Lest you think we gals at Here Comes The Guide have anything against men (we don’t—we actually adore them!), I’d like to introduce you to one of our most valued contributing writers. Patrick Totty delights all of us with his wit, evocative prose and the insights of a happily married man.
I’ve written for Here Comes the Guide for almost nine years, so marriage is no stranger to me. In fact, I’ve been married 33 years, which means my wife and I have come to agree on many things. One of them is that the drive to the Mendocino County Coast along Highway 128 is one of the pleasantest in California. Winding through hills carpeted with fragrant oak, laurel and lofty redwoods, the valley overlooks thousands of acres of premium vineyards.
We’ve found that the best way to reward ourselves for reaching the sea is with a stay at the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek. The inn is tucked against gardens and deep woods, with a private path to an ocean cove… But the main appeal is that you will never, ever feel the stamp of the cookie-cutter here. Every accommodation is different – we especially loved the little stand-alone cabin with an observation deck (the better to listen to courting critters and watch a slowed-down world go by). During our last stay, my wife and I found that the private hot tub has its own benefits: The warm water freed up our joints, which led to some moves we hadn’t practiced for awhile. It was nice to pretend to be a 20-year-old again! Probably everybody who comes here feels like a 20-year-old for the night.
Read other articles by Patrick Totty:
They Lived Happily Ever After: Divorce Proofing Your Marriage
The Last Taboo: How Talking About Money Can Save Your Marriage
Ten Rules to Live By
Every Valentine’s day, my husband Jaya brings me truffles from The Candy House of Davis, a wonderful chocolatier in Davis, CA. Each box comes with a card, picturing each of the 30 different kinds of truffles they make by hand. By comparing the way the truffle looks to the picture, you can find out what flavor ganache is inside. Whether it be Irish Creame, Decadence, Grand Marnier or White Russian, each one is so beautiful I almost want to save them… but of course, I never do. Each one I taste is more delicious than the one before.
For a wedding present, almost 4 years ago, my wonderful husband presented me with a Golden Oke from Suedy’s Koo-ki Sushi in San Jose. What does this have to do with chocolate, you ask? Believe it or not, this scrumptious looking sushi is made entirely out of chocolate. Sushi is one of our favorite foods, and receiving this incredible, hand-made chocolate version just blew me away. Needless to say, it didn’t last the night!
Another amazing chocolatier that has recently come to my attention is Bittersweet, the chocolate café. Some friends of ours took us here for dessert when we were visiting in the Rockridge area of Oakland last weekend. It’s a tiny café; we had to sit outside on the sidewalk because all the inside seats were taken. The wall to the right is filled with chocolate candy bars: exotic, fair trade, organic and unusual. Behind the counter, there are chocolate drinks made to order, and pastries and desserts. Jaya ordered the chocolate Mousse Cake. He describes it as the perfect balance of chocolate, mousse and cake. The contrast in textures made the dessert very special. Our friend Jeff ordered The Bittersweet, a non-dairy chocolate drink. This is advertised as ‘a deeply chocolate experience’ and we all agreed.
At Here Comes The Guide, we’re not just experts on all things wedding: we’re also extremely knowledgeable chocolate connoisseurs. We’ve been tireless chocolate taste-testers for years—eating, judging, then trying just a little bit more to be absolutely sure of our decision. With Valentine’s Day coming up, we thought it was time to impart some of our expertise to you for all your gift-giving needs. And if you need an extra box to give you a little moral support during the wedding planning process, we completely encourage that.
Between Real Simple magazine and the tragically short-lived Blueprint, at least I can pretend to be hip and organized, right? I fell hard for Real Simple when I was still planning my wedding and getting ready to move in to my first post-“I do” apartment. I wanted to learn how to be a 21st century domestic goddess fast, and Real Simple gave me the practical tips and tricks for planning meals, cleaning and decorating….without assuming I had ample time to decoupage all my light switch plates or design my own microwave cozy. While I respect those who can do that stuff, I’m not one of them…and Real Simple seems to get that about my generation.
I can only imagine what the new Real Simple Weddings magazine, which officially launched this week, will be like—and what I’m imagining is pretty darn good. If you’ve managed to snag an early copy at Crate and Barrel, I’d love to hear what Real (Simple) Brides think of it.