Classes ended November 29th, but my first final wasn’t until December 11th! So, Soph & I decided to go to Idyllwild for a week to hang around, relax, and maybe see some snow. We had been in the Summer in the past, and it was neat to see how much the town changes with the seasons.
Last time we went, we stayed in an A-frame close to town, but for this trip we decided to stay in another A-frame but about 10 minutes outside of town in Pine-Cove. We didn’t see any neighbors for our entire trip! The view from our house was beautiful and there was plenty of room on property for Bella to run around during the day and tire herself out.
The house itself was pretty modern, but it’s only source of heat was a wood burning stove! Thank god Sophia was with, because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing!
When we first checked in, the house was freezing, but once we got the stove burning, I was walking around the house in a tank-top. Trying to control the temperature was next to impossible, probably because we just didn’t know what we were doing, so we had to open the door multiple times to let the cold air in!
Next time, I’ll go with a house with heat, but it was a cool experience. Felt as close as I ever will to a mountain man as I was picking up logs of wood from the grocery store.
Normally, I go day by day what we did in town. But, since finals were right when we got back, everyday basically went the exact same. Wakeup, I’d go into town for coffee and to take some calls and work. Come back to the house with food for Sophia, study and work more, watch whatever football or basketball games were on, go play with Bella, then head out for dinner or stay in and cook!
By no means was it an exciting trip, but it was nice to just relax and spend some focused time on work and studying.
LA quality food in the middle of Idyllwild? Surprisingly, yes! I’m convinced Ferro is a retiree’s pet project who has enough capital to support such an endeavor in the middle of nowhere, which is why Ferro is so awesome.
This time we went on a Tuesday night, for an intimate dinner in the main dining room/bar area of the restaurant. There were only a few other couples, it felt like private dining! To pair with the food, there was a live jazz ensemble of 4 performing improv in the corner. Since it was SO intimate, I ended up having to shout at Sophia a few times to be heard, but the music was nice.
Branzino con Limone
Feeling confident that you can debone a fish? Then go for the branzino. Well-executed, light, and flaky, the Branzino is complemented by a polenta mash and fresh vegetables. Aside from the few bones I almost ate, this was a great healthy dish. If you’re looking to stay away from the pizza or pasta, I’d go with this for sure.
Rabbit (Coniglio alla Cacciatore)
Rabbit for dinner? Could that cute little furry animal really taste good? Apparently, yes! I guess we were avoiding the carbs tonight, because Sophia went with the rabbit smothered in a red sauce and served with fresh vegetables as well. I thought it was going to be too gamey for my taste, but the seasoning complemented it well and the red sauce cut the game flavor a bit. The meat was tender and juicy, and I honestly wouldn’t have guessed that it was rabbit.
Still, it wasn’t my favorite. I’d get it to try it if you’ve never had rabbit before, but there are just limitations with how good you can make some things taste. And there’s a reason why steak is on every restaurant’s menu and not rabbit 🙂
Chocolate Torte (Torta al Cioccolato)
Made with 70% dark chocolate, this is akin to eating a brick of melted chocolate with a bit of cake mouthfeel. Goes great with the remnants of your bottle of red from the main course. You have to get this!
The Lumber Mill Bar and Grill
The quintessential Idyllwild food experience, The Lumber Mill is right at the beginning of town off Highway 243. A classic small-town bar & eatery, the food here is no frills, not super healthy, absolutely delicious, and goes great with their selection of local beers on tap and 2 page cocktail list.
After chatting it up with who appeared to be the local town drunk, Sophia and I got our first round of drinks. I went with water and she got the Mexican Bulldog (Jose Cuervo, Cointreau, sweet n sour, Corona). The presentation of this thing was pretty crazy, with an entire Corona dumped into the glass.
Unfortunately, they were out of the bison ribs this night, so I went with the pork ribs. They were awesome. The meat was so tender that it just fell right off the bone. It was almost as if I was just eating pulled pork. No sauce required for these bad boys, order them dry and taste the real rib flavor.
I was feeling risky and went with the baked beans as a side. They were kind of gross but super delicious, if that makes sense. I upgraded to the sweet potato fries because Sophia hates sweet potatoes and I knew she wouldn’t steal any of mine.
Typically, when I’m ordering a burger, I always go for the option with bacon & avocado on it. But, per recommendation of our waiter, we decided to go with his favorite burger, the Mushroom Burger.
Wow. Top 3 burger I’ve ever had. For starters, the thing was massive. A burger truly fit for a king. The bun, which is a big differentiator for me between a good and great burger, was slightly toasted to give a nice, mild crunchiness with each bite. The 1000 island sauce went perfectly with the mushrooms and Swiss cheese.
This burger was truly a piece of art. Fortunately, I had my ribs to occupy myself with as well, so I didn’t scarf it down in 2 minutes and piss off Sophia. Next time, I’m just going to get 3 of these and order a cab home when I can’t walk from all the food.
Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew
A cute coffee shop at the beginning of town, owned by a local couple who also happen to be a family of veterans, Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew serves up delicious coffee, but even better sandwiches!
I went here every morning except one to get coffee, work (they have free wifi), and pick up a sandwich to bring back for Sophia. The staff is super friendly and made up of all locals during the non-Summer months. When others are in the shop, you can really tell how tight knit of a community Idyllwild is.
I don’t like sandwiches usually, but the ones here are AMAZING. Why? Each of their 6 bread options is freshly baked every morning. We always opt for the fresh, crunchy sourdough bread, which quite frankly would taste amazing on its own, but with some meat, bacon, and avocado between the slices it’s next level delicious.
As a small business owner, there’s something refreshing about seeing small local businesses thrive, especially in a remote area. Sometimes, these places can be a little bit run down and the service not so great, but the owners and the staff clearly cared about their shop and their customers.
Part of what makes Idyllwild so cool is all the mom & pop shops, and Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew is no different. If you’re a coffee lover or looking for a quick bite pre or post town adventuring or hike, you have to stop at Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew!
Mile High Cafe
Korean food in Idyllwild? There’s only one place, but it’s not half bad! We stopped here to pick up food to bring back for lunch, and while not great, it definitely wasn’t bad. If you’re craving some Asian food, this wouldn’t be the worst place in the world to go. But if you’re game for anything, I’d go with one of the other restaurants closer to center of town.
Fratello’s Ristorante & Pizzeria
This place is okay, but I’ll never be back. While I understand it’s hard to be properly staffed when you have a restaurant in a remote town, this was just unbearable. I placed my pick up order, a pizza and a veal dish, and was told it’d be ready in 35 minutes, at 8PM.
I show up at 810, worried that my food had been sitting out for 10 minutes and would be cold. Boy was I wrong. By the time 855 came around, I FINALLY had my food and was headed back to the house.
The food was okay, but nothing, and I mean nothing, is worth waiting 55 minutes past when it was supposed to be ready.
BY FAR the highlight of the trip was finishing up our two pieces of pottery that we had started when we visited in September. During our first visit back in September, we actually sculpted and made the design with the clay. Our 2nd visit in December was to actually glaze the pottery, designing the colors before it got fired.
My cup with Bella on it turned out great. Sophia’s on the other hand, could’ve gotten a bit more love and care. They didn’t exactly tell us how often we had to apply the glaze to make it show up well after firing. So, the inside of my cup turned out BRIGHT red, but luckily it looks great! But Sophia’s vase is missing color in places altogether on the outside.
Coloration flaws aside, I’d totally recommend going to Mountain Pottery on your visit to Idyllwild. It takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how in depth you want your piece to be, and it can serve as a great souvenir that’s way more memorable than some tchotchke from a shop.Loading Likes...