Posts tagged ‘Monterey’

California Dreaming

It’s a good day to be alive.”

Good morning from Monterey.  Yes, we escaped down the coast for a couple of days to enjoy the ocean, some good food, the Aquarium, walks along the rocks, to get away from it all.  You know, getting out into nature, see the bounty of the ocean, and then go eat some of them.  We humans are interesting creatures. But the world keeps crashing back in as the next episode of As the Trump World Turns brings a new astounding revelation and every day is a new twitst in the World of Village Idiot in Chief.  David Brooks, a conservative columnist from the NYT gave us this yesterday:

We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.

That’s kind of how I think about pundits trying to analyze him or put some strategic meaning into his follies.  He is simply a village idiot thrashing about.  A very dangerous village idiot.  One has to marvel at the White House’s latest denial of the “alleged” memo from ex-Director Comey about the Village Idiot in Chief’s (VIIC) asking for Comey to back off on the Flynn investigation.  Really?  Alleged?  This is how you do “business” in the business world.  Wink, wink, nod, nod.  Some people are just special.  But in government, where Comey has spent his career, you are always looking for snakes and documenting everything.  Of course the memo exists.

There is some expression among pundits feeling sorry for the communications staff.  I find that rather naïve.  Do you remember the editorials back in November and December by Republicans who told people that they should go to work for the Trump Administration because he will need help?  I laughed then because it was getting on a train heading for a train wreck.  Sean Spicer had to know on day one when he was asked to go out and lie about crowd size.  From day one on, if you had not figured out who the man was, you knew then, and that was the time to walk away.  What we see know is the rationalization of moral/ethical principles down the drain.

Oh, and one last thing, which I find hysterically funny. The VIIC’s best friend Vlad, is offering to provide transcripts of their meeting last week to help out VIIC.  We are depending on Russia to provide a true accounting of what happened?  They probably do have better transcripts than the VIIC because of the multiple listening devices they left behind.  Okay, I hyperbolize, but really?  We can’t trust the White House to give us undoctored transcripts so we are turning to the Russkis?  Think about where we are at, and then consider that some Republicans are simply troubled as opposed to hair on fire, let’s get on with a full investigation.

Here is what I can’t figure out.  The sooner they impeach him, the sooner they will have Pence (I got come up with a nickname for him) to actually pursue the “Republican agenda”.  So why not get it over with?  One thought is the investigation might raise the whole issue of the legitimacy of the entire election including Mike Pence.  The other is that when they do have clear sailing, I am not sure anything will happen because they are fighting among themselves.  See healthcare reform as Exhibit A.

So just another day in what Red American brought us.  You think next time those who didn’t vote, who idealistically voted third party, or voted for a village idiot to shake up the system will think twice.  Maybe, if we have a next time.

Vine/Wine Friday – Monterey Travels

Monterey Coast - 17 Mile Drive

Vine: So I am not in the vineyard this week as both my doctor and my wife have put me on restriction for a few weeks. Growth is amazing and I will put some pictures of “flowering” of the berries when I get home (See below). Grapes are self pollinating so if the weather cooperates we will see how big a set we get. Grenache is prone to shatter (many berries in a bunch not developing) so we will see. In the meantime, some thoughts on my trip to Monterey so far in the category of Wine.

Flowering in the Grenache - Little white stems

Early Flowering in the Mourvedre on the Patio











Wine: Okay, I am in Monterey on a little mini-vacation so I thought I would give you my thoughts since I have spent a lot of time down here in my past life managing environmental cleanups. The area remains unchanged. I was a little surprised because it is almost, well, empty. I thought we would be crawling over tourists and it is quite quiet which is a pleasant surprise. On the drive down, I always marvel at the California Aqueduct. It is a marvel of engineering moving water through the valley and to Southern California and I wonder if we as a country will ever do things as big or as important again. We can’t even seem to get our arms round high speed rail. Even Mexico has a high speed rail.

My date at the Corkscrew Cafe. She who cannot be mentioned in the blog.

It is always strange for me to drive past the old Fort Ord and there are few signs of it any more. I wonder if all our efforts to clean up its environment have paid off. Probably to some real estate development company. I assume Cal State Monterey is doing okay.  Oh well. We usually stay in Monterey because it is so convenient to walk anywhere. We came down a day earlier than planned so we could have a full day playing on Thursday. So after getting in around 3:30 pm we walked down to the Monterey Plaza Hotel’s Schooner Bar.  It has a great view of the surf, which was up, and their Bloody Mary’s are excellent. Besides it is about a 3/4 mile walk from our hotel to shake out the cobwebs after the drive.

From that it was downhill for food and wine. We were planning just a casual simple dinner that night so we went to Lappapalooza.  Big mistake.  Wines by the glass were very limited and their Syrah tasted like a giant fruit bomb that had spent its entire life soaking in new oak.  There was no there there, unless you like pure unadulterated oak, hold the wine.  Pinot was similar, another fruit bomb with no finish. Food was even worse.  Seafood tasted like it had been in the seafood drawer for a week, and the brick chicken tasted similar, but cured with salt so you wouldn’t notice.  Won’t be back and if they don’t improve, they won’t be there to be back to.  Then went over to Montrio Bistro for an after dinner glass of wine. The food there smelled and looked great, but their cab by the glass was grocery store wine.  Unless you are willing to invest in a bottle, get a beer.

