About Chasing Jen

Playwright and wine blogger. www.chasingjen.com

It’s ZAP Time in the City

Image courtesy of ZAP

Image courtesy of ZAP

Coming to San Francisco next week is the Zinfandel Experience. Like the grape’s many personalities, there will be multiple venues featuring prominent and emerging winemakers. And thanks to a special invitation from Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP), yours truly will be attending two of next week’s events: the Trade & Media Event, being held at Rock Wall Wine Company (Jan. 28th), and Epicuria (Jan 29th), a wine and food pairing extravaganza being hosted by the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio.

Unlike Pinot Noir or Merlot, the Zinfandel grape comes in many forms: red, white, rosé, sweet, late-harvest (dessert) style, Beaujolais-style and even sparkling. And to complicate things further, its flavor is strongly influenced by the age of the vines and the region grown.

A sampling of Zinfandel wines

A sampling of Zinfandel wines

My experience to date is primarily based on the wines from the Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley. I tend to think of these red Zinfandel wines as either spicy or jammy, and people seem to gravitate to one style versus the other. I like both styles, depending on the time of year and the mood my mouth is in — do I want something that is bold and jammy and would pair well with BBQ, or do I want a wine that is lush, complex, peppery, brambly, perhaps even a little delicate — and a few wineries I visit often when I head to Sonoma, some of whom will be pouring at ZAP, are:

If you haven’t purchased a ticket to one of the events yet, you should. Now. Or you will kick yourself once you read my post-event followup about some of the incredible wines I will (and you should) have the pleasure of experiencing, all from your own backyard if you live in the SF Bay Area, that is.

Cheers! and hope to see you there.

Headin’ down to Central Cali, Cali

The last time I was anywhere near Solvang, Buellton, Santa Ynez Valley, was in 1993 when I moved from 100-degree-sweat-dripping-down-my-back Los Angeles to 63-degree-fog-covered-down-comforter-must San Francisco. We followed the countless signs to Peasoup Andersons — it’s actually obligatory to stop in as one must display proof of visit before proceeding along Highway 101 — ate then breathed a sign of relief to actually be on our way North while cats chilled in the back of the not-Ford-350 truck.

This late night drive dredged up memories of lying in the back seat of the family car while driving cross country along Route 66 between whatever Air Force base my father was stationed at to my grandparents’ home, starring at the clouds circling the moon, re-imagining them as angels or spirits long passed, feeling alone in the vast landscape that lined the forever road.

The view from Le Cuvier in Paso Robles

The view from Le Cuvier in Paso Robles

Angst of a new world awaiting me in San Francisco filled my thoughts that night. Excitement fills my thoughts today as I head down Hwy 101. In 1993 the Central Valley (to me) was just a place one had to drive through to get to Los Angeles or San Francisco. Since then it has become a land appreciated for its raw rugged beauty that allows nature to reign supreme, especially the Grape Gods.

Oh the Grape Gods of this gorgeous region, how they thrive and flourish and tempt us mere mortals with its intoxicating nectar. I would willingly wash the feet of these Gods as thanks for their perseverance to help us see, penance for not heretofore knowing of their brilliance and impact.

I am on my way to the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference to study their land, breathe their air, learn their words, taste their bounty and visit their thrones. Upon my return to reality, I will share their wisdom with you. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions you’d like me to ask of them.

Their humble servant,
Chasing Jen

The Wine From La Mancha

WINE: Jorge Ordonez Actea 2012 Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain (Available from Vino Volo)

Jorge Ordonez Actea 2012 Tempranillo

Jorge Ordonez Actea 2012 Tempranillo

Last night I visited Spain, the Spain Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra described when he wrote “The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha.” As I sniffed and sipped this inky black-red liquid lined in beet-red edges, I heard the sounds of mules slowly making their way along arid, rocky-clay hillsides, the dust from their passage gently filtering through the air, smelled thyme and burning shrubs, and felt the warmth of the sun on my back as I picked fresh blackberries and raspberries from their vines, eating more than I should as their warm skin and plump ripeness was just too enticing.

I’ve never been to Spain, but this wine transported me from the very first sniff: deep cherry notes, leather, warm red-clay soil, bright sun, hints of something rich waiting to be explored. This morning I read others’ online tasting notes, some suggesting the wine boring and simple, but my palate disagrees. It just requires some patience to let it breath, which I did while I marinated pork chops in a dry herb mixture of hot paprika, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and chili powder thanks to this recipe I found on Food52.com. As I nibbled on the pork and sipped the wine wafts of cinnamon, warm cherry pie, green earth, and meyer lemon (or tangerine?) rind came through and titillated my tongue.

