Friday, January 27, 2006

The Sonoma Coast

Our destination for a two-day getaway was Jenner, where the Russian River dumps into the Pacific. It's not much more than an hour's drive from home, but we could not have felt farther away. The ocean is so roiling and the beaches so rocky, you'd be a fool to go into the water. The wind that sweeps up the cliffs in winter is bone chilling (and Bean Sprout chilling, as I learned when he climbed inside my jacket). Cypress trees of indeterminate age have ceded to the power of the wind, bending their crowns landward in graceful, artistic defeat.
There is nothing in Jenner but a small general store (selling mainly beer and firewood, it seems), two inns (one with a restaurant, the other with a closed restaurant — the one we stayed at), a handful of modest houses, and down the road, an Indian tandoor restaurant. There may be a cafe, and I did see a shuttered gift shop.
Thank goodness we brought all our own provisions.
Our cabin was tiny, but better appointed than I expected, with a microwave, mini-fridge, itty-bitty kitchen sink, tiny coffee machine and a thoughtful supply of dishes and utensils. The cabin has an Asian theme, with artwork, upholstery, lamps and even the dishes all sporting Far-East imagery.
So the little blue plate from Japan was perfect for an appetizer of watermelon radishes sprinkled with a blend of nori flakes, salt and toasted sesame seeds. (I admit I got this idea from Jennifer's post about her New Year's Eve dinner.) Cranky was determined to buy fresh Dungeness crab in Bodega Bay, a few miles to the south, and he got his wish. We've never had sweeter, fresher crab. It was perfect with a small spritz of lemon, but Cranky figured out a way to make it even perfecter: He sprinkled some of this magic nori dust on it, and voilà — Dungeness à la Japonaise. Recommended. (The nori powder was also wonderful with hard-cooked quail eggs, although the eggs themselves were on the other side of fresh — not at all close to rotten, and still quite tasty — but the egg whites had shrunken, so no photo.)
Oh, speaking of photos. Damn. I don't spend nearly enough time teaching myself how to use my camera, but at least I've discovered some settings that usually give me reliable close-ups of food. I do have enough sense to change lenses when the situation calls for it, but yesterday I did not have enough sense to push all the proper buttons for landscape photography. So I just grabbed the camera, walked up the bluff, and fired away.
Oh well, you get the idea. It was beautiful.


Kalyn said...

Hey, my step-sister lives in Guerneville, which I think is pretty close to where you are?? I visited her last summer and it was a beautiful area.

cookiecrumb said...

Kalyn: You are correct! We took a drive to Guerneville yesterday (and bought some dog treats at an adorable pet supply store). Guerneville is: Hippie, Gay, Old-Time Resort-y, Woodsy. It's a short (ish) drive from Jenner, about 12 (crow-flyin') miles, and about 40 (buzzard flappin') miles from "Santa Venetia," which is a real place but nobody knows where it is. You could Google it.

rae said...

i just love the hostile northern california coast. so beautiful!

ilva said...

It's really beautiful but it looks cold! And I like the food photo, beautiful colours!

b'gina said...

There are some gorgeous, but very slow and wind-y drives from the Coast inland around there. It's so beautiful and almost...great, I can't think of the word I want...primeval, the forest primeval. I haven't drive there in years, but it was so eerie driving on paved roads going through what appears to be totally untouched forest. I bet you had a wonderful time.

Cheers and welcome back.

Tana Butler said...

Have you ever eaten at the River's End restaurant? We LOVE that place. Local/seasonal/sustainable...great food. Maybe the best clam chowder on earth. Seriously.

(I'm off to the farm conference this morning. I'm behind 600 subscriptions on Bloglines. Ack! But I had to see what you're up to!)

: D

CC's Mom said...

Good morning cookie,
Glad I checked your blog, I was wondering if you were back. Sounds like you had a good time. Hope Bean Dip has warmed up.

Dagny said...

I love that area of the coast. I love to drive from Occidental out to Bodega. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

cookiecrumb said...

rae: "hostile northern california coast." Snap!
Also b'gina: Exactly. While gazing at the rocks and waves, I said to Cranky "We're looking at pure, untouched, geological history."
Ilva. Aw, thanks. I can't imagine what "cold" means to you! :D
Tana: Oh, nuts. No, I haven't. We had the pooch, but now that I think about it, he probably could have stayed in the cabin while we dined at River's End. Already thinking of returning -- soon! So thanks for the advice.
Hi Mom! Yes, we're home. xx
dagny: It was so intense without any sense of pressure.

Rose said...

I love the N. California coast.

The radish and nori combo sound like a great appetizer or starter for a party.

I've tagged you for the 4x8 meme. I hope you can join in!

cookiecrumb said...

Thanks, Rose. I'll be right there.
One more yummy use for nori and sesame seeds we discovered: It's *fantastic* sprinkled on tomatoes. (This time of year we rely of cherry tomatoes when we want the taste of fresh; damn, they're probably from Chile or somewhere...)

mrs d said...

Y'know, I've had my camera for 3 1/2 years and I still can't figure out if the "landscape" setting does anything other than turn off the automatic flash. Silly thing.

Oh, and welcome back! It looks purty where you were. We've beaches around here too, but it's too dang cold outside to go near 'em!

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, Mrs D, I think I was still set up for incandescent light conditions out there and I don't know what-all. I actually brought the camera manual with us on this trip for "in-cabin" reading material... but -- I also brought a brand-new cookbook to read. Guess what got read.

Erin S. said...

I love Jenner--Had a retreat for work there, this time last year in fact. The gorgeous views made it hard to concentrate. Great pic of the watermelon radish--I tasted my first one this weekend on a trip to SF. Yum!

cookiecrumb said...

Wow, Erin. Coincidences happening this week, eh?
I can't get Jenner out of my brain. That good.