Napa Road Trip: Wine & Dine On The (Wife's) Company Dime
Way Station Coffee Shop, Newhall - Napa
Road Trip Report; Segment 1

April 08, 2002 at 23:57:42

First of all, if you are in to sleep deprivation, then by all means,
start a road trip on the first morning of daylight savings time. The
Chino Wayne’s and Heather, their trusty Detroit iron, left the
homestead only an hour and a half behind schedule Sunday
morning (or only a half hour behind schedule if one chose to
ignore the whole rest of the country and daylight savings time.)
After about 70 miles on the road the Chino Wayne’s picked up the
Sister of Chino Wayne by prearrangement so that Sister of Chino
Wayne could guide them to a local establishment in Newhall.
After all this was the start of a road trip, and no self respecting
road tripping ‘hound would start a road trip without sufficient
fortification. When discussing this all important road trip’s first
fueling stop the day before, Sister of Chino Wayne initially
proposed a local IHOP or Denny’s. Take pity on Sister of Chino
Wayne fellow 'hounds, she has been dieting so long that she has
lost her sense of taste. Being the ever sniffing ‘hound on the trail
of good eats, Chino Wayne persevered and elicited the name of
the Way Station Coffee Shop from his dining deprived sibling.

So the Chino Wayne’s, Sister of Chino Wayne and Heather pulled
up to the curb at the Way Station on San Fernando Road in
Newhall, about a block south of Lyons Avenue. The Way Station
has been in business since 1971 and resembles a classic diner
in its layout. This is a small establishment with an “L” shaped
counter with about 10 stools on the long side, and two on the
short side, and a single row of about 10 booths with four-tops,
mirroring the layout of the counter. This place is so small that
Chino Wayne, admittedly of more than ample girth, had to turn
side-ways in order to get through the front door, and then almost,
inadvertently, honestly, got waaaaay too friendly with some burley
truck driver type sitting on the first stool by the door.

The décor is sort of funky road side café. Not all of the counter
positions have actual stools, but side chairs that look like they
came form someone’s Bridge table furniture set. This however,
was a good omen for Chino Wayne, since classic, bolted to the
floor stools do not agree with Chino Wayne and his abdominal
structure. Forget about the booths if you are on the hefty side, not
a whole lot of table-stomach clearance, and the benches, while
supporting two diners each, we so short, that if the two people
sharing the bench are not anorexic super-models, one of them is
going to have at least one cheek kissing air.

The walls are covered with old license plates, the counter surface
was from a roll of linoleum floor covering. There was an old brass
baker’s scale in a case behind the counter. There were two men
handling the grill, three waitresses alternating behind the counter
and serving the tables, and two bus persons making themselves
useful. The service was friendly, fast and efficient.

Mrs. Chino Wayne and Sister of Chino Wayne each had two eggs
scrambled, bacon, hash browns, and white and wheat toast
respectively. Chino Wayne had ham and three eggs over easy,
hash browns and sourdough toast. All had coffee. The scrambled
eggs must have been fresh, because they were a nice bright
yellow, except for those parts that did not get scrambled up too
well, a definite “no no” in terms of Chino Wayne’s standards that
require all scrambled eggs to be whipped to death, and then
killed, so that absolutely no white is discernible.

The scrambled eggs must have met minimum requirements for
Mrs. Chino Wayne and Sister of Chino Wayne because they did
eat them all. The bacon looked good to Chino Wayne, it was thick
cut and not over done. Chino Wayne’s eggs were good (after all
the only way one can ruin eggs over easy is to turn out eggs over
hard) as was his slice of boneless ham. Half of the grill was
taken up by a huge mound of hash brown potatoes. The Mrs. and
Sister liked the potatoes a lot. These were the kind of hash
browns that seem to be morphing in to mashed potatoes, they
started out as shreds of potatoes, and shreds are still present,
especially on the outside edges, which had a very nice brown
crustiness to them, but the “insides” were very close to mashed.
(If you have dined at Conrad’s in Glendale or Pasadena for
breakfast, then you know what these potatoes were like.) The
toast was interesting, Chino Wayne is accustomed to his toast
being crisp and toasty on the outside, and warm and soft on the
inside. The toast at the Way Station was comprised of bread
slices that were a little thicker cut than what one finds in most
restaurants, and was not only toasty on the outside, but toasty all
of the way through. All coffees were acceptable, served in those
very heavy mugs that make very useful weapons of self defense.
The coffee cups were kept filled by various staff and the coffee
was respectable given the circumstances.  When queried the
next day, Mrs. Chino Wayne (the Chino Wayne family
acknowledged coffee expert) stated that the coffee was good, full
bodied, much better than she is accustomed to in coffee shop
situations, better than she would have expected under the
circumstances.

In addition to the ham, bacon and eggs, also on the menu for
breakfast at the Way Station was sausage (four skinless links,
looking suspiciously like Farmer John), hamburger, steak and
pork chops. Nothing as effete as an omelet would be served in
this joint. They also do lunch, with burgers and all the usual
sandwiches.

All in all, this was a satisfying refueling stop for the Chino
Wayne's and Chino Wayne can recommend it to his fellow
‘hounds who are interested in classic American short order food
in a decidedly un-Disneyesque atmosphere. This is not fancy, or
homoganized chain food. In terms of the calories, fat and
cholesterol consumed, Chino Wayne very cleverly elected not to
drink any doses of the 75 calorie Liquid Diet earlier that morning,
so was able to perform this strategic field research with a
relatively clear conscience, after all what are a few solid calories
in the all important Chowhound mission?

After dumping... er dropping off Sister of Chino Wayne at her
abode, the Chino Wayne’s proceeded north on I-5. The I-5 was
the usual I-5, Heather was in the fast lane after coming down the
hill at the Grapevine pulling 90 miles an hour, and was being
tailgated and passed on the right by cars that were traveling with
the flow of traffic. Then after about five miles of that, traffic came to
a screaming halt at 55 miles per hour.  Eventually Chino Wayne
and Heather were able to settle in, and the cruise control was set
at 80 for the long haul north.

Pulling off at the Kettleman City exit the Chino Waynes’ intended
to "pit" at In-N-Out at about 12:30 that afternoon, but apparently
the word is out, and everyone that would have normally been at
the nearest McDonalds or Burger King were at In-N-Out.  Noting
the wall to wall cars and hungry masses standing around, Chino
Wayne elected to bypass this In-N-Out, and the Chino Wayne’s
and Heather did a “U-eee” and got back on the northbound I-5.
Thinking he had his bases covered (as he had noted a highway
sign just before exiting at Kettleman City that there is an In-N-Out
just 100 miles further up the highway at Santa Nella) Chino
Wayne proceeded contently up the highway, visions of In-N-Out in
his mind. Unfortunately, upon exiting at Santa Nella, the Chino
Wayne’s discovered that there is NO In-N-Out in Santa Nella.
There may be an In-N-Out in Santa Nella someday, but it has not
been built yet, THERE IS NO IN-N-OUT IN SANTA NELLA. In the
meantime, since the Chino Wayne’s opted to bypass the In-N-Out
pit stop in Kettleman City, it was IMPERATIVE that Chino Wayne
make a pit stop at the Pilot Travel Center in Santa Nella. So after
taking care of business at Pilot, Mrs. Chino Wayne returned to
Heather with an apple, an orange and a coke for herself and a
miniscule bottle of Arrowhead water for Chino Wayne (Pilot only
had nasty Diet Coke). His dreams of In-N-Out now a nightmare,
Chino Wayne set off back on the road to Napa with Mrs. Chino
Wayne napping at his side and Heather under his haunches.

Another report will follow.