I stumbled upon a quote about the terroir of the Castilla – La Mancha D.O. wine region by Karen MacNeil, author of “The Wine Bible.” She says “Complexity, as it happens, for a grape to develop nuance requires an incrementally slow march to ripeness … you can end up anywhere, but the longer that it takes to get there, the better. Long growing seasons, especially long growing seasons with huge amounts of luminosity (as opposed to heat, per se) are fantastic. That’s how these wines get to some measure of complexity… by the virtue of a long growing season which can only be possible with cold nights.” For a long time La Mancha was known as the center of indifferent table wines, rather than quality winemaking. Today, however, a visitor to the region will see an arid, expansive plateau, mercifully punctuated by the Guadiana river that flows through the center of the La Mancha D.O., and experience a wide range of quality wine styles, which is evident in this 2012 Actea Tempranillo.

I found myself not wanting to stop drinking this soft, delicate, gently-bright and low-tannic wine being the texture-whore that I am, but stop I did as I want something to savor as I eat leftovers tonight. Can’t wait to see how much more depth it offers.

Join our #womenwinemakers Tweetup, March 5th, 2014

In honor of International Women’s Day 2014, wine lovers everywhere are celebrating women winemakers near and far by joining or Tweetup on 3/5.

#womensday #womenwinemakers

#womensday #womenwinemakers

The premise is simple:  grab a bottle of wine made by a woman winemaker, taste it and tweet about it using the #womenwinemakers and #womensday hashtags. Let’s show these talented winemakers how much we love and appreciate the beautiful work they do!

There are many women winemakers to love, but if you can’t think of any off the top of your head here are some resources to get you started:






Please spread the word and repost this on your favorite social media spot. We really appreciate it.

Every day can be a Pinot Noir day

Despite being tough to grow and work with, it is said that Pinot Noir is one of the most versatile grape varietals produced (light-medium bodied, fruit-forward, and distinctive because of the climate and soil grown in) and easy to pair with just about any food.  So with more than 100 clonal variations of Pinot Noir being planted in regions around the world, including Oregon, California, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, France, Spain, Germany and Italy, how does one begin to explore the wide range of styles produced, determine which style best suites your palate and makes it jump with joy as the first sips of this red liquid graces your tongue?

Willamette Valley, Oregon AVA, August 2012

Willamette Valley, Oregon AVA, August 2012

Well besides the obvious of visiting a winery, heading to a wine bar for a comparative flight tasting, or just buying a wide range of wines based on a region and price and tasting in the privacy of one’s home, you can attend a Master-Seminar-501-of-Sorts event and explore seemingly countless styles of this high-in-resveratrol elixir.  And that’s just what I did recently.  I attended the 9th Annual Pinot Days’ Grand Festival Tasting at the Fort Mason Center here in San Francisco, and let’s just say that out of 140 producers from California, Oregon, New Zealand and Burgundy I found a number of wines that made me use the adjective “yum” many times over (editor’s note:  “yum” may be overly simplistic but is succinct in its immediacy).

While I haven’t yet perfected the art of taking notes in crowded rooms while simultaneously tasting the wine and listening to the pourer tell a tale, I did manage to jot down a few notes about some noteworthy wines.  (To make up for my lapses, please click on the below links for more detailed information.)

First up, Benovia Winery located in Santa Rosa, California.  Four years ago they transitioned to organic viticulture practices and presently source fruit from their estate vineyards in Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast and Sonoma Mountain as well as grower partners in those appellations and Anderson Valley in Mendocino to “create small lot, superbly balanced, artisan wines.”  Their “goal is to know each vineyard block and its special qualities, to attentively meet each vine’s needs, and to promote optimum ripeness and flavor development.”  2012 proved to be a remarkable growing season for Benovia Winery, as evidenced by two exceptional wines, Cohn Vineyard Pinot Noir ($65) and La Pommeraie Pinot Noir ($56).  The Cohn Vineyard PN, sourced from old vines in the Russian River Valley, was light, bright, and redolent of cherries and spices.  The La Pommeraie PN, sourced from a Martinelli Family Vineyard in the Russian River Valley (which at one time was an apple orchard and is named in honor of this history), quickly became my want-more-choice due to its earthy complexity.

