Saturday, December 20, 2014

Holiday Celebrations and Christmas at Bayside


The last few weeks have been full of holiday celebrations. I started with the "Managers Holiday Party" with the team from The Meritage. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Auberge du Solei, then the managers served the rest of the staff during an 80's themed bash, complete with video games, amazing food, and lots of 80's inspired fashion.

My dad and I also were able to attend an open house for Sacramento Republic FC and got to see their championship trophy for the first time up close. After seeing the trophy we headed to Rubicon Brewing Co. for lunch (and beer). After lunch I was off to the gym, Bayside for church, the new Blaze Pizza for their preview night (free pizza), and some friends and I checked out some of our favorite Christmas Light displays in Roseville and Rocklin. Since there wasn't enough food or beer on Saturday, I met another friend in Auburn on Sunday for brunch with unlimited mimosas at Auburn Alehouse, before heading to Knee Deep Brewing for a flight of beer.

Yesterday I enjoyed a virtual wine tasting via iPad FaceTime in my kitchen to the real wine tasting taking place in Napa, then last night I really got into the holiday spirit with the Bayside Christmas service, complete with stage in the center of the room, iLuminate (from America's Got Talent), a message that reminded everyone of the reason for the season, and a candle light (well they were electric candles) rendition of Silent Night.
Photos for those with iPads.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Thanksgiving, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and Ready for Rain

It's been a fun last few weeks. It started with Thanksgiving in Lodi. We went non-traditional by pulling up carpet to reveal beautiful hardwood floors, then had steak for dinner, paired with some flavorful Miner Family Wines. After a quick trip to the mall for Black Friday (not normal for us at all, but I did buy two new suits at about 75% off), we celebrated Thanksgiving a day late with three chickens replacing the turkey. Once back to Roseville, I ventured out again to the mall for lunch and to check out the Bayside Ice Rink at the Galleria.

After a few days in Roseville it was time to head to Napa to check out the Christmas decorations at The Meritage. The chef created a huge gingerbread house that now sits in the lobby for everyone to see, just before they are greeted by a Christmas Tree that reaches the ceiling. I also had the opportunity to take a tour of Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and try some of their wines in their brand new tasting room. They will be our featured winery at Masters and Makers @ Meritage in February 2015 for the winemaker dinner. I can't wait to taste the wines again, especially when they are paired with great food from The Meritage culinary team.

Back to Roseville, it was time to prep for the storm of the decade ... my parents came up and helped me clean gutters that are almost 30 feet in the air, then I took them to Monk's Cellar for lunch and beer tasting before they headed home and I headed to Bayside to see the kids choir perform and check out the Christmas Tree lighting.
Photos for those with iPads.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Birthday and Wine Country

Although it was a lower key birthday this year, having dinner with a friend at Red Robin, there was no shortage of amazing food and world-class wines over the last few weeks. My time started with a day trip to Newport Beach for meetings. Although I spent less than 12 hours in Orange County, watching the sunset over Newport Harbor never gets old and made the trip worth it (as did some popcorn with bacon, pizza fries, and a beer or two). My birthday was officially celebrated with a burger at Red Robin, but there was also my favorite wrap at Chick-Fil-A, fajitas and Texas fries at Chili's, holiday mini-golf at Golfland-SunSplash, and a few much needed runs.

Then it was time to meet with a few colleagues from out-of-state that had never been to Napa. It was my challenge to help them experience everything that The Meritage had to offer, while also showcasing the beauty that is the Napa Valley. Not one to shy away from challenges, I gladly accepted, and put together a two day itinerary that included a full resort tour, a 12 course chef's tasting menu at Siena, the launch party for Napa Smith Brewery's West Coast IPA on day one. Day two started with breakfast and a few presentations, then a winery/barrel room tour and tasting with Trinitas Cellars,  a tour of Oxbow Public Market, the Napa Riverfront and Napa Valley Welcome Center, downtown Napa, and a sparkling wine tasting at Domaine Carneros. Obviously, we had to wrap up the night with bowling and a few extra drinks at Crush Ultra Lounge, before heading to Siena for dessert. After most of the group left early Saturday morning our client advocate had planned to stay through the weekend, so I was able to extend my reservation with another team member and we all enjoyed Saturday and Sunday touring a few of the wineries and restaurants that make Napa so special. We started with breakfast at Jax White Mule Diner, then were off to Peju, Miner Family Winery, Paraduxx, and lunch at R+D Kitchen. We headed back to Domaine Carneros for one last wine and sparkling tasting, before getting back to downtown Napa. As my co-worker had to go back to the resort and get his dog, I took our client to Tarla for a few appetizers (you can never go wrong with flaming cheese), then we were back to The Meritage to try what has quickly become one of the favorite menu items ... a $24 burger. We split it in 1/4ths and still had trouble finishing our part. Sunday we took it easy by heading to Round Pond Estate for their wine and small bites pairing, plus were able to walk around their gardens and enjoy the picturesque views from their deck and second floor tasting room.

