I have been waiting for Santa Cruz to do this. It is the perfect place, with great weather, ocean views, many dining options, affordable hotels/motels, and a great vibe. For many years, I have ridden the narrow roads and trails of the area.
In a previous life, I had a beach house in the Aptos (La Selva Beach) area. The roads were generally not conducive to cycling. This will be the catalyst to great cycling in the area!
While we are in the area, I must mention one of my favorite places to eat, the Shadowbrook in Capitola, with its own funicular! I also enjoy the great Mexican food in Watsonville, and the seafood on the Wharf in Santa Cruz. And the best secret of all, the Corralitos Market, with the BEST smoked meats this side of Munich! Don’t forget UC Santa Cruz, Seascape, Pasatiempo Golf Course (designed by Alistair MacKenzie), the old Santa Cruz Boardwalk, and the Feast of Lanterns.
The area has much to offer, for either a long weekend or a week long beach rental during the fabulous summers.
From Winespeed: Over the last several years, both iconic Champagne producers have invested in southern England’s uncanny combination of chalky soils, climate, and topography—so similar to Champagne’s own terroir.
In 2017, Taittinger planted 50 acres (20 hectares) of traditional Champagne grape varieties near Kent in southeastern England. It was the first time a top Champagne house had planted a vineyard in the U.K. This summer, plans to build a 33K+ case winery adjacent to the venture’s current 550-acre vineyard were approved. The English sparkling wine will be called Domaine Evremond, named after Charles de Saint-Évremond, the French writer credited with introducing 17th-century London society to Champagne. The first vintage is expected in 2024.
Not long after Taittinger’s investment, Pommery purchased and planted 100 acres (40 hectares) of vineyard near Southampton, west of Kent along the southern coast. The following year, Pommery became the first Champagne house to launch an English sparkling wine with the 2018 release of its Louis Pommery England Brut, with grapes purchased from vineyards in Hampshire, Essex, and Sussex. The wine is named for Pommery’s founder.I have heard many good things about the sparkling wines from England. It turns out the English have been some of the great drinkers of wine. To the point, think of Willie’s Falstaff (above), and Dickens who liked Sauternes and Chablis. This is topped only by Winston Churchill (also above), who claimed the four essentials of life were a hot bath, cold champagne, new pears, and old brandy.
According to Punch:
To anyone who’s been keeping track, the sudden rise of England as a top producer of terroir-driven sparkling wines represents one of the most dramatic wine-industry success stories of recent memory. In the words of English writer Andrew Jefford, “What had once been regarded as a harmless eccentricity has become, over the last decade, one of the wine world’s most promising developments.”
The proof is in the numbers. According to the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), 2017 saw a record-breaking amount of English wine released onto the market. The WSTA also projects that English Sparkling Wine production will double by the year 2022 to approximately 10 million bottles annually (with plans to export at least a quarter of that figure to the United States). This is why the U.K. government’s Food is GREAT campaign teamed up with industry this past October to launch its first British Spirits and Sparkling Wine week in New York City.
Even just a few decades ago, to speak of an “English wine industry” would have smacked of hyperbole. As Gareth Maxwell of Hattingley Valley Wines explains, “In the 1970s, we actually used to grow a lot of German varieties and odd hybrids, but back then it was mostly a cottage industry and the quality wasn’t all that great because the grapes didn’t fully ripen.”
The essential hallmark of the “English style,” is freshness. But not the usual run-of-the-mill, cool-climate freshness, which we associate with any number of places. Imagine extreme freshness—an almost electric jolt of acidity, infused with bracing minerality and orchard fruit. Although individual wineries tend to interpret this profile through their own stylistic lens, it signals the emergence of a singular regional expression that stands apart from the other sparkling wines of the world.
“We’re after a much fresher, cleaner style than Champagne,” Maxwell explains. “We’re not looking for a rich, yeasty style. We want to highlight the quality of our fruit, which is exceptionally high, thanks to our long, cool growing season. That’s what we have in mind when we say we make a uniquely English style of wine.” I think I would like this style!
