Busy Days and Gorgeous Views of the Bay

8.38pm, Wednesday, 24 February, Pleasanton, CA, USA
Just made toast and Vegemite for dinner after getting home from working the East Bay area with Aaron, our HWG man on the ground in Berkeley/Piedmont, North Oakland. Had a great day in the trade, the weather co operated, and we ended up doing a staff training and trade tasting at a spot called Skates on the Bay, where I had a perfectly sunny clear view of – left to right – the Oakland Docks, The Bay Bridge, The city with its Pyramid and Coit Tower landmarks, and across to the Golden Gate Bridge. Lovely.

And yet, yesterday was the total opposite. I’d made the decision Monday night to catch the BART train into the city to avoid another traffic battle each way – what an inspired choice. I found out early Tuesday morning that someone had crashed into the powerlines and they’d dropped across the freeway near where I would have been getting on, and the rainy old morning turned into a drenched day. So I parked Jimmy the jeep in space 2889, paid the $1 a day to park, and headed into town – read the paper cover to cover, and met up with Deena my first “work with” for the trip – very civilised.

Then we really covered some ground! In the wet!

I’m just going to list where went, and if something tickles your fancy – check it out on the google machine. Our job is to try and get extra placements at restaurants and retail stores that are still ticking along, and to also make friends on the street and in the wine biz for Yalumba – changing perceptions of what the “Australian wine category” is along the way if we can – and that’s what we did! A:

  • Mexico DF – going back to try some of the home style cuisine
  • Bushi Te – food is worth tracking the place down, but it’s the bathrooms with the heated seat toilets and ‘console controls’ that also have to be seen to be believed!
  • E & O Trading Co – thanks Karen for letting us present 12 wines and a host of tasting plates for some discerning palates
  • Restaurant Lulu – we’ve had something on the list here for ages, thanks Joe, and worth visiting just to see what the daily special from the wood fire roasting rotisserie is
  • Coi – very hot, small – 9 tables – similar to Tetsuya’s in Sydney
  • The Plant Cafe – where we finished with a staff training.

The Plant have our Organic Viognier on the list, so we covered that, plus whatever we had left in the bag for the day. We had a great turnout, and showed the team of 12 all sorts of things – and added a couple to their list – purely on the taste paired up with Plant’s desserts! And they make great (not just good) coffee mocha.

We sat out on the enclosed patio afterwards and watched the Bay get whipped up by a nasty squall before braving it and heading across town to dinner with some wine biz folks at a new place near The Mission called Tuba. It’s all authentic Turkish food, and I can see maybe our Bush Vine Grenache being shown here, once they get their licence. Then it was onto the BART train home – without any grief. “Work with” #1 – tick that box, and thanks Deena – rookie of the road no more.

Back to today, and it was into a part of the Bay Area I’d never been to – Berkeley, Piedmont, North Oakland. Nice neighbourhoods, and a lot of the places look like those old bungalow houses from the older parts of Beverly Hills in LA. Aaron has been with HWG just on a year, and is a bit of a dynamo – and also throws the car round like he wants to be a taxi driver when he grows up. We did some interesting things today that will build on some solid ground in this area, and a couple of things that might just get spooky (good!).

We also covered some ground:

  • Star Grocery – thanks Nick & Adrian – lovely old neon sign
  • Piedmont Market – lovely blokes – sharp palates
  • University of California Faculty Club – just a bit older than our Clocktower building, and their men’s basketball team is poised to do great things, so much excitement on campus
  • Farmer Joe’s – home of Y Series
  • Ninna – thanks gals – had us in various forms by the glass for ages, right now it’s the Y Viognier by the glass with Thai Mediterranean fusion
  • Vino – lovely blokes, delightful conversation
  • Skates on the Bay – we’ve got Wild Ferment Chardonnay going on by the glass.

Whew!And we had time to stop at Katrina Rozelle, specialist cakemaker in the neighbourhood, for a slice of her Lemon Chiffon – alternate layers of lemon mousse so lemony it made me squint and fluffy sponge – I will be back! Thanks a huge amount Aaron as well, and we’ll see you both at the big Taste the World of the HWG in three weeks time at least.

I’ve been on Google maps tonight, and planned out the next two days – Pleasanton to Oakdale for tomorrow’s job, then on to Fresno tomorrow night for Friday’s job. So it’s pack the stuff we need, early night, roadtrip tomorrow. See ya.

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