Friday, November 15, 2013

Jelly Belly Tour

Victor did not take this tour years ago with me and the kids. Being a huge Jelly Belly fan, he wanted to stop by the factory.

We saw robots lifting crates and packaging, people sorting and removing misshapen beans, people adding ingredients to drums, and chutes and conveyers full of candy in transit.

At tour's end, we were given a bag of beans. Victor: Best tour ever! It cost nothing to see it, and my favorite candy at the end, free of charge!

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We keep driving past this poor, lone vessel, beached and terribly weathered. It's an advertisement of sorts for a marina, but it just makes me feel sad. It obviously was once a lovely boat.

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Five Pieces

With the caution that glass collecting was prohibited, I nearly failed to collect any. But I guess I am a junkie.

Later, at the museum, I discovered that it *is* in fact legal and acceptable to collect glass below the mean tide line. Perhaps I would have spent more time carefully selecting pieces or scrutinizing every inch of beach, if I had known. But I feel like what I gathered was representative: in no more than 5 minutes, I found a yellow and a cornflower blue, without even looking for them. And the whites were everywhere.

Victor, of course, found his rocks. He always looks for 'black' glass, which is usually mistaken for rocks and pebbles. Black glass is actually very dark green or brown. These pieces are not quite dark enough to be black but certainly look like rocks.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

New Perspective, Glass Beach

I bought a book at the museum that details how, from 1906 until 1967, trash was pushed over a cliff onto three separate beaches, each at a different point in time. The piles were often burned, creating big slag deposits. Once dumping stopped, however, the trash that was not biodegradable was gradually removed.

Also, there was a brothel on a small island offshore--that villagers dynamited. Yes, dynamited. So the island is now stumpy rocks.

My images of the three beaches, in the fog:

At bottom in the pic above is a slag pile, and it's easy to identify other castoff items.

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International Museum

Yes, there is an international museum of sea glass. It's in Fort Bragg.

So much gray, I'm jealous.

Obviously, one is allowed to take pictures there.

Look at all the yellow!

Some of the pieces are quite impressive. Others (above) merely enhance the proprietor's collection.

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We were pulled over in Mendocino. Victor was doing 69, in a county where some highways are 65, just saying. The statie was quite pleasant, but I could not avoid wondering where he was last year when, traveling within speed limits, we hit that owl.

Having removed himself with Victor's license, the trooper returned to ask me if I was Carolyn. Umm. No. Turns out some rental car ID number called up the Cali driver's license of a Carolyn something.

He decided against issuing us a ticket. The actually quite pleasant trooper recommended that we have lunch in Mendocino. We congratulated him on the wisdom of approaching from the passenger side, and pulled away. We tried to make it to a well-reviewed eatery but got there after they stopped serving lunch. So we went ahead and ate in Mendocino. Nice Rockfish.

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Glass Beach

I had expected to see more sizable, burnished pieces on Glass Beach (Fort Bragg). I had read a bit about this place, though, and had also prepared myself to see, perhaps, nothing at all.

What I did see was a surprise and a delight: tiny nuggets of glass populating the sandy, pebbly essence of the beach itself.

I knew that collecting was prohibited, but we saw many women, including a few with small daughters in tow, out with bags.

One of these pictures includes a red nugget, which I didn't see until we had long since left. Can you spot it? All were photographed in different areas of beach.

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Ocean in Fog

When we finally got to the coast, it was shrouded in San Fran fog. These are three views of one beach.

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Yesterday was a sea glass day during which we accidentally and happily encountered redwoods. The road to Sea Glass Beach from 101 was twisty and windy, so much so that I got a little queasy. Then it went nearly dark, and the temperature dipped by more than 15 degrees. We were passing through miles of old forest.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Temperature Variation

Not to rub it in anyone's face or anything, but what is the high in Massachusetts today?

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Mateo's Cucina

Replicating still more of last year's trip, we went to Mateo's in Healdsburg for lunch. Victor was not as impressed as I was. He says that Tu Y Yo in Somerville is just as good. The food at Tu Y Yo is very good, true. But the presentation at Mateo's is incredible, and the creativity of the cocktail menu, even the way the bill is presented to diners (in a hollowed-out book), place it in a superior class.

That's the margarita caliente, spicy and fresh. For our apps we had halibut ceviche and a trio of squashes with fresh cheese and pumpkin seed crackers. They do not offer similar apps at Tu Y Yo!

The colorful entrees both centered on suckling pig. Very indulgent. The red onions were a spicy pickle. The veggie medley included whole green baby hot peppers and blue cauliflower. I mean, really.

