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Stories from the Coast   ~   The Nick's Cove Blog

Breaking Bread with Della Fattoria

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” James Beard.

Just the thought of bread baking in the oven evokes a sense of awe for me … most specifically because I cannot, for the life of me, bake bread successfully! I have tried … trust me. I don’t understand yeast; my hands mute to the texture of perfectly kneaded bread.

This past Friday, however, I was given the gift of bread in the form of a private tour of the Della Fattoria farm where all that amazingly delicious bread is made. photo 1Owners Ed and Kathleen Weber were gracious enough to invite me into their operations for an up-close experience with one of my all-time favorites: Rosemary Meyer Lemon. It was quite the process … one woman quickly and accurately measured the beautifully risen dough and tossed it onto the stainless steel kneading table, while the other skillfully and expertly (and quickly) shaped. Like watching a tennis match, it was literally a race to keep up with the each other!

After all the dough was measured, shaped and rested, they made a dimple in the top of each loaf and filled it with the rosemary lemon “pesto”. What began next was pure poetry in motion: the incorporation of the mixture into the top layer of the dough – a secret technique – that ultimately results in a beautiful, crusty, tasty top … each and every time!

Each perfectly created loaf was tossed into their personal baking basket and sat, waiting for their final creation in the oven.

Della Fattoria sells their award winning bread in stores throughout Sonoma County and beyond, has their own bakery/café in downtown Petaluma and, during the summer, offers farm-to-table dinners … at the farm. I am a Della Fattoria fan for sure … and I am convinced you will be too! www.dellafattoria.com

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For the full version of the story, visit my blog – denagrunt.com

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Cozy Warm for Winter

fireside hot appleThe holidays are fast approaching, the temperatures are dropping, and my mind is turning to the things that keep me toasty! The season has me craving rich food, velvety wines, blazing fires and hot cocktails. My new favorite drink to stave off the shivers is our “Hot Spiced Apple”. Our expert bartenders combine delicious steamed apple cider and a healthy pour of Blackwell Dark Rum. Then, we add our hand-crafted Anderson Valley Oatmeal Stout Syrup to give it a rich spice that tastes like Christmas. Topped off with fresh whipped cream and a cinnamon stick, the Hot Spiced Apple is a lovely way to heat up from the inside out!

Now, when I feel that cold breeze whip at my cheeks, I picture strolling down our pier, taking in the most beautiful sunset, hot mug in hand, as I amble towards the Boat Shack and the roaring fire within. We also have old favorites, like Irish Coffees and Hot Toddys. So, next time you feel a chill, come by and let us show you why Nick’s Cove is the perfect spot to warm you up!

 

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DiBufula Dairy – Gelato West Marin Style

Several weeks ago our Executive Chef walked into my office and said, “I have a surprise for you,” and he plopped down a few cartons of what looked like ice cream and a bunch of spoons. What I tasted, however, was most definitely NOT ice cream, instead it was this creamy, rich, delicious, decadent, flavorful, satisfying cold gelato – from buffalo milk –  that is, water buffalo! I was hooked … and intrigued!

Another surprise – Chef set up a field trip for all our staff to tour the Di Bufula Dairy which is located at what used to be the St. Anthony’s Rehabilitation Center, just down the road in Valley Ford. It is there, on this beautiful piece of property with state of the art equipment, that owner, Andrew Zlot, and his team make this creamy concoction that will, for sure, be the next foodie desire!

Our crew arrived around 10 a.m. and were met by Andrew, Curtis and Melissa who graciously took a large chunk out of their very busy and labor-intensive day to give our staff a grand tour of the herd, the milking facilities, and the creamery. We were introduced  to the newest members of the herd who arrived recently from the midwest and the calves (omg – could they be any cuter!) who were born just a few weeks and/or months ago.photo copy

One immediately understands that Andrew absolutely loves what he does. He gave us an overview of the entire process, detailed information on raising the water buffalo, milking techniques and gelato-making 411 – needless to say we were captivated! Later we enjoyed a perfectly cooked buffalo burger with all the fixings and of course, some of that mouth-watering, delicious gelato. My personal favorite right now: Salted Caramel – yummmmm!

While the Di Bufula Dairy Gelato  is making its way into restaurants in Marin County, one of the best spots to enjoy it is, of course, bay side at Nick’s Cove.

Gelato is not all Andrew has up his sleeve … he will soon be turning his passion for cheese-making towards another fan-favorite: the elusive Mozzarella! I cannot wait to taste that (and serve it at the restaurant)!

