Monday, August 18, 2008

A Mendocino weekend:
Kids, dogs, food, and wine

Every August friends of ours have a house party at their country house in Mendocino County. (They're retired, and their life is good like this.)

Friends they have collected from many parts of their lives over many years come together to camp in their meadow, catch up on what's gone on in people's lives since last year's gathering, marvel at how much all the kids have grown, pat dogs, and share some good food and wine.  Attendance varies, but everyone agreed that this year was a particularly good one for kids and dogs. There were lots of both, and they all got along well: no barking, no crying.

We usually pitch a tent in the meadow, but this year our old van made a triumphant return to this event. This vehicle spent the better part of this year dead in the driveway, but after months of unsuccessful shopping for a replacement, we gave up and repaired this one by having a Subaru engine put in it. The conversion product is called a Vanaroo. As in "Whoohoo! We've got us a Vanaroo!" We're planning on getting some body work done and a paint job, but for now it cracks us up to have the fastest piece of junk anyone's ever seen coming down the road. The rear seat folds down for a futon that we outfit with all our down quilts and flannel bedding from home. I kept waking up in the night thinking how damn comfortable I was. 

I was relieved that Husband was not able to take off work early enough on Friday for us to be present for the butchering of the goat. When we arrived, it had just been taken off the spit

and was being carved. Carving, I can handle; butchering, not really. I know it's good to have a connection to one's food and all, but . . .

This was my taste of goat. Not bad at all! I expected it to taste more like lamb than it did. The texture is similar to lamb, but it is not nearly as gamey as lamb can be. I had heard goat can be stringy and chewy, but this was neither. The goat was only a couple of months old and had been feed alfalfa, so that was probably the difference. I don't know that I'm going to order up a goat from my butcher for Sunday dinner, but I did enjoy this.

After everyone has eaten themselves silly and the sun has gone down, the musicians come out

and the marshmallow orgy around the campfire begins.

It's funny the reversal in party behavior the years have brought. Our age group, mostly parents of young kids, sip wine around the campfire, while the seniors play music on the porch and pass a joint.

Breakfast the next morning is always fresh berry crepes. 

Tradition crepes (made in David's perfectly seasoned crepe pans) wrapped around fresh berries, peaches, and whatever else is on hand and a sauce of sour cream, yogurt, sugar, and a little rose water. 

Before we left there was time for a kids-and-dogs swim in the pond, complete this year with a mud slide,
and a hike to the top of the ridge to pick huckleberries.

Sophie made this piece of art from a wasps' nest we found in pieces on the trail.

I don't know if I'll ever have a country house (it's looking pretty doubtful), but if I do, I'll have a party every summer, and you're all invited. Bring a dish to share.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this looks like it was an amazing weekend. I could do without the camping part of it, and I definitely would have skipped the butchering too, but damn, the rest of it? Good times, my friend.

More, More, More said...

looks like fun times... even though I am a wanna be camper (in other words have never been)...

by the way love your advise to shop in my own closet... this is totally possible - especially with lots of items with the tags still on!

Jen Yu said...

vanaroo? i love it! now you are an upscale hippie :) i would have preferred to miss out on the goat slaughtering too. looks like a blast, you crazy kids!