reprinted from the Covid Issue of #figchronicles

By now, you have possibly completed your third chapter of sheltering in place, which may have included: entirely cleaning your house, reorganizing your boxes of old photos, repotting most of your plants, baking banana bread, learning a new language, and planting your summer garden. Your second chapter may have be completely online.

For so many of us, we have turned to our screens for so much (including necessity, content and entertainment). Prior to C-19, we were already virtually shopping, emailing, banking, and booking travel. Now, while sheltering in place, we have been doing so much more.

Many companies have redirected their employees to work from home at least until the end of the year. Schools and universities have pushed their curriculums online sending all of the college students back home.

My virtual world started off relatively slow with maintaining our social media, connecting with our staff, answering emails, and a Mon-Fri Chamber of Commerce call that I would consider a lifeline to our community. I made a point to watch the Governor’s daily updates on Facebook regarding C-19 and would stream the news to understand what was happening around the world.

Not wanting to join in with the hoarding of toilet paper at the market, my relationship with Instacart intensified, and I have come to know a few of my shoppers by name while they know some of my preferences too. I even had a virtual call with my doctor (which was great — she could only see me from the neck down).

After postponing a high school girlfriends birthday trip in April, we have moved our birthday/cocktail celebrations to zoom calls. Brian and I have turned to zoom for our The Bite Goes On podcasts, and we have been able to maintain our weekly schedule. It has been a great opportunity to keep up to date with our colleagues with how they are dealing with C-19 and what they are going through.

Transcendence Theatre Company

ENTERTAINMENT
I have loved watching some of our local organizations that have turned their efforts to converting their annual events to over the top Virtual Experiences, including my good friend Gary Saperstein, owner of Out in The Vineyard. Gary presented three days of events including a diversity panel about The Colors in Wine Country, a wine tour with tastings, a dance party, and a Sunday brunch drag queen bingo. My other friends who created Transcendence Theatre Company have turned their season from star filled evenings in Jack London State Park to a three month Broadway extravaganza online. I can’t imagine that they could predict a pandemic but they were so smart in capturing their past eight years of shows into video and thus having a large library of content to share.

The annual Sonoma Valley Authors Festival moved online with eleven days of authors and speakers of which was amazing to feel so connected with the author on the screen. Our Valley of the Moon Music Festival also went online for their 6th annual event. What a beautiful treat. Working in the restaurant business for so many years, I have missed just about all of these events unless we were cooking at them. I am grateful for having the opportunity to enjoy the generous gifts on demand that many of these organizations have offered complimentary.

ABROAD in BARCELONA

With the sadness of empty theaters, concert halls, sports stadiums, and the like, there have been some that have turned the sadness into performance art that could only have occurred because of the emptiness of a venue. You may have seen images similar to the image on the right (credited to Emilio Morenatti/AP) where an opera house was filled with plants. In the Gran Teatre del Liceu, plants filled 2292 of the 2300 seats for an online performance of Giacomo Puccini’s “Crisantemi’’ as executed by the IceLi string quartet. After the concert, the plants were donated to 2,292 health care professionals, specifically at the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona.

FOR FASHIONISTAS

I have never paid much attention to fashion but on a day in the rabbit hole, I came upon a series of runway shows. The first one that continues to mesmerize me was the Dior Cruise 2021 Collection Maria Grazia Chiuri. It was unlike any fashion show that I have ever seen. Folk dance and music (with a full orchestra), and an elaborately lit set that looks to be in the midst of a cathedral courtyard. Yes, there were clothes, and stunning models but just WOW. I may have watched it three times and then tunneled my way to all of the back stories and other designer’s shows. I found out that the Dior show was presented in Lecce, in Puglia, Italy, a place that is now on my travel wish list when we get invited back to Europe. Don’t miss their Autumn-Winter Haute Couture Show — or Jacquemus Menswear Spring Summer 2021 masterpieces — beyond fashion indeed!

