Monday, April 27, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Amador City, Buffalo Chips Emporium

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Buffalo Chips Emporium  14175 Hwy. 49, (209) 267-0570.  B-L W-Sun; $.  No cards.  Some folks buy just a simple cone here and then sit outside on one of the weathered benches to leisurely watch the busy world drive by.  Others prefer to sit inside what was once the town's Wells Fargo Bank and indulge in a fancy fountain item.  Breakfast includes omelettes; lunch brings on sandwiches and burgers; and the house specialty is homemade pie.  Many of the antique decorations are for sale.

Buffalo Chips Emporium in Amador City, California

sign at Buffalo Chips Emporium in Amador City, California

candy counter at Buffalo Chips Emporium in Amador City, California
Buffalo Chips Emporium on Urbanspoon

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, April 17, 2015

San Francisco: The Pub at Ghirardelli Square


The Pub at Ghirardelli Square  851 Beach St./Hyde St., in Ghirardelli Square, (415) 351-0500.  L-D daily; $$.  Not your typical dark Irish pub, this sleek spot has a bright contemporary industrial decor accented with rustic grey-wood wall planks and leather banquettes.  It is located on the ground floor of Ghirardelli Square and opens to the street and park and to views of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.  Music is loud and surfaces are hard, so it gets noisy.  It is the antithisis of cozy, yet welcoming.  Booths and sidewalk tables with bay views are also available. 
bar at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco

The best news, though, is that the kitchen produces some excellent barbeque, and prices are fair for this touristy area.  I loved my pulled pork sandwich topped with slaw, and the brisket with its exceptional sauce is outstanding.
pulled pork sandwich at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco

brisket at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco

We accented the dishes perfectly with a draft Lagunitas IPA and Stella Artois Lager.  Raves are also given to the burgers—the Gucci with mushrooms and truffle aioli, the espresso rub with bacon and blue cheese (decaf is not an option), and the quinoa and kale for vegetarians—and to the mac & cheese—choose the version with foie gras, truffle, chili, or blue cheese with buffalo-wing sauce.  The Tommy tater tots tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce with blue cheese and the southern fried chicken also interested me but there simply was no space.  Portions are generous.  The perfect dessert is chocolate chip cookies made with Ghirardelli chocolate, but you can also wander up into the square and get a famous sundae.
chocolate chip cookies at The Pub at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco
The Pub at Ghirardelli Square on Urbanspoon

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Amador City, Andrae’s Bakery


Andrae’s Bakery  14141 Old Hwy. 49, Amador City, (209) 267-1352.  Thur-Sun 7:30am-4pm.  Hand-shaped, unsliced organic breads are made here from scratch daily.  A dense multigrain seeded loaf with a tinge of licorice from fennel seeds is my personal favorite.  Pastries include a variety of delicious scones and cookies (the crunchy chocolate nib cookies are very popular) as well as a Basque pound cake studded with walnuts and dusted with powdered sugar.  Also look for housemade crackers and tortilla chips, premade sandwiches, and a selection of craft beers from around the world, Amador County wines, and cheeses.  This is the place to pick up perfect picnic fare and edible souvenirs.
Andrae's Bakery on Urbanspoon  

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Andrae’s Bakery in Amador City, California

pastry case in Andrae’s Bakery in Amador City, California

deli case in Andrae’s Bakery in Amador City, California

Monday, April 13, 2015

101 South: Woodside, Filoli

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Filoli  86 CaƱada Rd., Edgewood Rd. exit off I-280, (650) 364-8300.  Tu-Sat 10-3:30, Sun 11-3:30; tour at 10:30am & 1pm by reservation; closed Nov-mid-Feb.  $20, 65+ $17, 5-17 $10.  No pets.  The bucolic drive in here is reminiscent of arriving at an English country estate.  Only in this case it is a 654-acre American grand country garden estate that surrounds a 43-room modified Georgian mansion built for William Bowers Bourn II in 1917 by his hunting buddy, architect Willis Polk.  
mansion at Filoli in Woodside, California

Named for the family motto--“Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; and Live a good life”—the mansion features a water-green ballroom with a 21-foot-high ceiling and gold leaf gilding extracted from Bourn’s Empire Mine in Grass Valley.  It is the property’s crown jewel.  (The mansion is the setting for the 1978 film "Heaven Can Wait" and is seen as the exterior of the Carrington home shown at the beginning of TV’s "Dynasty.")  The mansion has 4½-foot-thick walls that allow servants to go room to room unseen, English-style, and is surrounded by Irish yews and gigantic, very old oaks.
ballroom in mansion at Filoli in Woodside, California

men's after-dinner drawing room in mansion at Filoli in Woodside, California

Guided two-hour tours of the house and 16-acre mature formal English Renaissance garden include such delights as two manicured English knot gardens, a garden designed to resemble a stained-glass window in Chartres Cathedral in France, a practical cutting garden used for mansion floral arrangements, and a sunken garden replicated after one on the Ireland estate the Bourns bought for their daughter.  Note that self-guided tours are also an option.
Sunken Garden at Filoli in Woodside, California

