First Barbecue of the year

It may be snowing on the East Coast, but last Friday we went out with friends and had the first BBQ of the year.

It started with a little adventure:

Nothing wrong under the hood, just looking for a place to hook onto

Maybe the car would look better with mud and snow tires

I missed the right turnoff, and tried to turn around in an open field–which turned out to be juuuuust a little wetter than I had imagined.  That Mercedes is a nice car, but it’s no 4 wheel drive mudslinger.  So there I was, stuck in the cow patties while Gail made commentary on my intellect and judgement.

In the fullness of time, and with a couple of shovels and the help of my friends, the car got moving and back on paved road.  SR took a video, and you can hear Gail talking about  a grass toll, or brass pole, or something.  She takes adventures like that right in stride.

After our little excursion in the swamp, it was time to visit the winery.  Our host, sculptor Harry Siter, lives on a 1200 acre preserve in the Napa hills shared with 20 or so others.  One of them, Dave Mahaffey, runs a high end winery, Olivia Brion.  He farms just a few acres and makes a small amount of first rate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.


Gail tasting the Chardonnay Dave "stole" from the barrel with his wine thief.


Dave had wines of different ages in the barrel, and we (okay, they.  I have no appreciation of fine wines) enjoyed a barrel tasting, which is where Dave uses a wine thief to siphon out a couple of glasses to taste.


At least I can appreciate the great color of the Pinot Noir.
Dave is a retired photographer, so I’m under pressure to make this look good.


Warmed up with the wine, we headed to the lake and picnic table on the property.  Harry started a fire with the really good stuff–huge chunks of mesquite charcoal, not the little briquettes.  It’s all the little details that separate the greats in barbecuing.

We had lamb chops, and shish kabobs of peppers, pancetta (italian cured bacon) and gnocchi.  Yes, those little potato based dumplings that you usually boil like pasta, Harry puts on a spit and cooks.



Mary Bayer is an excellent sous chef, and not bad at pushing cars out of the mud.


Harry's shish kabobs with gnocchi

It was cloudy Friday, but that makes for good light for taking pictures.



Harry and Gail waiting for the coals to be ready


What a great looking grill!



Dave and a bottle of Olivia Brion Pinot Noir. Winemakers get invited to lots of meals.

Lamb chops and fancy French wine--luxury in the country.

SR, living in the constant steam bath of Orlando, was cold the entire time she was here–but sitting by the lake on a cloudy day as the wind came up was a fairly chilly experience for all of us.  I’m better insulated than most, and it was decidedly cool.  Fortunately, I keep a blanket in the trunk of the car, which Gail and SR put to good use.

Best friends forever.


We finished eating just as it started to sprinkle, so we headed back to Harry’s house to enjoy the sacher torte he prepared.  A little more wine for everyone else, some fine talk about art and travel, and we headed home full and happy.  Just another great day in Paradise.

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