"… in such a mysterious way, and the course of a lifetime runs, over and over again."
~ Paul Simon
It's April, so that means it's the month I look forward to each year when I see my son Jordan. My son and I could not have more opposite schedules if we tried. I have shared accounts of previous visits with Jordan in Salvation Sisters—usually after I have visited the mountain town that he lives in the eastern part of Northern California. Jordan is a Captain with the US Forest Service, and he is charged with protecting his local forest, as well as helping fight fire when needed in other locations around the western United States. On the occasions when I visit Greenville, we make ribs or grill up Santa Maria-style barbecue which always includes Tri-Tip, and we hang out making food and seeing the sights for a few days. Occasionally he comes to me, and we go to Tomales Bay to pick up oysters, or roast a Prime Rib and share a treasured Christmas Day. This spring he came to Petaluma, and we shared a day of wine tasting during his weekend visit. Even though Jordan was raised in the wine country of the Santa Ynez Valley, he had never spent a day out visiting wineries tasting the new releases. Mark and I decided to take him to a few wineries, so he could see how it is done.
|Jordan poses at Lynmar Estate with the Laguna de Santa Rosa in the distance.|
Mark explained to Jordan about really taking time to smell the wine before taking the first sip. He encouraged Jordan to get his nose down in the glass, and then talk about what scents came to mind. Jordan had fun with this game. The garden tables at Lynmar allow for the fragrances of the garden's herbs and flowers to come in on the breeze—adding to the tasting experience.
We packed a picnic that morning, and we were ready for lunch after our tasting at Lynmar Estate. Some wineries encourage picnickers, and others that serve their own food (like Lynmar) do not allow it. For your first trip to an unknown winery, call ahead to find out what is permitted. Our next stop was VML Russian River Winery, where not only do they have delicious wine, but they have a beautiful picnic area for visitors. On the way out to Westside Road, we stopped in the tiny West County town of Forestville to grab a French baguette from Nightingale Breads. Beth, the proprietress/baker, helped us pick out our bread. You can see a video about this delightful bakery by clicking here.
It was more of a party atmosphere at VML. We had the great timing to set up our lunch and purchase a bottle of wine just as Benjamin Brown started to play his guitar. As Benjamin's deep and gritty voice started to belt out bluesy country tunes accompanied by excellent guitar picking, Jordan looked at me surprised and said, "Mom, he is really good!" And he is—what a great discovery. Check out his music by clicking here. Naturally, I purchased two of his CDs, one for each of us, to remember the day and support this budding talent.
|We had fun watching the antics of a bachelorette party. The limo-riding |
and wig-sporting girls were wine tasting at VML.
|Mark enjoys the upper deck picnic area at VML and the music of Benjamin Brown.|
|The Porter Creek tasting room this past December. Mark and I were the only guests that afternoon.|
|Jonathan DeMichael, the Tasting Room Manager, at Porter Creek Vineyards.|
Jonathan was pouring fast and furiously, but took the time to say hello to us and welcome us back. The winemaker Alex Davis was also pouring behind the bar. All the wines are stellar, but if you're a Viognier fan, the 2012 release is killer. It tastes of nectarines and peaches, and is full of floral notes without being sweet. So good!
|Jonathan pours a taste for Jordan on the patio on a busy April Sunday.|
Stacked Chicken Chile Verde Enchiladas with Homade Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
|Tomatillos, chiles, garlic and onion ready to go into the oven.|
|The veggies have roasted for 25 minutes and are ready to come out of the oven to rest for a minute.|
I always make a big pan of these enchiladas even when there is just the two of us, because it is one of our favorite things to take to work for lunch. The cut squares also freeze really well.
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
About 15 fresh tomatillos (large and medium size) or about 3 pounds
1 white onion peeled and cut into quarters
3 to 4 fresh garlic cloves, peeled
2-3 serrano chiles
1-2 jalapeño chiles
Celtic sea salt (I use Eden brand)
Fresh cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prep chiles by cutting in half and slicing out the seeds. Place the tomatillos, onions, chiles and garlic on a half sheet pan and roast for 25-30 minutes. Do not over roast, veggies should look like the photo above. Pull from the oven when done and allow to rest.
Place roasted vegetables in your Vitamix or blender. Pour in any juices left on the sheet pan into the blender container. Add salt and pepper and blend until fully mixed into a smooth purée.
To Make Chicken Enchiladas:
4 boneless chicken breasts
Olive oil—for chicken and for frying tortillas
1 white onion, chopped
1 tsp Italian herb mix
Celtic sea salt
Freshly cracked ground pepper
10 ounces shredded jack cheese
12 fresh corn tortillas
1. Dice onion and chicken breasts. Heat 2 Tbsps. olive oil in a skillet and sauté the chicken breast, onion and Italian herbs until cooked through. Do not overcook the chicken, since it will be baked in the oven. Turn off heat and set aside.
2. Bring olive about one inch of olive oil to 350 degrees in a skillet. Pour some of the green sauce into a shallow bowl in which to dunk the tortillas after they are fried. Assemble in a 9x13 inch casserole. Spray the pan with a nonstick spray and then pour in enough of the green sauce in the casserole to just cover the bottom. Fry tortillas in the oil until semi-firm—they should still be pliable.
4. Bake the enchiladas in the oven at 350-375 degrees until hot and bubbly. Rest for 10 minutes after out of the oven. Cut into squares and serve with your choice of sides. Suggestions would be Silvia's black beans (absolutely the best beans ever), refried pinto beans, Mexican rice and chopped cabbage dressed with fresh lime juice dressing.