Monday, April 4, 2011

More Marin Food, Drink & Fun

I actually took some time off this weekend to spend with the family, while having a chance to taste my way around more of Marin County.

I’m staying at the Courtyard Larkspur which is in a perfect location for just about anything you want to do in this area.  The hotel’s only about a mile from Highway 101, within walking distance of the San Francisco Ferry Terminal and across from a great little shopping center. Within that center is the Marin Brewing Company which, as the name indicates, is a great place for beer.  I enlisted Sam’s help in trying some out and she gave it the thumbs up.

We made our way around the county on Sunday.  I explored the Larkspur area a little, taking in the 70 degree weather (and, unfortunately, the pollen).  The Courtyard by Marriott Larkspur Landing has a great Bistro in the lobby that has Starbucks coffee and a good selection of healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner choices.  I also love the large lounge area for relaxing and catching up on sports (on your own individual television so you don’t have to agree with everyone at the bar on what to watch).  I didn’t get to go in the pool or indoor whirlpool, but I did enjoy the gym.

It was a good thing I squeezed in some gym time and lots of walking because I found plenty of good food at the Panama Hotel’s restaurant in San Rafael.  I had been there for dinner on my last trip here and I really enjoyed it (they even have live music on Saturday nights).  This time it was brunch on the outdoor patio.  I had a delicious Mediterranean Scramble, while most of the family feasted on the “San Francisco,” an eggs Benedict made with crab cakes.

After brunch we headed to Fairfax, I small town that I can best describe as a place the Grateful Dead, and John Lennon would have started a recycling center in!  It’s a comfortable place to raise a family (as my brother and sister-in-law do) and there’s no shortage of food, music and brew.  I did some window showing around Fairfax and neighboring San Anselmo before returning to a place owned by an old friend, Iron Spring Brewery.

I have been to Iron Springs many times before and have never been disappointed in the food.  This trip was no exception as I enjoyed the French Onion Soup and Spring Rolls (the Salmon Salad and Fish Tacos were also big hits on our table).  I once again enlisted Sam’s help in checking out some brews, and the Iron Springs Sampler was a perfect way to do it.   She picked the Kolsch, Shining Star, Honey Blonde, Imperial IPA, The Crippla and Oyster Stout.  It was quite a varied selection and I got some good feedback:

The Kolsch is a very light, easy drinking beer;

Shining Star is good with a bit more flavor;

Honey Blonde is a favorite;

Imperial IPA, with a stronger alcohol percentage and two times the hops and grains, has a very strong beer favor – for the real beer lover;

Oyster Stout is definitely for the adventurous.  It really does have oyster, but it’s lighter tasting than you expect from the dark color.  It’s smooth and worth tasting.

I will get to pick up the glass for the next two days as we leave the Courtyard Larkspur and head to Calistoga for a girls getaway of wineries, spa treatments, restaurants and a stay at Solage Calistoga.

Don’t miss any of my wine and spirit travels around the world.
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