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Stories from the Coast – The Nick’s Cove Blog
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!
British 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!
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 and 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.
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…
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
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.
Continuing with my series on the history of the cottages at Nick’s Cove, this week I will tell you about Bandit’s Bungalow.
Bandit’s Bungalow is one of the original cottages on the waterfront and was remodeled in the early 2000’s before Nick’s Cove reopened in 2007. It gets its name from the movie “Bandits”, a Hollywood bank robber film. Directed by Barry Levinson and starring Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Cate Blanchett, Bandits was filmed at Nick’s Cove and in the nearby town of Tomales. The film is definitely a Nick’s Cove Crew favorite!
Bandit’s Bungalow and Joker’s Shed (the second bedroom) is one of two, 2-bedroom waterfront cottages, which makes it a great option for a large family, two couples, or a get-away with girlfriends. There are two bathrooms and each boasts its own deep-soaking tub. The front bedroom has my favorite feature: a large window right next to the bed that overlooks the bay, so that you get a beautiful view right when you wake up! And, of course, just like all of our waterfront cottages, Bandit’s Bungalow has a large deck overlooking the pristine waters of Tomales Bay.
On your next stay in Bandit’s Bungalow, be sure to borrow the movie Bandits from our DVD library to watch on your in-room plasma TV.
Until next time…
At the beginning of May I await the return of the swallows; the migratory barn swallows appeared at Nick’s Cove on May 6th. Suddenly, they are darting, and swooping over and under our pier. They begin building nests, which you can glimpse underneath the restaurant and pier. Our General Manager will be so happy to know that they all seem to be building their nests under the pier instead of over our cottage doors and lights! Morning and evening provide great times for viewing these intelligent creatures as they dine on flying insects. There are many legends and fables about this bird. One of my favorites is when a clever bird tried to steal fire from the gods to give to humans. Outraged, a deity hurled a flaming arrow at the barn swallow singeing away the bird’s middle tail feathers.
This, or so the legend goes, is how the swallows’ distinctive tail feathers came to be.
School 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!
Nick’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.
The 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!