Chartres Cathedral Garden at Filoli in Woodside, California

detail of fountain at Filoli in Woodside, California

The gardens are spectacular in February and March, when more than 200,000 daffodils bloom; in April, when more than 70,000 tulips bloom; and in May, when the rose garden is at its peak.
giant pink tulips in bloom at Filoli in Woodside, California

orange tulips in a row at Filoli in Woodside, California

Begin your visit with an informative 10-minute video intro in the visitor center, and end it with a visit to the exceptional gift shop.
gift shop display at Filoli in Woodside, California

In between, allow time for lunch or a snack in the Crystal Springs@Filoli cafe, which dispenses housemade wraps, paninis, salads, and soups and makes its own pastrami and Black Forest ham; picnicking is not permitted.
pastrami sandwich at Crystal Springs Cafe at Filoli in Woodside, California

dessert array at Crystal Springs Cafe at Filoli in Woodside, California

Things to do in nearby Palo Alto. 

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Friday, April 10, 2015

San Francisco: Bobo’s Lounge and Bobo's Steakhouse


Bobo’s Lounge  1434 Lombard St./Van Ness Ave., in the Marina, San Francisco, (415) 683-7007.  After a spectacular afternoon spent at the nearby Marina Green, Wave Organ, and Palace of Fine Arts, we headed here for refreshment.  Judging from the outside of this bar, I wasn’t expecting such accomplished cuisine.  Turns out charming chef-owner Andrea Froncillo has a past filled with experience that includes previously owning and chefing at Bobo’s Steakhouse (see below), and so the kitchen turns out delicious items and capably matches them with wonderful libations.  Extensive appetizers and small plates include mild Shishito Peppers (I enjoyed this with a beautiful and tasty orange Italian Spritzer made with Prosecco and Aperol liquour), perfect Poached Shrimp & Seaweed (these are really gigantic prawns and the seaweed greatly enhances the dish), Asian fusion Italian Potstickers (stuffed with sausage and flavored with mint and black sesame seeds),  and a meaty crab chowder paired deliciously with a light, peachy Vioginier.  For the “Main Event” plates, we delighted in a more serious whole-fried Branzino Chinese (striped sea bass) and a plate of supremely tasty American Kobe steak (wagyu) sliced in bite-size pieces and served with creamy smashed potatoes that had been flattened with a skillet and then fried to perfection.  The paired Angeline Pinot Noir was perfecto.  And all the while Frank, Dean, Louie, and the gang keep things melodically mellow.  The bar’s interior is a step into the 50s past, with a crimson-and-gold harlequin decor featuring colorful Venetian theatrical and Cirque du Soleil masks, red-glass chandeliers, and banquette-lined walls.  Our feast coincidentally, and magically, ended with Tony Bennett singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” as we shared an apple crisp and a ginger-infused creme brulee paired with a grappa and port.  I’ve also heard raves about the mac and cheese, cupcake lasagna, crab enchilada, baby lobster tails, lamb lollipops, baby octopus, baby back ribs, and a dessert of bombolini (mini Italian donuts) with warm chocolate ancho chili sauce, but the menu changes regularly and items come and go.
Bobo's on Urbanspoon

Bobo's Steakhouse  1450 Lombard St./Van Ness Ave., next door, (415) 441-8880.  Reservations advised.  D daily.  A few doors down, this posh three-floor restaurant is a traditional steak house.  It is smallish, with red-and-black-striped accents, and offers cozy seating in an assortment of intimate rooms.  Diners come for the a la carte dry-aged steaks (the bone-in filet is reputedly the best) and whole Dungeness crabs.  Sides include twice-baked potatoes and macaroni and cheese.  Mussels, shrimp, and even burrata (a fresh cheese from southern Italy) round out the menu.   


Italian Spritzer at Bobo's Lounge in San Francisco

Shishito Peppers at Bobo's Lounge in San Francisco
 Poached Shrimp & Seaweed at Bobo's Lounge in San Francisco

crab chowder at Bobo's Lounge in San Francisco

Italian Potstickers at Bobo's Lounge in San Francisco

Branzino Chinese striped sea bass at Bobo's Lounge in San Francisco


ginger-infused creme brulee at Bobo's Lounge in San Francisco


apple crisp at Bobo's Lounge in San Francisco

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers