Flowers I found while visiting Ficklin Vineyards
Back from California and haven’t stopped thinking about it since
The flight there was a huge success, I was able to just let go and leave my anxities behind…it also helped that our flight was so early (6:23 am!!) that I was too tired to even know if I was anxious or not. We flew from Boston straight to San Francisco where we had a 3 hour layover. Having not ate much for breakfast or during the flight, I was STARVING. Even though I don’t like to fly on a full stomach, I knew skipping a meal was not an option. We (my mom and Aunt Jackie), ended up eating at this cute restaurant in the airport that had delicious veggie sandwiches. One of my favorite foodie things about CA: fresh, ripe avacado’s! They’re everywhere and always on the menu at restaurants. Unlike the ones here in MA that are little green rocks when you buy them at the store, the ones in CA (as with all of there produce) are ripe, fresh, and perfect:)
Anywho, on with the trip. So after the extended layover we got on a teeny, tiny prop plane from San Francisco to Fresno (where my Aunt Barbara lives). This plane we had to board from the tarmac which I always find to be fun (it seems like something from the movies…I don’t travel enough). I had to make this moment memorable, so as we descended the ramp to the tarmac, I lost grip of my boarding pass and it blew away in the wind! The pass flew somewhere under the ramp so I ran to get it at the bottom but was stopped by the security guard. I guess they frown upon passengers going into unauthorized/unsafe areas. I had to have the security guard get the pass for me once I explained what had happened. All worked out and I was fine but what a great way to begin a vacation Only me…
The first night of the vacation was spent at my aunt’s in-laws beautiful home for a low-key backyard burger cookout. They asked us to bring a fruit salad so our first culinary adventure was finding wonderful fresh fruit from Trader Joe’s for that. We also spent the second night at that house, this time celebrating Memorial Day with a much bigger cookout. This time we made Mango Lime Salsa which came out fabulous!
Mango Lime Salsa:
1-2 Ripe Mangoes (depending on how many people you are serving
1 Red Pepper
3-4 plum tomatoes
1 jalapeno pepper
1/2 onion (we used purple but scallions are good, too)
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 cup dried chile spiced dried pineapple (optional but SO good!)
I was definitely skeptical about the dried pineapple, I’m not a huge fan of heat in my food, but they added such a great element. They had the consistency of like a gummy bear or other chewy candy with the taste of pineapple and just a little spiciness that went with the rest of the salsa. Highly recommend trying that one.
After our two evening with the in-laws, the rest of the trip was a just a girls trip with my mom, aunts, and I. We actually did a major amount of shopping at Target the first day which made us laugh…did we really fly cross-country to shop at Target!? But cute clothes were bought and we had fun so it was worth it!
My favorite part of the trip were the relaxing ones. Each morning we got up around 7 (we’re all early risers in this family which I love; we enjoy the whole day) and my mom and I walked for about a half hour. I’m a pretty active person in my life but part of my transition and growth in the past year has been learning to appreciate more passive versions of fitness rather than obsessing about speed, intensity, and calorie burn. It was also a time for my mom to just be together, not always talking, but enjoying the peace and beauty of early morning. The weather in Fresno at this time of year is perfect: mornings are cool (low 70s) and it gradually heats up during the day to the high 80′s (no humidity!) and it cool down in the evening to the upper 60s while you sleep. Perfection. I also enjoyed the peace of leisure reading and relaxation. During the school year, reading for class and work often keep me feeling like I have too much on my plate to pick up a book for leisure. I was happy to have got through two books while there, and got the drive going to keep on reading all summer long:)
Of course the absolute favorite part of the trip was visiting wineries! I had been looking forward to this for the past three years since my last trip to CA. We decided to skip the long drive and formalness of Napa and check out some of the local wineries in the area. The first stop was at Ficklin Vineyards, a small vineyard specializing mostly in ports.
It was nice to be somewhere so intimate and small and get to really learn about the wines and the process. Although I don’t have a taste for ports yet, I enjoyed trying them and also got to try some of the reds they make, too. There were also a few photo op’s as the only ones there and we took full advantage:
After this winery we asked the tour guide what other places were in the area. He mentioned a few vineyards but also recommended a wine tasting bar down the road that sampled various wines from vineyards all around the region. We all decided that having many options was the best bet and headed there. It ended up being a GREAT choice!
We were able to sample 5 different wines for $5. We decided to split up, my mom and I shared 5 and my aunts shared 5 . We tried to choose all different ones to we got to try 10 different wines (and the woman threw in an extra for each of us so it turned out to be 12, oh lovely!). My mom and I are big red wine fans so we tried a Pinot Noir, Malbec, Shyraz, Vinto Tinto, and another one which I cannot recall at the moment. We loved the Pinot and the Malbec so we each bought one of those. Such fun! The woman who took us on the wine “tour” was wonderful and so knowledgable about the Vineyards that gave them their wines and the owners who make the wine. If you are ever in the Fresno area and want a fun stop to sample many wines I highly recommend Appellation California.
Much wine, many laughs, and wonderful food were had throughout the trip. We used each night to try new recipes, each of us contributing an idea or a tried and true favorite (my contribution was grilled apple salad with red peppers and goat cheese). Although it was not an excursion-based vacation, or one spent on a tropical beach, it was a wonderful way to spend time and bond with my mom and aunts as well as a time to relax and recharge.
I am happy to have gone and happy to be home too.