Archive for the ‘Exploring By The Bay’ Category

A Quick Trip to Sonoma: Ram’s Gate Winery

September 2nd, 2014 By jacquelynw

ram's-gate-bar ram's-gate-table

As you probably gathered from your extensive internet stalking and avid research on my background (or maybe just the bio at the bottom of my posts), I’m not from around here.

Luckily, my husband is. I met him on vacation in San Francisco, and the first thing he did after meeting me (literally the very next day) was throw me on the back of his motorcycle, and take me straight to Napa. There he locked me in a 5 star hotel with a champagne drip until I promised to marry him. Well….maybe it wasn’t exactly like that.  But that’s how I remember it.

Since then, I’ve learned a few things about this beautiful area I like to call home. In particular, of course, Marin. I know not to honk in traffic (it’s probably my child’s teacher or my yoga instructor.) I know that I always need to have a vegetarian option at all my dinner parties, made with organic local produce, of course. And I know not to plan anything important when Mercury is in retrograde. But the most important thing I’ve learned is just how amazing it is to live 20 minutes from the wine country.

Case in point – Saturday morning my husband’s parents surprise us with the amazing gift of taking our kids for the day to go play in the beautiful redwoods and creek beds that are Samuel P. Taylor Park. The first thing I’m preoccupied with are my neurotic fears about ticks and poison oak that I will have to deal with when they get home. Although, in all fairness, I also worry about aliens or zombies invading the earth and I am convinced I have brought home bedbugs every time I stay in a hotel. Just to put those fears in perspective, of course.

But the very next thing I think of is throwing on some sunscreen and summery outfits and heading north. Where you might ask?  Wine country, of course. We only have to drive 20 minutes from our place, and there we are – rolling hills of….well dead grass right now….but situated at the top of the first rolling hill of the official front gate of the wine country is the newly renovated property, and borderline tragically chic, Ram’s Gate.

ram's-gate-couple ram's-gate-food2

The first time we came here after the purchase and renovation of what was once the biggest lost opportunity in all of Sonoma, we were so blown away. It is, in my humble and also worthless opinion, at least in the top five, if not the number one spot of tasting rooms in both Napa and Sonoma. At the time we were just stopping in on our way to another destination in Yountville. We had the kids, and the staff was charming and inviting, encouraging our “non-member” party to sit in the plush lounge area. The kiddos were even able to get their fill of the virgin Chardonnay, aka grape juice. We bought some wine, and my husband and I decided to become members of the wine club there. We based our decision on two things: one, it was 20 minutes from our house and two they had a lovely Sauvignon Blanc. Recipe for success in my book.

After deciding to head north, but before our arrival, we grabbed a phone and called our precious Ram’s Gate. Since we hadn’t visited in a while, we wanted to know if there would be room for our last minute party of two. Luckily we erred on the side of overly cautious, otherwise the adorable girl that looked like Julianna Hough with stylishly fuchsia lipstick wouldn’t have been able to seat us. My first impression was that I was a bit turned off. The first time we arrived, and every time since, we were able to just cruise in. But, according to their website, this is a thing of the past.

Once seated inside, at our previously arranged table, I got it. This whole “make a reservation” thing was actually quite nice. Our view of the valley was amazing, and I wasn’t having to tap anyone on the shoulder to get their attention or a pour. We were seated at a table, and given the “Member’s Only Menu” which had a list of all the bottles they were currently pouring, but delectable food pairings. I mean real food pairings, for real foodies. And, I’m not just talking some things thrown together on a charcuterie board.

My first issue, however, was that it was summer, and the only whites they were pouring were Chardonnay. Not that their Chardonnay is/was bad. This is an issue for me personally, but for those of you who enjoy Chardonnay, it will be awesome. There were like 4.  However, I was lucky enough to make it there the weekend they started selling (to members only) the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. A little bit of coercion and a giant “phew” when they agreed to let us buy a bottle and drink it there.

