Monday, February 19, 2018

This Is Me, Loving This Movie

Last month, my godbrother posted this video on facebook.




That's the moment I decided that I needed to see "The Greatest Showman" before it left theaters.  I had been iffy about it when I saw the teaser trailer.  A later trailer piqued my interest more when I heard a little bit of the music.  But this?  Hugh Jackman's love for this music and his commitment to getting it greenlit makes my heart throb.  So I went today due to the Presidents Day holiday.


  • Seeing Jeremy Jordan starting off the song in the video, I thought he'd be somewhere in the movie, but I guess he was just there to sing Zac's part.  I would have loved to see them singing together.
  • I did like seeing Zac Efron sing again, though.  Yes, I liked the High School Musicals.
  • The movie had me from the first four bars of the first song, "The Greatest Show".  I mean, come on!  The energy!  The lyrics!  The music! 
  • Then "A Million Dreams" had me crying, and I wondered if I should leave and get some tissues.  You know I'm a sucker for people trying to achieve their dreams.
  • Kid steals a loaf of bread, not knowing that later he'll grow up and become Jean Valjean.
  • " Well they're laughing anyway, kid, so you might as well get paid."
  • How did they get all those banners and flyers done?   It's not like they had Xerox (tm) machines back then.
  • Those were zebras leading their carriage, right?  Or probably painted horses because they were taller than zebras.
  • When Anne runs away from the theater, I thought to myself, "He needs to go after her and sing her a song!"  I liked that trapeze number, "Rewrite the Stars".  Beautiful choreography.
  • Choreography, BTW.  I love it when guys dance together.  I especially loved it during Jackman's and Efron's "The Other Side" with the chairs and the drinks and the bar.
  • "This is Me" has been nominated for an Academy Award, and rightfully so.  I love the message of this song.  I love the music.  I love how triumphant it feels.  I hope they perform it at the Oscars.  Actually, can they just perform all of the songs?
  • Looking at IMDB, I see that Alex Wong from "So You Think You Can Dance" was one of the ensemble dancers.  I'm going to look for him next time I see it, because you know I'll be watching this one again and again and again.
  • I guess Rebecca Ferguson didn't sing her own song.  Loren Allred sings it beautifully.
  • I like that shot of Charity's blue scarf blowing in the wind when they're on the beach.
  • "No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else."
I wish I could see this again in the theater, but I don't think I'll have time.  Got some Best Picture Showcase to watch soon!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Wakanda Forever

Glenndy picked me up at my house so we could carpool to the El Capitan Theatre to see "Black Panther".  When we got to the parking structure, we saw Mox getting out of his car.  I tried to wave to him and say hi while knocking on the window, but he didn't hear me.  


Took these pics while waiting in line to
enter the theater.  There was a puff of smoke
on the screen between each image.


I picked up my tickets at will call and caught up with them inside.  The atmosphere was very different from times I've seen other films here.  It was LOUD.  This was partly due to the volume of the music being played by the DJ.  Yes, a DJ!  You know I love the organ they play here, but this was a nice contrast, and she played songs that I like, so I was bopping in my seat while we waited for the movie to start.

El Capitan Stage

Wish I could have captured her face,
but the spotlight on her was too bright.
Many people were dressed in African-style clothing and prints.  I felt all blah in my t-shirt and pants, but I have no African wear, so maybe I'll need to get some if there is a sequel.  The movie started late, as usual, but at least it wasn't more than 10 minutes late.  I mean, at least after we heard from the El Cap guy, telling us to stay until after the credits to watch an exclusive behind-the-scenes film.  We saw trailers for "A Wrinkle in Time", "Solo", and "Avengers: Infinity War".  It took a while for everyone to calm down.

