Monday, April 13, 2009

That was quick

This weekend was a whirlwind of activity, family, eating, exercise, shopping, eating and, like usual, not enough sleep. My sis and brother-in-law arrived safely and on time Wednesday afternoon. We told the rest of the family that they weren't arriving until Thursday evening so we had the entire day with just the three of us.

When I was a smoker I never ate sugary products (why, you wonder, is she talking about this in the middle of the family report? Bear with me here). When I smoked my taste buds just weren't interested in sweets. I didn't eat pastries, candy, ice cream or drink sodas. Also, since I had a cig in my mouth or my hand for a good portion of the time I was awake, I had no need for any substitutes. Part of my quitting process involved chewing on red licorice and sucking on hard candies. As the years passed and I got farther away from smoke mouth I developed quite a sweet tooth. For several years my absolute favorite has been Jelly Belly jelly beans. For one, they're small and chewy and one lasts a while. For another, they're 4 calories each; quite a few pieces giving a high quality "point" bang for the buck (that's Weight Watcher's point). Finally, they taste great and come in a changing assorting of wonderful, true flavors (dark chocolate and sour orange are my current favorites). (And the Coldstone chocolate mint.) (And peanut butter.) (And grapefruit.) (They have flavor all the way through, even in the center! Unlike other jelly beans!) (You can mix them in your mouth for special combinations!) (They even good when they're stale!) (Which they hardly ever become, in my house!)

A couple of times I've gone to the factory in Fairfield and taken the weekend tour while the factory wasn't in operation. They show videos, and you get to see the factory floor, but nothing was happening. I've always wanted to play hooky from work and go during the week and this was my big chance. While looking up hours on their website I discovered Jelly Belly University; a tour of no more than 6 people, on the factory floor, up close and personal with the production process. I was so excited (yes, my life is exactly that dull) that I immediately registered for our available morning.

Thursday morning we headed up the Fairfield through the gloom and rain. We arrived at the factory nice and early and discovered that we were the only people on the tour. For almost an hour and a half our guide walked us around, showed us every darn thing, gave us tastes and generally made us feel like big shots. It was fun, it was informative, it was sugary sweet. All that, and we got a 10% discount off anything purchased in the store. Uh oh.

We did some shopping, then ... huh? How much? Let's just say I made it to the car in one trip and leave it at that. I won't need to replenish my supply for quite some time.

Anyway, after shopping we headed one valley west to Napa. St. Helena to be specific, to the V. Sattui Winery. We had intended to have a picnic in the beautiful weather but there wasn't any beautiful weather. In fact, it was darn right miserable. We still had the picnic, in the car, facing the budding vineyards. Then we went in to do a little tasting. My sis and BIL aren't big drinkers (they're cheap dates) and I was driving so we were only making the one stop. Since the last time I had visited they've instituted a tasting charge. It was only $5 for 6 tastes and we decided we'd all split the one tasting. See? Cheap dates.

There are a few of their wines that I adore, and some that I've liked since I first visited in 1976 or 77 (maybe 78?). My current favorite is the Madeira (see above re: sweet tooth). Despite the fact that the price is more than 200% higher than when I bought my first bottle, I always get at least one bottle per visit. Although I'm very fond of their red wines I've been having red wine allergies or sensitivities lately and have lowered my consumption. So we tasted mostly whites and sweets and yum, they were all good. Realize that in total I probably had about 4 ounces of wine, so my decision to join one of their wine clubs wasn't influenced by being looped. I've wanted to join a club for a few years and just never got around to deciding where.

The club I joined is new enough that it isn't even on their website list yet. It's the fruity/sweet/dessert club where I'll get 3 bottles every other month until I cancel the membership. Along with the wine, the membership also includes discounts, free tastings, special events and newsletters. I decided on this particular club because I won't have to worry about a red allergy and I can always buy good (and cheap) dry whites at Trader Joe's.

After signing my life away we headed back to the Bay Area through the continuing rain and increasing traffic. We made it home in time to pick up pizzas from Zachary's and head over to my mom's. After devouring stuffed mushroom and spinach pizza and salad we headed back home for an early evening.

Candy, wine and pizza. An hour or more walking. Lots of driving. Talking, laughing and being with family. It was a great day.

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