Besides Benovia, a number of wineries at the event emphasized their trying to stay true to the terroir of an area, not forcing the grape to be something it isn’t, and using organic and sustainable growing methods.  One such winery was Emeritus Vineyards located in Sebastopol, California.  Described as a family-owned vineyard with a minimalist approach to winemaking, nearly one third of the ranch is farmed organically and aged in French Oak barrels.  The winemaker, Nicolas Cantacuzene’s, believes “… that a great Pinot’s appeal is emotional and visceral; seducing with nuance rather than complexity or intensity,” and this is evident in the wines I tasted.  The 2010 Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ($47) was lovely with a nice blended taste of earth and spice but with a little heat on the end.  The 2010 William Wesley Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($65) was big, bright, complex, and yet the spices “such as clove, leather and forest floor with a dark raspberry undertone” were soft, delicate.  See?  Yum!

I also swooned over the wines from Failla, located on the Silverado Trail in St. Helena, California.  Per Robert M. Parker, “FAILLA is a top-notch source of high quality, European-inspired wines that combine flavor, intensity and elegance.”

Failla Pinot Noir

Failla Pinot Noir

And that doesn’t surprise me as Ehren, the winemaker, is described as being a Francophile since his adolescence.  Failla has been owned and managed by Ehren and his wife, Anne-Marie, since 1998.  They source grapes from a few different regions including the Sonoma Coast, Santa Rita Hills, and Russian River Valley.  While I enjoyed all the Pinot Noir’s poured, my favorite was the 2011 Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ($45).  I wrote that it tasted bright, sophisticated, lush, and the acidity was gentle.  The tasting notes from Failla’s website suggests “Briary berries and griotte mingle delightfully with sarsaparilla and briny olive.  Firm tannins provide structure to the typical Keefer lushness and juicy black cherry palate.”  This is a winery and winemaker to watch!

Next stop:  Kanzler Vineyards.  Kanzler “is located on the east-facing slope of a small valley nestled in the cool coastal hills between Bodega Bay and Sebastopol, California.”  Kanzler is a family-run operation and the owners’ son, Alex, is the winemaker (he is also the assistant winemaker for VML Wines in Healdsburg, California).  Their philosophy Nature takes the lead but they follow with a gentle hand, “coaxing [the wine] to be it’s best” — is evident in the wine I tasted, their 2011 Kanzler Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($52).  I noted it was complex yet simple and according to their tasting notes, “The wine is vibrant, juicy and eminently drinkable right after the [sic] pulling the cork, but picks up weight, intensity and nuance with decanting … elegant ….”  Check out the above link for a full description sure to entice your palate.

So who’s been to Livermore, California?  I haven’t but I plan on visiting soon, especially after tasting the wines poured by La Rochelle WinerySteven Kent Mirassou’s family introduced the Pinot Noir grape to California in the 1850s and today, even though La Rochelle sources Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from a number of renowned vineyards throughout the state, they strive to “let the individual vineyard’s terroir, its special sense of place, shine through.”  California is their playground and each wine I tasted was distinct, all delicious.  I thought their 2009 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($38) was light, bright, yet balanced.  It is 100% Pinot Noir, sourced from Paraiso, Sarmento, White Sage, Tondre Grapefield and Mission Ranch vineyards, and “symbolizes [their] goal of creating wines of complexity and balance; wines that reflect a winemaking philosophy and the region that produces the fruit that goes into it.”  While I enjoyed the 2009 PN, I couldn’t get enough of their 2010 Soberanes Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands ($75), which is from their Grand Cru Collection and available in very limited quantities.  This wine is made from 100% Pisoni clone Pinot Noir.  I was enjoying it so much, I didn’t write anything other than “luxurious.”  Their tasting notes elaborate on my one-word description: “there is a sublime sense of ethereal heft here … a dancing richness, epitomized by the slow yielding of dark fruit to red, viscosity to lengthening acidity.”  I wish I could get in my car and head to their vineyard now.  But I will, one day soon.  The only question is which tasting to attend:  Barrel Room or Reserve Room?

The last stop on this 140-producer Pinot Noir tasting tour was Wrath Wines, located in Soledad, California.  (You must visit their home page, if for no other reason than to read their etymology of the word “wrath.”  Fabulous!)  “Wrath wines represent a nexus of nature and an unbridled passion for winemaking … and reveal attitude, passion, and an inherent respect for what a vineyard can give us.”

Some of the Wrath Wines tasted.

Some of the Wrath Wines tasted.

