Changes in the works

January 1994 at the Holiday Inn in Racine, Wisconsin to May 2, 2019 at this Best Western in Silverdale, Washington – 26 years, five continents and over 3,000 seminars. The seminars are over, they pretty much ended 6 months ago, only did 4 in all of 2019.

So far this year I have only flown three times, 5,912 miles. By June of most years I was already MVP with Alaska Airlines, on my way to Gold Status, with 30 to 40 flight segments already logged. What a change. I will hit my Million Mile status with a couple of flights planned for this year.

So, this is a year of change. Coffee shops, beaches, and arboretums have replaced the Alaska Boardroom Lounges. A shoulder bag and pochade boxes have replaced my roller-bag. Blue jeans, paintbrushes, and pens are the attire and tools of the day. And the closest thing to a seminar are the sketching workshops I lead. I love it and don’t miss the travel as I feared I would.

There are trips planned, but for pleasure. Off to Oregon for the 4th of July to visit friends and family. A day trip to Port Townsend in August for my birthday. September we head to San Diego for a wedding and time with friends. Then off to Tokyo for another wedding in November, with a side trip to Seoul.

When we get back from Japan it will be time to kick the France planning into a higher gear. If we are to move there in April/May there is a lot to do. The visa process takes about three months, lots of documents to secure, dossiers to create for us and for our cat, as well as a trip to San Francisco to appear at the French Consulate office.

Though, as many before me have observed, I am so busy now I don’t know when I ever found time to work, still there is more time to reflect on food we cook and eat, places we visit, and tips for both. So time to get this blog back into action.


Food, a celebration of Gratitude

It is Thanksgiving morning and the preparations are well under way. Every dish is a reminder of how much we have to be thankful for.

IMG_1127The turkey has been in the brine since yesterday morning, this is Tricia’s one day a year for turkey, but I have never had better, she does it so well. The brine has apples, rosemary, herbs, mustard seed, fennel seed, onion, cranberries, a bottle of white wine, and probably a lot I am forgetting. Then she will put herbed butter under the skin.

Don’t overcook your turkey, 163F is perfect. The days of cooking turkey for 5 hours like they did generations ago are gone, it only dries it out. If gravy is the only way you can swallow the turkey it is overcooked, it should be juicy and flavorful.

I baked skillet cornbread for individual puddings that will be stuffed with collard greens. We boiled and mashed the potatoes that will be used for a potato casserole with a parmesan-butter-breadcrumb crumble.

IMG_1776Tricia made her fabulous cranberry sauce, none of that canned jellied stuff, her’s is cooked like you would jam, with Chambord Liqueur added.

We picked out a bottle of a 2010 D’Alfonso-Curran Pinot Noir from Sta. Rita Hills, California.

I think someone is bringing pumpkin pie, but desert is never high on my priority list so I am not sure.

So all that is left is a bit more cleaning – windows in the dinning room, mop the floor, blow the leaves off the driveway – then it is down to the final prep.

Wherever this day finds you and however you celebrate, alone or with others, take a moment to be grateful for all that you have. I am reminded of the Psalm, “He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Even when life is hard there is much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving from theWinsketcher.

Wines Not To Drink For Thanksgiving

Pinot is good, be sure its from Oregon

the drunken cyclist

Thanksgiving is this week here in the U.S. and that means that just about every wine blog in the country will have a post on what wines to serve at Thanksgiving. They will all cite the fact that it is near impossible to find a single “perfect” wine that will pair well with all the foods that will find their way on to the table.

And they would be right.

I would hazard to guess that most wine people spend more time figuring out what wines to consume on Thanksgiving than they will spend exercising the following month trying to burn off all those extra calories consumed.

I say: don’t waste your time, as there is no “perfect” Thanksgiving wine. Instead, follow these simple guidelines on what not to do.

Don’t be bold: Unless you are at home and can go down into the cellar to grab something else, now is not the time…

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I changed the site name

Welcome to Been there Eating this – the new name for my travel and food blog. For some time it has bothered me that my old site, Been There Reading This was not quite right as I had not posted a book I was reading for a long time. What I write about here is travel, food, and wine, so the name change makes sense. All of the old blogs are in the process of being imported, so if technology works all will be well.

Faites Votre Choix….

This is a delightful read


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My friend and Napa county neighbor, the Traveling Wine Chick, had the winner’s honor of picking the theme for this Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #MWWC19 . I can only hope the dissertation I am about to put forth is worthy of her motif – “choice.”


I had the good fortune of being a guest at the wedding of two dear friends in Biarritz, France. Merely a week from this last Saturday, I was strolling the gardens and walking the halls of a beautiful chateau on Lac Brindos surrounded by nuptial brilliance and celestial beauty (the wedding designer is genius and there was no expense spared for this union.) I could go enviously on and on and on giving you enough time to stitch a voodoo doll of my likeness, but I shall refrain.


Biarritz is a gorgeous seaside city on the Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast in southwestern France. A luxurious destination that is popular with tourists…

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I have dreamed of this meal my whole life


I have dreamed of going to Italy, today I finally made it. Got in after dark due to some navigating issues, then headed out for food. It was amazing, the only thing that would have made it a lot better was if Tricia could have been there, the part I wish was different about my life on the road was the times I don’t get to share with her.

I spent the first night at Trattoria A’Lanterna, it fit my criteria of no English on the menu, and no one really spoke any English at all. Of course after all day traveling a rosita wine was in order. A whole bottle made perfect sense.


Then I had Carpaccio of Tonno, and moved on to the main a Taglitaliia form the Sea. This makes food the best.IMG_1625

My waitresses were great, little English but they gave me a selfie and were a lot of fun.


Again reminded of how blessed I am to travel

After 22+ years of being a frequent traveler I never forget how blessed I am to live this life. I know I visit this topic often, but it is genuine. Today I am in Vacaville, California, a beautiful town, and near to wineries which theWinsketcher loves. Saturday I head to Dubai, I am so looking forward to that, and then after 2 days Genoa, Italy. I get tired while traveling at times, but rarely ever tire of travel. I am blessed.

Steuben and Traminette, these are grapes?

Steuben and Traminette? These are grapes, not as familiar as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, etc. They are hybrids of French and American vines designed to withstand the climate of the Midwest and the Northeast parts of the United States. Traminette is the State grape of Indiana.  I visited Wildcat Creek winery in Lafayette, Indiana, curious to try some wines that were different from the West Coast, French, or Italian wines that I am familiar with. The tasting room is in an old Hoosier home, Rick is the winemaker. He came into the wine world less than 10 years ago, yet his wines have won numerous awards in the Indiana wine competitions. 

Even the dry wines they offered me, red or white, would most likely be classified as off-dry on the west coast. Since most of these grapes are also used as table grapes the sugar content is quite high. The feel is more thin, and most of the taste stays in the front of the mouth, very little finish to speak of. Compared with the Washington Chardonnays and Syrahs, or an Oregon Pinot Noir they would be described as undeveloped.
I resist the temptation to compare because they are a different grape, and for a different taste. It is more like saying do you like tea or coffee, both can be good, both are different.

  It was 85F and the Steuben reminded me a lot of slightly sweet rosé, it was served chilled. I sat on the deck and sketched an ancient tree, all in all a pleasant afternoon.