Wine Travel Adventure

Bay Area & California travel blog

Category: Books

How well do you know Julia Child? Take this quiz and find out

An American in Paris, a woman succeeding in a man’s world, author of a paradigm-shifting cookbook, the ebullient and eccentric star of a hit television cooking program that also shifted paradigms, and a woman in love—in so many ways Julia Child embodied the food and cooking branch of the Great American Dream.

Julia, in a photo from “The French Chef,” her 1960s-era cooking show

But how well do you know her and her legacy? Take this quiz and find out. Answers are at bottom. Continue reading

How Keith Richards boosted the Tequila Sunrise, and other good cocktail stories

When Keith Richards was in his hard-partying prime in the 1970s, he and his fellow band mates on the Rolling Stones showed up one night at the Trident, a watering hole in Sausalito on the edge of San Francisco Bay, looking for some alcoholic refreshments. Richards ordered a margarita and the bartender, a creative mixmaster named Bobby Lozoff, served him something different instead: a then mostly unknown drink of tequila, orange juice and grenadine.

Richards loved the Tequila Sunrise, as it was called, and it rapidly became his go-to party drink. His fame, and the fame of the Stones, helped spread the fame of their favorite cocktail, and the Tequila Sunrise became not just a mere drink but a cultural touchstone for that era of rock ‘n roll. The Eagles’ hit song “Just Another Tequila Sunrise” added to the popularity of Lozoff’s invention.

This story—and the accompanying recipe—is only one of the many nice treats in Beach Cocktails: Favorite Surfside Sips and Bar Snacks (Oxmoor House, $25), a new book by the editors of Coastal Living Magazine that contains the recipes for 125 cocktails. Generously illustrated with photographs of tropical sand and surf scenes, the theme here is that of the beach—light, refreshing cocktails that you might enjoy in your leisure on the beach, or on your backyard patio, in those lazy hazy days of summer.

Keith Richards.

The cocktail that Lozoff did not serve Richards that day, the margarita, is of course here. As are The Drunken Sailor, Caribbean Rum Swizzle, Sex on the Beach, Key Lime Gimlet, the Bahama Hurricane, Missionary’s Downfall, Singapore Sling, and other delightfully named and often quite delicious concoctions that Richards in his prime probably also imbibed.
A good cocktail, like a good book or movie, has a good story attached to it. Beach Cocktails has many such stories, such as: Continue reading

A review of Vertical, the sequel to Sideways

VerticalVertical, by Rex Pickett, is a funny, sad, sexy, depressing, curious and at times bravely comic novel tailored especially for men and women who like to drink wine. The novel, published originally some years ago but updated and released in a new edition in 2016 by Loose Gravel Press, is the sequel to Sideways, Pickett’s first novel upon which the 2004 hit movie was based.

Sideways, both the novel and film, followed the comic misadventures of Miles and Jack, who drank and screwed their way around the Santa Ynez Valley in California’s Central Coast wine region. Fans of Sideways will be pleased to learn that Miles and Jack are back at it in Vertical, drinking and screwing aplenty. Although the novel’s subtitle suggests that the twosome do all their carousing on “the Oregon Wine Trail,” this is somewhat deceiving. While they do tarry, a bit, at a pinot festival in the Willamette Valley, they also pass through such places as (naturally) Santa Ynez Valley, Fresno, Clear Lake, and on the road to Wisconsin, a state better known for its cheese than its wine. Continue reading

Read, drink wine: 2 wine books you may enjoy

Being a wine and food writer and author—my two latest books, Foodie Snob and Running Snob, will be published by Lyons Press in 2017—I am always on the look for a good wine book to settle down with while enjoying a good glass of wine. Here are two recent ones I’ve read:
Sideways

  • Sideways, Rex Pickett, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004.

Not exactly recent, is it? Oh well, I was inspired to go back and read this comic novel—confession: I never did, when it first came out a dozen years ago—upon hearing the news that Pickett, whose day job is as a Hollywood screenwriter, has released a new sequel, which came out this summer. It’s called Vertical: Passion and Pinot on the Oregon Wine Trail, and it catches us up on the lives of Miles and Jack all these years later, no doubt chronicling many more wine-soaked adventures and misadventures in the process. An earlier version of the book was released years ago; this is a newly edited and revised edition, says the publisher. Continue reading

Wine industry veteran shares the secrets of his success

Wine drinkers and wine lovers can learn a lot from the story of Peter M.F. Sichel, whose ancestral family winemaking roots stretch back to Germany in the 1850s, who lived and worked in the wine industry in Bordeaux for many years, and who created one of the first and most successful international wine brands, Blue Nun, which sold millions of cases in the United States and around the world during its heyday in the 1970s.

Sichel is also an international wine authority who has judged many wine competitions and has an insider’s grasp of the wine business, which he first became involved in as a young man in 1930s Germany and France. “My early youth,” he recalls with some poignancy, “was spent living in the world of wine.”

Peter Sichel    His vinous youth, however, came to an abrupt end due to the calamitous world events of that time. A Jew, he fled Europe to escape Nazi persecution. Finding sanctuary in this country, he joined the American military and became an intelligence officer for the OSS and CIA, working to defeat Hitler’s Germany and then against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. All of these stories he tells in a personal anecdotal fashion in his memoir, The Secrets of My Life: Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy, which was published earlier this year. Continue reading

A desk of comic genius

Schulz Museum
One of the pleasures of the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa is its careful re-creation of his old office. This is the  desk where Schulz created, almost daily, his little works of monumental genius. Schulz is gone now—he died in 2000—but Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus live on.