Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Final (Finally) Installment of My 30th Birthday Trip

The night of my actual birthday, I wasn't feeling that hungry (a really unusual feeling for me), but Mr. FGD was starving so we found a cute little Italian restaurant in downtown Carmel called Luca. (As a completely random aside, I absolutely love that name.) The restaurant had a great modern vibe, and was packed on a Saturday night, despite it being the winter off-season in Carmel. We took that as a good sign, and headed in.

Because we didn't have a reservation, we were lucky to even get seats, and found ourselves sitting at a little bar area in front of the open kitchen, where we got to watch all of kitchen people in action.

(excuse my super blah hair; I didn't flat-iron it that morning, plus we were outside most of the day and it was windy = blah)

I specifically say "kitchen people," rather than chefs, because it quickly became clear that there was only one chef in the hizzy, and it wasn't these poor guys:


The executive chef, Jason Balestrieri, either woke up on the wrong side of the bed that day, or was just a general douche-nozzle in general. It was hard to tell. He yelled at people throughout most of our dinner. You see this smile?


Consider yourself lucky. We never did.

Fortunately, giant douche-nozzle chef de cuisine didn't completely ruin our experience. The food was fantastic. Sister FGD wasn't very hungry either, so we shared a salad and the Cornetto pizza, which ended up being more folded-up-calzone-ish than pizza. Delish.


We sat right in front of the wood stove and the peasant pizza makers, and Mr. FGD must have been swayed by our seating arrangement, because he ended up with pizza too. Some icky fungus stuff that Mr. FGD claims is yummy (i.e., mushrooms) was all over it.


After dessert, we walked the super dark streets of Carmel back to our hotel, passing a little bakery with alligators in the window.


We also passed an art gallery selling paintings by my favorite dog painter, George Rodrigue.


After that, we enjoyed some Rock of Love II with Bret Michaels, before heading to bed. What more could a girl ask for on her 30th birthday, but a douche-nozzle chef and Bret Michaels? It was a perfect evening.

The next morning, we woke up early, took the pups to the beach one more time, and sadly said good-bye to Carmel. We took another another barf-inducing windy road, and were on our way to Paso Robles for wine tasting.

We were really hungry when we got to Paso, so we looked on our wine country map for one of the few wineries that served lunch, and headed off to Eagle Castle Winery.



We walked into an empty dining room and were greeted by no one. Eventually, someone came along to tell us they had decided not to serve lunch that day because it was Super Bowl Sunday.

Do people not eat on Super Bowl Sunday?

Strike One.

We decided to do a quick tasting before heading into town to find some lunch. The wine was unmemorable, but we did have one special memory from the visit. During our tasting, a disheveled looking woman came up to the tasting counter to the left of me, and interrupted the conversation we were having with the pourer with, "Where are your horses?"

Our pourer looked confused and told Disheveled that they didn't have horses on the premises. Disheveled answered with, "Well, I have 7 or 8 horses. I'm very wealthy."

Well then.

Strike Two!

Disheveled continued on like that for a few minutes, before disappearing off to whatever planet she had come from. We left a few minutes later, hoping we wouldn't be on the same road at the same time as Disheveled. Not without one more photo though.

Strike Three.

After a quick bite to eat in town, we headed towards the long road out to Justin winery, stopping at a winery the sommelier at Luca had recommended we visit.


Linne Calodo was almost completely under construction. It didn't seem to distract the winery dog though, who only had eyes for her rubber toy.


She was quite adorable, despite only viewing us as potential toy throwers, and nothing more.


I loved the wines at Linne Calodo, and they had great names and simple, modern labels.


Generally, that's all I need to fall in love. But I was irritated that it was the most expensive place we went with a $10 tasting fee per person AND they didn't put the tasting fee towards any wine you bought. So you could potentially buy hundreds of dollars of wine there, and they'd still make you pay $10 per person for tasting. That's bullshit.

Regardless, we bought a bottle of Slacker (I told you, great names), took a quick photo, tossed the rubber toy one more time, and headed on our merry way.


Our one planned winery destination in Paso was the Justin winery. Mr. FGD and I both love Justin wines, and the name is easy to remember (some of you might be able to figure out why). After a long drive down one road (14, maybe 16 miles?) we finally reached our destination.

We were greeted by the two winery dogs,



and were told by signs throughout not to let Sunny the lab out.


We ended up becoming members of the winery, because it was the only way we were allowed to purchase bottles of our favorite Justin wine, the Isosceles.

We stayed at Justin for awhile because the Super Bowl had started while we were there, and Mr. FGD's man genes kicked in. I didn't mind. I was completely charmed by our English wine pourer. I think I actually swooned a little bit. Sorry Mr. FGD, you were too man-football-ADD to even notice.

Eventually, I got bored and went out to the car to see how my furbitches were doing.

They seemed fine. A little too happy, actually.

When I opened the car doors, I saw wrappers everywhere. Chocolate candy wrappers.


Funny thing is, they didn't touch any of the NutriSystem snacks I brought along(!!!).

Within a few minutes, Mini FGD was barfing up chocolate and caramel all over the car.

Le sigh.

Maybe some fresh air would help.

I think Mini FGD only threw up one more time, and then we were on our way.

We spent the night in Paso and headed home the next morning.

This was the best birthday I ever had. Here's to the best decade ahead.


5 Comments, shout outs, and other gold diggin' love:

WeezerMonkey said...

The Monkeys are with you -- there is no fungus among us!

Love the king and queen pic!

Great recap of a great weekend!

10yearstogether said...

How do you people not like mushrooms?! I am floored. The food looked good, the wines seemed spensive though. I am seriously laughing about the doggies eating the chocolates but skipping the NS. Hilarity.

wan-nabe said...

i wish i looked that cute without flatironing. damn you.

ooooh, i know what baby FGD's name will be! hurry up and make her already.

Claire said...

Mushrooms are nasty. Ugh. Ew.

Can we go wine tasting, pretty please? Like you, I tend to be just as enthralled by cute pourers as I am by the wines.

amber said...

your recaps are so fun!

i love winery dogs. they have a big one at kalyra in SB that is so eager and cute. they really enhance the whole tasting experience IMO.

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