Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A dry dry day...

Today started with a ServSafe class with John, possibly the driest person alive. The entire time he was talking I wasn't sure if he was being very very very dry and sarcastic or if he was just being himself. I kept feeling like I should be laughing, but I didn't just in case. He just had the strangest sense of humor.

Regardless, the morning dragged on because all he basically did was reread the ServSafe manual back to us. I was so frustrated that I had made the effort to read the whole book before class, had I known I would have just waited for the class and taken notes. I hope the next class is more helpful about what to expect in the exam, etc.

He kept emphasizing that the exam (as well as practical hygiene in food) was all common sense. While I agree, I also think that there's a lot of particulars about their rules that should be pointed out. Like the time in which a stock should be cooled down and the temperatures. I'd like to know what the rationale is behind some of the rules and regulations. I also think it'd be interesting to know what most health inspectors find to be the most common fault in commercial kitchens. I think knowing these things would help us find out what is the most commonly misunderstood part of the process.


The afternoon trip to the winery was very interesting. I'd been to several wineries before in California, but I'd never been able to walk in the vineyards and really look at the grapes and learn about the problems and processes involved in growning grapes. I didn't know there were so many pests! It almost makes you wonder why anyone would bother starting a winery in the first place. Between the Japanese beetles and the birds, it seems like the problems are never ending.

While we were standing there, they were explaining about how they trim back the leaves and grow the grapes so they can maximize their time spent in direct sunlight. I thought it was interesting to see their efforts in agricultural engineering that wasn't really based in science so much as personal experience. I was also surprised to learn that despite all the growing of grapes they do, they didn't actually produce my wine from their own grapes. Granted, their yield probably can't produce much wine at all, but I still thought it odd to establish a winery and spend most of the money and effort importing grapes from the California coast. I wondered why he didn't just move to California and become a vintner.

Regardless, the beautiful location of his home was only enhanced by the rows of grapes. Looking at how many rows there were, I couldn't believe that all of it could be realistically managed year-round by only two people. I'm still wondering how feasible an operation like this would be if Tracey wasn't so dedicated. It's clear that the wine from here has become more the just a job for both of them, it's become a personal goal to see the wine turn a profit and gain more recognition.

What was also amazing was experiencing Kip's incredible knowledge of wine and wine history first hand. It's clear he's extremely well read on the topic and that he's spent his time reading and re-reading everything there is out there on wine, it's history, culture and theory.

The tasting was fun as well, if not a bit awkward. I don't think anyone in the group felt comfortable enough to really make any comments on the strength of the wine, leaving us with long moments of awkward silence as we all stood around tasting their wines. I think we all thought it'd be disingenuous to proclaim it a great wine. I thought that most of the wines were young and immature. I think their pinot noir needs another year or two in the bottle. It would help mellow out the sharpness of the wine and create a fuller more well rounded wine.

I didn't think I would like the riesling, but found it to be pleasant. I was expecting a much sweeter wine, but the way he'd made his riesling it was more dry and crisp. I assume that the main reason I wasn't particularly enamoured by any of the wines was because they were pure varietals and I've become quite accustomed to blends and balances from other varietals. An entire bottle of just one varietal is a challenging wine to make. I think he's done a wonderful job trying to fine the best balance possible.

Ride home was interesting, I ended up having a great conversation about the slow food movement and it's ideologies with Catherine. I really enjoyed the conversation and feel like I've found a bit of a kindred spirit. She's sharp and passionate with a background that shares an interest with my own in sustainable, environmentally conscious food and consumption. She mentioned I should read the Omnivore's Dilemma--a definite next on my list of books!