Foothill Flavors Treating Mother Right
By Antoinette May Herndon
Just the other day Desiree asked me where I wanted to go for Mother’s Day. Now, she didn’t say it in so many words. It’s more like she laid her nose on my knee, stared up with soulful eyes and wiggled with anticipation.
Though only four months old, Desiree has wiggling down cold. Why not? She’s a goldendoodle. That means poodle smarts combines with golden retriever sweets.
Clearly, Desiree wanted to go some place and take me with her. I don’t know any dog-friendly restaurants. Tell me, please, if you do. She is so ready for a bye-bye.
Be that as it may, Desiree’s thoughtfulness set me to thinking about Mother’s Day and all that entails. Hallmark cards and TV ads are so predictable. Boring! They invariably feature clone mothers from another time. When was that time anyway? It was surely before my time.
None of the mothers that I know feel empty handed without a mop or nude without an apron. They’ve got lots more than shopping lists on their minds, too. Actually they’re pretty much like me, a non- mother.
Mothers aren’t generic. Each is an individual, but one thing they all share is an awareness of Mother’s Day. Some may say something about the thought being all that matters, but you better believe they don’t really mean it. Mothers like variety as much as anyone. Enough same old, same old. Plan something special.
It starts with breakfast. For me, a tasty meal, a pretty tray and a perfect rose come close to being the ultimate treat. But if you’re not into cooking, much less manual dexterity; skip breakfast in bed and schedule a gala getaway.
It doesn’t get much classier than Camps at Greenhorn Creek in Angels Camp. The building, inspired by the ground-breaking architect Julia Morgan, gives off inviting clubhouse vibes. They mix a mean Bloody Mary ($7) that’s a deal maker. From the first sip you expect to be well taken care of and will be.
Choices are tough at Camps, there are so many yummy possibilities. Over the years I’ve tried them all. My favorite remains “Our Special Eggs Benedict.” ($11)
Yes, the eggs really are special. Imagine light, creamy hollandaise sauce over blue crabs served with breakfast potatoes and fresh fruit. I also look forward to the homemade pecan sticky cinnamon rolls served with breakfast.
You think that sounds good? It is, but let me describe a tempting alternative. The Amador Café & Bakery in Pioneer may not be a country club but it too is one classy operation. When have you been to a coffee shop where the utensils and napery are stored in antique walnut dressers? Imagine chairs of faux bamboo painted gold, a floor of red and white tiles and the sparkling glow of crystal chandeliers. Crystal chandeliers for breakfast! How cool is that?
Charles often reminds me, “you can’t eat décor,” yet agrees the Amador café serves a dynamite breakfast. Try the Two Egg Breakfast ($8.25), sausage, eggs with English muffin and hash browns.
With breakfast tucked away, Mother might enjoy another form of pampering. The Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill offers a Mother’s Day Spa Package this weekend. Consider a replenishing mineral salt bath soak with detoxifying Dead Sea salts complimented by oil aroma therapy and 50 minutes of Swedish massage. The price bliss? $125 for 90 minutes.
Schedule an appointment by calling 286-1401 and, while you’re at it, check out Chef Chuck Swisher’s splendiferous Mother’s Day brunch offerings.
When thinking of treats, Taste springs to mind. After some seven years of dining there, it’s still a magical surprise. Taste’s simple frame exterior looks just like its laid back neighbors in tiny Plymouth, but one tug on the fork-shaped door handle and you’re in for a “through the looking glass” experience.
Prepare for an Art Deco paradise that’s sleek and suave but also warm and friendly. Taste serves a fig salad ($11) with possibly the
best vinaigrette dressing you’ve ever had. The short ribs ($32) are a favorite entrée, incredibly tender and succulent.
Yes, in case you’re wondering, I do think Taste’s pricey. Charles and I consider it Splurge Central, a place to go for celebrations and special occasions. But isn’t that what Mother’s Day is all about?
Another ongoing favorite is the City Hotel in Columbia. I love the old paintings, gilt-framed mirrors and treasured antiques that set me to dreaming of bygone days. But when it comes to living in the now, what about lobster cheesecake ($12) for starters? The light, creamy texture is a perfect foil for tender, tasty lobster tails inside. This large, luscious mousse is enough for two—maybe even three.
Follow up with Fallon roast duckling ($23) pan seared marinated breast with raspberry and port wine sauce. Talk about flavor!
The foregoing bistros are rave faves of mine; but you know where my guy and I are going for Mother’s Day?
Frank’s Café. Yes, I know, it’s a coffee shop; but Frank and Angie Giourousis are serving moussaka, my favorite entrée in the whole world. Moussaka, in case you haven’t been fortunate enough to run into it in your travels, is a Greek dish made with layers of lamb and eggplant topped with Bechamel sauce. It’s the Bechamel that’s the killer, so good; but so much work.
Angie has never before has served it in the restaurant. I am so excited! I’ve got to tell you, it’ll take a lot of will power to save anything to take home to the dog. Poor Desiree.
Have a happy Mothers’s Day!
VITALS Camp’s in the Greenhorn Creek Golf Course at 611 McCauley Rd. Phone: 736-8181. The Amador Café & Bakery, 26590 Hwy.88, #3, Pioneer. Phone: 295-7794. Hotel Leger, 8304 Main St., Mokelumne Hill. Phone: 286-1401. Taste (9402 Main St., Plymouth. Phone: 245-3463. City Hotel Restaurant, 22768 Main St., Columbia. Phone: 532-1479. Frank’s Café, 8085 Highway 26, at Highway 49, Mokelumne Hill. Phone: 286-1448.