nicks cove

Stories from the Coast   ~   The Nick's Cove Blog

Red-Legged Frog

Did you know that the California red-legged frog was declared the state amphibian this red legged frogyear?  The California red-legged frog is an IUCN vulnerable species and this decision highlights the importance that California places on the frog’s preservation.  This frog has lost much of its original range but remains common along the coast, including here at Nick’s Cove. We place a lot of care and importance on our little buddies and protecting their habitat. They can be seen in the creek that runs through our property and enjoying shady spots up in The Croft. To learn more about our new state amphibian please visit:


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A shrub is a fruit-flavored vinegar that can be enjoyed in cocktails and adds a refreshing, tart dimension with every sip. It can also be enjoyed by stirring some into soda water for a sweet and sour thirst quencher. 

Americans first used shrubs in the 18th century as a way of preserving fruit; today, they’re used in cocktails, dressings, or to flavor your soda or mineral water. Made correctly, a shrub is the right balance of vinegar, fruit and sweeteners. Shrubs last for up to six months, so it is a great idea to turn passing fruits into shrubs. Here is a recipe for you to try at home. Remember, you can always substitute different types of fruit, vinegar, and sweeteners.


1 cup peeled, chopped quince
½ vanilla bean
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar

Sterilize a 1-quart jar by submerging it in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes.  Place the quince and vanilla in the jar. Heat the vinegar just to a boil and pour it into the jar. Cap the jar tightly. Store the jar in a cool dark place, for at least 4 days, shaking it daily. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavors will be. Strain the vinegar through a strainer, cheesecloth, or coffee filter. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour into the original, re-sterilized jar or another sterilized jar or bottle.

Store the shrub in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. You can try this shrub in my signature cocktail “The Mighty Quince.”



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Fish 2015About six months ago I noticed that our favorite Nick’s Cove icon was looking a little tattered and weathered. I mean, it HAD been keeping a watchful eye on our guests for about the past 10 years and was most certainly ready for a make-over.

Our maintenance crew carefully removed him from his perch at the entrance to our pier. He received a good cleaning and a fresh coat of paint and was proudly re-hung with stainless steel chain so as not to have rust drippings down its side any longer. And he was happy … our fish.

Until he was gone.

Someone snatched him away from his home and moved him to someplace unfamiliar, hidden, unfriendly, a place where he is most definitely lonely.

He’s used to greeting 1000s of people each week, watching the birthday parties, the proposals, the children, Santa Claus, and even occasionally being asked to be a part of the many, many intimate weddings celebrated at Nick’s Cove.

We all miss him and hope that whomever stole him realizes that it was wrong and that when you take something that doesn’t belong to you that something bad will happen. Maybe not today … maybe not tomorrow but you will meet karma … It’s just a matter of time.

If you are reading this and you have our fish, please bring him back so he can go back to his rightful spot – it’s the right thing to do.


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Autumn in The Croft

We are lucky enough to have an on-site farm at Nick’s Cove called The Croft. Again, luckily, one of the things that seems to grow year round in West Marin are green, leafy vegetables such as kale and chard.  The following recipe is for a very versatile salad using chard and duck confit. It is a warm and hearty addition to any meal or as a power-lunch on its own.  The beauty is that the bones of the dish are the same year-round; however, seasonally different fruits or vegetables can be added to mix it up! Add delicata squash in the fall, strawberries in the summer, dried fruit any other time and voila!

warm croft salad

The Croft Warm Chard Salad

1 cup duck confit, recipe to follow (bacon, pancetta, and ham are all good substitutes) 2 qt. julienned rainbow chard 1 lb. sliced strawberries 2 leeks, julienned 1 pint toasted cashews

For the vinaigrette: Combine 1 cup sherry vinegar with 1 ½ cups good, extra virgin olive oil.  Add one teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves, ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard, and freshly cracked black pepper.  Whisk vigorously until emulsified.  Set aside.

In a sauté pan, add duck confit to 2 T hot vegetable or olive oil.  Crisp shredded confit evenly on all sides.  Add the leeks and cashews, warm briefly, about 30 seconds.  Add ½ cup sherry vinaigrette.  In a small bowl combine the chard and strawberries.  Pour the hot vinaigrette-duck mixture over the chard and strawberries and toss thoroughly until all of the chard is evenly coated.  Serve immediately.

To make duck confit;

Season (5 lbs.) duck legs liberally with:

3 bay leaves 1 bunch thyme 3 cloves chopped garlic ½ teaspoon pink curing salt ¼ cup kosher salt 1 T black peppercorn 1 tsp coriander 1 tsp fennel seed

Let cure overnight.  Rinse the cure off the legs and pat dry with paper towels.  Cover in a metal baking pan with rendered duck fat.  Cook 2.5 hours.  Remove from the fat and shred



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nicolinaThis 287 square foot cottage is the most “cozy” of all our guest cottages. And, don’t be fooled by its size! This cottage still boasts all the luxuries as our other, larger cottages: claw foot tub, heated marble bathroom floors and wood burning stove … and it’s pet friendly!   Nicolina is perfect for a romantic night away with your significant other.

