Posted by: Travis | March 1, 2009

Weekend Update

Rachel made fun of my last entry because while i didn’t really spend much time on bike racing, i spent much more time than i should have on bike riding. So here, i will try and keeping all things cycling to a minimum.

Friday night we stayed in for dinner because, hey, we’re in a recession here. Actually we had tons of left overs and decided that there was no foodie doctrine dictating that every friday and saturday dinner must be eaten at a restaurant. I made some delicious enchiladas on thursday night that we only ate about half of. It was my first time doing a chicken enchilada filling and i totally winged it, but it came out okay. I started with some chicken breast and gave it a nice rub in seasoned salt (in this case, Lowry’s). I then threw it into a pan to get a decent char on it, then deglazed the pan with about 4 cups chicken stock. I added some chili powder until it looked and smelled right, and then let it reduce on medium heat until it was just chicken sitting in a nice thick sauce. I too the chicken out and shredded it, then put it back in the pan to soak up all those juices. The chicken then went into corn tortillas and got covered with some white chocolate tomatillo sauce that Rachel got me a few months ago from Hudson’s on the Bend. Grate some jack cheese and throw in the oven for 20 minutes, heat up some beans on the stove, and you have yourself a delicious meal.

Saturday, i got up early and went on my cycling team’s saturday training ride. It was much better than last week, i was able to hang the whole time, and didn’t totally feel like crap at the end. Good to know that last week was just a bad day. Total mileage for the day: 58 miles. Pretty awesome, i can deal with that. If i can continue to get that many miles in on non-racing weekends, i should be able to lose some more weight, and have decent endurance for when crit season transitions into road racing season.

That’s the lone paragraph for cycling in this entry, i promise.

After i got back we just kind of hung out, filed taxes, cleaned up, listened to music, watched college basketball, and Rachel did some gardening after going to pick up some new plants. We got a $10 gift card in the mail from Buca di Beppo (it seems like they send us one of those every month), so we went there for dinner and did our usual thing of ordering 2 or 3 times as much food as we could possibly eat, hardly make a dent in it, then get it packed up and eat it as left overs over the next few days. When we got back we watched the Coen Bros film Burn After Reading. I thought the premise could have made a pretty funny movie, but i just wasn’t impressed. At all. I find myself really glad that those five or six times that it came up when we were going to see a movie in the theatre, we opted for something else.

This morning (Sunday) we slept in. I made it to 9:30, which is unheard of for me. We were planning on going to a mellow bike ride together, but from the bed you could hear the rain going, so obviously a ride was out of the question. After picking up some bagles, we got started on our grocery shopping. In the last 6 months we’ve been doing more and more shopping at Trader Joe’s and less and less at Safeway. We find Trader Joe’s products to be of much higher quality than Safeway, and usually at a significantly lower price. I don’t like to buy meat there, and i’m not a fan of how they pre-package their produce, but i usually buy that stuff at Whole Foods anyway, and if that’s what they have to do to achieve the super low prices, then so be it. So this week, Rachel and I decided that almost everything we buy at Safeway, we can buy at Trader Joes, and those few things that we can’t, we can get at Whole Foods. So as of today, Sunday March 1, 2009, Safeway is officially dead to us.

We started our shopping at a soggy and not very well attended farmer’s market, then moved things over to Trader Joe’s, and finished up the shopping at Whole Foods. This week we’ll be experimenting, among other things with Trader Joe’s milk, greek yogurt, tart frozen yogurt (i’m really excited about this stuff), and Whole Foods’ lunch meat. The sliced turkey at Whole Foods is significantly more expensive than Safeway ($12.99/lb vs. $9.99/lb), which was already super expensive compared to prices i remember in Texas. But considering we go through a half pound a week, i’m happy to the extra few bucks a week to eat a product that not only tastes a hell of a lot better, but is likely much better for me. For our boring lives, this is pretty exciting.

After that, it was back to the apartment for ‘clean out the fridge before all this stuff goes bad’ lunches of grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches and sweet potato chips. After a few more hours of cleaning up and taking care of all that stuff we’ve been meaning to do for weeks while listening to music, we went wine shopping.

Go buy this book NOW!

Go buy this book NOW!

I had been thinking about buying Robin Goldstein’s book The Wine Trials for months but never pulled the trigger. A few weeks ago i needed to add a few bucks to my amazon.com order to get free shipping and decided, what the hell. Its written by the same guys that do the fearless critics book known for their straight forward and honest reviews and highly respected by people whose opinions i value a great deal. The premise of the book is a blind taste test where cheaper wines (under $15) went up against wines in the $50-$150 range, and some of them won. In fact, when done totally blind, they found that people tend to prefer moderately priced wines to super expensive wines. The book is laid out really well and is my new gold standard reference book on inexpensive wine. Since i like wine, but hate to spend tons of money on it, and could care less what all the cool people are drinking, it works out beautifully.