  • I like the animation during the background story of Wakanda.
  • I also like the really cool black Vibranium sand.
  • "Don't freeze."  "I never freeze."  T'challa sees Nakia: "Hiiiiii."
  • When Daniel Kaluya's W'kabi has a stare down with T'challa, someone in the audience said, "Get out."  HA!
  • Another audience member was screaming when T'challa fell down the waterfall.  Like maybe we should have called an ambulance for her.  Girl, I get that you're into this movie.  Are you watching it in virtual reality and you think you're the one falling down?
  • Loved all of the costumes and the make-up, especially Angela Bassett's dress during the coronation.  That Black Panther suit is also really cool, with the African symbols in the pattern.  
  • I really liked the visuals in the scene when T'challa meets with his father, with all of the purple in the sky.  Actually, I liked all of the scenery, but this one stood out for me.
  • That scene reminded me of "The Lion King" when Mufasa was telling Simba about being a king someday.
  • Rhinos!  Rhinos with armor!
  • Dude, Killmonger, that's a lot of bumps on your skin.  What are those called?  They're not like ink tattoos.  How does one administer them in real life?
  • I have a new font to learn now.  Not that I ever actually learn them very well.
  • Wow, the Wakandan guard (Dora Milaje) kicks ass!  So cool.
  • I love that sister Shuri invents all of the tech and gets really excited about it.  
  • "The real question is What. Are. THOSE?!"
  • I would have stolen more than one flower thingy.  Hey, you're already taking one, might as well take another just in case.
  • I want this film score.  Very cool.
  • That's a car chase!  Loved the ending, though, with just the seat sliding on the road.
  • I prefer the black/purple suit.
  • "I will feed you to my children.  Just kidding.  We're vegetarians."
  • "Don't scare me like that, colonizer!"
  • "It's a Bugatti spaceship!"

Okoye

I really like the panther medallion

W'kabi, Okoye and M'baku

Ramonda, T'challa and Killmonger

T'challa and Killmonger

My favorite: Ramonda

Close up to see the top layer of very
thin, shimmery fabric.  Gorgeous.

Shuri, Zuri, and Nakia 

Black Panther


 Great movie!  I look forward to seeing it again.




Sunday, February 11, 2018

On A Magic Carpet Ride

Aladdin
Pantages Theatre
Saturday, February 10, 2018

After spending a few hours at Cookie Con yesterday, I tagged along with Glenndy to carpool to Hollywood.  We had a yummy dinner at The Hungry Cat before going to the Pantages Theatre to watch "Aladdin".   









On the way in to the theatre, I helped a cute couple take pictures, and had to take a few pictures because he kept blinking.  They returned the favor by taking a picture of me, too.

Genie and Me


  I had pre-ordered an ornament of the lamp, and wanted to pick it up before going to my seat, but the lights flashed and I didn't want to miss the beginning of the show, so I decided to do that afterward.  Then we sat there for 20 minutes because the show started late, and I lamented that I didn't get my souvenir or go to the restroom when I could have done so because of the late start.  Oh well.  It gave me a chance to realize that the logo has the Genie on it.  Yeah, I'm slow like that.

Oh, it's the GENIE!!!

Just some background regarding my fandom of this show:  I love Disney's animated film, and Rudy and I love singing "A Whole New World" together.  I wish my hair was long enough to style it like Jasmine.  I also wish I had Jasmine's tiny waist, so I could dress up like her for Hallowe'en or like, on special days or random Wednesdays.  I loved the stage show at DCA's Hyperion Theater, and was sad when it went away.  I didn't know much about the new show they created for Broadway, except that the guy who played the Genie, James Monroe Iglehart, won the Tony award for Best Actor in a Musical.  (It was also nominated for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical,  Best Original Score, and Best Choreography).  So I was looking forward to the show, despite a short review from Liz, whom saw it a couple of weeks ago.

