lulu, hillsider companion

lulu, hillsider companion

Friday, October 31, 2014

the coast gets better and better

just returned from three days on the far north coast, mostly in the trinidad/arcata/blue lake area, and boy was it good. weather all over the map, from perfect northern California fall mild temps and purest blue skies on sunday and monday to gray, wet and chilly tuesday.

folks who have never been as far north as eureka and its neighborhood have no idea what they're missing. it's sort of a combination of most of the cool stuff to the south: mendocino's weather and determination to preserve its past; sonoma county's agrarian orientation (although that's becoming a touch strained), with its vintner/farmers, craft dairy industry (as in great cheesemaking), and small-town restaurant culture; and, last but not least, the redwoods and rivers, and all that goes with them.

we stayed in the emerald forest inn (trinidad) again, and enjoyed it just as thoroughly this time as last, although housekeeping seemed a little looser. dinner twice at the eatery (also trinidad), and it, too was again a win: fish and chips (fresh-caught local cod) and sobon estate's (amador county for those of you not familiar) old-vine zin, which was excellent and was a nice foil for the beer batter on the fish. also dined one evening at trinidad's other seaside restaurant, which shall, because my momma told me never to say anything if you can't say something nice, go unnamed. suffice it to say that this was our second attempt to find something to love there, but once more we were unsuccessful; in fact, we were bitterly disappointed: miserable wine list, poorly-conceived and equally-as-poorly-executed menu, and inattentive service (especially for 90 bucks) left us with a resolve never to return. with us it's two strikes, not three.

in closing, a note for you wine lovers: get out and find yourself some mc nab ridge. these are apparently the current effort of the parducci family, an old-line mendocino winemaking family who have had their ups and downs, as have we all, but who have seemingly figured it out again under the guiding hand of rich parducci, whom I have never met, and whose relationship to the patriarch, john parducci, a long-ago friend of mine, I'm not yet sure. what I can tell you right now is that the 2013 chardonnay and the 2012 old vines zin "family reserve" are both excellent, and are bargains to boot, at +- $16 and $25 respectively. their website is money well spent, I assure you.

enough. more in a day or so. please feel free to share this site with friends who love good wine, good food, and the wonders of northern California.         

Saturday, October 25, 2014

rain on the hill

hard to believe, but we're finally seeing some rain push in off the pacific and then find its way the 150 or so miles across the coast range and trinity alps to our little corner of the north valley. so far, in the last four days, we've gotten one pretty good soaking (for us, anyway) and a couple of hours of drizzle and spitting yesterday. tomorrow nothing expected, but then we should get into a pretty sweet pattern for a few days, with a nice system swirling our way. fingers crossed here...

otherwise, kind of quiet at present. the upside is that we're taking off on sunday for one of our favorite places to hide out, eat great fresh pacific seafood, and drink obscure far north coast wines, and I'm way past ready for the break. most of the half-dozen or so of you who know me and/or read this will know that likely means we're bound for the little coastal hamlet of trinidad, located off highway 101 just about 15 or so miles north of beautiful eureka, land of ancient redwoods and more recently seeded marijuana plantations. and you'd be right.

as for the obscure wines, more later, because some of them are remarkably good considering they're generally not found outside a three or four county area (humboldt, mendocino, shasta, and maybe trinity), and then only on a hit-and-miss basis. first, though, a heads-up for any of you planning a trip to or through the eureka/arcata/trinidad area anytime soon: two recent discoveries of ours are the emerald forest inn (a jewel of a back-to-the-past little lodge/motel hidden in the redwoods just outside trinidad), and a tiny restaurant called the eatery, in trinidad's picturesque "downtown" area a few blocks from the waterfront.

the emerald forest inn is an institution of many years' time, and is best described as what it undoubtedly began its life: a forest lodging for those who value peace, quiet, and close commune with nature. the accommodations consist of a grouping of cozy little individual cabins of varying interior layout and levels of creature comfort, according to the size of your party and desire for amenities, as well as a camping ground for those who prefer to tent-and-sleeping-bag-it, and extensive space is reserved for the use of the rv set. the cabins are clean, snug, and well appointed, prices are reasonable, management is responsive, and your neighbors are usually quietly considerate, with no after-hours nonsense. we recommend.

the eatery is pretty much what it sounds like: a small, homey, neighborhood-type restaurant sitting unobtrusively on trinidad's little main drag that winds to the waterfront. the service is attentive and conscientious, if not professional; the wine list is small, but with interesting regional/local efforts offered by the glass; the food is reasonably priced,  fresh and very well-prepared, more or less simply, and is always good, if not even better. again, we recommend.

okay, time for bed. we're leaving early in the morning for the coast: eureka (love the old downtown district, especially the bookstores and bars); trinidad, for the reasons mentioned above; and points north and south. more when we return, including wines, which I've run out of time and space to discuss tonight.

don't forget to vote.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

workingman's wine

welcome to our first ever-effort at getting our long-promised blog up and visible to anyone who cares, which may or may not be anyone at all other than me and the few people who have worked to fix the technical problems that have plagued us for a while.

clearly, even though we're about to send this first post sailing out into the ether more or less just so we can say we did, what we have here, at least at this present moment, is a pitifully ugly-duckling and basic site, but we assure you that we're pretty quick learners, and expect this thing to get better (prettier, anyway) fast.

having had a lot of time to think about what I hope to accomplish with this site while we were trying to figure out why nothing was working the way we were told it would, and having had second thoughts about trying to do too much too soon here (not a new issue for me), I have come to the realization that I can do a couple of things that matter most to me from day one.

first, I can set the stage for what I intend to accomplish with this site from the perspective of conscientiously and relentlessly working to introduce to every single person who bothers to visit and read this now or in the future, the incredible wealth of stuff  to see, enjoy, and live in the world that is far northern California. particularly if you care about things like wine, food, mountains, rivers, and people without pretensions. not pointing any fingers, mind you, just saying.

second, I hope to be able to bring to the attention of the aforementioned people who care about the aforementioned stuff some specific folks who farm, ranch, cook, bake, or otherwise create certain products, whether they be wines, beers (lots of that around the north state), tamales, pies, cheeses, olive oils, boots, or something else entirely, who might without this little bit of help go unnoticed amidst the general goofiness that is the world as we know it today.

and, speaking of wine, many of you will be hearing and learning for the first time that we here in the lesser-known far reaches of the north cultivate something other than marijuana. true enough, there's a lot more acreage planted to the weed than to vinifera, most of it illegal and hidden away on public lands far out in the foothills, but it's more enjoyable and much safer to drink a new clairvaux barbera, for instance, with a furnari sausage crackling-hot off the grill or a mount Tehama petite sirah with a smoky-rich bourbon-sauced plate of brick's ribs than to hunker down in your crazy neighbor Dave's darkened den to suck on a joint while watching Monday night football, drinking a miserable light beer, and eating potato chips and twinkies. so I've been told.

continuing to speak of wine, I might as well say up front that our main focus will be what I call workingman's wine, meaning those that can be bought pretty much any day of the week for $25 or less. sometimes a lot less. and that's not only because that's mostly what we produce up here in the wilds of Shasta, glenn, and Tehama counties; more to the point, I guess, is the fact that those of us who drink it every day as a part of a healthy lifestyle, can't afford to spend $1000-1500 per month on one food group, nor do we need to do so. therefore, we feel not only compelled, but obligated, to help seek out and identify very good wines that most of us can drink on a regular basis without endangering the mortgage payment, and shall do so.

thanks for taking the time to seek us out, and for having the patience to stick with me this long. we'll have more to say very soon.

adios for now,