Even though they appear last in this post, I actually stopped at their table first as a wine blogger friend insisted this was a must.  And she was correct.  I tasted over five wines, all delicious, all a stand out as supported by my use of the word “yum” written next to the names of four variations of 2010 Pinot Noir, three hailing from the Santa Lucia Highlands and priced at $49 each.  How I wish I could visit Wrath Wines presently and recreate this experience so I could elaborate more eloquently.  Instead, I must point you to their Single-Vineyard Series list of Pinot Noir wines, wines such as their San Saba Vineyard located in Monterey, or their McIntyre, Boekenoogan, or Tondré Vineyard wines, all culled from the Santa Lucia Highlands.

I’m not sure why I only tasted wines from California as I love Pinot Noir from other regions, but I learned I seem to favor those from the Santa Lucia Highlands and that my palate is slowly yet assuredly opening to the brilliance of the function of acidity (though I still prefer, at least for sipping pleasure, it to be soft, hinted at):  to me, it cuts the dense sweetness of dark and jammy berries and instead lets their unique qualities shine through.  I can see how some people think Pinot Noir is the ultimate grape, capable of being paired with almost any food, any weather.  What is your must-drink Pinot Noir?

A Prospectus in Retrospection

Despite not being a morning person, when I have the pleasure of being awake early and not having the need to rush off somewhere, I love lying in bed, starring out my window and taking in the quiet still of morning. I breathe that soft mid-morning way and allow thoughts to float on the horizon. How I wish I could prolong this state,

View of backyard on a foggy day.

View of backyard on a foggy day.

record these thoughts, but the moment I begin to pluck them from the sky, think and reach for my notebook, they take on weight and my breathing goes into full throttle.

This sums up my past year.

I have tasted 100s of wines, written countless tasting and pairing notes, but published only one story about wine, one about the psychology of baking. Why? Depending on the day and hour, the reason-list varies, but Reality suggests it’s because I haven’t given myself enough space to breathe. To sit. To feel. To embrace. Instead, I’ve spent too much time chasing the wind, leaving myself gasping for air. ChasingJen this is not.

Some of the wines tasted during Halloween party.

Some of the wines tasted during Halloween party.

This blog was born out of a need to write. A need to create time to listen: to myself, to the Universe, and to a menagerie of characters, characters which had disappeared from my periphery, no longer whispering their stories to me or diving onto the page and demanding to be heard, seen. And it was born out of a want to create the next generation of me.

I’ve been through many mutations — be it (wanna be) dancer, classical pianist, playwright, to name a few — but one morning as I sipped coffee and looked around my office, part library part bar, a letter led to a word which led to a thought, albeit initially strange on the tongue: I should write about wine … I think. And what started as a question led to a definite. I mean, I like wine, have been fortunate to drink some truly superb wine over the years, and as a writer we’re told to write what we know, and I just happened to know what I liked and didn’t (despite not necessarily knowing the why).

Thus is the creation myth of ChasingJen, which took its first steps in July 2011 at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia. Since that auspicious

Wine blogging tasting hosted by Christopher Watkins of Ridge Vineyards in Monte Bello

Wine blogging tasting hosted by Christopher Watkins of Ridge Vineyards in Monte Bello

beginning I have had the pleasure and honor of meeting with, conversing with, and sharing experiences with a most eclectic group of wine aficionados from around the world. But what began that July as a clear-cut idea has since been stood on its head, flipped upside down, and almost lost its balance while being turned around and around on an intellectual merry-go-round.

This is my essence: a never ending, albeit often exciting, journey of change and discovery. What will I experience tomorrow? Please subscribe to tag along and find out, but I warn you! you’ll need to buckle up as the road is sometimes bumpy.


Wine, Fried Chick Legs and Rain = Pure Comfort!

It seems almost all cultures have a fried chicken recipe, so pairing this displaced southern girl’s fried chicken with an Italian wine seems perfectly logical on a mid-winter day.

6 versions of chicken and 2009 Coenobium Bianco

The search for a wine that pairs nicely with fried chicken began in September of 2010, the ideal time of year here in San Francisco to serve fried chicken with the best of summer corn and tomatoes as our summer weather kicks in in late August and continues into October.  But before I could focus on wine profiles, I had to re-perfect my chick recipe.

