ALESSIA'S GRANDPARENTS ARRIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO
With grand-daughter Alessia already here in California,
Luciano and Mariuccia took "the scenic route" from Piemonte to San
They came from Milano to Newark, got stuck in some heavy weather on the east
coast and finally their plane took off for San Francisco.
What should have been a 6:50 pm arrival was much-delayed.
Yikes! 12:16 in the morning and they had not had dinner.
Though they had been traveling for more than 24 hours, they did not appear to be
too worse for wear.
We picked up their luggage and made our way to Burlingame for
a quick bite...
Dungeness Crab, California Avocados, Romaine Lettuce, Cucumbers, Cherry
Tomatoes...a nice, cool salad.
We then enjoyed a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream topped with Raspberries and
Thumbs Up from Stefano!
Mariuccia enjoyed this, too.
Meanwhile, in her sleep, Barbara Sandrone was saying "Mama Mia, Guarda che
A short while later, we got them to their hotel here in Burlingame and they had
a quick night's sleep to recharge their batteries before we got in the car for a
visit to the wine school at the University of California at Davis.
We drove to the town of Davis, California having arranged a visit at the wine
school at the University of California at Davis.
Luciano Sandrone with a Davis-brewed beer.
We ordered some Fried Calamari and some Chips & Salsa...
...and some salad.
And everyone had an American Hamburger.
We finished our lunch al fresco and motored over to the University...
Stefano, Luciano, Alessia and Mariuccia at UC Davis.
We were shown around by Dr. Karen Block of the UC Davis Department of
Viticulture & Enology.
Robert Mondavi provided a large grant to build a facility at Davis to further
the advancement of winemaking in California (and beyond).
We had a nice look around the place.
Dr. Anita Oberholster showed us some new technology for pump-overs and such.
T.J. Rodgers of Cypress Semiconductor has been a major benefactor for the
He came up with a system of an internet-based, wireless system to monitor each
tank of wine with respect to its temperature and the amount of sugar remaining
in the juice as the fermentation takes place.
We then had a look in a room full of interesting bottles of wine which had been
donated to the school.
1970 ZD Pinot Noirs!
Luciano, I suspect, now has a few new ideas he's thinking about after seeing the
winery and its technology.
We got back in the car and headed south.
Of course, we had to stop at the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield!
America's "acting President," Ronald Reagan with the Sandrone
They were impressed when they noticed the clocks on the wall...
Wow! Clocks showing the time all over the world where Jelly Belly candies
A la prossima volta!
We drove south to Oakland for a stop on our way to dinner with the Sicard
Here we picked up some familiar-looking comestibles which are
made locally, not in Italia!
Mariuccia was a bit shocked to see some things she routinely
purchases at home.
Needing to have our batteries recharged, we stopped out front
for a jolt of java.
We picked up some additional "Piemontese-styled" supplies which are
made locally, Grissini!
Some things, however, cannot be duplicated.
Luciano spied a familiar-looking box as we were walking by
Paul Marcus Wines...
We made our way south to Santa Clara so Grandma and Grandpa could meet Alessia's
And Aviva and Pierre were at the front door to greet everyone.
Alessia's new amica Clementine.
Luciano is a big fan of sparkling wines. I mentioned a few favorite
Champagnes and he did not know those of Lancelot-Pienne, so we chilled a bottle
of the Blanc de Blanc from Cramant and this was exceptional.
Aviva put together the various "antipasti" we
acquired while at Rockridge in Oakland...
A Corn Salad...Dolmas...Artichokes...Fra Mani Mortadella and Toscano Salame...
There were some packages brought from Piemonte and these were quickly unwrapped.
Luciano did not know the wines of Neudorf until this evening...it's a winery
started just about the same time as he launched his cantina in Barolo.
The Chardonnay certainly surprised him by its complexity, balance and character.
"I didn't know they could cook in California." said Mariuccia.
Lamb. Roasted Taters. Roasted Veggies.
After a lovely bottle of Neudorf's Moutere Pinot Noir, we
opened a Sandrone 2006 Valmaggiore Nebbiolo.
Pierre immediately offered an empty glass so he could have a sip of Luciano's
A while later he was so disappointed we didn't have a second bottle of
..."Really? No more Nebbiolo?!?!? Huh...well, I'm not drinking
ANYTHING ELSE." said Pierre.
Stefano said he, too, likes the Valmaggiore Nebbiolo, but would gladly drink a
Alessia and Clementine than got busy making Chocolate Chip
Luciano mentioned he made Barolo wines which often needed a
somewhat lengthy time period "to sleep."
"Funny you should mention it...I'm ready to hit the sack myself." said
It wasn't long before Betty Crocker had baked her cookies.
I noticed an interesting "wish list" posted on the
There was also a snapshot of Clementine taken perhaps a year
Man! That little kid has grown up quickly!!!
Alessia was reading aloud from the latest Robert Parker newsletter, boring poor
Mariuccia to tears.
Luciano, meanwhile, enjoyed hearing things like "95 points" and
"93 points" and "tasted 18 times, more than you'll ever get to
taste this hundred buck Cabernet, you poor bastard, with consistent
Then, all of a sudden, Alessia started singing some Madonna tunes.
Everyone gave her some money to stop.
Pierre said "Alright! Twenty five bucks will buy another bottle of
Sandrone Dolcetto! Give me five!"
Soon everyone was highfiving at the idea of another bottle of
Mariuccia, meanwhile, was thinking "Porca miseria, devo andare al letto."
I think we found another bottle of Sandrone.
Alessia jumped up and said "Grandpa, I speak good American." And
then she started singing "Take Me Out to The Ballgame," a tuned she
learned just a few nights earlier as she watched the Giants beat Houston.
"What the hell are Crackerjacks?" asked Luciano.
Once he heard the description of Crackerjacks, Stefano said he would like to try
There's a surprise in every box?
Soon they fired up a laptop computer and called Mama Barbara
Sandrone on SKYPE.
Soon Barbara was joining the party!
And so, with that, we said our good-byes.
Stefano and Alessia were invited to go boating on Saturday, so Mariuccia and and
Luciano and I motored up the Bayshore Freeway to their hotel in Burlingame...
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