Last fall, Amy Dickerson and I took a top secret trip to Santa Rosa, where we hung out with winemaker Kenny Likitprakong for a day in the life of his harvest. The fruits of our labor (and his) are currently out—ours in print, his in bottles. What a thrill to spend a day with Kenny and his crew—his crew being comprised of a few hardworking wine folk including his wife Lynn and their two darling girls. Lynn is not only a big part of Hobo Wine Co., but has her own illustrious wine label as well—my kind of woman.
Fun fact: their school-aged girls pull their own weight in the warehouse winery, eagerly jumping into the vats to assist in the daily press downs- hands down my most favorite part of the day with the Likitprakongs.
Kenny is churning out some of the best juice in the country right now. He makes food friendly wine (fruit-driven, high acid wine) that speaks the language of its land at a price point that he says he feels comfortable personally buying wine at. He’s on the verge of what is a new-ish trend in the US, great somm-darling wine at a fair price. The Old World has of course been hip to this notion for centuries. Kenny did his due time apprenticing in France, learning the lay of that land before getting back to his own California roots to start up his own vision.
Sharp, quick-witted, and warm—Kenny’s the kind of guy you want to follow on adventures and then kick back with over a cold beer. He’s got that enviable combo of hearty work ethic and laid-back ease, he is a skater dude at heart, so maybe that explains it. His environs don’t hurt either, it’s easy to feel both inspired and relaxed in Santa Rosa. In his daily life, the guy is a maniac, traversing the Northern California coast from Santa Cruz to Mendocino in his dusty pickup, sourcing and hand-testing grapes from various vineyards. He logs a lot of time on grape-clustered country roads, returning each day to his winery, where the magic that began on the vines continues. Three Cheers and a Cin Cin for Hobo Wine Co., they are really on to something.
Meet the Modern Farmer Fall 2015:
A few favorites from Hobo’s current releases:
Folk Machine Potter Valley Pinot Noir- we happily drank this beauty during an al fresco home-cooked dinner in the Hobo Winery. Maybe it was the company or the romance of the wine churning all around us— no, actually, this is just a really killer bottle. $24.99
Folk Machine Valdiguie- my go-to dinner party wine, a great label (looks great on the table- I know, I can’t help it, aesthetics are key) and even better blend. The fruit sings and the minerals and dirt dance- for real. $18.99
Folk Machine Parts & Labor- a longtime favorite and another perfect Cali. red blend. I used to buy this wine for a local wine market, it still sells out. Enough said. $14.99
Happy Weekend folks. What are you up to this winter’s-still-holding-on-but-officially-spring weekend? We’ll be hanging with the kiddos and then venturing into DC to see the legendary Rebirth Brass Band with some pals (thanks for the invite Linz!). Sunday, we’ll drive up to a wedding at NYC’s Four Seasons Restaurant (cue Bauhaus geekout- I’m such a nerd for this place). Our friends’ nuptials will be officiated by the incomparable duo of one James Lipton and one Betty Fussell (cue Actors Studio and culinary geekout). I have been dying to meet the iconic Fussell since my friend Amy D. so beautifully profiled her here and here. I pretty much just want to be Betty when I grow up.
Let’s hope the snow and wintery mix weather subsides, this time of year is such a tease. What adventures are you all off to?
What I’m Drinking:
Meryl and Stuart’s Signature Cocktail: “Wedding in Springtime” which, in Meryl’s words, features “bubbly Prosecco, the Italian aperitif Aperol, club soda, and a splash of rhubarb amaro, rhubarb being a harbinger of much-longed for spring!” Sounds delicious. A Few Things:
An award winning app that allows us all to catalog the family story. This is cool.
We had a little taste of summer this past week in Charleston, this photo seemed apropos for the way it made me feel.
Hello good people of the world and Happy Weekend to you. We have just returned from a whirlwind week of Spring Breaking in glorious Charleston- what a gem of a city, I can’t wait to round up my favorite spots. We stayed at the beach so we had the best of both worlds- town and country- we got charming city, crazy good food (I mean, really kind of nuts- full report to come), and long empty beaches with summertime breezes. More on all of that later next week.