EDUCATION

Batonnage — Women in Wine switched their forum over to Virtual conversations and break-out groups for this year. With over 30 speakers over the course of ten days it was a whirlwind of valuable information and insight to the state of affairs and equity with women in the wine business on every level.

The James Beard Foundation has many voices in the world of food, farming and regulations. They have been doing an amazing job of putting together interesting conversations with a wide range of experts on these online panels. If you are unavailable during the scheduled time, you can return to watch many of them on demand.

Years ago I had a marvelous invite from my friends at Campovida Winery to come to a gathering of leading-edge changemakers and visionaries called The Do Lectures. It was a wonderful experience and even though I was only able to participate for one day, this “encouragement network” has remained in my life. Here you will find some authentic stories from people from all over the world sharing their experiences. I highly recommend watching some of these incredibly inspiring talks especially now. The subject matters are diversified so there is definitely something to listen to/watch for everyone.

COOKING CLASSES

Do you have the desire to learn a few new recipes but didn’t have the time? There are many ways to do this, but on cuiline you can travel around the world through recipes. Not only does a chef walk you through some of the regional recipes from their country, they also send you a box of pantry ingredients that are pre-measured and allow you to complete the list with any fresh ingredients that you will need. You can either select your class by country, chef or recipe.

You may have seen an ad in your social streams for MasterClass which has a monthly fee of $15 gives you unlimited classes from chefs including Gordon Ramsey, Thomas Keller, Aaron Franklin, Alice Waters, and so many more! There is more to cooking here; you can find classes on gardening, photography, writing, business tools, fashion, and more.

Airbnb was already doing experiences but once C-19 hit, they shifted to adding a huge amount of virtual classes. Just on the cooking category of online experiences there are over 120 options with an average price of $24 per person.

Another cooking resource you may enjoy is the Kitchn Cooking School which covers a lot of the basics in 20 lessons. The website itself has many more things other than just these classes.

SHOPPING
I have been extremely grateful during these times for our friends across the country who have been ordering from our online store. Knowing how impactful this has been for us, I have been trying to do my share and pay it forward. Here are a few companies that you may find interesting:

LOCAL MAKERS
Miracle Plum
INNA
Petaluma Seed Bank
Bay Area Doorstep Market

CHEESE + CHARCUTERIE
Cowgirl Creamery
Journeyman Meat Co

CHOCOLATE
VOLO chocolate
The Garden Society
Askinosie chocolate

WINE + BOOZE
Sonoma At Home
Prohibition Spirits Distillery
Hanson of Sonoma

SMALL GIFTS
Tiddle E. Winks
Teipiadur
parabo press
girlfigstore

COMFORT FOOD
Goldbelly
Mouth
Bokksu

GIFTCARDS
I can tell you without a doubt that every business I know that has been affected by C-19 will be grateful for your gift card purchases. Businesses need the cashflow now more than ever. Whether it be your treasured local restaurants, your bookstores, even your hairdresser, or your favorite tattoo artists, your online purchase will be a welcome gesture. If you want to do your holiday shopping now, especially as you may have the time, go for it as long as you spend at small businesses! If you are so inclined, you can even get a giftcard from the girl & the fig.

Now this being said, we have all been affected in different ways and this may not be the time for you to spend a bunch of money that you don’t have or run your credit card balances further than they need to go. There are still ways to let people know that you are thinking about them and wishing them well.

I received the most fabulous hand-typed letter from an amazing friend — yes on a real typewriter. It made my day and was such an unexpected surprise. My neighbors have been gifting me their fresh baked biscotti and scrumptious peaches from their tree. They know that I am oogling their fig tree for when the figs will be ripe and ready to devour.

Are you listening to a lot of music? Make a quick playlist for a friend or suggest a new artist that they may love. How about a raffia-tied bouquet from your garden or propagate a baby succulent from your collection. So many sweet things we can do to make someone happy that just cost us a little bit of time.

wine country restaurateur with a fig & Rhone wine obsession, the girl & the fig, the fig cafe & winebar, the girl & the fig CATERS!, Suite D ...

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