We've put up this week's video a little early, due to the coming holiday. We had a great visit to Devil's Gulch Ranch. We mostly spent time in the farrowing pens, looking at the piglets and their protective mothers. We got to visit with the farm's four horses, many chickens, pigeons and doves, rabbits, and livestock protection dogs. We were able to see, from a distance, the goats and sheep that roam the hills, the vineyards, and the larger, older pigs in various places on the hills.
Mark sells his animals to many restaurants in the area, most of them very well-known, like Chez Panisse (Berkeley), The French Laundry (Yountville) and Jardeniere (San Francisco). He also sells to the better butcher shops, such as Clove and Hoof in Oakland. He is also a regular fixture at the Marin Farmers' Markets. But he assured us that he's happy to have visitors and private buyers, too - we'd be happy to give you his contact information if you would like to take a trip there yourselves.
On our way out to the farm, we passed by Skywalker Ranch, George Lucas' place. Adam once recorded a song there with the San Francisco Boys Chorus, for a ballet - they recorded in the same studio where John Williams recorded the original Star Wars music. It was quite an experience. If you didn't know this was the famous ranch, you'd never notice it - it's totally nondescript from the outside, but once inside the property, it's probably one of the coolest places I've ever seen.
Nicasio is also home to the Nicasio Cheese Company, where we stopped for some delicious lunch items, and watched the cheesemakers at work. We wished we had time for a hike, because there's some wonderful walking along the Bay Area Ridge Trail here. As you can see from the video, even on a weekday, the road out to Nicasio is busy with bikers. One of the greatest things about living in the Bay Area is the wealth of outdoor activity, due to our moderate weather.
However, today it is raining, and that's great for the garden and for our drought, so we love that too. We are busy with homey jobs anyway, things like baking (trying two new recipes for Christmas Eve and Christmas day desserts, one a traditional chocolate cookie from India, and one an Italian pandoro), and cooking our Christmas Eve meal, tamales - a first for us. We are using a recipe by Rick Bayless, whom we admire.
We wish all of you a very happy holiday! Here's to lots of good food, time with family, boughs of pine and cedar, sounds of church bells and carols!