Did you notice how much better everything tastes when you are traveling? Or how wonderful it is to anticipate the taste of something you've heard rave reviews about? And then there is the whole topic of road food and what the best snacks are for travelers. You could write an entire series of books on road food alone.
This adventure is going to include food tastings galore-my Pinterest pages are full of spots to check out across the entire United States. During this trip through Northern California I had one destination in mind-Cowgirl Creamery. A while back I became addicted to their Humboldt Fog Cheese and when I saw they had a shop in Point Reyes Station well it was a done deal that we were going to stop there !
Ahhh the Mt. Tam Triple Creme
Sweet spicy peppers on the Devil's Gulch CheeseWe could have spent all afternoon just asking for tastings-as it turned out the 5 I had selected were the 5 we ended up purchasing after the tastings. I had warned Jim about the price point (high) but told him it was well worth it once you tasted the cheese. Now those of you who know Jim, know that he is a penny pincher-putting it mildly (it’s his penny pinching that has made our travels possible!). So I was a little surprised when he didn’t bat an eye at checkout. We walked out with their sea salt and olive oil crackers; some Devil’s Gulch, of course the Humboldt Fog; a small wheel of Mt Tam; Truffle Tremor and St. George. After we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and back we opened up the Humboldt Fog and the crackers-oh my gosh-how can anything taste so good? Creamy cheese and sea salt crackers-perfect afternoon snack. We felt decadent driving through the streets of San Francisco nibbling on the cheese at every red light!
Our next stop was totally accidental. We kept seeing signs for “Save our Drakes Bay Oysters”, so we looked up the information and found out that the US Secretary of Interior declined to renew their 40 year lease that expired in 2012. Drakes Bay Oyster Company is still appealing but it doesn't look good for them. All of the locals have gotten involved trying to save jobs and a history of providing fresh sustainable seafood. I wish them much luck ! We headed out to Drakes Bay Oyster Company in Inverness, CA. After all it was on the way to Point Reyes so how could we not stop. Now I am the oyster freak in our family. I love cold raw oysters with a champagne chaser. Jim doesn't really care for them. But he totally surprised me and decided he was going to eat more than just one and learn to enjoy them. And he did! This is a first for him.
It would really be a shame to lose this company, I hope some one sees the light and they get a lease renewal.
There is one stop we didn't make-it was late in the day, we were tired and in search of spot to camp as we went by a Czechoslovakian Restaurant by the name of Vladimir’s-it’s also located in Inverness. After reading about it and being Czech, I will definitely be stopping the next time we pass through the area.
And another episode of trying to bake bread on our charcoal grill. If you remember when we camped in Bend I tried making Jim Lahey’s No Knead bread on the grill-it didn't rise very well and the bottom was so black we had to scrape it before eating. Well I have improvised a bit and I’m pretty close to turning out a loaf as good as the one I bake at home. The secret? This time, between the charcoal and the bread, I put a pan filled with sand. Yes sand! The sand help dissipate the heat very evenly over the bottom of the cast iron pan the bread was baking in. I still didn’t get a nicely risen top crust-and it didn’t brown very well on the top. So my next plan is to bake it the same way with the sand and put a handful of coals on top of the lid-that should do the trick. The bread was delicious, especially when the butter melted right into all the little cracks and crevices. It was excellent for mopping the chili we had with it. Here’s a link for the recipe if you would like to experiment on your next camping trip: http://www.sullivanstreetbakery.com/recipes
While we were in Big Sur I used Jim Lahey’s recipe for pizza and made the most delicious Pizza Margherita on the grill. ( I cheated and used Rao's Marinara Sauce) It was soooo good Jim thought I should open a pizza shop right in Kirk Creek.
Our second night in Big Sur we had dinner a'la Costco. Chicken breast that I marinated in pepper and roasted garlic then grilled them . Added a little package of mushrooms and asparagus,courtesy of Costco and finally just a little side of rice. A small fresh salad with some of that wonderful St. George Cheese along with a delicious bottle of Curious Beasts wine-discovered in a Carmel Safeway. I really love to cook and love it even more when it's outside !
Then there was the trip up the road from our campground to the little village of Lucia and the Lucia Lodge. When Jim and I were divorced I stayed at the lodge for a few days and thought it was one of those magical little places that are such a joy to stumble upon. It was so sweet returning and getting to share it with Jim. It’s still just as beautiful as I remember and the food just as delicious. We both the the fish and chips that they are famous for and they were very very good. We’ll be having leftovers for dinner !
One of the challenges we keep facing on this journey is to remember this is now our life and not a vacation ! We have been very bad at following our budget for the road. We have eaten out more than we planned-we get these romantic notions of lovely dinners or lunches and just go for it-that's not a bad thing if those lovely lunches are in your budget. We have definitely exceeded that portion of the budget. So we agreed that January is our "go for the gusto kick of the journey of our lifetime " month. February is going to be back to reality and we must follow the budget ! I'll let you know how that goes ...Happy Trails and Bon Appetit !