I have not seen any in our wine stores here in the US, yet! But I will try it soon, either in Jolly Olde, on a plane, or a duty-free shop somewhere in Europe. Or perhaps, Brexit might alter the marketplace for these interesting products?
Can you believe this? Only from our brethren across the pond.
A special name, 007, for the exclusive Special Cuvée Champagne unveiled by Bollinger in observance of Global James Bond Day on October 5th. 007 is the code name for dashing fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond, who for over 40 years, and 14 of the franchise’s films, has been devoted to “Bolly” (as the Brits call it). The 007 Special Cuvée was intended to accompany the release of the 25th Bond film, No Time to Die, which was postponed to Spring, 2021.
Speaking of our British friends, from Forbes: It comes as a surprise to many people that England has a growing sparkling wine industry, or any wine industry at all. It is one of the most rapidly expanding wine regions in the world, with three million new grapevines planted in the first half of 2019 and more than 15 million bottles produced in 2018. One of the standout sparkling wine brands from England is Nyetimber, whose vineyards are spread across Sussex, Hampshire, and Kent. Grapes were planted here in 1988, and husband and wife winemaking team Cherie Spriggs and Brad Greatrix joined Nyetimber one year after current owner Eric Heerema took the helm in 2006.
So, on my next visit to Jolly Olde, I will definitely give it a try. But the James Bond vintage is $200 USD! More from Forbes: Although quantities vary from year to year depending on weather, Nyetimber produces between 500,000 and 1,000,000 bottles of traditional method sparkling wine each year, using the same three grapes as Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Ninety percent of Nyetimber’s output stays in the United Kingdom, with the remainder going into the small but growing export market. Nyetimber’s most important export markets are the United States, Japan, and Scandinavia, where the brand focus has been to make the wines available in top-end restaurants, hotels and bars in order to raise awareness.
I will try the J Bond vintage, only if it was the Sean Connery version!!!
My new favorite baseball cap arrived Thursday. It simply says “Notorious” in honor of Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The second letter “o” has a picture of her face instead of the letter.
As I may have mentioned, she was one of my heroes. She was my hero as much for the life she led, as her outstanding career in the Supreme Court as a champion of women and minorities. Let me tell you a little about her. Her Mother died before the day she graduated from high school, as valedictorian of her class. Her Mother, despite financial struggles, saved enough money for her to attend college, though she ended up with a full scholarship to Cornell. She made the Harvard Law Review while being a wife and Mother, then graduated at the top of her class at Columbia.
Unable to get a job with a big New York law firm, she ended up in Sweden on a grant to study the Swedish legal system. Her husband, Marty, fully supportive in every move, was a gourmet chef, an outstanding lawyer in his own right, Hers was a life well lived, and dedicated to a calling higher than herself.
So, where were you on September 18, when she passed? I just finished my first two weeks as a Red Cross volunteer. And even though we knew she was ill, and fighting pancreatic cancer, the news hit hard. We knew a legal giant had passed, and a big fight was coming to fill her seat on the Supreme Court. The recent book, “RBG” chronicles her life, as well as her landmark cases.
How could he have known, when he wrote “The Boxer” that his words would be so profound? The song was released March 21, 1969. Experts say the lyrics are largely autobiographical, and partially inspired by the Bible. It was written during a period when Simon was unfairly criticized. The lyrics discuss poverty and loneliness. I think phrases such as “workman’s wages” and “seeking out the poorer quarters” was biblical.
The original recording took over 100 hours to produce. The original version includes a pedal guitar, bass harmonica, and a piccolo trumpet. The song has only one drum beat. During the recording of “The Boxer, Artie met his future wife, Linda Grossman.
My favorite verse of “The Boxer” goes like this: Now the years are rolling by me— They are rockin’ evenly. I am older than I once was, And younger than I’ll be. That’s not unusual; No, it isn’t strange: After changes upon changes We are more or less the same; After changes we are more or less the same.
Good night, RBG and Ali. You are my heroes.
BTW: I met the greatest, Ali in 1976 in Miami, while we were both jogging outside the Fontainebleau Hotel in the Florida humidity. I had the audacity to ask him to be our fourth for tennis, then I realized who he was. Nice man!
