Hi, and Welcome to Travels with Toaster: in Search of Adventure! If you’re looking for the local section I write in and around the Napa Valley (and sometimes San Francisco), you can always go directly to the Tourist in My Own Town category. Otherwise, peruse and enjoy!
A few months ago, my friend Shannon asked if I wanted to go beer-tasting with her. She’d seen something in Sunset magazine about a brewery tour (I think in the Mendocino/North Coast areas of NorCal) and was inspired. My answer, of course, was hell yes! A few hiccups later, our planning has stalled, but she’s still earmarked for (at least) the tour I’m planning for upcoming tastings at Petaluma/Santa Rosa breweries, in addition to the ones she’d already picked out. But in the planning stages, I quickly discovered that some of my favorite beers were a bit further from her than she’d like to drive, so I’d either have to exclude them (read: not ideal) or go tasting there with someone else. I mentioned this to my brother, and a new plan was born.
Yes, I’ll still go beer tasting up the North Coast with Shannon one of these days, and when we do, I promise you can read all about it and live (drink) vicariously. But in the meantime…please enjoy the first of (at least) four posts sampling all that the best of Northern California’s breweries has to offer. Up first: Marin and San Francisco. Read more…
A little over a week ago, I did the unthinkable… I left Napa Valley. Not necessarily for good, mind you, but I bid my sweet hometown farewell all the same. Instead of having a traditional going-away party, I decided to do things a little differently, and spend my last day in the area visiting all my favorite places with my favorite people, saying a bittersweet simultaneous goodbye while enjoying the finest food and wine our famous neighborhoods have to offer.
Before the festivities began, I arranged for my cousin Tami (one of my favorite people on the planet) to fly up from LA to keep me company during the long drive from LA to San Diego (a good thing, too, because it turned out to be much cheaper to have her drive my car while I drove the rental truck, rather than towing my car behind, as I’d originally planned…but I digress). Read more…
While in Napa for a demonstration at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, chef Richard Blais sat down with me for a few minutes to chat about his demonstration, his time working with chef Thomas Keller, and life after winning Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars.
Let’s start with a few simple questions. What three ingredients are always on hand in your personal kitchen?
Salt, obviously. Vinegar. And let’s say animal fat, to keep it interesting. Read more…