Contrary to what many believe, this particular building was never actually a boat. It was, however, modeled after a boat called “Nicolina” that resided in Tomales bay. Our Nicolina started out as a ferry that brought hay to local farms. After its life as a ferry, it was set up at Nick’s Cove where it was used as a guest cottage for many years.

When the property underwent major renovations between 1999 and 2007, the cottage was re-designed to emulate the original, local Nicolina and it became we all know and love today!

To get the chance to stay in this one of-a-kind accommodation … book early! This is, by far, our most popular cottage!nicolina bedroom

Until next time …

Alyssum sig


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Wintering Golden Crowned Sparrow

Following a week of 90 degree temperatures we received the gift of a cool afternoon rain yesterday. A sound that winter is near begins with the whistle of my favorite bird the Golden Crowned Sparrow. They begin their migration mid-September to early November from the tundra and shrub land of British Colombia and Alaska to the Pacific Coast. sparrowThey whistle their slow plaintive song often with each on a descending note: oh dear me. If you visit Nick’s Cove from November to March take a walk up into our croft and you will hear the Golden Crowned Sparrow whistle coming from overhead.

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Tomales Bay Adventures – Part 1


Did you know that on the darkest nights, May-November, magic happens on Tomales Bay? September is a particularly good time to witness the blooms of dinoflagellates that light up when disturbed. These bioluminescent plankton emit short bursts of blueish light as a form of protection. Kayaking after dark allows you to bear witness to an amazing light show. From schools of fish, to seals chasing their prey, the bay comes to life in a way you’ve never experienced. Just the movement of your paddle in the water lights up the surface, mimicking the starry sky. Many tours depart from Miller Boat Launch which is located right next to us at Nick’s Cove. Tours are available through Blue Waters Kayaking, Outback Adventures and Point Reyes Outdoors.

I hope we see you soon!


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Gin & Tonic!

Gin & TonicBritish officers in India during the nineteenth century drank tonic water made with quinine to fend off malaria. Adding Britain’s favorite spirit to the water made the bitter tasting tonic easier to drink, it took the edge off and gave them a little buzz! Since then, the gin and tonic has become one of the world’s most consumed and beloved cocktails. Most gin drinkers are loyal to their brand of gin; however, I would encourage them to be as devoted to their choice in tonic water.

Some of my favorites are: Fever Tree Lite Tonic Water, Fever Tree Bitter Lemon, and Q Tonic. At Nick’s Cove we’ve created out own Tonic syrup that’s made with Cinchona tree bark, sweetened with agave nectar, as well a carefully selected choice of different citrus zest, herbs and spices.  Paired with Uncle Val’s Botanical gin, our Tomales Tonic has a beautiful balance of earth, citrus and floral notes. Come try it yourself, it is on our specialty cocktail list year around!



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Breakfast in Bed!

Each morning our cottage guests enjoy a beautiful, complimentary breakfast that our staff delivers to their cottage along with that day’s SF Chronicle. The continental breakfast consists of freshly sliced seasonal fruit and berries, coffee and/or tea, juices sconesand my favorite: warm, freshly baked muffins and scones! Our Pastry Chef Jenna Katsaros is responsible for the most delicious, moist, not-too-sweet blueberry muffins and her lemon poppy seed scones are perfectly flaky and buttery … heaven in a half-moon shape!



Sometimes, after all the guests have been served, a few extra muffins and scones remain and I am oh-so-happy to enjoy the stragglers! If you have never enjoyed an overnight in one of our cottages, you are in for a treat when you do! From the wood burning stoves that are ready to light, delicious high thread count sheets and duvet, radiant-heated bathroom floors and the yummy breakfast … it’s absolutely a sensory experience. Everyone should have an overnight at Nick’s Cove! Click here to see our Cottages.




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Crab Mac & Cheese!!

Summertime on the coast reminds me of Crab Mac & Cheese.  If you’ve ever been to Nick’s and tried the Mac you’ll know it’s a fan-favorite.  Here’s a chance to try it at home!  Serve with a few cold beers in the summer sun…


Dungeness Crab Mac and Cheese


Nick’s Cove Dungeness Crab Mac And Cheese
serves six to eight

1 pound dungeness crab meat

2 pounds dried elbow macaroni pasta

1/2 pound unsalted butter

3/4 cup flour

1/2 gallon whole milk

1/2 gallon heavy cream

2 leeks, white part only, sliced

1 cup Point Reyes Toma, shredded

1 cup Spring Hill Cheddar, shredded

1/2 cup parmigiana reggiano, shredded

Lemon juice


Parsley, chopped
Toasted breadcrumbs

In a large pot, bring 3 gallons of water to a rolling boil.  Add pasta and boil stirring occasionally 6-8 minutes.  Add to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

In another large pot begin melting butter.  Add the leeks and sweat 5-10 minutes, until soft.  Add the flour. Stir constantly; cook until the mixtures bubbles for 2-3 minutes and smells like short bread.  Add the milk and bring to a boil; reduce to simmer. Allow the mixture to reduce while simmering, approximately 5 minutes.  Add the cream and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.  Add all the cheese, whisk until incorporated.  Add salt to taste; add 3-5 drops of Tabasco sauce and the juice of a quarter lemon.

Pour over pasta and add crab meat, stirring to incorporate.

Serve with toasted breadcrumb and parsley.

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