Most people who have met me and even know me reasonably well are shocked when they find out that I actually love camping. May be the fact that I love Manolos and designer clothes, or maybe that I have my nails done regularly. Regardless, it’s a fact…camping is fun. We’ve been camping since I was a kid, and have always enjoyed the outdoors — the fresh air, the woods, the clear skies at night, and of course the campfires! For the past decade or so, we’ve gone every Fourth of July with a group of family and friends, usually to Hendy Woods State Park in Anderson Valley. How convenient that it happens to be a gorgeous campground AND is in the heart of great wine country! (um, not really a coincidence…)
Now camping means different things to different people. For some, it’s walking into a remote location with everything on their back. For others, it’s a fully equipped RV parked in a campground. We’re “glampers”…we like the tent and sleeping bag combo in the dirt, but with great cooking and wine to go with it. Why on earth would be go to the gorgeous outdoors and serve crappy food and cheap wine? Life is too short, and when you drive into your campsite, you can bring along things like real wine glasses, nice pots and pans, a campstove for cooking, and great ingredients. So glamorous camping it is, or glamping.
This year, as with every year, we alternate meals between all of us to share the load. The dinners are the standouts, and here are the menus for the three nights we spent up there:
Night 1 – Spicy hummus and babaganoush for appetizers with pita chips; Mediterranean lamb sliders flavored with curry, garlic and ginger, with grilled veggies and yogurt raita, served with tabbouleh salad.
Night 2 – Chips and fresh-made guacamole and salsa fresca to start, followed by 24-hour marinated hanger steak fajitas with the guacamole and salsa, grilled onions and peppers.
Night 3 – More hummus and pita chips, followed by yogurt marinated kebabs with rice, grilled vegetables of all sorts (eggplant, squash, onions, peppers and more).
The breakfasts didn’t suck either – the highlight being the huevos rancheros made with New Mexican red chile, complete with fried eggs, spiced black beans, cheese and avocado. Let’s just say we ate very well…
We drank well too, being in the wine country and all. We made a point to visit our favorite wineries in the area as well as discovered some new destinations. Toulouse is always a must-visit winery. They make fantastic Pinot Noir, and a great rose of Pinot Noir as well. The winery is beautiful and always a pleasure to visit. Goldeneye (owned by Duckhorn) is also a must, and another renowned Pinot producer. They have a gorgeous facility with a patio on which they do a full sit-down tasting of their wines while you enjoy views of their vineyard. This year we had a new discovery – the fantastic Elke Winery – who makes a good number of Pinots as well, both old world and new world style and at great prices. And lastly, we made a stop at the Anderson Valley Brewing Company for a beer sampling.
Camping is not for everyone, but I’d like to think the way we do it, it’s a pretty gourmet experience and a great way to enjoy a long weekend with family and friends. Hope you had an equally enjoying 4th of July weekend!