Way Station Coffee Shop
24377 San Fernando Rd
Newhall, CA 91321-2943
Phone: (661)255-0222
Silverado CC, Napa & Taylor's Refresher, St
Helen - Napa Road Trip Report; Segment 2

April 09, 2002 at 17:06:13

The Chino Wayne’s checked in to the Silverado Country Club &
Resort in Napa early Sunday evening. Ostensibly this road trip
was for purposes of Mrs. Chino Wayne’s employers, and one of
Mrs. Chino Wayne’s superiors, in his inimitable style, had
remarked that Mrs. Chino Wayne should “enjoy her vacation”.
“Vacation” then became the catch-word for the Chino Wayne’s for
the duration of the road trip, and of course, never one to miss an
opportunity to put it to Mrs. Chino Wayne’s wise-assed
employers, Chino Wayne vowed that this would indeed be a
pleasant, vacation-like experience for Mrs. Chino Wayne.

It was decided, after not too much deliberation, that since Mrs.
Chino Wayne’s employers had so graciously provided a very nice
suite, with living room, full kitchen, stocked mini-bar and separate
large bedroom and bath, and large balcony over looking one of
the resort pools, that Mrs. Chino Wayne really should not attend
the cocktail-reception and after cocktail social activities of the
business conference that evening, but rather unwind and relax
and refresh herself after the arduous highway trip. Chino Wayne,
ever accommodating to the Mrs., rationalized that the best course
of action would be to agree with Mrs. Chino Wayne, and forgo The
Liquid Diet while supporting Mrs. Chino Wayne’s efforts to relax.

So the Chino Wayne’s ordered room service. Room service
prices being what they typically are, especially in a high-end wine
and dinning Mecca like the Napa Valley, and ever vigilant to the
corporate bottom line, Mrs. Chino Wayne ordered a steak
sandwich and a Coke. Chino Wayne ordered clam chowder, a
club sandwich, and one bottle of club soda.

The steak sandwich was comprised of a very nice New York strip
on a baguette with lettuce, tomato and thin sliced Bermuda onion,
accompanied by coleslaw and onion rings.  While as is her wont,
Mrs. Chino Wayne ordered her steak well done, the ever vigilant
chef actually broiled the steak medium, thus guarantying Chino
Wayne the cast off pink portion of the steak sandwich. Mrs. Chino
Wayne enjoyed the portion of her steak sandwich that she did
consume (a good 2/3 of the entire sandwich), and Chino Wayne
thoroughly enjoyed his charred and pink portion, although by the
time he could get his mitts on it, the bread had been made
slightly soggy by the coleslaw, but ever the 'hound, Chino Wayne
proceeded to demolish it all.  Mrs. Chino Wayne pronounced the
onion rings as quite good.

Chino Wayne’s portion of clam chowder came in a large plastic
carafe, the kind typically used to keep coffee hot.  At $9.00 it was
advertised as enough for two people, but cleverly, Chino Wayne
knew when he ordered the soup, that clam chowder would not be
appealing to Mrs. Chino Wayne’s tastes, so Chino Wayne
enjoyed about three cereal bowls of some very nice New England
style clam chowder. The clams were actually very tasty, and had a
good consistency, much different than the usual rubbery clams
Chino Wayne is used to encountering in soup bowls. Instead of
cubed potatoes, the soup had julienne red potatoes, which while
different, were very nice and tender, with a nice mouth feel. In the
last bowl Chino Wayne did encounter some grit, and presumed
that it was in the last bowl because of a decanting effect from the
carafe.  Whether it was a faux pas of the kitchen or not, did not
concern Chino Wayne, in his mind the presence of a little grit at
the end lent the dish a sort of authenticity, as being not too far
from the sands on the shore.

The club sandwich was unremarkable. A typical club of turkey,
bacon, lettuce and tomato on toast. By the time the sandwich had
arrived, and after waiting under the stainless plate cover while
Chino Wayne consumed his soup, and steak sandwich portion,
the club toast was beginning to limp. Chino Wayne, a veteran of
some ill repute, would never hold it against any limps gained in
service to mankind, so did consume all of the sandwich.

Since Mrs. Chino Wayne is not on The Liquid Diet, she
commandeered the two chocolates that came with the order, and
Chino Wayne retired from the field with his bottle of Arrowhead
water. The total tab for this room service extravaganza was
$48.00.

On Monday morning, Mrs. Chino Wayne arose early and went to
perform her duties at the business conference. Chino Wayne
slept in, and after arising and preparing for the day, consumed a
double dose of The Liquid Diet. Unfortunately, in his haste, while
packing for this road trip, Chino Wayne had put some of the nasty
vanilla flavored diet packets in his supplies. Not realizing that his
drink this morning was going to be vanilla instead of chocolate,
until after he had opened the packets, and then, after becoming
aware of the dreaded aroma, read the packet labels. Not one to
waste The Liquid Diet mix, Chino Wayne, ever the campaigner on
the road, did in fact mix water with the diet mix and gave it all a
vigorous shake in his mix shaker and consumed his ration. So it
cannot be said that Chino Wayne was so craven as to entirely
forsake The Liquid Diet while on this road trip.

Upon her return shortly after noon from the business conference,
Mrs. Chino Wayne agreed to accompany Chino Wayne on a
‘hound reconnaissance of the local environs. The Chino Wayne’s
and their ever trusty Ms. Heather headed north on California 29
out of Napa on a mission to scout out and validate the reports
that Chino Wayne had for Taylor’s Refresher in St. Helena.
Taylor's refresher is a roadside hamburger stand. Founded in
1949, you would think that it had only been there for a short time,
since it is a very well kept, clean establishment with a fresh coat
of white paint. Customers order at one window, and then when
their name is announced on the PA system, pick-up from another
window. There are picnic tables in the sun in front, counter tops
and stools under the patio, and picnic tables, many with
umbrellas, scattered in a grassy area, surrounded by mature
trees in the back.

Mrs. Chino Wayne ordered a chili cheese dog, fries and a Coke.
Chino Wayne ordered a double bacon cheese burger, rings and
a cherry Coke. Chino Wayne agonized over his drink decision
because the only diet drink, besides Calistoga water, was that
nasty Diet Coke.  Ever mindful that he is not supposed to ever
have any sugar, Chino Wayne reluctantly ordered a medium
cherry Coke, passing on the eclectic milk shake selection. Chino
Wayne did invite Mrs. Chino Wayne to order a milk shake, since
Taylor’s does have a reputation for excellent milk shakes, but
Mrs. Chino Wayne, demurred, in the subsequently, it was
realized, mistaken belief that the ice cream in the milk shake
would not “agree” with her, especially at the evening
cocktail/dinner reception at the business conference that she
was not going to be able to duck out on.

Mrs. Chino Wayne’s dog was about a quarter pounder, and that
part of it that Chino Wayne could discern under the chili and
cheese resembled a skinless Hebrew National Dinner Frank.
Unfortunately Mrs. Chino Wayne liked the dog very much, and not
a morsel was offered up by Mrs. Chino Wayne to her provider.
The fries were typical fast food, Chino Wayne was able to snag a
few, but pronounced them just average. They were cut the size
that McDonald’s fries are, and seemed to have been twice fried,
because on their edges they had a slight browning. Chino Wayne
really does not care for these type of fries, and does not
recommend them.

Chino Wayne’s double bacon cheeseburger was excellent. Each
patty seemed to be about a quarter of a pound, and they were
grilled to medium perfection on a fire grill, not a greasy griddle.
The patties came enclosed in a very yellow egg bun that
appeared to be handcrafted, and which added to the whole
burger experience. Also enclosed between bun halves were
whole pieces of lettuce leaves (not shredded) tomatoes, bred
and butter pickle chips, and a light swab of thousand island like
dressing. The whole package was hot and oozing juices ,
resulting in two stains on Chino Wayne’s shirt. (Not to worry
though, Chino Wayne had the foresight to wear a black polo shirt,
knowing from long and hard won experience, that black shirts do
the best job of hiding food stains.) This burger was indeed very
good, better than many burgers encountered in sit-down
restaurants.

