Adventures inspire a fresh summer meal

Fort Ross mixes history and terrific views.

Life throws us a curve ball or two at times, and it recently threw a great one my way. For the past 42 years, I have carried a college flame deep in my heart. As much as I had dreamed for a future with this wonderful man, I never thought it would come to fruition. And then it did!

Retired San Francisco Police Department Deputy Chief Joaquin Santos re-entered my life with a bang. It was time to escape the foothills and head to my favorite place on Earth with my favorite fella.

Bodega Bay was perfect for a romantic getaway. The massive waves hitting the shoreline as the wind whipped and rain pounded the sand could be seen through the window of the house as we warmed ourselves in front of a roaring fire. And once the sun parted the clouds and calmed the sea, it was time for a stroll on the beach. Gathering seashells has continually appealed to me as a memoir of each time I visit the ocean. This time it was extra special.

That first night we dined at the Tides Wharf & Restaurant on fresh fish cooked to our liking, as we watched seagulls dive for their dinners on the outgoing tide.

We spent the next four days driving up the coast to Fort Ross, walking the historic grounds of the Alutes, eating avocado toast for breakfast as we sat on weathered furniture that lined the river in Jenner, hitting all the little tourist shops, taking photos in front of the famed house from the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock thriller “The Birds,” and relaxing, listening to smooth jazz as we cooked and conversed. Then it was off to his former 8-acre ranch in Grass Valley for five days of wild turkeys, quail and deer that roamed the land as foxes and raccoons hid themselves amid the grassy hills and greenery that surround the house. I so enjoyed walking the grounds and cooking healthy meals, eating by candlelight in such a revered region that’s so connected to nature. We also explored the shops of Nevada City, Auburn and Grass Valley, enjoying the sun as we sipped refreshing iced tea or consumed artesian ice cream.

Adventures inspire a fresh summer meal

Joaquin Santos enjoys ice cream in Nevada City.

The next leg of our journey was to Reno, Nev., to visit my daughter, Gina, and introduce her to my beau. We dined at my favorite Asian spot, P.F. Chang’s, on delicious lettuce wraps, noodles and other savory dishes. Our suite at the Peppermill was complete with a hot tub in the living room and large glass windows that brought the lights of the city into our room.

At Lake Tahoe the next morning, we called on Joaquin’s daughter Michelle and son-in-law Adam, son Eric and his wife Michelle, and their adorable daughter, Olivia. It had been around 30 years since I had seen Eric and Michelle. The crystal blue waters of the lake, the aroma of the cedar trees and the warm breeze were the perfect combination for a special day. We enjoyed people-watching as we sat on sun-warmed benches at Heavenly Valley Ski Resort, listening to the humming motor of the tram as it traveled up and down the slope. We window-shopped until Olivia finished a ski lesson.

As we dined at Scusa Italian Ristorante that evening, it was most enjoyable to laugh and talk as we passed bread around the table, inhaled the aroma of Italy’s finest foods and learned more about one another.

Gazing out over the sand of the beach just steps from our room as the sun set over the lake was the perfect ending to a perfect day. Our trip wasn’t over yet; we had one more stop in Roseville for Joaquin to meet my son, Jaime. Since he was at work, our visit was short and sweet.

Our adventure was winding down. Going back to reality wasn’t a bad thing because it meant more time together and new meals to prepare.

And as a side note, dreams do come true. Just ask me!

Adventures inspire a fresh summer meal

Fresh fish is always a winner at the Tides Wharf & Restaurant in Bodega Bay, which inspired this month’s recipe.

Snapper with Creamy Tomato Sauce

  • 2 8-ounce pieces red snapper, washed and patted dry
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Place the oil in a frying pan and heat it. Fry the fish on both sides until it is cooked to your liking. Remove from the pan and tent with foil to keep warm. Add to the skillet the fish was cooked in:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced
  • Saute the garlic in the oil until it turns soft. Add:
  • 1½ cups chopped tomatoes
  • Cook for two minutes and add:
  • 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil
  • Cook for one minute and add:
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Cook for two minutes. Pour the cream mixture over the fish and garnish with sliced basil leaves if desired.

Serves 2.

Well, it’s thyme to go.

“Jenny’s Kitchen” appears on public-access television stations in Calaveras, Tuolumne and Sacramento counties.

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