Saturday, January 24, 2009

One, Two, Three Lovely Ladies

Karl Jensen has a wonderful new sculpture series available. "Wrap," "Sleeping Nude" and "Reminiscing" are lovely as individual pieces and stunning as a set. I currently have them displayed together in the front of the gallery with our guest book. Unlike most traditional cast bronze sculpture, these beautiful ladies have a special patina that makes them look as though they were carved from stone. To celebrate their arrival, we are offering a special $350 discount on the set. If you order before February 14, 2009, we will also include free shipping.

If you are thinking about coming to Napa for a visit, let us know. In addition to informing you about special events and making lodging recommendations, we are happy to help you out with suggestions for sightseeing and of course, wine tasting. A very popular way to enjoy the Napa wine tasting experience is by private limousine. Last night I met the owners of Cristal Blue Carriage, a limousine company that specializes in providing personalized tours to boutique wineries around the valley. Sit back, enjoy the wine, take in the scenery and leave the driving to them. The owners, Bill and Chris spent about an hour in the gallery enjoying the art and sharing
their knowledge of the valley with me. They are committed to ensuring that their customers receive a unique and wonderful experience and are proud to have an abundance of repeat business.

The Napa Valley Mustard Festival kicks off January 31 and lasts through March 28. There will an abundance of activity throughout the valley including "The Weekend of Fine Art" on February 7 and 8. So put those snow shovels down and come celebrate with us. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Let the Sun Shine!

What do you get when you have hundreds of wonderful and uplifting works of art, all under one roof, in one of the most beautiful places in the world? (Is this what they call "leading the witness?) Our gallery continues to impress and even astound the many who happen upon us. Recently, a young man in his early twenties was overheard to say, "I did not know that beautiful art like this was still being created." Indeed it is young man. Tell your friends!

The sun has come out in Napa and the last few days have been glorious. This is supposed to be rainy season and yet we have not seen any precipitation for over a week. Mind you, I'm not complaining. Quent and I even managed to get in a round of golf with a friend yesterday (thank you Sarah for the gift certificate) and to my delight I had a great round. I even edged out Quent by a couple of strokes.

We dismantled our popular Christmas window last week (see Dec. 17 post) and I replaced it with a romantic Valentine's Day themed display. I think that I am really starting to get the hang of this window dressing thing. Fifty feet of window space is a lot of space to fill. Fortunately we have a lot to choose from. I still have a few touches to add this week but all in all I am quite pleased with myself. :)

Despite the lovely weather, winter is proving to be relatively slow in Napa; Ok, really slow! It has been very challenging trying to calculate what our walk-in traffic will be like from one week to the next. I think that next winter will be much different since the new hotel will be opening this summer and with any luck the economy will have improved by that time. I guess that means that two weeks in Puerta Vallarta next January is out of the question. In all seriousness though, we are thrilled to be in Napa and there is rarely a day that goes by that we don't enjoy someone new discovering our sunlit world. In addition to our posted ours, we gladly make the gallery available by private appointment. Imagine this, you've just enjoyed one of the most amazing dinners that you've ever had at one of Napa's finest resaurants and now you have 3600 square feet of uplifting and inspirational art all to yourself. Now that's living!

And speaking of food, today's culinary offering from Linda's busy kitchen comes courtesy of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. The next time you want to enjoy a shrimp cocktail, don't steam or boil your little shellfish buddies. Roast them in the oven for 8-10 minutes with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Delicious! The shrimp don't lose any of their flavor to the water. Instead, they retain all of the yummy flavor and the texture is so much better. Let me know if you enjoy them this way too.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year! Good Times and Good Food!

It's no secret that the last quarter of 2008 presented us with a plethora of new challenges. I am excited that 2009 is finally here and look forward to the good times ahead.

These last several weeks Quent and I have been entertaining our children Josh (23) and Sarah (21) as well as Josh's girlfriend Michelle (19). We enjoyed a lovely holiday together and the kids have even pitched in at the gallery from time to time. Our adventures have included a trip to the city, to the coast and all around the valley.

It's always interesting to learn what their favorite pieces in the gallery are and to keep mental notes for possible gift giving occasions. Josh and Sarah rarely have much in common, but I am pleased that they are both big fans of Bryan Larsen. Josh recently announced that one of his new favorites is "There's Opportunity Here" and Sarah really likes "Deliberation." Both of them have enjoyed "How Far We've Come" since the first time they laid eyes on it. Both of them recently graduated from universities in Florida and will be entering the work force or going on to grad school. Hopefully each will be successful and some day be the proud owners of their favorite Bryan Larsen painting.

It's been pretty chilly in Napa these past couple of weeks. I've been enjoying the opportunity to cook a variety comfort food for my hungry family. After all, watching football on television, driving through the vineyards and playing Wii can build up quite an appetite. Tonight we feast on one of my all-time favorites, braised lamb shanks. There's nothing quite like the aroma of braised meat suffusing your home to get you salivating in joyous anticipation of the coming meal.
It's part ecstasy, part torture, as a great braised lamb shank recipe takes 3-4 hours to prepare.
My favorie recipe features a bottle of my favorite Bechard Zinfandel; half for the lamb and half for the chef.

If you have the need for some cold-wether comfort food, try this recipe and let me know what you think.

Linda's Braised Lamb Shanks

2 lamb shanks -- closely trimmed of fat
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions -- cut into eighths
3 medium carrots -- peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 celery stalk -- cut into 1/4" pieces
2 cloves garlic -- sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dried Herbes de Provence
2 c Zinfandel or other good red wine
1 - 2 c beef stock
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 325F.

Open the wine and pour yourself a glass

Generously season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add lamb shanks and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add onions, carrots, and celery to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until ingredients begin to brown. Add tomato paste, herbs, and garlic. add salt and pepper to taste. Cook an addition 1 1/2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add wine, deglaze pan, and reduce by half. Return shanks to the pot and add enough beef stock to come halfway up the sides of the shanks.

Cover and place in the center of the oven, and cook for 2.5 to 3 hours, turning shanks over about halfway through the cooking time.

Serve with your favorite starch such as mashed potatoes, cous cous, polenta or rice.