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Stories from the Coast   ~   The Nick's Cove Blog

Tomales Tonic

047One thing I know for sure about our Restaurant Manager, Dean Castelli … he likes a good challenge! Recently, Dean was tasting wine at Taft Street Winery during one of our off-site staff wine trainings when the owner gave him a glass of the winery’s homemade tonic. 049

It did not take Dean long to get online, do his appropriate research, don his “chemist cloak” and voila: our very own Nick’s Cove Tonic was born!

I can always tell when Dean has been up to something good: when he sees me for the first time, he rubs his hands together, smiles slyly and says, “So …”  052This day he gave me a taste of the tonic water. Honestly, I have never tasted anything so refreshing and delicious!

So, we did what all good restaurateurs do: we mixed cocktails! We made vodka tonics and gin & tonics and compared them side-by-side with regular tonic. Hands down the Nick’s Cove Tonic was a favorite with staff, our chef and most certainly with me!

Inspired by the classics, Dean breathes new life into old-style cocktails; his creativity is your reward!

Next time you are in ask for the Tomales Tonic which features Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin (made locally in Sonoma) and our very own Nick’s Cove Tonic!

Not a gin fan? No worries, simply ask for the Nick’s Cove Tonic in any of your regular cocktails … you will be glad you did!




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Frog Creek Farms … the new Nick’s Cove Garden

001For the past 2 years, the garden at Nick’s Cove has been dormant … just waiting, patiently for someone to come along and breathe new life into the rich, luscious coastal soil. In my very first blog post, I wrote of my intention to bring our garden back to life. 003

Well, I am happy to report that the garden at Nick’s Cove, recently named “Frog Creek Farms” is truly on its way!

In February, I hired Ross Barlow – a fantastic gardener/farmer! And, in only three months’ time he has transformed our garden.

Just last week, we harvested the very first lettuces from our garden and served them in our restaurant.

002Needless to say, Chef Austin Perkins and I are overjoyed at the site of those beautiful leaves fanned out on our dining room plates!

While there is still lots of work to be done, we are all excited about the journey and cannot wait to share with all of you the bounty from our Frog Creek Farms!



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Worth The Drive …

Nick’s Cove is an amazing place: to dine, to stay, to “check-out”, to connect (with each other, to nature), to watch a sunset, to build memories. We truly pride ourselves on providing a spectacular overall guest experience. And while we are a bit of a drive, I believe we are worth the time it takes you to get here. I am certain of this because hundreds of our guests over the past year have told us so…

016Each time a server or bartender presents the guest with their check, the guest also receive a “Guest Comment Card”. I read each and every one of the cards that come back; it’s my daily ritual with my cup of coffee and I am addicted to it!

The cards with information about a referral are set aside and I send a hand-written (long-lost but much-loved thing of the past) thank you note to the person or property or winery who referred their guests to us. Some cards have information about a light that is out in one of the cottages; I send that information to maintenance. Some have information for us to improve things such as how they were greeted at the hostess stand; how their food took a little bit longer than they had liked. I discuss this with our management team every Thursday at our team meeting and, if the guest provided me with their contact information, I send a note of apology to them and thank them for taking the time to provide me with their feedback.

Overwhelmingly, though, what I read are all the cards praising us – telling us how much they love Nick’s Cove: the food, the cocktails and wine, the cottages, the amenities, the Boat Shack, the attention to detail, the professionalism of our staff, the knowledge of our staff; they tell me how they cannot wait to come back or how they wish they could have stayed longer; they tell me great details about their time with us; they tell me all the things I know: that we are worth the drive!

Ultimately, it is their story to me, about their individual experience that matters! Sure, we don’t always please everyone, and certainly we make mistakes. But all those cards stacked up on my desk get me past those not-so-great reviews/comments. It is the Guest Comment Cards that make all of us strive to do better today than we did yesterday.

So, to all of you who have been here and taken the time to write – THANK YOU!


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I wanted to take a couple of minutes to celebrate one of my favorite veggies: Cauliflower! NIcksCove_312  0006 9

Good quality cauliflower can be found nearly year round and locally has a 6-8 month season. Everything from gratins to a simple roast showcase the unique flavor. Here’s a recipe for my Warm Cauliflower Salad.


2 Heads Cauliflower
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut cauliflower into florettes (de-stem the head until only about an inch of stem remains). Chop larger florettes in half so that all pieces are semi-uniform in size; place in bowl. Add olive oil and toss. Place pieces on baking sheet and roast in pre-heated oven for approximately 8 minutes. While roasting, make vinaigrette.

Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette

1/2 cup whole grain mustard
1 shallot, minced
2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Place ingredients in jar and shake to incorporate. Set aside.

