Upcoming EventsThe Medicine of Flowers: A Flower Essence Workshop
Thursday, August 7thNatural Beauty Workshop
Tuesday, August 12thBeer Shamanism 201
Thursday, August 14th
Waxing Crescent Moon
5 days old
GRAVEL & GOLD GOODS
ONLINE PRE-SALES HAPPENING!
IN-STORE RELEASE PARTY ON FRIDAY!
In response to the lovely Janelle Pietrazk‘s desire for more music to weave by AND due to my own deep love for the harp, I have gathered these enchanting pieces. Some are plucked upon the classical harp while others are produced by gentle fingers on the Celtic harp—each brings me a profound sense of well-being and a maximum relax. Our house was once graced with such music thanks to sister Sus (in purple of course) who’s powers on her small Celtic are a joy. Hope it does it for ya, sure gets me!
Photo by Rachel Barrett
Thank you Chad Robertson for the newish Tartine Book No. 3. I’ve been baking the René’s- Style Pan Loaves and enjoying serving slices with toppings to the Gals at the G&G studio office. Here’s documentation of the toasted barley loaf process.
Yummm, lunch! Then snack, tea and linner too.
Thank you too to Lady Em for the long-term loan of this immense bread/ birthing bowl that allows for ready tripling/quadrupling of the recipe.
“Beauty is not in the head or in the heart, but in the abdomen.” -Shoji Hamada
These are bits from Fingers and Clay, an 11 minute long 16 mm. film shot with Australian students and Japanese Living National Treasure Shoji Hamada. And below, at Black Mountain College.
Just in case there is a body out there reading this who is not already following us on Instagram, I want to be sure you get a fair chance to celebrate one of our favorite neighbors. A pan-Californian man who could only exist in SF—Berkeley says the lid, SF-city says the freq flag, Tupac he was playing, a small soft chocolate poodle he was embracing, an orange conga drum he had slung across his back that segway day last week. Follow us on Instagram so you never miss this hot shit! Our name there is GRAVELANDGOLDSF xx
The other day, Tomra was putting one of our new SAVE WATER stickers on a package for some visiting Canadian customers and they didn’t know that California is experiencing an “exceptional drought” at this time. Now, Canadians make very nice customers, but ya gotta know that these crazy beautiful winter days, full of birdsong and trees in bloom, do come at a cost. Tomra told me that we’re going to take water from the estuaries and that’s gonna fuck up the salmon runs and we aren’t going to have salmon anymore. For example. It also means that our citrus season was cut super short, and not just citrus.
“I am man’s treasure, taken from the woods,
Cliff‐sides, hill‐slopes, valleys, downs;
By day wings bear me in the buzzing air,
Slip me under a sheltering roof: sweet craft.”
Exeter Book, Riddle 25
If you believe the Norse, we owe our lives to mead. The story goes that in the far distant past, when two clans of warring gods finally made peace, they joined their powers in an all-knowing being called Kvasir, born from a vat of spit. Kvasir reigned the heavens until one day, venturing to earth, he was killed by dwarves who drained his blood, mixed it with honey, and brewed of it the Mead of Inspiration. Odin stole the mead and, disguised as an eagle, distributed it to mankind, enlightening all those who drank it, and bringing the godly gift of poetry to the mortal realm.
“A drink I got of the goodly mead
Poured out from Othrorir.
Then began I to thrive, and wisdom to get,
I grew and well I was;
Each word led me on to another word,
Each deed to another deed.”
The Poetic Edda, Snorri Sturlson, 1200 BC
What did it taste like? We’re not sure, but the Mead of Inspiration was likely a jumbled concoction. Honey was an easily accessible source of sugar — it didn’t need to be juiced, like fruit, or malted, like grain — but it was rare. So historic meads were mixed bags of honey, grain, berries, apples, herbs, and spices. Plus plenty of wild yeast, bacteria, and nutritious bugs. Before modern beekeeping developed techniques to cleanly extract honey from man-made comb, brewers boiled entire, wild-harvested hives, bees, wax, and all.
Ancient mead brewers often added herbs and spices too, as flavorings, medicine, and some — symbolic and narcotic — as spiritual tonics, what anthropologists call “entheogens.” Specific brews were said to cure specific ailments, from coughs to tumors, from “the stone” to “the itch.” Garlic, sage, and rue treated a rabid dog bite. Bee balm “purgeth all melancholy vapors,” wrote 16th-century Italian physician Pietro Andrea Mattioli. Horehound, said herbalist John Gerard, is good for you if you have a cold or “have drunk poyson or have been bitten of serpents.” Blessed thistle gets its Latin name Carduus benedictus from its use in Benedictine brews. Shamanic brewers used more potent herbs — henbane, mandrake, sarsaparilla — to conjure the spirit world, or travel to it. Aztecs took Psilocybe — “teonanácatl,” they called it; the god mushroom — in brews of fermented chocolate or agave nectar. Nordic shamans used ergot, a parasitic fungus that grew on rotted barley and rye. Archaeologists have found its tell-tale bloated purplish grains in the guts of buried bog bodies. Ergot is powerful stuff. The fungus shares some of the same chemical compounds as LSD. A potsherd unearthed in Scotland contained traces of a mead made with heather, on whose flowers grows, sometimes, a similarly hallucinogenic moss called “fogg.”
At our workshop, we chose a less potent but still invigorating mix of rich, fruity guajillo chilies, fiery anchos, cardamom pods, and cloves — a warming, chai-like mead. Spiced meads like this are called metheglins, and were very popular in the Middle Ages, especially with the upper classes. King Charles II himself drank a spiced mead (he liked his with hops, hold the cloves), and the general public took to it both as a status symbol and healthful alternative to wine and beer. Writing in his diary, Samuel Pepys described a night out when, “I drinking no wine, had metheglin for the King’s owne drinking, which did please me mightily.” Some metheglins were even served warm, like a toddy, and mixed with wine or other liquors in a cocktail called a hippocras. In about a month, ours will be ready to drink — a divine reward for our patience.
To close, some good advice from the Vikings:
“Shun not the mead, but drink in measure;
Speak to the point or be still;
For rudeness none shall rightly blame thee
If soon thy bed thou seekest.”
The Poetic Edda
William Bostwick is a brewer, beekeeper, herbalist, and the beer critic for GQ and the Wall Street Journal. He’s been making mead and other fermentables for years, and is writing a book about the great lost beers of history. His book, The Brewers Tale about the history of the world according to beer, will be published by W.W. Norton in October. You can follow him in various places @brewerstale on Twitter and @lonepineco on Instagram
Enter the G&G Playlist Series.
Expect a new thrill each week as we deliver one mega top playlist after another. These can also be found on Spotify under our name: gravelandgold Now you know what the Ladies of Gravel & Gold are jamming (or reading or lunching or busting ass) to as one!