Saturday, December 20, 2014

PANNING FOR GOLD - Camps Restaurant at Greenhorn Creek

Camps Restaurant at  Greenhorn Creek

Writing about my major birthday adventure in Mark Twain/Gold Rush country has taken longer than the adventure itself, but we had one more food stop to make before we headed out for home and hearth and what better place than a restaurant named "Camps?"  Full disclosure:  no relation to Richard with or without the "s."

On the other side of the golf course from our hotel, we were greeted by ol' Mark, himself relaxing on a bench reading a book.

Curious to see what he was reading ("Huck Finn"), we sat down for a minute to discuss the relevance of the book today.  Having just reread it in my Book Group, I let him know that we thought it was still quite relevant.  He seemed pleased and posed for pictures.

On to the restaurant...

... and the discovery of a Mark Twain library with copies of his books, memorabilia and quotes stenciled on the walls and ceiling beams.  No wonder he was hanging out out front.  If anyone had a question, he was there to answer it.

The large main room consisted of a bar/lounge and a dining room, divided by an impressive fireplace against the far wall.

 Rugs and artwork hung along a wall in the dining room alongside built-in display cabinets.

Through the glass doors was the terrace overlooking one of the golf course's beautiful greens.

We opted to eat inside.  Camps is a steak, seafood, burger place that serves mostly "manly" fare... its lunch menu included sandwiches such as a "classic" Reuben and a turkey club... entrees included fish & chips... "French Onion" dip w/ shaved rib eye braised in French onion soup, topped w/ jack cheese and sauteed onions... steak and eggs w/ country gravy and breakfast potatoes... omelets and caramelized apple French toast, but the menu also included hearty salads, homemade soups and "lighter" fare such as parmesan truffle fries and beer battered onion rings, flash fried calamari and fresh dungeness crab cakes.  None of these light dishes will help you stay light, but sounded oh so good. 

Did I mention the burgers?  There were a few listed on the lunch menu - a seared sesame ginger ahi burger w/ wasabi aioli and Asian slaw, a portabella mushroom burger, and Camps "CR" local 1/2 lb cheddar burger made w/ grass fed, free range local beef.  OK, since I'm always on the quest for the perfect cheeseburger, I had to try the "CR."  Nguyen decided to have one, too.  I can't say it was the "perfect" cheeseburger, but it came close.  Cooked to a perfect medium rare with enough melty cheese to fill a fondue pot.  Well, not quite, but enough to make me happy.

Richard had the Mahi Mahi fish and chips with tartar sauce and fries...  Of course, I had a bite.  Blimey it was good!  It was so good, it was gone before I could take a picture.

Bob opted for the toasted turkey clubhouse made with roasted sliced turkey breast, applewood smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce & tomato.  It's a club I might join the next time I eat there.

The dinner menu continued the hearty "manly" theme and had listings for "Grazings" that included flash fried calamari, ginger chicken spring rolls and wild mushroom pappardelle pasta w/ parmesan and white truffle oil.  "Salads & Soups" listed the onion soup, apple romaine salad and two caesar salads.  "From the Grill"  included prime rib, a variety of steaks and burgers.  "Cluck & Quack"  a roasted chicken breast dish and a pan-seared Muscovy duck breast.  And last, but not least, "Seafood" dishes such as broiled prawn &amp sea scallop skewers, pan-seared Mahi Mahi and seared ginger glazed ahi.  I wanted to stay a few more days and try everything.  They also have live music every Friday and Saturday night. After a few drinks, Mr. Twain is said to sit in for a few sessions. 

So... whether you're playing golf and stop in for a 19th hole "refreshment" or just tooling around Angels Camp panning for gold, definitely stop in for lunch or dinner.  The food does ol' Mark proud.

CAMPS RESTAURANT - Greenhorn Creek
676 McCauley Ranch Road
Angels Camp, California  95222

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Hovey Winery

My Mark Twain country adventure panning for gold and searching for jumping frogs in Gold Rush/Calaveras County was almost over.  I found no gold and didn't see one frog, jumping or otherwise, but I did find liquid gold up in them thar hills and I had one last winery I wanted to check out.

Tucked back off Main Street in the quaint town of Murphys, Richard, Bob, Nguyen and I walked down the path to a charming little bungalow that serves as Hovey's tasting room.

Inside, the room is bright and cheerful.

Neriah was our knowledgeable and lovely barista.

As she poured our flight she told us that after being a respected winemaker for 30 years, Chuck Hovey launched his own label in 2008 and I have to say, the wine is definitely fine.  It seems we saved the best for last.

We started off with the 2013 White Blend ($20) consisting of 55% verdego, 25% vermentino and 20% viognier, aged in stainless steel to a crisp fruity flavor.  Perfect to sip sitting by a tennis court, under an umbrella, after a tough doubles match... order a cheese plate and fruit to "go with."

Next up was the 2013 Chardonnay ($20) which was voted the best white wine in the Mother Lode Gold, 2014 Orange County Fair and I loved it.  Fruity, yes - tastes of pineapple and mangos - but buttery, the way I like it.

The reds were equally impressive.  The 2012 C2 Red Blend ($26) is 38% cinsaut, 24% graciano, 24% syrah, and 14% petite syrah...  hurrah, hurrah!  OK, bad rhyme, but delish wine with a jammy, red fruit flavor.

Then came the 2012 Barbera ($26) voted best red wine & double gold at the 2014 Calaveras County Fair and silver at the Orange County Fair.  Rich berry flavor, wonderful nose - all and all, a lovely red.

The 2012 Zinfandel ($26) won gold at the 2014 Orange County Fair and it hit all the right zin notes... blackberries and ripe plums danced in my head, sans fairies. Good thing, though, the fairies might have diverted my attention and I would have missed that wonderful taste of toasty mocha.

The last two tastes were "off-the-flight" but true flights of fancy.  The first was Hovey Block 9 Petite Syrah ($36) - definitely a fine wine.

And last, but so not the least, was the Isabel 2012 Cabernet ($36) - named for Chuck Hovey's beautiful grandmother, this wine is just plain luscious with wonderful tastes of black current and dark chocolate.  Straw please!

To paraphrase wine reviewers...   Hovey gets 99 points!!!  (Well, nothing's perfect).

Hovey Winery
350 A Main Steet
Murphys, Calif.  95247

Check out the wine club: