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Sunday, July 31, 2011

It's official! - Italy here I come!

Hello! So some exciting news...after a few e-mails and correspondence, I've been chosen and accepted a farm in Italy to stay and work at for just over 3 weeks. Behold, La Distesa, located not too far from the city of Ancona, an east coast city of Italy.

This place was a fit for me schedule wise (being gone in Sept. was more realistic than October as far as getting time off from work and grape harvest time goes), looks beautiful, and the person e-mailing me seemed to have a nice sense of humor. (Don't even get me started on the first response I received...basically the guy was "disgusted" that I would even consider making wine in the states and thought my photography would be "stealing the privacy" of hard working farmers...).

Here is the description:
Certified organic farm and agritourism which produces mainly wine and olive oil. There are 18 hectares with vineyard, olive grove, lucerne, vegetables and woodland. Help needed mainly in the vineyard (pruning, tying up vines and harvesting) and olive grove (harvesting). We eat together in the communal dining room, mainly using our own vegetables. Accommodation in own apartment, length of stay by arrangement. Children and pets welcome. English and Spanish spoken.

So I bought my ticket yesterday...and The countdown begins! 43 more days! I'll be away for just over 3 weeks...I'm really looking forward to learning about what goes into selecting grapes, cultivating them, and harvesting them first hand. I checked the blog that was linked to to the web site and at least according to Firefox's translation, the guy is a psychedelic winemaker. Pretty sure this is going to be AWESOME. Wish me luck!

*Photo above from La Distesa

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Mr. Gyro's

This review comes ENTIRELY way too late. I keep thinking I will sit down and talk with the owners, but it seems every time I walk into this place, either I'm in a rush or there is a rush of customers.

But I love this place. Living a couple blocks away from the new Ballard location was a major perk when I moving. Not only is the food fresh, TASTY, fast and affordable - the brothers that own the place are SO NICE! They make you feel like you're the most important customer they have, and make a genuine effort to see how your day is going. No matter how busy they are always smiling.

Mr. Gyros is basically what it sounds like. A place with gyros. They also have several greek platters, salads, baklava, and other amazingness. The photo above is of the falafel plate, which I always get and i NEVER finish eating the pita bread even though it's tasty. Its about $8 or $9 and comes with salad, hummus, rice, falafel and pita bread! The original is located in Greenwood, which I was always a fan of. When I discovered one was opening up down the street from me I was stoked. My friend Jared happened to know one of the guys..I don't remember how, but we swung by one day while they were getting the place ready for the grand opening and offered our help. One guy was very surprised and thanked us but said they were almost ready.

The other month, my friend Nikki and I went to go try that Golden Beetle place everyone has been raving about just a little further away and my friend and I left wishing we had just eaten at Mr. Gyro's instead. In fact, we stopped by on the way home just to pick up some greek fries. lol. It wasn't that the Golden Beetle was fact it was very tasty. I just left feeling hungry! It was a bit pricey for a casual dinner and I just didn't feel totally satiated. You can read about our experience on Nikki's blog here.

Speaking of being satiated...a great perk for the Ballard Mr. Gyros is that it is open late on Friday nights! At first I couldn't for the life of me figure out which nights it was open late (till 2:30 a.m.). Because it seemed really random. But one day they placed a sign in the window. So now I know...screw the hot dog stand (but believe me I LOVE my Seattle hot dog stands), I'm getting something fresh and tasty at Mr. Gyros!

Anywho - go to Mr. Gyros. It's affordable delicious food with great customer service. What more could you want? I recommend the plates, but be sure to order some greek fries. The feta is so creamy!

Rating: ****
20th Avenue Northwest
Seattle, Washington 98107
(206) 782-7777

Friday, July 22, 2011

Next mission: Volunteering at a winery

Sorry I've been failing lately with the entries...I have a few updates I wanted to make but I failed at taking pictures...and without the pictures I don't feel very motivated to write! I'm going to try to recreate some things I've had so when I do, I promise to take pictures and THEN write about them.

But in the meantime, as I'm sitting here on a beautiful summer evening (which I acknowledge should be having a bonfire or something...but I'm a bit burnt out this week), I decided I should write about my next mission.

I am dying to go on vacation abroad. The problem is that none of my friends can go with me for various reasons. Mostly nobody can get as much time off as I can, and when I am out, I want to be gone. I'm shooting for 3 weeks. Traveling alone doesn't sound as scary to me as most people, but I think I would get bored. I don't think I would have a hard time meeting people, but if I had to constantly meet people every day for 3 weeks I would probably get burnt out.

My friend Brandon and I started a conversation long ago about us running away to Italy to work on a farm. We heard that you could work for farms and get free room and board basically. But...being the responsible adults that we are...we just haven't done it. In my quest to find something to do abroad I revisted this idea. In the process I learned you can volunteer on these farms for two or more weeks! Soo...that's my mission. I've submitted a few applications to a few organizations. And the hope is that I can volunteer at a farm in Italy where I can learn about wine making and growing food! This reminds me of a time someone told me about their experience at farm camp. A place where culinary arts students spent a week learning how much work goes into producing food. It wasn't all wine and roses though. As much as cheese making sounds, they also had to learn how to kill pigs and what not. Scary.

I'm hoping I don't need to be skinning any animals. But I think that staying in a community of volunteer farmers in Italy sounds like a wonderful vacation. I definitely won't be bored then!

As I was researching this, I also discovered you can volunteer for wineries in Washington. Why I never thought of this idea in the first place I have no idea. We are so lucky to have so many great wines produced in this state. And Woodinville, the closest winery mecca to me, would be a great place to start. The above picture was taken at a wine tour of Chateau St. Michelle.

So wish me luck in my endevour, hopefully I can make some things happen!