VIDEO: AMY GUITTARD OF GUITTARD CHOCOLATE COMPANY

We sat down to speak with Amy Guittard of Guittard Chocolate Company to find what it takes to run a 150 year old chocolate company that runs 24/7 and produces over 200 chocolate products. Guittard Chocolate Company is one of the best kept secrets of San Francisco. The company was founded by Etienne Guittard in 1868, who came from France during California’s Gold Rush.

Amy Guittard is a fifth generation member of the family and the first woman to work in the chocolate company. She wears many hats and one of them is director of marking and she also works quite a bit with the sustainability aspect of the company. We also talk about her parents and how she came to write Guittard Chocolate Cookbook that is based on her family recipes.

Guittard studied English literature and cultural anthropology at Barnard College in New York. She worked at Clif Bar and Company before joining her family’s chocolate company.

This interview aired on TV in the US and is part of our Women in Science, Tech & Business series sponsored by Zoho Corp.

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VIDEO: MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM

This was my first trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium that is about 90 minutes away from Silicon Valley. While I have visited Monterey and Carmel many times, I never did manage to visit the famous aquarium. Monterey Bay Aquarium demands your total attention from the moment you step in. There is so much to see and learn about oceans and marine life and how to conserve them. You need about 5-6 hours to explore the museum and even then you might feel you did not do justice to it.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located right down the famous Cannery Row of Monterey.

 

The aquarium is located in a former sardine factory. You can find out more about the history of the former sardine factory right as you enter the aquarium.

There is so much to see and experience at the aquarium from the kelp forest to the live feeding of penguins to exploring the Ocean’s Edge, the sardines, jellyfish, the sharks, stingrays and other marine life. I found myself standing mesmerized by the Kelp Forest exhibit and had to reluctantly walk away to explore other parts of the aquarium like The Open Sea and the jelly fish exhibit.

DIRECTIONS TO THE MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM: The Monterey Bay Aquarium is about 90 minutes from Silicon Valley. We parked at the Cannery Row Parking Garage and walked down to the aquarium.

VISITING THE MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM: The  aquarium is open from 9.30 to 6.00 pm PST. Check Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website before you plan your visit.

RELATED LINKS: Travelling through the back roads of Gilroy, Salinas, Watsonville and Carmel

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TRAVELLING THROUGH THE BACK ROADS OF GILROY, WATSONVILLE, SALINAS & CARMEL

We discovered a whole new world of Northern California when we took the back roads to Gilroy, Watsonville, Salinas and Carmel.  The arrival  experience to these towns via the back roads was delightful and so different from the highway experience. We got to see a very different side of these towns famous for their produce, wineries and art deco buildings. These towns are located in the verdant Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz & Monterey counties that is home to “Artichoke capital of the world,” and  “Salad Bowl of the world.”

For our road trip we used Google maps with the option to avoid highways. We discovered that in some parts of our journey we lost our phone connection, but that was ok with us. We started off from Silicon Valley and our goal was to enjoy the ride and not be stressed about when we reach Carmel. Typically, you can reach Carmel in about 90 minutes when you travel via highway 101 that runs like a deep, ugly gash through these verdant towns. The highway experience totally robs you of a delightful drive through these towns to discover and savor new vistas, food and wine along the way.

Our first stop was Gilroy. For  the first time I saw the Uvas river that flows through this region. We stopped at a vista point and watched a fly-fisher lost to the world of fishing. Now, this is not a common sight in the humdrum of our lives in Silicon Valley.

Gilroy Gilroy Gilroy

We hopped back to our car and continued driving through Gilroy. The road looked kind of familiar to me. I suddenly realized we were on a road where a bunch of wineries are located. In the past I had traveled to this part of Gilroy after exiting highway 101. I had not traveled to Gilroy using the back roads and that is why I did not recognize the road right away.  We made a quick stop at Kirigin Cellars and tried a flight of red and white wines. The wine tasting at Kirigin Cellars are free.

kirgin Cellars

 

After that pleasant break at Kirigin we got into our car and bowled along a narrow and winding road flanked by thick vegetation on either side. We drove past Mount Madonna County Park and descended into Watsonville, which is famous for its fruits and vegetables. We drove through mile after mile of farmland growing berries, apples and other crops.

I suddenly spotted a sign for Gizdich Ranch and we decided this is our next stop. I had heard a lot about the famous Gizdich Ranch pies, but had never tasted it. Sure, I had seen those Gizdich Ranch pies in my local grocery stores, but had never bought one.

