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Osmosis Enzyme Bath & Massage
"The power of thought is the magic of the Mind" [Byron]
Osmosis offers you a special place to visit while in Sonoma County.
Conceived in Kyoto over 20 years ago, the vision for a meditation garden is coming to completion at one of Northern California's most popular day spas. Designed by British horticulturist Robert Ketchell, this garden is intended to capture the genuine spirit of the Japanese style using a native California plant tapestry. Three years in the making, the garden has been built with over 60 tons of ornamental stone, a heart shaped pond, and many specimen plants. The overall effect is unmistakably quieting to heart and soul.
The idea for the garden grew out of the association of Michael Stusser and Robert Ketchell when they met in Japan over 20 years ago. Their appreciation for this art form sparked a dream that never died and was realized at Osmosis. Guests of the Osmosis Spa and Enzyme Baths walk through a bamboo forest, pass through a shoji gate and along the banks of Salmon Creek before seeing the inner garden through the moon door of the viewing pavilion.
As the view of the pond emerges, there is a beach of cobblestones. After walking through the 10 stages of the ox herding story, one can offer incense at an altar. The Ox and the Ox herder is a classic Zen parable of the journey to enlightenment. It is typically represented in a series of 10 woodblock prints. In the case of the Osmosis meditation garden, the story is laid out in 10 environments made of stone and water. In the first picture the Ox herder is alone and is represented by a tall stone as one passes through the entrance gate to the garden. Next he sees the traces of, then a glimpse of the Ox. The Ox is a symbol for our unruly mind. As the story continues the Ox herder captures, tames, and finally rides the Ox. All these steps lead to the point where mind activity ceases to be the fundamental focus of our being and the present moment takes its rightful place as the predominant feature of our attention. Now, the Ox herder is once again alone and the Ox is forgotten. He no longer needs the Ox. At this point he enters total oblivion, goes on to merge with the source of all being and finally reenters the market place as an enlightened person. Each step of the story is represented in various rock arrangements or water features as you walk through the garden and around a pond which has been built in the shape of the Chinese character "Shin" meaning heart. There is a viewing pavilion allowing a shaded place to sit and contemplate the garden.
The pond has koi and many aquatic plants including the symbolic lotus. This special garden, designed for serenity, promises to deepen your journey to tranquility and renewal. A visit to Osmosis should not be missed when you visit western Sonoma County.
For more information go to www.osmosis.com
Napa River Adventures
Though it's renowned for wine, Napa Valley is also home to the Napa River, part of a tidal wetlands system that begins at Mount St. Helena and runs through downtown Napa to the San Pablo Bay. A new addition to the Napa riverfront is Napa River Adventures, run by Kevin Trzcinski, which offers rentals of canoes and kayaks, as well as package arrangements for those seeking a range of experiences.
WineCountry.com joined Kevin recently to experience the river. We met in the cool morning air at the Napa City waterfront, just south of the Third Street Bridge. Being the adventurous sorts we are, we tried both a canoe -- recommended for groups of two or more or children, and a kayak -- better suited for those with experience on the water.
The Napa River is navigable in both directions. As a tidal river, the water is smooth -- no rapids here, though at full-tide the current can be surprisingly quick. Your biggest thrills are likely to be entering or exiting your craft. Accomplishing this without incident, we set off, heading upstream under the newly constructed Third Street Bridge. The river is surprisingly scenic. In evidence we saw Great Blue and Green Herons and Kingfishers -- the wetlands is a habitat to a wide range of bird life. Our trip first took us past downtown, then wound around the Copia gardens and museum. Heading downstream brings you through more wetlands and out past the Maxwell Bridge on Imola Avenue. Either trip is good for about an hour's paddling.
Napa River Adventures has a fleet of kayaks in one and two person versions, as well as canoes seating up to eight, available for half or full-day rental. For those wishing combined activities, Kevin has arranged two packages. "Paddle and Putt" combines a half-day canoe or kayak on the river with nine holes of golf for two at the Napa Valley Golf Course, including rental clubs for two and a golf cart, and two VIP lunches at Jack's Bar and Grill. "Paddle and Pamper" will let you soothe those paddle-sore arms with a massage at Greenhaus European day spa.
