Friday, November 25, 2011

Baked goods in nature at The Sea Ranch

After a trip to Monterey Bay for my first half marathon, I had the chance to visit Sea Ranch, a beachside community in Sonoma County, California.  Just a quick stop at the San Francisco Airport to drop off my running buddy April and then I was driving solo, onward towards my destination.  Just a woman, a Toyota with good mileage, and a love affair with the coastline.  Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in the late afternoon, I was lucky to make it before dark to the windy stretch of Highway 1 that would lead me towards Sea Ranch.  Along this route, cows graze with a killer view, sometimes in dangerously close proximity to the road.  

Approaching Sea Ranch, you must take care to watch for deer and wild turkeys crossing the street.  
Plus, there are seal pups!
While this drive is not for the faint of heart, it's entirely worth it if you're a fan of the beautiful surroundings.  Plus, there's the unexpected baked goods. 

When I arrived to visit family renting a house in the area, an apricot windowpane from Two Fish Baking Company was waiting for me.  While sometimes my bakery destinations are planned months or even years ahead of time, some of the best finds are the surprise spots that loved ones lead me to.  That night, we nibbled on the crumbly apricot windowpane beside a roaring fire with the promise of more baked goods to come on Wednesday.  This bakery has limited hours, so you must strategically plan your visit.  Luckily for me, I found out about Two Fish upon my arrival and just in time for their specially adjusted hours (designated for Thanksgiving treat pick-ups.)  The friendly owners, Margaret and Hilla, greeted us warmly upon our arrival and were cheerful despite the fact that Thanksgiving prep is a busy, grueling work week in the baking profession.  Hilla's enthusiastic sweet tooth even prompted her to pull out her Iphone and share a donut shop discovery from her last visit to Brooklyn, displaying a picture of the blood orange glazed variety from Dough Donuts.  I was pretty pleased that the owners' kindred spirit bakery hunting tendencies were strong enough to prompt Iphone photo shares with complete strangers like myself.  I drove away with a morning bun, a sticky bun, and a cappuccino to enjoy over the course of the long trek homeward (plus a mental note to book a flight to New York and get a donut from Dough.)  The Two Fish morning bun was soft, fresh, doughy, and delicious, and in the interest of full disclosure, I devoured it in a matter of seconds.  

The sticky bun was a different story: also delicious, but so rich that it lasted me miles of enjoyment until the very last rest stop.  
With a newly sticky steering wheel, I happily made my journey with a full belly and the perfect sweet to snack on with a cup of joe. But as it turns out, this sticky bun pairs well with other beverages too.  I squeezed this trip in right before Thanksgiving and planned to drive the majority of the way home the day before the holiday.  Notorious as one of the worst traffic days, I had visions of Carmageddon taking over all southbound lanes in a hellish rush of turkey travelers.  In preparation, I booked a hotel room so I could get some good rest in before the final hours of my drive.  As it turned out, this stop was serendipitous: before settling into my hotel room, I bought a Telegraph Stock Porter, a beer brewed locally in Santa Barbara.  I considered this beer my reward for completing a long, safe drive, but then discovered it was the perfect companion for my remaining pieces of my sticky bun.  If you weren't aware you could enjoy such decadence in a highway adjacent Best Western, now you know.  Don't miss a trip to the Two Fish Baking Company during your travels up or down the coast: grab a morning bun--best eaten on the beach, but also suitable for the car if you're in a rush.  Either way, it's perfect for nibbling on during your next seaside adventure! 
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