Gizdich Ranch turned out to be a delightful experience, where we discovered fresh pressed apple juice, freshly picked apples and a very, very long line for Gizdich Ranch pie. The lady ahead of me in the pie line recommended that I try the Dutch Apple pie, and that is what we got. The pie, apple cider and apples were a big hit with us. Next time I go to Gizdich Ranch I am picking up a full pie and not settle for a slice of that heavenly pie. Why is there no picture of the famous pie you ask. Well, I got to save something for my next visit, right?

Gizdich Ranch

Gizdich Ranch

 

Gizdich Ranch

 

Gizdich Ranch

Gizdich Ranch

We left Gizdich Ranch and discovered a whole bunch of places that I wanted to explore. I put these places down on my list for our next trip to Watsonville. It was way past lunch time. We made our way to downtown Watsonville in search of Mexican food. We ended up at Jalisco Restaurant in downtown Watsonville and had a tasty meal of vegetarian burrito. Now that we had fed ourselves it was time to resume our journey to Salinas, which is known as the World’s Salad Bowl.

We slowly made our way through the narrow road to Salinas  known as America’s Salad Bowl. Boy! this town was a total surprise with its wonderful downtown and art deco buildings. Salinas is the home to John Steinbeck, the American author, who wrote so eloquently about his town. We did not stop by the Steinbeck library or the his home saving those visits for our next trip to Salinas. We stopped by the visitor center in downtown Salinas and discovered a trail of wineries just a few miles down south. Since it was already past 4 pm that left us with little time to explore the wineries. So, the wineries made it to my list of things to see in Salinas for our next trip.

In the past we had driven past Salinas on highway 101 and had no idea that we had missed out on this wonderful little town.

Salinas

 

Salinas

We had a wonderful cup of coffee in one of the cafe in downtown Salinas and continued on with our unhurried drive to Carmel. It was a little after 4 pm when we left Salinas for Carmel.

We had been on the road for a little over 6 hours and were surprised how relaxed we felt. I had never taken the back road to Carmel. We were in  for  lots of little surprises as we meandered through the narrow road to Carmel. The surprises were the wonderful glimpses of Carmel valley as we drove down to the town. By the time we arrived in downtown Carmel it was a little past 7 pm. The place was packed with visitors and tourists. We slowly made our way to Carmel Bakery & Coffee House where we had some pastries and coffee. The bakery is over 100 years old and is a popular place to nosh.

Carmel Bakery

After walking around for a bit we reluctantly got back into our car and made our way back home via Highway 101. Yes, we ended by using the highway back home.

If you have never taken the back roads to Gilroy, Watsonville, Salinas and Monterey may I suggest you give it a spin? It will make your day. It made our day.

Here are the places we visited on this trip.

Kirigin Cellars11550 Watsonville Rd, Gilroy, CA 95020

Gizdich Farm: 55 Peckham Road, Watsonville, CA 95076

Salinas in Monterey county

Jalisco Restaurant: A 618 Main Road, Watsonville, CA 95076

Carmel Bakery: Ocean Avenue, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923

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NAPA FILM FESTIVAL NOV 9 -13, 2016

Napa FIlm Festival

Like films, food and wine? Then the 6th Annual Napa Film Festival (NVFF) is the place to be from November 9-13, 2016. For 5 days you get to see feature films, shorts and documentaries and listen to panel discussions on food. And a big bonus of attendig a film festival in the  wine country means you get to taste wines in different wineries and attend cooking demos. If you are an aspiring film writer then the Pitch Competition is your ticket to meet filmmakers and film executives.

Oh! did I mention that there will be filmmakers, and actors at the festival? Mathew McConaughey, Matt Ross, Viggo Mortenson, Dev Patel, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Aaron Eckhart are some of the guests expected to attend this year’s festival.

There are 2 films on the opening night: Lion and Bleed For This. Lion stars Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and Dev Patel, who will be at the festival.

Bleed For This stars Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhardt, who is expected to be at the festival.

Stephen Gaghan’s new film Gold will have a special screening at NVFF. Gold stars Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez and Michael Landes. McConaughey is expected to attend the film festival.

Filmmaker Matt Ross’s film Captain Fantastic will have a special screening at the festival. Viggo Mortensen is expected to be at the festival along with Berkeley-based Ross.

About 120 films will screen at the festival including Gleason, Miss Sloane, Mr. Church and Burn Your Maps.

Visit NVFF’s website to build  your itinerary, buy tickets or browse the festival’s schedule.

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PODCAST: CURATOR CHRIS GARCIA OF COMPUTER HISTORY MUSEUM ON SILICON VALLEY’S HISTORY & CULTURE

Chris GarciaWe sat down with Chris Garcia, curator at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View to find out about the evolution of technology and the  history and legacy of Silicon Valley.

The Computer History Museum is the place to see those huge computers that used punch cards to the advent of personal computers and smart phones. This is the place to see how technology evolved. What were the inflection points that helped shape this technical revolution and ushered in the Age of Information.