The onion rings accompanying Chino Wayne’s burger were thick
sliced with a beer batter type of batter. Normally Chino Wayne
does not care for beer batter coatings, but this one was very light,
and did not compromise the onion taste. So all rings were
consumed.

Chino Wayne, ever mindful of his responsibilities to The Liquid
Diet, and his prohibition against sugar, only consumed about half
of the cherry Coke, which was suitably cherry tasting.

Also on the menu were garlic fries, served with garlic and parsley.
While Chino Wayne did want to try that local rendition of fries, he
could not talk Mrs. Chino Wayne in to ordering them instead of the
plain fries, Mrs. Chino Wayne being primarily a basic hot dog-
hamburger type of person, garlic fries were just too avant-garde
for her. So there now remain two reasons for Chino Wayne to
return to Taylor’s Refresher, to try the fries and a shake, and get
another double bacon cheeseburger.

Interestingly, this roadside hamburger stand, with no inside
seating also serves beer and wine (this is after all the Wine
Country). With bottled beers and a local ale on tap. Chino Wayne
also reports that the unisex restroom at this establishment was
impeccably clean.  All in all, Chino Wayne gives Taylor’s
Refreshment very high marks for the food, the cleanliness and
the overall relaxed ambiance “on the green”. This was $22.00
well spent, and the food was good fortification for the subsequent
wine tastings that afternoon.

Silverado Country Club & Resort
1600 Atlas Peak Road
Napa, CA 94558
Phone: (707) 257-0200

Taylor's Refresher
933 Main St
St Helena, CA 94574-2010
Phone: (707) 963-3486
Markham Vineyards & Sutter Home, St Helena -
Napa Road Trip Report; Segment 3

April 11, 2002 at 16:39:31

After being sufficiently refreshed at Taylor’s Refresher, Mrs. Chino
Wayne made known her desire for dessert. So, like the good boy
scout he once was, Chino Wayne thought he was prepared for
this minor challenge and with Mrs. Chino Wayne, got back in to
Heather and headed north, up Main Street in St. Helena. The
Model Bakery was located with dispatch on the west side of Main
Street in downtown St. Helena, unfortunately, The Model Bakery
was closed on this Monday. Visions of sweet baked delights for
Mrs. Chino Wayne, and a good local sourdough for Chino Wayne
having vaporized, the only sensible action for Chino Wayne was
to bring Mrs. Chino Wayne to the nearest shopping opportunity to
help her forget the unpleasant lack of dessert.

The factory outlets were located just north of town(up Main St
which is Highway 29). This is a small outlet complex situated on
the side of a lush hillside, and the management had the good
sense to place a couple of picnic tables among the greenery so
that the breadwinner could suitably refresh him/herself while the
spouse is shopping. Chino Wayne had very little time for
refreshment, however, because the Mrs. quickly determined that
the appropriate vendors were not present, and when she
ventured in to the shoe store, their sale prices were way higher
than anything Mrs. Chino Wayne would pay at any outlet. The
sales clerk did remark on how she liked Mrs. Chino Wayne’s
handbag, but apparently the Mrs. liked it too much to use for
barter. There were no sales this afternoon at this outlet. Mrs.
Chino Wayne would advise all readers that the outlets in Napa
Valley seem geared to those with mucho disposable income, but
would not attract a true bargain hunter. It seems to Chino Wayne
that since he last visited the Napa Valley about 25 years ago, it
has reached the point where it is becoming, if it is not already,
overdeveloped, with high end accommodations, tracts of big
houses, and expensive winery “architectural monuments” loaded
with not only wine, but various and sundry accouterments, most
of which are probably not a necessary part of life. (Mrs. Chino
Wayne’s bargain hunters’ hint: visit the factory outlets in Cabazon,
which is near Palm Springs in the summer, when it is hot and all
the snowbirds have gone home and prices are at their lowest.)

Having struck out on both the dessert and shopping fronts, the
only rational action the Chino Wayne’s could take next would be
to sample some wine. The closest winery to the outlets was
Markham, about sixty seconds down the road heading south, so
that was the next stop. It is quite a well known fact that the Chino
Wayne’s are most certainly far from wine sophisticates, in point of
fact they are proud to proclaim that they are wine hicks and would
be loath to have it any other way, having suffered through too
many business dinners, where shallow colleagues, spending
the company’s money, work at one upping each other as “wine
sophisticates”. Give the Chino Wayne’s a bottle of White
Zinfandel, a liter of 7-Up and a bucket of crushed ice any time and
they will be perfectly happy and content, they are a cheap date
and don’t need to impress anyone. So why then did the Chino
Wayne’s decide to sample at Markham? Because it was the first
winery the Chino Wayne’s came across, and they had never
heard of the label before, and for the experience. Three whites
were sampled, a Sauvignon Blanc, and two Chardonnays, all of
recent vintage. All three were drier and more sophisticated than
the Chino Wayne’s, however, Chino Wayne did purchase two
bottles of the Sauvignon Blanc ($14.00 a bottle), primarily to use
as a cooking ingredient, and not to drink. Three tastings for two
were $6.00.

The gentleman doing the pouring at Markham was friendly, but
ultimately proved to be of doubtful chowing credibility, as he did
recommend Cole’s Chop House in Napa for the beef, but rated
Rutherford Grill just as high, while in the same conversation
admitting that Rutherford Grill is just another Houston’s. So,
having lost confidence in this local denizen of the Napa Valley, the
Chino Wayne’s bid farewell to him, his wines and the overpriced
“accessories” for sale in this very impressive edifice with the Koi
pond out front.

Toodling down the road in Heather, the Chino Wayne’s knew
exactly where the next stop would be, Sutter Home. Now this was
more like the type of place that would attract the Chino Wayne’s,
the unpretentious home of their favorite label. The Chino Wayne’s
arrived just as the blue haired set were finishing and were to
climb back aboard their bus, and thus had the vintner’s full
attention. Eight wines were sampled. The Chino Wayne’s started
with old reliable, Sutter Home White Zinfandel, after the White Zin
Chino Wayne and the Mrs. were treated to their first taste of the
Sutter Home Muscato (2002 vintage), another blush wine with a
bright, fruity sweetness. It was immediately agreed that the Chino
Wayne’s could very easily put away quite a lot of this nectar. Next
up was the Sutter Home premium label Proprietor’s Muscato
(2001 vintage), which was slightly drier and with a more
sophisticated taste. Also sampled were a Gewürztraminer which
was also very nice and had a slight peppery taste. A cream Sherry
was sampled that would put Harvey’s to shame, and is probably
a lot less expensive, and a fortified Port. Mrs. Chino Wayne liked
the Sherry and REALLY liked the port. Chino Wayne felt both the
Sherry and Port were drinkable, but just not his cup of tea,
although he would probably use the port as a cooking ingredient,
he prefers the dryness and rawness of a cheap straight sherry for
cooking.  Another wine was sampled, but Chino Wayne reports
that by that point in time of the afternoon wine tasting marathon,
memory began to fail.  Also offered and tasted were a chocolate
sauce, which was quite nice, not too sweet (Chino Wayne is also
not certain if this chocolate sauce was fortified or not, since by
this time, everything just plain tasted good.)

The Chino Wayne’s left Sutter Home with two bottles of the
Proprietor’s Muscato ($12.00 each), one bottle of Triple Cream
Sherry ($15.00), and one bottle of the chocolate elixir ($16.95). Six
wine tastings, with two souvenir glasses thrown in, were $10.00
(the vintner gave the Chino Wayne’s a break on the wine tastings).

