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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Little River Inn" God's Choice to Play Nine, Drink Wine and Unwind"

When you talk about the Top 100 Golf Courses in The World, names like Pine Valley, Cypress Point, Augusta, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews are always mentioned and discussed. Having been to all of these courses, one that should be included in this conversation is a 9 hole course perched proudly on the Pacific Ocean called the Little River Inn. Recently, my wife Linda and our National
Special Olympics Golf Champion son MJ had the opportunity to stay and play golf at this warm and friendly refuge from the rigors of the rat race. Cally Coombs Dym and Melissa Hervilla Pyorre are fifth generation innkeepers. Cally's husband Marc is the Executive Chef.

According to Cally Dym, "The Inn sits in our original home built by my great grandfather, Silas Combs in 1863. My grandparents Ole and Cora Hervilla, turned our house into an Inn seven decades ago and the family is still happily on the job doing what it takes to make you feel more than welcome."

Situated on 225 acres, there are 65 ocean view rooms, a dining room and bar, nine-hole golf course with pro shop and day spa. The Inn also offers free lodging for kids 16 and under and will provide pet friendly accommodations. This is also great place for a romantic getaway, executive retreat or wedding.

From our home in Danville, California it is a 4 hour drive unless you stop at one of the many wineries in Sonoma, Alexander Valley or Anderson Valley.

We took our time and extended our trip into a 7 hour tasting tour. We began in Sonoma at Viansa that offers a beautiful setting overlooking the valley with a extensive gift shop, deli and nicely priced wines. We especially liked the 2010 Sangiovese Reserve and began to stock our van for the trip to Little River Inn. The Viansa Italian Cherry Chutney was also a must purchase. The winery also has a library that offers private parties, tastings, and is filled with some great wines. A great place to have a special event, celebration or wine tasting event.

Next we stopped at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards that offered tastings of a variety of pressed olives. We enjoyed the Fig Balsamic Olive Press and also sampled their various wines. The 2010 Merlot Caneros was our favorite and was added to our Vino van.

Next stop on our list was Husch, which is a nice stop on the winding Highway 128. The Husch property has picnic tables and small classic wooden tasting cabin that holds 10 people max. We especially enjoyed their 2011 Mendocino Zinfandel and 2012 Anderson Valley Gewurztraminer that is a perfect match for a Thanksgiving Turkey dinner.

Across from Husch Winery is Roederer Estate. This elegant tasting room sits high on a hill and has panoramic views of the valley. They produce over 90,000 cases annually. We sampled their various sparkling wines and added the Brut, 2010 Chardonnay and delicate 2009 Pinot Noir to our vino van.

The wine van was ready for the balance of the Grand Prix like drive thru the stately redwoods. The combination of the various tastings and afternoon sun glistening thru the massive trees was like being on the highway to heaven.

Arriving at the Little River Inn, a special feeling surrounds you, as you enter the circular driveway to the moon ray white painted Inn that sits high above the deep blue Pacific.

The rooms are clean and spacious and the first thing you notice is the bouquet of fresh flowers and large windows with a fireplace, deck and rocking chairs to soothe your soul watching the beauty and sound of the ocean right out your door. Our room was also equipped with a refrigerator that helped stock some of our wine purchases.

Since we were going to be staying for 2 nights, we decided to have dinner at the famous Ole's Whale Watch Bar that opened in 1939. When the bar opened in 1939, beer sold for 10 cents and scotch and bourbon for 25 cents. Today the bar is famous for its Bloody Mary's and Martinis.

It is also the best place on the coast to watch for whales and binoculars are complimentary to the patrons. It opens at 4pm and is full of energy and life feeling like you are in a pub in Ireland with lots of happy, warm people enjoying life. After some of their hand shaken martinis, many claim to actually see some whales.

The bar menu offers some great burgers, fish and chips and "Better Than Mom's Meat" loaf. We enjoyed a sample of everything and especially the chilled glass martinis and Calamari with rice flour dusted with mustard dill alioli that was the "best" we have ever tasted.

After dinner there is an outside cigar bar that overlooks the ocean and is a great place to smoke your favorite brand and have an after dinner drink.

