A Weekend in Mendocino

Today we invite you on a road trip to Mendocino, in Northern California, with TofC contributor and super friend, Ingrid Pankonin. Ingrid is the owner of Miel Cooking, a cooking company based in Oakland, California. Whether cooking an elegant private dinner at the home of a Countess in Piedmont, Italy, designing a custom kitchen garden, or cooking a casual lunch at your home among family and friends, she always amazes and inspires with her delicious food and infectious laughter. She rules.

I was heading up to get out of the city for a few days and visit a handful of my homies who live throughout Mendocino county, so I thought I’d document my path – many nooks of goodness await us in the Anderson Valley and beyond!

My friend Ryan invited me over to cook dinner with him at his beautiful property outside of Philo; his kitchen is housed in a converted trailer and he has a kick-ass grill.  Ryan used to own a restaurant in San Francisco and is a great friend with whom to geek out on food.  He suggested we put some lamb on the grill, so I picked up a leg, whipped up a little harissa and yogurt sauce and hit the road with the cooler and surfboard!

First stop – Boonville: I always like to get a coffee at Mosswood Market and have a goat cheese and chorizo empanada, or a chocolate chip Danish.  They close early, so for an afternoon pick-me-up, head a couple of doors down to Paysanne, the little ice cream and sweets shop.

Also not to be missed, sandwiched right between those two: Farmhouse Mercantile.  This combination general store/home décor shop/local goods pantry is unlike any other small-town shop I’ve ever seen, with a well-curated selection of Northern California goods.  Some standouts: gorgeous burl-wood bowls and plates by Boonville resident Jim Gibson, inlaid wooden rolling pins by Tom McFadden, fallen-wood cutting boards made by coastal woodworker Gary Wandry, apple products from Bates and Schmitt/The Apple Farm (who also co-own the Mercantile), and stunning table linens and aprons by Suzan Topales, whose atelier is in the back of the shop.  They also carry basic kitchen tools, Schott Zwiesel wine glasses, and the Marseille soap in glass bottles from Compagnie de Provence, among countless other treasures.

The next stop was the Navarro Vineyards tasting room – I always end up buying a lot more wine than I mean to!  I tasted most of what they were pouring and left with a few bottles of their dry Riesling and Grenache Rosé. They make delicious Pinot Noirs and Alsatian varietals, and also are one of the only wineries to sell the perfumed juice from wine grapes like Pinot Noir and Gewürtztraminer.

I made it up to Ryan’s and took a quick tour of the garden, which is not only taller, but more extensive, each time I visit!  With glasses of rosé, we fired up the grill, pounded some mint and garlic for the lamb, and set to work prepping the rest of dinner – farro with scallions and butter, grilled ribbons of zucchini from the garden, and chocolate cake some friends brought – yumtown!

The next day my friend Lindsay and I drove out to the coast to have a surf. Mendocino is a lovely town with lots of art galleries and shops, a great little museum, and a great natural foods store housed in an old church, Corners of the Mouth.  Small, windy conditions at Big River beach Mendo forced us north, but not before stopping for coffee at Moody’s.  We ended up in the water at Blue’s beach, north of Fort Bragg, and what a beautiful day!  The stunning Mendocino coast can be cold and wind-whipped and brutal, but it was warm and relatively calm, and we had the best time, just us and a couple of other people in the water.  Passing a man casting his net for surf smelt, as well as people camping on the beach, we headed back south and inland to our friend Max’s house for dinner – lentil dahl, rice, and gingery roasted baby bok choys – a perfect post-surf meal.  We went home and hit the hay, exhausted and happy.  

The next morning, after coffee from Thanksgiving Coffee Company (based in Fort Bragg), I jumped in the car to go home – a little sad to leave beautiful Mendocino and my friends there, but looking forward to my next visit and something new to discover!

Here are some tips for what to do and where to go in the Mendocino area:


         Boonville hotel

         The Apple Farm in Philo

         Hendy Woods in Philo


         Mosswood Market in Boonville - (707)895.3635

         Farmhouse Mercantile in Boonville

         Gowan’s oak tree in Philo – a roadside produce stand

         Corners of the mouth in Mendocino


         Navarro Vineyards in Philo

         Roederer in Philo – Sparkling wine producer

         Anderson Valley Brewing in Boonville

         North Coast Brewing in Fort Bragg

         Wine events – Anderson Valley Winegrower’s Association
         Not-So-Simple Living Fair, Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Boonville Beer Festival
         Swim in the Navarro River – wherever you can!  Ask a local!

         Big River Beach in Mendocino
         Lots of other beaches – Mendocino to Westport and beyond…

Text and photos: Ingrid Pankonin


  1. I LOVE IT! Best Evah! XOXOXO

  2. The mercantile is gorgeous! I'd like to visit that one day. Good post! Nice spots for culinary experience!


  3. It is first time to see wooden bowls, plates and jars. I am from Sherwood Park Hotel

  4. I recently spent about a week in Spain, but Barcelona is actually one place we did not go. We did go to Madrid (and the castle!) and Sevilla, Granada and another small town in the Andalucia (sp??) region. Your pictures are beautiful!
    vakantie rojales villa


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