Festival Gourmet International: and the Story of How I Became Your Fat Friend


Mr. G. and I were just hosted on fabulous trip to Riviera Nayarit. The trip was centered around the Gourmet Festival. To call it incredible would be a gross understatement.

This is a trip that every foodie should take. If you love meeting new people, all the better. We had just one progressive dinner but they feature them three times a week during the ten day festival. Our progressive dinner had us visiting five restaurants for eight courses and eight wine pairings (except dessert which was a cocktail pairing and a wine pairing).

The food was out of this world and deserves a better post than this one, but I’m tired, I’m behind on my housework and my cherished bottle of hibiscus liqueur exploded in my luggage so I have to buy Mr. G. new shoes so that he can go to work tomorrow without looking like a child in tennis shoes and slacks.

I found out that I really don’t tequila as a drink, but a sip is good for me. There was one truly spectacular cilantro margarita and I promise to get you the recipe. In the interim here are some images from the trip.

grand velas resort dinner plate piaf restaurant

grand velas resort view of the beach

Sayulita church

The First Soccer Tournament of 2011


Saturday morning Jane and I hopped into the car to go to her first soccer tournament with her new team. The park Jane plays at has a big soccer program, about 2,000 kids between 4 and 18 play. Girls under 12 (basically 10-12 year old girls) sends out five full teams in the tournament season. There’s an all star team, there’s a B team, and then there are three more teams. We don’t like to call them C teams, we like to call them “fun teams”.

Jane used to be really good at soccer. Jane used to be the fastest kid on the field. Jane used to score a goal or two each and every game. Jane no longer seems to give a shit. Sometimes she’ll stop twirling her hair long enough to notice the ball whizzing past her, other times she’ll swagger towards the play, but mostly Jane is looking for camaraderie and a bitch session. Jane has discovered boys and music and friends, we are working hard to keep Jane interested in sports.

Those girls shoved us.
That one girl was always off sides and the ref never called it.
Mom did you see? I punched her and the ref didn’t call it. Yes, darling I did see, you made me proud.

Knowing that Jane just doesn’t care much about the game made me even less excited to haul us out to Riverside for a weekend of soccer. There is an adorable downtown in Riverside, and the Mission Inn is there, but of course it was sold out. We stayed at a hotel that was apologetic about their $70 a night rate. They wanted to offer me a lower rate, but it was just impossible.

This is not how I like to travel. I am a difficult woman to please, there is very little chance of a $70 a night hotel pleasing me.

We filled up a cooler with fresh fruits and pre made salads fromTrader Joes and on my way out I grabbed a bottle of Côtes du Rhône which  is absolutely the best cheap wine I’ve ever tasted. After driving for almost two hours (apparently they close down three lanes of a four lane highway to fill potholes) we arrived in Riverside. The area immediately surrounding the park was large lots of dilapidated and abandoned homes, the nicer ones were surrounded by chain link fencing and aggressive looking dogs. I found a fabulous parking spot near the fields, got out of the car, walked around to the trunk and discovered the rotting corpse of a 40 pound dog.

I moved the car, and tried to not consider it an omen.

We got to the fields and I brought a chair, a blanket, some snacks and an umbrella. The skies were ominous.

The girls played like a new team. It’s been flu season and they hadn’t had a scrimmage yet where all the kids were there. They didn’t pass well, they didn’t move together well, they surely didn’t score any points, but they did a decent job of defending the goal. It was 2-0 when the hail started, and the referees called the game after a minute or two of the hail storm. I was bugged that they played for two minutes in the hail, some of the dads were bugged that they didn’t just wait it out.

I am a big sissy. This is not news.

There was a two and half hour break between games and it was freezing so I thought that Jane and I would check into our room and I’d put her in dry clothes for the second game of the day. We drove to our hotel, which was absolutely everything I’d expected it to be, and attempted to check in.

The lady at the desk gave us room keys, we went to the room and it was filthy. The bed linens were piled high on the beds and nothing appeared to have been cleaned. Shivering, we returned to the front desk and explained that the room wasn’t clean, the exasperated clerk told us the computer said it was. A discussion ensued and we settled for blow drying Jane’s shoes in the lobby bathroom.

