Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!
Frazzled Marc, half way through my 40s!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Epicurean Vacation: Part III

Ridgefield
For the final post in my 3 part blog series on my trip to California in the June 2011, I want to tell you about a couple meals out that I had with the family.  Martha's son Scott, his wife Tina, and their children built a house named Ridgefield two lots down from Dad and Martha, right on the edge of the Arcata Community Forest.  Ridgefield is a beautiful modern style formal house which is available for parties and events. It sits back in a large field with the redwoods towering above it. A large patio/deck extends off the left side of the house.  It is beautiful and classic, and yet inside, modern and open.

Scott and Tina invited Dad, Martha, my sister Sheryl, and I over for an authentic vegan Indian meal. In attendance were their kids: youngest Serene Belle,  young gentleman Westleigh, sweetheart Emma, and the wonderful Elysia with her husband, Daryl. I am not experienced eating Indian or vegan cuisine so I looked at it as a great opportunity! We started off the Lost Coast Vineyards Voignier, Anchor Steam Porter (one of Scott's favorites), and Cragganmore Single Malt Scotch, one of MY favorites, which I hadn't had since my days back at the Ritz-Carlton Philly. 

The main dish for dinner that evening was an Indian Dal, or often spelled Dahl. This consisted of a thick tasty stew of lentils eaten over rice. I have included a great link on Wikipedia.com for more information on Dals. We topped the Dal with either a yogurt sauce with raisins and coconut or a spicy red sauce with tofu and cilantro.  On the side were pickled hot limes, Major Greys mango chutney, and poppadoms, a thin, crisp Indian cracker. The Dal was served with a red cabbage salad with red grapes, carrots, and a light vinaigrette. We also had a cucumber salad with a cilantro yogurt sauce. 

Tina topped herself with an incredible traditional English dessert hailing from her home country of Great Britain called an Eton Mess.  Dating back to the 19th century, Eaton Mess consists of strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar mixed with pieces of egg white meringues topped with freshly whipped cream. It was heavenly.  I thoroughly enjoyed the drink, meal, and company and look so forward to continuing my education of Indian foods!


During that week, Dad took Sheryl and I on a long drive north up the coast to see some ancient Redwoods, the mouth of the Klamath River where it meets the Pacific Ocean, and the majestic Roosevelt Elk.  We stopped at the local healthy/gourmet grocer, Wildberries Marketplace and picked up a bunch of different finger foods, appetizers, and munchies for lunch. I spied in the cooler a type of healthy tea, popular on the West Coast,  Kombucha organic sparkling fermented tea. I have read about it and have not found it back in my neck of the woods back East and have wanted to try it for ages. Let's just say I wasn't impressed. The fermented flavor was just not for me. The hippy Hollywood types that rave about it can keep it. I will stick with my Snapple.


Roosevelt Elk grazing just a few feet away!
We drove North on Rt 101, the Redwood Highway, and turned off left onto a well maintained macadamized road heading deep into Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.  Up and down forested hills we rode, around bends slowly, passing by forest giants towering hundreds of feet into the air. After several miles of going over this forested ridge, we came to a narrow stretch of land between the redwoods and the Pacific Ocean.  It was here we saw our herd of Roosevelt Elk. And I call them OUR herd, because they were our lunch guests for the afternoon!
Dad, Sheryl, and I stopped at a large camping area for lunch between the mountains and the beach. The Roosevelt Elk were everywhere lounging and munching on grass. About 100 feet from them, we had passed the bull with his stately rack of antlers, keeping watch on the perimeter of the herd. The elk were no farther than 15 feet from us. We dared not approach any closer as of course they are wild animals. But we think they knew we were there to have lunch and not to bother them.

Under the elks' watchful eyes, we dined on Martha's homemade hummus and pita, a Mediterranean Salad with tomatoes and goat cheese, grilled marinated artichoke hearts, stuffed grape leaves, organic flax seed tortilla chips by North Coast Co-op in Arcata, CA, and oranges and bananas. We topped the chips with my favorite salsa: Double Roasted Tomato salsa by famed "gourmet Mexican" chef Rick Bayless. It was an incredible lunch:  food, family, and the elk.

Later that week, Sheryl and I shopped and dined our way through Old Town Eureka. Our first nibble was sipping Dark Thunder French roast coffee and baklava at Bon Boniere ice cream parlor.  We then hit every boutique, art gallery, antique shop, and book store in a 4 block radius! Exhausted, we finished our shopping at Venlo Chocolates, right in the heart of Old Town. We bought lavender infused organic chocolates and chocolate banana slugs (not the real ones ... hello?). They also sell vegan chocolates too! Not to be outdone, we just HAD to taste their gourmet dark and milk chocolate squares.  After our long day, we waited for Dad and I to pick us up at the Waterfront Cafe and Oyster Bar, sipping Red Seal Ale, another excellent local beer by the North Coast Brewing Company.  The bar/restaurant had high soaring ceilings, a nice selection of beer, and a great view of the waterfront area. 


Dad and Martha at Hurricane Kate's

For our last evening in Eureka, California, the family dined at a great restaurant, Hurricane Kate's, known for it's world fusion cuisine and wood fired pizza. In attendance were:  Dad and Martha, Sheryl and I, Scott and Tina, Elysia, Emma, and Serena Belle.  We sipped unique specialty cocktails and ate small plates till we were stuffed. Among the highlights that we dined on were the following: a blue cheese and Asian pear salad; the Medi appetizer plate which consisted of  hummus with pine nuts, falafel, cucumbers, bell peppers, kalamata olives, spiced carrot salad, house made pita, harissa and tahini sauces; incredible wood fired pizzas; Baja shrimp tacos; the freshest oysters on the half shell, and spicy Thai chicken salad. It was a gastronomically wonderful ending to such a relaxing trip. Unfortunately, if you are ever out that way, Hurricane Kate's closed as of December 24, 2011. It's a shame, because the meal was such a highlight of the vacation.

This blog post concludes my culinary wanderings through northern California. I really enjoyed eating my way through some spectacularly fresh seafood and inventive cuisine. But besides all of that, it was just a truly great vacation seeing and catching up with my Dad, Martha, and extended family!

3 comments:

  1. Well done! Your narritive makes me want to try a lot of foods I've never heard of. But, alas, I'm sure I'll never remember their names.

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  2. Haha! Thanks Lou. I am learning to be a bit more adventurous. Each time I go to a new restaurant, I try and order something that I have not had before. I don't remember the names either, I just point to them on the menu.

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  3. Mark, I really enjoyed reading these. I needed to catch up today, it was on my "bucket list", great job.. Love ya!

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