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A food tour of wine country seemed like the perfect thing for a Wine Wednesday post! Just like I heard about River’s Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips from The Wine Road, I received an introduction to Tammy from Savor Healdsburg Food Tours from them as well.  We woke up bright and early on Sunday morning of our Healdsburg stay and enjoyed another morning of coffee at our country cottage before heading into town for the food tour.

The Farm to Table Tour, which we were on, had five stops, all unique and filling us with good food and wine, so I am going to break it up into a couple of posts to make sure I can cover all the stops.

We met Tammy and the rest of our small group in the Healdsburg Plaza, a wonderful place to hang out, enjoy the gorgeous weather, and people watch.

After some background information on Healdsburg (one of the best places on earth, in my opinion), we headed to our first stop, The Wurst.

The Wurst, Healdsburg

The Wurst was opened by Detroit native Charles Bell, who brings some flavors and ingredients of the Midwest to California. And if you are in the mood for something hearty, fun, and flavorful, this is the spot.

Our tour grabbed a couple of outside tables; where else would you want to be when it is a perfect California summer day?! Our table was quickly filled with baskets of fries, dipping sauces, and the sausages that make The Wurst famous around town. Favorites included the sweet potato fries (perfectly soft and crunchy)  in beer mustard and the Harissa Hottie sausage (pork, beef apricot, Harissa spice, habanero chili, coriander). You know if there’s spice, I am on it! The Polish sausage was a close second; the flavors reminded me of Easter dinners with Eastern European family.

 

flavored ketchups

We loved The Wurst’s laid back feel and casual fare, and the service was warm and friendly. It was a great way to start the tour, and we left feeling a little full already!

The Wurst, Healdsburg

Luckily we had a short walk to get ready for our next stop, one of my new favorite spots, Healdsburg SHED. This large, open, and airy restaurant/café/shop is a food lover’s paradise and the perfect place to start your day in Healdsburg, especially if you have a wine country picnic in mind.

SHED Healdsbug

It has everything you could possibly want and is buzzing with energy, excitement, and great smells. One of their unique features is their fermentation bar, which serves up kombucha, kefir, and shrubs. I love fermented drinks of all sorts but especially love these healthy ones!

fermentation bar, SHED Healdsbug

SHED serves up two different wood fired pizzas daily, in addition to all sorts of other specialties.

SHED Healdsburg

 

SHED Healdsburg

There are meats and cheeses, prepared foods, garden supplies, cook books, flowers, and so much more. SHED also offers all sorts of classes on learning different things like canning, fermenting, and more. You could easily visit and spend a whole day (and a whole lot of money) at this beautiful spot. I am officially in love.

SHED Healdsburg

The highlight of our visit was of course getting to sample some of the culinary delights SHED has to offer. The heat outside didn’t stand a chance against this refreshing shrub, made with fresh fruit and vinegar. It was lightly sweet, tangy, and cool; the perfect drink for a summer day.

shrub

We also shared one of the pizzas of the day, a thin, perfect crust dotted with cheese, jalapeno and shishito peppers. The mezze plate of the day was a favorite of everyone, especially the big block of feta and the bright, earthy beet tzatziki. Every bite was delicious, and as we went along, the group chatted more. It’s always fun when you have a group that clicks, and we really enjoyed everyone along the journey.

SHED Healdsburg mezze platter

Both The Wurst and SHED are Healdsburg businesses that we would definitely revisit. I love food tours and the way that they give you a taste of a variety of places; they’re ideal for the beginning of a trip to help set the tone and plan for the rest of the time there. Or, like for us, they make it even more enticing to plan a trip back. . .

Stay tuned for the next stops on the Savor Healdsburg Food Tour, where we’ll taste local wine, chow down on tapas, and finish with a sweet cupcake treat!

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Tags: California. Sonoma County, food tours, Healdsburg, Savor Healdsburg Food Tours, Travel, travel blog, wine, wine blog, wine country

In moments of distraction, my mind keeps drifting back to a hot and sunny, absolutely perfect day spent floating down the Russian River in Healdsburg, California. When we were planning our last trip, I was in touch with Beth from The Wine Road, an incredibly helpful organization and site for wine country planning and events. (They do my favorite event, Wine & Food Affair, in November. I want to go back for it!) When I told Beth that we wanted to spend a ton of time outdoors, she suggested River’s Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips, right on the edge of the Russian River in Healdsburg. A couple of emails later, and we were booked for a double canoe for the Saturday afternoon of our stay.

River's Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips

Our first impression of River’s Edge is that everything is SO organized, making the trip smooth and worry free. They had coolers, trash bags, cords for holding items in the canoe, even hair ties, available for us to borrow for the day; when you are not local it is always helpful to not have to go get everything separately! They also take your keys before you head out to the river, handy for them for keeping the parking lot organized, handy for you if your canoe happens to tip over!

We started our journey on a school bus ride out to a remote beach. Our driver was hilarious and had everyone laughing before we arrived. Once at the beach, we checked in, learned a little bit about the river, and then we were on our way.

