It’s a wonderful whirlwind of a tour ((part 2)): The Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County and a Napa Valley Welcome.
We woke early. Our minds were set to Oklahoma time, but our thoughts danced through the recollections of where we had been and imagined the beauty and excitement of where the day would lead. I just love the internet, unless I hate it – but that is another story. We read dozens of reviews and menus of 15+ local breakfast nooks deep within Berkeley. We examined all of our options and settled on Lama Beans. I don’t know exactly what pushed us to decide on LB, maybe it was the description of their silver dollar pancakes or the long list of Eggs Benedict variations & really, that long list of positive reviews made me wonder if breakfast black magic was taking place inside the walls. Whatever the reason, wowwee, was I happy we landed there.
The specials were written on a board beside the front door and I immediately began to worry I wouldn’t pick a good dish. There were so many yummy sounding choices – “would I end up wishing I got something else??”, I questioned myself. The kale mushroom omelet sounded wonderful, the Dungeness crab Benedict – luxurious…but I finally settled on the smoked salmon scramble. As I waited, I still wondered if I had ordered the wrong thing – only time would tell.
David confidently ordered the corned beef hash. I was admittedly envious of his certainty. Both my covetousness and doubt faded when my plate was delivered. A bounty of large deep pinkish-orange chunks of salty smoked salmon was loaded into an oversized portion of perfectly scrambled bright, deep yellow eggs. The best part came as I took the first bite: a thick ribbon of chive seasoned cream cheese ran through the entire scramble. The cream cheese, salty salmon and perfectly cooked eggs – I can still say this was within the top 5 favorite things I ate while in Northern Cali.
Okay – I would love to keep talking about how great breakfast in Berkeley was but we crammed three days worth of activities into one day so I need to move on!
After breakfast we made our way to Lombard Street. It lived up to its reputation & I am glad we were able to see one of the most famous attractions before heading to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Speaking of the Golden Gate Bridge, how is it that at the first glimpse of those famous red support beams – my skin was covered in goosebumps??
We drove across in complete awe of the surrounding beauty — green rolling mountains and the swirling deep blue waves below. These wonders contrasted against the massive industrial bridge that seemed to defy all of laws of nature. Let’s just say, this Okie girl was impressed!
We parked on the far side of the bridge and enjoyed a brisk walk to about the bridge’s mid-point. You may be able to imagine all the sights and feelings – or have experienced them yourself, but I bet you haven’t seen a seagull balancing on a raft as he floated from under the bridge. The board was just a bit bigger than him and with every wave that passed his ship, he would spread out his wings as if to say “whoa! whoa! hang on” and then he would settle back down. We watched him drift until he was out of sight, every so often catching a glimpse of his wings jerking open and catching his faint exclamation “whoa!!” through the roar of water and rush of cars.
Marin County was our next stop. To our delight, the area’s food trucks had assembled — it was like food heaven. We ate Vietnamese ((steamed buns filled with pork belly and prawns)) & Thai ((a steak banh mi))…well, David ate Vietnamese and Thai, I ate Vietnamese and the Marin Melt from Rustic Bakery and Cafe. I passed on the banh mi when David randomly cut the sandwich in half to share and my half had a hair protruding. It…never…fails.
The bakery made an excellent melt and the hot, gooey local cheeses were second only to the buttery, crisp, thick, dense and chewy freshly baked bread. During our delicious lunch, we were serenaded by the most lovely bluegrass string band. Heaven, I felt like we had walked into heaven ((except for the hair incident)).
Then we headed to Heath ceramics in Sausalito. I walked in and David laughed out loud. He caught the sparkle in my eye and my not so subtle gasp and squeal as I looked across the industrial showroom FULL of handmade gorgeous platters, serving pieces, plates, cups, mugs and BOWLS. I am a self-proclaimed bowl addict – it runs in my family, so I come by it naturally ((and happily)).