I should point out that Jane’s shoes are three seasons old. After shaking most of the mud off of the outside of them, I took my blowdryer to the inside and heated them up in a very tiny bathroom. I’m fairly certain that bathroom smells like feet even all these days later.

The second game wasn’t a whole lot better than the first. I think the girls lost 4-0 or something equally awful. They tried their best, but they were up against a team that had clearly played together a long time and it was a group of girls that knew how to foul without getting caught. Three of the girls on Jane’s team went down with injuries from being tripped, pushed or punched, and finally our girls started giving it back. They didn’t score, but they stopped getting beat up. That is good. Right?

After the second game Jane’s lips were blue. I begged her to skip the hotel and drive back to LA, but she wasn’t going for it. I might have said, “What do you want? I’ll buy you anything Kitson sells.” Or I might not have, because only a really crappy really defeated mother would say that, right?

Speaking of crappy mothers….

We went back to the hotel so that Jane could stand in a hot shower for a half hour and warm up. We turned on Netflix and popped open some snacks. As I snuggled my freshly showered daughter I thought this isn’t so bad. As 6pm rolled around I thought I’d like a glass of wine before dinner, so I called the front desk to ask them to send a corkscrew.

ME: Hi I’m in room 329, I’d like a corkscrew please.

CLERK: I would too. Can you believe someone stole it last week?

ME: You have one corkscrew for the entire hotel?

CLERK: And someone just up and stole it. Walked away with it. Can you believe some people?

ME: And you didn’t buy a new one because…..?

And then the conversation devolved into messiness, and I remembered that I was in a $70 a night hotel.

I did what any reasonable mom blogger does, and I sent out a virtual flare on twitter.

Corkscrew tweet Jessica Gottlieb

And my followers (because they are awesome) sent me links to videos where they show you how to open a bottle of wine with a shoe and a wall. Unfortunately I was in the swamplands of California and all I had were two pair of wellies, some stinky cleats and flip flops so I had to try to open the wine without a shoe, but with a washcloth instead.

In an obvious attempt to scar my daughter as I have previously with my son I handed her my iPhone and said, “Record this so Mommy can share it with YouTube”.


John Dewey and BevMo Educate My Son


Unless you are Mormon live under a rock, you know that right now is the BevMo 5 cent wine sale. It’s not a national holiday, yet, but it is a reason to celebrate. Go ahead, take a look at your office Holiday Gift List, if it’s a nice sized department you’ve got 40 gifts to buy. Well, a few times a year, the folks at BevMo have a 5 cent wine sale. The fall sale is when I stock up, big time. The first bottle of wine is full price and the second bottle is five cents.

I could almost afford to have The Virgin over for cocktail hour.

I’d been meaning to go to the wine sale, since I need 3-4 cases to get me through until the beginning of the year, but I’ve been too busy. Alexander and I were on our way to pick up a replacement hamster, ugh don’t ask, when I realized that Petco and Bevmo shared a parking lot. Aha! I thought, let’s put all this math hooey to some practical use.

“Alexander, we’re going into that store and I want you to find me every bottle of wine that has 90 or more Wine Spectator Points and is part of the 5 cent wine sale.” I gave him the mission.

“Mo-om!”, he wailed, “I just want to get a hamster.”

“Dude, I love you but you don’t get a hamster until I get wine.” Shaddup, you’re no better!

We strolled through the store with Alexander occassionally declaring, “It’s a PeeNoo GreeGeeOO and it’s got 89 points. Is that close enough?”

“No Sugar, it’s got to be 90 or higher, and see if you can find one with a pretty label too.”

Yes, every head in the store would turn to examine the red headed, spectacled child in his school uniform who couldn’t quite say Pinot Grigio. They snickered a little, but no one finger wagged. Why? Well folks, it’s obviously called homeschooling. Alexander learned price comparison, numerical values and he appreciated some art work along the way.

I think John Dewey would be pleased.