* From the archives
I didn’t intend to spend the day with a bunch of chickens. Then read about the Ramos House Cafe. Fresh herb garden, ice cream churned out back, and everything cooked from scratch in a former house built in 1881. I knew I shouldn’t have turned on the computer. And only 20 minutes away too. So was the accountant, who husband was expecting me to meet. Unless I got amnesia, which I did. Taxes could wait, but churned ice cream couldn’t. My father used to make it too, so blame it on him. And that was that. Out the door and down the coast to San Juan Capistrano, one of the oldest towns in California. And then that cafe, tucked behind a train station, like a set right out of “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Except Idgie wouldn’t have raced across the tracks in 4 inch Givenchy heels. But that’s how it is when I get that urge. A worker yelled. Train blared. And there I went, across the tracks and down a pathway full of chickens. If Idgie had appeared, I wouldn’t have been surprised. But owner/chef John Humphreys was when I crept up to his back window in my fedora and Burberry trench. Hardly home cooking attire, but at least the chickens were impressed. He was too after I grabbed a skillet and got in the home cooking groove. And his sensational — duck cakes, stuffed squash blossoms, potato, corn and buttermilk pancakes with field greens and smoked chili remoulade. Holy, chicken feed! Even my Burberry had a hot flash. But Humphreys just poured a beer. “That’s what cooking is,” he said. “Like a great love affair, worth any risk.” Glad I took one and hightailed it across those tracks. Husband, on the other hand. Let’s just say he and accountant are still waiting.