What are you all up to this weekend? Spring may finally be peeking its head around the corner for us here in the Mid-Atlantic. At least it’s raining these days and not snowing, it can’t come soon enough.
Big sale at the Gap. Use code FFBEST for 40% off little numbers like this.
I’m attempting a paleo-esque diet for the next month starting tomorrow. After all of that Charleston goodness, something’s got to give. We’ll see how it goes. This book on baking with natural sugars seems like a step in the right direction.
And speaking of books, I just ordered this one to inspire me to dig a little deeper in my spring clean this year. Spotted on my pal Rashmi’s Insta.
This raw kale caesar with beet microgreens and poached egg reminds me of a transcendent salad I just had at Charleston’s The Macintosh- except their’s had tiny little pieces of fried cauliflower- what the what!
This book looks fun. The difference between the Queen’s English and our English.
“The sulfites give me a headache.” Chances are this is probably not the reason you’re getting a headache, so pop the cork on the bottle of red. Thank you Lettie Teague.
Happy Weekend dear readers. It has been a long week with my grandmother passing. I will head home today and try to get back to “normal” life. It’s been a wonderful week of celebrating our Meme and spending time with family and friends, a great reminder of what is most important in life. Our post-memorial reception turned into an all-night impromptu dance party and there’s not a whole lot in the world that a spontaneous dance party can’t cure- my grandmother would have loved it.
What are you all up to this weekend? We will be packing up the minivan and heading down to Charleston for some R&R, beach time with the kiddos and some serious eating and exploring. I’ll be sure to take copious notes and sketch out a great city guide based on our time there. We’re staying at a little beach house on the Isle of Palms, hopefully we’ll catch a few warm days. We’re looking forward to eating here and renting a bike to properly tour the charming city. We’re taking a Low Country cooking class here and taking the kids here. And if any of you all have any recommendations, please send them my way. I haven’t been in years so am really looking forward to some Southern hospitality.
What I’m Drinking:
Mint Juleps on our Charleston porch- rocking chairs required. Here’s a classic recipe from New Orleans bartender, Chris McMillian. And apparently Charleston’s The Gin Joint’s got one of the best Mint Juleps in the country. I might have to see for myself. In Other News:
This Geico ad is hilarious, I want to be in the room when these things are thought up.
How to get the most out of your cookbook collection- great tips from Lauren Salkeld.
There comes a time- and no better time than the middle of the deep-freezing winter- when your body and brain wish to simply retreat. Retreat- just what does that mean anyway? I don’t know, I guess it can really mean anything from retreating to your bedroom for a quick nap and a think, to going Hollywood and retreating to your Golden Door or Canyon Ranch, with lots of room for variation in between.
As defined by Merriam-Websters, a retreat is: a period of group withdrawal for prayer, meditation, study, or instruction under a director.
So, yes- it’s pretty vague, although it does stipulate “group withdrawal”- Girl Trip! Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter what it is as long your retreat provides a little cleansing and refreshing of the body and mind, right? I’m a big fan of the daily long shower retreat myself. But as for a bit more of a commitment involving a group withdrawal, it’s nice to make the effort to travel outside your local geographical zone and get your retreat on with some like-minded peeps.
Recently, my pal Rashmi Pappu suggested that a few of us creatively-inclined folks get together for a creative retreat. I jumped at the chance, as a bit of simple time spent away in a quieter place with some good folks, food, and drink is always a welcome respite. And if you are the creative type, always dreaming up new ideas and full of old ones that you haven’t quite grasped how to turn into actual creations (I’ve got a boatload of those jumbled in my brain), I highly suggest the retreat of the creative kind with kindred spirits as it’s a great opportunity to bounce said ideas off of one another, and really just enjoy some space, scenery and laughs- because that’s kind of what life’s all about, right? Add in a sustainably designed home, a world class winery, a charming country village and a top rated restaurant and you’ve got the makings for one inspired weekend.
We stayed at the small footprint but big thinking One Nest Project in nearby Delaplane. And when I say nearby, I mean pretty darn nearby. For the record, it took me 47 minutes to get to the house (if you subtract the wrong turn I took up a country lane which just added to the mystique and fun of it all- you have to get lost at least once, right?), yet another point for DC area living- it’s got this vast vineyard/countryside directly to the left of it that sits pretty and beautifully unspoiled. Once I hit Delaplane, VA., my shoulders literally dropped and out came a lengthy exhale. Ahh- country life. Bring on the retreating.
