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I'm about to drink wine and eat french fries. Gourmet.edit: Yep...I liked my own post.

Don't you hate it when you have to take a big wet dump a little while after taking a shower?

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I'm back in the land of cold weather, wind, and snow. I left CA on a day it reached 90 degrees and arrived in Anchorage to 12 degree weather, caught a plane to Unalaska where it was 34 with 2 inches of snow on the ground. 358 days to retirement.

 

The trip was fun. GF and I arrived in CA on Friday 11/26 and slept most of the day. Had a nice dinner with my step-mom, brother, brother's fiancé. Left for the Napa Valley early on Saturday. Attended a wine tasting class at the Culinary Institute of America. I thoroughly enjoyed the class. It was scheduled for 2 hours but we went 3. Had lunch at the Tra Vignes. Wow, talk about good food. Very enjoyable and would recommend to anyone. Spent the afternoon window shopping in St. Helena. Bought some wonderful chocolates. Checked into our hotel in Napa and watched TV, ate cheese and crackers and drank wine.

 

Sunday we met with an old friend of mine and his new wife. Had lunch at the Bounty Hunter Grill. Another wonderful meal. BBQ with wine tasting flights. Completely different type of dining then previous day but no less enjoyable. Also would recommend. Went to a private tasting at Rutherford Hill Winery. ( I am a club member) I really like their wines. Picked up my quarterly wine shipment to save on shipping. I made a 3:00 pm appointment for a Cave Tour at the Del Dotto Napa Historical Caves which I bought as a wedding present for my friend. We forgot about the time while tasting and talking at Rutherford Hill so had to rush to make the appointment, but did make it.

 

If you have time for only one tour type of thing in the Napa Valley I will go out on a limb and say that the Del Dotto Cave Tour is the one to see. The Napa Valley is my favorite place in the entire world and I have spent several summers exploring different venues but the Del Dotto Napa Caves are by far my favorite. Not to be confused with the St. Helena Del Dotto Caves, which have their own ambience. The St. Helena Caves were built about 4 or 5 years ago and are all marble and crystal chandeliers, very nice but nothing like the Napa caves. The Napa caves were hand dug in the 1800's by Chinese immigrants. The caves are dank and musty and have an atmosphere that adds just the right feel to the tour. Both tours are wonderful but the Napa caves hold a special place in my heart.

 

A little history- Dave Del Dotto made his millions in the infomercial real estate game in the 1980's. You know, buy my tapes and make millions. Anyway, he also saw the future of late night tv so bought all the time slots on the major networks from midnight through 5 am. He held onto them for about 10 years and sold them at the height of the infomercial craze and made billions. After doing this he decided he wanted to make wine so bought a vineyard. He now makes exclusive wines in small batches. He only uses the initial squeezing of the grapes and uses custom made oak barrels.

 

So, onto the tour. The tour and Del Dotto wines are all about the barrel. They experiment with different barrels. The tour is a barrel tasting event that usually includes 10 to 12 tastings with as many "revisits" as you want. The just of the tour is that you get to taste what effect the barrel has on the wine. There are 9 different forests in France that produce oak for barrels. Then there is American oak from Virginia. On any different day or year they play with the barrels. They have a 9 oak wine and a 7 oak wine as well as American oak wine, and single French oak wine. The 9 oak has alternating staves from the 9 different French forests. The 7 of course has 7 different oaks. As part of the tasting you will taste identical wines that have been stored in different barrels so you can do a side by side tasting to see the dramatic difference the different oaks have on the wine. So you tour the caves tasting some of the best wine I've ever tasted. The only problem with this tour is that I really can't afford the wine they produce. I usually buy a couple bottles to store for future special occasions but the wine generally goes for between $75 and $220 a bottle. They apparently just bought a new vineyard and were having a special to promote the new vineyard so they were selling wine from that vineyard for $45 a bottle. This price will probably go up next year according to our guide I recommend you bring a designated driver or take a taxi because you will not want to drive after this tour.

 

We made it back to our room and my friends had to leave back home. We had another phenomenal dinner, this time at the Ristorante Allegria. Wonderful Italian inspired fine dining. Another I'd recommend.

 

We spent the night and left bright and early on Monday morning back to my step-mom's house where we dropped the truck and took BART to the Oakland Airport. We flew Spirit Airlines to Vegas, rented a car and drove to AZ. Toured AZ and visited Montezuma's Castle and Montezuma's Well. Both very interesting Ancient Indian dwellings. Took lots of pictures and enjoyed the 70-80 degree weather. Went shopping and ate some of the best Mexican Food I'd ever had in this little hole in the wall restaurant in Chino Valley. I think it was called Casa Grande. Very authentic Mexican food, family owned and local clientele.

