December 20 – January 7
We regrouped after parking the car at the apartment and then set out on BART for San Francisco and our dinner destination, Zero Zero. This is the restaurant we used the morning after Jessica and Kris’ wedding, and we were looking forward to the meal as we recalled how good the food was from our last visit.
Seated upstairs, we ordered drinks and a first round of food to share, beginning with a delicious Radiatore with Red Wine Braised Short Rib Sugo. We then moved on to Scallops and Jumbo Shrimp, all of it as good as it looked.
Joanna and I concluded with a special of the night, vegetarian gnocchi, that while not too filling, left us room for the desserts we’d all order to split at the end of the meal, the Ricotta Doughnuts and a Flourless Chocolate Brownie. The doughnuts while interesting when coupled with one or more add-ons (Caramel, Hot Fudge, Spiked Dulce de Leche, Bruce’s Calabrian Chile Caramel, Fiordolio Olive Oil and Sea Salt, Butterscotch Blondies, Toasted Mini Coconut Macaroons, Candied Almonds, and Chocolate Cookie Crumble) paled in comparison to the deeply rich goodness of the brownie.
New Years’ Eve day passed in a blur as we joined Kris to shop for supplies for the party that he and Jessica would be hosting that night. Later, Joanna and I journeyed up to El Cerrito to enjoy a lovely Lydia inspired meal that she cooked for us and Walter, and then returned to the apartment, the party in full swing. At midnight we all went up to the roof to welcome the new year and later, found a quiet refuge in the wee hours until that last of the party goers departed for home.
Kris and I planned to head back over to Walter’s for our traditional afternoon of watching college football bowl games, but before we left we all walked over to another regular stop for us, Drakes Dealership. As many times as we’ve been to this place, each return is as enjoyable as the first with its ambience, quality beers, and tasty food. It was another gorgeous day for sitting outside to enjoy the weather and this unique venue.
Keeping light on the beers, we ordered a couple of things to eat, the When We Dip (garlic, parmesan, caper, parsley oil, and toasted pizza dough) and a fixture for us, the Frito Pie (Frito lays, Beef or veggie chili, cheese, onion, pickled peppers, and lime crema). Who would think that pouring chili over Frito’s would be such a taste good but bad for you food experience?
We’d fall into a familiar routine the next day with Jessica and Kris off to work, Joanna and I hit the market to pick up the ingredients we’d need for dinner that night, a winning Lasagna with béchamel sauce that always seems to turn out right. After straight days of revelry, it was nice to have some quiet time before we took off for a couple of nights with Mary and Norm in Clearlake.
On the way the next day we made our usual visit in Napa for breakfast with Joanna’s Uncle Matt at the Jefferson Café, where their large portions kept us full all day. Then it was off to Calistoga and the turn to head over Howell Mountain on the steep and curvy two-lane highway into Middletown and arriving at the house at Lower Lake.
We’d spend a couple of very pleasant nights on the lake, taking advantage of a comfy rental cabin two houses down from Mary and Norm’s, enjoying the new funicular they’d installed when making the ascent and descent to their place directly on the lake much easier to navigate, drink Norm’s delicious home brewed IPA, and getting a up close look at Norm’s duties as the water guru for their community.
They get their water from the lake itself and thus someone needs to maintain and operate the water purification system, that someone being Norm. It tends to tie them down to the property as he needs to make regular appearances at the plant, which is a few houses from their’s.
The system does notify him via the phone if it needs attention outside of routine maintenance.
For our one full day we drove back over the mountain into Calistoga as Mary had a haircut appointment. Joanna, Norm and I walked around the downtown portion of town, then hopped in the car to go find a Mexican Food truck that he recalled as being quite good.
It turned out they are only there on school days (we were still in the holiday zone) and so we doubled back to a very good joint, Busters BBQ, a casual eatery on the outskirts of town.
We ordered at the window, Joanna and I splitting the half-chicken dinner with two sides, moist and flavorful, the wood fired grill outside providing us with a pleasant sense of smoke and char.
We picked up Mary with her new do and returned once again over the mountain to enjoy another fine evening of conversation and some of that great IPA. Something about staying on the lake provides a peace that pervades each moment. I look forward to our next visit.
Zero Zero: https://www.zerozerosf.com/
Drakes Dealership: https://drinkdrakes.com/dealership/
Busters BBQ: http://www.busterssouthernbbq.com/