What a treat for all of us at Nick’s Cove to get a first-hand, up-close tour with Andrew, his team and those beautiful animals!

A huge, heartfelt thank you to Di Bufula Dairy!

Cheers!

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Update – since our trip, I took my son to feed the calves and Andrew informed me that one of the water buffalos who had arrived from the midwest was named after me: DENA-V17 … how cool is that?

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Mixed Greens

Many of you have heard that we hired a farmer and have begun the (huge) task of giving our once-forgotten garden on the hill a beautiful face-lift, complete with a new name: Frog Creek Farms.

With many hours of hard, physical work, the team has tilled, amended, weeded, planted and tended to several areas that are growing thick, rich, deep-green kale, lettuces, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, arugula, spinach (just to name a few). We have also begun planting flowers, lavender and ferns. We will be planting radishes and broccoli and cauliflower … all amazingly nutrient-rich food to serve YOU in our dining room! Needless to say, there’s a lot of good things growing out here in West Marin!

My favorite way to eat our lettuces is with tomatoes and maybe a little arugula and spinach … AND with a small drizzle of our delicious Herbed Buttermilk Dressing on it! Below is the recipe so you can make the dressing at home to enjoy with your family!

Nick’s Cove Herbed Buttermilk Dressing

1 cup chopped parsley
1/4 green onion, minced
2 tblsp. tarragon
2 tblsp. mayonnaise
2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste

Combine herbs, mayonnaise and buttermilk in blender; blend until smooth. Slowly add in olive oil while blender is on and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

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BMW Road Trip

I am always interested in how people find us; what magazine article they read, what social media they saw, what advertisement they saw; was it their friend’s word-of-mouth, or the ultimate: return guests! Today I was in the lodging office talking with a lovely man as he was turning in his keys and settling up his charges. He was very generous with his compliments and his accolades of fine food, excellent customer service, lovely cottages … So, I asked him, “How did you hear about us?” .

And, well, his response was new for me: he belongs to a BMW owners’ club and had read an article in their club member magazine, “Roundel”.  A while back a large group of BMW owners were on a road trip from LA to the Napa Valley with a stop for lunch at Nick’ s Cove and the magazine covered their trip. He enjoyed the article so much he booked a cottage and created his own road trip directly to us! So, BMW, thank you for sending us such lovely guests … with such beautiful cars!

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Social Media Mania

Nick’s Cove is no different than the rest of the millions of businesses out there that have jumped into the ever-changing, super-fast, can’t-keep-up world of Social Media.  twittergoogle

So, for all you social media junkies, who happen to also like what we’re doing at Nick’s Cove, you will be happy to know you can catch all kinds of fun stuff from the little town of Marshall in picturesque West Marin, overlooking the stunning Tomales Bay, near the Point Reyes National Seashore (breathe!) by following us on Facebook (nickscove), Twitter (@nickscove), Instagram (nickscove), and Pinterest (nickscove); you can also see what imagery piques the interests of our GM (denagrunt) and Chef (mraustin_perkins) on their Instagram acconts.

Folks, it’s about to get fun …    facebookinstagram

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Pet Friendly and Then Some …

miniature_pony_nicks-cove_boat_shackNick’s Cove is known far and wide to be pet-friendly (Pet Passionate actually) … with dogs, even birds! So, you can imagine that nobody on my staff even blinked an eye when we saw our long-faced friend relaxing in our world famous Boat Shack at the end of the Nick’s Cove Pier!  We did, however, grab the camera! Just like the rest of our guests, she was enjoying the view and meeting new friends! Nick’s Cove is truly unlike any other place … anywhere!

Cheers!

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Shucking Good Time!

Maybe I should not announce this publicly, but here goes … I cannot shuck an oyster very well!

Trust me, I have tried: with gloves, no gloves, round handle, long handle, plastic handle, wooden handle, short shucker, longer shucker, on the table, in the hand … I am just not very good at it! So, I leave the shucking to the professionals here at Nick’s! And man can they shuck! Rigo and Ceasar are super-fast … even Chef Austin is efficient (even though he is allergic to the tasty bi-valves)!

Recently, our Private Dining Manager, Kathryn, had a group of executives come to Nick’s Cove for some “team building” and she put together a shucking instructional! What came out of that day was not only the newest addition to our hands-on fun at Nick’s Cove, but a whole lot of laughter from the team and a shucking good time. oyster_shucking_lesson_raw_bar_waterfront_nicks_cove

If you would like to schedule a private shucking lesson for your team, email our events staff at events@nickscove.com and we would be happy to arrange for your very own waterfront, shucking instructional, complete with oysters, cocktails, champagne or wine & beer for you to enjoy with your team!

