Monday, February 20, 2012

Napa Visit

Here are some memories from an earlier visit to Napa, starting one fine Sunday with Sunday jazz on the street in Berkeley, listening to stand-up bassist Brandon Essex play with a group that included an old friend, Vince Wallace, famous sax player in the Bay Area going back to the Sixties. This was followed by a glass of sauvignon blanc at The Wine Jar in San Francisco’s Fillmore (and more jazz) and then dinner at SPQR, highly imaginative Italian/NoCal: fried pigs' ears, quail stuffed with faro, and tiramisu that arrived as a kind of pancake riding on sweet cream and chocolate over which was poured a shot of espresso. Also very expensive glasses of Barbaresco and sangiovese. On the way detour to the Point Reyes lighthouse, beautiful Scotland-esque moors with the Pacific Ocean thrown in, stopping for Drake's Bay oysters sucked off the half-shell at old picnic tables looking over the water. That night in Napa friends Lori and Randy Dunn who loaded us into a jeep and drove us an hour straight up into wilderness, now sucking on Morgan chardonnay, and subsequently Spottswoode’s impressive cabernet sauvignon and Dunn’s unparalleled Howel Mountain cab with steak while sitting on top of a ridge overlooking forty miles of Napa Valley, the last of the sun bouncing off the ridge. We went down an even steeper track in the dark, cutting branches with big shears to get by, looking for mountain lions, and finished off with a (modest) palate cleanser of tequila (Ocho, Randy's latest find) and finally tooling very carefully down to St. Helena.

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