You might think, from my California posts, that I spent all my time in the mountains scurrying around the kitchen. Yes, I made smoothies and borscht (as well as a spectacular dessert, recipe to come), and yes, Jeniqua pestered Lloyd into showing me how to make lemon ginger kombucha (whereupon I giggled uncontrollably as I broke apart the UFO-jellyfish-esque mother)…
…and yes, I swooned over the simplicity of just-picked zucchini on baby kale topped with lemon, cracked pepper, and garlic oil, simultaneously calling dibs on any orchard apple that looked fit for poisoning Snow White…
…but, I promise you, I also soaked in the sun whilst talking in hushed, secret tones with Jeniqua, “supervised” that fine lady’s painting of a phoenix on the duck shed, and had the pants scared off me by a lurking figure in the trees.
See? Not just cooking.
Though much, much delicious eating.
On my last night in the mountains, Jeniqua organised for the five of us at Lloyd’s place to make the winding drive to the Cachagua General Store, where every Monday night a restaurant appears of such exquisite, inventive, local, organic, soul-delighting tastiness that you absolutely must get there yourself.
Haven’t you always wanted to dine next to a flammable container of propane?
Jeniqua sure has! Look at that glee!
My first bite of the evening came in the form of Five Morro Bay Oysters served with Ancho and Chile Negro Mignonette. Once I’d overcome my surprise at being served oysters out of the shell (come to think of it, they looked rather like the kombucha mother), I enjoyed the vinegar-chili heat of each bite.
The Pan Roasted Vermont Quail with Chile Linguini, Baby Kale, and Maitake Mushrooms came out in a flurry of orange-pasta-twirls, cooked perfectly al dente and rich with buttery mushrooms.
I may have chirped in delight when the Ditto Gorgeous Swanton Steamed Cauliflower with Arbequina EVOO and Schoch Cheese arrived at our table in the form of an entire head of perfectly-cooked-still-firm-not-mushy baby cauliflower draped in wicked-salty local cheese.
I was a happy lady indeed.
The last photo I’ve deemed of just-bearable-enough quality for you shows the Bacon Roasted Denver Leg of Venison with Minnazoli Farm Cherries and Juniper Berries, which was served with Organic Pinnacle Farm Roman Beans, Bhutanese Red Rice and Butter Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes. The venison was meltingly soft, and the rice and vegetables a fine counterpoint to the fruity sauce.
It was a charming night, and a charmingly idyllic mountain escape. Thank you, Jeniqua, Lloyd, Steve, and Anna, for making my week with you so much fun.