Friday, July 20, 2012

Meeting the Bee Whisperer

Me in the bee suit.
Ever want to don a full bodysuit to invade a colony of 60,000 Italian honeybees and extract honey from their hive?

Spending a day on bee farm is something I’ve always wanted to do. Maybe it’s because you get to wear a cool suit. Maybe it’s because bees are slowly disappearing and I want to support them in someway. Maybe it’s because I’m totally afraid of them and need to get that out of my system.

Whatever, the reason, when I learned you could do a bee excursion at Carmel Valley Ranch for $50, I had to go.


My day with the bees was really more of a morning with the bees, but I was okay with that. Mainly because it was a hundred degrees outside so wearing the suit for longer than that would have been killer.

John Russo...aka the Bee Whisperer
The bee-dude, John Russo, was amazing. He owns a lavender farm in the area and has thousands of Italian honey bees.

But here's the cool thing....he not only knows bees, but he really, really gets what’s going on in their little bee heads.

For example, when my little group (I think there were eight of us in total) gathered by the hive, the bees were everywhere. I swear, the buzzing was ominous and they were swarming around us. I could tell I wasn’t the only one nervous. The whole group was tense and hoping there were no holes in our suits so the bees couldn’t get in.

John told us the reason the bees were swarming was because we were in their way.  We were blocking the route to the hive. We took a few steps back and slowly walked to the other side of the hive (away from the door) and the result was mind blowing.  The bees instantly stopped flying around us and flew directly into the hive.  The whole area went from loud buzzing to peaceful.

It was then I realized John was the Bee Whisperer.

Now that the bees were back to working, we could actually take the time to look at them.  John removed the lids of the hive and pulled out one of the honeycomb sheets.  Hundreds of bees were crawling all over it, doing their bee stuff.

Then he passed it to me to hold.

Tasting honey fresh from the bees
Normally, I would have freaked being that close to bees, but with the Bee Whisperer there, I knew I would be safe.  Besides, there were some little kids in the group so I sucked up all bravery I had and held onto the tray while bees climbed on my gloved hands. 

It turns out, bees aren’t that bad.  Although, you know those times when you are convinced they are stalking you at a park?  Apparently, they may be.  John says bees seem to know which person annoyed them or swatted at them and will follow them around, flying up by their eyes just to freak the person out.  Yup, bees hold grudges.

I also learned that bees don’t sting except as a last resort.  The Bee Whisperer told us he once watched two guard bees knock a moth off the hive and then drop pebbles on its wings so it couldn’t get up.  Now that’s pretty smart.

Just when I started to get to know the bees, it was time to go.  They are kind of cute with their little furry bodies and busy little lives. This was one of the best days of my life.  It was scary, enlightening and just amazing.

In fact, I loved it so much, I may even get my own hive one day.

More bee photos are on my blog.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Is that you Watson?

Millions of Sherlock Holmes fans worldwide will take part in a week of celebration of the world's mostfamous detective in the first annual Sherlock Holmes Week from 30th July - 5th August. 

Will I be there?   I'm a poor starving student (or about to be), but now that I know about this, I'm adding it to my bucket list.

I thought I would post it for fellow Sherlock Holmes fans in case they want to go and send me photos to rub it in.

Shelock Holmes has had a resurgence in the last two years with two major Hollywood motion pictures and the success of BBC Sherlock. The week is backed by the main societies and organisations in the world. is the website where fans can register their local events and take part in competitions.

I admit the competitions aren't that fabulous sounding yet, but every year the event gets better.

In the meantime, I'm going to watch the TV version with Lucy Liu and very sexy Johnny Lee Miller.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Foie Gras in California

Foie gras from Mulvaney's in Sacramento
I didn’t get to partake in my decadent foie gras meal in San Francisco at Fifth Floor Restaurant like I planned. But I wasn't too disappointed. I have to admit a full five course meal of the stuff might have been overkill and a little gluttonous for my body to handle.

However, that’s not to say I didn’t get my fill of foie elsewhere…because you know, there was no way I was going to miss out on my last opportunity to have it in California.

After doing some research, I learned that Mulvaney’s in Sacramento was serving it as a small plate on their menu until the July 1 deadline – and they were serving it just the way I like it…. lightly sauted and served with bread and a little roasted pear on the side. Paired with a little sauternes and I was in heaven.
Yummy dessert from Mulvaney's
Plus, because I decided to eat at their cozy bar that night, I had the chance to talk to a couple other foie lovers who were doing the same thing I was and enjoying it for a final time in their home town. It was an evening filled with good food and good food conversation.

Naturally I had to stay a while and have dessert just because I didn't want the night to end.


After enjoying my amazing meal at Mulvaney’s, I did have another foie encounter a few days later. This one was much less satisfying.  
Foie in a jar (far right)
I happened to be at the Conservatory at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay for a late lunch and noticed they had canard in a jar. Let me say that foie should never be in a jar. It was awful.

Word of advice, if you’re going to have a delicacy, have it made fresh. That way you won’t be disappointed.

Foie in a jar? What were they thinking!