Dalia Ceja takes you on a hot and spicy adventure with two of her favorite summer recipes: spicy guacamole and Mexican classic Pico de Gallo or a tangy fruit salad. Dalia perfectly pairs this duo with Ceja Vineyards crisp dry rose Bella Flor.
As I prepped for our 9th Anniversary Party at Ceja Vineyards on Saturday evening, my mind kept coming back around to the half marathon I would be running the next morning. As I cleaned and polished, set out wine, printed signs and made sure everything was just right for the 200 guests to arrive, I lamented that I, Wine Club Wendy, would not be partaking in any wine tasting that day! Alas, dehydration is the enemy. It is best to save the vino for the finish line!
I woke up early on Sunday, my alarm was set for 4:50 am, but the nervousness of missing my alarm (which I never do) had me up at 4:30. I tiptoed around the house, made my ritual coffee, had a bowl of Cheerios and mentally prepared myself for the 13.1 miles ahead of me. My training has been lacking for the past year, very sporadic and without discipline. I knew it wouldn’t be my best race, so I set my goal to keep it under two hours and to feel decent throughout the race.
The Napa to Sonoma is a spectacular course that winds through the vineyards in Carneros and ends at the Sonoma Square in Downtown Sonoma. The start is at Cuvasion Winery a couple of miles from my own work place, and the course passes through gently rolling hills filled with vineyards as far as the eye can see. At one point we passed by one of Ceja’s vineyards and I gave a little wave to the Pinot Noir planted there. I feel very lucky to live in a place where a run can be called a “Destination Race” because yes, it is just that good!
I started out a little farther back in the pack of 3000 runners this year and now I know this was a costly mistake, even if the event is chip timed. I spent the first 2 miles along with my fellow Vinerunners Eileen, Emily and Brian (the blocker), weaving and dodging through hundreds of runners to try and get out to some open road. I finally moved into some open space and settled into my pace. I didn’t have a watch on, it has been missing for quite some time, and I didn’t really have any idea how to keep track of my time. So instead, I just pushed myself a little harder than a regular run, and I was delighted to find that I was passing people the entire race! I couldn’t gauge how fast I was going, so I just kept chipping away at the miles. At mile 10 I gave out a holler and the gal next to me concurred, 3 miles? 3 measly miles? I could do that in my sleep. Around mile 12 (oh how I love mile 12) a group of friends were there to cheer me on, and it was nice to have a little encouragement to get through the final mile and pull me into the finish line.
I crossed the finish line and forgot to even glance at the clock. I was trying to get my bearings, have my timing chip removed, grab some chocolate milk (have you read that it is the new Gatorade?) and stretch my legs before the soreness set in, when it finally dawned on me that I had no idea of my time. I had seen a teammate somewhere in the last few miles and figured he couldn’t be too terribly far from me, so I went in search of Mark to try and determine my time. We guesstimated somewhere around an hour and 50 minutes, and we were pretty much right on the money. I tried to smile and nod as everyone congratulated me, but the 10 minutes slower-than-last-year time didn’t sit too well with me. Nonetheless, I had finished the race and was glad to see Amelia and Martha Ceja pouring wine over in the tasting area. Marta bravely gave me a hug (sweaty) while Amelia handed me a chilled bottle of Ceja Vineyards 2008 Bella Flor Rosé. Now this made it all worthwhile! ¡Gracias Amelia!
Next year I hope to improve greatly upon my time, more training(!), a watch, and situating myself closer to the starting line should help! I never thought I would say this, but in the words of John “The Penguin” Bingham, waddle on, my friends.
A few times a year I make it a point to take a mini getaway with some of my childhood best friends. This time we decided that Cabo San Lucas was the place to meet for some sun, fun and some much needed R & R. Being that this was my first time in Cabo I thought it was the perfect opportunity to escape the busy summer workplace and go to a destination where words like- private beaches, bottomless margaritas and vibrant nightlife, would entice the quadruple threat of four California women. It was destined to be nothing less then a memorable trip.
We arrived in Cabo in the early evening just as the last rays of sunshine fell behind the dry dessert mountains. Hot winds welcomed us as we descended the airplane into paradise. The first evening commenced into pure relaxation. We feasted on ceviche and cocktail de camarones, followed by the most thirst-quenching margaritas a girl could ask for. Sitting outside in 75 degree weather overlooking the ocean was simply a perfect introduction.
The next few days we lived as beach bums; swimming, boozing and bikini strutting, my three favorite summerlicious things to do. Dining out in local restaurants became our second priority, as we were not fans of the commercialized restaurants targeted to tourists. I became obsessed with Sopa de Tortilla, which consists of pasilla chile and chicken based broth, topped off with avocado, lime, crema and tortilla chips. I was also in heaven everyday with the succulent street food that came our way like, hot dogs wrapped in bacon and tacos galore. How could I resist?
The morning of our departure we were lucky enough to catch the Mexico vs. Uruguay World Cup game at a local bar right on the beach. As part of my travel traditions, I happened to bring a bottle of Ceja Chardonnay as my little traveling gnome and as a symbol for good luck. Servers were dressed in there festive Mexican jerseys, ready to win the battle. Sadly, we lost that match but cheered up after some locals offered to buy us a round of Palomas: (tequila, limejuice, grapefruit juice and soda water), probably the most refreshing drink ever. A definite must try. Period.
After an extended weekend filled with nonstop laughing, indulging and schmoozing in the tropics of Cabo, we came back as bronzed beach babes, refreshed and ready to take on the world once again!
Until the next adventure amigos…
Paella is a Valencian rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century near lake Albufera, a lagoon in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spain's national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish. Valencians, in turn, regard paella as one of their identifying symbols (Excerpt from Wikipedia).
In this video Amelia Ceja prepares Paella Mixta, a free-style combination of meat, seafood, vegetables and beans. This tasty dish is paired with Ceja Vineyards' crisp dry rose - Bella Flor.