The museum has a treasure trove of artifacts and houses quite a few unusual objects including a 1960s Kitchen Computer, robots, Cray Supercomputers and early versions of Apple computers. We were also curious to find out how Garcia curates artifacts at the museum. What is that process like?

LISTEN: CURATOR CHRIS GARCIA OF COMPUTER HISTORY MUSEUM ON SILICON VALLEY’S HISTORY & CULTURE

Garcia grew up in Silicon Valley and remembers using Apple’s computers as a kid. He shares some fascinating backstories about Silicon Valley’s startup culture. For example, Nolan Bushenell’s Atari Inc helped shaped the startup culture of Silicon Valley like free food and a casual working atmosphere, which is now followed by many startups around the world.

The Computer History Museum is located at 1401 N Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94043.

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VIDEO: VIC VANNI OF SOLIS WINERY OF SANTA CLARA VALLEY

We sat down with Vic Vanni of Solis Winery of Santa Clara Valley to talk about how his family got into the wine business and also taste some wine from his winery. Vani remembers the good old days when they lived in the “Valley of Heart’s Delight,” which is now known as Silicon Valley. His grandfather had a cut flower business in Mountain View, which is now known for its hi-tech companies like Google and LinkedIn.

Vanni’s family moved to Gilroy when they bought a winery in the 1970s. His father bought a vineyard and started making wines. Today, Vanni and his brother along with their father grow a range of grape varietals and make red and white wine.

This interview was aired on TV in the USA.

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A VISIT TO COMPUTER HISTORY MUSEUM IN SILICON VALLEY

Computer History Museum

 

Earlier this week I visited the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. I got a guided tour from Chris Garcia, a curator at the museum. This is the place to see how  the  “Computing Revolution” started 2,000 years ago. The artefacts range from  primitive calculating devices to Napier’s Bones to the Enigma machine and the  first computers that were huge to the Home Brewers Club revolution and the advent of personal computers. And, let us not forget the World Wide Web Revolution and the advent of browsers that changed our lives for ever. This place is just not for geeks and nerds, but for folks like you and I, who are curious to find out and see how this whole computing revolution started.

 

 

 

 

VIDEO: TOM & SANDY MOLLER OF SATORI CELLARS

Meet Tom and Sandy Moller of Satori Cellars of Santa Clara Wineries. Tom is a techie-turned-winemaker, while Sandy is a yoga teacher and winemaker.

The Mollers started Satori Cellars over 10 years ago and have gone on to win awards for their wines. We spoke to them to find out how they got started with the winery and how they choose fun and unusual names for their wines.

The tasting room of Satori Cellars are open only on weekends. Please check their website for the timings.

Address2100 Buena Vista Ave, Gilroy, CA 95020

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VIDEO: GINO FORTINO OF FORTINO WINERY

Gino Fortino of Fortino Winery in Gilroy talks about Charbono wine, which is made out of an Italian grape varietal. There are only 80 acres of the Italian grape varietal Charbono grown in California and Fortino’s grows some of them. “Cult wine,” is often a phrase used when talking about Charbono.

Fortino Winery was founded in 1970 in Gilroy by Gino’s parents – Marie and Ernest Fortino. The winery is part of Santa Clara wineries, one of the oldes wine growing regions in California.

Address: Fortino Winery, 4525 Hecker Pass Hwy, Gilroy, CA 95020

Tasting Room is open from  10:00am to 5:00pm Tuesday through Saturday and on Sundays it is open from 11.00 am to 5.00 pm.

 

VIDEO: DHRUV KHANNA OF KIRIGIN CELLARS, OLDEST WINERY IN SANTA CLARA VALLEY

Meet Dhruv Khannna, a lawyer and owner of Kirigin Cellars, the oldest winery in Santa Clara Valley. 2016 marks the centennial year of  Kirigin Cellars located in the oldest wine growing region in California.

Khanna combines the tech and agriculture strands of Santa Clara Valley, once known as “Valley of Heart’s Delight,” and now known as “Silicon Valley,” and home to some of the best hi-tech companies in the world.

We sat down with Khanna to find out how he went from a lawyer and co-founder of Covad to the owner of Kirigin Cellars. He shares what kinds of grapes they grow at the vineyard and their list of red and white wines. Kirigin is also known for its dessert wine – the coffee and chocolate infused Vino di Mocca, which is a creation of the former owner Mr.Kirigin.

This is perhaps the only winery in the USA that has a cricket field along with a couple of soccer fields. Khanna is passionate about playing cricket.

This interview was aired on TV in the USA.

Kirigin Cellars is open for wine tasting everyday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.

Address: Kirigin Cellars
11550 Watsonville Rd Gilroy, CA 95020

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