Friday, March 6, 2009

Wines I'm Making: Vines Pruned

Last week, I meant to note here that I pruned the vines on February 27. Everything looks good, although there is still a lot of unevenness from vine to vine. The strongest look like something out of a textbook. The weakest appear a bit runty. All seem to be healthy, however. Starting last spring, I've tried to fertilize differentially, in the hope of evening up the growth a bit. Also making progress in correcting my early pruning errors. I've succeeded in shortening a fair number of spurs. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Plants I'm growing: First Blooms--Three pink flowers

Three pink flowers began blooming in the garden today. The first tulip flower of the season opened. The tulips I grow are not hybrids, they are species tulips, the original varieties from which the modern fancy hybrids were developed. This is Tulipa bakeri "Lilac Wonder." The species tulips are better suited to the wild sort of garden I cultivate, which is not to say I don't appreciate the hybrids as well, but I've come to like the species tulips very much. Also blooming today are creeping phlox and the dwarf nectarine--looking very similar to the dwarf peach but in a paler shade of pink. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Music I'm Writing: Fantasy for Viola and Piano in B flat Minor

Spent the morning writing a short piece for viola and piano. I've called it a "fantasy" for want of a better term. I think it's in B flat minor, but keys remain something of a mystery to me, as do modes. This started as an exercise I set myself to write something in the odd Locrian mode, which I like the sound of, but I don't think I succeeded. Still, I like the result. The instruments are synthesized by the computer. The piano sounds reasonably good in the original file. The viola sounds rather artificial. The computer version is good enough to get the idea, but the compression of the MP4 format further distorts the sound, so don't expect concert hall quality. For more about my efforts at composition, see earlier posts on the subject. Click the link below to download a 2.8Mb MP4 file. 

Monday, March 2, 2009

Plants I'm growing: First Blooms--Dwarf Peach

The little dwarf peach in the back yard began to bloom today, adding its deep pink to the growing array of color. It still surprises me how early spring comes here. Having said that, it is March now. We've had another inch and a half of rain in the past two days, but we are still about six inches below normal. Another amazing rainbow this morning. The dwarf nectarine looks likely to start blooming in the next day or two.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Miscellaneous: Fishing in 1974

Going through some old photos, I found this. The guy with the long hair and the brick red pants is me. This would have been around 1974. I can't remember the name of the other young man--not that I don't remember him. He was a friend from my days at the Glen Helen Outdoor Education Center, in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He lived somewhere between Dayton (where I lived) and Cincinnati. We went with one of the camp counselors--Ron--for a weekend of fishing, staying with some of his relatives. We caught crappie and they were delicious. I remember listening to "Going Mobile" by The Who on the car radio on the way down to the house we stayed in. "Going Mobile" is another one of those songs from this period that have the power to instantly transport me back in time.

Food I'm Eating: Café Citti

Had lunch yesterday at Café Citti, a roadside restaurant that has been a fixture in the Sonoma County wine country for many, many years (9049 Sonoma Highway--which is Highway 12--in Kenwood, CA). It is perhaps unusual in that it never seems to vary much. That is a good thing. The food is always tasty, the atmosphere relaxed, the staff friendly. At this time of year, seating is indoors, but there is a patio open during the summer.

I've never been for dinner, but I always seem to end up there when I'm in the area, and that is usually when I'm up Highway 12 on some errand during the day. Café Citti is a couple miles beyond Oakmont on the right if you're heading out Highway 12 from Santa Rosa, a couple miles before Oakmont if you're coming from the city (San Francisco, that is). 

It's right next door to the VJB tasting room, another place worth a stop. I'm a long-time fan of VJB's Danté (a Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese blend). The winery makes good Barbera, Sangiovese, and a tasty Chardonnay as well. The prices keep creeping up, which has been a disappointment, but the wines are still nice for a special occasion. 

At Café Citti, I had the tasty Penne al Funghi--penne with porcini mushrooms in a garlic cream sauce. My wife had the Special Ravioli, which is ravioli stuffed with pork and chard in a tomato cream sauce. There's a range of other pastas (you can design your own by picking any combination of pasta type and sauce). There are sandwiches and many deli-style salads, too. The Caesar's salad is a good one, especially if you love the bite of raw garlic, as it's generously applied here. The wines by the glass are overpriced--as they are almost everywhere--but they are generally decent. If you're traveling in the area and don't know where to eat lunch, I recommend Café Citti. 

Two nearby wineries worth a visit are Wellington Vineyards and Loxton, both a short drive down Dunbar Road, which branches off Highway 12 at the Kunde Estate billboard. I can recommend Wellington's Cabernets and its white wines from Rhône varieties in particular.   
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