Air tanker over Geyserville

By now, I guess that everyone has heard about the wildfires in Northern California, particularly Napa and Sonoma Counties.  The fires started Sunday night and will not be totally controlled for weeks. Since that is the only thing on my mind, I just can’t get my head into writing – somehow it just doesn’t seem appropriate to write about some great restaurant or trip when over 5700 of my neighbors have lost their homes or businesses and everything that they possessed. As of six p.m., Friday, thirty-eight people are dead and over 250 are still missing or unaccounted for.

Remains of Signorello Estate Winery off of the Silverado Trail in Napa.

Willi’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa early Monday morning

Remains of Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa. Two of our friends lost their homes here.

Burned wine barrels at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa.

So far Karel and I are safe and our house is intact. We have power, water, gas, and internet service. We are very lucky. The air quality is the most unhealthy in recorded history so we keep our windows closed and wear masks when we go outside . We have packed some clothes, toiletries, my laptop, and some valuables. The bags are sitting next to our front door. Our cars are full of gas. If necessary, we can leave on a minute’s notice.

Even fire stations were not safe. Fire Station No. 5 in the Fountaingrove neighborhood of Santa Rosa.

I am humbled at the numbers of firefighters and first responders that have started to arrive in our community from all over California and the US – some from as far away as North and South Carolina. Most local firefighters have been working continuously since Sunday night and are only now getting a little relief.

Firefighter Nathan Goldie from Oxnard working outside the town of Sonoma.

Firefighters gather for the next onslaught as an air tanker drops retardant.

There is nothing more impressive than to see how everyone is pitching in to support our community in this time of need. Please keep sending the good thoughts and raise a glass tonight in support of Wine Country.

Remains of the tasting room at Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa.

Redwood Credit Union (RCU), in partnership with RCU Community Fund, The Press Democrat, and Senator Mike McGuire, is accepting financial donations to aid relief efforts and assist victims of the 2017 North Bay fires. 100% of your tax-deductible donations will go directly to support those affected by the fires. (Donate here)

Maybe next week.


Cantinetta Luca

“My dream places me inside a brick-walled wine cellar, or cantinetta, fashioned into an upscale trattoria, where I’m happily sipping Barolo from a globed glass. Torpedoes of cured meat hang from the ceiling in a glass-enclosed aging room, table vases bloom with elegant breadstick stems and we snack on warmed, fat Sicilian olives. I’m in full view of the kitchen’s heart, the 700-degree, wood-fired oven, where three black-hatted, squatty men with no arm hair perform a balletic ritual near the narrow opening that releases vapors of heat and wisps of wood smoke.” – Mike Hale, Monterey Herald

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Food for Soul

…[Food waste] is foremost an affront to the hungry, but it also represents a massive environmental cost in terms of energy, land, and water. Those who grow for export are also often at the mercy of over-stringent expectations of buyers who place a premium on cosmetic perfection. – “Think. Eat. Save: Reduce Your Foodprint”, UN Secretary-General’s 2013 message on World Environment Day

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Osteria Francescana – the Food

Chef Massimo Bottura and a pleased diner.

“…in the kitchens of Osteria Francescana we pry, poke and question the authority of our culinary traditions. We take a step back, then come in closer, and make inquiries about texture, flavor, and form. We see ingredients and recipes at a distance and through a magnifying glass, we throw out the recipes and start from scratch. Most importantly of all, we never stop questioning.” – Massimo Bottura, Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef

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