Home Grown John Humprey’s – Ramos House Cafe

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I didn’t intend to spend the day with a bunch of chickens…then read about the Ramos House CafeFresh 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. Blogging 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. A magical place to uncover art galleries, tea houses, a petting zoo and The Farm School on Los Rios offering cooking classes. And 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 Givency heels. But that’s how it is when I get that urge..

Haven’t you ever wanted to eat somewhere that transported you back in time? To some fantasy version of the south rooted in a magical garden, flanked by lemon trees, gurgling fountains and delicious food all stationed next to a railway? 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. What can I say? He wasn’t particularly thrilled when I sprang up like a pesky fly at his back window in my fedora & Burberry trench but his food so exuberantly created and fresher than anything even the settlers could have mustered. 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 Crab Hash with bacon scrambled eggs and baby spinach potato corn buttermilk pancakes with field greens and smoked chili remoulade. Holy, chicken feed! Even my Burberry had a hot flash! Humphrey’s 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. 

Is this what 1881 feels like? On top of the restaurant’s utter charm with its thatched vine roof and enough history to fill a few hen houses, this place has that retro vintage feel – chopped logs, wine corked water fountain and an outhouse washroom. Rumor even has it the wine cellar beneath the main bedroom was once a hideout for vaqueros from their would-be captors. We love a good rumor, and Humphreys rather enticing too, especially after a few Bloody Mary’s. (Lordy, I downed mine in minutes, not very ladylike of me). 
Just make sure you enter through the front door and not the back window…
* from the archives

1 Comment

  1. elaine barnard

    November 6, 2013 at 1:07 am

    I’m heading there. elaine

With an Italian background, she cites her Mother and grandmother ( Mamie ) as the major influence of her love for food.  Yes, homemade pasta hung from the clothesline in the kitchen and rolling 100 meat balls for a holiday dinner was the norm.  Raised in Pennsylvania. she spent time in Atlanta, Georgia and ultimately settled along the stunning coast of Laguna Beach, Ca. Self taught in everything, she learned to appreciate the amazing flavors, scents and uses for exotic herbs and spices and applies her knowledge to cooking today. Despite enjoying other creative endeavors like painting, photography and clothing design, she realized she would never love another career the way she loves all the stories surrounding food.  And it's capturing those stories that has not only become her greatest passion but a culinary drug worth passing around!  After all, food is a shared experience and no one better to share it with than the entire world. And thus the Food Stalker was born, utilizing all that passion and her fearlessness to capture even the most impossible stories. It's one thing to write about food, but far more exciting to actually capture it and all those stories that make every scent come to life.  And once she sets out, there's no stopping her, because no one follows that scent better than her---and no telling where she'll end up next.  

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