  • Genie (Michael James Scott) was great.  He was funny and at times, like in "Friend Like Me", his jokes were so rapid-fire that I missed a couple of them.  
  • Adam Jacobs was my favorite performer in the show.  He originated the role of Aladdin on Broadway, so it is a special treat to see him with the tour.  
  • I did not think Courtney Reed's voice fit for Jasmine.  I didn't think she did very well with "A Whole New World.  This puzzled me because she originated the role on Broadway. I wish it had been played by one of the Jasmines I like from DCA.  But I don't have a genie to make that wish come true.  Also, I'd spend my wish on something else.  Stupid No Wishing For More Wishes rule.
  • Yay!  "Proud of Your Boy"!  Last time I heard this, it was Brad Kane singing it at the Hollywood Bowl.  I cried then. I cried this time, too.  
  • "Proud of Your Boy", along with all of the songs featuring Aladdin's buddies Omar, Babkak, and Kassim were in Ashman & Menken's original score, and I was really happy to hear them in this production.  I knew the songs from the release of "The Music Behind the Magic" compilation.  I enjoyed this element of the show immensely, mostly because it provided for lots of choreography with male dancers, which is always a plus for me.
  • The set of the inside of the Cave of Wonders was quite spectacular.  I loved all of the glitz, and it made so much sense, because everything is supposed to be tempting the Diamond in the Rough.
  • I enjoyed Reggie De Leon's portrayal of Iago.  He reminded me of my friend Ferdie D.
  • Interesting to see the onstage costume changes, like the one they use for Elsa in "Frozen" at DCA.  
  • Abu!  I missed Abu when I saw the show at DCA, and he's not really in this rendition either, but at least we got to see his picture.  "He's got 95 white Persian monkeys."
  • Sad that they didn't include "To Be Free", but I guess that's OK if I didn't like this actress' voice.
  • Eek.  "A Whole New World" didn't sound good with this Jasmine because she was a bit pitchy.  How are you going to be pitchy in the most famous song from this show?  I also miss seeing all of the different buildings they fly over.  I also miss seeing the carpet flying above the audience.  There also wasn't a cute Magic Carpet personified in the show, although they were selling keychains of the tassel.
  • Loved the slow motion bit during "High Adventure", especially when another guy just walks on stage normally.  
Afterward, I picked up my ornament and bought a CD (for the buddy songs and Aladdin) and a charm bracelet.  I thought of buying Adam Jacobs' CD, but didn't buy it until today when I saw it was also available online.

I think the show I saw was more kid-friendly than the one Liz saw, because it didn't include the jokes she talked about.  I look forward to listening to the score (yes, even with that one voice).  Heck, if it bugs me that much, I'll just listen to Lea Salonga's version and be happy again.

Shall I Compare Thee To This Play?

Sometimes plays are adapted into movies.  Sometimes movies are adapted for the live stage.  Such is what happened to my favorite movie, "Shakespeare in Love".  I love far too many things about the film for any adaptation to be better in my eyes, but I was curious to see the play when it was performed by South Coast Repertory on the Segerstrom Stage.  The play opened on my birthday, which would have been a fun day to see it, but I had other plans.  So I convinced Liz to come with me, later apologizing that I didn't realize we had scheduled to see it on the same night as the Super Bowl.  Oops!

We arrived early and had a quick dinner at Panera after I picked up our tickets at the box office.  When we returned to the theater, I realized that we had front row seats!  Thank you, Goldstar!