I immediately began clutching platters, petting bowls and playing house with the serving pieces. We had a wonderful time visiting with the staff and admiring the pure talent and artistic genius of this local treasure. I did settle on a few items, and have my heart set on acquiring more as my pocketbook will allow.
The aspect of Heath I most fell in love with was the glaze color “Redwood”. Typically, I am a blue and gray kind of girl. Browns are pretty low down on my list of colors choices. But this warm brown glaze had so much depth and movement, as if the bowls and platters were fashioned from slices of the Redwood giants of the region. So, yes, I chose a few things with the Redwood glaze.
Then we were back on the road to Napa Valley. I couldn’t stop repeating the same phrases over and over. “This is so beautiful – this must be what the Promise Land looked like to the Israelites!!” I couldn’t quit snapping blurry pictures, that never came close to capturing the beauty my eyes were absorbing.
Really, starting off with the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Fransisco Bay and ending with Napa Valley. It was almost too much, my senses were overloading. It was “tough”, but we managed to trudge on to our hotel ((wink)).
We got settled and headed to dinner, the concierge recommended a delicious Italian restaurant “Bistro Don Giovanni”. Again, making a selection was difficult for me – so I let our waiter choose and was very pleased with the Rigatoni con Polpette.
Even more than the perfectly cooked fresh pasta and the deliciously well seasoned meatballs, I loved the DISH in which my meal was served. ((I told you – I am an addict, a bowl addict. Don’t even try to help me.)) Truthfully, as I walked into the restaurant, my eyes immediately landed on the shallow, over-sized greige colored dish. I quickly scanned across the restaurant to realize only a select few menu items were served in that dish.
“How would I know if my meal would come in this bowl??” I literally worried. But I never spoke a word of my crush to David. My meal came — in the very bowl I had become infatuated with – and I knew…”you, my lovely bowl, will be mine at the end of this night.”
The road block occurred when I asked the waiter if I could purchase the bowl, he pursed his lip and slightly shook his head “Oh, um-I don’t … well, let me go ask my manager.” He briskly walked out of my line of sight, but still perfectly positioned in David’s view.
David moaned,”You just got shut out and I think you offended the manager – he rolled his eyes, waved both hands and I could read his lips saying NO WAY.” I sunk. The waiter returned, seeming to match my disappointment, confirmed David’s report and helped me determine the maker.
I learned the bowl is made in England ((swoon)) and get this — it is CROCKERY!! But, I also learned it would be very difficult if not impossible to acquire. We thanked the waiter and proceeded to leave – the waiter jokingly asked if I had stashed the dish in my purse & we all laughed, ((I admitted the thought had crossed my mind)) I could tell he genuinely felt my pain.
As it so happened, I had to pass the manager to leave. “Your pasta was perfect, I am sure I have not had better” I kindly spoke as I bent toward him. He smiled and thanked me for the compliment. “I am the one who asked to purchase your dish, could you tell me if I could locate the dish locally?” I asked hopefully. He frowned and my heart sunk “Which one is it – the gray oval??” I nodded. “No, you can’t.” Again he shook his head. He sharply turned and walked off.
“Oh dear” I thought as David and I exchanged nervous glances.
He returned holding the very dish I loved. “Is this the one?” He frowned, both in speech and in facial expression.
“Oh, yes that is the one.” I smiled.
With one quick motion, he extended his arm and handed MY the bowl. “It is yours” he smiled.
I burst out with a laugh and clapped with joy. Then he extended his other arm and we hugged. It was quite a moment. As David and I walked to the car, I sang “I got the bow-l, I got the bow-l!”. David was laughing hard at my crazy bowl-loving nature.
I turned to him and confessed I had seen the bowl the very moment we walked in and knew it would be mine at the night’s end. All he could do was smile and laugh.
What a day we had, our 100-mile journey was filled with history, nature, culture, art and food – lots of food — oh and some bowls.
Part three: the day of the Bakery Tours – coming soon!