Grilled meat and plinking

After dinner shooting

The perfect digestif, firearms.

During the past weekend, Christine and I had some friends over at the cottage for dinner. It was a typical, breezy evening in Carneros and we started off with drinks outside on the patio. When our friends Kate and Justin showed up, I should not have been surprised that Justin had brought his .17 rifle along. The sight of a couple of jackrabbits off in the vineyards got him primed for some shooting. I had never shot a .17 before and found it similar to a .22 magnum. His .17 had a smooth lever action and a dialed in scope. I had read quite a bit about the .17’s high velocity and how that translates into accuracy and can attest it’s true. I brought out my Ruger 10/22, a classic albeit a bit boring. We had a good time shooting (and missing) at the rabbits that are really more like vermin than lil johnny cotton tail and then had fun setting up and knocking down some beer cans.

For dinner I grilled up some tri tip and asparagus and Christine made a cilantro rice dish with queso fresco. I tried something new with the tri tip this time, I slow cooked it on a Weber with mesquite wood chips. I’ve never really believed that a handful of wood chips would translate into real smoky flavor but I was wrong. I slow cooked two roasts using indirect heat and sprinkled the water soaked chips on the hot coals. I changed the chips after flipping the meat over, after about 40 minutes of cooking. After about a hour and a half of cooking, the meat had that deep, dark color of barbecue and also a lovely aroma and taste of mesquite smoke. I’m not a complete convert to slow, low and smoky — because gas is just so much easier — but I have to admit that wood chips really do bring the flavor. I’ve got an old Weber at the house in Lodi and I think my next grilling adventure will be slow cooked brisket.

After dinner we did a little more shooting, (Christine even shot a few rounds with the .17) and then played some board games. Now, Bennie had brought over several different bottles of wine from his collection and I was a bit enthusiastic in my approach to tasting as many as possible. Justin and Kate, I swear next time I’ll make it through a round of Cranium, I swear!

The penance for my overindulgence was spending the next morning picking up spent brass with a raging, raging red wine headache.

Ahhh, the good man’s weakness.

Sometime soon, a tour through weed country?

I wrote a story last week about what the future could hold if California decided to legalize weed. Much of the article was based on the thoughts and opinions of Cliff Schaffer, a SoCal weed advocate who believes if the drug were legalized the industry that would spring up to produce marijuana would be something akin to the wine industry. Schaffer actually went so far as to describe a vision in which California is dotted with boutique pot growers each offering their own marijuana that is expressive of the terroir in which it grew.
Most folks probably think that is nonsense. And if your image of a weed smoker is some doped out, long-haired counter culture hippie then you would probably agree. But after living in Northern California and Oregon for my whole life, I have met countless people who smoked regularly and who buck that stereotypical image of a pot head. These people are mature professionals who not only smoke the drug but have a keen sense of appreciation for it too.
Schaffer himself describes the pot stores in his neighborhood as being filled with sophisticated yuppie types who pick their drug based on aroma, taste, appearance and quality of high. Hmmm, aroma, taste and appearance doesn’t that remind you of someone? Yes, the wine drinker.
I’ll never forget something I saw about 10 years ago when I was a teenager and I went to a Blues Traveler concert in Berkeley. As my girlfriend and I were driving to the show, we pulled up to a stoplight and a man in brand new BMW convertible pulled up next to us. I had the windows down and noticed that this guy —who looked like he was some software programmer — was puffing a joint. At the time, weed for me had always been some dark, mysterious drug that spoiled your brain and sapped your ambition. Imagine my shock at seeing some rich dude blazing away in broad daylight while he was driving.
That  experience taught me that weed had a much more diverse audience than what I had always been lead to believe. It also made me realize something else: It’s not going to be the hippie on the corner that legalizes marijuana, it’s going to be the dude in the BMW.

Harvest at Chateau St. Vert Bud

Harvest at Chateau St. Vert Bud