View from our seats

  • We were so close to the stage that when the actors went down the steps and stood at the corner of the stage, they blocked my view.  I didn't mind, although I was a little worried we'd be casualties during the fight scene.
  • There was too much emphasis on Christopher (Kit) Marlowe's influence on Shakespeare.  The play starts with him giving advice to Will, and this advice continues throughout the play.  I almost felt like this was Marlowe's play at times, which irked me.  Was the playwright trying to make a statement?  Did they feel like Shakespeare never did his own work?  I get that he was known for stealing people's material, including Marlowe's, but that is not the point of this story for me and it seemed intrusive.
  • Despite my thoughts about Kit's influence, I did like the comedy during the balcony scene between Will and Viola as Kit feeds lines to him a la Cyrano de Bergerac.
  • I also liked the chemistry between Corey Brill (Kit) and Paul David Story (Will).  They played off each other well.  
  • But here's the thing:  I liked their chemistry more than I liked that between Will and Viola.  That's not how this is supposed to work, at least not for me.
  • Carmela Corbett does a fine job as Viola, and brought humor into the part, which I enjoyed.  I just didn't actually buy that Will and Viola had the kind of love about which Shakespeare was writing.  Perhaps part of that was she took a different approach in the boat scene when she recited my favorite bit of dialogue that starts with, "Tell me how you love her, Will." 
  • Why so much emphasis on the sonnet?  Why not more emphasis on the balcony scene?  In the film, when Viola and Sam rehearse the balcony scene, and it is edited so you see Will and Viola falling in love as they recite the lines to each other, I see the cast falling in love with the play itself.  This didn't happen at all during the play because we didn't see that part of the rehearsal at all.  I understand that this would be difficult to achieve because Viola would need to be in two places at once, but its absence was probably the reason I didn't connect to the play.  Also, I'm a hard sell on this story because of my love for the film, but I really did approach it with an open mind and an open heart, ready to like it a lot even without my beloved Joseph on the stage.
  • The music took me out of it, too.  While the musicians played the heck out of those 16th century instruments, I could have done without the singing.  I understand that this wasn't a musical, and it wasn't a choral concert, but the singers need to learn how to blend so I don't have to hear shrill voices.  I kind of giggled during these bits because I was uncomfortable and wanted to cover my ears.  Sorry.  
  • They had a dog! His name was Spot.  You know what happened, right?  Someone said, "Out, damn Spot."  <giggle>
  • There were a few other additions from some of Shakespeare's other plays, which I enjoyed.  I can't remember any of them, though.
  • Elyse Mirto played a wonderful Queen Elizabeth, and I loved the way she chastised Bill Brochtrup's Lord Wessex.  
  • Ew, I didn't like that Lord Wessex was trying to mac on Viola when he was alone with her in her bedroom.
  • I also liked Nick Gabriel's portrayal of Ned.  So very hammy.
  • The costumes were amazing!  Congratulations to Costume Designer Susan Tsu on such magnificent outfits.  I wanted to take Viola's boots from her.  Queen Elizabeth's gowns were every bit as royal as they should be.  I wish I could have taken pictures of all of the costumes so I could remember them forever.  Play Nurse's hat was outrageously large and I wonder how he didn't have neck problems every day, but it was comical and I loved it.  Also, what was up with Burbage's enormous, um, codpiece?!
So there you go.  I loved the costumes more than the adaptation, and I thought all of the actors did a great job.  I could have done without the folks behind us talking to each other when one didn't exactly hear what an actor said and the rest of the audience laughed.  I thought of buying a copy of the script so I could compare it even more in depth with the movie, but nobody was actually behind the kiosk to sell it, and then it was closed after the show.  So how do they make money off those items?  I don't get it.

Liz said she thought this adaptation was sadder than the movie, and she wanted to see the movie again.  I don't concur, but that's because my usual emotional self just didn't feel it here.  I'll need to watch my movie soon so I can love it all over again.  Don't get me wrong: I didn't hate the play.  My bias is just too great to overcome in this case, but I am glad that I saw it.  

Performances ended yesterday, but if it is performed again in the area, I hope my friends see it and tell me what they think, too.  Thanks for attending with me, Liz!


See Ya Next Time, Sonoma

Sonoma 2018
Day 4
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I woke up and finished packing before going to hotel breakfast.  Glenndy met up with me and Cindy wondered why some of the food was outside, as the climate was kind of damp and drizzly.  I guess they didn't have enough room inside the building and they wanted to ostracize the people that wanted the healthier options of hard-boiled eggs and smoothies?  

Double N helped me carry all of my and Linda's wine downstairs, and we went to Bodega Shipping Company, which was near the hotel and was recommended to us by Alan at St. Francis Winery.  The parking lot was small, and so was the shipping office.  We saw lots and lots of bottles waiting to be shipped, so I guess Alan isn't the only one that recommends this place.  We decided to have the wine shipped to Double N's office so he could receive it when it arrived, since I probably wasn't going to be home.  Bye, Bottles!  See you in So Cal!

