Monday, September 13, 2010

Mendocino's Sites and Tastes

I woke up bright and early our first morning in Mendocino to go for that 10 mile run I mentioned in my half marathon recount. The first mile of it was running along the freeway, on the shoulder which hardly existed. Anytime a car came near I slowed to a walk and pushed myself as close to the drop off as possible. Luckily, that early in the morning there wasn't much traffic. Eventually I came to my destination for the majority of my run - Russian Gulch Park. I wish I had brought my camera because it was SUCH a gorgeous run, over the bridges and through the woods, through fern gulches with huge pines towering overhead. I came home in time to jump in the shower and head to breakfast before we headed in to Mendocino itself for a little exploring.

The town of Mendocino is VERY small. Thatboy had warned me about that. The downtown area really consisted of two main streets, one of which was mostly consumed with historic buildings.

But we did happen to stubble upon some incredibly fresh raspberry bark and couldn't pass it up. After I bought a couple sticks for the two of us, I was chastised by someone in the know for not treating them reverently enough. We kind of rolled our eyes.

And then we tried them. And all of a sudden, I was very kitten mittens with our extra delicate cargo that couldn't be messed up AT ALL because they were one of the best things we've ever eaten. How come everyone doesn't eat these all the time?

Fittingly for our fourth anniversary (traditional gift = flowers) Mendocino was abloom with. . . blooms. Gardens poked out from between buildings, homes, and in every free space there was.

When we had finished going in and out of the local shops, we headed for a little hike along the coast, which ended down along the beach.

Thatdog LOVES running along the beach. We're lucky enough to live in an area where we can take him to the beach on a fairly regular basis, so he knows exactly what to do. What to do = chase the waves as the come in until his supreme machoness makes the waves retreat.

After a full day, we headed back to the Inn for some wine and appetizers where Thatboy fell in love with some artichoke spread. And then it was off to our very fancy anniversary dinner.

When I was researching places to eat in Mendocino, one restaurant continued to pop up - La Petite Rive. Reservations were a must since there were only 8 tables and 2 seatings for dinner. But we were able to get in, which made me feel very fortunate indeed. And this was before we discovered that the innkeeper who called me his "little runner girl" was the chef at the restaurant along with his wife. We happened to dine on a night where his wife ran the kitchen. And honestly, we couldn't have asked for a better meal!

La Petite Rive works similarly to a tasting menu you would find elsewhere - with a twist. You order your entree, and they take care of bringing you the other four courses. While we waited to order, we ordered a bottle of Cabernet Franc by Rivino. AMAZING. We were blown away by this wine, and we definitely were impressed when we saw what a small batch it came from - only 46 cases were produced. Have I gushed before about how much we love small wineries? So we were tickled when our amuse bouche arrived - beef rolled in gorgonzola and walnut with a small taster of the cab franc. Guess we made a good selection!

Next came a garlic soup which might have been THE BEST SOUP I'VE EVER HAD. Seriously. I'm tempted to email Troy and offer our first born in trade for the recipe. I've seen Troy with kids...he might take me up on it. This was amazingly delicious. Good description right? I can't help it. SO GOOD. No words are enough. Even if the rest of the meal was a fail I would come back for this soup.

And then our salad - greens dressed with a citrus vinaigrette and yummy toasted almonds. I love how something so simple can taste so amazing. Nothing fancy, but every note was pitch perfect (that works for more than just music, right?)

As we ate our salad, I noticed our waitress outside picking flowers. Those flowers then showed up as garnishes as our palette refreshers - mango sorbet. Really, what's not to like about sorbet? Cool refreshing, and obviously cleansing.

For a main course, Thatboy had the filet mignon. I love filet mignon, so take my word for it when I say this was perfect and tender.

But my meal was definitely the winner. The rack of lamb, encrusted in baked goat cheese. Seriously - lamb in goat cheese????? How I could I NOT order this? And it lived up to the hype I had created in my head. The goat cheese was such a great creamy, tangy complement to the sweet rich meat.

For dessert we ordered the chocolate cake. Mostly because Thatboy loves chocolate and dessert and me? I was just fine with my wine and lamb. Although I did eat all the strawberries on top of the slice.

But it's always nice to end an anniversary celebration with cake, right? And this was definitely the way to go out. It was SUCH a fantastic end to another year of marriage and gave us hopes for the next.


  1. Mendocino seems like such a quaint and cute little town! I would love to taste that raspberry bark and the lamb. You're right. you can't go wrong with goat cheese!

  2. hey babe, I just wanted to say thanks so much for all of your sweet comments! I really do appreciate them!