In October I went Whale Watching with my family in New Zealand. We were on the east coast of the south island in Kaikoura, which is one of the only places in the world to catch a sperm whale sighting. Sure I can go whale watching in California, but I never do. One of the great things about traveling, is that you allow yourself to do things that you wouldn’t normally do in your own backyard. The idea of being a tourist, gives us the freedom to see and explore places in a way that we otherwise may not think of doing, we visit galleries and monuments, try new foods and flavors, go hiking up mountains, and yes, even go whale watching. There is something great about going somewhere new, but there is also something really great about revisiting, or going back home and seeing familiar sights with fresh eyes. So the next time you get a yearning to travel but can’t, why not be a tourist in your own backyard and check out the sights and sounds of your own city or town? You never know what you’ll find!
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I have a little bit of a sweet tooth, it’s true. But lately after my meal, I don’t want a piece of chocolate cake, I want another glass of wine and some cheese! There is something so satisfying about ending a meal with a cheese plate. I like to put together a sampling of some of my favorites, with different textures such as Humboldt Fog, Manchengo, and Brie. Add a few dried apricots, some Elderflower honey, and some Quince jam, and you have an easy and sophisticated dessert that satisfies both sweet and savory cravings. Not everyone eats dessert, but I have noticed that just about everyone eats cheese, and all you need is a small slice to feel satiated. I think that there is something about the fact too, that unlike dessert that usually calls for coffee as it’s accompaniment, cheese goes so well with wine. So if you haven’t finished your glass from dinner, or feel like you may like another even thought the meal is done, cheese lets you linger longer over your wine. Come to think of it, maybe it’s wine that I really like!
Oh how things change! When I was in middle school, this was a game that we used to play in the hopes of getting someone to kiss us. We would gather in a circle, dim the lights and with nervous sweaty hands hope that when we spun the bottle it would land on someone who we’d been crushing on. If it did, they would have to kiss us – aaaaahhhhh the old days! Those were the rules. It seems amazing to me now, that a bottle is what we needed to bring each other together, to sit knees touching, facing one another, our attention undivided and utterly focused on the moment at hand.
And yet, even though I am older now, and I no longer need to trick someone into kissing me, I still like to gather in a circle and give my undivided attention to those who I am with over a bottle of eco.love wine. Yes, there is still a bottle, but this time we are all enjoying it. Over a bottle of wine, we talk, and relax, and share our secret hopes and desires. We mark the end of a day, and enjoy each others company, and occasionally we still spin…to see who has to clean up!
Friday night, the bbq is fired up and ready to go, the eco.love Riesling Wine is chilling in a bucket of ice and the shrimp are marinating in a delicious chili lime marinade. It is 30 minutes until my friends arrive, and the phone rings. It’s my friend Simon and he is calling to tell me that he has neglected to mention that since our last get together he has become a vegetarian. Great! Wonderful! Whatever works for you friend! Not to worry I have lots of vegetarian options, I say, see you in half an hour. I hang up the phone and break into a full panic. I look around at my menu for the evening, grilled shrimp, crabcakes, salmon skewers, and realize that not only do I not have anything vegetarian, but I may very well be accused of pirating the sea! Alas, I tell myself that this is a good thing. After all there should be at least one vegetarian dish to round things out after all, and then I run to the fridge and see what I can muster up in half an hour. And here it is, a delicious arugula salad with a scoop of Quinoa cooked in vegetable broth, and mixed with sauteed mushrooms and canned white kidney beans. Quinoa is an ancient grain that is a complete protein that cooks in only fifteen minutes. Chop up some fresh tomatoes, and dress with white balsamic vinegar, black pepper, and loads of parmesan and you have a wonderful vegetarian dish that is high in protein, full of flavor and easy to make. But make enough, the non-vegetarians like it too!!
Road Trip! This weekend while visiting my sister in California we met up with some old friends of ours and decided to catch up over a long and winding ride up the Pacific Coast Highway, all they way to San Luis Obispo! The weather was gorgeous and the long drive was filled with great music and great laughs. There is nothing like catching up with old friends. Friends who know your rhythm, can finish your sentences and make you laugh until your face hurts. One of our friends had made a mixed cd of all the songs we used to listen to when we were younger and singing them out loud brought us right back to those days when we first met…embarrassing hairstyles and all! We arrived at our destination, a little piece of real estate that I am thinking of purchasing..ha! It’s the Hearst Castle, and after touring the grounds, too modest for my taste (!) we had an awesome picnic of fresh fruit, cheeses, salami’s and of course wine. It’s days like these that make me really appreciate the friends I have. We may not be all in the same place, but in our hearts, we are never far from one another.