When we returned to the hotel, we got the rest of our stuff and checked out.  We decided we had a little bit of time to spend somewhere before boarding our flight, so we went to Old Town Sacramento and walked around. I wanted to find the candy store that I go to whenever I'm there, and we went to three other stores before we got to that one.  I bought salt water taffy in the first store then realized I could have bought it in my favorite store, but oh well.  They had interesting flavors like candy corn and maple bacon and chicken & waffles.  I got some of each of those, plus some others, including my favorite: peppermint.  Double N pointed out to me that they had Abba-Zabba and I had to get some because we had just been talking about it with Bro and V.  V has never had A-Z before, so I needed to get her out of her sheltered candy life.  We also went to a big toy and collectibles store and I found some stuff for other people.  I also found stuff for me, but didn't buy anything.  

We went to the airport and ordered lunch.  They were so slow that we barely had time to eat half of our food.  Our plane wasn't full, so we didn't have to all sit together, and both Double N and Cindy got window seats.  Yay!  We all ate the rest of our lunch on the plane, but my fries were cold by then, so I didn't finish.

Due to the landing time of our flight, we encountered traffic on our way home from the airport.  Ah, back in LA.  

Our trip was over, and I am left with delightful memories of our Murder Mystery-esque weekend.  Thank you to my friends for spending time with me.  I know it was quite a pinch out of your pocketbooks, but I appreciate you all greatly for accompanying me on this adventure.  I love you guys!

He Did It




Sunday, February 4, 2018

Wandering Through Wine Country



Sonoma 2018
Day 3
Monday, January 15, 2018

We decided that we needed to go to Black Bear Diner for breakfast at least once while we were here.  How could we not?  The restaurant was across the street from our hotel!  Weff, Glenndy, and I walked across the street, and you know I had to get pictures of us with bears. 
My Bear Friend Family

Even the bench seat has paw prints!


We were seated in the back where there were no other customers.  I swear I hadn't warned them about us beforehand.  I was hoping that somebody would order a ginormous bear claw, but none of us did.  I didn't need anymore baked goods in my luggage.  Neither did Cindy.  Our server was very stealthy and was labeled "Ninja Server" because he'd get things to us very quickly and very quietly.  When he asked Cindy what kind of bread she wanted, she had to think for a while because she already had to choose a few things regarding her meal.  Wendy whispered, "biscuit" a few times, so she ordered one.  She then called Wendy her hypnotist on Twitter and I didn't understand until at least 12 hours later.  I'd like to attribute it to a hangover, but that's not true.  Just regular lameness.  While we waited for our food, I walked around and took more pictures around the restaurant.
Basically the goal of this weekend



We're in Black Bear Wine Country!

Our huge plates of food arrived.  I ordered pancakes with my breakfast, and got them!


Yes, I had more tea.

Sauce offerings shown with my cup of tea

I appealed to the girls again to get a bear claw, but they still declined.  I had to try!  We walked back to the hotel and said our goodbyes to Weff, so they could go catch their flight.

Double N actually looked at the book of wineries in the hotel room, which I had suggested everyone do the night we arrived, but nobody did at that time.  He found a couple of wineries with the wine types he wanted to try, so we headed out for more wine tasting fun.

Our first stop was at Anaba, (pronounced with the accent on the first syllable, like "Annabelle", but not like the creepy doll.  That doll totally ruined me because my cousin's little girl, Annabelle, is such a cutie).  The tasting room was quite small, so Cindy didn't have much shopping to do.  She did see blankets that looked cozy, but she later learned that they weren't for sale: they were to use when you sit outside.  Well, that's nice!  They're also burgundy colored to hide the fact that you've spilled wine on it.  Smart!  

Double N and I did the 6-wine tasting flight. 

1) 2015 Turbine White Rhone-Style Blend, Sonoma Valley*
I liked the notes of citrus in this one.  It was like a Sau Blanc.

2) 2014 Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
3) 2014 Cardonnay, Sonoma Coast, Dutton Ranch
4) 2014 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
This one didn't look as transparent as the one at St. Francis.

5) 2014 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Soberanes Vineyard
6) 2012 Late Harvest Roussanne, Sonoma Valley, Landa Vineyard*
Ah, the magic words!  "Late Harvest"!

Double N was disappointed that the 2014 Turbine Red Rhone was not on the tasting menu, since that is supposedly their signature wine.  Our server said it was usually on the menu for members, but said if he tipped her, she'd open up a bottle.  Which she then shared with others in the room anyway.  Well, thanks, Double N!  He liked it enough to buy a couple of bottles.  I bought a bottle of the Late Harvest Roussanne.  I thought of also buying a bottle of the white rhone blend, but I had already bought a Sau Blanc the previous day, so I decided against it.  

Our server happily took a picture of "Mr. Banana" with us and wished me a Happy Birthday when I told her why he was there.

I see you there in the background, Photo Bomber!

We then went to Shug Winery, and saw that they had a path we could follow and learn about vineyards.  
I wonder who gets to sit on this bench






I'd like to return here in the Spring to see this view

Part of the path was between vines, and they had recently pruned some of the branches, so we had to be careful not to get caught among the brambles.  






I'd like to see this tree with leaves,
but this is cool already.

Little House on the Lake


Made it!
Yeah, I know I didn't get that whole barrel in the picture.

Double N wanted to try some wine, so we went inside the tasting room.  It was tiny, but they had more stuff to look at than the other winery did.  I tried a bit of the Sauvignon Blanc, which I liked.  None of us bought anything, but we did learn that there are river cruises in Europe with wine tasting.  There were no prices, so I think we should be able to go for free.

We decided to have lunch in Napa, and went to Don Perico.  I had the albondigas and a shrimp enchilada.  I could have used less tomato in the soup, and the shrimp in the enchilada was a little salty, but it was fine.  

We walked around the area and I got all sad when I saw the Napa Valley Opera House because I know the inside isn't what it used to be, although I'd still like to see Rockapella play there now that it is owned by Blue Note.  I'm glad that Joe's Bar is still there, too.  I wanted to go to Morimoto to get some little dessert, so we walked by the water.


Are these windchimes?

Ohhh...Rock Paper Scissors!
Seriously, I just got that.

Sadly, Morimoto no longer has a dessert case up front to purchase yumminess, so we just took a look at the menu before going back to the car, and traveled to St. Helena.  Unfortunately, St. Helena Olive Oil company no longer has a store front, and their inventory was greatly affected by the fires (the owner and her home are fine).  So their skin care annex is no longer around, either.  I was happy to see Woodhouse Chocolates was still there, and bought some goodies.


I bought one of those chocolates
the cherub is holding.  YUM.

But how can I eat the pieces after people have been
touching them during the game?

Because Unicorn

We then returned to our hotel to get ready for dinner.  We walked to yet another side of the town square to El Dorado Kitchen, inside the El Dorado hotel.  When the host gave us our menus, he said, "Happy Birthday" and gave us menus with the same greeting on top.  I had stated on the Open Table reservations that we were celebrating a birthday, but this was the only restaurant that acknowledged it, so kudos to them!




 I ordered the Schug Sauvignon Blanc because I liked it earlier today, and it was on their wine list.  Yes, I thought I was done drinking, too, but it was our last dinner and I was OK by that time.


This is Double N's drink.
It was prettier than mine.

Amuse Bouche
Corn chip with hummus, cucumber and
togarashi

Cute butter dish.
Bread in picture for size.

Seafood Paella.  Awesome.  


Banana tart with caramel, pepitas,
 and Meyer lemon ice cream. 


Everything was delicious.  It was a perfect meal to end our Sonoma dinners.  At one point, we heard a popping sound and couldn't figure out what was being tossed into the hot oil.  Our server informed us it was the Brussels sprouts, which were also tasty.


And then there were three


We walked back to the hotel.  It sprinkled a little bit while we were still inside the restaurant, but it had stopped when we left.  I lit the Duraflame in my fireplace one last time, and relaxed, thinking of our wonderful weekend.




Good Night, Sonoma!

Next up:  Travel Day

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Le Jour de Quinze Cepages


Sonoma 2018
Day 2
Sunday, January 14, 2018

My room was cold when I woke up in the morning because the fire had gone out during the night.  So I didn't really want to get out of bed, but there was wine to drink, and food to eat!  So I got up and dressed and headed for breakfast provided by the hotel.  They had pretty standard, decent offerings of hot food and continental breakfast, as well as smoothies.  Weff met me as I was eating.  Wendy noticed that after JeffEvs drank his coffee, you could see a perfect letter "P" inside the cup.  We also decided that the horizontal lines were like a music staff with notes on the right side.  Yes, folks, we now read coffee drippings and have decided that we will be seeing Pella soon.  

Telling Fortunes

Then we went back to our rooms to finish getting ready for our day.

Mox and Linda arrived, and we piled into a couple of cars, headed for the Kenwood area.  I rode in Weff's car.  JeffEvs warned me that maybe I shouldn't turn off my Waze app just because we could see the winery, because he was notorious for getting lost when destinations were in plain sight.  We were OK, though.  We took a look around the grounds of St. Francis Winery before going inside.

Bridge to Entrance

St. Francis

Bell in Tower

Back courtyard

Fountain

Double N, Mox, Linda and I decided to taste some wine.  The others roamed around and shopped.  Alan poured the wine for us and learned us some stuff about wine.  He also quizzed us.  I like Alan because he educated us and had no problem having Bananaman there, even though he thought it was Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants before I told him.  We were given a list from which we could select 7 wines, but Alan pretty much chose for us once he figured out our palates.  All the wines we tasted were only available through the winery, as they were part of the Artisan Collection.  Linda was excited about the breadsticks.  I was excited that Linda was actually tasting all of the wines, even if she didn't finish all of them.

Wine Tasting list (the ones I like marked with *):

1) 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valley *
2) 2016 White Wine, Estate Cuvee Blanc, Sonoma Valley
Bonus: 2014 Extended Age Chardonnay, Behler Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
3) 2015 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

Alan showed us that a good pinot should be light enough that you can read through it if it is rolled in a glass across paper.

Demonstrating the clarity of Pinot

4) 2014 Merlot, Behler Vineyard, Sonoma Valley*  -- good with Thanksgiving turkey
5) 2014 Zinfandel, Montecillo Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
Bonus tasting: 2014 Old Vines Zinfandel, Tres Viejos, Sonoma County
We were asked to compare the two zins.  I prefered the Montecillo.

6) 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Moon Mountain District Sonoma County

We were quizzed on the 5 grapes of the Bordeaux region:  they are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.  

7) 2014 Port, Sonoma County*

I bought a bottle each of the Sau Blanc and the Port.  Linda bought a bottle of the Port.  Linda bought wine!  And she was all fancy and talking to the wine guy!  I'm proud of her for trying something new with us.  I wanted to get a group picture of us with the beautiful landscape, and a gentleman from Australia was willing to help us out.  Linda didn't know where to sit, so she chose to pose on the table.  

Did I tell you that Linda had been drinking?


We were ready to get some lunch, so we made our way to Cafe Citti, which we had seen on the way to St. Francis, and is a place I love to go to when I'm in the area.  At Cafe Citti, you order your food at the counter, then go to your table.  I always order the Caesar salad because I love all of the garlic in it, and they use real anchovies in their dressing.  I ordered smoked chicken on top of mine this time, and it was quite delicious.


My favorite Caesar Salad. Ever.

Breadsticks abound in Sonoma Valley
 One of the other reasons I love this place is that they make their own biscotti, and it is nice and fresh and soft.  So I bought a box.  Cindy brought a bag just for biscotti, and it was covered with kitties, and Wendy named it a BisKitty bag.

Chocolate covered biscotti, almond biscotti &
hazelnut cookie

We were ready for more wine tasting, so I asked everyone to meet up at Chateau St. Jean Winery.  I've been to this place before, too, and it's pretty, so I thought my non-wine-tasting friends would enjoy walking around the grounds.  It took us a while to get there because we all thought we were supposed to go back toward Sonoma, but we were supposed to go up toward whence we came prior to lunch.  My Waze girl Kate kept telling us to turn, and we finally listened to her.  When we arrived, we saw hundreds of birds flying above us.  I wanted to get a picture of them because there were so many of them, so I walked toward them after we parked the car.  I tried to get a recording of the spectacle, but my videos don't do it justice.  It was actually a perfect sight to see after our discussion of coming back to the area someday to see Bodega Bay, where "The Birds" was filmed.

