Friday, January 1, 2016

We Won't Judge

Here's how you finish out a year on the best possible notes: with wine, big bottoms and dancing.

After breakfast, go to J Winery, first to admire the fog resting halfway up the hills, like an airy crown too big to stay atop your head, then to taste through some morning sparkling and Pinot Noirs.

A sunny patio facing a panoramic Russian River valley vista at Gary Farrell Vineyards began with wet seats (causing the table next to us to laugh since they'd anticipated our dismay, but who checks before sitting down?) and ended with just us and empty glasses of Pinot Noir.

Lunch at the fabulously-named Big Bottom Market, a bustling spot with a chalkboard that read, "Why not start your day with a glass of Rose...or a beer? We won't judge."

Always willing to take advice from a chalkboard, I had a glass of Rose with my Parson Jones, a turkey and Havarti sandwich that could have used a bit more punch, but the Gap Band playing overhead almost made up for it.

Winding roads up the coast-hugging 101 had me a tad queasy before we made the final hairpin turns to get us to the Timber Cove Lodge, a rustic 1963 stone and redwood structure overlooking the Pacific with an enormous roaring fireplace on one wall and rooms along the upstairs mezzanine.

After the requisite disco nap, getting gussied up and a bottle of J Brut Rose in club chairs on the mezzanine watching the band sound check, we got ready to head...downstairs to celebrate New Year's Eve.

Never has a New Year's Eve commute been so pleasurable.

The dining room faces the ocean, not that there was any way to know that given the inky blackness on the other side of the massive windows and our table was directly next to a flaming stove of some kind (all I cared was that it produced warmth), so all in all, it was a stellar place - dim and full of strangers - to settle in for ringing in 2016.

With a bottle of Piper Sonoma to get the party started, we moved through multiple courses (for me, scallops with pinot reduction, spinach, goat cheese and candied pecan salad, lobster tail and the de rigeuer chocolate dessert), reveling in the people watching and band playing just outside the dining room in the cavernous lodge.

Most unusual was the solo guy dining just behind us, scowling the entire meal through. Often as I eat out by myself, even I've yet to do New Year's Eve alone. Maybe he should be my hero.

Once stuffed to the gills, we moved to the big room where the New Orleans-inflected band was doing its best to get drunk people, ourselves included, on the dance floor to great results. With so many guests staying in-house, it was like the ultimate house party.

Cue balloon drop, bubble machine, Auld Lang Syne and Mumm Brut Rose. Big bottom girls of the world, welcome 2016.

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