Saturday, December 29, 2007

December in the Golden State

After an exhausting autumn, Aviva and I left the Bronx to spend 2 weeks in California over the holidays, spending time with my parents and friends and some of her family as well. We flew out of La Guardia late on a Thursday and got into San Francisco after an easy flight. My friend Dave picked us up and we stayed at his beautiful new house in Burlingame for the next few days while we hung out with our friends Dave and Em. The next day we putzed around for a bit, eating the cookies and muffins that Aviva and Em had both made. We drove down to Sunnyvale to pick up Neal, and then spent the day wandering about Palo Alto, eating at the Mango Carribbean Cafe and then cruising by the house I grew up in to see the new, gigantic, edifice that has been built on the lot (the house I grew up in was 1800 square feet, the new place is 7800!!!!). We went back up to Dave and Em's, played a little Bacchi, and a friend picked Aviva and I up and we had dinner with Ben, Danny and Rinat at Zachary's in Berkeley, best pizza in the Bay Area. After pizza, Ben dropped us off in San Francisco, where we had some sake with Em and Lena then took BART back to Em and Dave's.

The next day we woke up and packed into Dave's car, not the beautiful but useless, 66' Mustang he dotes on and uses to commute 4 miles a day, but beautiful, quite useful Audi. We drove about an hour north into central Napa for some wine tasting in the Oak Knoll, Rutherford and Yountville regions. The first winery we stopped at was Trefethen, a smaller winery (although it still dwarfed the wineries we went to last summer on Eastern Long Island) with some nice Merlots and Cabs and a very good Chardonnay. We moved on to Mondavi to kill time before meeting up with Dan and Karla at a small market, where we all got sandwiches for lunch and I spent a lot time tasting fancy mustards.

We took our sandwiches to Flora Springs, an excellent winery (particularly their Trilogy wine) which we found out provides the red wine to the White House. Lunch was delightful, outside the tasting room on some stone tables in the lee of the vineyards. Beyond the sandwiches, we had gotten a number of cheeses, mustards, some foccacia and 2 bottles of excellent wine from the winery. We spent around an hour and a half eating, drinking and generally enjoying ourselves, then went inside to taste the wines we had not had with lunch. At this point everyone but Dave and Dan (the drivers) had gotten fairly sloshed and goofy, and I could not seem to keep my hands off of Aviva at this point. The man pouring our wine gave us quite a hard time about it ... but was also very funny and poured out a number of extra glasses of for us.

After leaving Flora Springs we unwisely stopped at Dean & Delucca ... one should never visit a luxury food and kitchen store while intoxicated. I somehow came out with a bottle of The Macallan at cask strength (The Macallan, an exceptionally smooth Speyside single malt that happens to be my favorite scotch) and a snickerdoodle, Aviva got some chocolate, Dave ended up with 3 bottles of wine and Karla and Dan lugged out a bag of several different things.

We stopped by one more tasting room, but I cannot recall which and while the wine we had there was my favorite on the day, the drunken conversation and the good company were the most memorable parts of that winery. We drove back to Burlingame, stopping at a grocery store to pick up some steaks and salad makings, and made dinner for everyone at Dave and Em's. Steaks and salad were the order of the evening, washed down with several bottles of wine and quite of bit of my newly purchased scotch.

Dinner was a raucous and enjoyable affair, and after we finished Dave started to make dark and stormy's (although these we mostly drunk by Dave and Neal) and we got out some games to play. However, we could not figure out which game to play the girls (Emily, Aviva and Karla) decided that we should put Neal up for auction in the unpredictable world of on-line dating. Being quite intoxicated, Neal did not have much of an objection to this and consented to us putting us up his profile on However, we decided that this was not enough, so Dave held Neal down and we took pictures of his stomach and posted them on Craigs list as Abs of Neal. The drinking continued and Dan and Karla left some time later, to sleep at his parents house, and the evening settled out pleasantly, with Dave, Neal and I playing a game of indoor Bacchi using tangerines and crumpled paper balls.

The next day, we woke up and we dropped the girls off at the gym, then dropped Neal off at his parents place and I got Dads car from his house in Redwood City. Then Dave picked up Aviva and Em from the gym and we all had lunch at Dave and Em's before Aviva left for our trip up to see the Redwoods.

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