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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Breakfast at Gilwoods

© Another Day in the Country

It is a phenomena of country life that in order to find anything unusual you have to travel some distance. I drive at least seven miles to get gas,  20 miles, one way, to go to the dentist, 36 miles to exercise and get groceries, 50 miles to shop or go to a movie, and the list keeps adding up.

City dwellers have amenities available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, down the block or within a couple of miles. 

“The city never sleeps,” they say. If you have a hankering for something to eat, there’s sure to be a spot open at a long list of restaurants all night long. Or if you have money burning a hole in your pocket, you can find somewhere to spend it within walking distance, any hour of the day.

After living in the country for almost 20 years, I’m amazed every time I go into a big city — like Wichita, for instance, at the abundance of spending opportunities.  We drive down Rock Road and I’m aghast at all the different kinds of stores available. 

“Who buys all this stuff?” I wonder. “What on earth do they all sell that someone needs?”

Country dwellers have fewer options. We’re lucky if we have one restaurant, gas station or grocery store, within a 10 mile radius. In Ramona, I have one of each — all in other towns, of course.

Saturday morning my sister said, “How about going to Durham for breakfast?” I was in the car before she could change her mind.  We didn’t even blink at driving 20 miles for a meal because we were anticipating homemade cinnamon rolls at Main Street Cafe. 

As we turned onto Main Street in Durham, the town seemed strangely quiet.  Sure enough, there was a sign on the cafe door that the owners were gone for the weekend. “Ohhhh,” we said collectively. “We’re happy Wendell had a weekend off, but our mouths were watering for those rolls with piping hot coffee.”

“Let’s try Tampa,” I said, after all, part of our Saturday morning errand included a stop at the bank there. After we’d done what my old friend Sol used to call, “visiting his money,” we asked, “Is the restaurant open?”

“No, sorry,” came the answer.

“What about Lindsborg?” my sister said, “We could call our friend, Michaela, and see if she’d like to join us for breakfast.”

While I was calculating mileage to Lindsborg, our smart phone had her on the line only to discover that she’d already had breakfast.

“Ok,” I said, “That’s it! Let’s go eat at Gilwoods.” Jess gave me that disbelieving look.

Now Gilwoods has been my favorite breakfast haunt for well over 30 years. It’s smack in the middle of the Napa Valley in the bustling little town of St. Helena, California.

It’s a lovely hometown eating spot where the locals gather, and it’s so much fun to have breakfast there because lots of people do it and you are bound to see someone you know.

Sitting on Main Street, Gilwoods has big windows that open out toward the sidewalk. My favorite spot is right next to the front window, wedged into a corner — a table for three.

The guy at the door is friendly and welcoming, “Sit at any open table,” he says, and the minute you sit down there’s a steaming cup of their signature coffee at your table.  They have a variety of healthier than normal goodies on the menu but my favorite is a spinach omelet with fresh salsa.

So, when I’m in Kansas, yearning for something special for breakfast, I’ll often make myself a spinach omelet with fresh salsa, a toasted English muffin topped with blackberry jam and coffee — no cream.

“I’m eating at Gilwoods,” I’ll say, even though I’m sitting at my very own table in Ramona.

“I think I’ll have a spanish omelet, green peppers, tomato, mushrooms,” Jess said when we arrived back in my kitchen. She’s not too fond of spinach. 

“No onions, please,” she said. Special food, calls for special dishes, so I get out the black oblong pottery plates — perfect for an omelet — click down the toaster, find some jam, pour the coffee and grin.  We are having “Breakfast at Gilwoods,” on another day in the country.

Last modified March 14, 2019

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