Don’t know whether it’s the holidays being over, the beginning of a new and uncharted year, or simply a mood, but I feel restless. Most probably it’s the New Year Blues. Projects are lined up in front of me yet to be started, but my mind seems to keeps wandering to travel sites on the net or thoughts of digging my toes into warm sand on a sandy beach somewhere. It’s been a while since we’ve sheduled a vacation. We’ve gone out of town to visit friends and relatives, but I’m talking about a hotel somewhere featuring different topography and room service. A B&B would be nice. Rick is not the fan I am, not being overly fond of overstuffed mattresses, Chintz or cabbage rose wallpaper. Sharing a bathroom isn’t at the top of his list either.
If I had an unfolded dream it would be to own a bed and breakfast. If one could mold such dreams, I would choose it to be by the sea, preferably somewhere along the span of western coastline. Oregon, Washington, or British Columbia would be wonderful areas to set up housekeeping, if you will. I’ve lived in Washington twice in my adult life. If you can stand the constant rythym of rain beating outside your window, it is a glorious place to be. For me rain is comforting. Mother Nature offered us a hint of the wet stuff this weekend with a sprinkling of it, but there have few nights this year when I’ve drifted off to sleep hearing it tapping on the tiles on the roof above my head. This is the driest year on record in California. Our lawns will surely suffer over the summer. More ominously, fire season is likely to arrive ready to kick some serious butt once spring has cleared the decks. Not looking forward to it. If I could, I’d pack up the other half and Miss Boo the Queen of Cats and head for greener pastures for the summer months.
Along the way I’ve brought up the subject of owning a B&B to friends and family. In most cases they’ve crossed their fingers as if warding off a rogue vampire. One friend mentioned I’d have to make up the vacated rooms every day. As I have no serious handicaps, visible at least, I don’t view this as a deterrent. I’ve always enjoyed being busy and not daunted by a little hard work and elbow grease. Cooking is a mind clearing occupation for me, so to do it for guests in the lovely kitchen of an old Victorian home looking out on the Pacific wouldn’t be much of a hardship to my mind. Ahhhhhhhhh, you see I am signing the papers already. Unfortunately, I’ve been told they expect payment for such an endeavor and here I am at a disadvantage. When you’re twenty or thirty, stepping out onto the plank and dangling your toes over the edge seems less daunting, but as the years pass taking such a risk with your savings makes you more aware of the deep waters lingering below.
If I bought a place to run, it would have to have many windows allowing the sun to fill the house during the summer, and to showcase the view beyond the glass. The luxury of wishcraft is you can maneuver your surroundings at whim without thought to the cost involved in making it happen. In my illusions, I would include lush gardens, kept in tow with arbors and a white picket fence. A whimsical touch for the yard could be a wishing well twined with flowering vines towards the back or a koi pond. I’ve always wanted a koi pond. In the rambling living room French doors would open onto a wide terrace where guests could lounge on sultry summer afternoons over a glass of sweating ice tea or lightly sweetened lemonade. A large stone fireplace climbing the main wall would be perfect to ward off the chill in the winter and offer an ideal location for propping your feet on a footstool and finishing your novel or writing one if that is your goal. Sounds lovely, yes?
Over the years I’ve stayed in some odd establishments. One, in Mendocino County, had a side car towards the back of the property for guests who either had a fetish for old railroad cars or desired privacy. There was an upper and lower bunk, reminiscent of a pullman car. Not necessarily the ideal stopping off place for lovers or honeymooners but fun for a hiking weekend or getaway with a friend. Mendocino, for those of you unfamiliar with the area, is a beautiful piece of coastal real estate located on the map about 10 miles south of Ft. Bragg. If I was financially able, it would be where I would make my home. It is unfortunate in the scheme of things coastal property comes so dearly, but I suppose all things of great beauty come at a high price. Along that particular stretch of highway are a myriad of hotels and inns, bed and breakfasts, and charming restaurants which offer excellent accommodations and fabulous dining experiences. One of my favorite stops when in the area is 955 Ukiah Street. Menu selections include their rosemary scented lamb stew, with pearl onions, baby carrots, and red potatoes, yogurt and scallion marinated jumbo wild prawns flamed in brandy, or a dish of their house made pasta. All worth a second glance.
Without a doubt my destination choice for accommodations is the Little River Inn. We’ve stayed there many times. Although not a bed and breakfast, they do have a house on a bluff available that comes close. The house itself is divided into two sections, upper and lower. Both rooms are huge and offer a view of the sea. On our last visit we had the upper room and with no one occupying the lower level, the house to ourselves. At night under the stars, the hot tub keeps you warm and the waves to lull you to sleep.
For now, my projects call to me, but perhaps The Cottage on the Hill, or the Rose Water Inn will beckon somewhere down the road. I’ll be sure to upload a brochure when I decide to open my doors.
For the crust
10 graham crackers (whole)
6 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup pecans
1 tsp. cinnamon
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place graham crackers (in large chunks), sugar, pecans and cinnamon in food processor.
Pulse until evenly and finely ground. Pour into small bowl. Drizzle butter over top and mix with fork until well blended.
Press into bottom of 9″ springform pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 15 mins. until fragrant and lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.
For the filling
4 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup non-fat milk
1/4 cup cream
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. apricot brandy
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk and cream. Add eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Add sour cream, vanilla, apricot brandy and flour. Mix until smooth and creamy. Pour into prepared crust.
Bake for 1 hr. and 10 mins. Turn oven off and without opening door leave cake inside for 3 hours to help prevent cracking. Remove and place in refrigerator overnight.
Topping (Chocolate Ganache)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. chopped pecans
Caramel ice cream topping
Bring cream just to a boil in small saucepan. Place chocolate chips in small bowl. Pour hot cream over top. Whisk until smooth. Spread over top of cake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and drizzle with caramel.