Who: VegNews Associate Editor Jennifer Chen
What: A blissful weekend in nature visiting my husband at Skywalker Ranch
Where: Marin County, Calif.
When: June 24-26, 2011
Why: Because I missed him
The Scoop: Everyone in the office knows that for the past two weeks my husband, Brendan Hay, has been away working at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, north of San Francisco. He's a head writer for Lucasfilm and he and his team have been working non-stop. So I headed up north to spend some time with him and soak up some nature with vegan peanut butter cookies in tow, in the shape of Star Wars characters. Where did I get the cookie cutters? Using the force, of course (and William & Sonoma). The cookie recipe came from my favorite cookbook on the planet, 1,000 Vegan Recipes by VN Columnist Robin Robertson. The cookies were devoured before I could even put the plate down.
Eat one, young vegan Jedi.
Saturday afternoon, I joined the team for a tour of Hangar One, a vodka distillery, in Alameda, Calif. Housed in an old Army base, we got a tour of how the vodka is made and then we got to taste several of their best liquors—all vegan, by the way! The interesting fact I learned that with quality vodka is that you can smell the flavors by tilting your glass. The alcohol smell drifts to the bottom and the flavor rises to the top. So we tried a pear vodka and were told to hold our breath, sip, swallow, and then breathe out. Following that procedure allows you to fully taste all the distinct flavors. Our tour guide gave us a few flavors to sample then he combined them together to make creative cocktails. My favorite flavor? Chipotle pepper vodka. I also learned that quality vodka tastes smooth and our guide pointed out that if your vodka smells like rubbing alcohol then it will taste like it too.
Pear vodka from Hangar One: It's so smooth, it's criminal.
On Sunday, Brendan and I took a nice stroll along the grounds of the ranch. Let's just say it's beyond beautiful there. We saw plenty of lizards laying out on the stone walkways and even spotted a baby deer and mother deer nibbling on leaves. While I'm a city girl at heart, spending the weekend nestled in a beautiful forest, surrounded by animals in their natural grounds is a nice weekend retreat.
We took a ride off campus to the Marin Civic Center Farmers' Market to grab some bolani (amazing Afghani wraps) and fresh stone fruit before we stopped home in Berkeley to reunite Brendan and Buddy, our yellow Labrador. Let's just say I think Buddy wiggled his tail right off when he saw his dad after two weeks apart. Truly man's best friend. Thanks to the crew at Lucasfilm for a great weekend!