 

Left back to Vegas on Halloween night. Stayed at the Stratosphere because it was the cheapest we could find at the last minute. Will NEVER stay there again. You get what you pay for and I should have known better then to skimp. Had an atrocious Italian dinner at their "Fancy Italian" restaurant. NOT RECOMMENDED. Went to play poker and their poker room manager pretty much just blew me off so we took a cab to the Bellagio and I played $4-$8 LH till about 3 am. Had an 11:30 am flight or I would have stayed longer. JUICY GAME. Extremely bad players. I think I may rethink my retirement plans and move to Vegas and live off the $4-$8 game. Absolutely killed the game and left up $300. Bad, bad, bad, players.

 

So the reason for this trip was that my little brother was getting married so we flew back to CA and got ready to help set up and stuff for the wedding. The wedding was held at a ranch in La Honda, CA. La Honda is in the coastal mountain range between the East Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Nice little place and the weather was awesome. We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Pescadero. It was called the Pescadero Bed and Biscuit. Very disappointing stay. The place was cute and had a lot of potential but the management made no effort to make our stay special. There were cob webs everywhere and the grounds were neglected. I could have forgiven that as the cottages and grounds were just cute. I usually hate that word but it works here. Anyway, this B&B was supposed to be a cook it yourself type of deal, not a problem I like to cook. We were told that breakfast was in the fridge, go to it. I open the fridge and there is a dozen eggs and a package of Thomas English Muffins...that's it, nothing else. No fruit, no juice, no sausage, no bacon, no milk, no cereal, no onions, no garlic, no nothing. So I guess they expected me to make a fried egg and put it on an English Muffin. I don't know what exactly happened but they dropped the ball here. I do not recommend this establishment which is too bad because with just the littlest of effort it could have been a nice stay.

 

So, the wedding went awesome and my little brother is hitched. The wedding was held outdoors and the reception was held in a barn. Very Country and Western themed and fun was had by all. They went off to Disney World for their Honeymoon and we went to Duarte's Restaurant in Pescadero. Duarte's was featured on Diner's Drive-ins and Dives and thier Cioppino was given very high marks by Guy Fiery. Now I've tasted Cioppino in many different venues and consider myself to be an expert on good Cioppino. Duarte's Crab Cioppino is ok, nothing spectacular. For good Cioppino I guess you have to go up the coast to SF and go to Alioto's or the Franciscan. Two of the best I've had.

 

All in all a pretty wonderful, albeit short trip.

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Hello? is this thing on? Did I break it? Is that an echo I hear?

 

355 days and counting. I need to keep focused. The winter has just started and I'm already tired of it. I have lived in AK for 23 years, 19 in Unalaska. I love AK and its been good to me but I am ready for warmer and less isolated places. Where is everyone? I read on FB that Ren went on a cruise. I'm still toying with this idea. I may have to just bite the bullet and go on one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Good evening folks, caught up. Nice report roger, sounds like a fun time had by all. Happy Thanksgiving to those that celebrated said holiday today. Home from satiating myself on turkey and all the other carbohydrates that go along with it.

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I'm back in the land of cold weather, wind, and snow. I left CA on a day it reached 90 degrees and arrived in Anchorage to 12 degree weather, caught a plane to Unalaska where it was 34 with 2 inches of snow on the ground. 358 days to retirement.

 

The trip was fun. GF and I arrived in CA on Friday 11/26 and slept most of the day. Had a nice dinner with my step-mom, brother, brother's fiancé. Left for the Napa Valley early on Saturday. Attended a wine tasting class at the Culinary Institute of America. I thoroughly enjoyed the class. It was scheduled for 2 hours but we went 3. Had lunch at the Tra Vignes. Wow, talk about good food. Very enjoyable and would recommend to anyone. Spent the afternoon window shopping in St. Helena. Bought some wonderful chocolates. Checked into our hotel in Napa and watched TV, ate cheese and crackers and drank wine.

 

Sunday we met with an old friend of mine and his new wife. Had lunch at the Bounty Hunter Grill. Another wonderful meal. BBQ with wine tasting flights. Completely different type of dining then previous day but no less enjoyable. Also would recommend. Went to a private tasting at Rutherford Hill Winery. ( I am a club member) I really like their wines. Picked up my quarterly wine shipment to save on shipping. I made a 3:00 pm appointment for a Cave Tour at the Del Dotto Napa Historical Caves which I bought as a wedding present for my friend. We forgot about the time while tasting and talking at Rutherford Hill so had to rush to make the appointment, but did make it.

 

If you have time for only one tour type of thing in the Napa Valley I will go out on a limb and say that the Del Dotto Cave Tour is the one to see. The Napa Valley is my favorite place in the entire world and I have spent several summers exploring different venues but the Del Dotto Napa Caves are by far my favorite. Not to be confused with the St. Helena Del Dotto Caves, which have their own ambience. The St. Helena Caves were built about 4 or 5 years ago and are all marble and crystal chandeliers, very nice but nothing like the Napa caves. The Napa caves were hand dug in the 1800's by Chinese immigrants. The caves are dank and musty and have an atmosphere that adds just the right feel to the tour. Both tours are wonderful but the Napa caves hold a special place in my heart.

