• I went to Occidental over the weekend with the explicit goal of achieving waffle nirvana. How did this happen you ask? My cohort in crime and I beelined it to a restaurant called Howard Station Café. Actually the route was more like the path a kid with ADHD would take if you let him loose in a candy store (makes me think of the onomatopoeia buzzzzz, which is just like a bee, so there you have it).

    When told we were going to Occidental I asked if that was where Occidental College was located. I should’ve known it was in LA because I had several friends that went there, but I forgot and laughed at the idea of a huge college out in the sticks.

    We wandered the hills in search of greatness, past vineyards and forests, to a street called Bohemian Highway. It could be named after residents from the Kingdom of Bohemia (est. 1212), or as a result of 19th century poets/artists from France sipping absinthe and generally being contrary to the mainstream culture, or it could be named after the Bohemians noted in this definition from Urban Dictionary:

    “somebody who leads an alternative lifestyle, they are not hippies because they can have an extremely wide range of different tastes in music, fashion, art, literature etc they are usually very creative people. they are above all optimists, even if they can be very cynical too(it does make sense…sort of). they like wearing a mixture of weird clothes and mix different fashions together just for the heck of it. they like weed. generally very laid back and relaxed.”

    (I adjusted the spelling, but left the grammar the way it was)

    The latter seemed more likely when the town unfolded before us. There was no aggrandizement in any sense of the word. I am hesitant to even call it a town. What’s one step down from a town, a hamlet perhaps?

     

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    The restaurant was at the edge of town, all four sides of town, and yet it was bustling with activity. We played find the locals when we were seated, but we were pretty sure these yokels and city folk were just passing through with a hankerin’ for some good food.

    The menu was extensive and boasted organic foodstuffs with a nimbus around the section “FROM THE IRON”. The words just below the title were the same words I used to order my breakfast… “I would like the plain, simple and delicious waffle with a side of your organic peanut butter please”. Our waitress was a little crazy in a fun-big-smiles-money-sticking-out-of-her-apron sort of way. I received my waffle minus the peanut butter, and when I finally got it the consistency was more like honey than peanut butter. However, after tasting the combo I was pleasantly surprised at the deliciousness of said combo.

    While eating we thought of what we wanted to do next.

    “What should we do next?”

    “Hmm… we did pass some wineries.”

    “Yes!!”

    “Yes what? I didn’t ask a question.”

    “Yes to wineries!!”

     

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    After breakfast we walked the town (it took about fifty paces), and then headed for the north end of Healdsburg. We stopped at Hanna Winery’s Santa Rosa tasting room which was loads of fun thanks to Ryan. He was quite knowledgeable about their wine and lucky for us we arrived before the cliché wine tasters showed up.

     

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    The Sauvignon Blanc is their go-to entry wine. They make twice as much Sauvignon Blanc as all they do all of their other wines combined. They have an excellent Chardonnay, but the kicker was their Rosé.

    2013 Hanna Russian River Valley Rosé

    “A glowing sunrise pink in color with aromas of raspberry, nasturtium and Tea Rose, our 2013 Rose is juicy with flavors of Bing cherry and Crenshaw melon.  Its finish is long and refreshing.”

    56% Merlot, 23% Malbec, 21% Pinot Noir

    I didn’t get the nasturtium, but it was wonderfully dry with the feel of sipping iced tea in the backyard on a hot summer day. At $14.40 (wine club price), it was muy fantastico!

    A pricier delight was the Elias Pinot Noir. At $39 wine club pricing it had an elegance that I quite enjoyed.

    2012 Hanna ‘Elias’ Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

    “Our 2012 ELIAS Pinot Noir has aromas of tilled earth, roasted cherry, plums, lavender, pie spices, pie crust and crushed stone. Flavors are quiet at first and then with air they explode into huge anise, black cherry and winter kitchen Chai. Texture by mouth is at once big, polished and elegant with a juicy, alluring finish.”

    After we said our thank yous and goodbyes, we ventured to Dutton Goldfield for round two of tasty treats.

     

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    Nicole was kind enough to get us a last minute appointment, and David from the tasting room had us set up outside on the veranda. It was beautiful outside with the cool breeze and the shade.

     

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    Equipped with wine notes, background pamphlet, and a trio of glasses, the tasting began.

     

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    Our journey started off with a dry Riesling and then a dry Gewürztraminer. I had just finished saying that the Riesling was rather viscous for a Riesling when David came back and said the same thing (kudos to David).

    We tried a few Pinot Noirs next, with the Green Valley being our favorite.

    2012 Dutton Goldfield Green Valley Pinot Noir

    “The Green Valley area experiences a very long ripening season due to the cool nights and early morning fog, followed by warm days. These conditions give the grapes the right balance at ripeness; permitting us to pick mature fruit with good sugar levels, ripe tannins and high acid. This is the kind of fruit we want at Dutton-Goldfield.

    Very dense and complex, Pinot Noir wines from the Green Valley appellation exhibit blackberry, blueberry and violet-floral characteristics. The Pinots also have great aging potential with a balance of elegance and power.”

    I also loved the Chardonnay we tried…

    2012 Dutton Goldfield Rued Vineyard Chardonnay

    “For us, Rued Chardonnay is serious candy for adults; sweet and opulent, but focused and solid at the same time. The extended, friendly growing season of 2012 brought out this essential nature in a combination of wonderful candied citrus and tropical fruit, along with laser like focus and solid acidity. The 2012 Rued Vineyard Chardonnay leads with intoxicating aromas of honeysuckle and a citrus mélange—lemon, lime and tangerine—with creamy overtones and a touch of caramel. The first sip is rich and mouthcoating, yet energized and fresh at the same time. The wine bursts with tropical flavors of mango, guava and the hallmark lychee, along with the crème brulee the nose promised. The finish is especially lengthy with fresh lime, and a kiss of toffee at the very end. We love the wine with rich shellfish like lobster and crab, or almost any dish in a cream sauce. It’s hard to keep from sucking this stuff down, but a hallmark of our Rued is that it improves for many years in the bottle (we’re still loving our well stored 2003s).”

    The wine was salacious with its voluptuous mouth feel and elegant finish.

    I offer many thanks to Nicole for setting up such a lovely afternoon.

    We left smiling and headed up to Jenner to get a cup of coffee and watch the ocean.

     

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    *Cue violin music*

    The End