One Nest sits on stilts, eschewing a traditional foundation.
As I drove up the steep and winding road to One Nest, I was immediately impressed by how it is both perched and somehow nestled into its landscape. I was simultaneously wowed by its design and impressed by its respectfulness to its surrounds- it made me want to, I don’t know, bow my head and whisper “Namaste” to it or something. I didn’t do that, but still… One Nest is a residence and project by developer Mark Turner- a thoughtfully and beautifully designed home on a hillside with bucolic views of grazing cattle, horses and sheep, boasting a modern design that embraces its terrain. With soaring ceilings and drool-worthy iron-framed windows, this property is an experimental one- built in under 100 days for $150,000, it feels like a generous sized home but is actually a mere 1,000 square feet. One Nest is Mark’s attempt at a new style of living, one that is more conscious of space, sustainability and community. Read the feature on his One Nest Project in the Washington Post here.
One Nest Project
After a beautiful pesto pasta lunch made by my pal Amy Rutherford of Alexandria’s immaculately edited Red Barn Mercantile, we set off to RDV Vineyards to take in a glorious sunset and a bottle of their ’09 RDV Rendezvous. I don’t normally share the penchant for Points or opinions of critic Robert Parker, but in this case I have to agree with his spirited tweets about this particular vintage and bottle- this is some seriously good stuff. Sold out, you can still buy yourself a bottle at the vineyard. The Bordeaux of Virginia right here in our backyard (well, at least One Nest Project’s backyard and ours for a day).
Pink skies at RDV
Interior of the Silo- RDV (Photo by Rashmi Pappu)
And as for that sunset, I imagine that the city folks saw an impressive sunset that evening as well, but somehow I think ours wins by virtue of the countryside and the creative retreating and all.
Photographer Rashmi Pappu capturing and enjoying the moment.
Off we went, happily plied with a bit of Bordeaux-esque vino, to the top notch Ashby Inn- an impossibly cozy and charming combination of local haunt meets destination restaurant nestled in tiny Paris, VA. (I had to love that we ventured to Paris, VA. for dinner- that alone just made me happy.) Great food and drink ensued. My favorite dish of the night- a dashi custard seafood small plate, but honestly everything was delicious from the perfectly roasted quail to the house-made ricotta. After some conversation with our friendly sommelier, Stuart Brennen, I knew immediately what our bottle of wine would be. His eyes positively lit up while his hands theatrically gestured as he described the German Pinot he had recently acquired. Sold. The ’11 Baden Huber Pinot was a vino to love- vinified candy, juicy yet refined and light to medium-bodied, it proved a perfect pairing to the array of dishes on the table.
Baden Huber ’11 Pinot at The Ashby Inn. If you can get your hands on a bottle of this- please do so.
The breakfast of champions- avocado toast, a perfectly fried egg, and a bit of King Cake (not seen here because already ingested). P.S.: Rashmi got the baby! (Photo by Rashmi Pappu)
Paper and pencils in hand- the spitballing session begins.
The next morning provided a perfect opportunity for brainstorming, spitballing, and of course, lounging. Lindsay made fried egg and avocado toasts with a bevy of fixins and we noshed and enjoyed our environs. Hungry from all that brainstorming, we made our way into Middleburg for a cozy lunch at The French Hound. Chef’d and owned by John Gustin Birkitt, a Virginia local who made his mark at Napa’s Brix and Domaine Chandon, later making the culinary rounds in Provence, his menu is just the one you want to choose from on a chilly Sunday in February. We sat next to a roaring fire and dined on salted radishes, pommes frites, burgers and BLT’s. Yum, I highly recommend.
Lunch at The French Hound= happy-making
A brisk walk around town and a cup of coffee later, I headed home. Another added bonus of retreating- it’s always nice to return.