We decided to, in addition to our light, dry and beautiful summer white, to order two glasses of their 2012 Carneros Pinot Noir. OK – now we were ready to order, from both sections of the menu.

ram's-gate-waiter ram's-gate-food

The first thing that came out was what looked like giant hushpuppies. The Wagon Wheel Arancini was not, in fact, hushpuppies. But it is the closest thing I could visually relate it to. Once you cut into said hush puppies you would quickly realize that instead of something dry and crumbly you would find creamy risotto like deliciousness that tasted like mushrooms and hinted at black truffle oil.

We followed that up with the Veal Albondigas. If you’re like me and need to “dumb down” what an “Albondigas” is, they were these giant meatballs covered in a tangy tomatillo and cilantro goo that made them both savory and tingly. And, as it turns out, I’m a fan of both savory and tingly.

From there we moved on to the peaches and burrata. The Sonoma County Peaches managed to be both light and hearty with bright peachy flavors, that yes, cut the cheese nicely. (I think I spend too much time with my 7 year old.)

The Braised Rabbit and gnocchi we inhaled in a matter of minutes. I was utterly speechless.

We decided to order one last plate, and I’m glad we did. It turned out to be my favorite, and it was a little bit surprising. I’m from Texas, so meat and I go way back. But hanger steak is never one of my “go-tos.” The Hanger Steak (yes, that was the name of the item on the menu) was tender, flavor filled and served with a hearty risotto and oregano marinated feta. It was a total zinger and, paired with our choice of Pinot for the afternoon, was by far, the most enjoyable bite that we had.

After that, and since we still had a little sip of the Pinot Noir left, we ordered the Chocolate Budino to finish things off. It was the perfect blend of crunchy, chocolate and warm.

Over the course of the several hours we were there, visiting with the staff and other patrons, we really enjoyed what we saw. The view didn’t feel like we were just off the highway. We felt tucked. We didn’t feel rushed, likely thanks to the reservations set up. We were encouraged to take pictures. The Saturday afternoon vibe there was a beautiful mix of an exciting bustle and taking time to smell the bouquet. Literally.

While it would have been nice to be able to make the drive all the way into Napa, relax by the pool at one of the beautiful five star hotels and have a four course meal in Yountville, this was an incredibly wonderful runner up.

As they say, membership does indeed have its privileges.

Jacquelyn Warner is a Marin based photographer. She was born in LA, raised in Texas, and has been sipping, dipping, hiking, bbqing, shopping and drinking here in the Bay Area for the last 14 years.  She remains constant in her endless search for the perfect spot for just about anything in Marin.

Where in Marin Are We This Week?

August 25th, 2014 By George Crowe

where-in-marin-082514

Here is this week’s photo from local photographer Jackie Warner. Can you guess where in Marin County this was taken? Kind of an appropriate spot for this week. Take a shot in the comments!

 

Where in Marin Are We This Week?

August 20th, 2014 By George Crowe

where-in-marin-082014

Here’s this week’s photo from photographer Jackie Warner. Can you guess where in Marin County this was taken? It’s not a super tough one. Take a shot in the comments below!

Where in Marin Are We This Week?

August 4th, 2014 By George Crowe

where-in-marin-080414

Here’s this week’s photo from photographer Jackie Warner. Can you guess where in Marin County this was taken? Take a shot in the comments below!

Where in Marin Are We This Week?

July 29th, 2014 By George Crowe

where-in marin-1

Each week our friend and photographer Jackie will be posting a photo from somewhere in Marin County, and we’ll have an informal contest to see who can guess where it was taken. Feel free to take a stab at it in the comments below, and good luck!

Jacquelyn Warner is a Marin based photographer. She was born in LA, raised in Texas, and has been sipping, dipping, hiking, bbqing, shopping and drinking here in the Bay Area for the last 14 years. She remains constant in her endless search for the perfect spot for just about anything in Marin.

