Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Point Reyes Seashore

Last weekend we took a minivacation and went back to Tomales Bay, Point Reyes seashore area.

First, lunch at Bouchon in Yountville. Thomas Keller, the chef owner of The French Laundry and Bouchon, created "the world's greatest sandwich" for the Adam Sandler movie Spanglish. In the movie the sandwich is a twist of traditional BLT -- there is a softly fried egg in the middle and the runny yoke serves as sauce over the bacon and bread. We've been wondering if Keller serves this sandwich in one of his restaurants. Henry found a very similar version on the menu at Bouchon. The ham and cheese sandwich comes with a softly fried egg on top. Even Henry, who usually doesn't like runny eggs, declared this sandwich to be delicious. The big mound of fries was a surprise to all of us. 

Can't skip the pastry from the Bouchon Bakery next door.

Marconi Conference Center is a retreat facility situated on wooded acreage right off the Tomales Bay, near the tiny town of Marshall. Usually the center serves large groups, and only rents out spare rooms to individual travellers if they call just the right moment. Since they don't accept my reservation, we were very lucky this time they had one room left that could accommodate three people. It turned out very nicely. The room is facing the bay. No human insight.

A family of quails visited us along the moss covered wooden fence. This is the father looking out, mom and babies soon followed, but I wasn't quick enough to capture them on camera.

Henry was exceptionally happy with his loft. The kid couldn't wait to get his parents out of his hair!

Nobel prize winner, Guglielmo Marconi, who first transmitted wireless signals through radio waves, set up The Marshall Receiving Station to send signals across the Pacific Ocean. This building was the original staff and visitor hotel. It's described as "Mediterranean revival with Craftsman allusions", but it's quite run down now and sitting empty. We peaked into the other meeting rooms, which were all historical buildings, very beautiful and charming. I hope I can bring the South Bay Knitters' annual knitting retreat here some day.

Hiking in the Point Reyes seashore area is always a wonderful experience. Before the hike we stopped at Drakes Bay Oyster Farm where Henry tried his first raw oyster, fresh out of the Pacific Ocean. I still regret that I didn't get a picture of the oyster, nor when Henry ate it, but it was so cold that I could hardly think. I always forget how cold it gets on the coast, especially Point Reyes area.

Couple of restaurants we liked in the area:

Station House Cafe in Point Reyes Station. After the big plateful of fries at Bouchon, Henry was "fried out". For dinner here he ordered a kid's Fish n' Chips, and asked the waiter, very politely, if they could substitute fries with vegetable. Mr. Waiter said he'd check with the chef. When the food was served, Henry's plate was filled three quarters full with roasted vegetables, including some of the best looking green beans and heirloom carrots. We saw the carrots next day in the local farmer's market for $4 a bunch.

Olema Farm House in Olema. Olema, population 45, sits on the intersection of Highway 1 and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, and the intersection is the whole town. The farm house is a lodge, restaurant, deli and convenient store. The chef demoed Mahi Mahi with vegetable Risotto in the farmer's market earlier in the day, which prompted Henry to order halibut with assorted vegetable and a nice helping of Risotto. Bill had oyster stew in both restaurants and he said they were different styles but both very good. I just wished we could hang around longer to try out all the other interesting seafood dishes.


Lynn said...

I bet the chef just abt dropped dead when he heard a kid wanted to sub out fries for veggies!!! LOL

I love all your mini vacations. Great way to see the local areas. I would love to play tourist in my neck of the words w/o it containing a mouse! I love mickey but florida has other places that don't include a roller coaster!

Bill said...

The Olema Farmhouse Oyster Stew came in a bread bowl. Not the typical sourdough but something that was delightfully different. It was a softer and crispier crust and very eatable. They made it so that the soup run over the top and there were fresh vegetables (yellow and green squash) and oysters on the plate as well as in the bread bowl. The Station House Oyster Stew came in a bowl with fennel and squash and was also very tasty. I hope I don't have to wait years to have oyster stew again!

Lesley said...

Wow. I'm hungry!

Sonya said...

What a wonderful mini-vacation!

Edie said...

Hi Vivian,
We took a similar trip a couple of years ago for spring break. I didn't have my act together to get a big trip together, so we went mid-week to the Point Reyes area with the intention of giving Mari some clam digging experience. I guess all of the places that used to have clams no longer do... or we just didn't research it well enough ;-). We did go to Drakes Bay Oyster Farm like you did... and Mari slurped up her first oyster, too. That thing was huge! A few bystanders were amazed she even tried it. My girl, who licks salt out of the palm of her hand, said it was a little "too salty". :-)
We also loved the Station House Cafe, and ate there a couple of times. Yes, the oyster stew was awesome :-) You reminded me that I so want to go back! You've inspired me to do more mini-vacations :-)