I don’t know why we don’t do this creative retreating thing more often. I walked away from this brief moment away full of inspiration and ideas and more importantly, good memories and a bit more space in my usually cluttered brain. It’s always a good idea to gather- both the gathering of one’s thoughts and the gathering of one’s good people- throw in a beautiful backdrop (cue super cool house, countryside and awe-inspiring sunset), add in some good food and drink- and bam- you’ve got yourself a retreat to write home (or on le blog) about.
I wonder if these sheep are creatively retreating? (Photo by Rashmi Pappu)
The Makings of the Perfect Virginia Countryside Retreat:
THE FOOD: The Ashby Inn- fine dining in the chic little country town of Paris with new(ish) chef to the Ashby Inn, David Dunlap. Market Salamander- get your gourmet on here, a terrific little market stocked with lots of yummies. Home Farm Store- a grand food hall in a stunning old bank building packed with foodstuffs galore. The French Hound- beautiful French country cuisine in the heart of Middleburg.
It’s probably been over 25 years since I’ve seen Steve Martin’s Roxanne, I don’t think I’ve seen it since it was first released. I remember seeing it with my parents and little brother at our local AMC, we went to the movies together as a family a lot which I always loved. More recently, I caught this clever comedy on a snowy day last week during my kiddos’ naptime, it was playing on the Retro channel or something, I’m really dating myself here- just all around. A genius idea to rework Cyrano de Bergerac, Martin’s modern day Rostandian characters are living full out in 1987 and as a creature of nostalgia, it really makes me smile. It’s also pretty great. Daryl Hannah has never been better, the script is terrific, tight, funny, and makes me wish Steve Martin would write more adaptations. “I’m afraid of worms, Roxanne, WORMS…”- anyone?
Shot in the small ski town of Nelson, B.C., watching this movie really kicks up my quixotic tendencies. I have this thing about small towns. I probably need to wind up in one at some point. Maybe it’s because I’ve never lived in one but they always make me swoon, those darling little Main Streets, the Cheers effect-what with everyone knowing your name and such, the volunteer fire departments, the community bingo- I’m in for it, all of it. On the reality side of my brain (appropriately nicknamed Sancho), I know these darling small towns cannot possibly be so perfectly picturesque and quaint and are sure to be riddled with the same problems that my big cities boast, but a gal can dream. Quiet down Sancho, I’m waxing poetic here.
The forest green pines that fill the screen and serve as Roxane’s nature-made backdrop are so beautiful, I feel like I can almost smell the fresh mountain air- or maybe it’s just Steve Martin’s giant nostrils in the movie that are igniting my olfactories to an inanimate image. Oh Steve Martin, why are you so awesome? The Insults to a Nose scene at the local bar- genius. I always wish I had that kind of a comeback.
In case you’re like me and you’re pining (no pun intended) for a small mountain town escape, here are a few to chew on. Bend, Oregon- I’m looking at you.
But back to this inspiration. Imagining myself in this quaint little mountain town in the midst of this old love story turned anew (well 80′s anew anyway), we go on location, here’s what we may look like in pretty Nelson:
Crossbody Leather Bag- just like the one Daryl effortlessly sports throughout town. Not dated, just cool.
Happy Weekend dear readers. Don’t you love this tea shop? The Crooked House of Windsor, one of the oldest still-standing tea houses in England, and that’s old. It’s on the list. I hope you are off to a tea-sipping, enjoyable weekend. As of Sunday, January 2015 will be forever over and done with- it’s so crazy how fast time flies. I’m not necessarily sad to say goodbye to January as a month but I am unnerved but how quickly this time thing operates. (take a breath, enjoy the moment- these are the mantras on continuous loop in my head). I never felt this way, at least not so intensely before I had children, now I am all too aware. What do you all do to combat the flying of our time?
What I’m Drinking:
Those of you who read my blog know I enjoy a glass of rosé throughout the year and especially in the winter, so I’m back on the pink juice. I’m currently sipping a rosé of grenache made by Elizabeth Spencer from the prettiest little town of Mendocino and it is killer. It’s juicy and chock full of bright cherry and strawberry fruit flavors- like a luscious strawberry jolly rancher without the sugar rush with a dry and finessed finish. If you don’t spot this one in your local shop, look for anything from Provence, rosés from Tavel and Bandol (my all-time favorite rosé region) will not disappoint. A little pink pickup is just what the dr. ordered during the dog days of winter.