For further information, see Napa River Adventures' website at http://www.napariveradventures.com/
Members of the WineCountry.com editorial staff who have lived in Monterey for 20 years recently decided to try the venerable Sardine Factory, one of Cannery Row's most famous restaurants. Their dining adventure was extraordinary!
We wish we had enjoyed the Sardine Factory sooner! The ambiance was elegant, the food and service of the highest quality, and the portions generous, lovingly prepared, and presented with all the extra touches that make a dining experience special. In addition to the daily menu, the Sardine Factory also offers a prix fixe menu Sunday through Thursday, with several selections for each of four courses. Wine lovers will relish the extensive wine list, presented by a knowledgeable staff and master sommelier. The wine cellar is indeed legendary.
As an appetizer we shared the Baked Lobster and Corn Brulee, the sweet corn echoing the flavors of the sweet lobster. An assemblage of fresh breads, crackers, and breadsticks served with creamy sweet butter, a tomato and bean-based spread, and an assortment of olives was also presented. What a delicious start to our meal!
For the next course, a classic Caesar Salad, and as a special summer treat, a salad of Heirloom Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella. Vine-ripened tomatoes from nearby Carmel Valley, generous slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, baby greens, and mini croutons were drenched in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This salad was a feast in itself with the purple, red, orange, and yellow heirloom tomatoes ripened to perfection.
In a "seafood mood," we selected the savory Grilled Salmon prepared with a piquant Asian sauce on a bed of finely sliced asparagus and sautèed Asian greens, and a Monterey specialty — Sand Dabs fresh from the bay. Six lovely sand dab fillets were prepared the classic way: pan-fried in butter and lemon with a fine crust of breadcrumbs and accompanied by diced potatoes and baby summer squash in a delicate creamy herb sauce.
The wines we selected were served by the glass. The salmon was beautifully complemented by the rich tones of a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Pinot Gris, the waiter's suggestion, was a perfect match for the delicate flavor of the sand dabs.
For dessert we chose Créme Brulee and a cool, refreshing Tiramisu, both flawlessly prepared. The perfect grand finale for a fine meal! Another six desserts, ranging from a light Lemon Custard to rich Chocolate Decadence, were also featured.
We'll soon be back with friends in tow to experience a Monterey classic — The Sardine Factory on historic Cannery Row.
Recipe of the Month
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix basil, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, Parmesan, butter and mustard in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pat veal chops dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add veal. Cook until brown, about 1 minute per side. Remove from heat. Press basil mixture onto top of veal chops. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon remaining breadcrumbs over each. Roast in oven until cooked to desired doneness, about 15 minutes for medium-rare.
Makes 2 servings
Tasting Room Recommendation
Doug Meador, proprietor of Ventana Vineyards, considers himself a "winegrower". This special term describes his commitment in proving that great wine comes from growing the very best wine grapes. Ventana Vineyards is a 400-acre testament to Meador's determination to make Monterey County (Arroyo Seco Appellation) one of California's finest wine producing regions.
For nearly 25 years, Ventanta Vineyards has been producing award-winning wines in Monterey County. Their wines are so consistent from year-to-year that Ventana Vineyards is known as "Home of the most Award Winning Vineyard in America." Doug Meador attributes this to consistent viticulture practices and style which is "European sensibility with lush, intense California fruit." Doug continues, "We create wines to be enjoyed upon release, however they have the capacity to age and become more complex over time"
The Ventana Vineyards Family of wines is Estate Grown and Estate Bottled in Monterey County. What this means is Ventana grows all of its own grapes and from those, produces its own fine wines using Old World methods on premise at the Ventana Winery. In order to taste all of their delicious releases, the WineCountry.com staff recommends a visit to the Ventana Vineyards Tasting room on your next trip to Monterey County.
Located just 10 minutes from downtown Monterey on Highway 68, the Ventana Vineyards Tasting Room is small and intimate. The historic "Old Stonehouse Building" is open daily from 11AM to 5PM. Attentive staff are very knowledgeable of the many releases and will pour wine based upon your preference and taste. The many ribbons awarded to Ventana Vineyards over the years are proudly displayed while you try some tasty wines. If you wish to picnic or just relax, there is a patio just off of the tasting room.