River's Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips

River's Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips

We didn’t waste any time and started paddling right away. Pretty soon it was just us and the fish below as we enjoyed gorgeous blue skies and perfect Northern California scenery. Due to the drought in California, parts of the river were almost dry, and in those we got out and carried the canoe.

River's Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips

Russian River

Other parts of the river were deeper, but never much deeper than up to my waist or so. The current was slow, and so were we, truly taking the time to take it all in. There were some incredible houses along the way, all with stairs leading down to beaches, and I could easily imagine spending summer afternoons on the river and evenings at wine events. A girl can dream, right?

Russian River

About halfway through our journey, we pulled over and had a picnic on a secluded little beach. We brought Boont Amber Ale, waters, smoked salmon, hummus, cheese, crackers, chips, and salsa. It was the perfect light lunch before a little swimming to cool off from that magnificent California sun. I LOVED the dry heat we had for our entire trip.

Russian River

After we made our way to Veteran’s Beach in Healdsburg to drop off the canoe, we did a little more swimming and then headed back to River’s Edge to get our keys and head out. The trip even included a free ice cream at the end, a sweet and cold treat to end the perfect afternoon. The people at River’s Edge could not have been more welcoming, and their hospitality was what helped to make the day so special.

Many thanks to The Wine Road for all of their recommendations and to River’s Edge Kayak and Canoe Trips for hosting our afternoon canoeing. We plan on coming back every time we are in Healdsburg!

For more on things to do and places to stay in Healdsburg:

Healdsburg Inn on the Plaza

Our Healdsburg Home

Wine Country Restaurants

September is also California Wine Month! The Wine Road has some specials happening. If you are in wine country, check them out!

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Tags: California, canoe, Healdsburg, kayak, outdoors, Russian River, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, swimming, Travel, vacation, wine country

I love all sorts of accommodations when we travel. My favorites tend to be more private though (like our incredible Prague apartment), so when I was invited to an event being held by Flipkey, I was definitely interested in learning more. The event ended up being canceled, but I followed up to ask about houses in Northern California. We had just purchased plane tickets to Oakland with the plan to spend five days in Healdsburg and surrounding Sonoma County. A few emails later, and Flipkey kindly offered to cover a portion of our stay so that I could review their service.

Using Fliipkey is incredibly easy, from its simple and clean interface to the straightforward search engine. Once you pick your location and dates, you can narrow down by price, amenities, location, and more, allowing you to find your perfect spot. We knew we wanted to be in Healdsburg or Windsor, so we zeroed in on those spots and found an affordable country cottage in a perfect location in Windsor, but minutes from the Healdsburg border.

Country Garden Cottage

Our Country Garden Cottage was located at the top of a long driveway that had grapes on one side and horses on the other. In front of the long driveway were vineyards for ages. The cottage owners also lived on site, but we had our own entrance and tons of privacy and quiet.

Merlot grapes

On the outside, there were beautiful things growing everywhere and beautiful views to match. The many flowers brought in butterflies and hummingbirds that we loved to watch while we weren’t out wine tasting and exploring.

Russian River Valley

We also made a point of being home for the sunset a few of the nights. It was so incredibly beautiful and peaceful to sit in one of the many outdoor seating areas on the property. Our hosts really thought of everything when they set up this guest home, and appreciated all of the comfortable details.

Russian River Valley sunset

Inside was even cozier. The cottage had one bedroom with the same view of the hills across the way, and it had fantastic dark curtains and the comfiest bed, ensuring a nice long night of sleep. Plush carpets throughout meant walking just felt nice.

country garden cottage

The living area was spacious and nicely decorated, and the house was complete with a small kitchenette with glasses dishes, teas and coffees, plastic wrap, and many other little comforts that we used throughout our stay. There were also magazines, books, maps, DVDs, and even some toys for younger guests. Country Garden Cottage is truly ready for its guests to arrive and start their vacations. Hanging out at night, listening to crickets, and loving the peace was what we needed; we didn’t turn on the TV or open our laptops the entire time!

country garden cottage

We spent every morning enjoying coffee with a view and playing with the resident animals, a beautiful white lab, a cat, and a bunch of chickens. I am pretty sure I was born to live in the country, wandering around growing things and hanging out with animals, so these days made me incredibly happy. . . and very hard to leave a place I already am in love with.

image

 

chickens

Our cottage owners provided us with figs and fresh eggs on arrival, and my vacation breakfast became soft boiled eggs and fresh figs. It was pretty much as close to perfect as you could get.

fresh figs

We felt so lucky with our Flipkey find, and just browsing through, it definitely seemed like there were a ton more great properties available. I think Flipkey rentals are ideal for a vacation where you might want your own space and an area to cook and relax. They are perfect for families, and it really seems like there is something for everyone. Now excuse me please while I go look at airfares so we can visit our Northern California cottage again soon. Smile

Flipkey gave me a portion of the cottage rental fee in exchange for a review of their service. All opinions are my own.

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Tags: California, Flipkey, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, Travel, travel blog, vacation, vacation rentals, wine country

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