This past Sunday I ventured out of the Stanford Inn/Mendocino area to check out the Comptche BBQ at the Volunteer Fire Department, about a half hour up the road from the Inn. I don’t have a car here, which makes getting out of the immediate area slightly complicated, but I was able to catch a ride with one of the farm interns. Though it’s so beautiful at the inn that I have no complaints about sticking around!
Rachel, Tania, Susana (the farm interns) and I left around 1 to get out to Sadhana’s house in Comptche to have some (vegan) food before we made it to the barbecue. Sadhana is the chef at the Ravens’ Restaurant at the inn! But we were running a little late, so when we made it to her address and didn’t see any cars we assumed they had gone to the fire department already. Of course, when we got to the fire department and didn’t see them we decided to go back to their house, and realized we were at the wrong address before. But when we found the right driveway the gate was locked, and with no cell service we were stuck! So we headed back to the barbecue and hung around until everyone else arrived. Back on the East Coast we have cell service pretty much everywhere, so I’m not used to plans falling through due to lack of communication! It was pretty funny.
The barbecue was so great! It was at least 10 degrees warmer in Comptche than it was at the inn, and so sunny. There was lots of food (green salad, potato salad, baked beans and more were all on the menu), and a huge pie selection as well! None of it was vegan, but I saw salted caramel, apple cinnamon, peach, apple/berry, crumble, and peach/apricot/nectarine just to name a few. They even had gluten-free pies sweetened with stevia, which I thought was so awesome. I gotta say, you probably wouldn’t see that at a big community barbecue in Connecticut. While food items like those are available, California is definitely a few steps ahead of us there.
There was also this awesome looking bar, I loved the set up with the wooden signs and firefighters’ boots for tips!
Next up, we turned to dancing. One of the women who works at the inn was singing in the band that was playing, so of course we got out on the dance floor. I love to dance, especially at outdoor parties like that one with friends. The music was great, too, with some upbeat songs and some slower ones, all with a bluegrass feel. Our moves might not have been the most graceful, but I think we rocked it.
Something that was really unexpectedly cool was how no one was on their cell phones, mostly just due to the fact that there was no service where the barbecue was. That never happens back in Connecticut, since you can get a cell signal pretty much anywhere, and people are always scrolling through Facebook or Instagram when they’re out at big parties like that. I think I spent at least five minutes dumbfounded by how everyone there was actually present in that moment. It was pretty awesome.
Later, we finally made it back to Sadhana’s house where we got to enjoy some of the vegan food that we missed before! There was a delicious potato salad with tons of parsley (potato salad with a vinegar base is one of my favorite summertime foods), chips and guacamole and salsa, and tacos with stir-fry veggies. The salsa was spiiiiiicy, and Sadhana knew before I even said anything that my tastebuds were on fire! I’m not so great with spicy foods.
Her husband, Clay, who works in the garden at the inn grabbed a variety of greens from their own garden for us to make a salad with as well! It was so much fun chilling out at her house, listening to music, and making dinner.
I’m so glad I made it to the barbecue! It was awesome to get to hang out with all the locals, too, since I’m normally around people visiting the inn (which is also great). It’s interesting to see how my expectations for what people here would be like compare with the reality. Everyone is definitely as laid back as I imagined, but there were definitely a lot more people wearing cowboy boots and the like than I would have thought. It’s a nice change. As much as I am a New Englander at heart, I think it’s good to try living in a place that isn’t always focused on jumping from one project to the next.
My whole experience at the barbecue also speaks to how friendly and enthusiastic the staff and interns from the inn are. I was welcomed into the bunch as soon as I got here, and their passion definitely extends to the work they all do at the inn. I think one of the reasons guests enjoy such a personal experience is because of the wonderful people that I work with! The sense of community in Comptche (and Mendocino) is awesome too–it’s so cool being in a place where everyone really knows their neighbors.
This article was written by monica