One of my favorite toys. It still allows an old guy to get around

Okay, Thursday started off great. I took my bicycle for a ride along Ocean View/Sunset to 17 Mile Drive and it was stunning.  Surf was up, fog was in, and it was just a perfect way to start the day.  Then headed out to Carmel Valley to hit Talbot’s Tasting Room to taste their Pinots.  Once you got out of the marine layer, it was a beautiful day and Talbot’s did not disappoint.   So I invested some of my hard earned cash in their product.  Right next to Talbot’s is a little restaurant called The Corkscrew Cafe and it is wonderful.  I had a lamb gyro that was delicious.  She who must not be mentioned had a lovely pear salad.  Then as the marine layer moved off, we returned and walked around Carmel and just did the tourist thing.

As an aside, I was walking out of my hotel and a German foursome was just arriving and checking in.  I held the door for them so they could get all their luggage in and they were extremely polite.  All I could think of was please don’t judge us by the sorry state of our roads, parks, airports, and lack of train service anywhere, since they have all these in pristine condition.  But then again maybe that is how they should judge us.  We are a rich country that no longer shares our riches and our country falls in disrepair due to our selfishness.  But this is a vacation, on to wine and food.


Sturgeon with a wonderful spicy cannellini beans and other assorted vegetables

2010 Sonoma Kosta Browne Pinot

Shrimp, coconut fried rice, and spicy cabbage and jicama










That evening we had reservations at the Passion Fish and it did not disappoint. Better described as Wow! I had a warm Caesar Salad with fried anchovies, then sturgeon and some mixed bean and vegetable dish that was just outrageous. Their wine list is to die for and the 2010 Kosta Browne Sonoma Pinot was superb. Ended up buying two half-bottles because the first one was so good (I had a Sauvignon Blanc with the salad. Yes, I had a white to get things going) . She who must not be mentioned had shrimp with a black pepper rum sauce, coconut rice and a cabbage/jicama  that was delicious (See pictures). It should be mentioned that Passion Fish does not mark up their wines so you can splurge and have something very special.

Friday morning the marine layer was gone by 6 am so another amazing bike ride along the ocean, stopping to climb over the rocks in the surf, back to the Monterey Plaza Hotel for Peet’s and a muffin, and then on to the aquarium.  As always the aquarium is best seen early before it is taken over by shrieking children and clueless parents.  If you buy your tickets from your hotel, you don’t have to stand in line and you get two days of visits.  As always, I am transfixed by the sardines and jelly fish.  The sea otters were coming right up to the window and you felt as if you could reach right out and touch them.  Half hour later it was surround by mobs so again, get there early.

Jelly Fish at the Aquarium

Up Close and Beautiful

Outside the Monterey Aquarium on a beautiful day.









We planned a late lunch at Casanova’s in Carmel and were really looking forward to it. First we took the long way through 17 mile drive.  I had biked it, but she who must not be mentioned here had never seen it.  It is interesting to see how the .01% live.  Anyway Casanova’s bills itself as the most romantic restaurant in Carmel, but it was not.  I found the menu good, but very predictable.  The house wine was good (a Spanish Grenache for red, Garnacha).  I would have preferred a beer with my moules and frites, but none were on the menu.  Apparently beer isn’t romantic.  It was chilly and the tables outside the entrance looked cold so we elected to eat inside.  They did not mention that they had a protected back patio with heaters which would have been preferable.  The staff was attentive, but inattentive.  “How are you?  How is Your Meal? Wonderful selection, etc”, but not really there or interested in your reply.  I found it a little snooty and the staff into themselves as opposed to the customers.  Yeah, I want a lot in a dining experience, but compared to the Corkscrew (owned by the same guy) over in Carmel Valley, no comparison.

The next morning we left early for San Francisco and the Market.  I always drive up HW 1 because there is no traffic and it is beautiful.  The Ferry Building has THE farmers market on Saturday and if one can find fresh ripe tomatoes this early, that would be the place.  We had simple needs, a couple dozen oysters from Hog Island (they have a stand outside and sell in bulk), fresh sourdough bread from Acme, fresh tomatoes, garlic and lettuce.  We planned breakfast at Prather’s Meats since their egg and bacon sandwich with cheese and arugula is wonderful.  She who must not be mentioned ordered hers without egg and I said put her egg on mine and somehow that got translated to no cheese and no arugula.  Always check your sandwich before you walk off.  The stop was expensive because I somehow lost my sunglasses.  Well nothing is perfect.

Carpe Diem my friends. Please! Seize the day.

Then it was off to 4th Street in Berkley to shop a little, catch the Amtrak to the Coliseum to watch the A’s pull another one out on a home run in the 7th.  I have no idea who these guys are playing in A’s uniforms because it couldn’t be the regular guys.  Great seats thanks to my good friend Gary who could not make the game and gave them to me.  Hot though.  Then Amtrak back to Berkley and finally home to have oysters on the half shell (raw) and grilled oysters (just put a dab of butter and garlic on the oyster in its shell (shucked), sliced tomatoes, bread, and a nice Bumgarner Pinot.  The End of a perfect trip.  Carpe Diem.