Wednesday, December 20, 2006

California Part 2

After the weekend in LA, we hopped in the car and drove up route 5 to San Francisco. Route 5 could be the worst highway in the US but the company was good and we had one of those ipod hookups so we were all set.

The husband and I lived in San Francisco for 6 years so it was a little embarrassing when we nearly drove right by SF. We turned around and arrived in the Richmond District around 8:30pm to visit with good friends. After some delicious cheese and beer we headed out to dinner at King of Thai Noodle house on Clement between 4th and 5th (they have other locations as well).

I know everyone says they have good Thai near them, but something about the places in SF are just so much better. I will say that Sripraphai in Queens was pretty freakin good, but that's about all I have found.

On the order for 6 people was chicken satay; fish cakes; tofu in green curry; noodles with egg, soy, and broccoli; chicken with chili; chicken with eggplant; 8 beers and I know I am missing a dish or two. You want to know what the bill was?

A whopping 65 dollars - for 6 people - after tax and tip.

It kills me when people talk about cheap eats in New York. It just isn't the same.

The next morning we headed up to Mendocino, a favorite weekend getaway of ours - and about every other couple in SF. Winter is a great time to go because it is really quiet up there. The ride up is windy but stunning and a sense of calm hits me every time the ocean reveals itself in all its angriness as you pull out of the redwoods and hit the coast. The town is about 3 hours north of SF.



This is one of about two dozen pictures I took while there. I'll post more tomorrow.

On the way, we always stop at Navarro Vineyards, the best producer of Gewurztraminer in CA, at least in my opinion. Their tasting is free and they offer all their wines for tasting. We bought a bottle of Gewurtz and a bottle of Pinot Noir for our night in Mendo.

After checking in to the Mendocino Hotel we went for a long walk on the cliffs. Walking is big is Mendocino. This was followed with some cheese and the bottle of Guwertz on the porch of the hotel which overlooks the cliffs and ocean.

Then on to dinner at Cafe Beaujolais. This is a must stop. And when you go, someone must order the Sturgeon, it is sort of famous - at least in my head.

We all started with Aperitifs, for me the Lillet Rouge which reminded me of a not too sweet sangria. For appetizers we split pumpkin soup which was so fresh that there were chunks of pumpkin; crab cakes that were all crab no breadcrumbs; and Nimon Ranch ham with a chile cream sauce and poached egg, obviously this had no chance of being bad. A great start to dinner.

Of course two people got the sturgeon which is pan roasted with truffle emulsion sauce, served with house made tagliatelle, wild mushrooms, beets and snap peas. This is one of the more perfectly balanced dishes I have ever tasted.

I had the lamb shank. Of course I loved it as I do anything that is braised.

The fourth person in our group had the duck which came with a pepper risotto. The risotto was almost too peppery on its own, it really tasted as if you were chewing on a peppercorn. However, with the sweet wine reduction sauce that was on the duck it worked like magic. I love when that happens.

For dessert, an apple crumble and a chocolate gooey thing that I can't remember. The wine was starting to kick in...

After walking back to our hotel (no need for a car in this town) we grabbed the bottle of pinot we bought earlier and played hearts in front of the fire in the lobby. I know this is so cheesy you want to puke but somehow when you are there it makes sense. I dare you not to do the same when you are there.

The next morning - more walks and a stop at the local bakery for blackberry danish and coffee to be eaten on the cliffs and then off to Napa. If only every morning started this way.

One other mention, there is a tea from the Mendocino Tea Company that rivals my favorite Mariage Freres tea. Here is a link to a picture of their booth at the local farmer's market. Very grass roots. They claim to have a website but it doesn't work. The tea you want (if you go to Mendocino it can be found in the grocery store in town) is the purple label, I think called Mendocino Sunsets.

Tomorrow, California Part 3 Napa and the Airport

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