 

A little history- Dave Del Dotto made his millions in the infomercial real estate game in the 1980's. You know, buy my tapes and make millions. Anyway, he also saw the future of late night tv so bought all the time slots on the major networks from midnight through 5 am. He held onto them for about 10 years and sold them at the height of the infomercial craze and made billions. After doing this he decided he wanted to make wine so bought a vineyard. He now makes exclusive wines in small batches. He only uses the initial squeezing of the grapes and uses custom made oak barrels.

 

So, onto the tour. The tour and Del Dotto wines are all about the barrel. They experiment with different barrels. The tour is a barrel tasting event that usually includes 10 to 12 tastings with as many "revisits" as you want. The just of the tour is that you get to taste what effect the barrel has on the wine. There are 9 different forests in France that produce oak for barrels. Then there is American oak from Virginia. On any different day or year they play with the barrels. They have a 9 oak wine and a 7 oak wine as well as American oak wine, and single French oak wine. The 9 oak has alternating staves from the 9 different French forests. The 7 of course has 7 different oaks. As part of the tasting you will taste identical wines that have been stored in different barrels so you can do a side by side tasting to see the dramatic difference the different oaks have on the wine. So you tour the caves tasting some of the best wine I've ever tasted. The only problem with this tour is that I really can't afford the wine they produce. I usually buy a couple bottles to store for future special occasions but the wine generally goes for between $75 and $220 a bottle. They apparently just bought a new vineyard and were having a special to promote the new vineyard so they were selling wine from that vineyard for $45 a bottle. This price will probably go up next year according to our guide I recommend you bring a designated driver or take a taxi because you will not want to drive after this tour.

 

We made it back to our room and my friends had to leave back home. We had another phenomenal dinner, this time at the Ristorante Allegria. Wonderful Italian inspired fine dining. Another I'd recommend.

 

We spent the night and left bright and early on Monday morning back to my step-mom's house where we dropped the truck and took BART to the Oakland Airport. We flew Spirit Airlines to Vegas, rented a car and drove to AZ. Toured AZ and visited Montezuma's Castle and Montezuma's Well. Both very interesting Ancient Indian dwellings. Took lots of pictures and enjoyed the 70-80 degree weather. Went shopping and ate some of the best Mexican Food I'd ever had in this little hole in the wall restaurant in Chino Valley. I think it was called Casa Grande. Very authentic Mexican food, family owned and local clientele.

 

Left back to Vegas on Halloween night. Stayed at the Stratosphere because it was the cheapest we could find at the last minute. Will NEVER stay there again. You get what you pay for and I should have known better then to skimp. Had an atrocious Italian dinner at their "Fancy Italian" restaurant. NOT RECOMMENDED. Went to play poker and their poker room manager pretty much just blew me off so we took a cab to the Bellagio and I played $4-$8 LH till about 3 am. Had an 11:30 am flight or I would have stayed longer. JUICY GAME. Extremely bad players. I think I may rethink my retirement plans and move to Vegas and live off the $4-$8 game. Absolutely killed the game and left up $300. Bad, bad, bad, players.

 

So the reason for this trip was that my little brother was getting married so we flew back to CA and got ready to help set up and stuff for the wedding. The wedding was held at a ranch in La Honda, CA. La Honda is in the coastal mountain range between the East Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Nice little place and the weather was awesome. We stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Pescadero. It was called the Pescadero Bed and Biscuit. Very disappointing stay. The place was cute and had a lot of potential but the management made no effort to make our stay special. There were cob webs everywhere and the grounds were neglected. I could have forgiven that as the cottages and grounds were just cute. I usually hate that word but it works here. Anyway, this B&B was supposed to be a cook it yourself type of deal, not a problem I like to cook. We were told that breakfast was in the fridge, go to it. I open the fridge and there is a dozen eggs and a package of Thomas English Muffins...that's it, nothing else. No fruit, no juice, no sausage, no bacon, no milk, no cereal, no onions, no garlic, no nothing. So I guess they expected me to make a fried egg and put it on an English Muffin. I don't know what exactly happened but they dropped the ball here. I do not recommend this establishment which is too bad because with just the littlest of effort it could have been a nice stay.

