Thursday, July 31, 2008

Makin' me hungry

Wine blog God, Alder Yarrow, wrote a fantastic post yesterday on the restaurants with the best brunches in San Francisco. Whether or not these particular spots are of relevance for you, his description of what makes a brunch is salivating and spot on.

Check it out here. And pass the beignets, please.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


This week the California division of my little company (meaning, my boss and I) entertained Luca Tommasini, the bashful, handsome, kind, and quick to laugh owner of Sangervasio winery. He arrived to great fanfare last Saturday, when we picked him up at SFO and whisked him northward to his temporary home in the Napa Valley, where we would spend a week furiously calling on accounts, working consumer events, and squeezing in some fun here and there.

Notice a particular word in my last sentence - week. We entertained Luca for a working week. In my last job, working for the distributor, the most I ever had to entertain a visitor was for a day. I would pick them up in the morning, drive them around to various accounts all day, stop at some point for a leisurely lunch, maybe do an event in the evening, and then hand them over to the next rep the following morning. For me, this entertaining a supplier for a whole week was an entirely different beast. We worked all day at a flying pace, and were barely able to rest before starting again the next day. Beds went unmade in the morning and faces went unwashed at night as we put our routines on hold to accomplish two missions - show Luca a good time, and sell as much of his wine as possible.

Some highlights of the week were:

- Going to a Giants game on Wednesday. I love baseball, and this was my first chance to go to a game out here. Plus, it was Luca's first baseball game, period. We ate kielbasa, drank Sam Adams, and screamed our asses off when the Giants made a game-winning comeback in the 8th inning. It was Americana at it's best.

- Dinner at Perbacco on Tuesday. One of the best Italian restaurants in San Francisco, not to mention an account that I am fervently trying to win favor with, we were all looking forward to introducing Luca to their wine director, a handsome native of the Veneto, and a self proclaimed appreciator of beautiful women. The introduction went swimmingly, and in addition to a beautiful array of house cured meats and homemade pasta dishes, we consumed what is, up until this point, the most beautiful bottle of Barolo I have ever had. It was one of those meals of a lifetime that will be remembered not only because of the exquisite food and wine, but because of the stunning service, our being treated to the best table in the house overlooking the kitchen, and of course, the wonderful company. We learned from Luca that the word perbacco is used as a sort of exclamation in Italian. For instance, at the end of a great meal, one would throw up their hands and declare "Perbacco!" over the whole situation. Which we did.

- Turning Luca on to Peet's. Since my morning routine was so hurried and I was getting less sleep every night, a morning stop at Peet's became a very necessary part of every day. On our second morning together, Luca came with me. He had a double espresso and a vegan chocolate oat muffin, which he ate hurriedly at the sugar bar. Once back in the car, I was pleased when he pronounced the espresso molto bene. However, the ultimate satisfaction came later when we dropped him off at the end of the night, and he asked me what time I would be picking him up in the morning. "And we will stop at Peet's for breakfast?" he would ask before getting out of the car. "Si," I would declare with a smile. "Bene. Good night!" This exchange repeated every day for the rest of his trip.

- Touring Clos du Val on Friday. As wonderful as Italy is, there is definitely one place where we Americans have them beat - capturing and capitalizing on the tourism aspect of the wine industry. Here in California, almost every winery has a beautiful, new-looking tasting room where flocks of wine enthusiasts can gawk, taste, and experience the birthplace of their favorite libations. Very few wineries in Italy offer that sort of adventure unless you are an insider with serious industry connections. And a rental car. And a companion who is fluent in Italian. So for his final afternoon in California we decided to take Luca to a few of Napa Valley's finest so that he could get some ideas that perhaps he could take back to his own property.

I have always been a fan of Clos du Val - in fact of most Stag's Leap wineries that aren't Stag's Leap Winery themselves - so I was anxious to check them out. We were not disappointed. The property was beautiful, and our tour guide was a talkative, middle-aged farmer who was all too excited to let us know all about their processes. We walked through some of the vineyards and inspected the grapes at close range, which for me held a certain magical appeal. While I've made probably half a dozen trips to Napa before, and visited what feels like a ton of wineries, this is my first time actually seeing grapes on the vine. Before, I have always come in either spring or late fall - either right before the grapes have burst into action, or right after then have been plucked and fermented. So for me it was exciting to walk through the vines and inspect, touch, and nibble on the grapes for the first time. Plus, their 2006 Carneros Chardonnay was a surprise hit during the tasting. Very little oak, incredibly crisp and delicious.

