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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

What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been! From almost a week in NJ to over a week in California to arriving home late last night from a long weekend in Puerto Rico, I feel like I have been on the road and in the air nonstop. I’ve loved it. While I do crave routine, there’s something about a change of perspective that is really inspiring and motivating. It’s good to be home though (and planning our next trip, which is to Camden, Maine in just a few weeks!)

While my husband had a conference in San Francisco, I spent my days working on East Coast time, generally 5:00 am Pacific time until around 1:00 or 2:00, then taking time to explore San Francisco on my own, which was so fun. I still have so many blog posts left, but since food is such an important part of this blog, I bring you a quick peek into some of my San Francisco food and drink finds.

Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant San Francisco

Before a very long walk on Ocean Beach and in Golden Gate Park, I fueled up with a Beach Louie Salad at the Beach Chalet. I wanted something super fresh but also something hearty and filling to get me through the day, and this delicious combination did both. The views from the Beach Chalet are stunning, which certainly set the mood for a fun day of San Francisco exploration.

Magnolia Brewery

I walked for four hours straight in the warm California sun, and my reward in Haight-Ashbury was a cold Ripple in Cloud Water beer at the Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery. This cute corner brew pub was a fun stop for me to rest my feet and refresh with a delicious beer and for some people-watching.

Magnolia Brewery  

After a long hot shower when I returned, I headed to a trendy spot, The Cavalier, for solo dinner. I really enjoy dining alone at times. And I immensely enjoyed my black cod with truffle and the incredible half an avocado with pickled fennel, beets, and red onion. It was a heavenly blend of richness and freshness. The restaurant vibe was great, and while I had a great time alone, I would love to dress up and come back with a group.

 Cavalier San Francisco

Wattle Creek Winery

Since I was in California, I of course made time to find a wine tasting room in San Francisco. On another day of walking, I made my way to Wattle Creek Winery, where I started tasting wines, got to the Viognier, and loved it so much I decided I wanted to stop there and have a glass. The tasting room in San Francisco is in the heart of Ghirardelli Square, and with the sun shining, a musician playing nearby, a delicious glass of wine and a friendly tasting room staff, I was one happy traveler.

Wattle Creek Winery

Ghirardelli Square

That night, I opted for takeout and TV. . . walking those San Francisco hills can definitely take it out of you, and the time zone change meant I was ready for bed by 9 most nights! Oasis Grill in the Financial District has been a favorite for tired takeout in the past, and I loved this falafel and eggplant wrap. I have been craving it ever since!

falafel wrap

We spent the next few days in Mendocino at the Heritage House Resort, and when I returned to San Francisco for a work event, finally had dinner at The Slanted Door in the Ferry Building. I had been to San Francisco so many times and never visited this favorite waterfront hotspot, so I was very excited.

I didn’t disappoint! Talk about cravings. . . I want to eat this food every day. Go with a group, and share as many dishes as possible. Four of us put quite a dent in the menu, devouring all sorts of rolls and noodles and crunchy, spicy, fresh vegetables.

We also polished off a bottle of Croatian wine, which was a highlight of the evening.

The Slanted Door

The Slanted Door

Some people may feel that the Ferry Building restaurants are too touristy, but I still love it. There’s some great food, and the views definitely don’t hurt!

Bay Bridge Sunset

Because of the blizzard back at home, I got a bonus day in San Francisco and was not only able to head back to Sonoma for wine tasting at Gloria Ferrer and Anaba, but we also got introduced to a very cool wine bar I almost don’t want to share. . .

High Treason is the creation of two former fine dining somms who have taken their knowledge and experience and opened up a completely chill local wine bar with ridiculously good small plates and a really interesting wine list, which they know inside and out. If we didn’t have to get to the airport, I would have stayed all night. 

 High Treason

High Treason

I’m beyond lucky that my job, my husband’s job, and blogging have allowed me to have so many of the experiences I have had this year. I am definitely happiest with a suitcase packed and travel research notes all over the place!

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Tags: Food, San Francisco, Travel, travel blog, travel media, wine

Sunday dinner makes those dark winter Sundays a bit more bearable. Add in a delicious Navarra Tempranillo, fun people, and a silly dog, and Sunday becomes positively joyful. It’s a tradition I highly recommend starting.

principe de viana reserva tempranillo

 

 

mashed butternut squash

 

roasted vegetables

 

red wine gravy

 

Sunday dinner    

The menu:

Slow roasted pot roast, seared first with garlic and onions, then popped into the slow cooker with a 1/4 cup of red wine, two shots of espresso, black pepper, sea salt on low for six hours

Red wine gravy, made with liquid from the slow cooker and a nice brown roux

Roasted veggies – parsnips, potatoes, and carrots, slow roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper

Mashed butternut squash

Crusty baguette

Chocolate cake from South End Buttery

Príncipe de Viana Reserva 2011- One of the wines generously sent to me by Navarra Wine, this 100% Tempranillo was one I was waiting to share with some serious wine-loving friends. I knew a roast would pair really well with it, and Sunday dinner in itself is enough of an occasion to bring out the special wine, if you ask me!

Aged in oak barrels, with a deep garnet red color, this lovely wine had notes of cherry and smoky dark chocolate, full of flavor but balanced enough to not overpower our dinner. The menu went perfectly with it, from the umami flavors in the slow cooked roast to the earthiness and bit of spice in the roasted vegetables. The last few sips went to wash down dark chocolate cake, which only brought out the cherry characteristics of the wine. Really lovely.

In this fast-paced world we live in, there’s something so soothing about taking the day to prepare a meal and to share good wine with fun people. Slowing down on a Sunday is definitely one way of dealing with the Sunday scaries if, like me, they tend to dominate the day!

 

Thank you to Navarra Wines for sharing some of their delicious wines with me to pair with food and share reviews with all of you.

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Tags: Navarra, roast, slow cooker, Spanish wine, Sunday dinner, Tempranillo, wine, wine of navarra, Wine Wednesday

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