I am sad to say that the best meal of the trip; nay, one of the best meals of my life, occurred at a restaurant in Healdsburg with perhaps the worst restaurant name ever: Barndiva. But I digress. Every single thing about this experience was perfect, from the food to the atmosphere to the service. Do yourself a favor and go if you’re ever around there. We did the five-course tasting menu with wine pairings. If I remember correctly (*note, I don’t), it went something like this:
- heirloom tomato, mozzarella, and speck salad –> dry Riesling
- layered salad consisting of fresh crab + avocado + whipped chevre + potato wafer + caviar –> French Semillon
- lobster risotto with fresh corn –> whiteBurgundy
- lamb two ways (chop and…?), with…stuff (sorry, I see lamb and I instantly forget what else is there) –> local Pinot Noir. The lamb and the grapes were both sourced from farms like a mile or five away.
- peach apricot tart (?) –> some sort of sweet wine (the wine had clearly taken effect by this point…)
A trio of bearded musicians played jazz (mercifully, quietly) near us, including a version of “Hallelujah” that made me clap a little too loud. Stumble home once again fat, happy and tipsy.
Today was the day we did some serious wine tasting and buying. We went to two wineries I’ve been interested in for a long time, Chateau Montelena and Grgich Winery. If you’ve heard about the famous 1976 Paris tasting, these are the two wineries whose Cabernets and Chardonnays bested a number of French reigning champions and put California wine on the map. We bought a bottle of Grgich’s Fumé Blanc and, in a dramatic splurge for a couple that still has tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, a bottle of Montelena’s 2007 estate Cab, which we plan to open on our 10th anniversary. (I’ll pause for you to wretch a second).
We drove around some more and ended up in Sonoma for our dinner, which was (sadly) the biggest disappointment of the trip. The Girl and the Fig came highly recommended to me by a good friend, and I was so excited for a nice bistro-y French dinner. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver. We were seated at the Shittiest Table Outside, and when I requested to move inside due to the cold, we were seated at the Shittiest Table Inside. We’d had reservations for 3 weeks; what the what is going on there? The waiter was either new, hard of hearing or just generally not suited for waiting; he didn’t write anything down and came back constantly to verify what we’d ordered. No one took our menus away after we ordered appetizers. The entrées were weak. Their port selection was good, I guess? I don’t know. It kills me to get 15 minutes into a meal and know it’s going to be a disappointment but I’m going to have to drop a huge chunk of change anyway. C’est dommage!
Check out of the lovely cottage, drive drive drive drive up 101-N, and I can’t remember for the life of me if/where we stopped along the way. Eureka? Oh yeah, I remember Eureka. It seems like it was swinging in the 60s but probably has a large meth problem today. We ended up in Crescent City at a KOA Campground set in a grove of redwoods, which was cool. We stayed in a tiny cabin with a humorous bed/mattress set-up.
Driving into town for dinner, we stumbled on the most unassuming hole in the wall Mexican joint you can imagine. After a quick check on Yelp to make sure it wasn’t a drug front, we had one of the other best meals of the trip. Look, I know I preen about my deep qualifications to judge Tex-Mex food, but I am wholly unequipped to judge traditional Mexican food. Luckily, I married a real Mexican(-American) whose opinion I can grift and use as my own. He declared the place as good as places he grew up going to in L.A. and central Mexico, with one exception: the albondiga soup had frozen broccoli stems in it.
Let’s see, on Saturday we continued up the coast and ended up in Florence, OR for our final night. We stayed at the most charming inn, had a great dinner, ate Oregonian ice cream (a blackberry and hazelnut flavor), got great coffee the next morning, and headed home through the scenic curves of the Suislaw Forest.
And now I’m tired of typing. It was good, the end, thanks for reading?