These little scrapbooky photo journal books are awesome and can all be made via apps on your phone. I never print photos anymore and I certainly don’t make any albums, much less from our traveling adventures. I love this- so easy.
According to Gabrielle Hamilton, author and chef of NYC’s famed Prune, and all around badass, we should all be sipping savory teas. If she recommends it, I’m doing it. Have you read her book, Blood, Bones, and Butter?- so good.
Ha. A great follow up to The New Yorker’s How To Fall In Love with Anyone- this is funny.
Hilarious. A mom of two boys moonlights on Pinterest as a hipster mom with a sickeningly hip daughter named Quinoa basically making fun of people who dress their kids in jeans like this.
Just a few things that are floatin’ my boat these days:
1. An outdoor canvas painting free for all. Maybe the cold weather is making me love this but it does looks so fun, doesn’t it?
2. Julia’s always on my groovy list, her preserved Cambridge kitchen at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum is one of my official Happy Places. This article from The New Yorker archives, passed along by my friend Rashmi (follow her Insta- so fun and inspiring), made me smile. Have you read “My Life in France“? -one of my favorites. I vow to get to Le Pitchoune one of these days for cooking classes in Julia’s Provencal home.
3. My new favorite bauble. I can’t justify the splurge but I’d like to. The designer, Moorea Seal, designed ye olde blog as well, with yours truly. I’m a fan.
4. A Loch Ness Ladle. Just because. (not available until Feb. but you bet I’ll have that little Nessie swimming in my soup pot)
8. Stowe, Vt. Maybe because the VonTrapp Family has their own lodge there or White Christmas was inspired by the pretty Vermont town and I’m always a sucker for Rosemary Clooney and that silly ass song, “Snow”- I don’t know, I just want to go.
Happy Weekend dear readers. I hope you are all of to some fun adventuring. We are playing it low key this weekend. In fact, I cannot even think of what we have planned which is pretty great. The hubs and I are going to get out for a minute to a geeky wine tasting to test our blind tasting skills. A friend in the wine industry is hosting and it will be a $15/$50 party- attempting to guess which wine is worth what. It should prove a challenge because the host himself has some seriously refined tastebuds so the $15 vinos are sure to be tasty. Anyway, should be fun and it’s a good idea for a gathering.
What I’m Drinking:
Lately, in additon to my Orange crush, I’ve been sipping Italian reds. ‘Tis the season for a hearty red and not much floats my boat (or palate) more in the dead of winter than a few sips of some dirt & cherries (aka Tuscan reds). I opt for a Rosso di Montalcino as I’ve written about many a time before on le blog, the baby sister of its older and more refined sibling, Brunello. You can get a lot of bang for your buck here with the Rosso, it still ain’t cheap but it is delicioso.
A Few Stellar Bottles:
Altesino Rosso di Montalcino ’12- a steal for $23 from a wonderful Tuscan house run by a female (gotta love that). Their wines are all stupendo. Dirt and cherries finessed with a bit of wild herb perfume. So good.
Fonterenza Rosso di Montalcino ’11- this one you’ll want to put on your dining table at your next dinner party. The label’s so pretty, you have to show it off and maybe use it as a vase after that. Imported by the legendary Louis/Dressner, it’s simply awesome. Biodynamic, organic, natural and drinking like the land- it’ll put you right under that Tuscan sun and in Jan., that sounds pretty good. $36
A hotel inspired by an amethyst. Interesting and pretty.
I made these Buttery Braised Leeks at the recommendation of my good pal Rashmi and they were a HUGE hit. She made them sans topping and was a fan. I could not resist the crispy, cheesy panko topping and it went over big time. I highly recommend.
Another friend recommends this NY Times Bok Choy recipe. I don’t have enough Bok Choy in my life in general, looking forward to trying this.
Mind your own, err- Make your own beeswax. So easy, even I can do this and makes a great present.
And while we’re talking homemade, how’s about some homemade Twix? Yes please.
Funny. I love Emily McDowell’s illustrations, just looking at this makes me happy. What do you consider exercise that’s probably not? I’ve personally always done butt crunches while waiting in line. Ha.