Markham Vineyards
2812 St Helena Highway North
St Helena, CA 95474
(707) 963-5292

Sutter Home Winery
277 St Helena Highway South
St. Helena, CA 95474
(707) 963-3104
(800) 967-4663
Silverado CC & Resort  - Napa Road Trip
Report; Segment 4

April 11, 2002 at 22:26:05

Knowing that Mrs. Chino Wayne was to attend a cocktail and
dinner reception for the business conference Tuesday evening,
prior to returning to the Silverado Country Club & Resort, Chino
Wayne stopped to re-supply at a branch of Nob Hill Foods
supermarket in Napa. Thus fortified with a pound of sliced country
ham, half a pound of Swiss cheese, a flute of local artisanal
sourdough, a pound of sweet butter, and a trunk load of wine,
Chino Wayne confidently, albeit in a slight wine tasting induced
haze, conveyed Mrs. Chino Wayne back to the Silverado.

That evening Mrs. Chino Wayne dined on beef filet with various
accompaniments in the company of many inebriated business
executives, while Chino Wayne enjoyed his own picnic in the
room while filing his report with Chowhound Central. Overall
Chino Wayne judged Mrs. Chino Wayne’s participation in the
business conference a great success, while Mrs. Chino Wayne
was not a member of the golfing fraternity at the conference, she
did Chino Wayne proud by not knowing who the conference key-
note speaker, John Garamendi is or what political offices he has
held, as far as Mrs. Chino Wayne knew this professional
politician was just another schmoe.

Tuesday morning Chino Wayne brewed a pot of coffee and dined
on the sourdough flute and sweet butter that had been acquired
in the field the previous day. Chino Wayne enjoyed all of the
locally produced sourdough bread, which had crusts that were
sufficiently crusty, although they seemed to be a bit too sweet
tasting to Chino Wayne’s taste.

Upon returning to the room at 10:30 A.M., after an arduous day at
the business conference, Mrs. Chino Wayne elected to hang out
with Chino Wayne in the room for the rest of the day. Later, when
Chino Wayne began discussing that evening’s dinner plans with
the Mrs., Chino Wayne was arguably distraught to hear Mrs.
Chino Wayne state that she was all “beefed out”.  While a major
set back to Chino Wayne’s road trip plans, as he had for many
days hungrily anticipated a hit of prime beef at Cole’s Chop
House, ever the resourceful ‘hound that he is, Chino Wayne did
not let this nasty turn of events spoil his dining enjoyment that
evening. On a more pragmatic plane of consciousness, it also
occurred to Chino Wayne that since he does have to live with Mrs.
Chino Wayne, that the best tactic would be to withdraw from this
battle flank, and live to chow another day.

Fortunately, Chino Wayne, as is his custom, had immediately
seized upon and scoped out the room service menu upon the
Chino Wayne’s arrival two days before. So, in a flanking
maneuver, Chino Wayne in proper deference to the better half,
suggested that the Chino Wayne’s dine in via room service that
evening. This of course was readily agreed to by Mrs. Chino
Wayne, as she knew how surely Chino Wayne could get if not
properly and promptly fed, attributing to Chino Wayne, one of her
endearments for him of  “bulldozer”.  It also helped that there was
still plenty of wine left from the field work performed the day
before.

Mrs. Chino Wayne ordered a Caesar salad with broiled chicken,
Chino Wayne ordered a plain Caesar salad and the broiled lamb
chops. The plain Caesar at $11.00 and the chicken Caesar at
somewhere around $16.00 or $18.00 were overpriced. The plain
Caesar consisted of torn Romaine leaves, a meager few
shavings of parmesano, some lame, mass produced croutons,
and a small plastic container of a creamy dressing. The chicken
Caesar was more of the same, with some broiled chicken. Both
salads were accompanied by a couple of sections of warmed
sourdough flute and butter. As is his standard operating
procedure, Chino Wayne remained silent, as Mrs. Chino Wayne
carried out her standard operating procedure of monopolizing the
bread. This of course was basic to Chino Wayne’s dining
strategy, knowing full well that Mrs. Chino Wayne would fill up on
bread, thus providing an opportunity later for Chino Wayne to
score some portion of what ever else was to come for Mrs. Chino
Wayne.

The lamb chops were suitably black and charred on the outside,
frenched with some complimentary seasoning crusted on them.
They consisted of one double chop and two triple chops. The
chops were magnificent, cooked medium as ordered, they were
tender and melt-in-your mouth delicious, with a subtle lamb taste
that was enhanced by the bits of lamb fat that had been left on the
chops. The plate presentation was very pleasing to the eye, and
the chops were accompanied by a dollop of mashed potatoes, a
few sprigs of brocolini, some miniature acorn squash and some
baby carrots, with some radicchio leaves as garnish. This was a
very satisfying meal, the only downside was that Chino Wayne
regretted that he had ordered only a single portion, as he could
have devoured about four more triple chops.

It should also be noted, that due to his superior tactical response
to that evening’s dining situation, Chino Wayne’s ordering in to
the room meant that he could forget his mother’s table training,
and instead of a knife and fork, could use his big mitt to go for the
gusto and grab the chops and clean them to the bone. Also due
to his wise tactical maneuvering, Mrs. Chino Wayne offered Chino
Wayne a portion of her apple cobbler. Now it must be stated in
this report, that in all accuracy Mrs. Chino Wayne, who is a
recognized expert with many years of experience in consuming
cobblers, that this dish could not be properly termed a “cobbler”.
The dish was more like an apple crumble, and consisted of
apple slices, in very little moisture, covered with a blanket of flour,
brown sugar and cinnamon, then heated. Served in a small
ramekin, suitable for an individual soufflé or crème Brule.
Although not a true cobbler, the experience of consuming it was
not in anyway less than very pleasant, especially for such a sugar
deprived ‘hound as Chino Wayne.

All in all a very pleasant in-room dinning experience was had by
the Chino Wayne’s. Chino Wayne is now racking his brain, to
come up with a plan as to how he and the misses can be served
in similar style and taste within their own bedroom suite at the
Chino Wayne’s manse in lovely, odiferous Chino. Total price for
this room service dining including one plain Caesar salad, one
chicken Caesar salad, one order of lamb chops, one apple
“cobbler”, one Coke, and two Calistoga sparkling waters was
approximately $100.00.

Silverado Country Club & Resort
1600 Atlas Peak Road
Napa, CA 94558
Phone: (707) 257-0200
Napa Valley Wine Train - Napa Road Trip
Report; Segment 5

April 12, 2002 at 02:17:17

Wednesday was a free day for the Chino Wayne’s, the business
executives running the conference having wisely scheduled the
conference to run for two half day sessions on Monday and
Tuesday, to allow for plenty of time for networking on the golf
course. The Chino Wayne’s checked out of the Silverado that
morning and delivered themselves to the Napa Valley Wine Train
depot in plenty of time for a pre-departure wine tasting at 10:45 A.
M. The pre-departure wine tasting, which is included in the price
of the excursion, is a very clever ploy by the Wine Train. The, for
lack of a better term, sommelier leading the wine tasting was
obviously very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the fruits of
the vine. A Chateau Woltner Chardonnay (1997 vintage) was
offered as was a private label Merlot. The Chino Wayne’s
thoroughly enjoyed the Chateau Woltner and would rate it much
higher on their scale of drinkability than the Markham Chardonnay’
s sampled the day before, it seemed smoother and much
sweeter tasting to the Chino Wayne’s unsophisticated palates.
Having been sufficiently lubricated by the pre-departure tasting,
the Chino Wayne’s boarded the lounge car on the Wine Train,
where, once ensconced at their table, Chino Wayne ordered two
glasses of Domaine Chandon Brut (no vintage) bubbly, which the
Chino Wayne’s proceeded to sip as the train began gliding away
from the depot. Small plates of appetizers were offered in the
lounge car which consisted of a small rosette of a creamy garlic
flavored cheese, a small mound of vegetable matter julienne
which had the consistency of jicama with maybe a drop of oil and
vinegar and some herbs, a small round of toasted bread with a
rosette of salmon mousse and a small round of toasted bread
with a sliver of roasted pork loin with a dab of Dijon mustard. All
were tasty, minuscule, but tasty. Chino Wayne’s roasted pork was
slightly pink in the center, fortunately for Chino Wayne, Mrs. Chino
Wayne’s roasted pork was uniformly white, so Chino Wayne did
not have to be subjected to Mrs. Chino Wayne refusing to so
much as look at the pork, let alone eat a piece of meat that does
not look like it has survived a nuclear holocaust. Also fortunately
for Chino Wayne, Mrs. Chino Wayne handed over her portion of
the salmon mousse “toast”, as Mrs. Chino Wayne does not car
for, as she terms it, the “pink fish” (i.e. lox, or any approximation
thereof), while Chino Wayne is a longtime confirmed aficionado
of all permutations of genus salmon.

