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Rockridge Bungalow Blog

Michelle's Rockridge Bungalow Blog


Unique Winery 1

I’ve made numerous trips to the wine country – remember it’s my favorite weekend getaway, and over the years I’ve had the good fortune to visit lots of wineries.

Big brand names, very small or trendy brands, large production, small production, guided tours, no tours and it’s all fun. But now when I go wine tasting, I have one primary objective – to seek out something unique.

This place qualifies - the tasting experience itself is unique. You will not be rushed in and out of a crowded tasting room but rather invited to lounge by the reflection pool and converse with the very knowledgeable, yet low-key staff – all afternoon if you’d like.

They farm all of the grapes for their Bordeaux varietals organically, provide a great guided tour through the vineyards and they dare to produce an excellent Pinot Noir in Zinfandel country.

You might also like to try this one if you like Cabernet Sauvignon. I don't normally - like Cabs that is, but I like this one so much I'll be pouring it for Christmas dinner.


Unique Winery 2

This place delivers the unique factor too.

The setting is beautiful – definitely picnic worthy. In addition to 90+ acres of vineyards, the Quivira Estates include expansive gardens, bee hives, a flowform water feature and pond, and a very deluxe chicken coop – and it is all farmed 100% biodynamic.

Something else unique that’s worth mentioning is the Mourvedre grape varietal. Described as a red that “has intensity without being heavy; it has complexity but still retains focus” – this just might be my new favorite.

And I’ll be pouring this one for Thanksgiving.  



New Discoveries About Old Favorites

A few more reasons to love this place...

Chef Mateo Granados is serving up his delicious Yucatan Tamales at the farmer's market all summer and rolling out a very intriguing way to try more of his specialties - the pop-up dinner.

The courtyard at Barndiva is still one of my favorite places to sip a late afternoon cocktail and now with Ryan Fancher of French Laundry on board, their food is fast becoming a favorite too. And if you're lucky enough to be planning a special event in the wine country, I'm not sure the style or setting could get any more special than this.

The Dry Creek General Store established in 1881 and a great place to stop before heading down West Dry Creek Road was on the verge of going out of business. Thanks to a member of the Gallo wine family that is no longer true. I can still grab a perfectly toasted panini and bag of housemade potato chips for that perfect picnic lunch at unique winery 1 or 2.

Ah, my favorite weekend getaway - better and better...


Potato Chicharrones

There is seemingly no end to the restaurant boom in Oakland’s Uptown – and I for one am enjoying the energy, resurgence and abundant choice that is redefining this great neighborhood.

Plum, Daniel Patterson’s new outpost in the East Bay – kicks up the serious foodie vibe and makes the list as a neighborhood game-changer.

Akin to his menu at Coi, Patterson delights in local, seasonal ingredients but in a way that is uniquely his own and the dishes at Plum are less composed and a lot more casual. However, the layering of taste and texture is so complex and multi-faceted that it’s hard to explain in a single post but this offers a very detailed description that’s worth reading before you try Patterson’s creations.

Dishes like New Harvest Potatoes– with staffan’s lardo, fresh shallots, chanterelles and wild arugula or Pork Trotter Burger – with kohlrabi sauerkraut, apple mustard on a fresh Acme bun might not sound that complex, but one bite – along with a very appetizing description from the well-versed wait staff will convince you otherwise.

The space is small, chic and almost brooding with the deep Bordeaux colored walls, Edison bulbs and super-sized art installations by Catherine Wagner. The soundtrack is both edgy and loud and they're open for dinner until 1am so they have the late night, hip crowd thing covered – an all around multi-sensory experience for sure.

Now, we wait for Bracina......


Dinner Music at Plum


Villa Creek Restaurant and Bar - Paso Robles

I've been living and eating in the SF Bay Area for going on 20 years now – sure the living is fine but it’s the eating part that has me so spoiled.

It seems all I have to do is stumble a block or two in any direction - on any given day, to enjoy some of the freshest, tastiest and most inventive food in the world.

This summer I ventured a little farther – about 3 hours South on 101 actually and stumbled onto this place.

Perched right on the square in quaint downtown Paso Robles, Villa Creek is not your average Wild West watering hole. It’s a top-notch restaurant focused on the freshest ingredients, with a full bar, several microbrews on tap, notable wines-by-the-glass, a pleasant outdoor patio, live music on occasion and their own winery.

It seems they are also leading the way in the locavore movement in the Central Valley as chef Tom Fundaro is striving to source as much as possible within 100 miles of the restaurant. 

Villa Creek is not the only restaurant in the area worth mentioning either, Artisan is raking in the accolades as is The Range - a new comer a little farther South and a little closer to SLO - recently mentioned in Sunset's Top Dream Towns In The West.

For the past two years the big draw for me has been attending the CA Mid-State Fair and visiting friends in the area. Something tells me by this time next year, I'll have even more reason to feel spoiled by great food & wine in California.

First stop on my list is the Booker Vineyard or maybe The Boot Barn - just depends on whether I'm thirsty or my rodeo outfit needs updating.


Ahi Tuna Ceviche

Made with the freshest tuna, yuzu ginger marinade, orange supremes, Morro Ranch avocados and micro greens and served ice cold – a welcome feature when dining in the Central Valley heat. This appetizer is pure perfection and I'm not even sure you need to love ceviche to enjoy it – the flavors are that bright and well balanced.  


The Market Cut Selection

This special starts with a premium cut of grass-fed beef tenderloin rubbed with toasted peppercorns, seared to perfection and smothered in an oyster mushroom demi-glace.

The sides include duck fat fried potatoes and frisee tossed with sherry shallot vinaigrette with a perfectly poached egg on top.

All of the flavors are rich and bold but not so much so that you can't recognize and appreciate the quality of the individual local ingredients.

Viva La Locavore!