Tuesday, September 2, 2014

1 North: Fort Bragg, The Company Store restaurants


The Company Store  301 Main St.


The Company Store restaurant complex in Fort Bragg, California
Formerly a department store, the vintage Union Lumber Company Building has been converted into a unique indoor restaurant and shopping complex.  Though the interior is dark, it has a large, informal seating area that several cafes open on to where you can dine comfortably and with WiFi. 

Living Light Culinary Institute  (800) 816-2319, (707) 964-2420.  Located upstairs, this is the premier organic raw vegan cooking school in the world.  Classes are scheduled regularly.
          Living Light Cafe & Cuisine To Go  M-Sat 7-7, Sun 10-4; $.  Downstairs, a cafe serves up healthy gourmet raw, organic, and vegan fare.  Menu items include sprouted buckwheat granola with almond milk, coconut chia pudding, and a sunflower burger, plus salads, sandwiches, soups, and smoothies.

Mendo Bistro  (707) 964-4974.  D daily; $$.  No reservations.


interior of Mendo Bistro restaurant in Fort Bragg, California
Taking up almost the entire top floor here, which is lined with two walls of tall windows, this spacious restaurant places diners above the busy streets below with plenty to look at.  Owner-chef Nicholas Petti has won many a crab cake cook-off in town, so order them when they are on the menu.  One menu option is to choose your own main-course ingredient, how you want it cooked, and which sauce you want with it.  I opted for one-fourth of a free-range chicken, batter fried and with roasted garlic gravy.  It took an incredibly long time before I was served a really good, perfectly-fried section of chicken with a tasty crispy skin and succulent meat.  It just might be the best I’ve ever had!  It came with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans.  My husband ordered seafood risotto, which he said was also delicious.


carrot soup at Mendo Bistro restaurant in Fort Bragg, California
A tangy carrot soup made a tasty appetizer, but a wilted Caesar salad was quite disappointing.  Housemade pastas and larger entrees are also on the menu.  Wines and beers are mostly local, and meats are hormone- and antibiotic-free. 

          Barbelow takes up the center of the ground floor.  It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail in a more informal setting, and Mendo Bistro food is served here, too. 

Mendocino Cookie Company  (888) 937-4842, (707) 964-0282.


Backpacker cookie at Mendocino Cookie Company In Fort Bragg, Californi
The “Backpacker” cookie seems to have everything—chocolate and butterscotch chips, walnuts, and raisins--but you can also get a simple peanut butter and more, as well as muffins.  Coffee is also on the menu. Street-side seating is also available. 

More things to do in Fort Bragg. 

More things to do in nearby Mendocino.

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, August 29, 2014

1 North: Fort Bragg, Sea Glass Museum & Jewelry Gallery + Glass Beach


Sea Glass Museum & Jewelry Gallery  17801 N. Hwy. 1, just S of botanical gardens, (707) 962-0590.  Daily 10-5.  Free.


Sea Glass Museum in Fort Bragg, California
This little glass shack is the world’s first and only sea glass museum.


sea glass jewelery at Sea Glass Museum in Fort Bragg, California
 A large collection is on display, along with some handcrafted jewelry and art items that are available for purchase, and the attendant is helpful in answering questions and directing you to local glass beaches.


Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California
 Glass Beach  On N end of town, turn W on Elm St., drive a few blocks to Glass Beach Dr. and park in the dirt edges, then walk west along the path to the beach.  In the southern end of MacKerricher State Park.  Ask for precise directions when in town.


sea glass at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California
 Many years ago this was a dump site, but now it is a beach sprinkled with bits of sparkling glass and pottery that have been smoothed by the ocean into jewels.  Unfortunately for visitors, it is now prohibited to remove glass in certain areas, and all that is left is really small pieces compared to what was found just 20 years ago.


wildlife at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California
anyone know what this is?

More things to do in Fort Bragg. 

More things to do in nearby Mendocino.

