Black Friday 2019 in Napa – Stop 2

Full on delicious bites from SolBar at Solage next door, a quick drive to Brian Arden Winery was next. We pulled into the gravel lot after we passed early vine plantings, dogs playing in a grassy area and a modern building with large windows. A gnome is sitting in the gravel at the start of the pathway from the parking lot to the building. “This way” he says to me.

Upon entering, a private tasting room with a small bar is to your immediate right with floor to ceiling windows and glass door dividers. Further down the hallway, more tables and chairs are set up, with a few in front of a gas fireplaces. To the right is the main tasting bar. There, we meet Angel, a lovely brunette in a light colored padded vest. We are offered tasting menus – the Thanksgiving edition.

We both have our own tastings which consists of five wines per the menu.

The 2017 Riesling was bright on the tongue. The 2012 B.A. Red was tannic, earthy and made with sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and syrah. Angel invited to show us another private tasting area with a kitchen. The room had a table for six, a love seat, a table made out of a barrel and another fireplace. We were introduced to Chef Ben, a NorCal local. The winery is offering a 5-course meal with wine pairing for under $100 per person. What a steal! I would love to be able to enjoy that experience.

Continuing onto the wine, the 2013 Zinfandel seemed more drinkable than the 21012 red we just had. The grapes came from Kelseyville, about 50 miles north. Along with this, the Chef sent out two Kewpie Deviled Eggs (valued at $2 each) with a bacon jam on top. The eggs were raised on the property. The chickens occupied the same space at the garden just beyond the parking lot. It was delicious.

The 2014 B.A. Red was had a deep, garnet color and a bit softer. Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 and 2014s were poured side-by-side. The 2014 was not on the tasting menu but Angel allowed us to try it to compare. There was sediment along the base of the neck of the bottle caught my eye. Angel said they never fine filter the wine. It’s part of the wine. Sediment or not, it was tart. The 2014 was drier.

Cali, the golden retriever, was let into the tasting room and she got lots of love from the guests. Kim came back from the restroom and of course took a selfie with her. Also lightly colored was the dessert brought out by Chef Ben. It was like a lemon ‘muffie,’ the top of a muffin, topped with whipped cream and a few nut shavings. Thank you, Chef! We were getting stuffed. Happily stuffed.

“Do you like rose?” Oh yes, yes, we do. Angel was very generous with the extra tastings. What was poured for us was the Kay. Brian’s mother, Kay, passed away due to a rare form of ovarian cancer. Kim tried not to cry. Her mother passed away due to ovarian cancer as well. A percentage of proceeds goes to cancer research. Kim bought a bottle.

Thank you to Angel, Chef Ben and Cali for the hospitality. The winery is owned by Brian, Arden the father and Brian’s wife. They purchased the land in 2010 so it’s a rather young winery. Check them out!

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Black Friday 2019 in Napa – Stop 1
Wine Country on Netflix
Wine Log 2014

Black Friday 2019 in Napa – Stop 1

While folks are standing in line to shop for deals, my roommate and I had our second annual Black Friday out wine tasting. I am not one to buy gifts. I prefer to gift experiences. With my goal of visiting as many 4,000 California wineries to visit, I am always on a mission to visiting as many as I can. I am now at 83 wineries. See log HERE.

But first, brunch.

Solage, an Auberge Resort, has been a destination I have wanted to experience for myself for a long time. It is absolutely gorgeous. Thought I have not had a chance to stay at the resort, I made my OpenTable reservation at SolBar.

We were offered seating next to each other on a bench near the fireplace or at a table facing each other near the bar. On a brisk morning in wine country, I selected the fireplace. The room had high ceilings, big and tall rectangular windows and a long bar top stretching the entire width of the restaurant. The wooden orbs surrounding the lighting fixtures were large and hung like ornaments, given the season.

We were greeted by our tall server and given the beverage menu and brunch menu. Everything looked delicious. Plates that went by us looked fantastic. I wanted the Morning California with dungeness crab and avocado over an english muffin. I am also a fan of huevos rancheros and was interested in trying their version. I opted in to get the Liberty Farms Duck Confit “hash.” I ruined one of my Meatless Mondays and had a duck hash at Lucy at Bardessono. Kim ordered the gluten free lemon-ricotta pancakes. Maple sugar donut holes were also tempting but I didn’t press it with Kim. She would give in and I need to lose some weight.

