On Saturday, February 8, John and I meet Ryan and Jon for a belated 43rd birthday celebration at the Black Sheep Brasserie in San Jose. We have a really good time! We start off with a champagne toast compliments of the restaurant. Our server, Tyler, is very knowledgeable about all the things on the menu. We start with a charcuterie plate which has, among other things, a really delicious duck pate. Among the four of us we order skate wings creamy cauliflower chowder, pork cheeks, onion soup, French fries, and incredibly delicious brussels sprouts.
Alex is officially a teenager yesterday and we are celebrating his birthday today! The party is mainly held in a truck that has big video screens for the kids to play various games on. We really do not see any of the party-goers until it is time to cut the cake.
Auntie Leigh has outdone herself this year with a totally edible dragon cake. She even has dry ice set up so it looks like the dragon is breathing smoke. Everyone is wowed by it.
Since my birthday is a week from tomorrow, we figure that it is a good time to start celebrating early. December will be a month of celebrating and travel so there will not be a whole lot of cooking. But I am happy to include in my posts some great experiences, interesting restaurant dishes and the occasional home cooked meal.
Our day started with a stop at Jacuzzi Winery, home of The Olive Press, where we always stop to sample the olive oils and get our bottles refilled. Today we get a new pressing of Arbequina olive oil. We use these better oils as finishing oils while we use a more generic EVOO for everyday cooking.
Here’s a picture of John next to Santa at the Jacuzzi Winery and The Olive Press.
Next we stop at Imagery Winery to pick up our Wine Club allotment. For agreeing to a certain number of bottles per year you get a 20% discount. Also you get a free tasting of their recent offerings. So John and I try a few sips. It is fun as long as you do not enroll in too many wine clubs or have too many sips!
For a late lunch we try the recently opened Salt and Stone restaurant in Kenwood, CA. I think we make very reasonable choices.
After lunch we head for home trying not to get caught in rush hour traffic. Sonoma County wine country is beautiful even in late November and a nice break from the urban/suburban bustle.
Unlike me John does not usually get a five-star multiple event birthday celebration. But at the end of his sixth decade I think he deserves it.
We start out with a visit with Jim and Eileen Kendall, our old friends from Massachusetts days. Eileen goes out of her way to provide us with a lovely lunch and we all toast John a happy 69th birthday.
After lunch we slog through some heavy traffic up to Healdsburg for dinner out and an overnight at the BW Dry Creek Inn. The rooms at the Dry Creek Inn where we have stayed many times before are in need of a total refreshing but it is only one night so it is not a big deal.
I have made reservations at The Brass Rabbit for dinner. I am thinking that this will be a nice fine dining place on the Healdsburg square. But no, it is really more like a bistro and although the food is good the atmosphere leaves something to be desired.
In the morning the birthday boy and I stop at Stonestreet Winery for a tasting. They have great Chardonnays and although the tasting fee is steep ($40 pp) we go for it. At least they comp the fee if you buy wine. (Which of course we do.) Their wines are great!
It is a long tasting so we decide to stop for lunch before returning home. We have lunch at Taylor’s Refresher for some mediocre hamburgers but great onion rings.
Our last birthday celebration is at the Smoked Pig in Fremont with the whole family. The adults enjoy the food while Alex and Sam do not. It is hard to find someplace where everyone will be happy. But it is good to see the family and now John has been thoroughly celebrated.
Wow, the first time George and I celebrated our birthdays together I was 29 and here it is 40 years later. We are not so spry now but we always manage to have a good time. This year’s Birthdays celebration takes us to Little River, CA. We are staying at the Little River Inn and will also dine there.
On the way up we stop at Healdsburg for lunch at the Healdsburg Bar and Grill. It has food that everyone should like. They are especially known for their burgers. Karen and George opt for a cheese burger while John and I try the veggie burger. I am still trying to stay on my vegan before six diet. The veggie burger comes with a load of feta cheese so I dutifully scrape it off.
The drive out to Little River is beautiful and we pass through redwood forests with their deep shade and ferns abounding. Along the way we stop at Goldeneye Winery for a little tasting. For $15 we get a seated tasting with some nibbles and seven different wines. This is so much better than Napa where you have to pay $50 just to walk through the door!
We reach our hotel and our rooms are pretty far apart. George needs a disability room and our room is on the second floor of a building on the other side of the complex. The room itself is pretty spartan for the price but has a nice porch and view. We are greeted by a seagull sitting on the railing who does not seem to be afraid of people.
We meet for dinner to celebrate my birthday. The food is pretty mediocre but we have a great time nonetheless.
After breakfast at the hotel the next morning we are off to celebrate George’s birthday. We decide to go to a few wineries for tastings and find lunch somewhere.
While John and George peruse the menu of wines WE CAN TASTE FOR FREE I spin the wheel and hit the jackpot – 45% off a case of wine! We decide to split a case. My birthday celebration is going along great!
After visiting three places we find a place for lunch. Stone and Embers is a great choice with a wood fired pizza oven. The oven is so hot that it cooks the pizza really fast and the crust comes out wonderfully cooked with a little char. We sit at the counter and George has fun schmoozing with the owner/chef.
Since the food in the restaurant is only meh we decide to have dinner in the bar. We have a lot of fun. George has found someone who is also celebrating his birthday and we get a rousing chorus of happy birthday with our dessert course.
The next day we ride down the coast towards home stopping in Point Arena for breakfast. I love our Birthday celebrations and this has been a great one.