After finishing their sparkling wine and appetizer morsels, the
Chino Wayne’s repaired to the Wine Tasting car. This was strictly
a reconnaissance mission, all business, the mission was to
identify a wine that would be suitable for drinking at lunch. A
Bayview Gewurtztraminer (vintage 2000) was the first sampling,
and by far, was the most appreciated of those sampled on the
train by the Chino Wayne’s with their pedestrian tastes in wine.
Also sampled were a Rose, a Francis Coppola Diamond Label
Merlot (vintage 1999) and an Edizone Pennino Zinfandel ( vintage
1999). Four tastings for two were $10.00. By this time Mrs. Chino
Wayne reported that a buzz was developing. The Chino Wayne’s
returned to their table in the lounge car to regroup before lunch.

Just prior to arriving at the Wine Train’s destination in St. Helena,
the Chino Wayne’s were escorted to the second seating in the
dining car. Mrs. Chino Wayne ordered the chicken prosciutto
breast stuffed with sautéed spinach, wild mushrooms and
provolone cheese, with sun dried tomato and wild mushroom
sauce. Chino Wayne ordered the roasted Angus tenderloin over
sautéed oyster mushrooms with red-wine reduction with fried
leeks and gorgonzola cheese. Both of the Chino Wayne’s opted
for the salad of mixed field greens, baby lettuce, endive, candied
walnuts, smoked goat cheese and honey cider vinaigrette. Based
upon his reconnoitering in the tasting car, Chino Wayne ordered
a bottle of the Bayview Gewurtztraminer.

The salads were pleasing both to the eye and to the palate. Mrs.
Chino Wayne thoroughly enjoyed the addition of the candied
walnuts. Chino Wayne thought he also tasted fried bacon bits
and also enjoyed his salad, interspersed with sips of the wine.
Chino Wayne, in his unsophisticated dining innocence expected
the chicken breast dish to be comprised of a whole chicken
breast stuffed with prosciutto, spinach, mushrooms and cheese.
In actuality the dish was comprised of apparently a mixture of
ground chicken breast mixed with all of the other ingredients,
then stuffed in the skin and cooked. The resulting ballotine
(Chino Wayne’s ignorant attempt at description) then sliced on
the bias in to approximately three slices per serving. Upon being
offered a sample of the chicken by Mrs. Chino Wayne, it was
Chino Wayne’s perception that his apparently immature palate
could taste neither, prosciutto, mushrooms, spinach nor
provolone, and that the overall taste was one of blandness. The
accompanying sauce tasted to Chino Wayne not of tomato, but
rather of roasted red pepper, and was gleefully referred to by Mrs.
Chino Wayne as “thousand island”, based upon its brilliant
coloration. The chicken was a decidedly delicate dish, and of
inconsequential taste bud registration to Chino Wayne, who
admittedly would prefer a good steak any time.

The roasted Angus tenderloin was two slices of beef tenderloin,
suitably medium-rare with the stated wine reduction. The beef
was flavorful, but in terms of Chino Wayne’s appetite egregiously
lacking in quantity. The beef was accompanied by a small boiled
white potato, a small boiled purple potato (which was a first for
Chino Wayne, and when displayed for Mrs. Chino Wayne elicited
a distasteful look), some baby string beans and baby carrots.
(With all of the baby vegetables that the Chino Wayne’s have
encountered on this road trip it gives the Chino Wayne’s pause,
to consider the trauma experienced by all those little veggies who
have been torn from the bosoms of their mothers. All of this
destruction of the nuclear family just to satisfy some drunken
winos.) A silver bread bowl with a section of sourdough flute was
served with the first two courses. Sadly to say this bread did not
meet Chino Wayne’s standards by any stretch of the imagination.
This bread obviously came from a large commercial bakery
operation and was most likely loaded with preservatives, as
evidence by the soft, mushy crust, and lack of taste. For dessert
Mrs. Chino Wayne had a slice of cheese cake garnished with
fresh berries. Chino Wayne being a cheese cake fan, however,
passed up an opportunity for a sample, as the appearance of the
cheese cake was again the product of a large scale commercial
bakery operation, and in Chino Wayne’s opinion he could do
better by simply picking up a John Donnaire frozen cheese cake
at his local supermarket. Chino Wayne ordered the chocolate
cake, which was a slice of dense, course grained chocolate cake
with a chocolate syrup, toasted sliced almonds and a dollop of
whipped cream. To the sugar deprived Chino Wayne this dessert
was the highlight of the meal. The cake full bodied and very
flavorful, enhanced by the chocolate sauce and the very nice
toasted flavor of the almond slices. The whipped cream was
dense, cold, and not too sweet. The amalgam of all of the
chocolate cake components having, together with the remnants
of the wine, a very soothing and pleasant feeling effect on Chino
Wayne.

All in all, the Chino Wayne’s thought the wine train experience
was a very pleasant way to pass the afternoon. The train itself
was beautiful, and the entire operation very smoothly run. Chino
Wayne did remark that it was a shame, that the overall food
quality of this operation, who’s largest and controlling share
holder is the Rice-A-Roni king did not live up to the consistently
high standards of the countless boxes of Rice-A-Roni consumed
over the past 30 years by the Chino Wayne’s. Total tab for the
wine train excursion for the Chino Wayne’s was $200.00 which
included roundtrip train fare for two adults, two prixe fix lunches,
two glasses of sparkling wine, one bottle of wine and two four
glass wine tasting pours. Mrs. Chino Wayne also purchased a
photo of the Chino Wayne’s in front of the train as they were about
to disembark for 20.00.

Napa Valley Wine Train
1275 McKinstry Street
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 253-2111
(800) 427-4124
Sheraton Four Points & San Rafael Joe's -
Napa Road Trip Report; Segment 6

April 14, 2002 at 00:53:12

Feeling no pain after their Wine Train excursion, the Chino
Wayne's and Heather made the short jaunt from Napa to San
Rafael late Wednesday afternoon and checked in to the Sheraton
Four Points hotel. Once in the room, Chino Wayne and the Mrs.
decided that they had already experienced a full day (after all
Chino Wayne is no longer the svelte young stud he was many
years ago, but is a card carrying member of AARP, and Mrs.
Chino Wayne, though she is loath to admit it, is fast approaching
the time when the AARP will be coming for her) and thus decided
to order in from room service.

Mrs. Chino Wayne, still recovering from the rolling wine bar, did
not want to eat anything too “heavy”, so only ordered a slice of
chocolate decadence cake and a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Chino
Wayne ordered a steak sandwich. Presently the order arrived and
Chino Wayne, still feeling beef deprived from the skimpy portion
of beef filet he was served at lunch, immediately consumed the
steak sandwich and accompanying fries. The steak was very
skimpy, and about as far from Prime as Select can get, but it was
beef, and did satisfy Chino Wayne’s carnivorous cravings. It was
ordered medium rare, but was so thin it had no chance of being
anything less than medium. The steak was served on a French
roll with some shredded lettuce (or if one would prefer the le
haute cuisine term, a “lettuce chiffonade”) some very thinly sliced,
flavorless tomato and a garlic aioli that did not taste of garlic.
Nonetheless, Chino Wayne, in his beef deprived state, made
quick work of both steak sandwich and accompanying,
nondescript fries.