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

1 North: Fort Bragg, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

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Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens  18220 N. Hwy. 1, 2 mi. S of town, (707) 964-4352.  Daily 9-5; Nov-Feb 9-4.  $14, 65+ $10, 5-17 $5.


Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, California
A self-guided tour leads through 47 acres of flowering plants scattered along delightful trails that lead all the way to the ocean.


dahlia garden at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, California
Known for its rhododendrons, fuchsias, dahlias, and heathers, this garden also boasts a major collection of succulents, camellias, and old heritage roses. The nursery sells unusual perennials, and a cafe and picnic tables are available.

More things to do in Fort Bragg. 

More things to do in nearby Mendocino.

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Monday, August 25, 2014

1 North: Mendocino, Heritage House

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The Heritage House Resort  5200 N. Hwy. 1, in Little River, 4 mi. S of town, (877) 295-9973, (707) 202-9000.  46 rooms; $$-$$$+.  All gas fireplaces.  Fitness room.  Restaurant; dinner room service.  Pets ok.


Same Time & Next Year units at The Heritage House Resort near Mendocino in Little River, California
Opened originally in 1949, this hotel became particularly famous when it co-starred in the film “Same Time, Next Year.”  The unit the movie was filmed in is now divided into two popular rooms called “Same Time” and “Next Year.”  The ranch house and Smuggler's Cove below have a colorful history of harboring rum runners, slave traders, and criminal "Baby Face" Nelson.  Recently closed for about 10 years, a new owner plans to keep the property similar to what past guests have come to love.  The rooms are divided among 11 buildings scattered on 37 acres atop steep bluffs.  All are updated to a contemporary style and have large floor-to-ceiling sliding doors with an ocean view as well as a wide private deck with Adirondack chairs.  Linens are Frette, and this place really gets it right—almost all the beds face the view full on.  Nights are super quiet.  Bathrooms have heated slate floors and rainfall showers, and 11 rooms have deep soaking tubs and his-and-hers sinks.  All rooms are within strolling distance of the main house, dating from 1877, where the lounge and restaurant are positioned.  Golf carts are available to pick up guests by request.  A small two-story spa adjacent to the main lodge is nearing completion; meanwhile, massage can be scheduled in room.  A fitness room with floor-to-ceiling windows on three walls is also near to the main lodge.  Trails crisscross the property, and there is beach access, though the stairs that can be a little treacherous.


Lounge bar at The Heritage House Resort near Mendocino in Little River, California
When we first arrived, we bee-lined to the Lounge area to relax on the comfy couches with a drink and enjoy the spectacular view.  I had a killer spicy Bloody Mary with a salad on top—celery, cucumber, olive, onion.  It was even better than the really good one I remember from another visit here long ago.  Don’t miss it.  Board games are also available here.  Fine dining occurs in the ocean-view 5200 Restaurant, and non-guests are welcome.  The high-up dining room gave me the delightful impression of being in a grand tree house.


French toast at 5200 Restaurant at The Heritage House Resort near Mendocino in Little River, California
Breakfast is basic, with housemade granola, oatmeal, omelettes, and a tasty broiche French toast.  Dinner is more elaborate and offers a sophisticated menu featuring locally sourced ingredients, wines, and beers.  We started with a tasty Heirloom Tomato Stack made tall with mozzarella layers.  I followed this with a lovely pan-seared, boned, and stuffed California trout with mushroom risotto, and my husband opted for Noyo Harbor salmon with parsnip and Yukon mash and Pinot Noir sauce.  We concluded with a shared sundae featuring poached peaches and fresh raspberries and a glass of Navarro Muscat Blanc.  Reservations advised for dinner.
5200 Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Mendocino.