Doug and LuAnn Meador's private label, Meador Estate, can also be tasted at the Ventana Vineyards Tasting Room. The Meador Estate label is of limited production, though not limited in the awards since their release.
While visiting, it was noted that Ventana Vineyards was offering a 'case of gold'; a case of 12 different gold medal award winning wines. This brought to mind the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Call Ventana Vineyards for more information.
Just a stones throw away from the wineries of Sonoma Valley, The Lodge at Sonoma offers guests a relaxed, yet sophisticated environment to call home while visiting Wine Country. You don't have to be a wine enthusiast to appreciate the mellow beauty of California's Sonoma County, where the rolling hills and lush vineyards resemble those of Tuscany and Provence. When you visit this luxuriant destination, you'll spend your time purely relaxing and enjoying the fruits of the earth. The Lodge at Sonoma provides a relaxing atmosphere for unwinding in total comfort. Rooms are arranged in clusters of cottages surrounding a sunny pool area and set amidst attractive grounds. Each room features fine linens, robes, and in-room therapeutic bathing treatments from the Raindance Spa, which is also on the property.
The dècor is serene with muted calm colors and decorated in a soft palette. Each room has its own balcony or patio and most have large fireplaces and plenty of room to relax. Guests can walk throughout the town of Sonoma and opportunities abound to enjoy all that this charming small town has to offer. When you have finished exploring, come back and enjoy the Raindance Spa which includes an outdoor mineral water soaking pool, Watsu therapy pools, couples massage, treatment rooms, and outdoor treatment cabanas. And don't miss the opportunity to dine at Carneros, the Lodge's signature restaurant which presents a tasteful selection of wine country flavors that will linger long after you have savored your last bite. Visit www.thelodgeatsonoma.com for more information.
Events for October
October 26 - 27 -- Hopland Passport
For a complete calendar of events in the Mendocino Region, visit: http://mendocino.winecountry.com/events.html
October 12 -- New Release Harvest
Open House at Galante Vineyards
Ongoing -- Carmel Walks
October 11 --
Domaine Chandon Harvest Dinner
Daily -- Cooking Demonstrations
For a complete calendar of events in the Napa Valley Region, visit: http://www.napavalley.com/events.html
SAN LUIS OBISPO:
October 19 -- A Harvest Event at
October 25 - 27 -- Jubilee
by the Sea
For a complete calendar of events in the San Luis Obispo Region, visit: http://sanluisobispo.winecountry.com/events.html
October 10 -- Miro Winemaker Dinner
at Bacara Resort
October 12 - 13 -- Celebration of
For a complete calendar of events in the Santa Barbara Region, visit: http://santabarbara.winecountry.com/events.html
October 19 - 20 -- Art & Pumpkin
October 3 - November 10 -- SharkByte
For a complete calendar of events in the Santa Cruz Region, visit: http://santacruz.winecountry.com/events.html
October 12 -- Harvest Moon Celebration
October 19 -- Wild Mushroom and Truffle
For a complete calendar of events in the
Sonoma Region, visit: http://www.sonoma.com/events.html
Win the "Rollz Royce Limousine Wine Country Tour!!"
Imagine this......your vintage Rolls Royce whisks you and your guests away to the alluring Napa Valley wine growing region of California for a delightful guided tour of both the well-known and little-known hidden treasures of the Valley. Your chauffeur wines and dines you in comfort and style, and you enjoy a catered picnic lunch arranged in advance at a choice location. Throughout the day you enjoy VIP status at every stop, thus making your day one to remember.
At Rollz Royce Limousine we have been known to surprise our guests with a side tour at a family owned winery where it is possible to meet the winemaker and discover the secrets of their handcrafted wines. All in all, we offer you a fun filled day of adventure and exposure to California's richest historical legacy, the Wine Country.
Tour includes: 6 hour limousine tour for up to four
people, tasting fees at four wineries,
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Photography © courtesy of Nicholas Elias