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Northern California in all of its gloriousness welcomed us with blue skies and warm sunshine. Our weekend home was the Heritage House Resort in Little River, and it gave us the perfect jumping off spot for exploring areas further north than Sonoma County usually does.

Anderson Valley

On the way up to the Mendocino Coast, we stopped in for a beer tasting at one of our favorite breweries, Anderson Valley Brewing Company for a quick flight and a wander around.

Anderson Valley Brewing Company

I love the brewery’s commitment to the environment and the fact that they are solar-powered. We buy their beer whenever we can find it in the Boston area, and it was amazing to be able to try so many different beers.

Their use of the Boontling language is also fun!

Anderson Valley Brewing Company

 Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Their Blood Orange Gose was perfect for the sunny day and just a really delicious beer. They all were!

When we left Anderson Valley, we headed to the coast, where we spent the rest of the weekend on as many cliffs, beaches, and trails as possible.

Mendocino Coast

Our exploring took us to Mendocino Headlands, where the sea sparkled, then into the fog further north at MacKerricher State Park, where we found dozens of bobbing seals at Laguna Point. They were hard to capture on my phone, but I was pretty excited (jumping up and down excited) to see so many seals in one place.

Mendocino Coa Northern California Laguna Point California

The park had plenty of paths for us to get some exercise in before we stopped to eat and taste beer again.

The Tap Room,Fort Bragg California

The Taproom is a must-visit if you ever get to the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area. Even before it opened, people were lining up by the door, and we knew we’d made a good choice.

The space was super cute and cozy, and we quickly decided to share a beer sampler to get a taste of all that North Coast Brewing had to offer.

beer tasting at The Tap Room

We’re huge fans of Old Rasputin, and we ended up loving every beer on the tray, even the IPAs, which we often don’t like.

The Tap Room beer

We paired our beers with this insanely good ceviche and homemade chips plus plenty of fresh California avocado. . . heaven!

The Tap Room, Fort Bragg

At the suggestion of some locals, we then headed across the street to Pacific Star Winery for a splash of their It’s All My Fault, a delicious blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chenin Blanc,  and Roussanne, named because of the fault running directly beneath the winery.

Pacific Star Winery

The tasting room was so vibrant and beautiful, filled with local art and lovely regulars who were ready and willing to give us recommendations for the area, including sending us to Roundman’s Smokehouse for all sorts of incredible smoked meats, fish, and cheese. I love meeting people when we travel!

Pacific Star, Fort Bragg California

Glass Beach was another one of their recommendations. Glass Beach is a former dump, which, thanks to the trash dumped there years ago, now offers an abundance of sea glass, in addition to stunning views.

Northern California

Glass Beach

Glass Beach

Our time on the Mendocino Coast was simply spectacular, peaceful, and delicious. It was also too short, but I think a lifetime in such a beautiful place would even have you asking for more!

 

Read more travel posts about Northern California on my travel blog post page.

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Tags: Anderson Valley, California, coastal living, Mendocino, Northern California, travel blog, wine, wine tasting

If you live in the Boston area, you probably know about Bin Ends Wine, discount wine stores in Braintree and Needham. Not only do they have an amazing selection and great prices, but they also have a true love, knowledge of, and passion for wine.  They periodically do wine dinners, and over President’s Day weekend, we got a group of friends together to go to their Sonoma wine dinner at The Townshend in Quincy.

The Townshend

wine dinner

Gundlach Bundschu Gewurtztraminer

 

scallop crudo

first course
smoked scallop crudo
served with pickled fresno pepper / pork rinds / cilantro
2013 Gundlach Bundschu Gewurtztraminer
"Estate" Sonoma Coast

This was easily my favorite pairing of the night. We love Gundlach Bundschu and have visited many times on trips to Sonoma County. Any sort of crudo is up my alley, and the wine was bright, crisp, and made the dish pop with notes of grapefruit and lemon.

croquette

second course
pork croquette
served with parsnip / gremolata / bone marrow
2014 Raeburn Winery Chardonnay
Russian River Valley

The second course paired a buttery Chardonnay from Raeburn (also a new favorite) with a rich pork and parsnip dish. The vanilla notes in the wine were lovely with the creamy parsnip, another spot-on pairing, and one that was great for a cold Sunday evening. 

lamb  

third course
braised bone-in lamb shank
served with cappellacci / golden raisin / oregano
2011 Donelan Family Wines Syrah
"Walker Vine Hill Vyd" Russian River Valley