 

So, the wedding went awesome and my little brother is hitched. The wedding was held outdoors and the reception was held in a barn. Very Country and Western themed and fun was had by all. They went off to Disney World for their Honeymoon and we went to Duarte's Restaurant in Pescadero. Duarte's was featured on Diner's Drive-ins and Dives and thier Cioppino was given very high marks by Guy Fiery. Now I've tasted Cioppino in many different venues and consider myself to be an expert on good Cioppino. Duarte's Crab Cioppino is ok, nothing spectacular. For good Cioppino I guess you have to go up the coast to SF and go to Alioto's or the Franciscan. Two of the best I've had.

 

All in all a pretty wonderful, albeit short trip.

 

 

I'm totally jealous of your Napa jaunt. Lucky bastage! I'm glad you had fun. Sorry you had to go back to the cold weather. What did you do for Thanksgiving?

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Dave, Conner and I spent Thanksgiving at my SIL's in Cincinatti. Dave's parents and aunt and uncle were there, too. It was a good visit. I made the pumpkin pies. That's my favorite part of the meal to make.

 

So between this trip and the past two weekends, I have been away from home 11 days this month. I've had two weekends of Magic the Gathering events and then the holiday.

 

Next weekend, I'm working a local MtG event, too, all while trying to finish up all of my research projects and papers for my hell semester at IUPUI. In fact, I'm supposed to be writing about the Inquisition in Mexico right now. Blech.

 

 

In other news: I miss you fu ckers.

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I'm totally jealous of your Napa jaunt. Lucky bastage! I'm glad you had fun. Sorry you had to go back to the cold weather. What did you do for Thanksgiving?

 

Thanksgiving was very nice this year. My youngest was in town so I had both of my boys with me. We of course made the requisite turkey, mashed potatos and gravy, corn on the cob, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mac and cheese, homemade dinner rolls, aladix (Aleut fry bread), garlic green beans, pumpking pie, and Dutch apple pie. In addition to the boys and I, were my gf, her mother, her sister, her brother and his wife, and thier daughter. So we had a house full with enough food for another house full.

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Thanksgiving was very nice this year. My youngest was in town so I had both of my boys with me. We of course made the requisite turkey, mashed potatos and gravy, corn on the cob, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mac and cheese, homemade dinner rolls, aladix (Aleut fry bread), garlic green beans, pumpking pie, and Dutch apple pie. In addition to the boys and I, were my gf, her mother, her sister, her brother and his wife, and thier daughter. So we had a house full with enough food for another house full.

 

That's the way it ought to be!

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Today, I'm working on a short linguistics paper and hoping to get a good bit of a literature paper done, too.

 

"Look at the big brain on Brad." Anyone recognize? (or everyone) I really like this movie. My gf can't stand it.

 

It is my Friday. Not much going on as everyone has left town for the off season. They will all return in force starting 12/26. Our busy time is the dead of winter.

 

I made my world famous Turkey and Wild Rice soup today. (famous in my world) It was ok. I put it in the slow cooker this morning after getting off work and was planning on waking up and adding carots and celery but oveslept so it was lacking some texture. I really like making soups. I make a Tortilla Soup that is pretty awesome, even if I do say so myself. I had an artichoke soup in Pescadero and it was probably the best thing we had at Duarte's Tavern. I may try to recreate it or maybe just do my own. Anyone here like to make homemade soups? What is your favorite? What is your favorite that is made for you?

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I know it's not very gourmet, but I make a taco soup that is damn tasty. It's one of those super fast go to meals.

 

1 pound extra lean ground beef

1/2 onion

2 cans diced tomatoes (or one big one)

2 cans chili beans

1 can water (use the bean can- you might want a bit more water-your call)

1 can corn

1 packet taco seasoning

1 packet ranch dressing (dry-but actual dressing can be used in a pinch-it makes the broth a bit creamy)

 

So you do up the beef and onion in the bottom of a biggish sauce pan (4 quart?) and then add all the other stuff and let it simmer a bit.

 

I serve it with tortilla chips crumbled in it or corn bread.

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My Nana used to make a creamy potato soup that was really good that we always ate on Christmas Eve. She served it with the fried biscuit dough thing she called a scone. It is nothing like an actual scone.

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I know it's not very gourmet, but I make a taco soup that is damn tasty. It's one of those super fast go to meals.

 

1 pound extra lean ground beef

1/2 onion

2 cans diced tomatoes (or one big one)

2 cans chili beans

1 can water (use the bean can- you might want a bit more water-your call)

1 can corn

1 packet taco seasoning

1 packet ranch dressing (dry-but actual dressing can be used in a pinch-it makes the broth a bit creamy)

 

So you do up the beef and onion in the bottom of a biggish sauce pan (4 quart?) and then add all the other stuff and let it simmer a bit.

 

I serve it with tortilla chips crumbled in it or corn bread.

 

My wife makes this and it is delicious. I use it as a dip or crumble the tortilla chips like you said.

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Today, I'm working on a short linguistics paper and hoping to get a good bit of a literature paper done, too.

 

Cunning linguistics?

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