Chino Wayne’s rapid dispatch of steak and fries was very
fortuitous field work, in that it meant that he would be all the more
ready to take on the next objective, which would be the inveigling
of Mrs. Chino Wayne’s cake and ice cream. Mrs. Chino Wayne,
having become sated, and also ever considerate of her wonderful
husband, saved a final morsel of the chocolate decadence cake
for her hubby and also offered up half of the remaining ice cream,
which thanks to Chino Wayne’s impeccable timing, was soft, but
still in a frozen state. Chino Wayne reported that the cake was
sufficiently moist and chocolaty and melted straightaway in his
maw. The ice cream also was sweet and creamy, and
disappeared far too rapidly.

The room service steak sandwich with fries, one slice of
chocolate decadence cake, one bowl of vanilla ice cream and
one Calistoga sparkling water came in at $24.00, including tax,
service charge and room service fee. Coincidentally, through
some snafu of the hotel’s movies on demand system, Chino
Wayne, while flipping through channels, came across a movie on
channel 42, without having to order it up. So while the Chino
Wayne’s enjoyed their room service repast, they also experienced
a free showing of “Moth Man” starring Richard Gere, and the price
of the movie was just right, because the Chino Wayne’s would
never have paid anything to see this movie otherwise.

Back on the hunt Thursday morning, Chino Wayne alerted his
fellow ‘hounds on the San Francisco board that he was presently
on bivouac in San Rafael and that he did not relish having to dine
at Chili’s, which was the only dining establishment within close
proximity to the hotel. Various of Chino Wayne’s brother and
sister ‘hounds came through with recommendations that led
Chino Wayne and Mrs. Chino Wayne to Fourth Street in downtown
San Rafael that evening.

There are numerous choices for dining on Fourth Street,
however, Italian was ruled out because Mrs. Chino Wayne had
already experienced Italian while wining and dining business
clients. Chino Wayne broached the idea, only half heartedly,
because in his heart of hearts, he knew he would be shut down
by the very pedestrian tastes of Mrs. Chino Wayne, that the Chino
Wayne’s dine at a Thai establishment. Not with any surprise to
Chino Wayne, Mrs. Chino Wayne immediately nixed that idea,
stating that she did not eat Sushi. Chino Wayne gently reminded
Mrs. Chino Wayne that Thai restaurants do not serve Sushi, that
Sushi is a delicacy served in Japanese restaurants. Still in his
lame attempt to sway the Mrs., Chino Wayne said that Thai food
resembled Chinese food (a cuisine to which Chino Wayne had
successfully introduced Mrs. Chino Wayne to many years ago,
prior to her becoming Mrs. Chino Wayne), to which Mrs. Chino
Wayne retorted, “Oh yeah, but it’s spicy”.

Chino Wayne then decided that the Chino Wayne’s would dine at
San Rafael Joe’s restaurant, and fortuitously, there was an open
parking space right in front. Chino Wayne slid Heather right in to
the parking space in another one of his brilliant parallel parking
maneuvers and Mr. and Mrs. Chino Wayne glided in to Joe’s,
where they were immediately assaulted by the amplified sounds
of Bobby (Tom? Dick? Harry?) Rox. Playing what else, Rock and
Roll. Joe’s is a rather cavernous place in an old building with old
brick walls, but done up with a modern, tasteful interior. Fourth
Street in San Rafael, is like other similar main downtown
thoroughfares in some of our older towns and cities, restored
and revitalized. These streets retain the character of their early
years and of the people who built these towns, and help to define
the quality of life that radiates from them. They seem, in Chino
Wayne’s mind, to bring a nostalgia and high quality of life to their
residents and those travelers fortunate enough to pass through,
bringing to mind an ideal of American life from another era.

Having been seated at sufficiently far remove from Bobby Rox,
Chino Wayne and the Mrs. made their selections from the menu.
Mrs. Chino Wayne ordered red snapper beurre blanc and a glass
of, what else, the Chino Wayne’s old stand-by, White Zinfandel.
Chino Wayne, still craving the beef that he had been deprived of
in Napa, ordered the evening special, a New York Strip with
pepper corns, chopped tomato and blue cheese, a Caesar salad,
and a bourbon and Seven Up. Now this was a Thursday evening,
and Chino Wayne had read Anthony Bourdain’s expose of
restaurant meat practices twice (once in the New Yorker and
once in the full length book), and the fact that this “special” might
have been week old meat of suspect lineage, disguised with the
rather strong flavor of the blue cheese, did not pass unnoticed by
Chino Wayne. However, that ever present craving for beef was
simply too overpowering to Chino Wayne, and he went with his
gut.

Two bourbon and Seven’s later, Chino Wayne was less worried
about the provenance of his impending steak, and was
thoroughly enjoying his Caesar salad and hunks of sourdough
flute with sweet butter, that the waiter very generously kept re-
supplying for the Chino Wayne’s. As is her modus operandi, Mrs.
Chino Wayne did monopolize the bread basket, but on this
evening Chino Wayne held his own in the bread department. This
bread, while by the uniformly “pebbled” bottom surface had
obviously come from a commercial bakery, was far and away
superior to the inferior product served on the Wine Train the
previous day. This bread had a crust that while not as crusty as
the artesinal breads Chino Wayne had acquired in Napa, was
indeed much crustier than the mushy bread on the Wine Train,
and was deeply and over indulgently appreciated by Chino Wayne
and the Mrs.

Chino Wayne’s Caesar salad also was decidedly superior to the
ersatz Caesar served by the Silverado room service operation.
The dressing on this salad much more closely resembled a
classic Caesar dressing, the croutons were homemade, and the
salad was garnished with a couple of anchovy filets. At $7.95, a
far better value than the Silverado concoction. Chino Wayne also
enjoyed seeing how far he could go towards making the waiter’s
arm cramp up as he was grinding pepper over the salad.

The snapper was grilled and napped in beurre blanc and had a
very subtle flavor. Subtlety of flavors and overall product
presentation was a recurring theme in the San Rafael dining
establishments for the Chino Wayne’s and was much
appreciated. Chino Wayne’s personal experience preparing
snapper is that by the time he gets around to cooking it, it has
been languishing in the refrigerator so long, that it has a
decidedly “fishy” taste and smell, which of course adds to the
totality of the fragrance experience upon opening the Chino
Wayne’s refrigerator at any give point in the time-space
continuum. So Chino Wayne was very impressed with these two
pieces of fish.

The steak was decidedly not of Prime lineage, but that was not
expected. Although ordered medium rare, it was in actuality
medium well to medium in various parts, most likely because of
its relatively insubstantial thickness. It also was a bit chewy.
Chino Wayne does not recollect tasting any pepper, whatsoever,
with this steak (but that may be his own fault, as he has probably
dulled his taste buds’ ability to discern pepper through his well
known rampant use of ground pepper). Both entrees were
accompanied by braised baby carrots, and baby string beans
(another recurring theme on this road trip) and zucchini spears.
Mrs. Chino Wayne ordered rice as her starch, but the kitchen was
out of rice, so, after seeing Chino Wayne’s garlic mashed
potatoes, ordered the same. Subtlety again came in to play with
the potatoes. They were not overpoweringly garlicky, and they
were finished on a griddle so that they had a slightly brown and
crusty exterior. This proved to be a very nice contrast between the
“crust” and the soft, creamy interior. Chino Wayne cleaned his
plate totally, Mrs. Chino Wayne, as is usual, ate her carrots and
left the other, green objects. She did, of course, share some of
her snapper bounty with Chino Wayne, but none of her potatoes.

