Sunday, May 6, 2012

What is that smell?!?

After talking about it for months and months, we finally made it down to Petaluma for a quick weekend getaway. We chose Petaluma because there's a brewery there, Lagunitas, that the boy is a fan of and wanted to visit and they have an old, historic downtown that I thought would entertain me for a few days. I mean, doesn't everybody plan their vacations around breweries? And only a 20 minute drive from Petaluma is Sears Point raceway where there was motorcycle racing going on this weekend so the boy also picked up weekend passes for the races (which he'll blog about).

I got to dictate the schedule for most of Saturday in exchange for time at the race track. I was also in charge of picking all the restaurants since I needed places that served gluten-free food. We got an early start on Saturday thanks to some dill-hole customer of Chris' who thought it was okay to call him on his cell phone at 7:15 a.m on a Saturday. At that point we were up and decided we might as well get dressed and head out to breakfast. I'd chosen a place on the south end of the downtown where they had lots of egg scramble platters that you could substitute gf bread with. Chris was unimpressed with his dish, while I really enjoyed my scrambled eggs with gruyere cheese, artichoke chicken sausage, and spinach served with a side of gf bread and a small bowl of fresh fruit. Yum! Since it was still wicked early when we finished with breakfast we walked around a few blocks and admired the industrial style apartments that had been built on the south end by the waterfront. They had a corrugated steel look on the outside, but painted in bright colors, and designed with what looked like recycled building materials. We really liked the look of it. Eventually some businesses in the downtown started opening and we were able to take a peek in a place or two. One of them was a ginormous old bank that was three stories tall and now operating as an antique store.
We were first ones there when they opened so we had run of the whole place. After a few hours of wandering the mean streets of Petaluma it was lunch time so we stopped at the Wild Goat Bistro and had hot sandwiches and salads for lunch. After lunch we did the Victorian house walk a few blocks back from the downtown. There were unique street signs within the neighborhoods they wanted you to walk in so we could kind of follow it.

Super cute houses to look at, but nothing I'd want to live in. Especially not the hideously painted turquoise, yellow and magenta house. Pretty awesome church though - obviously Catholic. On our way back to the downtown we stopped at a local brew pub that made their own beer so Chris could quench his shopping thirst. It was right on a waterway that flowed behind the downtown.

Then it was off to the Petaluma Outlets!! Chris gets "husband of the year" award for following me around the outlet stores and picking up the tab for anything that caught my fancy.

At the end of the adventure I ended up with three shirts, a necklace, and new pair of Clark's ballet flats. By then it was late afternoon so we decided to head back to the hotel and relax a little bit before dinner which was just in the shopping center next to our hotel. During each vacation we always have that one favorite meal that trumps all others and Saturday night's dinner was that meal. We ate at Namaste Kitchen which was a Nepalese, Indian, and Tibetan restaurant. We had two, complete Nepalese dinner plates that came with appetizers, entrees, and dessert. It was absolutely phenomenal.We started off with some tandoori chicken wings and drinks.

I ordered a ginger mint iced tea which was unbelievable. It tasted like lemon iced tea soaked with fresh ginger and mint. It was both sweet and spicy from the ginger. On the advice of our waiter, Chris ordered a Nepali beer that was super malty. He ended up loving it so much he ordered two. Next was a crispy cracker appetizer with dipping sauce. I don't remember what it was called, but I couldn't have anything more than a tiny nibble since it was clearly made of flour. Based on the taste that reminded us of seasoned taco meat, we're guessing the seeds in the crackers were cumin seeds.

Then came the piece de resistance;
Let me introduce you to my dinner: In the center was a pile of rice and peas. At 12:00 was dal (lentil soup), then clockwise is "mushroom mattar" which was bits of mushrooms and peas in a creamy tomato sauce, then  a chicken curry, the little ball was dessert of a fried dough ball sitting in a honey cinnamon syrup, then a pickled mango relish and some other spicy dipping sauce for the roti bread (kind of like naan).
Chris' platter was similar, but had a potato and cauliflower curry (instead of mushrooms), and a lamb curry (instead of chicken). We shared the different dishes with each other and agreed that my combo of mushroom and chicken was the best, but really there were no losers. We both agreed that this was some of the best food we've ever had.

So, our favorite part of Petaluma? Namaste Kitchen, hands down. The worst part? The freaking chicken sh*t smell!!! I kid you not - that entire town smells like a giant patty of chicken sh*t. And nobody seemed to acknowledge or talk about it. I felt like the only person who was smelling it. Especially at the outlets. It was oppressively strong there. I know Petaluma is known for their egg production, but wholly cow that was brutal. I guess it's kind of like La Comida up in P-town that always smells like sewage in the back parking lot. All the locals know that's just how it is and are used to it. I guess if you like ridiculously earthy and musty smells then Petaluma is the place for you!

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