The Little River Inn Golf Course is a place where God would choose to play 9. Like everything at the Little River Inn, it has a colorful history. Ole Hervilla was watching Arnold Palmer on TV in the 50's and decided a golf course would draw more patrons. He opened the course in 1957. It is an Audubon -certified sanctuary with deer wandering around the greens and blue heron, frogs, rabbits, raccoons and other wildlife enjoying life in the pastoral setting of regal redwoods and pine trees There are also 2 lighted championship tennis courts next to the golf course.

The challenging 9- hole course can play like 18 with three placements and dual greens on number 7 and nine. The 5458 yard course requires precise shots thru the large tree lined fairways. The lady's tees are also very friendly and number 8 and 9 overlook the Inn and have a backdrop of the Pacific Ocean for a memorable finish. Nine holes is $25.00 and 18 is $40.00. The slope rating for men is 67.9/121 and 69.0.121 for women. It is a great way to start your day at the Inn.

After golf, you can arrange for a massage to insure you feel and look great. The Spa is open from 10 to 5 each day and perfect way to relax, indulge and rejuvenate your aching bones and tired mind overloaded with the high tech communications of our modern world.

Dinner that night was in the dining room with a window view of the fabulous Mendocino sunset. We began our meal with a glass of the Roederer Brut Sparking wine that bubbled with joy as the sun set over the ocean. Our son MJ insisted on ordering the Calamari that was again fresh and fantastic. We also sampled the Green Lip Mussels broiled with wasabi tobiko mayonnaise and ponzu sauce over sesame seaweed salad that were different and very tasty.

For the entree, MJ ordered the Vegetable Torta layered with spinach, portabello mushrooms, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, feta cheese and marinara sauce that brought smiles to his face. Linda loves Salmon and in our quest to eat all 3000 San Francisco restaurants (500 plus and counting) has enjoyed salmon at some great restaurants. The Local Wild King Salmon was caught nearby and delivered quickly to the Little River Inn kitchen. It was pine crusted and pan seared with spinach puree, parmesan polenta and basil coulis. It was a generous piece that melted in your mouth.

For my entree, I ordered Pork "Oso Bucco" Confit that was tender and delicious. Slow braised pork shank over soft polenta with fennel marinara sauce, roasted red chile broccolini and parmesan.

For dessert we ordered the famous Little River Inn Olallieberry Cobbler baked with butter crust served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream. The rumor is that this "LRI" specialty is served in heaven.

There are also a variety of desert wines, port, brandy, scotch and coffee to satisfy anyone’s needs and a nice finish to a relaxing day.

We would highly recommend this coastal gem and look forward to our return to this famous and friendly Northern California Inn.
For more information and to make reservations go to:Click here: Little River Inn

Monday, August 19, 2013

"Big Wow for Park Chow"

The latest in the culinary journey for Linda and Mike L. Mc Colgan took them to Park Chow, located in the inner sunset and close to world famous Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. 
The adventure destination was a Segway tour through Golden Gate Park which was a wonderful way to see over a 1,000 acres of the Park in a 4 hour time period.  Additionally the Segway tour guide provided wonderful history of the park and made stops at the most notable areas.  The Music Pavilion, Dalia and Cactus flower gardens, the Japanese Tea House the Conservatory of Flowers as well as the California Academy of Science and the De Young Museum were all wonderful stops along the way.  We would highly recommend that if you are curious to get to know Golden Gate Park this is a wonderful way to get an introduction.  After the tour we went to the De Young museum and took the elevator to the top to see a beautiful view of the city and surrounding park areas, which by the way is free of charge.
On our way back after our tour, we stopped at the restaurant Park Chow which is located conveniently close to the 9th and Judah Muni transportation stop which we took to get to Bart and then back to Bart Walnut Creek.
Park Chow is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  When entering the restaurant you immediately feel a warm and soothing sensation with the wood burning fire warming your soul from the cool and foggy inner sunset weather.

