Amy's Wicked Slush - Photo by Courtney Paige
Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure

Hot spot & cold treats – Meet Wicked Slush

Wicked Slush luscious flavors find your fancy – Photo by Courtney Paige

Prompted by an article recently written by Heather Irwin in Sonoma County’s revered Bite Club column, I felt compelled to check out a playfully mischievous new establishment in Healdsburg.

A county touted for its amazing farm to table cuisine, we are rarely privy to other American State culinary specialties. Yes, our region is ladened with Thai, Mexican and Chinese food, but really, these cuisines are the product of other countries.

Amy's Wicked Slush - Photo by Courtney Paige
Amy’s Wicked Slush – Photo by Courtney Paige

That’s why Amy’s Wicked Boston Slush is the perfect storm to wet your whistle here in Sonoma County. Seriously, when Wicked’s magical umami melts in your mouth, it leaves you craving more. With at least 20 daily flavors to choose from, you’ll already be planning your next visit the moment you step away from the pickup counter.

Wicked Slush Mango & Sour Watermelon - Photo by Courtney Paige
Wicked Slush Mango & Sour Watermelon – Photo by Courtney Paige

Wicked Slush sets the bar high for other local tasty treats to compete. Before long, it will be a Sonoma County icon, and we’ll wonder how we ever lived without it.

A serendipitous melding of shaved ice, sorbet and an Icee, this classic original Boston slush pucker’s your lips and twinges your jaws. The texture is so luscious, you’re almost compelled to chew it.

Wicked Slush Peanut Butter Soft Serve dipped in Butterscotch – Photo by Courtney Paige

I’ve already patronized the place twice within one week. Once to find out what all the buzz is about, and then, of course, to treat my daughter. I like the sweets, and she likes the tarts. Wicked curates all the taste senses seamlessly. During the second visit with my daughter, we were lucky enough to meet Amy. She’s genuinely a nice person.

My daughter was curiously checking out the coffee urns while waiting in line when Amy approached us & asked if we needed anything at all. She was friendly, kind, personable and authentic. Characteristics we’re all grateful for these days.

Wicked Slush boasts pops of color & flavor – Photo by Courtney Paige

As summer approaches, the days get longer, hair gets lighter, skin gets darker, water gets warmer, drinks are colder, music gets louder, and now thanks to Amy, slush gets wicked.

Savor and enjoy!

-Courtney Paige

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Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure

Cultured Burbs

Sonoma County is a quaint sleepy community with seemingly more vineyards than people. At first glance, things may appear a tad western here, but given a closer look, Sonoma County lights up the senses.

Nine incorporated cities sprinkle the county and each has an incredibly charming square or downtown. Except for Santa Rosa. For decades, Santa Rosa has lacked in comparison to its quaint neighbor towns, until now.

With the new controversial downtown square complete, the rightful county seat just may have a chance to shine. After all, there’s more to Santa Rosa than the Old Courthouse Square. So giddy-up! Here’s some inspiration for local day tripping.

Set a goal of three wineries max. St. FrancisLandmark, and Chateau St. Jean are the most convenient and stunning local wineries. All are located in Sonoma Valley on Hwy 12 east. Check with the California Welcome Center in Railroad Square – they offer locals buy-one-get-one-free tasting at select wineries.

St.Francis Winery – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

St. Francis Winery Courtyard – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

Landmark Winery – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

Landmark Winery Courtyard – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

Chateau St. Jean Winery – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

Chateau St. Jean Winery Cabana – Photo by Courtney Paige

 

Plan in advance and reserve a massage between 4:30 pm and 6:30 pm at Me Spa. A luxurious day spa located in Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village. Their zero-gravity chairs are divine. The perfect way to wipe away worries…if only for a moment.

Darling Gifts at Me Spa – Photo by Courtney Paige

Make reservations at Monti’s for 7:30 pm – giving ample time to refresh from the spa and wander around the darling outdoor shopping village. Keeping with a serene atmosphere, Monti’s offers tranquil outdoor dining. Small plates with fantastic wine pairings are the usual.  Alas, Monti’s is located just steps away from Me Spa.