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Biodynamic Vineyard

DeLoach is operated biodynamically, which is to say: plantings control pests, creatures control growth, and the lunar cycles determine harvest. Their wines are fantastic, and nearly all are available only at the vineyard.

We did a wine and cheese tasting, which I did last year with Tress and Melissa. On our plates were the most amazing chocolate truffles...and we forgot to ask where to buy them! But we did become members, and we did buy wine.

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Pier 39

Today we followed Chinatown with another tourist trap, Pier 39. There was a Christmas tree up, and decorations. Weird when it's around 70 degrees. (Well, it was yesterday.)

We had lunch at the Crab House, and talk about a second home run! Victor's cioppino was the best he'd "ever had," and my garlic noodles with crab were incredible--nutty, delectable. Following, our Big Tuna Martinis and crab chowder:

Afterward we wandered down toward the sea lions, winter residents of the marina. Lustful males were barking and wrestling, while one actually mounted a female, before being knocked sideways by her mate. Exhibitionists.

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There are typos and repeated lines in the post below, and it is mistitled...Google won't let me sign in to change things, so: it stands. Sorry.

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Chinatown and Pier 39

This morning, after hot-tubbing, we jumped in the car and headed to This morning, after hot-tubbing, we jumped in the car and headed to Chinatown. My goal: a jade-inset ring, and a nice Mah-Jong set. Spent two hours walking blocks of low-end and high-end shops. Saw two rings that came close to what I wanted, but not so close that I had to assess their 'real'-ness. I saw a number of sets of Mah-Jong tiles, up and down Grant Street.

Indulge me. This is a tale.

I used to have a sub-middle-range set of Mah-Jong tiles in a nasty vinyl case. I developed a habit, of some 15 years standing at this point, of looking every so often for a new set--and not an American set. I wanted nice tiles. I love how they clack. I love how they look, when they have contrasting backs. So I have shopped Mah-Jong sets on craigslist and eBay, a lot. It's one of my most frequent searches and has been for years, even before I lost the sub-middle set. Oh...I stupidly brought that set into the classroom. B'bye.

On today's search, all except three sets were housed in the same grotty vinyl cases. The others: a nice-ish, fabric-covered case (blue and red), sub-par tiles, sun-bleached fabric; a so-so red-lacquered wooden box, sub-par tiles; and a so-so gold-lacquered wooden box, sub-par tiles. I don't care for red, so: gold? One sad, black vinyl case, priced at $50, held middling quality, ivory-hued tiles. I went back for it, a bit dejected. The tiles did not have contrasting backs. None of the tiles I had seen today had that detail, except some tiny plastic knockoffs (and I had those already, plus the Mah-Jong cards!).

Back in the store where I'd seen the black case, I couldn't find my way to the shelf with the games. Disoriented, I turned around...and there it was. Thrown on a rack below sundry items, as though rejected. My set. In a GREEN, fabric-covered case! I opened it and turned over a sealed tile set. They had bamboo backs! I closed it and scanned. No price tag.

I knew, from years of searches, that the bamboo backs were going to be at least a hundred bucks. And I was in Chinatown...tourist central. Markup city. I gulped and approached a young, an impossibly young salesperson. "Excuse me, how much is this set?" I'm thinking, how high do I go? If the price is up near $200, do I pay it? The response: um, $69?

You have never seen such rapid payment. I had to get out of that store before anyone realized that a mistake had surely been made. Surely. Five minutes later I found the same set on eBay for nearly twice the money, Buy It Now. Bidding to start at $89. I think I got a deal!

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Oh, Tra Vigne

How I adore Tra Vigne. it's not crazy fancy food. It's food cooked with attention and care.

The olive trees out back:

Just off the entrance, secluded patio dining:

Then the main room:

Again this year, we started with the mozz 'Al Minuto,' made in the moment when you order...

Yummy, but the real news was that cocktail. Made with bourbon, pear liqueur, fresh orange, cranberries, fig bitters, clove, and raw sugar, it was exquisite.

Victor followed it with a short rib hash, so unbelievably good that words won't do it justice ("rich" is what Victor says). I apologize that it's half-eaten in the pic.

I ordered the garlic pizzeta with warm cambozola. I am not a pizza fan, as anyone can tell you. But here (as in Italy, I am told), the crust is a thin platform for magnificence. Spread heavily with roasted garlic, this one was served with a head of same and chunks of oven-warmed cambozola to spread on each slice.

Cambozola is like a cool fat in your mouth, with a sinus tang of blue. The textures were perfect together. The flavors were...[sigh] just so good.

After we had gelato, pumpkin (me) and coconut (he). The anise seed biscotti that came with it was a final touch of genius.

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