Wild Game and Mushrooms at St. Orres
Mendocino County is blessed with scarce human presence, and therefore it thrives with abundant plant and animal life among towering redwoods.
The artist colony town of Gualala, the southernmost on the Mendo coast, is great for gallery walks and sunset-watching, but its hidden treasure is found right on Highway 1 and looks like a wooden teremok, transported from a Russian fairy tale.
St. Orres Hotel and Restaurant is built with old weathered timber and has an onion-shaped cupola, bright leaded-glass windows, and blossoming nasturtiums by the doorstep.
It was named and styled in honor of the original property owner from 1830, George St. Ores, who hailed from Russia. In 1929, it became Seaside Hotel, built by Sid Johnson.
Today, Rosemary Campiformio co-owns and manages the hotel, and as Executive Chef of the restaurant, creates a sheer fairy tale in this neck of the woods.
Although we were not dressed for dinner, rather for a campy picnic in the wild, my husband and I ended up having a scrumptious meal of wild game and wild mushrooms at St. Orres—an experience not to be missed.
Our warm round bread looked just like kolobok, but fancily dressed with rosemary, basil and garlic, and served on a hot clay slate.
Garlic flan with wild mushrooms, a dish I’ve never tried before, had whole black chanterelles in demi-glace so rich, it reflected the colors of the nearby window, lighted by setting sun.
Wild mushroom ravioli were filled with a flavorful blend of porcini and shiitake, and accompanied by whole fresh oyster mushrooms in cream sauce with baby tomatoes.
After sharing a butternut squash soup with crème fraiche, and a chilled nectarine puree with raspberry swirl, we decided to split a Sonoma farm-raised pheasant stuffed with andouille sausage and pistachio nuts, and served on wild mushroom risotto cakes with a sauce of locally foraged black chanterelles and truffles.
I was in mushroom heaven.
St. Orres has a good selection of local wines, like Mendocino 2007 Naughty Boy pinot noir and Sonoma 2009 Seghesio zin.
Desserts here are made with lots of love, too. Although my eyes were wandering all over the house-made treats, Jack Daniels’ ice cream with whiskey caramel sauce won the tough competition.
St. Orres is open year-round for lodging and fine dining. Call for reservations: 707-884-3303, or visit their website.