Bob and I spent our fair share of weekends in B&Bs around Northern California. It was an easy way to get away to somewhere quiet that didn't necessarily have a hotel or a restaurant scene, guarantee you'd at least get a nice breakfast and comfortable room with a nice tub, and maybe add in some bonus features like nearby golf or a motorcycle race.
Every now and then you'd pick a loser of a place, get a good story out of it, and still enjoy a weekend together sans people who shared your DNA. And that was how one such trip had gone. No matter where we dined on that trip, our food swam in a lake of butter. It became the running joke. Our rooms mimicked the Gilmore Girls episode where Lorelai gets motion sickness from the floral pattern overload on her B&B getaway with Rory. The wine and cheese hour at check-in was a klassy affair: plastic cups and turned bottles of something you couldn't have given away in the Tenderloin. But the absolute topper? Breakfast in the ornate Victorian dining room at the linen-covered tables, crystal glasses, china plates, and Yoplait Yogurt served unapologetically, still in its variety-pack containers, foil lids intact. We didn't even try to suppress the laughter.
But it's been eons since I've stayed in a B&B. Traveling with teenagers has meant mostly hotels, timeshares, or rented houses/condos. This past weekend Ed and I got a chance to sneak off for the night after dropping Peanut and Sisterfrass at a birthday party up in Amador County. Great wine country, by the way (in case you're looking for someplace other than the been-there-done-that Napa to explore). This is the start of their summer season in the Gold Country, so finding a one-night accommodation was a little iffy, and I was left to the Internet a vague memory of the area to give me ideas.
I picked a place, booked it, and off we went.
As we pulled into town, things looked familiar, but that didn't surprise me. I've spent so much time in the area antiquing, going to motorcycle races, camping as a kid, driving to Nevada, I just wrote it off to one of those things. But the more we walked around, I pieced it together.
Butter lakes had been replaced by a menu filled with artisan bread and organic greens. Oh, time.
Overdone florals and out-of-touch hosts were replaced by simplified decor and incredible service. New owners had added the cottages of the old B&B to the Imperial Hotel of the butter-lake past.
And Feist Wines opened up shop in town. Sooo delicious. That's a glass of their wine up top and their storefront down below. We taste anything we didn't like at Feist. In fact, it was hard to decide what to buy. Grabbed a red and a white for the deck, but must return to enjoy more.
Just down the hill, God's Hill to be exact, is a Andrae's Bakery that I knew would be perfect just by the art on the bathroom wall. And I was right. (They had a framed picture of my FAVORITE cookbook-Culinary Artistry.)
And we even found a hip, new winery that has a passion for food trucks and contemporary architecture. Bonus: the wine is YUM. Check out Andis Wines. (Oh, and sports fans will be pleased to note they have a sweet setup so you won't miss those weekend games while you're tasting.) Our favorites there were the 2010 Petite Sirah, 2010 Estate Zinfandel (90 pts Wine Spectator aka Speculator), 2011 Barbera (90pts Wine Enthusiast), but our absolute favorite red there was the 2011Primotivo (90 pts Wine Enthusiast). For poolside, we picked up some of their 2012 Rose. It's just a fun, easy wine.
It's funny how we think we make these decision in life based solely on our free will, and yet I wonder where does fate come in? I wondered it as I sat drinking coffee on the porch outside the cottage of a place I'd stayed all those years ago. And now I saw it from the other side, another side.
A place repurposed. A life repurposed.