Cheers!

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The Life of an Oyster

Here at Nick’s Cove we pride ourselves on our knowledge of these tasty bi-valves, so here are a few fun facts about oysters that will make you the terror of any beachside trivia group!  101

* The word “oyster” was first used in English in the 17th century and comes from Old French “oistre”, which comes from the Latin word ”ostreum”, which comes from the Greek word “ostreon”, which means bone.  It was first used in print by Shakespeare, “Why then, the world’s mine oyster, which I, with sword will open”, which coined a common phrase.

* There are many varietals of oysters but two types: 1) true oysters, belonging to the family Ostridae, and 2) pearl oysters which belong to Pteriidae.  Pearl oysters are not edible but true oysters are delicious!

* Oysters are filter feeders and can mitigate pollution by removing excess sediment, algae and nutrients from a body of water.  Their reefs also create a habitat for other marine species.

* While some oysters varietals have two sexes (Olympia and European) their reproductive organs contain both egg and sperm.  They commonly change gender at least once during their lifecycle.

* In the past, people were advised only to eat oysters in months that contain the letter ‘R’, in modern times refrigeration allows us to enjoy oysters year-round!  While it is true that in some areas the texture of oysters change in warmer months, in colder habitats (like Tomales Bay) the changes are seldom noticeable.

* Oysters contain a high proportion of vitamins C, D, B1, B2 and B3; and if you eat at least four per day you will get the recommended daily allowances of calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and Zinc.  A half dozen oysters only contain 57 calories and have 6 grams of protein!

* The ancient Romans believed oysters are an aphrodisiac and 18th Century lover Cassanova supposedly ate 50 every morning for breakfast to maintain his virility.  It is actually true that the amino acids produced by oysters and their high levels of zinc can be a factor in increasing sex drive, especially when enjoyed in a waterfront cottage …

* In the 19th century, New York Harbor became the largest source of Oysters in the world, and helped to establish the city’s restaurant trade with their popularity.  Today, Wilapa Bay in Washington State has the highest production in the US.

* Oysters can be prepared many ways, including raw, grilled, fried, baked or sautéed.  My personal favorite is our own Oysters Nickerfeller, the oyster is topped with gruyere cheese, house-made bread crumbs and baked into gooey deliciousness.  It is also commonly kown that Nick’s Cove is home of the original BBQ oyster.

raw_bar_nicks_cove_wine_barSo come take a drive down Highway 1 and check out some of these fascinating creatures at our outdoor Raw Bar with our house-made mignonettes, in the restaurant where we serve them raw or cooked, or perhaps have them delivered for breakfast in one of our cottages (I hear it worked for Cassanova)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From Flower to Flute

about_bottles[1]On a recent visit to Heidrun Meadery I learned about a very old, yet newly re-emerging method of creating a tasty sparkling beverage.  Heidrun Meadery, located in Point Reyes Station, is producing several varietals of naturally sparkling meads using the traditional Methode Champenoise.

We arrived at the Meadery after a meandering drive through West Marin along Highway 1 on a gorgeous summer day. The first thing I noticed when entering the property were the vibrant colors of the flowers.  After the blue and gray of the ocean and the gold and brown of the fields, the bright reds and brilliant greens were captivating; I can see why a bee would want to make her hive there!

Truly fascinating to watch, we saw the true stars of the show busily buzzing just beyond the greenhouse/tasting room. Currently, Heidrun Mead is made from honey sourced from a wide range of apiaries but ultimately it is their goal to make Estate Mead using the honey produced from their own bees foraging on their property.  As the tour continued inside the historic barn we were shown a full line of large-scale champagne production equipment, where the honey is fermented, the yeast is added, and the mead is bottled, racked and riddled.

The process of taking the mead from flower to flute is the vision of owner, Gordon Hull, who started Hiedrun Meadery in Arcata in 1997.  The move to Pt. Reyes Station in 2011 facilitated the switch to vertical integration, where the whole process will soon occur on the farm where he also resides with his wife and their children.

The Meadery is open for visitors Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am-4pm on a reservation basis.  If staying with us and looking for a nice day-trip, please contact our concierge at (415) 663-1033 to make a reservation or you can order a glass of Mead in our dining room!

 

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