The gods must have been smiling down on Saj and Pauline Jivanjee, owners of Archer Vineyard yesterday, delivering the perfect evening sunset for their first annual winemakers dinner. The sunny afternoon was a welcome break in our long and rainy Oregon winter, making the patio an ideal spot to start the evening with a glass of their 2015 Estate Pinot gris.
We watched the sun dip behind the pines and illuminate the vineyard before heading into the winery for a private dinner prepared by chef Christopher Czarnecki. There’s just something so magical about being on the floor of a winery, standing among enormous stainless steel fermentation vats, holding a glass of wine carefully crafted in the same room. It’s an enchanted setting to enjoy a delicious five-course dinner paired with some incredible wines. Continue reading “Archer Vineyard Winemakers Dinner”…
I LOVE Rose. I mean even before it was “cool” I loved it. Back when I worked in restaurants, and tried to push a cold glass on stuffy chicks in their forties who wore too much make-up, and turned down their noses at me. They’d say; “Oh gowwwd! I don’t drink that! It’s too sweat! Give me a Kendal Jackson Chardonnay.” Everyone thought it was White Zinfandel, but I knew better.
A good rose is dry and crisp, and taste like Pinot Gris (because many are made from those grapes), but its PINK! (The pink color comes from allowing the wine to keep contact with the skin for a period of time, giving it that beautiful blush color). What’s better than that?
I’ll tell you what, going to the vineyard and getting a behind the scenes tour on bottling day. Meeting the winemaker and getting to sample the very first bottle off the assembly line. That’s what! And this is exactly what I was fortunate enough to do on March 27th at Archer Vineyard. I’ve always wanted to be part of a special day like this, having been a life-long wine lover. I even tried to book our Italy trip last fall around harvest in Tuscany so we could take part in that incredible tradition (sadly we missed it). Continue reading “Rose Dreams At Archer Vineyard”…
Cinque Terre Italy is not for the faint of heart! When I heard there are five little fishing villages, clinging to cliffs over the ocean in Italy, and that these villages were only accessible by hiking, train or boat… I knew WE HAD TO GO! I became obsessed with photos of these stunning, colorful little towns on Pinterest and Instagram, showing them to my kids, getting them excited for our day-long adventure into the protected national park, that is Cinque Terre.
We were staying in an AirBnB villa about thirty-minutes west of Pisa Airport, in a tiny Tuscan mountain village, and when I planned our trip from my computer back home in Oregon, it seemed like a reasonable day-trip. But when I plugged it into my phones GPS, I realized it was more than 100 miles away. No problem I thought, I love to drive and it’s a great way to see the countryside.
Did I mention that it was our fist day attempting to drive in Italy, in our tiny gutless Fiat!? If you’ve never driven in Italy, let me just warn you that it’s exactly how I’d imagine it would be to drive with indi-car racers on back roads…as the ONLY inexperienced driver! It’s mildly terrifying. There are no speed limits, no rules, no one uses signals, and no matter how fast you’re driving there is always a Nono, or truck driver, trying to run you off the road. All that to say, that it was NOTHING compared to driving the last few miles into Riomaggiore (the first of these five villages). There are no cars allowed (and no roads even if they were) inside these towns, but you can drive down a ANXIETY-ATTACK inducing narrow one-lane road to park above the towns. As you make your way down this road be sure to hug your steering-wheel with both hands, because on one side there are no guard rails and the drop is about 1,000 feet off the cliff to the ocean. There’s no room for fear here! If you are prone to vertigo or have a fear of heights just know that pushing past those fears (which I definitely had to do) is well worth it.
Happy New Year! And what a great way to get 2017 started, with a surprise snow storm in my home town of Portland Oregon.
If you’ve never been to Oregon, the stereotypes are normally dead on, in that it rains A LOT. But this year has been off the norms across the board. Summer was 90-100 degrees on a regular basis, fall was warm and dry, and now winter is throwing us all for a loop with several snow and ice storms in a row. It’s been about a month of this on and off snow/ice situation that has shut the city (and schools, sigh) down much of December and several days already in the New Year. Continue reading “Portland Snow Day!”…
It’s a little past midnight and I’m lying awake listening to the sounds of Rome buzzing outside my bedroom window. The apartment is dark, except for thin streams of light through the window shutters from street lamps. My kids are asleep, snoring softly but I am far too excited. It’s our first night in Roma and I am filled with its electric energy, a vast contrast to our past week in the quiet hillsides of Tuscany. There, the moon was the only light at midnight streaming through six-foot glass shuttered doors. The only sound, that of the wind occasionally shaking wood against glass.
