Posts Tagged ‘Santa Cruz’

Back in the Day… But First… Friday!

February 3, 2012

One of the perks of membership at Ridge Vineyards is getting to experience their First Friday series at the Monte Bello tasting room.

First Friday is a neat members-only tasting event with a new theme every month.

For February, they went “Old School”.

Check out the menu…

Going "Old School"!

For starters, there was a three vintage vertical from the Old School block of the Geyserville Estate… a block that traditionally brings some hella ripe Zinfandel to the table.

First on the list was the 2003 Independence School (Soon to be renamed “Old School”)…

Goin' back to the Old School!

The ’03 brought some extremely concentrated red fruit on the palate.  Extremely concentrated.  Like… Extremely concentrated.

Moving into the 2006 Old School, that concentrated red fruit was still present… but not nearly as overpowering.

The 2009 Old School… Now that was my jam.  This Zinfandel blend still brought the concentration of the prior vintages, but was rounded out with these really nice, powdery… dare I say… CHALKY tannins.  You know I love chalk.  Love it!

In general, I really liked this Old School vertical.  It gives a good idea of how the ’09 would evolve over the next couple of years.  For my money (at $30 a bottle), I would have no qualms popping and pouring this one.

Now, on to the some fun stuff…

Barrel Samples!

Ridge 2010 Geyserville Barrel Sample!

You know that Geyserville is one of the iconic single vineyard wines from Ridge.  It’s a fantastic, Zinfandel based field blend that “brings it” year in and year out.  2010 is no exception.  Red fruit.  Acid.  Spice.  Minerality.  This wine has it all… All!

As great as the Geyserville was, there was one wine I had at First Friday that I just cannot get out of my head…

Ridge 2010 East Bench Zinfandel Barrel Sample!

Here’s the thing about the 2010 East Bench…

This is a powerful wine.


One sniff of this Zin, and I was 18 again.

Let me explain…

The Summer after I graduated from San Lorenzo Valley High School, I worked at a juice bar in downtown Santa Cruz.  The juice bar was called Juice World.  The year was 1997.

You won’t find any Juice Worlds today.  They went out of business in 2000.  They just couldn’t compete with the juice juggernaut that is known as Jamba.  To this day, I am convinced that JW was the best juice bar on the planet.  We made some bomb smoothies!

Working there, I was given my first real opportunity to experiment with flavors.  As part of our pay, we got one free smoothie for each shift we worked.  Each day, I would play around with different combinations of juices, sherbets, and fruits to see which combinations would work the best.

My favorite smoothie was a blend of strawberries, cranberries, raspberry and orange sherbet, and peach juice.  I called it the Orange Screech.

In retrospect, drinking 32 ounces of sugar every day isn’t the best thing for your body… But I did load up my smoothies with tons of supplements (like protein powder, bee pollen, and vitamin C)…



Chalky Supplements.

I probably haven’t had an Orange Screech since 1999, and yet… as I took my first whiff of the 2010 East Bench Zinfandel, that’s exactly what is smelled like.



Raspberry and Orange sherbet.

Peach Juice.

Chalky Supplements.

The Orange Screech!

I’ve got to be honest with y’all…

I don’t even remember what the East Bench tasted like.

But the way it smelled…

I’ll never forget it.

I want some more!

F-ing Devine!

I wanted to hang out in the barn at Ridge and smell that wine for another hour, but sometimes you just gotta move on…

Night Falls Over the Ridge


And I was hella hungry.

On the way home, we stopped by Toto Trattoria for beer…

Acme IPA

And pizza…

Pineapple and Prociutto Pizza

What a great Friday.

I still can’t get the smell of that East Bench out of my mind.

It makes me wonder…

When is the last time you’ve had a wine take you “back in the day”?

Stay Rad,



Hey Y’all! Hey Y’all!

September 10, 2011

Hey Y’all,

How are you?

I am fine.

I was just writing to let you know that I’ve got some really keen things that I will be writing about very soon.

Last night, I had a very dope dinner with Kara at Bubbles Wine Bar.

Today, I’m going to the Capitola Art and Wine Festival.

I am bummed out that I will not be making the Fury 66 reunion show at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz tonight.  They were my favorite band when I was in high school.  I also know that I will miss meeting up with some old friends at the show, but I’ve got an early day tomorrow.  When I go to a Fury 66 concert, I go all out.  I’m talkin’ stage diving and circle pits for days… You dig?

Tomorrow, I’ll be getting up bright and early to head up to Candlestick Park in San Francisco.  We will be tailgating hard core, before heading inside the stadium to see the 49ers destroy the Seattle Seahawks.  After the game, Kara and I are gonna stop by my Aunt and Uncle’s house for dinner.

What’s that?

What am I doing right now?

I’m slurping on some java and macking some tight breakfast…

Two eggs scrambled on a bed of rosemary potatoes.

These eggs are possibly the fluffiest and creamiest I have ever made.

Yeah… I’m pretty stoked.