Why re-perfect?  Because the month before a chef friend completely messed my world up by telling me Crisco (the go-to frying oil of every southern cook I know) was outdated and lard was a 1000% better option and when I tested my tried-and-true recipe in lard I felt like a fish out of water as my recipe fell flat; it had a gorgeous crust but it tasted greasier than I remembered.  What to do?  Go back to Crisco or experiment with other people’s versions of perfection as, after doing a fair amount of research (darn my friend!), I discovered that cooking with leaf lard from grass-fed pigs, such as that purchasable from Prather Ranch at Ferry Plaza here in San Francisco, is healthier than the everyday world would have you believe, is high in Omega 3s, is high in healthy fats, and is supposed to absorb less fat and create a juicier end-product. So what went wrong with my recipe?

My poor roommate.  I subjected him to about 8 taste tests as my once-a-year dinner was one month away and my ego was at stake — I mean, who doesn’t want a group to think honorific thoughts and hopefully ask for seconds and thirds? After trying buttermilk baths and soaks and a variety of herbal infusions and dredging methods (such as egg and milk dips then flour dredges) I settled on (and not too soon as I don’t think my roommate could’ve suffered any more tastings): zero egg/milk wash and just dredging in flour laced with poultry seasoning, garlic powder and hot paprika and cooking in my skillet with about 1/8th inch of oil.

September 2010 came and one of my friend’s brought an Italian wine which all seemed to enjoy. At that time I wasn’t blogging so I didn’t pay close attention to the name of the wine, what the label looked like, what the flavor profile was, etc. I did, however, remember that she purchased it at Biondivino, a wine shop on Green at Polk here in San Francisco specializing in Italian wines.

Skip to January 2012.  After making fried chicken for my hairdresser earlier in the week, and with rain on the way, I decided I wanted a weekend of comfort:  fire, martinis, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, and, of course, the perfect wine (perfection based on which wine shop visited); so while I was at a wine tasting at Biondivino I queried owner Ceri Smith who recommended I go with either a Coenobium Bianco or Coenobium Rusticum.  I chose the Coenobium Bianco 2009 from Lazio, Italy, which sells for $25, and set out to re-experiment (6 more times to be exact) with my fried chicken recipe as I had just read a review of the supposed “perfect” recipe in Bon Appetit, and while I was happy with my recently-derived recipe I wasn’t enthralled and I wanted to feel the word “wow” fill my belly as I partook of this once-in-a-great-while delicacy. I know. My ego occasionally takes me down undetermined paths.

I worked with variations of Bon Appetit’s recipe and my own and while I still haven’t reached perfection, I believe I’m close as I’m down to two future experimentations: Option 1 of applying the dry-rub spice suggested in Bon Appetit but dredging only in flour or Option 2 of applying the dry-rub spice suggested in Bon Appetit then dredging in flour gently flavored with poultry seasoning and savory (I’m planning on serving the winning recipe at my Q3 wine tasting party and will update this story then).

Enough about my ego and chicken! What happened to the wine? you may be wondering, and well you should.  It was delicious! and a friend who purchased the same wine and paired with store-bought fried chicken this week concurs.  So if you bare with me, below are my tasting notes based on the 6 chick experimentations (it’s always fascinating to experience subtle nuances based on sipping versus eating).

2009 Coenobium Bianco, Lazio, Italy

The Coenobium Bianco is 12.5% alcohol and is a blend of Grechetto (10%), Verdicchio (15%), Trebbiano (55%), and Malvasia (20%) grapes. It is gold in color and smells like apple juice. Pre-food sipping reveals a wine that is slightly acidic, mineral-based, light, airy, and yet there’s a richness that lingers on the tongue. While I can imagine this being the perfect wine for sipping on a warm summer (or San Francisco-based summer) day, due to its mineral richness it works in winter too and balances the heaviness of the dinner.

Pairing 1:
Chick – Bon Appetit (BA) recipe (basically). The dry rubs’ “redness” comes through a little louder than I would’ve liked and had a nice yet slightly greasy crust.
Wine – The apple flavor almost disappears and feels light on the palate while a soft muscat-like effect comes forward.

Pairing 2 (one of the winning versions):
Chick – BA dry rub dredged in plain flour. The flavors are a tad more complex but the redness mentioned in Pairing 1 didn’t overwhelm.
Wine – Again, the apple flavor lessens, the mineral aspects step forward, and overall feels delicate and soft.

Pairing 3:
Chick – BA dry rub dredged in buttermilk/egg mixture and flour flavored with poultry seasoning, savory, sea salt and tellicherry pepper. The hot flavors overwhelm and seem single-note while the crust is a tad greasy.
Wine – The apple essence surprises by moving into the forefront and quenching the heat.