We started off with breakfast, before the tour, with a warm cup of coffee and pancakes with organic maple syrup.
After the tour we returned for Lunch where we found the restaurant packed with happy patrons enjoying the warm ambience and great food of this fun place. We started our lunch with a glass of nicely priced red house cabernet from Argentina and wood baked artichokes with lemon that were savory and fresh.  For the main course, Linda ordered a specialty pizza, recommended by the manager Renee. Cooked in a wood oven, it was summer corn, pesto, heirloom tomato and arugula. I ordered a spicy dish of Thai style noodles with steak, chicken, peanuts, and spicy lime chili garlic broth that was sensational.  For desert, we experienced the "Big Wow" at Park Chow-Ginger cake with organic pumpkin ice cream and caramel sauce.  
After lunch, we walked a few blocks to the 119 year old Little Shamrock Bar and enjoyed their famous Irish Coffees that completed a heavenly day and lunch. We also bought the locally roasted coffee beans that we had in the Irish Coffee at The Beanery which was across from the muni stop.

Needless to say, we had a remarkable day as we set out to really get to know Golden Gate Park. 
For more information, about the Segway Golden Gate Tour call 415 474-3130 and to make reservations at Park Chow go to: Click here: Chow Restaurant

Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Navio " Arrives At The Coastal Castle On The Sea

In a quest to eat al all 3000 San Francisco restaurants (500 plus and counting), Linda and Mike L.
Mc Colgan's culinary journey recently took them to Navio at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay. Recently completing a 1 million dollar renovation, Navio, meaning ship, is elegantly decorated with spectacular views overlooking the deep blue sea and 18th hole of the famous Old Course. This Ritz property is a very special experience for anyone who wants to enjoy a time of pure luxury and elegance.  The staff throughout the entire resort is friendly and anxious to make your time an “experience” to remember. Five stars for the Service.*****

The Castle on the coast is conveniently located between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. It has received many awards for excellence and has two world class golf courses. The experience of playing golf at either the Ocean or Old Course and having a treatment at the world class spa is a taste of heaven.  At sunset the special part of any day at the Ritz is the piper playing bagpipes coming up from the hills overlooking the water. The piper playing at sunset is better than “Mass at the Vatican" which I have had the privilege of experiencing both.

Sitting by the outdoor fireplace in your room patio, the hotel also offers an over the top golf cart dressed up as a wine and fire caddy. The knowledgeable wine and fire chap drives his golf cart stocked with wine, cheese cigars and smores kits that you can purchase from the convenience of your outdoor room patio. It is another touch of class to the elegant Ritz experience.

Before dinner at Navio, you can stop at the Eno wine bar and sample various flights of wines. The wine bar is a beautiful room cover with rich dark wood and soft lighting that adds to the wine tasting experience. The extensive wine cellar is stocked with wines from around the world including several bottles of the French Petrus Pomeral Wine which sells for $7500 per bottle for those with a discriminating taste for wine.

The new renovation of the Navio Restaurant offers an elegant ship like feeling with large windows overlooking the ocean. Our server was very attentive and helpful in choosing our dinner items.  For appetizers we started with the PEI mussels with shallots, garlic, savignon blanc, creme fraiche and parsley. We also tried the ahi tuna, with yuzu aioli, padron peppers, asian pears, pickled carrots, green beans and puffed barley.  The Sea scallops with sweet pea and wild mushrooms risotto shaved parmesan and balsamic syrup and Brentwood sweet corn soup warmed up our appetites for the main courses.

For dinner Linda order the local black cod and Berkshire pork belly with grilled Monterey calamari, chorizo and chick peas which was prepared to perfection and heavenly to eat. Our National Champion Special Olympics golfer and son Mj ordered the New York steak with grilled Yukon potatos, mushroom conserva, glazed cipolin onions and red wine jus that according to him was "the best he has ever eaten."

I ordered the 48 hour Navio braised short rib, with Yukon gold potato puree, port wine glaze royal trumpet mushrooms and asparagus that was tender and seasoned to perfection.

Desert was highlighted by the Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee and French pressed hot coffee that completed a dinner to always be remembered

We look forward to our return to this special Coastal Castle on the Sea. For more information call 650-712-7000.