Saturday, March 31, 2007

Notes from the Pantry: Cheese and Bees

Hold this up to your mirror for a secret message!

The last 48 hours have been decadence.


5:30pm met with Christina, Aaron, and Bryn

5:35-7:00pm debated dinner locales

7:00pm called Osteria for reservation

7:02pm learned earliest reservation for four is 8:30

7:04pm walked to Whole Foods for "pre-mealing" bread, wine (PeachyCanyon Zinfindel 2005), and cheese (D'Affinois brie, and a salty truffled Italian soft cheese I adore).

8:30pm Osteria. Bryn and Aaron's gnocci were perfectly textured, although the marinara sauce lacked something. Christina's salmon was delicious, as was my spinach-ricotta ravioli. Osteria is my choice Italian restaurant in Palo Alto; I admit their dishes never leave me enchanted, but food quality is reliably solid.


7:00am alarm goes off

7:01am hit alarm

7:09am hit alarm

7:18am hit alarm

7:27am get up, make espresso

8:30am Caltrain to SF

9:20am SF to Point Reyes

11:00am Cowgirl Creamery cheese tour! Learned about the history of the creamery, their basic methods and philosophies, and nibbled on delicious, delicious dairy products. Like an alcoholic in a bar, I was powerless against the lure of their cheese shop. For the next seven days, I eat only dairy.

1:00pm Picnic: fresh baguette, fresh chevre, fresh Cowgirl Creamery St. Pat, organic local strawberries, dates, organic carrots, organic local apples (note: Enophiles describe wine as having a flavor trajectory, each sip imparting layers of tastes for the palate to unpack. These apples had layers. Without hyperbole, these were the most amazing apples I have ever eaten. Will described them as tasting like "fall in Massachusetts.")

1:30-3:00pm post-picnic snooze in the grass

3:30pm-7:00pm Point Reyes hike, wherein we see an amazing view of the ocean, forest, and rolling hills, and where Eva and I discover a herd of fauns led by two white adult deer. Life is beautiful!

7:30pm-9:00pm commute south for rest and disgestion

Food, beauty, and a soft bed. Could life be better?

Oh, right, the bees.

I have a quirky obsession with bees-- communal insects facinate me. I am also terrified of bee swarms, but that's another issue. Anyway, I had attended a beekeeping class in Gilroy last year and remain on their mailing list, which has recently been "abuzz" about Spontaneous Colony Collapse. Beekeepers open up once flourishing hives to find no one is home, with a few disoriented, dying bees scattered nearby. No one seems clear on what is happening -- the dying bees seem to have several common bee viruses and fungal infections, not one particular plague, as if their entire immune system has been compromised. Their sense of direction, a hallmark within the insect world, appears lost. This is happening worldwide. If you care about bees, this is one yikes, but if you care about food and know bees do most of the pollenating for our produce industry, your yikes gets much bigger.

I witnessed a glut of peculiar bees on a walk last week -- a third had died and were in a pile, and a third clustered around the pile, milling about confused and aimless. The last third wandered around in circles within a few feet of the heap. The bees could fly -- which I discovered after prodding one. But they just didn't want to, or didn't know where to go, or something. I had noticed a similar phenomena this fall with a couple confused individual bees -- this was before SCC was all over the news -- and I just assumed that this is how bees behaved when they were ready to die.

Insecticides? Global warming? The Apocalypse? All I know is, I like my honey, I like my produce, and I hope this gets sorted out soon.

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