Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Best of the West Award from Bedandbreakfast.com

Bedandbreakfast.com Reviews

Rooms with a view


Times Standard Story and photos by Sharon Letts
Posted: 11/05/2008 01:30:12 AM PST

Trinidad Bay Bed & Breakfast innkeeper Jason Richie was born and raised in Eureka, but he'd like to die in Trinidad -- and it's not due solely to the inn's 1,000-thread-count Egyptian sheets.

"I love being in a small town and knowing the people here and also them knowing me,” he said. “I can see myself being old here and dying here, I love it so much. I feel blessed to be able to live here in this town and in this house.”

The bed and breakfast is small, with just four rooms available, but it sits just across the street from the Trinidad Harbor with clear, expansive views of Trinidad Head, and the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse, making every room at the inn “a room with a view.”

"I love the beauty of Trinidad,” Richie said. “I love the small cottages and what is left of the historic buildings in town and that there are some streets without sidewalks -- the sounds of the buoy bell, the smell in the air, all the birds, seeing the storms come in and out during the winter. I even love it when it is very stormy with a lot rain and wind.”

Richie was living in Trinidad and working in the telecommunications department at Humboldt State University when he learned a few years ago that the historic bed and breakfast was for sale.

"My friend, Michael Morgan, decided to move to Trinidad from San Francisco,” he said. “He was planning to buy some houses in Trinidad and I had heard that the Trinidad Bay Bed & Breakfast was possibly for sale, so I let Mike know. He'd already bought his other house at the opposite corner of the bed and breakfast. He was then able to purchase the bed and breakfast from Don and Corlene Blue, who were the previous innkeepers.” Morgan hired Richie as innkeeper about two years ago. And though he'd never run a bed and breakfast before, Richie knew he loved to bake.

"I had never cooked for people before, but after I took the food safety course and got started trying recipes, I realized that I enjoyed it,” he said.

“Serving breakfast is my favorite part about running the bed and breakfast. It's a great way to get to know the guests and to provide them with a good, hearty meal for the morning.”

Breakfasts at the inn are quite lively. Richie said there is lots of laughing in the dining room and a lot of lingering at the table afterwards over coffee.

"For the guests that want more privacy, I'll deliver a breakfast tray to the two private entrance rooms,” he said. “I have about seven main dishes I can do. The longest I have had a guest stay is about seven days, so I can change the entree each day.”

All of the meals at the inn are made from scratch. Richie uses organic flour, sugar and other organic and local products, including Humboldt Creamery milk and butter, organic Signature Coffee out of Redway and fresh produce from the farmers market.
Every detail at the bed and breakfast is carefully attended to by Richie and his staff, including ironing the sheets and making cookies and other baked goods every day.

"I bake a variety of small muffins and breads,” he said. “I got interested in making peach preserves when my neighbors down the street, Kim and Stan Binnie, had all these peaches from the tree in their backyard. I spent a couple weeks this year just making preserves and jarring those for the next coming year.”

Richie uses the preserves both as a spread and for a French toast dish he makes. He also makes homemade fruit mincemeat used as a topping for baked apples.

"Baked apples have been a part of the breakfast here for 20 years,” he said. “The mincemeat I make has cranberries, apples, orange and lemon zest, currants, spices, brandy, rum and many other ingredients. When blueberries are in season, I'll go out to Wolfsen's blueberry farm in McKinleyville to pick my own.”

Visitors represent the four corners of the world, he said, and many are repeat guests. Richie said locals have been known to get away to the inn, too.

"Guests come from all over Europe, Canada and the United States,” he said. “I had one couple from Tokyo, Japan today. They heard about the bed and breakfast through a recent New York Times article that was published in September 2008.

"There are also quite a few repeat guests who have stayed with all the innkeepers who have run the inn. It's also popular for honeymooners and some locals who celebrate special occasions.”

The Trinidad Bay Bed and Breakfast was honored this year, along with the Ship's Inn Bed and Breakfast in Eureka, as being the “Best of the West” in the annual “Best of BedandBreakfast.com” awards. BedandBreakfast.com is an online bed-and-breakfast directory.

Richie said that reviews of nearly 50,000 bed and breakfasts were submitted to the Web site from guests throughout the world.

"We're grateful for our wonderful guests,” he said, “as their reviews resulted in this recognition and we are honored.”

Those who stay at the bed and breakfast wake up to one of Richie's many baked dishes, and he honors past innkeepers by keeping their featured dishes on the menu, including the baked apples and even halved and sectioned baked grapefruit. Other morning dishes include smoked salmon scrambled eggs, shirred eggs with chicken-apple sausages, and peach French toast or waffles.

However, some dishes he's made his own, such as an egg strata made with brie.

"I found the egg strata recipe in a magazine called Cooking Light,” he said. “I love to prepare this dish because it's an unusual dish that most haven't had. I'm able to have everything chopped and ready to go the night before and put it in the fridge overnight in a baking dish ready to go. In the morning, I wake up and just add the egg mixture and bake it.”

Richie shares the recipe below:

Brie and Egg Strata
To prepare the night before serving, assemble and layer the casserole without the egg mixture; cover and refrigerate. Combine the egg mixture and refrigerate that in a separate container.

In the morning, pour the egg mixture over the bread mixture; allow the strata to stand for 30 minutes before baking.

If desired, substitute a French baguette or sourdough loaf for the flat Italian bread called ciabatta. Freeze the brie for about 15 minutes to make chopping easier.

-- 2 teaspoons olive oil
-- 2 cups chopped onion
-- 1 1/2 cups diced unpeeled Yukon gold potato (1 large)
-- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
-- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
-- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
-- 3/4 pound ciabatta, cut into 1-inch cubes, toasted
-- Cooking spray
-- 4 ounces brie, rind removed and chopped
-- 6 large eggs
-- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
-- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
-- 3 cups of 1 percent low-fat milk
-- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

For casserole:

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, potato and bell pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Combine this mixture and the bread.

Place half of the bread mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish that has been coated with cooking spray.

Sprinkle with half of the brie. Top that with the remaining bread mixture and the remaining brie.

For egg mixture:

Place egg substitute or eggs in a medium bowl. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, herbes de Provence and pepper. Add milk, stirring with a whisk until well-blended.

Pour egg mixture over bread mixture. Let stand 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 F for 50 minutes, or until set. For a brown top, leave in the oven a little bit longer. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

Makes 12 servings.

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