But Rome is positively alive. Through my open window I hear someone across the courtyard chopping loudly on a cutting board. The knife bang, bangs away, the smell of garlic drifts, they’re humming loudly, unphased that it’s the middle of the night. In the apartment two floors down, a couple is singing at full capacity; “No Women No Cry” in very broken English. He’s all: “Hey little sister, don’t shed no tear.” And she’s all: “No women no CRYYYY!” It sounds like they are drunkenly dancing around each word and one another. A man drops a stack of plates in the café on the bottom floor, sending such a loud cascade of sound up the courtyard that it nearly rattles my windowpane. He follows it with what I can only assume, is a string of Italian curse words. There’s the clinking of wine glasses and rounds of loud laughter drifting up from the streets open air café’s through Kanen’s window across the hall. Then a little transient musical performance makes its way down the middle of the street stopping at tables, the accordion player billowing out classic Italian melodies in hopes of earning a few euros.
Holiday traditions at the Christmas tree farm. Every year my kids and I head to the country to cut down our tree, its one of my favorite rituals of the holiday season.
For the past few years we’ve gone to Helvatia Tree and Lavender Farm in the beautiful countryside west of Portland Oregon. It’s nestled between rolling hills, overlooking surrounded by farmland and grazing alpacas. Yesterday the parking lot overflowed with urban yuppies in Hunter rain boots and flannel shirts, toting babies bundled like snowmen. The paths were muddy, and the fake snow was twirling through the air over delighted toddlers. It smelled of pin and sawdust, and every few minutes you’d hear the sound of a chainsaw trimming the bottom of a tree.
Kanen, being the man of the house, grabbed a hand-saw and tarp to kneel on and we set out in search of our perfect tree. Izzy spotted it first, spinning with delight in her bright red cap that we’d picked up from a street vendor in Venice. It was perfect. It took all three of them to get it down, but we did it!
I have always loved Thanksgiving, it’s the last pure holiday, and that makes it even more special. I love cooking with my kids and expanding on our family traditions each year. This year dinner preparations began on Wednesday with each of us stepping into our traditional roles. Kanen peels the yams and apples. Izzy snaps the green beans and cuts the Brussels sprouts, and Mira makes the cranberry sauce. It’s my favorite time of year.
Delicious Classic Thanksgiving Apple Pie recipe. This is my favorite time of year, and besides Christmas my FAVORITE holiday.
I’ve been perfecting this recipe for homemade apple pie since I was nine years old. Back then my parents had pretty strict rules on what we could eat; so there was honey instead of sugar, and no butter. Lets just say that this version is a bit less healthy, but it sure taste WAY better!
I absolutely LOVE sharing these recipes with my kids, and watching them enjoy cooking as much as I always have. Each year we step into our traditions with more enthusiasm, each of us taking on our roles in the preparation of our favorite dinner of the year. Thanksgiving was the only holiday I celebrated as a child, so it’s always been very special. And what could be better than a holiday dedicated to cooking with your family!?
This apple pie is simple but delicious and turns out perfectly every time. I’m also including my recipe for flakey pie crust. You’ll need to double it for this recipe, as one portion will go on top, and the other on bottom.
One of our most memorable experiences in Tuscany was the night we cooked a five-course meal, taught by a local chef, Alessandra. I was most excited to learn how to make authentic Italian Bolognese Sauce, Tuscan style.
My twins Mira and Izzy love to cook and they were transfixed by Alessandra, hearing her stories in broken English, and learning how the recipes she taught us had been passed down for generations in her family.
We made Bruschetta with olive tamponade for an appetizer, stuffed eggplant, roasted red-pepper salad, hand-made pasta (with just flour and egg!) topped with our Bolognese sauce, and Tiramisu for desert!
It was a five hour cooking lesson, but worth every minute to learn the true authentic ways of Tuscan cooking, especially this Italian staple.
I’ve made the sauce a few times, and each time mixed a few ingredients from other authentic recipes experimenting, until I found the perfect combination that taste just like our pasta in Italy!
This sauce is actually pretty easy to make but takes A LONG time to cook! I simmered mine for four hours, Alessandra said it needs a minimum of three hours, so you might want to start this on the stove and then move it to a low-heat crockpot.
Kids plan Italy Adventure! 5 Reasons why I let my three young children plan our trip of a lifetime.
Going to Italy is not just a vacation for me, it’s the realization of a life-long dream, and what some might call a near obsession. Since my teens the allure of discovering Venice; driving the winding roads of Tuscany, and eating pasta in Rome, has pulled at the very core of me. It’s almost a spiritual, attraction I feel, as if it’s the one place I’ll feel most at home in the world.
For this reason I didn’t want to just take my kids to Italy, I wanted them to understand it’s magical spell and help me discover it for the first time; together as a family. But how can I make two nine-year-old’s and a thirteen-year-old, really get it?
My greatest fear is that we’d get there, after them hearing me talk it up all their lives, and they would say; “Everything is so old and yucky!” I feared they wouldn’t get it. And that would kill me.