May 22, 2006
Golden memories

Just in from Golden, Colo., where the highlight of the weekend was the romance, beauty and drama of the wedding of my nephew Kurt and his bride Beth. (Some of the drama was whether thunderstorms would continue to circle around the historic Boettcher Mansion 7,500 feet up the eastern slope of the Rockies or whether a bolt just might strike one of the old stone building's lightning rods as the couple recited their vows; none did, but the prospect may have speeded up the outdoor rites.)

I learned a few things while in Golden:

1) I'd taken a couple of bottles of fine California wine to share at the rehearsal dinner Saturday night. Colorado law, however, forbids diners from bringing their own wine to restaurants. "You can use them as lovely centerpieces," said the restaurant hostess, nicely softening her stern admonishment as she handed us the margarita menu.

2) Of course I knew Golden was home to Coors brewery, though I was a bit unhinged by the muddiness of Clear Creek flowing furiously toward the hulking plant in the middle of town. Just up the street from the brewery was the Buffalo Rose, a somewhat famed watering hole especially popular with bikers (Colorado has no helmet law, incidentally, and bar patrons still can smoke, though the latter looks as if it is about to be banned). At any rate, we joined the bikers on the tavern's warm, sunny and occasionally rain-moistened deck to enjoy the reggae band and the view of the brewery. Unfortunately, we couldn't order a Coors; inexplicably, the keg was dry. Against the odds, I asked for a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. To its credit, however, Golden isn't a company town, and that frosty bottle of Sierra Nevada sure cured my homesickness.

3) When we checked in to our hotel, the parents of the bride considerately had left welcome bags of local treats - a couple of bottles of Colorado spring water, a bag of Buffalo Bill's tortilla chips made in Denver, a jar of Amy Lasley's Rocky Mountain salsa made in Fort Collins, a sack of Colorado Colors trail mix made in Parker and the like.

As we nibbled away while watching another thunderstorm march across the hills we got to wondering what we'd put is a similar bag to welcome strangers to Sacramento. There'd have to be almonds, of course, and a box of "Sacramento Cookies," a bottle of Sacramento Valley olive oil with a loaf of locally baked ciabatta for tearing and dipping, and an Amador County zinfandel - with a screwcap instead of corkscrew to avoid complications at the airport as they leave town.

Any other suggestions?

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