I don’t myself used LinkedIn, but for those of you that do, this looks helpful. A little zhush for your LinkedIn profile, why not?
I love these socks and who doesn’t always need a few more pairs of socks especially when they’re comfy, cute, the company gives back and there’s a discount code. Check it.
My pal Rashmi also turned me on to The Points Guy and by the by- you can hook yourself up with a ticket to Milan right about now for $399. Say What!
We’ve all seen the wood bead chandeliers like this one that might make you feel like you were living in ABC Home (if you had 15 foot ceilings and mammoth Broadway-facing windows) but alas, these babies are pricey. Enter the World Market’s version. It’s not nearly as fancy but for $269, it’s a pretty good compromise.
It’s a brand new year and I’m really a lot less upset about the end of the holiday season than usual. I’m jazzed for a clean, bright and fresh new start. Of course when I’m in the humdrum of my daily routine I don’t feel so fresh and so clean but still- it’s a new year and with a new year brings new ideas, new opportunities, new friends, new bites, new sips and new experiences. Bring it. I’m pretty much psyched for every moment I can get.
I’m not making a big resolution this year mostly because I never really see it through- lose 5 pounds- whatevs. I’ll do it if I do it. No, mostly I’m all about the fun this year. I just want to be present and have a blast with my kiddos, my family and friends. I’m inviting the fun people, let’s make some memories.
The first day of the year proved to be pretty predictable for me as I set to my calendar to start planning parties, getaways and full blown vacations. Sound trite? Maybe but all this planning business around food, friends and family is my happy maker. My 40th is this year and I’m taking a much awaited trip with my best girls. 7 of us from college, we are all turning forty within the year so we’ll celebrate together though we are geographically far apart. We span the globe living in Hong Kong, San Fran, Vail, New Jersey, Connecticut, Indiana and DC. We try to get together at least once a year but it’s rare that we can all gather together in the same place, this will be special. We cannot decide on where to go. It will be late July and we all have kids, so we can’t get away for too long (that means staying in country) and we probably don’t want to go anywhere south of the the Mason-Dixon line to avoid the heat factor. We are going back and forth- if you have any big ideas, please post them below. We’re thinking Northern Cali. or Nantucket…
What I’m Drinking:
This is E11even Wine. An awesome Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir for under $20. My new favorite from badass winemaker Andrew Murray. I had a glass of this last week at the famed Rose’s Luxury here in DC- by the way, we waited a whopping 3 hours for our table and I have to say, it was well worth it. The wine list is so good, I wanted to crumble it up into a ball and eat it. This was a great addition to our meal and a new fave plus it’s named after a line in This is Spinal Tap. My hubs and I modeled our 11 day rule after that very scene (we try not to be away from each other for more than 11 days at a time- we’ve kept to it in our 6 years of marriage). But I digress, this stuff is great.
This Poutine. French Fries and Gravy with Cheese to boot? Come on now.
This Blood Orange Shrub. I’m making this for my next dinner party- the better to awaken my guests’ palates with, my dear.
This Movie. I’m a big Rob Marshall fan- the guy is masterly in his musical theater ways. I think his Into the Woods is aces, plus I just love listening to those Sondheim lyrics. Talk about masterly. Die hard Sondheim fans have their panties in a twist about the changes made, but guys- it’s the film adaptation not another stage production. I think he done good. I laughed, I cried- it’s good stuff.
This Food Passport. I’m stealing this idea pronto. I love lists. The only thing I like more than a list is a Passport- so this is a duh.
This Wine Gifting Idea. Who doesn’t want a cute tea towel with their bottle of vino? Not just for any old host, this one’s for the one with the most.
This City. Because it’s always a good idea. My good pal Alana Stone just put out her Analogue Guide to the great city and she knows the deal. You bet I’ll be looking for some last minute deals to the City of Lights- winter is a good and cheap(er) time to visit.
Cin Cin and a very good start of the year to you!
Former showgirl, forever travel junkie, sometime sommelier, and mom to twin bebes. This little blog is a mixed bag of tasting notes, travels, tales of motherhood, and current musings. Thank you for stopping by. Cin Cin! (photo by Amy Dickerson for Anthology Magazine)