All in all, it was a fantastic and exhausting week, from which all of us have spent the past two days indulgently recovering. The work was hard, but well worth it. It is weeks like these that drew us to this business, and that make this all so satisfying. The people, the events, the laughter, and the experiences are priceless. Luckily, it is a beautiful weekend and we can all retire to the poolside with a book or two to recharge for this coming (thankfully, Italian-free) week.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


It seems that Napa and I have the same colorist.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Executive Decisions

Yesterday my boss and I volunteered our time and poured wine at the Napa Valley Humane Society "Cause for Paws" event. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the shady setting at one of the nicest country clubs in town made for a great event. Lots of wineries and restaurants were sampling their wares, and Napa's best, brightest, and ahem... richest... were out.

As the event was winding down, we couldn't help but notice a rather attractive guy hovering about fifteen feet away.

"1:00, striped button down," I whispered to her.

"Mmm-hmm... I could see you on his arm."

He continued to hover.

"I'm going to use my Vulcan powers to channel him over here," she joked. After pouring wine in the sun for four hours, we were beginning to get punchy. "Hmmmmm... you want to taste some Sangoivese..." she hummed with her eyes closed.

And damn if it didn't work.

A few minutes later he was at our table, and we were chatting shyly. How long have you lived here, what do you do, etc, etc, etc. He threw his card into the raffle, and danced around asking me out. Finally, we had to go.

"Ok, well it was nice to meet you," I said with a grin.

"Yeah, you too... um... um..."

"Here's my card," I interjected. "I'll be living here for another few weeks."

"Ok, great!" he said as I hopped on our golf cart and was whizzed back to my car.

A few hours later we were sorting through the raffle rabble, and I took it upon myself to make an executive decision.

"Well, would you look at that? The hot guy won the raffle!"

"What?" my boss said. "Coincidence?"

"Nope. Not at all. As Northern California Sales Manager, I took it upon myself to completely unfairly choose a winner. I guess I'll have to call him tomorrow."

"Good girl." And she meant it. There's a reason we get along so well.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Therapy in three parts

No one said that moving across the country was going to be easy. But the thing is, for the last month and a half I've been floating on a cloud of not having to deal with much. My stuff is socked safely away, and I've been granted the privilege of living rent free in a paradise-ish house overlooking all of my new valley. Sadly, however, last week it all kinda came to a head. It is almost time for the movers to extract my possessions from the storage unit and drag them 2,500 miles to my new apartment in Sausalito. The end result will be awesome. Organizing the logistics has been a nightmare.

So for the first time in a long while, last week I began to feel something annoyingly familiar. That completely obnoxious part of my psyche that loves to obsess over minutiae began working overtime, and I found myself thrust into a world that I had blissfully escaped for a while - Stress Land.

I won't bore you with the details of what all is involved in moving your entire life across the country. Suffice it to say, it's complicated and not fun. But by Friday, I was ready to be done with the worrying and get back into the California bliss that I have began to get used to. And so began a three part process:

1. Getting wasted. On Friday night, my boss (who I am living with, remember) and I decided to host a cookout. We invited four people - all of whom accepted, and then proceeded to cancel within a few hours. It was oddly hilarious and humbling at the same time. So we did what anyone would do in this situation - had two stiff martinis each and then settled into the lounge chairs by the pool with a bottle of Champagne. Two hours later our sides were stiff from laughing so hard, and we made the genius decision to get into the hydrophonic pot brownies that had been buried deep into her garage freezer for way too long.

Not surprisingly, the evening ended with us watching Monty Python on DVD, drunk texting everyone we knew, and passing out gloriously on the couches. Luckily, I woke up around 4am and took some extra strength Tylenol before passing back out, so when I rose at about 10 the next morning I felt fine. And ready for part 2...

2. Retail therapy. Napa has an outlet mall, that I have somehow managed to avoid for the last six weeks. Saturday, though, I was ready to hit the discounts. Hard. After inhaling an In 'N Out burger just for good hangover measure, I rolled into the mall. Three shirts, a skirt, and a Coach bag later, I was feeling pretty good. Movers, who? I had just scored a camel colored leather tote for $125.

After my shopping spree I was feeling pretty good. I've been going along since Saturday afternoon in a better place, for sure, but still not quite back to center, mentally speaking. This afternoon, I finally realized what was missing.

3. A really good make out session. So I promptly scheduled a date for tomorrow night with a hunky ex-football player that I met a few weeks ago.

Give me another twenty-four hours, and I'll be back on track. Personally, I like this de-stress equation. Patent pending.