Mother's Day -- Mom's Big Day
Sierra Lodestar 05/05/10

Foothill Flavors

By Antoinette May Herndon

TV adds and Hallmark cards are so darned predictable. They insist on picturing mothers as totally home centered creatures—nude without an apron, empty handed without a mop and empty headed without a grocery list blinking in their brains.

Maybe you know a few like that. Maybe. But I surely don’t. The mothers that I know aren’t that different from me—a non-mother. Despite the fact that they come in every size and shape, I’m willing to bet that they’re all a bit weary of same old, same old. Having been women before they became mothers, they really didn’t change that much afterwards.

Each is an individual, not a generic mom. Of course the worst thing you could do to any one of them— obviously—is to forget Mother’s Day. It is her holiday, remember, the day she gets to be officially appreciated and catered to. Nevertheless, there’s a lot more to it than just remembering. Almost as bad as forgetting the day, is celebrating in it some predictable, ho-hum sort of way.

But sometimes as the days grow shorter and, most particularly, if the mother in question doesn’t throw out lots of hints, the problem of Where To Go starts looms large. So, to lessen the pre-holiday anxiety, I’m going to throw out a few hints.

What about starting the day off right with a romantic ride through the forest through the trees to West Point’s hidden treasure, Cozy Cabin. Forget bright lights, chrome and plastic. This eatery lives up to its name. Think snug. It really looks like a cabin with its low ceiling and paneled walls. Add that and a hand-painted mural of the High Sierras and you’ve got a romantically rustic backwoods retreat.

Donna Clark, the café’s owner, does the cooking—excellent. Her daughter Nichole serves as does a friend, Marie Reese. They have a good time together and so do their customers. Try the Gold Panner’s Special or the Portuguese Omelet, both $8.95.

The Panner’s Special includes ham, sausage and bacon fried with onion, bell peppers and fried potatoes topped with a choice of gravy or salsa and served with eggs cooked any way you want them. The Portuguese Omelets brims with Linguica sausage, onions and cheese.

Mother is sure to enjoy the “let’s get away from it all” sense of really driving somewhere that doesn’t in any way involve a shopping list. Deer and bunny sightings are likely, flowers are blooming everywhere and it’s green, green, green.

We’re talking color here, not political statement. May in West Point is gorgeous. Mother will be humming all the way home. Oh, and to think of the dishes she won’t have to do!

Next on the day’s agenda is lunch. And for that it’s hard to think of any place more perfect than San Andreas’s Pickle Patch with its broad, covered deck overlooking lush gardens and small umbrella-tables.

But, of course what really counts is the excellent food and the classy, competent way it’s dispensed. Gretel Allen Tiscornia has a beguiling variety of salads, quiches and desserts displayed in a large glass case opposite the entrance. Added to this her staff is always busy making sandwiches to order or ladling soup specials into cups and bowls.

Perhaps Mother will choose the shrimp and avocado salad with blue cheese crumbles and red onion. With it comes a cup of tasty soup. ($8.95) Or maybe she’ll go with the ultimate BLT—toasted wheat bread liberally laced with cream brie cheese. As if that weren’t enough, a side order of Pickle Patch salad, (three bean) comes with it. ($7.95)

The ice tea ($1.50) is a real tea drinkers tea, one that’s been allowed to steep before chilling.

But now, let’s think a bit more about tea. Perhaps what would really, really turn Mother on is a true tea party. Nobody, but nobody does it better than Fran Perry and Kristi Winter at their Sutter Creek tearoom, Tea Eras.

Think of tiny rose bouquets, exquisitely painted china and lacy tablecloths. Now think of the tea itself: Ceylon Supreme, a mellow, smooth orange pekoe with a subtle sweet flavor or the a regally blended Prince of Wales with hints of black currents. Kristi, a worldwide tea broker, really knows how to pick them.

Mother might well choose the ManaTea ($11.50). It includes bacon, lettuce and tomato with cheddar cheese on a croissant. With it comes a garden fresh salad, strawberries and tea bread. Maybe she’ll even share a pot of tea ($3.50)—Darjeeling, the champagne of teas.

For dessert, what could be better than one of Tea Eras signature scones with clotted cream and preserves ($1.50). Let’s say it’s the ultimate in hormone highs. And what mother wouldn’t love a tea in her honor with no cups to wash?

OK, we’re down to dinner, the ultimate, the final opportunity to show mother just how special she really is. Could there be better place to realize that objective than Plymouth’s no longer secret treasure,


Prepare to be swept into an Art Deco paradise of wood-plank floors, ochre-hued walls, golden light and dark wood furniture. The ambience is sleek, suave, but also warm and friendly.

Perhaps you recall Taste’s owners, Mark and Tracey Berkner, from their days at Volcano’s St. George Hotel. In their fabulous new incarnation, Tracey manages the restaurant while Mark cooks up a storm in the kitchen.

Backed by a splendid staff, the couple offers the kind of polished food and wine service that would be perfectly at ease on Union Square, in Mayfair, or on the Champs Elysees. Presentations, always gorgeous, are cooked to perfection.

Maybe you’ll want to begin your grand DFM (dinner for Mom) with a round of cigars—mushroom cigars (crimini, shitake, and oyster) wrapped in phyllo dough. ($9.50). They’re “only” fantastic.

Mother’s entrée choice might be grilled Colorado rack of lamb with fava bean hash, cipollini onion, Spanish chorizo sauce, Bloomsdale spinach, and green garlic puree. ($37). Or perhaps she’d prefer roasted Vermont quail served with plum pecan chutney, sautéed endive, pancetta and grilled wheat bread. ($28) Or—think again—what about seared duck breast with grilled prosciutto wrapped treviso, red wine risotto cake, and goat cheese stuffed figs with Del Rio honey. ($26).

For the grand finale, she’s certain to plunge her fork into Taste’s signature Chocolate Fix. Imagine, if you will: molten chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and Valhrona chocolate gelato. A sin! But what can I say? Mother’s day is special.

Cozy Cabin, 277 Main St., West Point. 293-7232. Breakfast served every day but Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., lunch until 3 p.m. Credit cards accepted.
Pickle Patch. 577 St. Charles St. San Andreas. Phone: 754 1978. Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Active catering service. Restaurant available on weekends for special events. No credit cards—checks and cash only.
Tea Eras, 34 Main St., Sutter Creek. 267-0333. Lunch served daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tea served until 5. Credit cards accepted. Reservations desirable. Special dinners served for groups of ten or more. Event catering.

Taste, 9402 Main St., Plymouth, 245-3463. Open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 9:30, and Sunday from 4:30 p.m. to 9. Taste packs in crowds every night, so make your reservations early. Credit cards accepted.