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Les Mars and Farmhouse

After resting from our travels through Russian River wine country and to the coast, we stopped in Les Mars’ library for wine tasting before heading to dinner. Ron was hosting, as usual, talking with two couples when we walked in. We started talking to him about wineries to visit in the Alexander Valley, but Gail was on the far side of Ron from me and got pulled into a conversation with one of the other guests. When a new couple walked in, I stepped around Ron to join Gail so the new couple had room to get to the wines and Ron. As the new couple introduced themselves to him, I overheard that they were here on their honeymoon. I then left them to talk to Ron while I introduced myself to the older gentleman whom Gail had been talking to. I learned, as he had explained to Gail, that he had just come down from a visit to Seattle.

This gentleman (and he was indeed gentle, gentle and sweet), whose name escapes me at the moment, used to go to Seattle regularly during the nineteen months that his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren lived there. Whenever he went, the weather was perfect, so he never understood what his son was complaining about. (They’re from Baton Rouge.) On his just-completed visit to Seattle, he had attended a meeting, he told us, at which he was very impressed with one of the speakers. He knew the name might be sensitive, and warned us that maybe we thought differently of this speaker, but he really enjoyed Dino Rossi. We shared his desire to avoid politics, saving our thoughts about the Republican candidate for governor of Washington. He then listed some of the other speakers, including Michael Medved and Ben Stein. The meeting, he eventually elaborated, was one of the regular summit meetings of Catholic CEOs organized by Tom Monaghan’s organization
Legatus. I immediately recognized Mr. Monaghan as the founder of Domino’s Pizza and former owner of the Tigers, and remembered that he is a Catholic who is using some of his wealth to fund conservative Catholic causes. Our companion made reference to this, described Legatus as pro-life, but we skirted any serious discussion of the issues, talking instead about the organization’s schedule of meetings and Tom’s good work.

Meanwhile, Ron began talking to others, freeing up the honeymooners, and at the same time our conversation with the older Legatee wound down, so I turned to the honeymooners to offer them congratulations, explaining to Gail that I had heard they are on their honeymoon. They turned out to be a charming couple, up from San Francisco. They had married the day before at a nearby winery, one of whose owners they knew, with a hundred guests from all over the world. They were such a beautiful couple, so happy, so excited. One of them described dancing with his 92-year-old mother, who was more able to dance than the other’s 79-year-old mother. Each was given away by his mother.

Yes, each was given away by his mother. Both were men. There was in fact some urgency to their wedding, since they were only legally allowed to marry effective in June, and a measure to end gay marriage in California is on the ballot next month. Gail asked whether the ballot measure, if approved, would apply retroactively. That’s not clear yet.

They were delighted to be able to spend two nights at Les Mars for their honeymoon, and to be dining the next night at Cyrus, as we will be doing as well. We easily could have kept talking, but time had flown and we had to rush off to dinner.

Dinner was at the Farmhouse Restaurant in Forestville, about twelve miles down the Russian River, which we had passed on our return to Healdsville in the afternoon. We drove down Westside Road, past vineyards and wineries, in dusk, crossed over the river, and arrived. The restaurant is in a charming farmhouse building, with a stairway leading up to guest rooms right as you walk in. Walking down the hallway, past the stairway, we reached a room behind where the host greeted us and ushered us to our table, in a lovely, intimate dining room to the left. The room has a mural painted around the upper part of the walls with mid-twentieth-century farming scenes. The menu was small, but with a varied selection.

Gail started with a seared scallop and crisp pork belly combination, complemented with a gingered curry carrot puree molded into the shape of a small carrot. I had the corn and seafood, consisting of a cylinder of corn and lobster salad in the center of the soup bowl, over which the soup was poured. For her entree, Gail had seared duck breast with mixed vegetable faro pilaf and huckleberry glaze. I had Colorado lamb loin served with a wonderful assortment of beans, featuring tasty brown lima beans, and a small corn flan. The presentations were beautiful, the preparation perfect. For wine, we couldn’t resist each having a glass of Porter Creek Pinot Noir. Having just visited Porter Creek in the morning, and being directly across the Russian River from them, we were truly drinking the local wine. Dessert? We shared a chocolate souffle and a peach and cream concoction. A great dinner.

We drove back to Healdsburg on the south/east side of the river, passing a continuous sequence of vineyards in the dark until we crossed under Highway 101 and entered the south end of town. It was a lovely evening.

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