Despite evidence to the contrary, we still celebrate, somewhat reluctantly, Columbus Day. But it leads me to think about the first Japanese person to enter America.
From History Today: A Japanese teenager named Manjirō, from an impoverished family in a tiny fishing village, found himself thrust into a struggle for survival after being shipwrecked on a Pacific atoll in 1841. Following a dramatic maritime rescue, Manjirō was catapulted into a decade-long series of adventures in which he became the first Japanese known to have lived in the United States, circumnavigated the globe and then participated in the California Gold Rush. Yet Manjirō never lost his desire to return home to ‘closed’, isolationist Japan. After a daring effort at repatriation, his knowledge of the United States made him a valuable resource for his native government at the moment that Japan faced the dilemma of ‘opening’ to the West. His story and its significance have been overlooked, but Manjirō (Japanese commoners at that time rarely had surnames) played an integral role in Japan’s relations with the West and its transformation into a ‘modernised’ state in the second half of the 19th century.
Fast forward to his assimilation to the US, and ultimate return to Japan via Okinawa. The story is well chronicled in “The Manjiro Story” which you can google. Here is an excerpt:
Although he was somewhat of a curiosity at first, Manjiro was quickly accepted by folks in the area due to his polite manner and eagerness to learn. Once he had received a decent basic education he wanted to learn about navigation, which had intrigued him while he was on the whale ship. He had difficulty understanding how a ship could go far out to sea and later return to a precise point without being able to observe land.
Through a connection with a friend Captain Whitfield had him accepted to study at the Bartlett School where he could learn advanced mathematics, navigation and surveying. All of these skills along with coopering (which he learned through an apprenticeship in New Bedford) would later serve him and his fellow Japanese extremely well given that his country had been closed to the outside world for so long.
But he made a lasting contribution to both his adopted home in Bedford, MA, as well as his mother country. I think I need to visit his adopted home.
In the following years Manjiro was to share his knowledge of western technology in several ways:
He translated Bowditch’s “The New American Practical Navigator” into Japanese
He became Professor of Navigation at the Naval Training School
He wrote,”Eibei Taiwa Shokei” (A shortcut to Anglo-American Conversation). This was the first English text published in Japan
He initiated the first whaling industry in Japan based on his experiences
He was the official translator for the delegation which crossed the Pacific to San Francisco on the Kanrin-maru (the first Japanese ship to do so)
With the new Meiji government he was appointed professor to Kaisei Univ. later to become know as Tokyo Imperial University (Todai Univ.)
So, my deepest gratitude for Manjiro, who paved the way for my Grandfather to emigrate from Nagoya to California in 1896.
If you can’t help but pick up a few hardcovers every time you pass a bookstore, you may be someone who unwittingly practices “tsundoku.” The term refers to the habit of buying or otherwise accumulating a large number of books with no immediate intent of reading them — basically the opposite of borrowing a book from the library, reading it, and returning it. Although the concept might seem directly tied to the proliferation of modern bestsellers and book clubs, it has actually been around for over a century, according to the BBC. The first recorded entry dates back to 1879, but it was probably used before then, too. The etymology of the word itself is comprised of two Japanese verbs: “tsumu,” meaning “to pile up,” and “dokusho,” meaning “to read.” It’s been suggested that “tsundoku” has no direct English translation, although “bibliomania” comes close.
Interestingly, in this period of Zoom and gloom, we often observe “experts” and other television people broadcasting in front of, guess what? Their book shelves, of course! And the more books we see, the smarter they are, right? I guess the Japanese have figured this out!
So, if I get back on to Zoom, I will have to sit in front of my bookshelf, but only after removing some of the wine and Scotch bottles. Now, if you have time, look a little deeper into the books on the shelves. Often times, they are just old CDs or VHS tapes with fake spines. Rarely do I see a Bible or Dictionary.
I would expect to see these famous books:
To Kill a Mockingbird
A Tale of Two Cities
Catcher in the Rye
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Count of Monte Cristo
You must admit, that books give a better impression than a playground, bar, or living room. So, more books means the person is smarter!
My friend, Dr. W has an impressive array of books in his home. Not just medical, but he includes the arts, travel, language, culture, and fun. Perhaps I can use his abundant bookshelves as my zoom background?
