Talking Baseball and Wine in San Diego

9.39am, Saturday 10th April, Powell Street, San Francisco, CA, USA
What a luxury to sleep in and watch telly in bed this morning – and the karma keeps coming. On telly is the 2009 World Series Movie – a documentary on last year’s baseball post season, where my blokes the Yankees (love ’em or hate ’em – they’re mine) went all the way and won pennant number 27. So I’m loving the whole thing and only left the room to dive downstairs, check in online for tomorrow morning’s flight to Chicago – and I won’t be shifting till the show’s over.

So I’ll catch up the blog while reliving last year.s magic finish. Then as luck would have it, today is the Cesar Chavez (Latino labor and civil rights leader) parade and festival down in The Mission District, where I was heading for lunch anyway. I started this job with a meal at Pancho Villa taqueria on 16th Street, and I’ll finish it the same way, then wander down to 24th street for the festival. Then maybe over to Kara’s Cupcakes for dessert, just to make sure they’re still up there tied for the number one spot in the country with Billy’s Bakery in Manhattan. They always do a seasonal special cake, and seeing as spring has just sprung it’s worth the trip! And Bin 38 is just across the street, and I haven’t caught up with them yet – so good way to kill two birds with one stone.

So – back to San Diego for day 2 of 2 in Southern Cal:

Wednesday 7th April – La Jolla – with Mark “the sales machine” Deegan
This part of San Diego is an interesting spot. We started at independent wine store, deli and market Wine Time, and the crossroad that Kah’s place sits on is the fourth corner with Ferrari, Maserati and Lotus dealerships more or less on the other three – the whole thing being about half a mile from the beach! So that tells its own story.

The neat thing about these local stores is that they are such staunch supporters. There are always at least two Yalumba wines on the shelf at any one time at Wine Time, and so it was a good idea to start our day here, and to open a bottle of our best Old Vine Barossa Shiraz – The Octavius – for our trade work on this our last day working in Southern Cal. Kah definitely enjoyed it, and we left him with a glass of the 04 Signature and 04 Shiraz to sip at lunch time.

Then we headed out to Vintage Wines, in a part of town near another military base where the “top gun” planes whiz through the sky. Very boring for the locals, but I jump every time they blast by. This independent store has an active wine club and small wine bar, and owner John – even though he’s American – is a big Australian Rules fan and follows a team called Essendon (black jersey, red stripe – The Bombers) whilst I am a paid up member of St Kilda (white jersey with black and red stripes – called The Saints). So we had a spirited discussion on the two teams’ fortunes for this year whilst tasting through the wines for the day. We’ve had wines on here for some time, and it looks like the Scribbler and Bush Vine Grenache will get a run as well. The day kept going well, and we left Jonny with a glass of Octavius as well.

Now this is Asian fusion

Back to the crossroads at La Jolla and lunch at Asian fusion specialists Roppongi. They’ve been pouring our 2008 Y Viognier by the glass here for just on a year. Having seen the food here now, I understand why it goes so well. They also had a magic eggplant dish – miso glazed eggplant with a seaweed and cucumber salad – but this isn’t the one I’ve chosen to put in on the day. I took a pic of the Mongolian shredded duck quesadilla with spicy Asian guacamole because this is truly Asian fusion. It’s like a Mexicanisation of Peking Duck! The sweet dark sticky soy topped it, and the quesadilla was a winner with both the Bush Vine Grenache and the 2008 Y Shiraz Viognier. We tasted through with Kasey the restaurant manager, and she was telling us that there are folks who come in once or twice a week for that duck quesadilla – and I can see why.

That was it for me working with Mark, as I had to get back to the city to meet with the gals and the buyer for Roy’s Restaurants – so Mark took the rest of the wine and headed off to win more hearts and palates while I hooked up the trusty GPS and found Roy’s downtown on the waterfront in The Marriott Hotel.

So thanks Mark for a lovely half day out – he has some interesting stuff going on – told me about a spot where we have the Bush Vine Grenache by the glass with all the lamb they have on the menu. It’s an Afghani place called Chopahn – which apparently means “shepherd”. There’s somewhere already on my list for the next trip.

It's a tough job ...

And what a totally gorgeous day – this is the stuff The Beach Boys wrote songs about. I followed directions – through the bar, down the stairs, and around the pool to find the gals – Holly and Di – and our meeting spot at the bar inside Roys. I put this pic in so you can see exactly some of the spots I have to work. This one has a great view of the pool. And I made sure that I sat in the right spot at the bar to make the most of that view. We got under way with the meeting and tasting, and I soon found a kindred sports fan in the buyer, a diehard San Diego Padres man. They are overdue for a really good season, and I was telling him about seeing the Trevor Hoffmann-signed baseball and bat in the case on the wall at The Pipes cafe the day before. We quickly found that common ground that only real fans know – and he didn’t even give much of a hard time for being a Yanks fan – so I got off lightly.

We tasted through from the Oxford Landing GSM (Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre) to The Scribbler Cabernet Shiraz, and with any luck, we may see one of them make the list down the track. It’s a very smart address to be at across the country – as Roy’s does great steak and seafood – full stop.

No matter which way it goes, I’m putting the Padres in as my outsider chance NL team for the 2010 World Series and will catch up when I’m next in town. I like San Diego and have never really had a look around, so it will be a good time to come. Thanks a huge amount for everything Holly – again!

Travelling upstairs

Jumped on a plane and headed north – and this is what I look like a lot of the time as I’m travelling upstairs across the country. This is pretty low as the planes come in to San Diego airport over the top of the Dollar rental station – this is when I returned Big White my XLT Ford Escape. I’ll miss that bus!

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