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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

Where has March gone?! Blogging and reading blogs has taken a back seat to working and travel, and I am back for a bit to share some of our recent Northern California adventures, not entirely in order.

My husband had a conference in San Francisco, and it turned out I had a work event just a few days after, which meant I should just go for the whole week, which is exactly what I did, and it was pretty amazing. More on that soon.

For the weekend we decided to step outside of our Sonoma County comfort zone and headed north to Little River to stay at the stunning Heritage House Resort and Spa on the Mendocino Coast. I discovered the resort via Instagram, and they kindly extended me a media rate for our two night stay. See for yourself how incredible our experience was. . .

Heritage House Resort Little River California

After a beautiful drive through Sonoma County and into the redwoods, we arrived at Heritage House, which is nestled along the coast with the most jaw dropping views.  It’s rustic and sweet and fits right into the natural beauty surrounding it. This is a true getaway, which is exactly what we were looking for.

Little River CA hotel

Heritage House Little River

Our room was spacious and had a feeling of simplicity and complete zen. A bottle of wine from local Navarro Vineyards was a welcome treat and kind gift from the hotel’s General Manager. We actually opted not to do much vineyard-hopping on this trip and loved being able to try local wines on property.

Navarro Wine

While we did some exploring of the Mendocino Coast, we spent a good amount of our time just being on the property of Heritage House. Can you see why?

Heritage House Resort Little River California

Heritage House Resort Little River California Heritage House Resort Little River California In addition to acres of high coastline for watching the sunset (with the absolutely delicious Navarro Wine), we also had a private beach for the resort, and we soaked up some sun while listening to waves crashing. We got so lucky with the weather every single day on our trip.

Heritage House Resort Little River California  hotels in Little River, CA

Heritage House Resort Little River California

Pacific sunset

Pacific Ocean

Please just take me back.

IMG_0853

 

Heritage House Resort Little River California

Heritage House has numerous dining options within driving distance, but we opted to stay in for dinner, dining at their 5200 Lounge and also stocking up on yummy cheese and meats for snacks on our deck.

Heritage House Resort Little River California

 

The lounge was cozy and relaxed, with a great wine list, and one of the best burgers we had ever had. We spied on the food that came to tables around us, and it definitely looked like you couldn’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

Heritage House Resort Little River California

Heritage House Resort Little River California Between the views, the comfortable rooms, delicious food on-site, and plenty to do in the area, with the amazing option to do nothing, Heritage House blew us away, and we wished we had stayed longer. It will absolutely be a place we return to. While we love Sonoma County, we were so happy to have ventured a bit beyond on this trip.

Thank you to Heritage House for taking such good care of us!

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Tags: California, hotels, Mendocino County, Northern California, resorts, Travel, travel blog

I sometimes think that if it wasn’t for this blog, I wouldn’t remember half of the things we do in a year. I love going back and being able to remember exactly what we did, ate, and saw during a certain time of year. It’s been the most consistent journal I have had in my adult life, and hopefully making it public has been entertaining and informative to others! As I sat down to start writing this post, I thought to myself that we didn’t do too much in 2014, but going back made me realize what a full year it was from the very start and just how much good happened.

2014 was an interesting year. We spent a large chunk of it legally chasing after a shady plumber who took lots and lots of money and did a hack job on our house. We hoped to leave that in 2014, but the legal system had other ideas. You can really get away with anything if you’re slimy enough, we’ve learned. If you’re looking for a plumber in the Boston area, feel free to contact me so you know who NOT to choose.

That situation has been tough, but this year has been about so much more. We saw our families a ton, with two visits to Ireland and multiple guests from Ireland, as well as a nice long visit from New Jersey family and lots of short trips there. We got to help out in our first Sonoma grape harvest, had many boat dates, and genuinely grew closer to many great people in our lives. It was a full, rich year, and we have so many memories to be thankful for.

Below are some of my Best of 2014 moments in food and travel. Please share one of yours in the comments!

 

Aniar –  My belated birthday dinner in Galway was definitely the best meal of the year. Service, ambiance, and local Irish ingredients make it easy to see why this restaurant has a Michelin star. How many ways can I tell you to get yourself to Galway, then go to Aniar?

Aniar Galway

 

Red Fish Grill, Coral Gables, Florida – We kicked off 2014 with a trip to Miami. With the winter we had, it turned out we needed every second of warm sunshine we soaked up while there. We stayed at the Sonesta in Coconut Grove (highly recommended, full disclosure, I work for Sonesta Hotels.)

Red Fish Grill

 

Owenmore Restaurant at Ballynahinch Castle – You know how I feel about the Irish countryside, if you’ve been reading for any amount of time. There is an indescribable beauty and sense of calm; it changes me in the best ways ever. We got to spend a day in the country, followed by a delicious dinner and overnight at Ballynahinch Castle, a place my husband’s family has been visiting for years. They knew so many people it felt like home, and I will always remember relaxing by the fire into the wee hours of St. Patrick’s Day morning.

Ballynahinch Castle

Ballynahinch Castle Owenmore Restaurant

 

Wine Country Weekend Lunch at Davis Family Vineyards – A year is not complete without a visit to Sonoma County. Through blogging about wine and travel, I have met some great people and had amazing opportunities, and this year was no different. We kicked off this wine country trip with a glorious wine lunch at Davis Family Vineyards. Sonoma Wine Country weekend has so many great events (including our starlit night of dancing at Rodney Strong), and I would definitely recommend checking one or two out if you happen to be there during the events.

Davis Family wine

 

Sonoma sunset

 

The Girl and the Fig and all the Sonoma County wine tasting – Okay, pretty much every moment of our Sonoma trip was my favorite. This post summed up some of the food and wine experiences we had in Napa and Sonoma. Our Flipkey wine country cottage is really worth checking out too.

Girl and the Fig, Sonoma

Travel to Long Island Wine Country – From tasting by the ocean in the beautiful Kontokosta Winery tasting room to chilling out at Noah’s in Greenport, having copious quantities of oysters and bubbly at the Blue Canoe, and feeling at home at Bedell Cellarsour getaway to the North Fork was one of my favorite weekends of 2014.  The North Fork is so easy to get to from Boston, and we are definitely planning a 2015 visit.

Kontokosta Winery, North Fork

As we look back at 2014, we are planning our 2015 travel, including the biggest trip of our lives. . . a 12 day safari in Tanzania! I have been to Africa once before (Tunisia during college), but this is going to be very different. Sleeping in a tent amongst lions and elephants and other animals? SO exciting and so very far out of my nerve-laden comfort zone! It will definitely be an adventure!

 

Your turn – what was your favorite food/travel moment of 2014? Do you have any 2015 travel plans or dreams?

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Tags: best of, California, cocktails, Connemara, Dining out, Food, Ireland, North Fork, Sonoma, Travel, wine, wine country

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