Truth be known, I have one little bookshelf in the spare bedroom. Unless I want to keep the book for future reference, they are moved to a temporary holding “cell” in the garage, until they are given away or donated. I love a good home library.
We all have our little secrets for long flights. Mine is very simple, use my frequent flyer miles for an upgrade to First Class. It solves many problems. But, there is still the matter of filling a long time span, in a confined place, particularly now in the Covid era. Here are some other hints, no matter where you sit.
Get a good seat. If you are like me, and want an aisle, or if you do not want to be disturbed, get a window seat. Whichever you prefer, do it when you book your flight. Pay extra if you must. And you must! Some long legged passengers prefer the exit row. My only problem with the exit row area is the seats do not recline! So, choose wisely, and stay away from the galleys and toilets, both for the noise and the odiferous distractions.
I always bring my own snacks, usually trail mix that I make myself, mints, an energy bar or two, maybe some homemade cookies. I hate the crap they give out on the place or sell at the airport shops.
I am a firm believer in Bose headphones, or any top quality headset. Need I say more? And keep them clean! It is about the only time I will watch a movie or two.
A good book is essential, but I always bring TWO. Why? One, for very light reading, like a John Grisham novel, and two, something more substantial, if I am in the right mood. Several magazines also travel well, as does your travel guide for your destination.
Neck pillows can be a godsend, if you have neck problems like I do. Pillows are a difficult commodity to find now on Covid era flights. An inflatable takes up less space, but are not as comfy as a foam pillow. Take your pick!
Fluids, like water are best, though I usually start with a glass of sparkling wine or champagne. It is part of my flying ritual. Bring your own bottle of water if you want to stay hydrated throughout the flight.
Medication is your best friend, when people around you are noisy, or if you want to sleep. I usually get a low dose sleeping pill from my doc. I can usually get 3 to 5 hours sleep on most flights.
Warm clothes can help on long flights, in lieu of the hard to find airline blankets. I bring a light jacket, wear long pants (no shorts), and shoes WITH socks. Some people need even more, so they bring a shawl, heavy scarf, or light blanket.
The world continues to change. Here is proof. Winespeed:
As part of their sustainable farming practices, many California vintners recruit trained raptors and their handlers (falconers) to scare away the thousands of birds that descend each harvest to eat ripe wine grapes right from the vines. Many bird species enjoy the vineyard smorgasbord. Some will cleanly remove the berries (wild turkeys can consume the equivalent of a full bottle of wine in a single day), but others simply peck at the grapes to get at the pulp and seeds, leaving a damaged cluster that can harbor bacteria and fungal pathogens that can lead to off-flavors and textures.
For centuries, viticulturalists have relied on a cornucopia of creative methods to keep their vineyards from becoming an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Over time, however, birds acclimate to static scare tactics such as loud booming air cannons and balloons painted with giant eyes. Chemical repellants aren’t a good option either since they fail to meet growers’ sustainability standards. And bird netting is expensive and labor-intensive to install each year.
Falconry, on the other hand, minimizes crop losses, while treading lightly on the environment. Falcons are ferocious hunters that can see up to eight times better than a human, spot prey from more than 100 feet in the air, and dive at more than 200 miles an hour. The mere sight of a predator falcon or its shadow triggers smaller birds to flee or find cover. And no bird is complacent when a falcon is flying near them. Raptors leave behind no toxic chemicals, and they cost half as much as netting.Do you enjoy wines from the Mosel region of Germany? Winespeed has this to say:
The vineyards of the Mosel are the steepest in Germany and among the steepest in the world. Indeed, the expanse of vineyards from the village of Zelting to the village of Bernkastel along the Mosel River, is considered the longest stretch of near-vertical vineyards anywhere on the globe. Many of the top Mosel producers, including the three renowned Sonnenuhr—Sundial—vineyards are clustered in the middle section known as the Mittelmosel (middle Mosel). They are the Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr, and Zeltinger Sonnenuhr.
