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A few weeks ago, my focus was on gratitude. Now, it is reflection. The reason could be yet another shift in the weather. I’ve been caught in the rain and I have been enjoying it.
In The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin, the author talks about raising his child not to be reliant on external conditions to have a good day. If a sun-shiny day is a good day, would a rainy, stormy day be a bad one? It is simply a matter of perspective.
Josh and his son, Jack, never missed a storm, “It’s a beautiful rainy day,” he’d say, “let’s go outside.” In other words, let’s not give the external conditions our power.
I’ve been thinking about this, I was raised on beautiful rainy and stormy days. Rain was just another reason to get outside and turn puddles into playgrounds. The reflections and memories keep coming. They are a reminder not to let external things determine my internal state.
In this issue, I stand at the crossroads of reflection and anticipation as we begin receiving guests at our downtown studio. The casual, soft opening provided the opportunity to stay mindful, to respond rather than react. Responding to the task, Jeff spent his birthday preparing, cooking, and hosting over 300 as we welcomed people to our new-fashioned space.
My friend-in-mindfulness and partner-in-past-crimes, Betty Riaz, shares a bit of her story in our interview.
Finally, with the comfortable feeling of a warm winter blanket, I offer a hygge-style pot roast to keep with the slow-pace of the pensive, hibernal mood.
In case you missed it, we had the pleasure of sharing a lunch with San Francisco Chronicle Food and Wine writer, Sarah Schneider.
Vintner, Cook, Thankful
P.S. If you enjoy these wintery thoughts, interviews, and recipes, we’d love to have you join our Field Notes readership.
Call it a Christmas miracle, a Festivus phenomenon, a winter wonder, or a Solstice surprise. Any way you jingle it, and you can jingle it all the way, our Studio for Gustatory Well-Being is welcoming guests.
Join us in Downtown Napa for a wine-soaked breakfast, a leisurely lunch, a decadent dinner, or an extraordinary event. Jeff and I are hosting with a selection of Gentleman Farmer wines, food, magic, mischief, and more.
We really can’t wait to see you there. To make a reservation, visit the link below and fill out the inquiry form or email email@example.com. We’ll respond within one business day.
I have known Betty Riaz for some time, having met in our springtide.
I’ve searched my memories to find a fitting introduction, but my muddled musings only leave me with snippets of things we did that persecuted our parents and puzzled anyone else.
Memories rise and fall, much like our breath, which is somehow fitting as Betty is a yogi and a tastemaker you should know.
She reminds me that the menu is not the meal, the tasting note is not the wine, and memories are only reflections unfolding.
She shares the healing and spiritual practices of the Tibetan Yogic Tradition, helping others through her work at Stil Studio near Boston, Massachusettes. She teaches yoga and mindfulness, offers healing bodywork, and leads global retreats.
Catch her if you can; she always seems to be on the move. From Massachusetts to Bhutan, Nepal, the Himalayas, Morroco, India, and Guatemala, she helps people deepen their yoga practice and reconnect with their inner selves.
In addition to Stil Yoga Studio, she is co-owner of Terma Goods, also located in Historic Downtown Dedham, outside of Boston.
Joey Wołosz: What brought you the yogi life?
Betty Riaz: What brought me in helped me get out. The accidental freedom I found within the spiritual and physical yogic practices helped me discover a path to emotional liberation. This path represents embodying the yogic teachings and practices while maintaining a sense of normalcy.
JW: From Bhutan, Nepal, and India to Guatemala (just on the schedule for 2024 alone), how do you select the destination for your retreats?
BR: Traditionally, the experience of retreat is to actually retreat away from the busyness and stimuli of everyday life and allow a mindful experience in places that commune with nature and the environment. These are oftentimes conducive to a spiritual setting.
I like to pick places where people are genuinely happy, no matter what the outward circumstances.
We often find places where we can connect with our nature and our surroundings and experience what life is, completely in the moment.
Often, these beautiful surroundings are also paired with eco-lux accommodations, exquisite culinary delicacies, and daily yoga and meditation.
I am truly grateful for the experience of traveling and creating journeys and memories that last a lifetime.
JW: What books are you currently diving into?
BR: Many! Here are a few:
The Quantum and the Lotus by Mattieu Ricard. It is an exploratory journey into the science and parallels between physics and Buddhist philosophy.
The Cartiers by Francesca Cartier. A fascinating book on the history of the iconic jewelry company.
Outlive by Peter Attia. Amazing protocols about health and disease prevention.
The Psychology of Money: Timeless Lessons on Wealth, Greed, and Happiness by Morgan Housel and Chris Hill.
Tibetan Book of Healing by Dr Nida Chenagtsang. A great resource for healing and Tibetan Medicine.
And, of course, The Palace Papers by Tina Brown. Better than all episodes of The Crown combined.
JW: I’ve seen you go from bacon to vegetarian to vegan and back. When did you first make a connection with wine and food?
BR: Ahaaha. Without cheese, there is no life, so veganism has never really made it very far. I will happily partake in tastings of triple crème brie, nutty manchego, aged gouda, and salty French feta over any substitute.
My first connection to wine came about the time you and I were attending Pacific Union College, all the while roaming the [Napa] valley for free wine tastings (gone are those days). Remember Christian Brothers (now CIA)?
After that, the food connection definitely came during the years I lived in Europe. I particularly enjoyed the farm fresh lifestyle of fresh simple ingredients placed together to create a culinary explosion of taste.
JW: What are your other creative outlets?
BR: The freedom of mountain biking in the North East where the roots and rocks take you for a bumpy, wild ride.
JW: What do you have a really good time doing?
BR: Hanging out with you and Jeff.
JW: Friends and family excluded, who are two people you’d like to share a long and lingering meal with? What would you serve?
BR: That’s a trick question! You and Jeff, of course. But you being my friend, I guess it doesn’t count. It would be the Buddhist philosopher and monk Mattieu Ricard, considered by many the ‘happiest man on earth.’
You can see why!!
JW: What is your spirit animal, and why?
BR: I don’t have one. My spirit is a wild animal, ALREADY! It’s wild and free. Maybe you can pick one for me?
JW: What is your motto?
BR: Let us liberate our thoughts and soar beyond the ordinary world, where boundaries become illusions and limitations simply whisper in the wind.
In the late 50s, my mother lived in Mainz, West Germany. Her husband was an American army officer and stationed there. Along the Rhine, she nurtured a love for Hummel figurines, handmade felt puppets, and sauerbraten. This season brings back cozy memories of my mother and this all-out holiday dish.
Sauerbraten, meaning sour roast, is a German pot roast. Some may argue it is Germany’s national dish. It is no ordinary pot roast, Sauerbraten offers kitchen aromas of sweet, solstice comfort. It is rich and flavorful, a roast heavily marinated for days with wine, vinegar, and warm baking spices. It is cooked long and slow.
Gingersnaps are traditionally used to add flavor and thicken the sweet and savory gravy. Think of them as the tidings of comfort and joy.
Serve this with braised red cabbage, milk-bread dumplings, or spätzle. You can find me enjoying sauerbraten with our 2019 Gentleman Farmer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.