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Thomas Hill Organics

We have a wonderful restaurant here in Paso, Thomas Hill Organics. I was recently invited to a private pairing. Wines from four different wineries were paired with food that the chef made. Each one of us also had the opportunity to talk to the journalist that were visiting the area. The other wineries had their wine makers there, and I was the only one that was an owner. Everyone was so engaging and it was an excellent atmosphere for the journalist and all of us. The seating arrangement was intimate, and the exchange wasn’t just about us, but about the pairing of the food. How food changes the taste of the wine, and how all the different aspects of the dish change the taste of the wine. I was the first one there, so here is what the seating arrangement looked like before everyone got there…

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Our first course was paired with an Albarino. It truly is a seafood lover wine. IMG_0304.jpg

Salmon, jalapeno peppers, olive, tomatoes, and wafer slice of watermelon. It was so delicious!

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This was paired with our Zinfandel. This is a prime cut of grass fed beef, topped with a clove of garlic. Polenta is the side dish for this course. I usually don’t eat beef, but I was surprised how well it paired with the Zin.

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In A Pinch…

“Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life.” Daniel Handler

I was sitting down my husband having a hot cup of coffee, steam was still rising from the top of my mug that says “Greatest Mom”, and then I remembered…I told the kids I would make some fresh, hot, cinnamon rolls. Well, luckily, I purchased some Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls from the grocery store the other day.

I leaped out of my French Country chair with the woven sea grass, and took a few splinters in my rear for getting up so fast. I ran across the cold tile with my bare feet to the fridge. Ahhh, a life saver, in tube form…the cinnamon rolls, just needed to be popped open, and put in a cast iron skillet, ya know, for a home made look. LOL!

I pop them in the oven that is 400 degrees, and mix about 4 teaspoons of cinnamon to 4 teaspoons of “sugar in the raw”, and add that to the top. Not everyone in the family likes the frosting that comes with the Pillsbury tube. They came out of the oven perfectly fluffy, and invigorating the whole house with the smell of cinnamon. The look of them in the cast iron skillet is such a bonus.

Yes, the kids were happy, and so was my husband.

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Eating our Garbage

When my children were younger I wanted to share the cycle of life with them in a real way. I wanted them to be able to see, feel, experience how the circle of life really works. I purchased some worms, (red wigglers), and purchase a box that would allow earthworms to procreate, as well as eat all the garbage that we generated. We would put our shredded papers in the box, coffee grounds, and the filter, apple cores, banana peels, and various other food in our worm box. We had our worm box outside. I have read that some people keep their box in the home. NO! 

When my son was 18 months old, he would take all the daily refuse for the worms to the box. The box did not smell bad, since they eat the bacteria that generates the odor from the food. What does smell is the poo from the worms. Every couple of months we would have to clean out the box, and that wasn’t a fun job. We would separate what was the “black gold” from the garbage, and save the worms. We would then have another generation of worms, and we add the black gold into our garden. We grew some of the biggest pumkins on the block, and then when we were done with Halloween, the worms had their favorite food. Honestly, after having these creatures in our life all these years, I can tell you with confidence that they love mellons, pumkins, etc. 

To this day we still have a worm farm, and we still feed our worms. Some of them are from the same parents we started with more than 18 years ago. 

This is the newest edition, it has layers, after a few months, we take it apart and sort out the gold, and start all ove with new food. This system ensures nothing goes to waste. We dont like waste doing nothing, we want to make the most of it. 

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R. Moretti

I have some small scale reverse glass paintings by R. Moretti that I just adore.

Both are rural Italian scenes, a farm house in the background. I used to having these little gems beside my bed, when we lived in the city. I’m guessing they made a subconscious impact on us, since now we are people that have a town and country life. With all the heavy clads it reminds me of the end of summer, and beginning of the autumn is looming in the horizon.

I love how the artist made use of the light just breaking through the clouds, and the detail is amazing for such a small painting. One has touches of orange, indicating the poppies that are still in bloom. The other has a creek with a waterfall, with light bouncing on the rocks. I just love how paintings take us out of existence in this time and space, then transports us to another location. Well, of course, you have to be willing to use your imagination.

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Harvest Season

“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” William Blake

There’s something magical about harvest season when you live in wine country. It’s a current of electricity that runs through the everyone and everything. I always think of Dr. Seuss. Ya know those giant machines that come in to clean up after “It 1 and 2 and the kids? Well, there are grape. Picking machines driving on the roads at this time, and Dr Seuss is at the forefront of my thoughts…I kind of giggle like a child when they get in front of me. I can take it for a mile or so, but then I have to pass them, but not without waving like a deranged lunatic. It is just exciting!!

We don’t use machines to harvest our grapes, we have to hire people. My husband as well as our winemaker get out in the field and pick with all the other people working in our fields. Just this past week we have already processes several tons of grapes, and pressed them. So, the fermentation process is already starting for the 2017 wines. I believe the Merlot for this year has already been picked, destemed, and pressed. 

These were photos of the grapes before some of the fruit was dropped. We have to drop fruit so the healthiest grapes will get the most water, and the best sunshine. Depending on the variety, canopy may have to be cut back to get the right amount of sun, or less sun. We want to pick at just the right amount of Brix, which is the sugar content in the grapes, too high, and the wine is too sweet, you want just the right amount to make great wine.

 We try to maintain a sustainable vineyard, and keep the dropped fruit for compost. Once the grapes are pressed the must will be used for more compost to mix back into the soil and boost the soil with microbes that recondition the soil.  Our ducks are always in the vineyard taking care of the slugs, and soon we want to introduce babydoll sheep and chickens. The sheep will help with the grass and cover crops, and the chickens will take care of the insects in the vineyard. The chickens will also give us fantastic eggs to eat. It all makes for better wine every year. A wine that you can enjoy and feel good about drinking. We look forward to getting closer to becoming more biodynamic! 

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Bacon Wrapped Albacore Tuna

“A tuna steak and salad? Seventy bucks. Welcome to Los Angeles.” Mark Zupan

For the tuna

2 trimmed sushi-quality albacore tuna loins, each about 1-1/2 pounds

Course sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

6 to 8 strips of thin cut artisanal bacon

Pepper Cream Sauce

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large shallots, peeled and finely diced

1 tablespoon freshly ground peppercorns

1/4 cup of Cognac

1 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 tablespoon of Dijon mustard

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

Course sea salt

1 1/2 tablespoon of fresh tarragon chopped, plus extra sprigs for garnish

1/2 lemon

Tuna- Sprinkle tuna loins with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. For each loin, cut 4 lengths of butchers string, about 12 inches long, and lay them parallel to each other (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart). Place a strip of bacon in the center, perpendicular tot he strings. Lay a tuna loin on the bacon. Lay two more strips of bacon on top of the tuna (3 if it’s a large loin), bring the strings snugly over the loin.

Grill on a grill grate until the bacon and tuna are seared, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn with tongs to sear the remaining sides. The interior of the tuna should retain its rosy color; do not over cook. Transfer the tuna to a cutting board.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, add the butter once the saucepan is hot, then add the shallots. Cook the shallots until they are translucent and soft. Add the black pepper and Cognac. Add the white white, and bring to a boil; reduce by half. Stir in cream and mustard and let the sauce simmer until it coats the back of the spoon. Add salt to taste. Stir in chopped fresh tarragon and squeeze of lemon. Remove the strings, and enjoy.

This would go great with our Estate Cab. Franc. It scored a 94 in San Francisco, and won double gold. IMG_0271