nicks cove

Stories from the Coast   ~   The Nick's Cove Blog

Oyster Bar and Waterfront Lounge

oyster bar and loungeSchool is out! Congratulations to all the graduates of 2015! It’s time to relax and enjoy the beautiful summer! My favorite place to unwind and take in the sights at Nick’s Cove is our Waterfront Lounge & Oyster bar. The lounge and oyster bar is now open every weekend through October (weather permitting), 11am-4pm.  Our lounge boasts some of the most beautiful views of Tomales Bay and Point Reyes National Seashore and the freshest bi-valves that Tomales Bay has to offer.

My favorite memory of last summer is enjoying the afternoon sun, curled up on the warm cushions of our lounge. With a glass of Chardonnay in hand and an empty oyster platter on the table in front of me, I watched my nephew playing with the family dog on the beach below us. Surrounded by some of my favorite people, I remember having a moment of clarity: life doesn’t get any better than this!

But it might …

By popular demand, in addition to our delicious raw oysters, our cooked oysters  and our award-winning clam chowder are now available at the Waterfront Lounge. So, this summer, bring your loved ones and make amazing memories of Bloody Mary’s and warm sand in between your toes! I hope we’ll see you soon!



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road photo denas blogNick’s Cove is closer than you think; however, getting here involves a series of twists and turns on historic Highway 1, complete with breathtaking views of the coast and Tomales Bay. I say “however” because with that view and those turns come distraction. There have been several auto collisions along this stretch of Highway 1 and beyond and so I say this to all of you who will be making this stunning drive out to spend time with us: Drive safely. Be aware of your surroundings. Always have a designated driver. Watch for deer. Watch out for cyclists and cyclists, watch out for cars. Watch your speed (those turns are tight and there might be a cyclist in the middle of that turn!). Above all else, take your time, enjoy the ride and be safe so that you can return to this little slice of heaven and continue to build lasting memories at Nick’s Cove.





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I love gin. So should you.

danny martin blog photoThe glory days for the cocktail were between the late 1800’s and prohibition. This is when the martini became popular and when many of the classic gin cocktails were invented. Back then, gin was the number one clear spirit in America; only whiskey was higher in consumption. When Prohibition began in 1919, bootleggers made “bathtub gin”. After prohibition ended, gin had a decline and once vodka was introduced to the states, it readily became the new “cool” spirit. Everyone was drinking it in Hollywood, from The Rat Pack to James Bond. Vodka passed gin in popularity just as cocktail culture started to decline.

Now that cocktail culture is back, so is gin! It has been rediscovered by bartenders who, like me, appreciate how well it mixes and how well it brings out the flavors in your cocktails. But I often still come across holdouts who are not convinced of gin’s freshness and versatility. I always encourage them to try different gin cocktails to find what they like; whether it is a negroni, Tom Collins, or gin and tonic. There are hundreds of botanicals that can be used to make gin, and every gin has its own recipe which brings out different flavors and aromas in your cocktail.

What I think people don’t understand is that gin is the quintessential spirit for making cocktails. It’s not made to drink on its own, like cognac or tequila, and that’s why it’s the base for more classic cocktails than any other spirit. By mixing or shaking a drink made with gin you make all the botanicals come to life in a way that they wouldn’t if you simply had it alone. Gin works well with everything. Whether it’s citrus, berries, herbs, spices, flavored syrups, shrubs, bitters, the list goes on and on.

Here are a couple of my favorite gins that you should get your hands on: St. George terroir gin is made in Alameda and has strong flavors of douglas fir, sage and fennel. Uncle Val’s botanical gin comes from Sonoma, California and is extremely floral and fresh with notes of lavender, violet, verbena and citrus. If you want more of a classic gin flavor, like pine needle that comes from the juniper berries, try San Francisco’s Junipero gin. Hendricks gin (our GM’s favorite) is a very popular soft, smooth gin made with cucumber and rose petals. The key to finding the right gin for you, is paying attention to the list of botanicals they used to make it … that, and tasting as many gins as you possibly can!

I have put together a gin selection that I’m very proud of … come try one of our specialty cocktails made with gin or ask your bartender to create something just for you!