Since i got the book, i’ve picked up 2 or 3 bottles listed and they’ve all been great. The last of which, Morro Bay Chardonnay, was fantastic. Rarely do i find a $10 chardonnay that i really like. It seems like cheap red wines have something to hide behind, so that even the cheap ones are at least drinkable. But white wines, especially chardonnays feel like a different game all together. The bad ones can be really, really awful. So today i finally decided to look through the book and make a list, then head to BevMo and pick up what he could. Here’s what we got:

  • 2007 Mark West Pinot Noir (California), $10
  • 2005 Campo Viejo Rioja Crianza (Spain), $7
  • 2007 Alice White Chardonnay (Australia), $8
  • 2006 Avalon Napa Cabernet (Napa, CA), $12
  • 2007 Cave de Lungy Macon-Villages (France), $12
  • 2005 Osborne Solaz (Spain), $9

Total cost for trip to BevMo for 6 supposedly awesome bottle of wine from around the world: $62. That, my friends, is beautiful.

Rachel’s working on some lemon scones right now, and boy to they smell good.

Tonight we’re eating left overs from Buca, then going to church, maybe watching a movie afterward. Then tomorrow it’s back to work. It’s great to have these weekends every once in a while though, where you just relax and take care of the stuff you’ve been meaning to do for weeks or months and just never got around to. For expample, i finally reorganized the CD case that i keep in my car. Since it’s full, new music that i buy ends up hangout out in the car in the jewel case wherever i can find a spot for it (in the door pocket, the pockets behind the seats, center storage thing, even under the passenger seat). After i pulled everything out, i had almost 200 cds in my car. Now it’s back down to a much leaner 100 that isn’t clogged up with stuff that i don’t listen to very much. Anyway, it was a good weekend. The rain forced us to do a lot of things that otherwise wouldn’t have gotten done. No pictures or exciting stories, but sometimes you need to take a weekend to regroup.

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Responses

  1. […] finally, a shout out to Travis D. about his post on cheap wines.  I want the book (The Wine Trials) he writes about and I want to try all of the wines he […]

  2. Hi Travis,
    First I want to say that your Yelp reviews are great! I’m thinking your church reviews might be particularly helpful for a transplanted Southern man who’s a good friend of mine. He’s a student at a good (but expensive 😦 ) local university and has been looking for a church to attend on the peninsula. He grew up in the South, was home-schooled by very religious and conservative Christian parents, and attended public high school. He’s African-American, Cherokee and Seminole. Once in college he realized he’s gay/bi, and while his Christian faith is as strong as it ever was, he also saw his political/social views diverging from his parents. LOL, let’s just say he just says “mm hm, mm hm” when his Dad called and harangued my friend about who to vote for in November, and told my friend who’s living in accordance with God’s word and who isn’t. He tries to avoid arguing with his Dad and is careful to show him respect, but my friend thinks to himself: well I’m just going to agree that we disagree, Dad. 🙂 My friend says he’s going to wait a while (if ever) before he comes out to his folks and former congregation back home because he knows they’d freak out. But nonetheless his faith and the deep insight and serenity he found in Biblical readings are so special to him that he hasn’t given up looking for a church that might accept him, where he wouldn’t have to leave part of himself out in the parking lot. So he’s looking for a local Christian Church. He’s not picky about denomination although he’s used to Protestant services more than Catholic ones. So is Menlo Park Presbyterian Church pretty much still your top pick for a tolerant (truly Christian) place in this area, or have you found a place since that review that you like better?

    • MPPC is still my go to church in the area. Though Rachel and i have been going to the Sunday morning services less in favor of the ‘Sanctuary’ services on Sunday evening geared more toward college students and 20 and 30 somethings. I don’t strongly prefer one format over the other, in fact i really like the guy that preaches on Sunday mornings, but the sunday evening time slot works better for us because bike races are usually held on Sunday mornings.

  3. p.s. After reading your “things I miss” section, as a native born Californian I want to say I very strongly agree with you about Southern hospitality. My Southern friends and even more, Southern people I happen to just meet on the street, are very often so hospitable and friendly. I also like how the men can be very courtly to women and the elderly, saying “yes ma’am,” “yes, sir,” and being very respectful and attentive. I consider myself a modern woman and a feminist in some ways, but I think courtliness or chivalry is a lovely thing. BTW, I’ve told my many Texas friends (most are Tex Mex) that as far as I’m concerned, any state that produced the great humorists and characters and food and musicians that make life worth living, esp. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Holly, Flaco Jimenez…ROCKS in my book!

  4. […] when we got home. The rest of the night was spent hanging out, drinking some of our delicious $10 wine, and wishing the weekend wasn’t coming to a close. We’ll have to get back to Chicago […]


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