Holm Family Cookbook recipe testers and Susie Calhoun all set for a food and history tour of Murphys, California
This past weekend, some of our cookbook recipe testers and I, gathered in Murphys, California “Queen of the Sierra” to experience a food and history tour. A tour was booked with LocalRoots Food Tours. We met Lara, our tour guide, at the gazebo in the Murphys Community Park. Tours usually accommodate ten people. Ours actually had seven, five friends and a fun foodie couple from Sacramento. The couple have been to various cooking classes internationally and shared some of their travels with us as we walked through Murphys.
Melanie, chef & co-owner of Newsome-Harlow (standing) and our tour guide Lara (sitting)
The first historical stop was the Murphys Pokey, where Lara shared the early history of Murphys. Off we walked to the Newsome-Harlow tasting room, one of my favorites in Murphys. Melanie Klann, chef and co-owner, is known for her use of local produce. She had prepared a butter roll, with fig jam, Swiss cheese and bacon; paired with Newsome-Harlow 2010, Calaveras County Zin. The tasting room would be both the beginning and the end of our tour.
Butter roll, with fig jam, Swiss cheese and bacon at Newsome-Harlow
Next stop was the Aria Bakery. FRESH and delicious would best describe their products. The bakery is very small, but full of delicacies. Here we picked up our potato onion thyme focaccia and then moved to the patio of the Marisolio Tasting Bar, a tasting bar of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. The variety of oils and vinegars was extensive and flavorful. They provide the opportunity to taste all the oils and vinegars and once you make a selection of oil or vinegar to buy, they will bottle your selection.
Aria Bakery (left) and the Marisolio Tasting Bar
At the historic Murphys Hotel, we learned about all the dignitaries who stayed at the hotel on their way to Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Next stop was the E Clampus Vitas Wall of Comparative Ovations. For those of you who have not heard of the “Clampers” or seen one of the ECV plaques, I suggest you check out this website for a bit of history: http://www.yerbabuena1.com/history.htm. I have been to Murphys many times and known many Clampers, but had never seen this wall – it’s an outside museum!
The E Clampus Vitas Wall of Comparative Ovations
Off we walked to the far end of Murphys to Val du Vino Winery. The winery is owned by Jonathan and Jeannine, a well traveled and diverse couple. Both were behind the wine bar, but Jonathan was our host and winemaker. We tasted five wines, concluding with the 2009 Spanish Dragon. The multi award winning Spanish Dragon is a Tempranillo with a touch of Grenache. It was definitely my favorite. On Fridays during the summer Val du Vino is host to a Farmers Market, and on this day, was host to a wedding.
Johnathan our host and winemaker at the Val du Vino Winery
Upon leaving Val du Vino, we walked back into town via a back street to The Spice Tin. This shop is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Murphys and had a tunnel that led to the bar of the Murphys Hotel. The walls were lined with fresh spices and some local food products. Of particular interest to me was the Himalayan salt. These slabs can be used for cooking and chilling. For tasting was Dukkah, an Egyptian inspired blend of nuts; which is great for coating over fish, fowl or veggies. I loved the toasty flavor, which was intensified with the olive oil it was served with.
The Spice Tin shop (left) and the Himalayan salt display
As we traveled back down the main street, we walked down an alley on the way to V Restaurant Bar and Bistro at the Victoria Inn. Known for their fine dining; Dan Murray the chef, buys the best and changes the menu weekly. We were seated at the quaint bar and served a delightful plate. Presented on a picturesque plate was a petite Caprese salad on a skewer, a succulent BBQ pork rib resting on a mixed potato salad, and a Devil on Horseback (blue cheese stuffed date, wrapped in bacon and deep fried) – a personal favorite! Fabulous!
The delightful plate served at the V Restaurant Bar and Bistro at the Victoria Inn
On our way to Alchemy we stopped in at Nelson’s Candies.This is owned by the same people who have Nelson’s Candy Kitchen in Columbia.The candies looked delightful, but this group was saving ourselves for the Cupcake Wars winner!
Lara guided us down to the Alchemy Restaurant and Market at the opposite end of Murphys. Alchemy Chef, Jason Wright served us black mussels, fries with scallion aioli. This traditional Belgian fare was paired with a De Proefrouwerij Flanders Fred–a Belgian beer. This unique beer was a collaborative effort of two breweries using a wild fermented sour lambic and wood aged Hair of the Dog. I loved that we were served food paired with beer!
Black mussels and fries paired with a De Proefrouwerij Flanders Fred
Our last food stop was at Lila & Sage. Waiting for us was the award winning Honey and Lavendar cupcake. Owner Karen Henderson’s creation helped Murphys see a surge in business when Cupcake Wars brought the Food Network to Murphys!
Lila & Sage, home of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars’ winning cupcake
After three and a half hours of touring, feasting and enjoying history; our tour ended with a more extensive tasting at Newsome-Harlow. I purchased Train Wreck, a blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine I enjoy drinking and sharing with friends. It is here we said good bye to Lara and thanked her for generous hospitality and knowledge.
My friends, former colleagues, and I retired to one’s home in Saddle Creek to watch the sunset. Here we reminisced about the tour and the wonderful time we had on the Local Roots Food Tour. Based in Auburn, Local Roots gives tours in Sacramento, Murphys, and soon Nevada City.
The sunset in Saddle Creek
What a fun and filling way to spend a day!