Pancakes aren’t my thing. Kim’s stack of pancakes were high, moist, almost pudding like in the middle on top of blueberry sauce and pine nuts. They were tasty but I couldn’t eat an entire order. Kim did some damage on the plate.

My duck confit dish was fantastic. The piece of duck was whole with the skin on and on the bone. Some hashes have the meat shredded on the dish. The meat was flavorful throughout and the skin mostly crispy. I found every single shred of meat I could. The eggs came poached, I should have asked for them fried. The potatoes needed salt and were my least favorite part of the dish. The sauteed bell peppers had a lemon flavor that I loved. I found every strip before pushing the circular, shallow dish to the side.

Overall, the meal was well worth the drive and would like to experience its bar menu, lunch and inner options as well. Dessert would also be appreciated.

Let me help you plan your wine country trip or day trip. Napa is not too far from San Francisco and many tours are offered.

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Thanksgiving Brie Bites

This One Busy Bee is usually asked to bring a dessert to Thanksgiving at my Lola’s house in Martinez, California. In the past, I have made an Oreo Pie, Banana Split Pie and even a failed churro cheesecake. This year, with very little time to rest due to the recent travels, I went with an easy recipe I found on Pinterest. Brandie of The Country Cook posted her Cranberry Brie Bites recipe. Thankfully my family enjoyed it. I used the walnuts I received when I was a wine club member with Clif Family Winery. They came in handy.

Clif, Ocean Spray, Pillsbury & Joan of Arc
Sur La Table apron, Tiffany‘s jewelry

Comment below if you have tried the recipe yourself or how you may have modified it.

First 24 Hours Home

My big, red Samsonite luggage has been unpacked. The bedroom floor is compiled of two piles: laundry and day job items to work out later. This is the progress I have made being home for 24 hours. I mostly slept – 12 hours to be exact in two different segments. Just like the piles.

In the hours of consciousness, I was convinced to work on a spreadsheet that would hopefully alleviate some recent stress. With no intention of working today, I gladly opened my laptop to do my part. Unfortunately, it took all the energy I had to get up, start a load of laundry, hit the gym and go grocery shopping. Spreadsheet was sent. Head hit the pillow.

My roommate was nice enough to bring me a burrito on her way home from work. We also watched the season finale of the Mayans, which she waited until I returned to watch it. I thought that we could watch it together via Hulu from three time zones away but I didn’t have the time.

The wind and rain picked up and as the tv went into sleep mode, we hung out on the couch, enjoying the sound of the rain and caught up a little. Periodically, we picked up our phones, looked at work email and immediately regretted it. I poured myself a dram of Jameson whiskey. It warmed me.

Scrolling thru Instagram, I watched a few fitness videos and got pumped about hitting the gym tomorrow morning after starting a load of laundry. I made more progress on my room as I had to get my environment organized and squared away to make progress in other parts of my life – like making money.

Making money has never been an issue for me. I will always be able to find a job. The lack of a high paying and stable job is what interferes with my goals. The decision to wait for the perfect situation, do what’s best for now or flee to the islands are all risky. What is stable is my home and being able to be around friends and family. I’m safe under my own roof but the path choices in front of me are uncertain and frankly, not exciting enough to choose one if I had to this very moment.

There is a lot to think about but I am definitely not going to solve my problem this very moment. While I wait for things to be put into motion, I will continue to enjoy the things I rarely have time to do like binge watching and reading. Tonight, I escaped reality and started season four of The Man in the High Castle and will read more of Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Ever felt lost at home? Tell me about it.

A 49er Faithful Far, Far Away

I am usually wearing San Francisco 49er gear when I travel. I am a Faithful, born and raised a 49er fan. I scream at the television just like my Lolo used to and I remember watching football games by myself when my mother and sister were not interested in watching. Now traveling, I proudly wear my Niner gear. They are currently having a successful season and it has been a rough few years. Nonetheless, the Faithful and Niner Gang live on. Fingers crossed we will make it to the Super Bowl!

In all honesty, this is a photo dump post as I watch the Niners play the Packers.

Paris, France – September 2019
Home in Hayward, California
SFO, San Francisco, California – November 2019
Greenfield, Indiana – November 2019
Jewelry & top by Stella & Dot
Greenfield, Indiana – November 2019
Jewelry by Stella & Dot
Louisville, Kentucky – November 2019

GO NINERS!!! Looks like I need different Niner gear, doesn’t it?