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image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, August 22, 2014

1 North: Jenner, Fort Ross Vineyard & Tasting Room


Fort Ross Vineyard & Tasting Room  15725 Meyers Grade Rd., 7 ½ miles north of town, (707) 847-3460.  Daily Mar-Dec 10-6; Thur-M Jan- Feb 11-5.  To get to the tasting room for this winery, which has the closest vineyard to the Pacific Ocean in California, you’ll need to drive 2.6 miles up the hill on Meyers Grade Road.  When you enter the gates, the road becomes packed-dirt and leads past Pinot Noir grapevines, a redwood forest, and a pond—giving you a quick tour of the terroir of the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA.  Owner Linda Schwartz says she “did a dance of happiness” when this AVA became one of the country’s newest on January 13, 2012.  The AVA is unique in its proximity to the ocean, and at 900- to 1,800-feet-high it is usually floating above a sea of clouds. 


So far, it remains the first and only vineyard tasting room along the Sonoma Coast.  It is a surprise way out here to find the sleek contemporary tasting room, softened a bit with heirloom climbing roses and tall grasses in the tamed entrance garden.  The tasting room and deck with picnic tables share a beautiful pastoral view.  I enjoyed tasting a smooth, fruity, but also buttery 2012 Chardonnay followed by three very nice Pinot Noirs and then an inky-colored Pinotage--a tasty, rarely-seen-here varietal from South Africa.  All grapes are grown on the winery’s estate, and processing is done in Santa Rosa.  A charceuterie/cheese plate can be purchased to enhance your tasting or to enjoy outside on the picnic deck. 

More things to do in Jenner.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

image courtesy of venue
 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

101 North: Duncans Mills, shops

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DUNCANS MILLS  On Hwy. 116, 8 mi. W of Guerneville, 4 mi. E of ocean, (707) 865-2024.  Once a lumber village, this tiny rustic town—population 85 in 2006-- is now home to a collection of eclectic shops, a general store with a deli, a restaurant, and a riverside campground with private beach.  Cattle graze on the peaceful adjacent hillside, and benches invite relaxing for a stretch, especially on a sunny day. 

shops:


Antiquarian and Florabunda Fine Flowers in Duncans Mills, California
Antiquarian and Florabunda Fine Flowers  25195 Main St., (707) 865-9897.  This rustic log cabin greets your nose with a delicious aroma from its house blend of potpourri.  Enjoy it while you browse the unusual antiques.  Fresh flowers are available to go and are especially nice when arranged in a vintage vessel.

Christopher Queen Galleries in Duncans Mills, California
Christopher Queen Galleries  (707) 865-1318.  14 W-M 11-5.  This gallery is one of the first to specialize in early and contemporary California art. 

Thistledown Antiques in Duncans Mills, California
          An adjoining shop, Thistledown Antiques, purveys the unusual in fine china, jewelry, and furnishings.

Mr. Trombly’s Tea  25185 Main St., (707) 865-9979.  M-Sat 10-6, Sun 11-5.  Claiming to have the largest selection of vintage and new teapots in California, this tea-oriented shop also has a plethora of accoutrements and sells a vast variety of tea in bulk.

Mr. Trombly's Tea in Duncans Mills, California
         Mr. Trombly’s Table, a kitchen shop, is adjacent. 

Sophie’s Cellars  25179 Main St./Hwy 116.  Daily in summer 11am-5pm; shorter hours rest of year; happy hour F 4-7pm, $5/glass of wine+$5 hors d’oeuvres.

Sophie's Cellars in Duncans Mills, California
 Stop into this sweet little cottage for a tasting paired with local cheeses and freshly baked breads.  Happy hour includes an hors d’oeuvres buffet. 

More things to do in nearby Guerneville.

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, August 18, 2014

101 North: Guerneville, Coffee Bazaar

Coffee Bazaar in Guerneville, California
Coffee Bazaar  14045 Armstrong Woods Rd., (707) 869-9706.  Located just around the corner from this town’s busy main street and particularly popular with locals, this mellow coffeehouse operates in a spacious room with a wall of wood banquettes facing copper-topped tables.  Breakfast is served all day, but the excellent pastries disappear early.  I enjoyed a simple BLT and an exhilarating coffee bon bon cookie made with espresso. 
         Twice Told Books, which specializes in used books, operates on the other side of an open doorway.
Coffee Bazaar on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Guerneville.

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, August 15, 2014

80 North: Berkeley, Venus


Venus  2327 Shattuck Ave./Durant St., (510) 540-5950.  B-L M-F, D Thur-M, Sat-SunBr; $-$$.  No reservations.


interior of Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California
 This very popular, very small restaurant has a cozy brick-walled dining room with a comfy banquette along one wall.  It is particularly busy for weekend brunch, and breakfast is served daily until 2:30pm.


eggs Benedict at Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California
I enjoyed my Venus Benedict consisting of a housemade English muffin topped with sliced tomato, spinach, Hollandaise sauce, and two puffy poached eggs.  Though tasty, and served with home fries dabbed with sour cream, next time I will add flavor in the form of lox or ham.


biscuits and gravy at Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California
I also have my eye on the biscuits and gravy, which received a good report from a dining companion.


Indian Brunch plate at Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California
My husband feasted on the exotic Indian Brunch, which included colorful curried carrot-zucchini-parsnip pancakes, scrambled eggs akoori (with chiles, tomato, and cilantro), mango aioli, handmade chapati, and banana raita.  Lemon ricotta pancakes and stuffed French toast are also very popular.  The made-from-scratch hot chocolate is a delicious alternative if you are caffeined out.  I plan to come back for lunch to try the 14-hour Slow Roasted Cuban Pork Sandwich with gruyere, lettuce, sweet pickles, tomato and chipotle aioli, or maybe the fried egg sandwich with white cheddar and chipotle mayo.  The menu has many vegetarian options.
Venus on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

880 South: Alameda, Pacific Pinball Museum


Pacific Pinball Museum 1510 Webster St./Haight Ave., 3 mi. from downtown, (510) 205-6959.  Tu-Thur 2-9pm, F 2pm-mid, Sat 11am-mid, Sun 11-9; closed M.  $15, under 17 $7.50.  No pets.


gallery at Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, California
This non-profit hands-on museum attracts a variety of people.  Many like to view exhibits and learn more about these intriguing machines, but most also want to play.  Fortunately, admission includes unlimited play on more than 100 of the colorful machines that are spread through a warren of rooms.  Three jukeboxes are also on free play.  It can get noisy.



I toured the museum with founder Michael Schiess, and what a trip it was!  Here’s what I learned.  Though the idea of pinball started in France with rolling a ball up a hill, pinball machines are mostly an American thing.  The first pinball patent in the U.S. was in 1869.  The first coin-operated pinball machine, the Whiffle, came along in 1931.  The World’s Fair Jigsaw is the all-time best seller at almost 80,000; runner up is the newer “Adams Family,” at about 24,000.  When Oakland banned pinball in the 1930s as gambling, many of the machines found their way to Alameda where rules were more lax.  Flippers were added to the machines in 1947, and artwork became more important in the 1960s.  Between the 1950s and 1970s, pinball machines actually made more money than movies!


Captain Fantastic machine at Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, California
The machines are still evolving, with TV screens added in 2000 and a “CSI” model added in 2008.  The museum’s collection now is at around 1,000, and the 900 that are warehoused are rotated in and out so you never know for sure what you will see.

More things to do in Alameda.

Things to do in nearby Oakland.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 

images and video ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers



Friday, August 8, 2014

880 South: Alameda, Ole’s Waffle Shop

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Ole’s Waffle Shop  1507 Park St./Santa Clara Ave., downtown, (510) 522-8108.  B-L-D daily; $.  No reservations.


Ole's Waffle Shop in Alameda, California
 Always packed, this old-fashioned diner has comfy booths and a long counter with swivel chairs.


deep-fried broasted chicken at Ole's Waffle Shop in Alameda, California
Breakfast is served all day--biscuits and gravy are on the menu--but many folks come here for the burgers, steaks, and deep-fried broasted chicken.  Jell-O, tapioca pudding, and fresh-squeezed OJ made by a machine that sits in the dining room are also available.  But be careful!  Order dessert with your meal.  I was disappointed early on a Sunday night to be told they were completely out of pie.

Ole's Waffle Shop on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Alameda.

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers