paula HATED it! Brandon and I were fairly neutral. Let’s just say I won’t be decorating my home in any of his motifs. It just goes to show that we all have different tastes, and different creative minds. If you want to visit, it is free (he accepts donations), worth a visit, and clearly a labor of love, but it is only open Saturdays from 10-2 or by appointment. If you do go, I guarantee you won’t leave without an opinion! Keep in mind, I limited my photos here to the PG-13 stuff, but there is A LOT more to see.
Saturday afternoon we went to the Morrison Lane tasting room. Morrison Lane is a family run winery, owned and operated by my friend Shawn and his family. Shawn has been the winemaker for several years now, and the wines are delicious; I especially enjoyed the Rosé, the Syrah, and the Carmenere. The bottles have artwork depicting the Lewis Chessmen, a group of 12th century chess pieces that were discovered at the Lewis Bay in Scotland in 1831. I love the tie in to history with the labels! Both Shawn and his parents are kind and personable, and love speaking with guests about their wine; we sat around for a while chatting and revisiting some of the wines.
Saturday evening we went over to Shawn’s house for his 50th birthday. A backyard BBQ with amazing food; chicken skewers with peanut sauce, Thai noodle salad, pasta salad and lots of local beer and wine. We sat around talking and enjoying the hot Eastern Washington evening. There was laughter – a lot of laughter – of the “what happens in Walla Walla stays in Walla Walla” variety!
I have been on a little bit of a grapefruit mimosa kick…
I was at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago, and picked up this bottle. Not knowing what to expect, I put it in the cart… I think it was $5.99. I opened it early last week, and wow… Grapefruit mimosa in a bottle! It was a little sweet, a little tart, with that slightly bitter grapefruit kick. Delicious! I would absolutely get it again, for morning mimosas – easy peasy!
This weekend friends were visiting from down south, so brunches! This morning I had an amazing Grapefruit Mimosa at brunch… Our server apologized for having run out of flutes, but I was perfectly happy to see the pint glass full of tasty mimosa goodness.
What a great weekend!