Talk about Sunday supper food. . . the third pairing was a hearty, fall-of-the-bone lamb shank with a delicious Syrah from Donelan Family Vineyards. Spice and chocolate and berry notes made for the perfect fireside sipper and a great pairing with the very rich main course.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee  

dessert course
mini "Ghirardelli" sundae
cocoa waffle cone bowl, caramelized white chocolate ice cream, salted caramel chocolate sauce, praline tuille 
  Prepared By Pastry Chef Kate Holochick
Served with The Townshend’s Irish Coffee

At this point I could have rolled out of The Townshend, but we had a San Francisco treat to finish off the evening. A Buena Vista-style Irish coffee and a homemade Ghirardelli Sundae put me in the frame of mind to head to the West Coast and wander the lovely Ghirdardelli Square (which I did just a few weeks later). Easily one of the best desserts I have had in a long time, and the Irish coffee was a sweet and potent way to end the night.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee

After this experience, I really can’t recommend these events enough. It was so much fun, and I hope Bin Ends and The Townshend collaborate again for something similar.

Since I just returned from a visit to Northern California, I have quite a few San Francisco and other posts to share. . . stay tuned!

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Tags: California, Food, food blog, Quincy, Restaurants, Sonoma, travel blog, wine, wine blog

View past Martha’s Vineyard posts :

Our stay at the Nobnocket Boutique Inn

Dinner at State Road MV

A Day Trip to Martha’s Vineyard

We discovered a few weeks ago that Martha’s Vineyard is well-worth an off-season visit, even if that visit comes right after a snowstorm and during the bitter cold of February. Our stay at the Nobnocket Boutique Inn was absolutely perfect for a relaxing weekend away from Boston, and while on the island, we made the most of our time exploring. We were surprised to find out how much was open.

Menemsha Beach After checking in at Nobnocket, we headed straight for Menemsha Beach to catch the sunset in the area. It was incredibly cold and windy, but so beautiful.

Menemsha Beach

Menemsha Beach

Aquinnah

We only lasted a few minutes walking on the beach before heading to the Menemsha Fish Market, which was open and serving piping hot lobster bisque.

snowy lobster traps

Snow definitely added an extra layer of beauty to the Vineyard that weekend!

Menemsha Beach

Still waiting for the sun to set and the Super Moon to rise, we raced over to Aquinnah and made it just in time to see the enormous moon coming up, and the sky turning all shades of pink and purple.

Aquinnah

Bean boots and beaches

It was all so breathtakingly stunning, even if we did almost fall a few times on ice as we ran up to the highest point.

Martha's Vineyard in winter

 

We were glad that we didn’t let the whipping winds keep us from catching this beauty. Only one other couple was out there with us, and other than the wind and waves, it was perfectly quiet.

Martha's Vineyard sunset

Our dinner at State Road was the coziest way to end the day!

The next morning after breakfast at the inn, we set off for the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary with the intention of snowshoeing. There turned out to not be enough snow for that, so we ended up walking for a couple of hours, all alone in the sanctuary, except for the company of deer, otters, and other critters whose prints we saw in the snow. It was magical.

 snowy walk Martha's Vineyard

We worked up quite the hunger, and decided to head to Edgartown’s Harbor View Hotel for some snacks and a glass of wine.

Edgartown

The hotel is beautiful, and I absolutely loved the pops of color on the porch. It was a nice sight against a gray and snowy day.

Harbor View Hotel

Mini lobster tacos and the most delicious Chateau Beaulieu rosé, along with great conversation with Petro at the bar made us want to tuck in and stay for the afternoon, but we had more exploring to do!

lobster tacos

Our next stop was Oak Bluffs. . . talk about pops of color! I absolutely love all of the little cottages there and dream of spending my summer in one. They looked so adorable in the snow, and we were wishing they were year-round properties. Most of them were closed up for the season.

IMG_0297

 Oak Bluffs

Oak Bluffs Oak Bluffs

We headed back to the inn for some time chatting by the fire and then decided to check out the Vineyard Haven dining scene, first grabbing fried oysters at The Black Dog, which I know is a tourist destination, but still, I love it! It was so cozy, and the oysters were delicious.

fried oysters

We finished the night with sushi and sake cocktails at the highly recommended Copper Wok, which was really a fabulous date spot.

IMG_0311

All good things must come to an end, and due to snow on the mainland, we decided to take an earlier ferry, but not before visiting the alpacas at the alpaca farm. If you are an animal lover or have kids, it is definitely a spot worth visiting. The alpacas were cute and friendly and soft, and the store is full of beautiful alpaca fur items.

alpaca farm alpaca farm

Martha's Vineyard ferry

We left Martha’s Vineyard feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, chatting about making a winter trip an annual tradition.

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Tags: Martha's Vineyard, MV, New England, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, traveling

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