We headed down to Venice, California to spend the entire day relaxing and catching up with our friends Mike and Sandra today. We brought a lovely 2002 Consilience Rhodes Vineyard  Zinfandel (Redwood Valley – Mendocino County) with us and a 2005 Christian Lazo Cabernet Franc from Paso Robles. Mike and Sandra raided their wine stash and brought out three more bottles, 2004 Arthur Earl Silver Label Syrah (Valley View Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley – Santa Barbara County), 2004 Heritage Valley Meritage (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc, 10% Merlot), and the 2003 Di Bruno Sangiovese, Stolpman Vineyards (Santa Barbara County). With all this great wine, we feasted on a wheel of smoked provolone-like cheese that Sandra and Mike smuggled into the US from Brazil. It was aged, tangy and salty and unlike any other cheese I’ve ever had. By the way, drop me a note if you know where I can order smoked provolone! We also had soprassetto and prosciutto and freshly baked olive bread. We tore off hunks of the olive bread and dipped it in B.R. Cohn olive oil and Los Olivos Grocery fig balsamic vinegar. Simple, but oh so good!

Dinner was a grilled tri-tip with a Mike’s homemade dry rub and roasted potatoes. My friends who are not from California tell me that this is a cut that is unique to the West Coast. So, if your butcher gives you a funny look when you ask for tri-tip, just tell him you want a “triangle roast” or “bottom sirloin butt”. And, if you happen to be in the central coast area try our local specialty, Santa Maria style tri-tip. The dry rub for this is basically a blend of salt, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder; some bbqers include other ingredients like rosemary or parsley. Mmmm…Meat and potatoes – I guess I am a mid-western girl at heart!