* By Laura Ness *
Twist my arm and mash the gas pedal: it’s another road trip north, this time to the Mendocino coast, through the bucolic Anderson Valley.
Wine, Dine and Stay at The Madrones in Philo
After winetasting at Harmonique in downtown Boonville and at Handley Cellars, we ate dinner at the new Stone & Embers at The Madrones in Philo: not to be missed for the outstanding wood-oven baked pizzas made lovingly by Chef Patrick Meany.
Meany, who has an impressive culinary background, including stints at both Bouchon and Gary Danko, makes the most silky delicious chicken liver pate ever, along with brick oven roasted scallops and trumpet ‘shrooms, all served up by his delightful partner, Lauren, and the bubbly Alyssa, who’s also happens to be a massage therapist. An absolute must are the mushroom chiccarones. Exactly like pork rinds, except made with chopped wild mushrooms. Sinful!
If you missed breakfast, definitely order the BFD pizza: yep, it means Breakfast For Dinner, and is topped with fabulously fresh eggs. Mangia!
The Madrones is a great two-day destination, complete with four wine tasting rooms onsite (Bink, Drew, Knez and Signal Ridge), along with one across the street, Balo, plus it’s right next door to GoldenEye, so there’s plenty to do here. Balo has a bocce court and pizza oven, too. (themadrones.com).
After a lovely morning enjoying a simple but delicious breakfast delivered to our room, we were off through the misty redwood cathedral of the Navarro forest to The Brewery Gulch Inn, a top shelf B&B within view of the charming town of Mendocino.
Ocean-View Rooms and Fabulous Food at the Brewery Gulch Inn in Mendocino
All the cozy, well-appointed accommodations here at this spectacular property have ocean views and wonderful amenities. A bottle of Roederer champagne awaits in your room, along with robes, lovely linens and plush towels. The corner rooms offer superb ventilation so you can enjoy the roar of the ocean all night long and the morning twittering of the birds and turkeys.
The food, prepared by Executive Chef Peg Davis, who was with the Ritz in Long Beach and opened Kuleto’s in SF, is simply sensational. It’s worth the stay for the food alone, although the entirety of the experience will make you want to stay forever.
You can choose to have breakfast delivered to your room, or relax with a morning paper in the enormous and well lit Great Room, enjoying a spread of freshly baked goodies, juices, gourmet coffee and Belgian hot chocolates. The four-sided fireplace, built by a local shipbuilder, keeps things cozy when the fog rolls in for a visit, and the beautifully crafted furniture makes you appreciate the majesty of big trees in a whole new way.
Order off the creative menu that includes unbelievably scrumptious omelettes accompanied by the tastiest hash browns ever. My particular favorite was the BAAT, essentially a toasty hunk of brioche topped with avocado, arugula, heirloom tomatoes and Billionaire’s bacon, a spicy treat that you won’t soon forget. Everything here is first rate.
Try Kayaking, Whale Watching or Anything Your Heart Desires
Proprietors Guy Pacurar, who hails from San Diego and who has owned the Inn since 2007, and his wife Sarah, along with General Manager, Steven Smith, a curator at Harvard for 20 years, do their best to make your stay unforgettable. They’ll arrange fly-fishing, whale watching, kayaking, deep-sea fishing, canoe trips, horseback riding on the beach, winetasting, a seaside picnic – anything your heart desires.
Their Pre-Arrival Concierge service makes it easy to plan every aspect of your stay: or just come with no agenda at all and find yourself falling under the Brewery Gulch spell.
You simply won’t have a more pleasant, all encompassing experience anywhere: along with the excellent food, there are a myriad of games, and a DVD library that is now the envy of my husband, who has a pretty fair collection himself. It’s like having Netflix in the house.
Local Wines and Beers Featured at the Brewery Gulch Inn
Four local wines are featured every evening, including gems like Navarro’s dry Muscat Blanc and Phillips Hill Pinot, along with locally brewed beers. A light supper is served each evening: enjoy it on the spectacular ocean-view deck or in the dining room, or in your own room. Past selections have included pepper-seared scallops, Moroccan lamb, halibut Escabeche, Dungeness crab cakes, and mussel bisque.
Guests often choose to turn the wine hour into their dinner, so they can fully relax and enjoy the ambiance of the inn.
Many local wines are available for purchase by the bottle, and there’s always a delicious dessert to cap everything off, along with an ample supply of top shelf liqueurs. Sweet!
Park-like Grounds and Beautiful Vistas for Walking and Exploring
One of the true pleasures of The Brewery Gulch Inn is its park-like setting. We enjoyed meandering among the beautiful plantings on the property, admiring the rhododendrons and Callas lilies, along with climbing roses. In the mornings, we took a short hike up the road in back of the inn that leads to some awesome creekside scenery, lush with broom, wild iris and blooming chestnuts. We walked for nearly an hour on dirt roads you wouldn’t want to drive every day, admiring the peace and quiet and the rugged nature of those who choose to make this dreamy escape their home.
Cross Highway 1, and you come face to face with the roaring Pacific Ocean, along with panoramic views of the town of Mendocino. Walk down the road towards the cliffs of Smuggler’s Cove, passing by homes perched right at the water’s edge, with unobstructed forever-sunset views. There’s a small park with a trail and picnic benches, just off the highway, quiet, wooded and blessed with ocean breezes.
Dine at The Wild Fish
If you love the freshest of fish, prepared with all organic ingredients and served up by charming people (Liz and Kelvin Jacobs) with equally charming British accents, head to The Wild Fish, just across from The Little River Inn on Highway 1. You’ll be speechless at the quality and freshness of the seafood and the gourmet presentation that can only be rivaled by the glimpse of whales spouting on the horizon. Get there as soon as they open so you can enjoy late afternoon sun on the water as it turns your glass of Handley Pinot Gris a gorgeous shade of gold.
Land And Sea Get Away Package, 2015
Be sure to ask the proprietors at either establishment about their four-night escape package that includes two nights each at The Madrones and The Brewery Gulch Inn. It runs January through April, and features dining deals, wine tasting passes and a selection of adventures to choose from, all for less than $1.710 per couple. It’s a one-of-a-kind way to experience the restful, bucolic charms of both Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Coast.