Bellisima Nashville

It has been six years since I have been to Nashville. On a day I was not scheduled to be at a customer site, I drove from West Chester Township, Ohio, to just outside Nashville to Nolensville, Tennessee. My niece, Isabella, is 18 -months and I have not had the chance to meet her yet. Bella was worth the drive.

Traffic? Am I in the Bay Area?

Driving thru their neighborhood, it looked as if they lived on a movie set. Before that, drive thru Brentwood, Tennessee and the Governor’s Club and try to focus on the road while your jaw on the floor. The houses are mansions with grand staircases leading to an even magnificent double set of doors. I arrived and was able to catch a glimpse of my beautiful niece before she went down for the evening. She was beautiful. Half Filipina, half Southern Belle.

I kept the cousins up a bit to catch up. They are both doing very well, able to work from home and they seem very happy. It’s a wonderful situation for my niece to grow up in. My cousin works for a large automobile company. His wife, my new cousin, had many successes in a male-dominated industry and now turned-entrepreneur. She’s brilliant. Of course, my cousin is too. I am always impressed, motivated and happy to hear when other women are doing great things with their lives AND being a wonderful mother.

After a couple of glasses of Cakebread red wine, I headed up to the beautiful guest room with my own full bath and worked. This time, this One Busy Bee got to enjoy two snuggly cocker spanials to join me. Peanut and Charlie, made me miss being a Puppy Momma. It will be one year since Bevo passed on December 18th.

“Puppies & Spreadsheets” – my next company – saving pups by the numbers (pending trademark😉).

The following morning, I slept in. I needed it. I was able to spend some time with Bella after i grabbed the family some lunch from Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. It was tasty! When Chef Nick Tramonto follows their Instagram, it has to be good. And it was!

Oh, Bella. What a fun, cute, smart, talkative and all-around good girl. Besides the waves, another favorite sound in the world is a baby’s laugh. She’s got a good one with a darling smile to match. I loved hearing it echo thru their beautiful home. She warmed up to me pretty quickly with just plopping down on my lap. She of course loved my phone and the SnapChat (bappletree) filters were too funny. She cleans up after herself, puts her toys away, laughs, speaks and is a very fast walker.

I loved to see the Manzano family growing. Lolo’s blood runs thru her veins. Lolo never got to hold her but as I wear Lolo’s wedding ring. Maybe in some way he did. If the cycle continues, the Manzanos are due for another little girl. Who’s it going to be??? Is it in the cards for me? There’s nothing like instantly falling in love with the idea again when a baby is in your arms. Everyone I have met during this trip think I am in my twenties. When they are told that I will be 40 next year, some say it’s not too late and to consider it. Kind of need a partner to consider that partnership with me first.

Pure happiness. “These conference calls are more bearable with my niece on my lap. Adding that to my requests from the company.” “We can’t steal a child for you to sit with, B” “Steal? Borrow!” “I mean… that’s not much of a kidnapping defense.” That’s why he’s my lawyer. What would I do without him?
Definitely related.

I said my goodbyes to my family with hopes to visit again soon. Before heading up to Lousiville, Kentucky, I stopped off at Downtown Nashville for a bite to eat. I absolutely love the music pouring out of every window of every honky tonk as you walk down Broadway. I remember being the only Asian girl at these spots knowing every word to the country songs musicians were playing. What a fun town. My goal was to head to Jason Aldean’s Kitchen & Rooftop Bar but it was dead at about 1:30 PM. Kid Rock’s Big Honky Tonk and Rock n Roll Steakhouse was busy, Florida Georgia Line had a place but this Elvis lover stopped off at the Sun Diner, a Sun Records themed restaurant. I had the donut breakfast sandwich with pork belly. I had to. And it was worth every calorie.

Of all the cities I have visited during this trip, Nashville brought beauty to my world. Thank you, Bella.

HFWF19 – Keiki in the Kitchen

An event specifically for the children/keiki during the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival is called Keiki in the Kitchen. It is a free event with a celebrity chef at Whaler’s Village in Ka’anapali. Parents must register their children if they would like to participate in the activity. Last year, they had Rosanna Pansino and I showed her the dog cookies I made my late Bevo. This year, they had Duff Goldman of the Food Networks’ ‘Ace of Cakes.’

After Duff instructed the keiki on what to do for their creations, he took photos with fans. While waiting, I saw Chef Alan Wong and Chef Lyndon Honda, the Executive Chef of Sheraton Maui. Lyndon remembers me every year and that’s always nice to know. I had to grab some selfies with them.

Next, chefs for the La Pasta Vista dinner were signing autographs. Little had Chef Michael Chiarello know, he would be doing something special for all three of my party later night. Check out the link, but first, another selfie.

And for some fun, the girls and I had to do the photo booth. Yes, I love Spam. I was raised on it and especially love my aunt’s fried rice for it and I usually have it with rice and chopped tomatoes and onions with patis, a fish sauce. So good, but so salty.

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HFWF19 – Pasta La Vista

What more can you ask for than an evening with wonderful friends, a table under the stars near the ocean at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa and six courses of delicious dishes using local ingredients and wine pairings? I was lucky enough to have attended a similar dinner for the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival there on Maui two years before. It was quite memorable. This year, the dishes are Italian themed. Perfecto! As my other favorite place in the world, besides Maui, is Italy.

My guests that evening included my roommate, Kim, and what has been nicknamed my #Instafriend, Julia. Kim is well aware that I blog and lets me take photos of her food before she dives in. Her friend, Becci, asks if she “Bernadette It” yet before she dives into her meal. Amazing right? I believe they were in Amsterdam when that phrase came about. My tendencies cross oceans! Julia is also a lover of food and whiskey like I am, but she is also President of Le Donne women’s Italian club in San Francisco. I thought this event was perfect for her to attend with me. Both ladies have already committed to attending the HFWF in 2020. If you can join us, please let me know so we can sit at the same table.

While at the pool, we could see the chefs in gray jackets posing for photos on the circular balcony above and near the lawn where the dinner would take place. After some time at the pool, the three ladies dressed for a wonderful evening ahead. I wore a dress by Hot Miami Styles and high heels by Jessica Simpson. For those ladies wondering what to wear, your stilettos may get stuck in the lawn so walk lightly. The walkways of the Hyatt are not smooth for fancy heels. Be safe and wear wedges if you wish to add some height to your ensemble. It will also aid in walking back to your hotel room after the nice pours of wine throughout the evening.

Check-in was easy and you were given a wristband. I introduced myself to my media contacts and thanked them for the opportunity. We were sat at a table with other media folks and it was nice to meet people with similar passions. I was sat across from the owner of the ‘foodiswhyimbroke‘ Instagram account. Yen Kim Phan is also from the San Francisco Bay Area but she has a whopping 63.6K followers. Congratulations! Also at my table were ladies from Kaanapali Resort.

The festivities began and Chef Robert Irvine was the MC. I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at the Spiked! event. He is quite the character. He had a beer chugging competition with the event’s Sommelier. Guess who won?

The first course was the most memorable. It was definitely unique and creative. The pasta was mozzarella. Kim has a tomato allergy. We waited for her plate to arrive and it was hand delivered by Chef Chiarello. How special! Then he kissed her on both cheeks. Julia and I asked “What about us?!” We got our wish.

Pasta Pomodoro
Mozzarella and Cavaero Farms zucchini, spaghettini over tomato carpacio and rooftop tomato conserva, balsamic caviar and picolo fino basil, crispy calabrian chili flake gremolata
Wine: Ferrari Brut Rose, Trentodoc, NV
Chef Michael Chiarello – Bottega Napa Valley, Yountville, CA

The second course was bright, with structure and height and a medley of textures. Some diners do not like the head on the prawns but it didn’t bother this Pinay.

“From the Mountain to the Sea”
Malokai purple potato gnocchi, sauce of kabocha and grilled Kaua’i prawn
Wine: Capichera Lintori Vermentino di Sardegna 2017
Chef Gregory Grohowski – Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa

The third course was by far my favorite dish of the evening. Since my last trip to Italy in 2016, I have been on the search for the best carbonara in the United States. This dish was heavenly and what I have been searching for for years! You had me at truffles.

Tagliatelle alla Carbonara
Deconstructed carbonara with specialty sun noodle, waimana TKG poached egg, local guanciale, imported parmigiano-reggiano, cream, truffle butter and truffles
Wine: Champagne delamotte brut blanc de blancs, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, N.V.
Chef Daisuke Hamamoto – Arancino at The Kahala, Honolulu, HI

The fourth course had another prawn from Kauai’i but it was our first fish of the evening. The squid ink gnocchi was different. I have had other squid ink pasta in Italy and at my favorite restaurant in San Francisco called Seven Hills.