Combining and Plating

In sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pre-roasted cauliflower and sauté over medium heat approximately 2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Toss a large handful of wild, fresh arugula and sweat approximately 30 seconds, tossing continuously. At Nick’s Cove we also throw in shaved Serrano ham (or prosciutto if easier to find), but that is completely optional. Place the sautéed cauliflower and arugula (and ham, if using) down the center of a platter. Drip the vinaigrette over the top and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.



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Car Clubs Love Us …

ferrariAnd, boy do we love their cars! It really is a treat to drive up to work and see such a fine selection of cars parked out front: Ferrari, Audi R8, Maserati, Porsche, Lamborghini, Mercedes. And it’s not just the new models. We love the classics, too!010

Whenever the car clubs are here, guests come out from their tables: cameras in hand they start snapping up-close shots of those much-admired and so-far-out-of-reach exotics!

The lucky drivers and/or owners of those lovelies thoroughly enjoy the twists and turns of Highway One … and stopping to enjoy lunch at Nick’s Cove is a wonderful place for a mid-way stop!

Until next time …


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Homage to The Red Legged Frog

The California Red Legged Frog is protected in British Columbia, Oregon and California. Rana_aurora_6230 According to Wikipedia, they are considered a “real frog” who require “still waters” for breeding.

This species of frog lives in and around the creek that runs through our property at Nick’s Cove. Several years ago extensive riparian restoration efforts were made to ensure a safe haven for this native four-legged friend.

Recently, we decided to make our very own house-made, signature Hot Sauce. In a meeting to discuss label design, Executive Chef Austin Perkins jokingly said, “Let’s put a frog with flames coming off his legs…” Only I knew he was not entirely joking.

So, I sent the idea to our graphic designer and what came back was spot-on! 034Freshly made with fresno chilis, and signature Nick’s Cove spices, our House-Made Hot Sauce is a playful homage to the Red Legged Frog!



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Spring has Sprung

135132The weather at Nick’s Cove has been tremendous! The flowers are blooming, the winds are softening and the water is warming.

Just last weekend there were children  swimming in the water at our beachfront, outdoor RAW BAR!! There are times when it’s hard to not day-dream while at work!

Take a drive out this way and enjoy the serenity of this natural resource that is literally … right in your back yard!


See you soon!


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Tour & Tasting at Radio-Coteau

In an effort to provide ongoing training for our staff, Restaurant Manager Dean Castelli, organized a staff-field-trip to a Nick’s Cove favorite: RADIO-COUTEAU!  We drove the beautiful, windy road through the little town of Occidental and ended up just East of town in what used to be an apple processing barn! radio 3

radio 2We were met by propietor and winemaker, Eric Sussman (second from the left) and his team: Davita, Matt, and Ross!  Together, they provided us with an insider’s view of their entire operation.

They spoke of their wine, their process and their passion as we toured the winemaking lair!

We finished the tour with a tasting of the wines we currently have on our wine list.

Thank you Eric, Davita, Matt & Ross – We had a fantastic field trip!radio 5

radio 4


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Artisan Cheese, Please!

In honor of our thriving artisan cheesemaking community in Sonoma and Marin Counties and to celebrate the 7th Annual California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, Nick’s Cove has a lot of cheesy-good-fun happening in Marshall!

To start, we will feature a weekly-changing dinner entree featuring a different local cheesemaker each week. And, we also have our Artisan Cheese, Please!cheese1 cottage special, complete with the best cheese and wine basket around!

March 3-9
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company
cauliflower, point reyes blue mornay, cippolini onions and wagyu demi

March 10-16
DeBernardi Farm
grilled radicchio, shaved two rock goat cheese, sonoma balsamic and preserved kumquat

March 17-23
Nicasio Valley Cheese Company
celeraic, braised shallots, new potatoes and apple demi

March 24 – April 2
Bellwether Farms
bellwether carmody, cranberry asparagus, burgandy reduction & fennel puree


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Nick’s Cove Shakes It Up For a Good Cause

I do like a good vodka cocktail (shaken, not stirred) and well, some good healthy competition is good for everyone, right? If you add a good cause, like raising money for Literacy Works to the equation, it’s the trifecta of a good time!

straight_up_2013Join me this Thursday, at the Petaluma Sheraton for Straight Up! A Charbay Vodka Cocktail Competition.

Our Nick’s Cove Crew will be there shaking up Charbay’s Green Tea Vodka in one of our signature cocktails for a good cause … and your votes!

We look forward to seeing you there!

Live music, casino games, costumes, good food, and fantastic cocktails – purchase tickets 


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