The Mosel vineyards are also among the most northern vineyards in Germany, meaning that the sun is in contact with the vines for limited, precious hours each day. The total number of sunlight hours during the growing season is also modest (the Mosel gets, in a good year, about a third of the sunlight hours that Provence does). If fine wine is to be made, vineyards must be nothing short of perfectly sited, so that each ray of light and warmth is maximized. As a result, the Mosel’s vineyards hug only south-facing slopes. In addition, the best vineyards are quite close to the river itself, for even the reflection of light off the water becomes one more increment in the quest for ripeness.
The huge sundials that give the Sonnenuhr vineyards their names were built as far back as the early 1600s in the sunniest part of three excellent slopes, so that vineyard workers would know when to stop for lunch or for the day. Because the vines in the vicinity of the sundial also got the most sun (and made the richest wine), the areas around the sundials soon came to be considered separate vineyards. Today the Sonnenuhr vineyards are among the best along the Mosel.
On my very first trip to Europe in the 70s, the Mosel wine region was one of the first that I enjoyed visiting.
Karen’s (Winespeed) suggestions for wine and cheese pairings:
There seems to be no better pairing than wine and cheese. Here, Karen MacNeil explains the do’s and don’t’s of this classic duo.
Number 1: White wine and rosé are your friends—use their crisp, snappy acidity to cut through cheese’s delicious fat.
Number 2: Sparkling wine and a creamy cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Number 3: Hard cheeses, such as Manchego are like a good white shirt—we all need one. Hard cheeses go with almost everything.
Number 4: The funkiest cheeses that rarely go with wine? Washed-rind and blue cheese. While delicious on their own, they often do not do well with a glass of vino.
Number 5: Aged cheeses are the perfect companion for structured, bold reds.
For me, I enjoy a change of pace, so a single malt Scotch goes well with some cheeses. I also enjoy a rice cracker (Trader Joe’s) with a spot of cream cheese, and pepper jelly with my wine or cocktail.
Americans over 30 have been drinking more during the coronavirus pandemic compared to this time last year, and there could be consequences to their physical and mental health, researchers reported Tuesday.Overall frequency of alcohol consumption increased by about 14% from 2019, the researchers reported in the journal JAMA Network Open. That increase averages out to about one additional drinking day per month by 75% of adults.The volunteers reported they drank alcohol on more days every week. They also reported increases in the number of drinks they had; the number of heavy drinking days; and the number of alcohol related problems over the last 30 days between 2019 and 2020.
I wonder why.
Frequency of drinking increased by 17% among women, 19% among people aged 30 to 59 and by 10% among White people.Heavy drinking among women increased by 41% — about one additional day of heavy drinking for one in every five women. Nearly one in 10 women, or 39%, reported an increase in alcohol-related problems, the researchers found.The uptick in drinking among adults isn’t necessarily a surprise. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Director Dr. George Koob said that the US has seen similar increases in alcohol consumption during other times of crisis, like after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and some recent hurricanes.
Also, from Medscape:
Americans sharply increased their alcohol intake last spring as many areas of the country shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, results of a national survey show.
The overall frequency of alcohol consumption increased by 14% among adults over age 30 in the spring of 2020 versus the same period a year earlier.
The increase was most evident in adults aged 30 to 59, women, and non-Hispanic Whites, results of the survey show.
Overall, in spring 2020, respondents reported drinking alcohol 6.22 days in the prior month on average, a 14% increase from the monthly average of 5.48 days reported in spring 2019.
Among adults aged 30 to 59 years, the frequency of alcohol consumption increased from 4.98 days pre-pandemic to 5.91 days during the pandemic, a 19% increase.
Women reported drinking an average of 5.36 days in the prior month in the early pandemic period, a 17% increase from 4.58 monthly drinking days before the pandemic. These reports seem to ignore the fact that we are home more often, dine out considerably less, and may be drinking less in total. I still have my sparkling wine on weekends, half on Friday, half on Saturday. If we happen to have some red meat, I might open a good red wine, like a cab. But invariably, I end up tossing about half of it, or use it for cooking.
And perhaps somewhat subconsciously, my supply of adult beverages has increased. My stockpile includes a wider range of beverages, including seltzers, some soft white wines, more reds, and more sparklings.