Cuisine of the World Comes to Hollister’s Ridgemark
by Susan Montgomery
On our way from Southern California to Southern Oregon, we recently spent a brief overnight in Hollister, California, which was at about the halfway mark on our route north. Fortunately, we arrived just in time for one of the Ridgemark Golf & Country Club’s International Dinners. Our welcoming hosts were the Ridgemark’s personable General Manager, Bruce Lewis, and Donnette Silva Carter, the impressive CEO of Bolado Park Event Center and San Benito County Fair.
We have stayed at the Ridgemark before and again enjoyed our spacious room overlooking the picturesque, green rolling hills of the golf course. The land at the Ridgemark has been Audubon-certified as a bird sanctuary. There is nothing like sitting on your room’s patio with a cup of coffee while you savor the tranquility and look for some of the many special birds that visit the property.
We also love visiting Hollister in the San Benito County area, a hidden gem of a region in Central California. It is the ideal peaceful, rural getaway, conveniently located only about two hours from San Francisco or five hours from Los Angeles, and only 40 minutes from San Jose or Monterey Bay. Established as a city in 1872, Hollister, the county seat of San Benito County, still retains much of its early character and charm, despite a devastating earthquake in 1989. The surrounding area is also known for its fertile farmland, Pinnacles National Park (great for hiking), top-notch golf courses and inviting wineries with excellent wines. (See my previous article on San Benito County at http://life-uncorked.com/travel/san-benito-county-a-peaceful-getaway-with-lots-to-do)
After arriving at the Ridgemark, we first had a drink in the resort’s friendly bar, which reminds us of a cheerful supper club in the upper Midwest. We then adjourned to the gaily decorated Public House dining room. It was Spanish night and the decorations and Spanish guitar set the mood, along with a bountiful Spanish buffet, which included seafood paella, empanadas, melon con jamon Serrano, a mixed salad and olives with roasted piquillo peppers—dishes that were both delicious and authentic. Both white and red wine Sangrias were being generously poured throughout the evening. For a while we were magically transported to a festive dining room in Barcelona, along with more than a hundred other happy guests.
Every Thursday night Ridgemark holds an International Dinner. The new owner of the resort, John Wynn, feels that exploring global cultures is a way to build community and that is the goal of these International Nights.
So far, in addition to Spain, themes have focused on Vietnam, America, and Mexico. Themes coming up include: Italy, Germany, China and France. The cost is a very reasonable $24.95 per person. It is definitely worth making a trip to the Ridgemark to savor one of these special dinners. Reservations are necessary at 831-634-2207.
The Ridgemark has all kinds of other activities going on almost every night of the week. For instance, Monday is Buffet Night; Tuesday is Family Fun Night; Wednesday is Karaoke Night; and there is almost always life entertainment on Fridays and Saturdays.
As an extra bonus, after our wonderful evening at the Ridgemark, on our way out of town the next morning, we stopped at Lighthouse 55 Bakery, owned and managed by friendly Lorie Ann Rios. Lorie, and her gracious daugher, Michelle, were there to greet us. Our favorite treats were the bakery’s famous maple bacon bars, but all their pastries, which are freshly made from real butter and fruit, are wonderful. Lois also made her signature chicken salad sandwiches (with green apples and grapes) for us to take on the road.
We were in Hollister for a very brief time, but it was time well spent. Hollister and San Benito County are on the way to and from many west coast destinations and would be a convenient stopping place for so many travelers. Or the area is a worthwhile destination in itself. I know we will be back.
Photos taken by Todd Montgomery.