The arrangement was that we would meet Erik at his folk's house sometime after 5 PM. We checked out of our hotel after brunch with the kids and drove the rental car to Sacramento and visited Old Town - a place I really liked when I first visited it in 1976, but one that has since become increasingly more commercial and touristy. Still, it was nice to walk about and get an ice cream and all that stuff.
We then drove across town to a grocery store that Erik suggested as a foodies mecca, Corti Brothers. He was right. I could have spent several hours just walking up and down the aislec checking out all the goodies. However, as I had already purchased close to 30 pounds of other groceries to bring home to NH (Rosarita green chili/lime frijoles, Hinode calrose rice, S&W specialty beans, and desert flower honey) I restrained myself. I grabbed a bottle of french limonade, (sparkly and pink), a baguette for my daughter the carb queen, and some brie to contribute to the appetizers.
Two years ago, when we visited Erik on our last long vacation trip, we met up at his home in Oakland. The lovely Amalia was, of course, younger then, and she did not remember us. But we remembered her. She is quite a charming child, outspoken as one would expect. Melanie was not able to make it across the bay as she needed to be in the office early Monday AM. Conversation was. as expected, most excellent and covered the usual gamut from art and architecture to politics and public radio. But on to the menu!
We started with tapas of spanish (not mexican) chorizo, accompanied by anchovy stuffed spanish olives, and manchego cheese slices covered with quince paste. We also sampled a rustic fig/anise bread, and brought out the baguette and the brie for those in need of blander flavors. Drinks with tapas - vermouth cocktails x 3 adults, 'sparky' and still water for the younger generation. We sat in the kitchen and chatted, nibbled, and watched Erik in action. Erik made me and himself martinis with his Bombay gin, John passed on this one. I was allowed to help Erik to shuck the fava beans that were part of the dinner preparation, but otherwise I just watched.
Menu for dinner:
Risotto with fava bean puree and sugar snap peas (asparagus had been planned but was unavailable that day)
Salad of wild arugula, dressed with vinaigrette
Pork loin with sage sauce, pot roasted on the stove top.
for dessert, premium vanilla ice cream with mixed berry sauce.
A nice white wine with the risotto, a disappointing chianti with the pork.
We dined al fresco. After dinner my dear daughter plunged into helping with the cleanup (I am proud of her for that, no one asked her). We eventually all settled into our various beds for the night, and in the morning we went to the naked city cafe for breakfast. Pastry, espresso, chai, and teas brewed properly. I mean that they had loose leaf tea and brewed it in china pots. DD was disappointed by the chai - it did not have the spice blend that one would expect and was too sweet, and almost tasted of rose water. But I was very happy with my darjeeling.
We then went back to Erik's folk's place, packed up our stuff, and headed to the airport. After turning in the rental car, I realized that my Palm Pilot had fallen out of my purse sometime that morning. Ultimately it was found to be at the cafe, and Erik kindly went and got it, and brought it to the airport just in time.
And so we came home and immediately plunged into the usual chaos of everyday life.
I'm heading out in about 14 hours to catch a plane into Dulles for a conference at the Wardman Marriot in downtown Washington DC. I will have the laptop along and I am pretty sure there will be internet access. If you who live in the area want to try to connect, leave me an email with contact info. My schedule is pretty tight but I would love to meet up with some of you.