Day 4 – Laguardia, Spain 2012 – May 17, Thursday

Today I woke up at 4am and could not sleep, though I tried. Joey however woke up when I finally got him up around 7am. We were schedule to have breakfast at 8:30am and I did NOT want to keep Maria waiting! Plus I was eager to try her honey :). Last night she had told us that there was another English speaking couple who were scheduled for a 10am winery tour over in Haro (a nearby town), and that she could get us in with them as well if we were interested. Well…since most of the wineries in the are don’t do “walk-in” tastings like we are familiar with in Napa and Sonoma, we thought we’d better take her up on this offer. So after getting showered and ready for our day, we ventured on downstairs to the communal breakfast area. There were two other couples staying here.

Collette brought out some coffee and hot milk for us. I have to say, I have not had one bad coffee since we’ve been here in Spain. In fact, it’s quite excellent! We were also served orange juice with a variety of toasts, unsweetened cream butter, some hard cheese, a fruit spread of sorts?, some little red and white cherries in a sugary juice and of course Maria’s honey. It’s certainly not like the clear shiny filtered stuff you can buy in a little plastic bear jar at home! It was thick and dense and grainy, (kind of like scooping out caramel!), but it was oh so tasty! I would have been happy just to sit there and eat it with a spoon.

Maria then gave us directions to the winery called “R. Lopez de Heredia”, and also suggested we visit the “Museo de la Cultura Del Vino” another nearby hill town of Briones. Soon we were on our way and arrived easily within about 45 minutes. There were about 10 of us on this tour and it was very, very interesting! And I don’t normally like any kind of tour. But the guide was personable and quite charming and funny. We were led through a number of rooms where she explained the history of the Spanish wine making and how this place still family owned today. We went down in under ground caves where there were thousands of barrels lined up on the walls of the caves. She also explained that the walls were covered with fungus which helps keep the proper amount humidity levels…so the wine doesn’t evaporate. Their particular type of fungus is penicillin. It was very musty and moldy smelling! I certainly didn’t want to bump into the walls. At some points the stuff was literally hanging from the ceiling. She showed us some caves that had bottles in the walls and you could barely see them due to being covered in this furry fungus! Anyway, for the fee of $20, you not only got the tour, you got to taste the wines, but you also went home with a bottle of wine as well. Not too shabby! (BTW, I’m drinking it now 😉 )

After the winery tour, we stopped in the hill town of Briones as Maria had suggested. Well….they had a beautiful old gothic church but other than that, it was much too cold to walk around this town. The wind was blowing way up there on the hill and quite frankly, I was tired of being cold! So then we stopped into the museum but being people who don’t really like museums, we opted instead for the wine tasting bar. And this was no typical wine tasting bar. This was a do it yourself kind where you buy a card, put it in the machine, and pick the wine you want and it dispenses it into your glass. Kinda fun. We tasted about 8 of them (we shared the tastes), and afterwards we came back home in time for siesta, which Joey once again took part in. Luckily I managed to get a little shut eye as well this time.

After our nappy time we ventured off to the center plaza again where we sat and first had some coffee and then had a drink and just chilled, watching the people come and go. It was a little more crowded tonight, almost like a tour bus may have stopped in our little village. We eventually decided to have a late dinner at “Hospedria Los Parajes” and it turned out to be fabulous! The restaurant was elegant and the food was presented beautifully. We opted for some of the local traditional dishes tonight. We were given an amuse bouche of Cream Asparagus, which was a small shot glass of a cold soup. Very tasty! Then we had the big fat grilled white asparagus, a bowl of soup with potatoes and chorizo…again, perfect for warming me up! And for our entrée I had the “Traditional Roasted Lamb” dish and Joey had the “Suckling Pig”. Yes….he ate a baby pig! Awful, its little life was cut sooo short!

Sonoma Wine Barrel Tasting – March 2012

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THURSDAY, 3/1/12 The first day of our long Sonoma weekend! We woke up at 5:30am hoping to be on our way at 7am. We didn’t do too bad, we were on the road by 7:30am, all loaded down with suitcases, … Continue reading

San Luis Obispo

Joey and I went to San Luis Obispo for the weekend for the Savor the Central Coast “Mission Heritage Dinner”. We had a nice drive up the coast and arrived in the late afternoon. We checked into our hotel in the heart of San Luis Obispo. Gosh, this little town is sweet! The dinner was schedule to start early evening so we got dressed and headed down to the trolley pickup at the corner. After a short wait, we hopped into the classic old trolley and went to the downtown center where the dinner was being held. We arrived to find the square filled with two long rows of tables all set up so prettily for the dinner. It was situated right in from of the San Luis Obispo mission and it created quite a historic and interesting feel to the whole event.

They offered a wine cocktail hour prior to dinner, put on by all the wineries in the area. They were all serving “large” sampling’s of their wine, you only had to hold your glass up and they would pour! You also got to chat them up about their wine if you were so inclined. Passed hors d’oeuvre were also being served…lots of yummy little treats. This was certainly a foo-foo event and we were so glad we decided to attend.

Eventually we were all ushered to our seats and it was a challenge to find our individual place cards with so many people in attendance, especially as dusk was upon us. But we eventually found our seats, made nice-nice with all our table mates and started to enjoy the meal. Each course was served with a different wine paring, and these were no small tastings! As it turned dark, all the colored lights around the grounds, and the lanterns on the table made it quite a magical event. The food was amazing, although I have to say, it was hard to enjoy all the work they put into the platting because it was so dark. But it didn’t stop us from eating….EVERYTHING!  As the evening drew to a close, we walked around town a bit before catching a taxi back to our hotel.

The next morning we grabbed some coffee and a danish, packed up our bags, and were off to explore some more of this darling little town of San Luis Obispo. A friend had suggested that we stop at The Apple Farm Inn, which is a nice little inn, shop and restaurant. I’m glad we did, it was charming. After wandering through the flourishing gardens of the property, milling about the shop, and buying a Christmas gift for my mom, we eventually were back in our car on this sunny day heading over to nearby Avila Beach.

We arrived at the old working fisherman’s pier. We parked right up to the ocean where there were tons of sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks by the parking lot. Seriously, they were no more than 10 feet away from us. Pelicans and seagulls were interspersed as well. As we approched the pier, we saw fishermen cleaning fish and also stands selling all kinds of fresh fish. If only we had a cooler in the car…oh the things I would bring home.

After walking around a bit, we decided to sit and have a drink and a bite of food at the little cafe towards the end of the pier. The weather was a beautiful cool but sunny fall day so we sat outside and watched the fishermen tossing fish scraps to all the sea lions below. The pelicans got their fair share as well. We shared some clam chowder, steamed clams and some garlic bread. As we headed to our car we noticed on the other side of the pier there were lots of dolphins frolicking in the water. There must have been 4 or 5 of them. The manager of one of the restaurants said he doesn’t see them that often. Anyway, pretty cool to watch.

This was a fabulous weekend. I only wish we could have short get-away’s like this more often.  So impromptu and so much fun!