On a foggy Sunday in January 2007, several weeks after a fire razed Manka’s Inverness Lodge in Northern California, hundreds of mourners poured into the Manka’s boathouse on Tomales Bay. They brought wheels of artisanal cheese, bottles of local wine and oysters pulled from nearby beds.
They’d come to pay their respects to the old hunting lodge in the woods high above the water, which co-owners Margaret Grade and Daniel DeLong had turned into a legendary retreat, a winding hour-and-a-half drive from San Francisco. Thomas Keller celebrated his birthday there, and Prince Charles and Camilla had visited for dinner, joining the farmers who grew the ingredients for their nine-course meal. Locavores before the term existed, Grade and DeLong sourced the best ingredients in West Marin. One guest was kindly told that eggs, though on the breakfast menu in the lodge, couldn’t be delivered to his $600-a-night cabin, 40 feet away, because “The chef does not like the eggs to travel too far from the flame.”
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The boathouse gathering had the look and feel of a funeral. People cried. Condolence letters from around the globe hung on the walls. Cards read, “Born: 1917. Died: December 27, 2006. Reborn: Any moment now.”