Monti’s at Montgomery Village – Photo by Courtney Paige

Santa Rosa’s new Old Courthouse Square is merely a moment away and is currently celebrating a renaissance revival. The new square is rapidly creating an eclectic hustle and bustle. With over 40 sycamore trees, bundles of redwoods and embedded benches dolloped around the square, it’s the perfect place for stargazing.

La Rosa on the Square – Photo by Courtney Paige

Let your hair down with one last stop at La Rosa’s esoteric upstairs bar for a nightcap. The rare brick mission style outdoor porch and dining area never disappoint. All bartenders are consistent with each well-crafted cocktail. The margarita menu is my favorite. It’s no wonder they call La Rosa bartenders mixologists. DJs spin urban beats that make you want to get up and shake off your dinner…and the extra wine you consumed throughout the day.

La Rosa on Fourth – Great Happy Hour – Photo by Courtney Paige

Savor a county seat experience right here in urban-farm central. It’s right here in our own backyard. New restaurants and bars with outdoor seating and live music are popping up like little gems all over town.

Cheers ~

Savor Life and Enjoy!

by Courtney Paige

Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure

Discover the day tripper in you

Do you know there are thousands of free views in the city of San Francisco, and driving a car isn’t the best way to take advantage of the region’s stunning natural beauty? Discover the day tripper in you, and follow us from Sonoma County to San Francisco.

With Sonoma County’s SMART train on the brink of passenger service, a day trip to the city without getting in your car will soon be a reality. Granted this day trip has multiple legs, but isn’t life all about the journey? And who doesn’t like a good set of legs?

Curious to see if a roundtrip venture from Sonoma County to San Francisco could be accomplished in one day without getting in a car, I felt compelled to try. One snag though, the train’s passenger service has been delayed until summer. So, I enlisted an adventurous travel companion and simply drove to the ferry determined not to let logistics get in the way.

Weekend parking is free at the Larkspur Ferry, so we convinced ourselves that perk will make up for the lack of train service. Another benefit Larkspur Ferry offers is the Clipper card – big savings! After jetting across the bay in a quick 35 minute boat ride, we fawn over majestic Coit Tower as the ferry floats into port.

Moments later, we disembarked at San Francisco’s famous Embarcadero ferry building and hit the city of San Francisco on foot with a general idea of our plans but no major commitments. 

The key to navigating the city is to equip yourself with good walking shoes, wear layers and plan the day in little spurts. For this day trip we incorporated intervals of floating, walking, eating, drinking and viewing.

Check out the video to get a more intimate visual on our trip. Enjoy!

We settled on massages at Hotel Vitale Spa located on the Embarcadero – a hop, skip and a jump away. Actually, it’s literally across the street from the ferry building. Even though this hotel caters to tourists, it’s a secret spot for locals who get chilled to the bone with the city’s moist cold weather.

The concierge at Hotel Vitale mentioned a bottomless champagne brunch at La Fusion located on the quaint European alley, Belden Place. An option one can’t refuse. This alley is a treasure trove of quint awning covered restaurants with cozy outdoor heaters.

Next we hopped the trolley for a mere $2 and jetted down to Museum of Modern Art on 3rd Street. MOMA is celebrating their one year multi-million dollar renovation at the end of April with a fancy soiree.

As much as we loved the rooftop massages and outdoor rose petal hot baths at the Vitale Spa, the piece de resistance on this day trip was the Conservatory of Flowers.

Located a few miles west of downtown, the Conservatory of Flowers links Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park. With public transportation as our new BFF we rolled with the flow and stepped off the Muni into another world.

At the pinnacle of Golden Gate Park’s panhandle sits the Conservatory of Flowers. It’s the perfect place to warm up & snuggle on a cold foggy day. Inside, the atmosphere is surprisingly tropical – a sheer contrast to the cool gray city’s urban mecca.

Inspiration is everywhere, so get moving! The world is waiting.

~ Courtney Paige