Upcoming Trip to Napa – July 9th

I’ll be finally making a trek to pay homage to the “Father” of Napa’s winery: Robert Mondavi. I also have a Summit Tasting scheduled at Pride Mountain Winery – my 3rd Summit tasting with them. It should be a good day, as I will be hosting my cousin and his lovely wife.

With the outstanding wine and perfect weather, it’s so easy to impress company that visits…

Anyway, I’ll report back with my thoughts on the wines.


This week, as part of my stress relief regimen from work, I set about making Chef John’s demi-glace recipe. When he first published the video, I immediately knew it would be something I needed to do. If not for the end result, but to be able to do the Chef John “slappa-slappa” to it…

Demi-glace is that classic French sauce that can be solo, or used as the base for other sauces, such as Bordelaise. It’s a veal-based reduction that gels up, which you cube and freeze. When you want to use it, you grab a cube or two and use it to deglaze a pan of its frond, season it up, and there you have it. Luxurious, rich, sticky silk is how it’s described.

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Greek Lemon Chicken & Potatoes

I’ve been following Chef John’s YouTube channel for a while now, and it’s always a highlight of my day when I see he’s uploaded a new post. This weekend, my sister and I swapped some messages about some dishes of his we’d like to make, and it spurred me into action. Today’s dinner was FoodWishes.com‘s Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes. And boy was it delicious!

FoodWishes.com's Greek Lemon Chicken

FoodWishes.com’s Greek Lemon Chicken and Potatoes

Apple’s WWDC 2015 Keynote

Today was Apple’s Keynote for WWDC 2015 – and it was chock full of information. I thought I’d throw up a post on my thoughts on a few things:

  • iOS 9 – The multitasking is incredible and I cannot wait to get it. And Picture-in-Picture! More battery life is awesome. Renaming Passport to Wallet is cracking me up – since Google just renamed Google Wallet to Google Pay. More stability enhancements, too.
  • Apple Music – Looks like a decent foray into a streaming service, and I plan to drop Pandora and get a subscription to this. I like that there’s a family plan. The Siri integration is exciting, I can’t wait to request the top 50 Alternative songs from 1993, and various other searches like that. And it’s coming to Android – wild!
  • watchOS 2 – Native apps! And new features like Nightstand Mode, more fitness capabilities, and third party complications. Seems like a grouping of features and capabilities that were (justifiably) delayed in order to get the watch launched on time in April. Looking forward to these coming.
  • Swift 2 – While I haven’t gotten my feet wet developing (yet), I can recognize that Swift going Open Source is huge. Awesome!
  • Apple Maps – More improvements, and a new view called Transit, which assists users with public transportation. I’m looking forward to that since I’ve moved into San Francisco and using Muni/BART for the majority of my traveling around.

Ram’s Gate Winery

This past Saturday I took a group to visit Napa and our first stop was Ram’s Gate Winery. This winery has a great presence – gorgeous architecture and appointments, and a decent view. Unfortunately, the experience with the employees leaves me wondering what the mission of Ram’s Gate is: a winery producing very good wine to share with potential customers – or to be a close destination from San Francisco to have a mediocre experience, and pay through the nose for it.

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New Tech

This year I’m doing my best to boost AAPL. In the recent weeks, I’ve picked up the Watch with a black leather loop and blue sport band. I’ve also gotten the latest refresh of the Retina MacBook Pro 15″. I wanted to get back to having a Mac as my main computer, and while I almost went with a Mac Mini, decided it was better to have a mobile option. The main purpose is to work on this blog more, and also support a side project I’m working on.

My thoughts on the Apple Watch – I agree with what most of the respected tech reviewers have said: the device isn’t a must-have, but has definitely become useful. A couple of my favorite uses: Activity monitoring, timer setting when cooking, remote camera action, and quickly reviewing and dismissing or acting on notifications. There are some annoying bugs, though, with how iMessages handles message queueing. But it’s a version 1 device…

The new rMBP is great. I’m in love with the screen. It’s one of those things where I now hate working on anything else – such as my work laptop. I’m also rediscovering how I hate Windows.

May 2015 Napa Visit

The following wineries were visited in the May 2015 trip:

  • Scribe – Great story here with the two brothers starting the winery. Their whites are delicious, and they even produce a Sylvaner – a rare bird in the New World. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any of the Chardonnay fermented on it’s skins to pour this time around, a wine I was looking forward to revisiting. The morning was cool and crisp, and the provided wool blankets were welcomed. The cheese plate was very well paired. Just a great casual vibe and good wines. 8/10
  • Nickel and Nickel – I had been wanting to check this place out for a while now, since I see their wines on almost every wine list. The location is absolutely gorgeous, and the proprietors have done an outstanding job assembling the buildings. The wines were classic Napa styled and good. Admittedly, by palate lately has been favoring the whites and rose’s due to the season, so any huge red’s placed in front of me weren’t really grabbing me. Seems that this winery was one of the forerunner’s for single vineyard bottlings. 7/10
  • Viader – One of my mainstay’s, and I took the opportunity to rejoin the Viader family on this trip. I much prefer mountain grown wine over valley floor grapes. Every tasting at Viader goes a little different, and this time we had the pleasure of a nice stroll through the cave to see the barrels and operation. 9/10
  • Chappellet – I first came to know Chappellet via my uncle, who said it was one of his favorites. The founding winery of Pritchard Hill, they keep turning out quality and not charging a ton for it. While I tend to stay with sub-10,000 case/year wineries, I make an exception with these folks. As usual, the tour was great, and it’s nice to have a glass of the rare chenin blanc to start things off with. 8/10
  • Ehler’s Estate – Another mainstay for me, and the producer of my “epiphany wine” – the 2005 “1886”. Always a great tasting and the current wines are all tasting well… especially the Sauvignon Blanc and Rose of Cabernet Franc. 10/10
The group of us, at Ehler's Estate.

The group of us, at Ehler’s Estate.