In the six years since the inaugural Birthday Bakery Ride, the tradition has morphed from a single day of bike-riding, bakery-fueled glory into an entire weekend of riding and eating, soaking up this special little speck of Sonoma. It’s gone from being a simple day of goodness into a celebration of all the goodness that’s around, if we simply look for it.
The weekend begins with a long-ish but lovely drive from San Francisco up to a little farmhouse, set on a hillside, sandwiched between olive and holly groves. We pack the cars with friends, and bikes, and ingredients to cook all weekend (give or take a little of this or that we can gather on the property.) If you follow the land through the olives, you’ll find a little garden that’s typically bursting with kale when we visit in the winter, but carries a bumper crop of carrots, herbs, radishes and beets in the summer. If you follow the land through the holly, you’ll hit a little ferny gully hidden by Redwoods and a hammock hanging somewhere hidden between them, perfect for enjoying a snack or a nap or an adult beverage. Between the holly and the olives, there are Meyer lemon trees. They scent the air around us, and flavor the meals we enjoy, and frankly have become somewhat of a fixture in my mind of what the weekend symbolizes: I come to celebrate another year of life where I ask for all the challenges – great and small. I ask for the lemons, to make amazing lemonade.
Year after year, the formula for a great weekend is the same: we arrive, we cook, we drink. We wake in the morning, cook again, eat, ride, drink, cook and eat again. And we repeat it for as many days as our schedule will allow. Sprinkled over the days are a few culinary traditions too. One evening we typically have some sort of easy brown butter pasta. We start mornings with homemade oatmeal and a trip to the bakery down the road for sticky buns. I bake a maple cake with crystallized maple frosting which only seems to be more and more delicious the more times I bake it. But all through the weekend we’re squeezing and zesting lemons, drinking their juices and brightening up our meals with their floral scents and zesty rinds. This year, Kate came up with a whiskey cocktail with them and, while we don’t have a name for it yet, it’s become a tradition for certain.
The ingredients here are easy (they were already included in our minimal grocery shopping for the weekend,) and you need only a spoon – instead of a cocktail shaker – to mix them up. I’ve thought about adding a splash of sparkling wine, and swapping out the maple for honey here but honestly, I’m content with this one just as it is.
I brought back an armload of lemons from the trees in my suitcase – as if to eat up the goodness of this place and this tradition for a few extra days. So far, so good. We’ve been raising glasses to simple traditions all week!
If you are looking for more photos of the weekend, peep my Instagram feed here! And, keep an eye out for the next days for all the new ways I’m using those lemons!
Enjoy! – L
- 1 1/2 ounces whiskey (rye or bourbon)
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
- 1/4 to 1/2 ounce maple syrup
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, or in a tall glass. Shake or stir vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass with ice. Garnish w/freshly grated nutmeg.