I’ll write you soon.

Stay Rad,


Going home… Wherever that is.

July 27, 2011

My father is a retired math teacher.

Every year, during the first week of school, he would show his students a video.  The only film to be viewed in his class all year.  Why?  “It’s the only movie that matters.” he would tell me.

The movie?

Donald in Mathmagic Land!

Check it out... Square Roots!

It’s a wonderful 27 minute animation, following Donald Duck’s learning of the magic of geometry from a voice in the woods.  Since my dad only showed it in his class once a year, the video stayed in our video cabinet for the other 364 days of the year.  As short as the film was, and with as much time as I had in my day, I would watch this film often as a child.

My favorite part of this one is when Donald Duck first realizes that he is lost.  First, he notices that all the birds have right triangles for beaks.  Then he sees that the trees look kind of strange.  He walks right up to one of them, and says in his ducky voice, “Well, whatdayaknow?  Square Roots!”

I thought that line was hilarious.  You can only imagine how stoked I was when I got to actually learn about square roots in school.  “Square roots!” I would shout in my math class while working on problems.

“You’re weird!” random pretty girls would say back to me.


I’m getting off topic.

I’ve been thinking a lot about ROOTS lately…

The Roots

"Roots! Bloody roots!" - Sepultura

"Don't forget your roots!" - H2O

A friend of ours just visited us from Japan.  She moved out there with her boyfriend a year ago.

She mentioned to us that in the time she’s been back in the USA, she’s started to feel homesick.  That’s a funny kind of thing.  A girl born and raised in Sunnyvale missing her home… Her home of one year.  Japan!

It’s funny.

It’s funny how our sense of home can change.

It’s funny how I can relate.

You know that I grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Ben Lomond, California, to be specific.  To those who I figure don’t know, or don’t care to know, about Ben Lomond… I just tell them I’m from Santa Cruz.  Not entirely true, but close enough.

Though I never lived in the city of Santa Cruz, I guess I could consider it my “home town”.  From the time I was old enough to ride the bus on my own, Santa Cruz was my play ground.  Once I learned how to drive, it was on.

Walking Pacific Avenue just to see what I could see.

Hitting up the Boardwalk to seek a thrill.

Working at the Boardwalk… and Juice World… and Streetlight Records… to get some scratch.

Going to punk rock shows.

Playing punk rock shows.

Cruising in the 1985 Honda Accord hatchback with my buddies from West Cliff to East Cliff and back.

Bonfires on the beach.

Bar hopping.

Santa Cruz is where I grew up.

Ben Lomond, however, is my home…


Ben Lomond was my home.

In 2002, while I was getting my credential at San Jose State, my folks sold the house in Ben Lomond and moved to Reno, Nevada.  Good for them.  The house is really nice.  Good for me.  When I go to Reno, I don’t have to pay for a hotel room.


In a way…

Bad for me.

Bad for me because now that my parents don’t live in Ben Lomond any more, I don’t have a reason to go back to my home town.

As far as Santa Cruz goes, there are plenty of reasons to go there… I just don’t.  At least… not as often as I should.

It’s funny.

It’s funny that over the last 10 years San Jose has become my new home.

It’s where I went to college.  It’s where I made my career.  It’s where I fell in love.

It’s funny that for the last two years, I’ve lived in Morgan Hill.  It’s where I bought a home.  It’s where I got married.  It’s where I spend all my time.

It’s where I write this blog.

But let’s get back to my roots.

This morning, Kara and I went for a run…

in Santa Cruz.

Here are some pictures that Kara took with her phone (I should get one of those)…

West Cliff

Natural Bridges

It was such a beautiful, relaxing run.

We started at Lighthouse Beach State Park, right next to the Surfer Boy Statue.  The run took us along the West Cliff trail to Natural Bridges and back.

It was beautiful.

I saw the Monterey Bay.

I saw the birds, and mussels, and ice plants.

I saw the people.

The locals.  I was one once.

The tourists.  I am one now.



And I smelled it.  The ocean.  The briny briny sea.

It made me think of scallops.

It made me want some food.


Let’s do this!

After the run, Kara and I drove over to 99 Bottles on Walnut Ave. (between Pacific and Cedar) in downtown SC.

We sat on the patio…

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

Here’s what I had…

Big Daddy IPA

The 99 Burger

Pickles, onions, tomato, lettuce, and the secret mustard-mayo sauce.

The beer was great.  Nice and hoppy up front, with a crisp finish.  The perfect beer to go with a burger.

The burger?  Meh… It was all right.  The condiments were really nice, but the actual burger… It wasn’t that great.  The meat was a little over-cooked.  It came off as being really crumbly.  I think whoever formed the burger from the ground beef squished it a little too much.  It’s the type of burger that you need a good beer with… to make you forget it.


Lunch was nice, and I really enjoyed going back to my roots… back to Santa Cruz…


I was itching to leave.

I was ready to go home.


Morgan Hill, California.

Stay Rad,


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