Happy in Healdsburg

I’m so behind on posts that I actually had another trip to SF before I even finished blogging about my first one. Here’s the last post about that first trip, I swear! So post wine tasting, Alan planned for us to spend the day exploring downtown Healdsburg. It’s a pretty small city, but the downtown area is packed with food, shops, galleries and novelty shops. Since it was a Sunday, there was actually a flea market in the middle of the town square!

I was on the lookout for a cute throw for my room, something like these ones here. No luck on that front though. There were tons of vendors, but we got there right before it ended. So we had to zip around through all the stalls just to see everything. Definitely didn’t have time to dig and bargain for all the stuff I wanted. We did however walk away with this giant blue sheet metal elephant for Alan. It needs to be sanded down around the edges and there were talks about coating it in a new color or material. I’ll let you know if we ever get around to that.

The bartender at the Coppola Winery recommended we visit SHED if we were big foodies. It turned out to be equal parts grocery store and cafe. Organic produce, charcuterie, cheeses, fresh jams, cooking supplies and more were all laid out in the front of the store. Halfway through, you meet the hostess who’ll seat you in the dining area in the back. Very hip, farm-to-table vibe. We checked out the menu and walked through the store portion, but just weren’t feeling it.

Turned out to be a tapas kind of day. Bravas  is a tapas bar with a very laid-back, Spanish atmosphere.  We ordered a plate of asparagus with brie and tangy orange zest because I’ve got a pretty big soft spot for asparagus. Alan wanted to try the duck meatballs with tomato sofrito and a green olive tapenade. You get a plate of two slider-sized meatball burgers, which were okay. They were a little dry to me and we both agreed they could use a little kick. My favorite of our orders was the octopus with fingerlings, smoked paprika, and olives.

The thicker part was succulent and tender while the thinner end was crispy and a little chewy in the middle. With some fresh lemon and olive oil, mmmm! It was all definitely enough to hold us over until dinner. Then it was time to walk off some of those calories. We went through a few art galleries, stopped into little bookstores and eventually ended up grabbing dessert. So much for burning off the calories, I guess.

Noble Folk  is a desserts shop that serves homemade ice cream, pie and coffee on the side. We split a scoop of almond with cardamom and a scoop of thai tea. Nice, sticky ice cream. The flavors are super aromatic. For any of you from the Westwood area, it was a lot like our local Saffron & Rose Ice Cream. 

After that we decided to just sit and relax in the square where the flea market had been earlier. This was one of my favorite parts of our trip, just talking and seeing Healdsburg. Anything’s fun with good company, right? We ended the night by driving out to Applewood Inn, which you can read all about here!


Date Night at the Gunboat Society

Alan’s been working nearby for the past few weeks so we’ve gotten to see each other every day after coming home from work and school and whatnot. We’re pretty accustomed to having each around all the time, so I felt like we needed a date night. Date nights make sure you still dedicate time and space to just focus on the other person. That’s a big thing in my book. That we both take time to experience new things together and appreciate the days we get to spend in each other’s company. Anyways, relationship shpeel aside, our last date night was at Flores and the Ladies’ Gunboat Society!

This little understated gem is right on Sawtelle. It’s so much more spacious than it appears on the outside with big windows and patio seating. It has a cozy feel though. There’s ivy along the wooden walls, a caged fire outside, strings of lights around the walls and little candles on every table.

For our starter, we went with fried oysters, which Alan decided on seconds before our waitress left. It was a wonderful choice though because these oysters were heavenly. You would think fried oysters would be dense and chewy, but these were just lightly fried on the outside with all the flavorful juiciness on the inside. Still soft and full of oyster liquor. It was topped with a fresh spring mix with a tangy almost southwest-type dressing. It was amazing.

Salad-wise we went with the asparagus. Is it surprising that these stole the show for me? I don’t know, it surprised me. I don’t expect much from vegetables, but I spent the whole drive home thinking of how to make this dish at home. Grilled asparagus topped with herbs, two poached eggs, a lemon hollandaise and bacon crumbs. Just looking at it makes me hungry.

For the first of our main course, we had the braised lamb sirloin with chimichurri, lentils, parsnips, lamb bacon and cumin jus. This was my least favorite of the night. The lamb was cooked well, but the sweetness of the chimichurri and the cumin sauce was a little too strong for me.

We were pretty satisfied in terms of quality but didn’t feel stuffed until this last dish came out. Crispy duck with potato gnocchi, walnuts, chanterelle mushrooms and an assortment of herbs. I’m not normally a gnocchi fan because of its doughy texture, but these were lightly fried so that they tasted like a cross between bread and pasta. This dish was a really simple, filling homey dish. The flavors were nothing too exotic. You tasted more of the chanterelles than anything. It was more a texture thing, between the chewy gnocchi and the crunch of the walnuts with a crispy strip of duck…that kind of thing.

We washed everything down with a pint of vanilla cream ale, which was a refreshingly cold light beer. It was a pretty satisfying experience and despite the price, I would definitely come back to try their other dishes or perhaps brunch! Bottomless mimosas, anyone?

Bottomline, if you need a nicer place for dinner and are looking for something with a lot of interesting flavors, stop by Gunboat! More importantly, if you do, get the asparagus and fried oysters.