Wine n' Burgers

Eventually we make it to our first winery. As we approached Salinas Valley we saw Scheid’s Vineyard and stopped to have our fill of local wines. Dave was our educator and told us that of the Scheid’s 5,000 acres of grapes only one percent are used for their own wines, the others are shipped to other wine-makers to produce wines. The vineyard was created by a German Family that had lived in Pennsylvania for some time and then headed West to make wine. Because of the German influence, I was anxious to try the Gewurztraminer and the Riesling varieties. Both were crisp, sweet (despite having only one percent sugar) and had great noses. Just what we needed after our short cut gone bad ordeal.

Dave liked to test us. He twirled us around as he poured to quiz us on the differences between reserves, recent year vintages and various cask materials. I’m happy to say I got them all right but he did give me a hard time for not understanding why he might “step on my hands when I go to the car.” Apparently that’s what would happen if I drank too much? Not really sure.

At the end of our tasting experience we were given milk chocolate Hershey kisses (Pennsylvania chocolate w/ CA wines? Hmmmmm…) and the Gold-winning 2005 Merlot tasted like a cordial cherry melting in our mouths. Delish!

The wine and chocolate held us over and we continued to drive North back toward Monterey. We were discussing what we were going to do for dinner when I saw a sign for the famous In-N-Out Burger. Decision made.

The menu has three options. A single hamburger, a single cheeseburger or a double-double burger. Add fries or milkshake to any order. It seems too simple.

Patty walks up, orders a cheeseburger “animal style” (whaaaa? this is NOT on the menu) and a milkshake.

“What the heck is animal style?” I ask.

“Oh, they put fried onions and a special sauce on it.”

“Well, how would I know that?”

“It’s just a thing… everyone knows.”

I get to the counter and ask what other hidden ordering options there are. Apparently there are three styles of burger. Animal- Fried onion and “special” sauce. Protein- No bun, wrapped in lettuce. Regular- Lettuce, tomato and raw onion.

I go with the regular with a side of the special sauce, fries (just to try em) and a vanilla milkshake (just to taste it).

Fresh, well-balanced and yes, I ate it with a slice of American cheese. I confess the only time I will do this is on a Wendy’s 99 cent value menu Jr. Cheeseburger Deluxe and this has surpassed the deliciousness of said burger. The fresh tomato and lettuce with the special sauce (it’s like a Russian dressing… and I’d put mayo, ketchup and relish on my burger anyway if I could choose) is a perfect combo.

The fries are okay… nothing mind blowing, and the milkshake is too sweet, Frosty-ish thick and lacking a good vanilla flavor. I still take a few sips just to balance out the savor and the sweet but then throw it and the fries away.

That night we have a girls night with a girlie movie, cheese, crackers and many glasses of wine. The movie was cheesy, the cheese was fantastic and the wine was delicious. At the end of the night, I snuggle up on Patty’s couch with the window cracked open. I feel the evening breeze, hear the sea lions call from the bay and curl up with the warmest wine-filled content as I fall fast asleep.

The Final Dish:

Thank you Dave for being patient with us at the winery and thank you lord for this vacation!