Then it was back to Sacramento and reality ... Beach Hut Deli for lunch (okay maybe I hadn't quite adjusted to reality), and a six-mile run before heading to Bayside for Sunday night church and the grocery store. Monday night I decided to put up my Christmas lights and tree (normally I do it the weekend after Thanksgiving, but it's supposed to rain). Fort Bradley will be festive for an extra week this year.
Photos for those with iPads.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Birthday Celebrations Begin at the Bradley Lodge

My birthday celebrations began a little early this year with a trip to the Bradley Lodge. After using a coupon from Dickey's BBQ Pit for a free meal on Thursday, I headed up to the Bradley Lodge Friday evening with my parents and grandma. My dad and I were able to help the Big Trees Village Rec Center prepare for winter (and spring) by helping to rake pine needles and do other pre-winter preparations, then we all went to dinner at Sarafina's, our favorite Italian restaurant in Arnold. As always, dinner did not disappoint.

When we got back to Sacramento we did yard work at my parents house' and went to Florez for Mexican food and a margaritas. Now, off to Newport Beach for the day before heading to Napa later in the week.
Pictures for those with iPads.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Winery Visits, Halloween, and a Concert


For the first time in all my Napa visits, I actually went wine tasting and it wasn't as part of a tour. I was able to go with my parents and aunt to Robert Mondavi, Trinitas Cellars, Round Pond, Artesa, and Castello di Amorosa as we traveled up and down the Napa Valley.  The experiences at each were truly memorable from looking at the beautiful vistas and mountains at Robert Mondavi, to enjoying a wine and food pairing at Round Pond, and exploring the castle that is Castello di Amorosa. Beyond the wineries we had a spectacular dinner at Siena and saw the history of wine openers at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone.

There was also a trip to Kenzo Estate, one of the most pristine vineyards and wineries I have ever been too, everything was perfect from the manicured vines to the barrels in the cellar and even the ground below the olive trees. The wine as great too and it was interesting to learn that a majority of their wine is shipped and sold directly to consumers in Japan where there is actually a three bottle limit per purchase.

Back in Roseville ... I baked a Pumpkin Pizza from Papa Murphy's (I added bacon bits) and passed out candy for Halloween, went on a few runs, and met my parents in Folsom at Powerhouse Pub for a concert by Shane Dwight and dinner at Q'Bole. Finally, I met a friend at ASR to try out their happy hour and we were not disappointed, the mac and cheese was spectacular, steak skewers were cooked to perfection, and the burger and fries were classically prepared.
Pictures for those with iPads.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wine and Burgers

Another week of wine and food ... I kind of like the life I lead. Friday evening I was fortunate to attend a winemaker dinner at The Meritage featuring Joseph Phelps Vineyards, the four courses paired with excellent wines and 100 people in the Estate Cave = spectacular. Saturday I continued the wine theme with a trip to Lodi's Oak Farm Vineyards, a quick stop at Wine & Roses where my brother and his wife had their wedding reception, and Chinese food from Chop Chop at my grandma's. On Monday I was back in Napa and got to try "Burger Monday" at Fume Bistro, spectacular burger and fries with a nice bottle of Merlot.
Photos for those with iPads.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Crop to Tabletop Dinner with #PlacerGROWN

It's not very often that I specifically go to a "Farm to Table" dinner. Typically they're expensive and crowded. but when I heard about the Crop to Tabletop dinner that was being put on on PlacerGROWN for just $35 a person, I figured I would go. I bought two tickets and went with my dad (my mom is in Texas, so he didn't want to cook for himself). The dinner was hosted at the top of the peak at Twin Peaks Orchard. We started with a bottle of Popie Wines and some Goat House Brewing beer (alcohol was not included, but $20 a bottle for wine was very reasonable), before dining on farm fresh produce, meats and even dessert. The setting was spectacular, especially as the sun went down. We even made new friends and I was able to see people I've gotten to know at other PlacerGROWN events.

There's still a whole week of activities to go, so be sure to head out to the farms and enjoy the bounty provided by Placer County's many family farms.
Pictures for those with iPads.
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