lulu, hillsider companion

lulu, hillsider companion

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fire season is here, drought gets worse but people (most) are trying hard to cope, the US Senior Open at Del Paso CC, Honig's near-perfect sauvignon blanc ...and more Mt Shasta coming soon

CalFire helicopters are now almost as thick as CHP and Shasta Regional Medical choppers in the local skies, a sure sign that fire season has officially begun. In my opinion, for what it's worth, CalFire has right-of-way at present; marijuana grows  and car crashes (CHP and Shasta Regional)) are problems, true enough, as are stabbings, gunshot wounds, heart attacks and strokes (again, Shasta Regional) but given the fact that the forests are crackling-brown dry and there isn't any water to fight them with, I put the fire threat at the top of the list at present. Therefore, everyone needs to stop whining, pay their CalFire tax assessment, and stay out of the way when they're trying to work.

The drought has become a part of our culture here in California, as is proper, I suppose. All of a sudden everyone's a conservationist (of water, at least), including most of those who were calling real conservationists tree-huggers, or worse, just last year, before the ugly truth of our predicament became so evident that even morons and dumb-asses couldn't cry wolf with a straight face any longer.

I'm pleased to see that most, if not all, of my brethren in the golf management industry are doing their parts. A number of us saw this day coming years ago, even before the advent of this particular drought, and began trying to communicate to our boards and committees the need to begin planning and preparing for the ray when the West's water problems would finally come home to roost. Some listened, but many didn't, and those are the courses and clubs scrambling for their lives today. Oh, well.

Speaking of golf, I'm od'ing for the next few days on coverage of the US Senior Open, being held at Del Paso Country Club, in Sacramento, where I spent a major part of my career, and where we were the management team and series of boards responsible for the total reconstruction of the golf course and renovation of the clubhouse. The project consumed about four years of my life and almost $10 million of the club's money, but saved it from decline and irrelevance, as can clearly be seen from its full membership and financial well-being (at least I assume so) in a miserable climate for the industry in general. I haven't been to the club in several years, but Fox's tv coverage is making it very clear that the golf course has matured beautifully and appears to be superbly conditioned, thanks in large part to the dedication and hard work of Superintendent Mark McKinney. I'm proud of you, Mark, and your crew; just keep doing what you're doing, and congratulations on the Open. Well done.Congratulations, too, to all those past club presidents and board members who had the courage to work with those few of us, meaning staff, architect Kyle Phillips, and the early half-dozen or so Green Committee members who saw the vision, to spend the hundreds of hours required to develop the concept, prepare the presentation, and then persuade the general membership to pony up the funds to make it all happen. Congratulations all!!! It was very difficult, and sometimes unpleasantly contentious, as all politics tend to be, but it had to be done, and so it was. And now DP is again in the national spotlight as it approaches its centennial year; a long, strange trip, indeed.

To close for the day, a heads-up to all the sauvignon blanc lovers who read this letter: I have again been reminded (by selfishly enjoying a bottle all by myself over the course of this afternoon) how consistently fine Honig's wine is, as it ever was and will ever be, I suppose. This most recent vintage of the Napa Valley sb is absolutely superb, and perfectly true to the house style. Color is brilliant green-gold, with a highly perfumed citrusy-mown grassy nose that continues to blossom and expand for a while after opening. On the palate, the usual fruit basket, juicy and fresh, with lots more of the citrus/pineapple/vanilla notes on the palate and in the long, lingering finish. It's as good as any sb I've had in the past 10 years, and far better than most. Do yourselves and your members/customers a big favor and buy it for you summer/fall menus; your staff will love you, too, because they'll be able to sell it without fear in their hearts.

Good night; more very soon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Yep, Farmers' Markets are back in season, preparing for the coast, and a remarkable effort from New Clairvaux...

No question about it, it's springtime in the West. I know that for a bunch of reasons, but the one that has my full attention at the moment is the fact that I've spent the best part of the last three Saturday mornings wandering aimlessly around my little town's farmers' market, just checking out who's back from last year and the year before (pretty much everyone, even though it's still a little early for the folks who farm higher up in the foothills). I'm really happy to say that my friends from Colima's Tamales are already dealing steamy happiness from their tiny booth, even though its location has been moved some 20 or so yards to the south and now butts against an outer wall of City Hall, and is definitely harder to find. The pie lady (For the Love of Pies) is also back, thankfully (bought a small cherry pie last Saturday and letting it age out a bit in the refrigerator), as are the people from the alpaca ranch. Strangely,  I find myself being drawn, slowly but surely, back to their booth each time I'm at the market; the stuff they sell, all kinds of alpaca wool clothing, like socks, scarves and mufflers, caps, and other hokey stuff, just feels like it's reaching out to me more and more every single time,,,it just looks so damned comfortable...

I'm really happy to say that we're in the midst of preparing for our first road trip of 2015, and of course we're headed back to the coast...Trinidad/Arcata/Eureka to be exact. We'll be sleeping/cooking/drinking wine/pondering life's mysteries at our usual spot, the Emerald Forest Lodge most of the time, but there'll still be plenty of opportunity for field trips and checking out local restaurants and dives. There are also several vintage bookstores in Eureka that warrant browsing, as well as fascinating little surrounding towns (like Ferndale and Loleta) that need more exploring. Those of you who love the lore and history of your states (Texas and California in particular) will know, remember and venerate folks like Ray Miller (Texas) and Huell Howser (California), who were certainly the most revered of the modern "populist" travel writers/television personalities in their respective venues (and, at least in the case of Ray Miller, the most historically precise) of the last several decades, and their work has inspired many hundreds more of us to get out and see what we've been gifted. I urge you to join us, if you haven't already.
I also urge those of you Californians (or folks who wish you could be) who haven't seen PBS's broadcasts of Huell Howser's "California Gold" series of road trips around the state to visit their website and buy copies; I know they were offering them for sale not long ago, and probably still are due to the series' huge audience; if so, pay whatever you have to pay, and be happy to have them. You won't be sorry.

Before I go, I want to  acknowledge another very fine example of imaginative (and delicious) winemaking from New Clairvaux and, I assume, Aimee Sunseri, that being their 2014 Nouveau Tempranillo. True enough, it's nouveau as it can be, with the fresh, yeasty-strawberryish nose you expect from nouveau Beaujolais, only spiced in the center with the metallic leathery scent of the tempranillo grape rather than the roundness of gamay. Too, on the palate the wine is crisper and more authoritative, and not as friendly, as its Beaujolais inspiration, and it finishes with a little bite, but it is very enjoyable and could be a good friend to grilled salmon, chicken, and burgers of all description. We recommend it for summer wine lists, especially for those looking for interesting by-the-glass alternatives to the usual boring light reds and coarsely made roses. Give it a light chill and enjoy with your cold chicken salad...

Okay, that's it for now, but we're pretty much recovered from our OR and recuperative adventures now, and ready to get back to it. Thanks for sticking around, and we'll be back soon.