Cacciucco with Gnocchetti Sardi al Nero
Tuscan seafood stew with squid ink sardinian gnocchi, Kaua’i prawns, Hawaiian snapper and clams
Wine: Marisa Cuomo, Cosa d’Amalfi Rosato 2017
Chef Marco Canora – Hearth Restaurant, New York, NY

And then there was meat! The fifth course was simple and full of flavor. The salsa verde was my choice for pairing the meat with every bite. Fantastic.

Makaweli Dry-Aged Prime Ribeye
Sicilian caponata, salda verde, black garlic
Wine: COS, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Sicily 2014
Chef Celestino Drago – Drago Centro, Los Angeles, CA

And lastly, it was time for dessert. Layered with different textures and flavors from bitter to sweet, it was an interesting dessert and not too heavy after five courses.

Maui-misu
A play on the Italian tiramisu using Manoa chocolate, coffee, coconut and Mauna Loa macadamia nuts.
Wine: Banfi, Rosa Regale Brachetto D’Acquio, Piedmont 2018
Chef Johnny Iuzzini – Chocolate by Johnny Iuzzini, New York, NY

Until next year! Save the date for October 2 – 25, 2020!

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Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa has beautiful grounds in addition to being beach-side in the Kaanapali, Hawaii area. Find swans, including black ones, plus ducks, flamingos and penguins. Consider dining at Son’z Steakhouse that is seen in the background. Quite the serene view, right? There are multiple pools, the grotto bar and spa. Getting a massage on the beach with the sound of the waves is highly recommended!

My friends and I were in town for the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. There was a deal for a one-night stay at the hotel and two tickets for the 6-course dinner on the lawn. I have been to a dinner for this event in the past and it is fantastic! Our room was spacious with two beds, a step-in closet, bathroom with tub, a large vanity, had plenty of mirrors for three ladies and a balcony. We slept very well, especially with our bellies full of delicious creations.

The pools were busy and there were multiple bodies of water to choose from. The largest of the pools led you towards the grotto bar but you’d have to swim under or squeeze by the waterfall to get to it. Other pools were more shallow with reclining chairs in the water and levels to break up the areas. Pool service is available for snacks and rum-filled cocktails.

Before you catch your flight home, book a massage on the beach. I guarantee you that the sounds of the waves is more relaxing than any soothing music playing over the speakers. With your massage treatment, you also have access to the spa facilities. Place your items in your locker, wrap yourself in a luxurious, white robe, enjoy the lounge area with some cucumber water or tea, or take a dip in the spa with powerful jets or the sauna or steam room.

Let me help you book your next Maui and Hawaiian vacation!

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Self-Inflicted Tiresome

Before I left for this three-week long trip to help launch my day job’s product in the Mid-West, I already knew I over extended myself. With trying to be a good friend and employee, and knowing no one else will be able to do what is required, I volunteered. I like traveling. I don’t have a boyfriend or dog that needs my attention and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to travel. Besides the main tasks I needed to assist in, I added more to it.

Eight days in and five more until a day off, I am feeling it. Before I left, I was home for one week from two weeks straight of traveling. Yes, that two weeks included time on Maui, but it was still work. I had my laptop and I was paying bills and responding to emails and reporting on the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. I flew home via Hawaiian Airlines on a Tuesday and was on a United plane out to Cincinnati the following day. Last night, I started to feel drained. Why am I working so hard? Was this giving me joy?

Am I doing it for the praise? The love? The appreciation? The money? The experience? All are accurate results to achieve with hard work. Then I get a notice on Zillow for a property I have not yet seen in my Maui real estate search. If I had the money right now, I would have inquired about this property. I have worked remotely from Maui and it is not work. I would be so happy to have this view as I worked from my balcony. Praise are words. Love fades. Real estate can last forever.

Remembering my why re-energized me. A surprise funny print-out in a FedEx package sent from a coworker made me laugh. And a 7-hour nap always helps.

Venting to my roommate always helps. We have plans to go wine tasting on Black Friday like we did the previous year. I am looking forward to that. And I am also looking forward to sleeping majority of Thanksgiving weekend. I may be gone for another three weeks in December. This time, I am going to try to not overbook myself. Let’s see if I actually learn this time.

Black Friday 2018 – Trinchero Family Estates

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Beach Day in Ka’anapali, Maui
Traveling Buddies
HFWF18 – Spiked!