Brunch at San Geronimo’s Two Bird Cafe

February 11th, 2013 By Stephen Pringle

For one of the the best brunch restaurants in all of Marin head out to the Two Bird Cafe in San Geronimo. What a great way to wake up on the weekend. The food is amazing and the service is top notch. We got up and went to breakfast there last Saturday with the kids and were blown away buy the yummy french toast and the best pancakes we have ever had. The ambiance is rustic and relaxing. We headed out to Point Reyes after that and spent half the day in West Marin. A great way to relax and start the weekend.

A Great Time for a Hike to Cascade Falls

December 22nd, 2012 By Stephen Pringle

With all the rain we’ve had over the last month Marin’s waterfalls are roaring along. One of our favorite spots is Cascade Falls in Fairfax. It’s a 15 minute hike to get to the falls and the walk is beautiful. You walk along the river the whole way and it’s a good way to get the kids out of the house during the holidays. Parking can be tough at the end of Cascade Drive where the trail starts, so keep this in mind but there is usually some parking down the road a bit if it gets full at the end. One of the main reasons we live in Marin is our close connection and access to natural beauty, and there’s nothing like waterfalls in the winter.

Cornerstone, One of Our Favorite Stops in Sonoma County

November 16th, 2012 By Stephen Pringle

Cornerstone Sonoma is one of the coolest places around to visit with the kids, have a picnic, and do some shopping all at the same location. The grounds have a bunch of outdoor art installations and are very inspirational. It’s like walking through a wonderland from each exhibit to the next. There’s a barn with tables to sit at and a great place to share a bottle of wine and just let the kids run wild. They do private functions there as well–a great place for a wedding reception or a kids birthday party. There’s a cool wine bar, a cafe, and numerous shops to browse in. And don’t forget to get a photo of yourself sitting in the big blue chair.

Napa’s Oxbow Public Market

October 23rd, 2012 By Stephen Pringle

Wow, how cool is Oxbow Public Market in Napa! My dream would be to open up something like this in Marin…we have nothing like it. It’s an indoor marketplace with all kinds of super cool restaurants, butchers, cupcake makers, coffee houses, gifts, oysters, and cheeses from around the Bay Area. The atmosphere is awesome and the concept and food are amazing. Stop by here on the way up to wine tasting on the Silverado Trail in Napa. Very inspirational and another reason why we love living North of SF.

Oxbow Public Market. 610 & 644 First Street, Napa, California 94559

Paddleboarding and Kayaking at Sausalito’s Secret Beach

October 8th, 2012 By Julie Segura

Looking for something fun to do and like the sound of getting out on the water? Head out to Schoonmaker Point in Sausalito (near the Bay Model) and rent a kayak or paddleboard from Sea Trek. Not experienced? That’s okay, you’re provided with a life vest and can stay in the protective cove. A little more daring? Head out of the cove and explore the Bay around Sausalito. You might run into sea otters or seals and beautifully colored jelly fish. You can also check out the boats along the docks and view the eclectic houseboats that line the waterfront.

On a warm day you can go in a bathing suit or shorts and t-shirt, while on colder days, as they are open all year round, throw on a windbreaker and sweats and hit the water. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

The paddleboards are pretty sturdy and you don’t have to fall in the water much, unless of course it’s hot and you just want to cool down. Balancing on the boards is a great core workout, and at an hourly rate you can’t go wrong. The ones that catch on quickly of course are the little kids, and you’ll see them zipping around the cove, sometimes with several of their friends sitting on the board with them. The kayaks can be rented hourly too and they are either singles or doubles, with an option of putting a fairly small child on your lap if they are not big paddlers. Also a great upper body workout!

You will be surprised at how many people go out there to enjoy the view. Whether you are renting or opt to just sit on the beach and read a book or play in the sand, this is a Sausalito must-do.

  • APR
    Fair Housing

    Be Our Fan On

    Facebook

    Share:

    ShareThis

    © 2013 SF North    |    DRE#: 01399812