Although the steak was nothing particularly noteworthy, that was
never expected, this was good, honest, simple food, and
ultimately proved very satisfying. Total tab for one Caesar salad,
one red snapper, one New York Strip, one glass of wine, two
mixed drinks and one coffee was $64.00.

Barcelo Hotel (Sheraton Four Points)
1010 Northgate Dr
San Rafael, CA 94903-2502
Phone: (415)479-8800

San Rafael Joe's
931 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901-3103
Phone: (415)456-2425
Bagel Street Cafe, San Rafael & Mo's BBQ,
SLO - Napa Road Trip Report; Segment 7

April 14, 2002 at 18:20:33

While Mrs. Chino Wayne’s intention was a visit to the
complimentary breakfast buffet at the Sheraton, when Friday
morning did dawn, Mrs. Chino Wayne decided that sleep was a
higher priority. Chino Wayne, usually never one to pass up a
breakfast buffet opportunity, acquiesced to the Mrs.’ wishes,
because as an inveterate ‘hound, he had a Plan B ready.

So after loading up Heather and checking out of the hotel at noon,
the Chino Wayne’s proceeded across the road to Bagel Street
Café. Bagel Street Café is one of many shops in this Safeway
shopping center just off Highway 101 at the Freitas exit in San
Rafael. This is a clean, simple shop, with no adornments on the
walls, a few bakery cases, a cold case, and tables and chairs in
the shop and on the side walk outside. (For those abdominally
advanced ‘hounds, like Chino Wayne, the inside tables and
chairs are substantial wood objects, the dining furniture outside
is green plastic resin material, which brings up memories of
Chino Wayne squashing a resin chair in a futile wait for a table at
a Cheesecake Factory.)

As previously posted by Chino Wayne on the S.F. board late last
year, the bagels at this establishment are simply wonderful.
These are not the over sized bagels on steroids that seem so
common with the bagel chains, but rather, decent, classic
bagels. The bakers here must have studied with a true Jewish
bagel master. These bagels have been properly washed in a
water bath prior to baking, and have a nice, tight, light brown
exterior, and a very nice, relatively soft and chewy interior. These
bagels are not gummy doughy masses like the chains turn out,
but have a great initial bite through the exterior walls and a
wonderful mouth feel and chew on the interior. The bagels have a
definite hand-crafted look and feel to them, and unlike the chains,
they are not constantly turned out of some industrial oven every
20 minutes. It was apparent to Chino Wayne, that the very nice
people behind the display cases, were probably the very same
people who arose in the wee hours of the morning, and with
obvious care and respect for the food stuffs, mixed, kneaded,
bathed, and baked the day’s batch of bagels. A very wide
selection of bagels is offered, but once any one flavor selection is
depleted in the bakery case, there will be no more of that
selection for the rest of the day, so it would be wise for ‘hounds
hungry for a great bagel experience to get there early in the day.

Mrs. Chino Wayne had her favorite, a toasted cinnamon raisin
bagel with a schmeer, a cup of cut up fruit and coffee. Chino
Wayne had a tuna salad with lettuce and mayo on a toasted
poppy seed bagel and a whitefish salad with lettuce on a toasted
poppy seed bagel with an iced tea. The cinnamon raisin bagel
was quickly dispatched by the Mrs. No sample was proffered by
Mrs. Chino Wayne to her provider. Likewise the fruit salad. The
fruit in the cup did appear to Chino Wayne to be high quality
pieces of fruit, melon and grapes, it looked fresh and ripe. The
tuna appeared to have been through a food processor and was of
a pate like consistency, slightly moist, by dry enough that it held
together and was not falling or dripping with moisture. The tuna
had a nice, clean tuna taste, and as is usually the case, worked
very well with the toasted bagel. The whitefish salad was nirvana
to Chino Wayne who has many fond memories of life at home
when he was a tyro ‘hound enjoying smoked fish Sunday
breakfasts. The consistency of the whitefish salad was close to
the same consistency of the tuna salad, however, with more
moisture, and Chino Wayne had the foresight not to order mayo
with this sandwich. The taste of the whitefish salad was pure
heaven, usually when Chino Wayne dines on lox, white fish, et al,
he leaves the meal with a definite fishy, smoky, spicy aftertaste in
his mouth. Not with this bounty from the sea, the whitefish salad
had a wonderful, subtle smoked whitefish taste that was just
perfect, with no lingering aftertaste. This was truly an
extraordinary paring of fish salad and bagel.

The people behind the counter at Bagel Street Café are very nice,
friendly people, obviously with a lot of pride in the fine products
that they prepare and serve. They seem to have and know a lot of
regulars by name. While not crowded at the noon hour, there was
constant traffic in and out of the establishment while the Chino
Wayne’s dined. The bagel selection ranges from water bagels
(“plain” to those of you who are not from the ‘hood), to egg
bagels, to poppy seed, sourdough, cinnamon raisin, strawberry,
banana nut, cheddar, jalapeno, onion, garlic, etc. and bialys. Mrs.
Chino Wayne had a hankering for banana nut, but was too timid
to try the banana nut bagel, and instead opted for a banana nut
muffin (among a selection of other assorted muffins). So Chino
Wayne acquired a banana nut muffin and the last, remaining
onion bagel of the day and the Chino Wayne’s hit the road. Chino
Wayne did inquire of the master bagel baker who was the staff
member who had made the whitefish salad, and was informed
that it was imported from New York. Chino Wayne is going to
have to start querying the New York board to find a source for this
truly wonderful delicacy which he anticipates spreading on many
toasted bagel halves in the future, some day far, far in the future,
when he is paroled from The Liquid Diet. The bagel with the
schemer, the two bagel sandwiches, the fruit cup, one coffee and
one large iced tea were approximately $15.00.

It was a beautiful day in the Bay Area, with the temperature in the
mid 70’s, so Chino Wayne rolled back Heather’s moon roof and
the Chino Wayne’s proceeded south on the 101. Except for a brief
interlude at the Golden Gate Bridge, which was a spectacular
sight poking through the fog, the moon roof remained open to the
elements. (The bridge interlude did border on a Keystone Kops
moment as Chino Wayne tried steering the car while pressing
two window UP buttons with his left hand, and the moon roof
CLOSE button with his right hand, all to avoid Mrs. Chino Wayne’s
coiffeur from frizzing out in the foggy air.) The drive across the
bridge and through San Francisco, where there was no fog was
very enjoyable, even for Mrs. Chino Wayne who has a slight
reticence about crossing any bridge over a large expanse of
water.

South of San Jose, right after another highway converges and the
road narrows traffic became a crawl (when will this never ending
road widening project be completed), so of course this was an
opportune time to sample the banana nut muffin and onion
bagel. The banana nut muffin, in keeping with the elegant
simplicity of everything served at the Bagel Street Café, while not
the size of a small, kid’s cupcake, was also not the size of some
humongous, commercial/boutique muffin with a “head” the size
of a nuclear mushroom cloud. This was a decent sized muffin,
with a normal, perfectly proportioned ‘shroom head, with the
walnuts scattered on top and not inside. The taste was of
something fresh and not too moist and not too dry, with a very
subtle, in no way overbearing, banana flavor. This subtlety of taste
was consistent with everything served at the Bagel Street Café.
The onion bagel was on a par with the previously consumed
poppy seed bagels, with a subtle proportioned scattering of
poppy seeds within the dough, and toasted onions on top of the
bagel.

(The only quibble that Chino Wayne had with the onion bagel is
that his preference in onion bagels, is to have the baker not put
the onions on the bagels immediately upon placement of the
bagels in the oven, but rather at some intermediate point in the
baking process. In that way the onions do not become so much
toasted, as softened and still retain some body, moisture, and
onion-y flavor in them. Chino Wayne prefers toasted onions only
when they are mixed in sour cream and served with some food
apparatus suitable for dipping.)

