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Field Notes Issue 18

by Joey Wolosz | Published June 22, 2022

June 2022

It’s June, the month of celebrations: graduation, Father’s Day, birthdays (mine), Juneteenth, and Pride. There is plenty to celebrate.

We are throwing a little celebration for an article that just came out in Wine Spectator by MaryAnn Worobiec.

Instead of doing the interviewing, this time it was Jeff and me who were interviewed. We met with MaryAnn months ago and our time together was a real wine barrel of laughs, chatting about the Castro, getting certified, a welcoming culture, and of course, vino. Give it a read.

June is the month we donate 10% of our online sales to the It Gets Better Project and its mission to uplift, empower, and connect LGBTQ+ around the world. There is still time to stock some summer wines while joining me in support of the youth.

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Gepetto, My Alter Ego

Jiminy Cricket! I had to pull a few strings to finally get my puppet, mainly in persuading Jeff. I ordered this little guy months ago, custom made in Prague, hand-carved from linden wood.

With most of my more serious studies out of the way I find myself with a little time to pursue my latest indulgence and an almost forgotten family tradition – puppeteering. Not necessarily a new hobby, even if I haven’t visited it for 50 years, puppets were common company in my childhood.

My mother was a puppeteer-of-sorts, having learned to make lead-weighted puppets in Germany in the 1950s. She created the entire cast of Snow White, my dad built the stage with props, and the debut performance was at Peter Pan Nursery School on Halloween in 1971. My four-year-old self was sat in the front row in a handsewn Tigger costume my mother somehow had the spare time to create.

I’m continuing the lineage. My new friend only has strings to move his arms and legs and with a little maneuver of the control, I can get his head to turn. I need to add some strings to get more complex movements and am looking into puppet stringing, a rabbit hole of a Google search, trust me.

You can bet he will make appearances at The Bungalow when we open. On stage, you can call me Gepetto.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Ahh, the Bungalow, that long-term project that has been making an appearance in Field Notes for 18 months now. In May we started some light demolition on The Bungalow in anticipation of our permit to begin construction from the City of Napa. There is now some delay in issuing permits of which I am still a little unclear. Progress has turned frustratingly slow. I hope to turn a corner any day now and get to building out our social space, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Our time in Los Angeles was filled with puppets, poolsides, and the possibilities of real magic. Possibly the influence of poltergeists or the spirits of magicians past; nonetheless, inspiration struck when we completed our tour of The Magic Castle with Alfonso.

I have officially taken up the mantel and engaged a proper instructor. Alfonso is a magic consultant for movie sets, a Magician Member of the Magic Castle, and my personal professor of prestidigitation. With an hour-long Zoom meeting every two weeks, he is taking me through the effects and showmanship of up-close magic. We are working on a ten-minute performance piece. Soon, the razzle dazzle will be real, at least from the perspective of the audience. Prepare to be amazed!

Foggy Bottoms Dads

These are two young men, doing good things, that I think you should know. I was first introduced to these fine gentlemen farmers through our boutique motel in Humboldt County, The Redwood Riverwalk. They joined us for a 420 event this past April (on the 20th) where we showcased local LGBTQ+ businesses in the area.

Thomas and Cody Nicholson Stratton, known as the Foggy Bottoms Boys, tend to their sixth-generation family farm in the Foggy Bottoms of the Eel River Valley of the North Coast of California with the help of their young son, Tiny Farmer.

In 2014 the boys returned to Cody’s family’s organic Jersey dairy farm in Ferndale. The dairy farm is certified humane, non-GMO, organic, and has been in operation since 1860. The cows enjoy 365 days a year on lush, green fields under the fog cover of the wet Humboldt weather.

Looking to diversify and promote sustainability for future generations, they expanded the farm to include rabbits, chickens, sheep, goats, and grass-fed beef. They sell milk to Rumiano Cheese Company, the oldest family-owned creamery in California. Their egg cartons are hard to miss in the local grocery with their signature Pride flag sticker front and center.

Not only are they producing satisfying food, but they are also turning out wool products from the sheep including yarns, dryer balls, and throws.

If you find yourself in the area, they host barnyard tours of the seasonal operations where you can get up close and personal with the livestock and the lifestyle.

