Twister scare: you’re not in La Jolla anymore, Dorothy…

We interrupt this wine blog to inform you that a tornado warning is in effect for Travis County

Above: I grabbed these images from the Austin CBS affiliate site, KeyeTv.com. They were all taken not far from where Tracie B and I live.

It was as if the extreme weather was following me: yesterday, I awoke in Dallas at Italian Wine Guy’s to one of the worst storms I’ve ever experienced. On my way to a morning tasting at the Royal Oaks Country Club, I literally saw trees fall along the road, lightening strike not far from me and Dinamite, and a flash flood that had me in a foot of water. When the emergency alerts come on over the radio, one of the things they stress is to avoid deep water because that’s how a lot of folks drown, thinking that they can make across a flooded road. You can lose control of a “standard SUV,” they say, in just 2 feet of water.

Above: It’s not hard to understand why Texas is such a God-fearing country.

At least one of my accounts had to cancel our appointment yesterday because the store had flooded and one of my accounts — a leading Italian restaurant in Dallas, Nonna — had to close for the evening because they had lost power: when restaurants lose refrigeration, tens of thousands of dollars of food can go wasted.

Above: Talk about hail of “Biblical proportions”! My goodness!

As I drove back down to Austin in the afternoon, it seemed I was driving just ahead of the storm. I picked up some pizzas and Tracie B and I hunkered down at her apartment. At a certain point, the storm hovered about a mile away from us as we watched the storm reports on the local news. At that point, tornados had been reported and the storm was heading directly toward us from the north west. We stepped outside to watch it over Ramsey Park (across the street from Tracie B’s apartment complex). It was an amazing, truly awe-inspiring, and beautiful thing to see.

Above: I took this shot in Dallas yesterday from my car using my phone. The two cars had been washed away in a flash flood.

We’re headed to La Jolla today, which is a good thing since triple-digit temperatures are expected today and this weekend. Tracie B and I love our life here and we are so fortunate to enjoy a life so rich with good work, good wine and food, and wonderful loving people around us — literally and virtually, out there in the blogosphere. But, man, I sure understand now why Texas is such God-fearing country!

In other news…

I’m in the Marines Too got married! Congratulations to Philip and ImAMarinesGirl! Tracie B and I wish you all the best and hope you can get over to Japan soon!

In other other news…

Tracie B and I will be dining Chez Jayne tonight. Can’t wait to taste the Terrebrune Bandol Rosé that Jon put on his list… If you’re in San Diego tonight, please stop by…

My first tornado warning, the mystery of lemon peel and espresso, and air guitar nation

My yesterday evening took me from one extreme to another to another. I was traveling from an account visit in Grapevine near Dallas, Texas to downtown Dallas for dinner with colleagues when I experienced my first Texas tornado warning. The voice of an NPR announcer on the radio gave way to an ominous and long monotone followed by “we interrupt this broadcast…” No tornado has arrived but man, they don’t joke around when it comes to weather in northern Texas. The lightening I’ve seen elsewhere doesn’t even come close in spectacle to the fulminous displays you witness around these parts.

The next extreme came in the form of dinner with Italian Wine Guy (above, left) and his ride-with for the day, Andrea Lonardi (right), director of winemaking for one of the world’s largest wine conglomerates, Gruppo Italiano Vini. Veneto by birth, Andrea makes wine across peninsular and insular Italy and beyond our conversation on our shared love of the Veneto and its language and traditions, Andrea unraveled a mystery that has plagued me for many years: why is lemon zest served with espresso? When I lived Northern Italy, lemon zest or lemon juice was served with coffee to stimulate regurgitation: when you’re sick to your stomach, you drink coffee with lemon to help you “evacuate.” Evidently, Andrea’s travels have taken him to corners of rural Sicily where two “shots” of espresso — made from old-style manual espresso presses — are served in one demitasse and the passed from one patron to another: the first patron wipes the edge of the demitasse with the lemon zest for hygiene. In Italian, you say chi non beve in compagnia o è un ladro o una spia, literally, he who doesn’t drink in company is a thief or a spy. Sicilian omertà, noted Andrea, applies also to coffee.

The final extreme came in the form of an encounter with the reigning Air Guitar World Champion, Hot Lixx Hulahan (above, left). He, Stryker (center), and my Nous Non Plus bandmate Björn Türoque are on tour for the U.S. Air Guitar Championship and they happened to have a night off in Dallas. So, we caught up over beers at the end of the night before I drove back to Italian Wine Guy’s place (where he lets me crash when I work the market here) in the rain. It was great to see Björn (aka Dan Crane) and his lovely lady Kate.

Life is certainly never boring and I’m always amazed by its richness and extremities.

But I miss Tracie B and I can’t wait to get back to Austin…