The Chino Wayne’s pit stopped in Gilroy, Chino Wayne having the
good sense to keep his passenger, Mrs. Chino Wayne, happy
with an expedition to the Gilroy Factory Outlets. Little did Chino
Wayne realize the magnitude of the Gilroy Factory Outlet situation,
not one, not two, not three, but four outlet strip malls on adjacent
streets. In between outlets, the Chino Wayne’s pitted at the
adjacent In-N-Out. As usual the restrooms at In-N-Out were far
superior in the cleanliness department than those of their fast
food competitors. The Chino Wayne’s always feel obligated to
make a purchase when they pit anywhere, sort of their way of
returning something tangible to the establishment, then just the
other deposits that they leave. Of course it is also difficult to pit
stop at an In-N-Out without ordering anything. The Mrs. had a
Coke, Chino Wayne had an iced tea and they each hand an order
of fries. When Mrs. Chino Wayne questioned Chino Wayne why
he was not ordering burgers, he told her “not to worry, I know of a
place down the road where we can get a steak”. After this
refreshment, Mrs. Chino Wayne commanded Chino Wayne to
cruise the other outlet stores. Bargains finally in hand, the Chino
Wayne’s left Gilroy an hour and a half behind schedule.

The drive south on 101 from Gilroy covered some magnificent
scenery. At this time of year the grasses on the hills are all green
in northern California, and it was so nice for the Chino Wayne’s to
breathe in the fresh, smog free air, and for their eyes to dance
upon the relatively pristine and green countryside.

Feeling inadequately sustained with beef throughout this entire
road trip, Chino Wayne had visions of steaks at the Hitching Post
in Buellton on his mind and in his taste buds. Unfortunately the
traffic at the San Jose bottleneck, and the outlet excursion ate up
so much unanticipated time, that arrival in Buellton would be too
late for dining at the Hitching Post, without the resultant sitting up
all night sleepless from an overly full stomach. True ‘hound that
he is, however, Chino Wayne implemented Plan B. At
approximately 8:15 P.M. the Chino Wayne’s and Heather pulled
off the 101 in San Luis Obispo, and cruised Higuera Street.

On Higuera between Osos and Morro, Chino Wayne spotted Mo’s
Smokehouse BBQ. Parking is a bitch in downtown SLO on a
Friday night, but the patient hunt for a parking space was well
worth the effort. Mo’s was founded by a restaurateur with twenty
years experience, who in his words “…decided to open a real
barbeque restaurant.” Mo then made a 3,500 mile road trip
through the barbeque belt, performing field research in 10 states
and 80 ‘Q joints. Mo has obviously done his homework.
Everything the Chino Wayne’s sampled was wonderful, authentic
barbeque. Mrs. Chino Wayne had a half rack plate which
consisted of Mo’s “Sweet Carolina’s Pork Ribs”, a side of potato
salad, a side of beans, a corn bread muffin and a Pepsi. Chino
Wayne ordered a full rack of “Mo’s Memphis Pork Ribs”, the same
sides and a Diet Pepsi. The Carolina ribs must have been good,
Mrs. Chino Wayne did not offer her provider any taste sample,
and sucked every bit of barbeque succulence off the bones.
When she was through, the bones looked like the bleached
carcass of some vertebrate that one would find in the Mojave
Desert after 100 years in the sun. The Mrs. did not eat any of the
beans, wanting to avoid any disturbance in her lower gastro-
intestinal tract. Chino Wayne, on the other hand, in true ‘hound
fashion went for the gusto, and consumed everything on his
plate, and the Mrs.’ beans.

The Memphis ribs are one of Mo’s specialty’s, and as
paraphrased from his menu are “…meaty tender Pork Ribs
(spareribs –C.W.) hickory smoked and barbecued with Mo’s BBQ
sauce then sprinkled wit a sweet vinegar and topped with Mo’s
special seasoning from Memphis, Tennessee.” Contrary to the
menu description, these ribs appeared to be prepared in the
classic Memphis style of being dry rubbed, then smoked, and
then having some sauce applied to them. These were very nice,
meaty ribs, the meat was tender, but not quite falling off of the
bone. It appeared that the ribs might have been finished near an
open flame, or maybe just very close to the heat source, as the
edges and ends were charred, and made excellent pork bits. The
flavor of smoke was very subtle, not overpowering. The potato
salad was the best that Chino Wayne has had in any dining
establishment in recent memory. It tasted like homemade,
uneven chunks of potato boiled to the perfect point, soft and
tender, but not falling apart or mushy, mayonnaise, celery, what
appeared to be chopped green onion, and other flavorings. One
of the other reasons why the Mrs. passed on the beans is
because she and Chino Wayne have a preference for the thick,
dark, molasses based baked beans, and these beans were in
the style that Chino Wayne equates with southwestern cowboys.
There were three types of beans, Kidney, Pinto, and then a white
bean that was smaller than the Pinto beans. The beans were in a
thin sauce, which had chunks of cooked tomato and barely
cooked onion in it, and little bits of barbequed beef could also be
tasted. This bean dish was almost the consistency of a soup,
and Chino Wayne finished off the beans by up-ending the little
bean cups and pouring the bean nectar down his gullet. The corn
bread muffin obviously was not from a commercial bakery, was of
a medium density, had good corn bread taste and was
accompanied by honey butter.

Chino Wayne rated Mo’s very high on his list of preferred BBQ
joints. It was obvious that this is a local hangout. The routine here
is to line up at the counter, place your order, get your drink from
the counter person and find a table. There seems to always be a
line at the counter, but it moves very fast. By the time the Chino
Wayne’s stopped to load up a container of Carolina BBQ sauce
and a container of Mo’s hot BBQ sauce and found a table, their
BBQ plates were being served to them. Hot sauce ‘hounds take
note, Mo’s BBQ sauce is definitely very pedestrian, and seems to
get it’s heat from classic Tabasco. There were bottles of Tabasco
abundantly available for adding more heat.

Mo’s menu includes the following sandwiches: shredded pork,
shredded beef, hot links, sliced tri-tip, rib sandwich (ribs over
white bread), BBQ chicken breast, BBQ turkey, hamburger, and
shredded chicken. Plates come with a half, three-quarter or full
rack of pork spareribs, as Philthy Phil’s (noted on the menu as
“very tender and flavorful finished with a vinegar, brown sugar and
mustard BBQ sauce with a bit of a kick”), Mo’s Memphis ribs,
Sweet Carolina ribs, rib combo, shredded pork shoulder over
bread, shredded beef (sans bread) BBQ half chicken, or a
sampler with ribs, shredded pork and chicken.

If you have a hankering for good ‘Q and are anywhere near SLO,
Mo’s is well worth a detour off the highway. Total tab for one half
rack plate, one full rack plate, and two sodas was $37.43.

As Chino Wayne got up from the table to leave Mo’s BBQ nirvana
with the Mrs. and head back to the highway, those very delicious
beans made their presence apparent to Chino Wayne at the tail
end of his gastro-intestinal tract (subtlely of course). Chino
Wayne knew they were damn good beans, as their remnants
were present all the way from SLO to Chino, for the next three
hours. Fortunately it was a very subtle bean presence, without
odor, so Chino Wayne did not discomfit Mrs. Chino Wayne, who
has been known to flee the marital bead, not only to another
room, but to another floor in the house, when Chino Wayne has
consumed something ultimately disagreeable with his poor
abused digestive system.

The remainder of the road trip was uneventful except for the
Mustang driving maniac driving at about 90 miles an hour, who
was encountered twice on the dark and winding highway. The
Chino Wayne’s arrived home in the wee hours of the morning on
Saturday, and the last morsels of food for the day were
dispensed to their faithful and lovable cat Binky, in return for
some kisses from his little pink tongue.

Bagel Street Café
208 Northgate One
San Rafael, California 94903
(415) 479-5000

Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ
970 Higuera St
San Luis Obispo, California
(805) 544-6193