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The Brunch Bunch

  • California Cowboy Breakfast, made with cannellini beans and a poached egg, by Gillian Kite, at the Craftsman Inn, in Calistoga.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Breakfast and brunch in Wine Country can be a leisurely, pleasure-filled affair, especially if you are getting pampered at one of its many bed-and-breakfast inns or indulging on one of the traditional spring-brunch holidays — Easter and Mother's Day.

The Craftsman Inn in Calistoga, owned by Gillian and Nick Kite of England, serves a wide-ranging buffet that meets the standards of the "full English breakfast" (a famous array of fried eggs and tomatoes, bacon and bread, sausages and beans) but gives it a healthy California twist.

"At the hot station, we will do something like the California Cowboy Breakfast, which is beans, onions, tomatoes and basil," Gillian said. "It's warm, and you can have a poached egg on top, and chicken sausage on the side."

Brunch At The Craftsman Inn

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Then there's a cold buffet, where guests find tempting dollops of homemade yogurt and granola, cold fruit and milk, and a baked good such as a maple oat scone.

"I love to bake," said Gillian, who has 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry. "That's my happy place."

Her seasonal breakfasts made her guests so happy that they demanded to take a bite home with them.

"I make my own granola... and people were asking to buy bags of it," Gillian said. "And I would get people asking for recipes all the time."

At the behest of her husband, she started to package her granola for sale and drew up a proposal for a cookbook on Wine Country breakfasts.

Through a mutual friend, Gillian connected with Gaye Allen of Cobb, in Lake County, a fellow Brit who publishes food-and-wine books through her own company, Meadowlark.

The two women hit it off, and with Nick's help, they produced "Inn Food: Seasonal Breakfasts in the Wine Country," a celebration of all kinds of seasonal morning food.


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