We walked around the grounds a little bit, and saw the damage from the fire.  Alan had told us that this was one of the wineries that got hit.  




The grounds inside the walls fared much better.  I didn't realize when I was here before that they had bocce ball available to play.



Double N taking a shot




Then it was time to taste some wine.  Mox, Double N and I chose the 4-wine tasting.

Linda sat out this one.


1) Brut Rose Sparkling Wine
We were celebrating my birthday, after all!  Might as well have something bubbly.

Cheers, Bananaman!


2) 2014 Lyon Vineyard Fume Blanc, Alexander Valley
3) 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
4) 2013 Eighty-five Fifty-five, Sonoma County*
This one is named after their address, and is a Red Bordeaux Blend.

Double N and I were curious about these bottles:

Turns out Cinq Cepages (which means "5 Varieties", even though we were told it meant "5 grapes") won international awards.  So Double N asked to buy a glass.  He let us taste some of it, and it was excellent.  Rhonda also poured a little bit in our glasses since the bottle was open, so I got to have more of the yumminess.  Thank you, Rhonda!  I did not buy this wine, but I wanted to.  I also wanted to have enough money to buy it.  Nope.  Instead, I bought a bottle of the Eighty-five Fifty-five.

We sat outside for a while so Double N could finish his Cinq Cepages.  I bought a hat because they had really cute hats.  Then we went back to our hotel.  I put my wine and Linda's wine in my hotel room, and on the way down, I saw a little boy wearing a Batman hoodie.  I said, "I like your sweatshirt, little dude!"  His mom said, "Look, she's wearing a Batgirl shirt!  He loves Batgirl."  That's my kind of a kid.  Mox, Linda and I hung out at Glenndy's place until Mox and Linda needed to leave to catch their flight.  We opened the free bottle of wine that Linda received at her hotel.  I miss you, Fairmont Sonoma!  I didn't drink very much of it because it was the 15th wine of the day for me.

Yes.  FIFTEEN.

I was ready for food.  We had reservations for the remaining five of us at OSO.  We had seen OSO on our way back from dinner the previous night, and I pointed it out to them because I had made our reservations already for all of our dinners.  I opted out of the alcohol as my stomach was a little queasy.  Or maybe my liver was attacking my insides due to overuse.  I ordered chamomile tea instead.  Because, you know, why not have a big old tea service on the table where barely anything fit?

Soothing

Then came the food.  The very yummy food.  This place turned out to be the majority's favorite for the weekend.  I had miso-glazed salmon with kale and roasted yams.  It was delicious.  But Cindy's Dungeness crab-topped deviled eggs were even better.  So were her yummy tacos.  Hands down for me, though, was JeffEvs' pork ribs dish, which had a wonderful sauce that tasted like the Filipino soup Sinigang.  It made me want sinigang so much that I made some a week after I got home.  


My Salmon

I ordered the Butterscotch Pot de Creme for dessert.  It came with a whopping serving of whipped cream.  I like the jar they used, which I think was the same kind they used for the chocolate fudge sundae others ordered.


The shortbread cookies were a perfect touch

Cindy made it her own personal quest to try to open my tea server, because I had trouble opening it.  I don't think it was the alcohol.  It was just difficult to open. 

Mission Accomplished!
We really enjoyed this dinner.  I highly recommend it if you're in the area, and you're in the mood to share food.

And Then There Were Five
Happy and full, we walked back to our hotel to rest.  Cindy offered me the bottle of wine we hadn't finished from Linda's hotel, but I wondered if I was done for the weekend.  At least the tea helped.  I turned on the heater that I didn't know was there the night before.  Thanks, JeffEvs for letting me know!  I tried to stay up a little bit before falling asleep, but I don't think I was very successful, because I don't remember anything beyond lighting the fire and opening up my book to read. 

What a lovely day!  Thank you for being there, Mox and Linda!   I'm glad you could spend at least a little time with us.

Next up: MORE wine?!