Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Take 21 - Day Trip to Livermore

Day Trip to Livermore

Livermore is a wonderful little town part of the California Tri-Valley area. The Tri-Valley area includes the cities of Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon and is located 33 miles east of San Francisco and 27 miles north of San Jose. For the purpose of this post, we will concentrate on Livermore. The route to Livermore from San Jose via  highway 680 is truly a visual pleasure. It's the type of scenery where you wish you had someone to chauffeur you around so everyone could enjoy the beauty.The rollings hills are greener than green and look like large balls under a blanket of Kelly green velvet. They give a brand new meaning to the topographical term "rolling hills". We arrived in Livermore and parked downtown. This area was renovated 7 years ago and although we never saw the old downtown, I think we can safely say that they did a wonderful job. It has received the National American Main Street Award. It is truly beautiful with public places, sidewalk dining and lots of interesting stores. It also has one of the best comic book store, my husband has ever seen! :-) As well, Livermore has a Premium Outlet Mall with over 120 stores for us ladies to enjoy.

After visiting downtown and having lunch at a cute Japanese sidewalk terrace, we headed out to wine country, about a 10 minute drive. Livermore has over 50 wineries where you can visit, taste and purchase the local wines. We were looking to send a case of California wine to a well deserving Real Estate agent in Vancouver, British Columbia so I picked two wineries at random. One large and one small. After visiting both I can now safely say small is not always better. At the small one,  which shall remain nameless, the wine tasting was rushed, the price of the tasting was not deductible from your purchase and the personnel was unsure when questioned about their wines and the region. At the larger winery (Wente) ,the experience was much better. Of course, you will assume that after tasting 6 different wines at the first one, any other visit would be great, right ? Well you could but despite what you may think, I was not drunk, nor impaired and not driving. At Wente the personnel was knowledgeable, attentive and interested in my comments on their products. The tastings were generous and the wines were outstanding. I could go on and on about the wineries but I would rather inform you of shipping wine to Canada. Shipping wine to Canada or even to another U.S. state from Livermore or from anywhere in California appears to be a very tedious operation. Now if you are a Canadian visiting California and wishing to ship wine from California to Canada, be informed that the only province you cannot ship to is British Columbia. A competition clause due to the important wine industry in that province prevents you from shipping to BC. That news forced us to make alternate plans for our favorite real estate agent.  To ship wine anywhere else in Canada, you buy the wine and call Fedex who will ship it for you and provide you with all of the customs fees and details. The wineries will not handle that transaction for you. Of course you can drive it back to Canada, if you are so inclined but that would be a long ride and I don`t know what the  added cost per bottle would be at Border. It's better to find out before and avoid the surprise of the surcharge.

We really enjoyed our time there and it is at the top of our list of contenders as a place to buy a house.  People there are nice and friendly and love their town. Finally, Livermore is also a great place to spend the day. Bring a picnic, bring your bicycle but beware, the Summer days can be quite hot in that area so bring lots of water and sunscreen. And don't forget your camera !

P.S. I will add photos when I figure out how to transfer my photos from my new camera to my computer. Stay tuned !

Here's a quick and easy meatball and tomato sauce recipe you can freeze and use on a night when extra time is a luxury.

Meatballs with tomato sauce
(Serve it over rice, pasta, quinoa, couscous or just as is)

32oz/ 1kg canned tomatoes
4 Tb extra virgin olive oil
7 oz/200 g crusty white bread
1 lb/500 g ground lean beef
1 cup/125 g grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
to taste

Cook the tomatoes with the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat for 15 minutes stirring often. Grate the bread into a large bowl. Mix in the beef, parmesan and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in 4 Tb of the tomatoes. Shape the mixture into balls about the size of large plums. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through, shaking the pan very gently from time ti time. Serve the meatballs hot with the sauce.

Enjoy !