(Hey, please forgive our messy house in these photos--I mean, who should we be cleaning for?)
You miss your friends. We miss our friends. Heck, we even miss the people who aren't friends but just the regulars in your life, the woman who knows how many salsa cups to give you at El Zarape, the guy who never forgets that you work at UCSB, so you get that teacher-student-staff discount at Lazy Acres on Thursdays even without flashing your employee ID.* We miss 'em all.
But our friends the most, so like many of you we're doing Zoom happy hours. It's not perfect, but the faces and laughter are still the same. And now we can't even cross talk, so that focus on a single discussion is intriguing too.
I imagine many people who bother to read something called George Eats come more for word two than word one, which is why I like you all. And sure enough, that one circle of friends I'm writing about now, we're very food and drink centered--some of them even make their own very delicious garage wine. So we wanted to figure out how to share more senses than sight and sound for our Happy Hours.
To do that, Chryss and I opted to go first in this group of four couples (including us). I ordered with trusty Bob Wesley at Meritage--hooray he's got a spot to sell wine again! in the same spot as the last spot, too, if you haven't been. He had the bad fortune to open the weekend of March 7, which we might as well think of as Coronavirus Eve. Not great timing. But he's still open, and if you order and let him know you're on the way, he'll dash to the curb with your purchase. Lots of 15-minute green curb parking there on Anapamu that's not getting used with few reasons to wander downtown anymore. Easy peasy.
We got four bottles of Chapoutier 2017 Bila Haut Cotes de Roussillon, a steal at 14 bucks per. A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan, it has surprising depth for the price, with dark blackberry fruit. As Jeb Dunnuck put it, "It's seamless, elegant, and balanced, with both acidity and richness. Put this in a blind lineup of Northern Rhônes and shock your friends." The lineup wasn't blind (we made sure each house knew we'd be leaving a bottle at their doorstep, which we did wearing gloves), but everyone was thoroughly pleased, and drinking the same thing.
They wound up choosing Oma, so the hills were alive with the taste of slightly stinky soft cow cheese. It comes from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont, and is owned by the Von Trapps. Yep, there are real ones who made it all the way across the Alps to New England. Rumor has it they were chased by Julie Andrews. They make one yummy cheese, though, one you can ruminate over, with its tart rind and creamy center.
Happy Hour, even distanced, just got a lot more delicious.
(Note: both Meritage and C'est Cheese even deliver locally, if you order enough, etc. Call Meritage [(805) 845-0777] or check out C'est Cheese's website.)
*And yes, both El Zarape and Lazy Acres are still open, but we're doing our best to isolate, so have only been once to each in the past 4 weeks.