Thursday, March 12, 2009

Like a fine cuppa coffee

Photo: I get to ham it up with Ig Vella at Vella Cheese Company

Lots of stuff percolating around here. Not much time to blog about it.

My bad! The Sonoma Cheese Conference went really well. Got to see lots of friends and make some new ones. Both good things in my estimation. My panel went off really well. Three of us got to talk about blogging basics and how a blog can be a wonderful dynamic form of writing. I had my fill of excellent cheeses from across the country and some great wines and beers were served as well. It is a nice, intimate gathering of cheese professionals. A highlight for me was going to the Vella Cheese Company with fellow Oregonians Pat Morford and her daughter Astraea from River's Edge Chevre, and Tami Parr of the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project. I bought some extra aged Dry Jack from Ig Vella himself. It is a nice excuse to spend a few days in the beautiful town of Sonoma.

Photo: a princess cake.

I did manage to visit my sister in Santa Rosa. Brought her a piece of Princess Cake for her birthday. Scandia Bakery on Napa Street next to the Sonoma Market that makes an excellent Princess Cake. It is a family tradition. Must have this sweet cake with layers of cake, custard, cream, and raspberry jam smothered with green marzipan frosting. Heaven! I wish I could have taken more time to visit more friends. It will have to wait for another trip back to the Bay Area.

This weekend we're off to the Oregon Cheese Festival. It is held in the parking lot at Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon. It should be about a four to five hour drive from here. It is pretty far south, practically in California. The sun is out and the rain might hold off until Saturday or Sunday so I hope the drive is easy.

When the sun shines, Oregon's natural beauty is breathtaking. The locals perk up, too. Yesterday I was driving back home, headed north on Wallace Road a.k.a. Highway 221 from Salem. The rural highway connects Dayton, just south of Dundee, to Salem and cuts through farmland and tiny hamlets like Lincoln and Unionvale. The Eola Hills and the red hills of Dundee rise gracefully up from the floor of the Willamette Valley to the west and off in the distance are the snow capped Cascades to the east. It was a cloudless sky and the sun was warming the fertile earth all around me as I sped along past countless farms and semi-dormant fields. The grass alongside the road is bright green with fresh spring growth. A few of the trees are starting to show the early signs of bud break, with a green glow tracing through their naked branches. Spring is breathing down upon this patch of earth. It was a great 50 minute drive home. Must try to remember to take some photographs of this stuff. My words cannot capture the beauty that surrounds me.

Photo: Jim holds a chick.

Speaking of signs of spring, we have chicks! Five of them. So cute. Araucanas, the kind that lay green and blue tinted eggs. Sweet little birds that will grow up to be nice egg layers. They're a little over a week old.

Jim has completed three raised beds for our veggie garden. Now we need to fill them with dirt and we'll be off to the races. Or we'll be ready to plant lettuce, carrots, leeks, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, basil, and other herbs.

In other news, I've posted an ad on Craigslist looking for cheesemaking equipment. Got some pretty interesting responses to it. We'll see what happens! It really feels like things are starting to gain momentum and move forward. We filed for building permits with the county planning department and I'm going over the plans with our contractor. Groundbreaking may happen sooner rather than later.

Whew! First thing's first. Gotta get ready to drive to Central Point.