Follow their antics on Instagram @foggybottomsboys

Joey Wolosz: What is/are the Foggy Bottoms?

Thomas Nicholson Statton: Foggy Bottoms refers to a portion of the Eel River Valley, principally around the town of Ferndale. So named because the valley is chronically fogged in; often making it hard to determine if it’s just fog or actually raining. As the joke goes there are two seasons here “wet and wetter”.

JW: What brought you to ranching and farming?

TNS: We both grew up in agriculture. After attending college at Oregon State University Cody went to work for a multi-National niche meat and agritourism company. It was a great learning opportunity but not where my heart was. In 2014 we returned to the family farm to help with the dairy and begin diversifying into grass-fed protein and specialty fibers.

JW: What does Pride look like on a rural family farm?

TNS: We think that living every day as authentically as possible is what allows us to be prideful in who we are. One thing we have found that is appreciated by those who identify or are allies of the LBGTQ+ community in branding our products with a pride flag. We also do a bit of sharing with our daily fun through our social platforms!

JW: What are your creative outlets?

Cody Nicholson Stratton: TikTok! Well, all social media really. I really enjoy using social media as a method of bridging the consumer and producers while representing the LGBTQ community in a field that is sometimes not expected.

TNS: Community organizing is what I enjoy as a profession as I get to enjoy the fruits of my creative labor and out-of-the-box thinking. As an outlet for my own creations, I like to work through the process of creating new products, like our wool dryer balls with a hole in them so you can add essential oils for fragrance without getting the oil on your clothing!

JW: Tell me about the moment when you first made a connection with wine and food?

CNS: For me, my love of food began in our kitchen. We currently live in the farmhouse that was my great-grandparents’ home during my early childhood. I remember riding the school bus to great-grandma’s after school and spending the afternoon kneading dough and rolling out cookies. The kitchen was a warm place full of scents, textures, and love.

TNS: My first memory of unforgettable food was with my parents and grandparents at a local eatery where I had lamb for the first time. The flavor was never-ending and the pairing of wine and herbs was perfect.

JW: What cookbook or cookbooks are you currently diving into?

CNS: I do the majority of our cooking and enjoy experimenting in the kitchen. Currently, my favorite cookbook is Sababa. It’s become a go-to for inspiration.

JW: What is your spirit animal?

CNS: A duck! Like most farmers, I feel like I’m generally calm on the surface and paddling like hell below.

TNS: My spirit animal is a lion as I certainly live up to the veracity of a go-get-’em attitude that is extremely goal-oriented.

JW: What is your motto?

CNS: Let it go!

TNS: 110%

Rainbow Macarons

During our visit to Paris in April, I took some time to get a little instruction on macarons at Le Cordon Bleu. They are the fancy French cousin to the American sandwich cookie. The cookie part is just almond flour, powdered sugar, Italian meringue, egg whites, and a little food coloring that gives a fun indication of the filling. It is the filling that hosts the variety of flavors and not the shells.

They can be found filled with ganache, buttercream, jams, or jellies. The sky is your limit. I give you the basic recipe for the macaron “shell”, or “cookie” as well as a base ganache recipe that you can add any flavor. For example, with a green-shaded macaron, I use pistachio butter, for a red shade I’ll use lingonberry jam.

For Pride, I made a full rainbow of macarons, 180 in all! Here is what I came up with:

  • Red: Lingonberry
  • Orange: Grand Marnier
  • Yellow: Lemon Curd
  • Green: Pistachio
  • Blue: Blueberry
  • Purple: Chambord

Because this is baking so you’re going to want a scale. I am giving measurements in some new-fangled units of mass and volume found in the ye olde metric system.

Note that a milliliter of water (volume) is equal to a gram of water (weight) so if you don’t have a graduated measuring cup with ml (Pyrex) just weigh it out.

You can use either liquid food coloring or gel. The liquid will give you a pastel hue. The gel, in a hefty amount, can get you the vibrant colors of the rainbow. Your call.

About wine, sweets are difficult to pair with wines; however, this is a month to celebrate, I’m enjoying mine with a glass of rosé.

Read through the recipes, the first is for the macaron shells, the second for the ganache filling.