On my most recent adventure on Tomales Bay, my family and I decided to head
out, across the bay on our stand-up paddleboards. In addition to a killer sunset,
we were surprised to see a bald eagle landing on Hog Island! I was thrilled! Of
course, this inspired a bit of research …
As it turns out, there is a pair of bald eagles that have been nesting on Hog Island since 2009. In 2008, the Giacomini Wetlands restoration project took 550 acres and returned them to their natural state by tearing down the levees that had kept the area dry for more than 60 years. This restoration has had an amazing impact on the wildlife in our area. It is suspected that the pair chose to nest here due to the increase in food sources. They couldn’t have picked a more beautiful place to call home!
On my most recent adventure on Tomales Bay, my family and I decided to head
While I don’t really buy into the chocolates and roses that have been flooding the stores since December 26th, I do love Valentine’s Day. Call me sentimental, but I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the day set aside to express your love and gratitude for those people in your life that truly matter. Do I think you should express that gratitude and love every day, yes … but there’s also something special about an entire day centered around the peacefulness of love!
Valentine’s Day is not just for lovers … or for romance … it’s a day to express to all who matter that you appreciate them, love them; that the gifts of their friendship and their love make a difference in your life. We can all find someone who fits this role. Take a moment this February 14th and send your love and gratitude to all those who matter in your life. You will feel good … and so will they!
When the cold wind is blowing and the fog is rolling in on Tomales Bay, we want nothing more than a blazing fire and a glass of something comforting: you want a drink that warms you from the inside out. Winter has an array of fun ingredients to play with. You can go from hot cocktails to warming elixirs. With a surplus of seasonal citrus to play with, you have plenty of options to create the perfect winter cocktail. I did my best to bring our guests at Nick’s Cove a taste of everything winter has to offer: I utilized blood orange, kumquats, Meyer lemon, grapefruit, walnut, vanilla, and numerous baking spices. A standout and my personal favorite is the “Fireside Chat”. This cocktail is made with, Germain-Robin brandy, (made locally in Ukiah), Madeira, walnut, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon and Bitter Girl bitters (made locally in Petaluma). This cocktail has layers of flavor and would be just right to have in front of one of our many fireplaces at here at Nick’s.
1# dried porcini mushrooms
1 oz. Italian winter white truffles
1/2 gallon cream
2 qts. yellow onion
2 qts. leeks
1 qt. celery
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
20 oz. white wine
6 qts. rich mushroom stock (dried mushrooms brought to a boil and soaked 24 hrs.)
2 bay leaves
1 pint jasmine rice
fresh nutmeg to taste
kosher salt to taste
2 bunches chopped fresh time
black pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a large pot; add the mushrooms, onion, celery and leeks
and sweat over low heat 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2-3
minutes. Add the white wine. Cook 5-10 minutes. Add the mushroom stock,
bay leaves, and rice and simmer 30-45 minutes. Add all other ingredients
and puree. Shave truffles over soup and serve.
It is hard to believe that it’s January 2016 … the past year has flown by with such elegance and grace. Looking back at 2015, it’s very clear that it was the best year to date for Nick’s Cove. For example … the multitude of seriously happy guests who were quite generous with their kind words was plentiful (and oh-so-appreciated); a few exciting awards for our restaurant and cocktail program; the introduction of new and exciting offerings for our guests (sailing and tug boat); watching the Croft grow (literally and figuratively) and then reaping our rewards as guests enjoyed eating what they just saw growing in the garden; watching and experiencing the creativity and cohesiveness of our management team; and while, yes, I did feel a twinge of guilt for enjoying all the gloriously sunny days we had during the winter, the weather was insanely indulgent!
We are all blessed to work at such a fantastic property, where the backdrop of our “office” is the amazingly, unspoiled Tomales Bay and the surrounding Point Reyes National Seashore. I really don’t think it gets much better than this. If you have yet to experience the natural beauty and serenity of Tomales Bay and Nick’s Cove, please take a drive and visit us … you will be glad you did!
Cheers and Happy New Year!
Did you know that the California red-legged frog was declared the state amphibian this year? 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: http://www.fws.gov/arcata/es/amphibians/crlf/crlf.html
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.
About 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.
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!
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
This 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!
Until next time …