Our recent trip to the West Coast has been lingering with us longer than usual. We had so many wonderful experiences and such great food that rather than write about it, I have been letting our daily reminiscences keep it all alive. Before we left, our wonderful son, Chris, emailed our “Bay Area Schedule” which began with a weekend in Sonoma, staying at the most exquisite guest house in the heart of Hanzell Vineyards (www.Hanzell.com), one of California’s oldest wineries, producing spectacular pinot noir and chardonnay. The weather was very unCalifornia like (hard rain and high winds), as I kept assuring our friends, Lynn and Doug who were joining us for part of the visit, but it really didn’t matter. Harvest was over, the vines were beginning to color, and the rain and fog only heightened the oranges and reds and the exceptional wines kept us warm and toasty!
Our first dinner was at Café La Haye, a Sonoma classic. We more than enjoyed our first taste of California casual – warm and friendly greetings and locavore at its best. Of course, like all of us who live for our eats, dinner conversation swirled around where we might possibly find our next best meal. And, boy did we find it!
Sunday morning brought us to The Fremont Diner (2698 Fremont Drive, Sonoma, 707- 938-7370 and you can also visit them on Facebook), a classically wonderful roadside ramshackle diner. Saturday night had been their Pig Pickin’ and Farm Dinner and the staff had clearly enjoyed the evening – they were not quite prepared for 6 ravenous, noisy, inquisitive, and talkative diners! But, the most charming young woman, Deana, took us on and led us through an unbelievable feast. You would have thought that we hadn’t eaten for days, but everything was so inviting and, once tasted, so delicious that we kept ordering more.
What were the stand-outs? First, would have to be the Black Pepper Brisket Hash Steve. Then, The Cuban Breakfast – Doug. Chicken and Waffles – Chris. Baked Egg – Lynn. Cheesy Grits and Biscuits –Chris’ dearest, Heather. Ricotta Pancakes – me. Gravenstein Apple Donuts, House Sausage, Bread Basket, Brown Sugar Bacon Biscuits for the table. It was all so delicious that we spent the next 24 hours planning our return trip and menu for Monday a.m. – we had to try everything else on the menu. So, Monday brought The Kitchen Sink, Breakfast Toast, Almost Famous Biscuits and Gravy, More Cheesy Grits, the Egg Breakfast, and more of that so yummy Hash.
Chris complained that he had passed the roadside diner so many times without taking notice. He couldn’t wait to get on his hotline alerting all of his eatin’-drinkin’ buddies about his “find.” Don’t know how much of a find it was as I noticed that this month’s Food and Wine Magazine has a blurb about it. But, for us it was a very special find and Steve and I have decided that we are going back to California after the holidays, ostensibly to see Chris, Heather, and Canada (our granddaughter) but it is really to have breakfast at The Fremont Diner.