Monday, February 15, 2010
This is my second favorite place on earth. It is The Apple Farm and it is located way up in northern California in an area called The Anderson Valley. Thhe coast of Mendicino is about a 30 minute drive away. It was started by Don and Sally Schmitt...they were the ones that originally started The French Laundry Restaurant which is in the Napa Valley in the very small town of Yountville.In 1992, Thomas Keller came to look at The French Laundry which was for sale. He said," I came to Yountville on the advice of a friend to look at The French Laundry. The grounds were enclosed by honeysuckle, and climbing roses covered an arched trellis leading to a courtyard. It seemed as if I'd been heading there my whole working life."
Thomas Keller bought the reataurant from Don and Sally..and as Ruth Reichl wrote in The New York Times "Thomas Keller, chef/proprietor of The French Laundry in the Napa Valley-the most exciting place to eat in the United States. Thomas is a purist, a man obsessed with getting it right."
Don and Sally left Yountville and came up to the tiny town of Philo and started a working farm called The Apple Farm. They planted an apple orchard and sold apples, fresh brown eggs, flowers and other produce from their farm at a roadside stand.
Eventually, Sally started cooking classes. They then added small out buildings in the apple orchrds which were turned into rooms for people to stay that were there for the weekend cooking classes.The rooms are all small, simple and charming.
Julie and I have had the pleasure of going there and taking cooking classes from Sally. No matter what the season, she always has something wonderful to cook from their organic garden. Don and Sally bake bread and make delicious meals at their Apple Farm. After the class is over, you are invited to stay and have lunch or supper. If it is a warm day, it will be served out on the courtyard. Julie and I were lucky because when we were there it was a warm spring day in April and we sat out in an orchard of apple blossoms amoung potted pots of tulips and daffodils. We sat in the warm sun and visited with people from all over ...we made friends... and we had a great time. The Schmitts and their family are a delight. It took us 8 hours to get there...traveling from Cambria to San Francisco, over the Golden Gate bridge and another four hours way up into the Napa Valley and beyond. We even saw a wild boar running down the road. Philo is small and remote....but it was worth every mile....