Rams Gate & The Fremont Diner

The smell of the Nashville Chicken tantalizes me as I sit outside The Fremont Diner*, waiting for my text to come. It may be another twenty or thirty minutes before I can finally be greeted by a waiter or waitress to smile that perfect of questions, “what would you like to order today?” I knew what I wanted.

I had reservations this morning for Ram’s Gate Winery. Their winter release party was scheduled for this morning and this afternoon. Thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal, and of course taking my time doing the things I was doing in the morning (as I have a history of doing), I was late for my 11 AM reso, not arriving till 12:15 PM.

As I drove past the gate, up the hill, parked and walked inside, music was playing and there were hordes of people in the multiple tasting rooms. My favourite word of the past few weeks, everyone and everything was ‘festive’. By the time I got my bearings straight with my first healthy pour of their 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, I knew right way, “I can’t rush this!” With only thirty minutes left, even though the Super Bowl was still a week away, I called an audible. Instead of making a morning of it, I would make it a day. 

I had time on my side. I had nowhere to hide. I had a smile on my face.I had to come back to this place.

Perhaps I was not meant to join the 11 AM crowd and what lay ahead for me on this day would instead start at 1 PM.  That’s the mindset I took into my thoughts leaving the vineyard, and later while I sat waiting for the Nashville Chicken at the Fremont Diner.

At the 17 minute mark, I received a text, the one I’d been waiting for: “Your table is ready.” I had three minutes to say yes. It wouldn’t take me three seconds. I immediately felt like I was in a Bugs Bunny or Tom & Jerry cartoon. My feet gave way, lifting itself off the ground, my eyes half closed, my nose taking me on a magic carpet ride. “A whole new world. A new fantastic point of view…” (I can’t get that song out of my head, but that’s a story for another day — a twelve-plus minute story worth telling.) The host sat me at the bar, the sounds of the Lumineers playing overhead, their foot-stomping music accompanied by the sounds of food crackling on the restaurant-grade stovetop.

There was a whole lotta life going around all over and around me. Mel’s Diner would have been proud, and maybe even impressed. The two women next to me busily engaged in conversation, visiting from Santa Barbara having a day in wine country, stopped on their tracks. Cos…

The food came. Nashville Chicken served on top of a thick slice of white bread, homemade pickles and collard greens. Less than thirty seconds later, they ordered the same thing. It took less time for me to use my paws to break into the chicken.

For the next hour, I was busy. The pickles were perfectly made, not too tart but slightly sweet and subtle. It complemented the chicken just right, fiery ruby red and deliciously hot. My lips were quite a sight. By the time I had finished it, its spices and oil had the bread sopping. My nose was wet. My lips were a bright red from the cayenne. This was most definitely not healthy, but the deal I made with myself years ago of not making any resolutions till February still held true. I still had three days. I was honoring that commitment with each and every spicy and savory bite.

It was time for Ram’s Gate Winery.

Unlike the morning, this time I was ten minutes early. Like this morning, I was feeling a bit sad that I was alone. That would changed very quickly. I met a woman in line for one of the pourings. She was visiting from Toronto immediately quite obvious with a wonderfully strong Canadian accent; and before long I was sitting at the table with five of her friends.

I made my way from one tasting room to the other. A band played music. Waiters served hors d’oeuvres. Friends and strangers alike partook in each other’s companies. And of course, we partook in a bunch of wine.

I had my own order in what I drank, when I drank it, and how.

  • 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, Carneros
  • 2014 Grenache, El Diablo
  • 2014 Vent de Colline, Estate
  • 2014 Syrah, Durell
  • 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Winemaker’s Cuvee

They were all amazing, my favourite most certainly being the Vent de Colline.

I said goodbye to my new friends. I have no idea if I’ll see any of them again, but perhaps that’s not the point.

*Note. the Fremont Diner closed its doors and in its wake,
Boxcar has opened. It’s awesome too.

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