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Cottage History – Part I

Ruthie's This is the first in a series of posts about the history of our cottages. To start, I chose the first two waterfront cottages, “Al’s” and “Ruthie’s” which are named after the second owners of Nick’s Cove: Al and Ruth Gibson.

The Gibsons purchased Nick’s Cove in 1973 and although they operated the business mostly the same as it had been for the first 40 years, the couple did make a few changes: they remodeled the restaurant to give it a more nautical theme and they began renting the cottages on a nightly basis rather than month-to-month as had been the practice of the original owners. 

After Al passed away, Ruthie continued to operate the business on her own and encouraged her friends and family to come live with her and help her run the property.  It was even said that, for a time, while she was alone, she occupied a different cottage each night in an effort to thwart off crime.  Ruthie continued to operate the restaurant into the 1990’s; however, started shortening the restaurant hours more and more until it eventually closed.  The cottages remained available for lodging until 1999 when an upgrade to the septic system proved too costly and she sold the property and the business to Pat Kuleto and Mark Franz.

Ruthie’s Cottage is ADA compliant and both are pet friendly. Like all of our waterfront cottages, they boast large decks that overlook Tomales Bay.   Each cottage is furnished with a king bed and a pull out sleeper sofa.




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Spring in the Croft

beet tartare and chips 5.2015 1As a chef, the most important thing to me is finding high quality ingredients.  That’s why I can say I’m truly lucky to work across the street from our own 2+ acre croft.  Our farmer, Lucas Shapiro, is in full swing up there, and we, in the restaurant, are really reaping the rewards of his hard work.  Last week we made a nice little Beet “Tartare” using beets and beet chips in the vein of a classic Beef Tartare.

Needless to say, it was a success: we sold out of all the beets (there were a lot!) before the night was over.

Come to Nick’s and see what we’re whipping up from our croft. You can even take a stroll up the hill to meet Lucas, our chickens and see our beautiful produce.




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Sailing on Tomales Bay

tomcat-elephant-mountainOn an overcast afternoon a few members of the Nick’s Cove Crew and I had the opportunity to experience Tomales Bay … on Tomales! The four of us boarded a sweet 32′ catamaran, ready and waiting with a gorgeous platter of locally produced artisan cheeses and a small glass of bubbles to toast our new partnership with Captain Brett  Miller and Tomales Bay Sailing. What better way to describe to our guests what they can expect on one of Brett’s tours than to experience it ourselves?

We sailed for about an hour; we saw oyster beds, the east side of Hog Island, While Gulch, Marshall Beach and a few seals swimming playfully next to us. Having grown up in West Marin, Brett brings a wealth of knowledge of the Tomales Bay area and his twenty-plus-year-long passion for sailing.

If you are looking for something fun to do on your next trip to Nick’s Cove, call our lodging office to reserve a spot on Brett’s boat … you will have an amazing experience on Tomales Bay!



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Happy New Year

2014 has been an exciting and dramatic year at Nick’s Cove. We started the year (and sadly endured many months) with a drought; however, joyfully, we ended the year with much-needed rains … we opened our two acre on-site garden, aptly named the Croft, complete with an apiary and bocce ball courts (which is technically more the size of petanque) … we added many hens who are now really not hens … we added exciting, adventurous kayaking, sailing and boating adventures to our offerings … we said goodbye to some of our staff and hello to many new faces, ready to make our guests feel welcome … sunset at nicksand witnessed some of the most amazing sunsets we have ever seen! And through it all we have been here to welcome the thousands and thousands of people who stop in and enjoy this little slice of heaven with us.

Our Nick’s Cove Crew attended and supported numerous fundraising events, from helping prevent childhood hunger in America (global) to supporting our Point Reyes National Seashore (local). We support our local schools and boys and girls clubs, doing our part to create a healthy and thriving community.

2014 kept us very busy for which we are thankful. There were not very many blog posts in 2014; however, for 2015 we have committed to share our experiences with you … to connect you in some way to what goes on here and what you can expect to experience when you visit.

We are grateful for all that West Marin has to offer, for the pristine waters of Tomales Bay, the amazing bounty grown in our garden, and our guests who make all our hard work worth it.

My wishes to you for a healthy and prosperous year filled with laughter, love and kindness.



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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!


For the full version of the story, visit my blog –

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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 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!



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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