Pairing 4 (one of the winning versions):
Chick – BA dry rub dredged in flour flavored with poultry seasoning, savory, sea salt and tellicherry pepper. The green of the additional spices, while creating a complex flavor profile, is a tad too green yet proves warm and satisfying which is why I want to try this again but next time lessen the amount of green spices used as I think there’s something interesting happening.
Wine – A slight apple profile is present but feels more effervescent, fresh, and thirst quenching.

Pairing 5:
Chick – Chicken dredged in buttermilk/egg mixture and flour flavored with poultry seasoning, savory, garlic powder, hot paprika, sea salt and tellicherry pepper. The overall flavor profile is simple, slightly too green, and a tad greasy (so far, if you haven’t noticed, when cooking in lard I find the buttermilk/egg mixtures creates a greasier result).
Wine – The apple flavor basically disappears, and is  so light that it felt almost watery. Honestly, it was too light for my liking.

Pairing 6 (my 2010 winning recipe plus the addition of savory):
Chick –  Chicken dredged in flour flavored with poultry seasoning, savory, garlic powder, hot paprika, sea salt and tellicherry pepper.  I like the overall flavors.  It is surprisingly slightly greasy yet the green of the savory and poultry seasoning is soft and “light.”
Wine – The apple flavor is gently present, yet the overall experience is warm and slightly rich.

Based on the price and flavor profile of this wine, I would definitely buy this wine again either for sipping by itself or pairing with another round of fried chicken experiments (how many can there logically be?).

Decadent breakfast in front of eco-friendly fire!

By the way, if you ever make fried chicken, it is worth spending a few extra minutes making gravy, especially for the morning-after breakfast of sausage-crumble gravy and biscuits.  DELISH.

Give a gift to yourself and someone else


The other day while shopping for replacement liquor-cabinet bottles for holiday entertaining I stumbled, quite literally, upon Belvedere “Red” Vodka.  Besides being a

The perfect holiday gift

festive-looking bottle and containing a delicious vodka concoction, the makers of Belvedere “Red” are giving 50% of the profits to the Global Fund to eliminate AIDS in Africa.  What an easy way to help yourself and others in need without spending extra.  Run to your favorite liquor-buying store now! before they are sold out.

Hop-Scotch and Sugar Cookies

Life is like hop-scotch and sugar cookies; so I wrote the other day while talking to a friend and how I often use the game of hop-scotch to describe changes in people and relationships and moments and aspects as one moves from one square to another, and my friend had just made sugar cookies, something he does when he’s stressed or depressed, something I used to do as well.  My roommates back in the day benefitted from homemade pies and breads and cookies and such at least several times a month when I was struggling with a school paper or a personal issue — the gluten in flour got a much needed punch in the face as I physically worked out my aggressions on bread or pie dough — and afterwards clarity entered my body and I finally moved forward.

As I write this a light is going off:  our first step toward resolving the various violences of the day should be, instead of intellectualism and psychotherapy, with dough-pounding baking!

I can hear people now aghast at this idea, concerned that the “need to punch something” is atrocious.  Perhaps wanting to hit something is an animalistic leftover, but we humans need releases and sadly, all too often, we take our angst out on those around us or, worse yet, ourselves (the psychological community has documented numerous ways in which we hurt and sabotage ourselves as being honest is often too painful, requires us to give up crutches, to walk away from situations and people we think we can’t live without).

So I say:  load up on yeast and flour and eggs and grass-fed leaf lard and create your golem for the day.  Take that slab of dough, lift it high above your head, and slam it down onto a countertop again and again and again.  Feel the release spread from your arms down to your hands and out your fingertips to the sticky, stretchy dough as it joins forces with you, becoming duplicitous in its abuse as its very survival depends on it.  The more you slam its masochistic-wanton body onto the smooth, hard surface, the more it turns into a product you will salivate over once done cooking and a smile is returned to your face.

How great it is that nature has given us this product, this product that not only wants to be punched but needs to be in order to be 100% realized.

So much to share, so little time …

i’m on vacation until about mid-August, so posts are more than a bit behind.  When I land home-side, will share stories of my many adventures.  A short list of hi-lites include:  three days of tasting wine and enjoying the food and people of Virginia; visiting my Aunt Donna (and her husband Joe) in West Jefferson, NC (took her wine tasting, can’t wait to post her pic online and our tasting notes); enjoying REAL banana pudding (my grandmother’s recipe); visiting Asheville, NC (mingled with a few locals and thoroughly enjoyed the food and beer and art scene); and now in Athens, GA. Next stops, LaFayette, GA and Brooklyn, New York.  Please stay tuned …