Friday, February 5, 2016

Wine Country: St. Helena, The Cameo Cinema

update/p.425

The Cameo Cinema  1340 Main St., (707) 963-9779.  This tiny 140-seat first-run movie theater dates from 1915, but it is equipped with posh velvet seats, an exceptional Dolby digital sound system, and a 3-D projector, making it well worth a visit.  Popular with locals, the theater concession sells wine by the glass and offers a free popcorn refill to those who bring their own bowl.  Special performances are sometimes scheduled, and Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Redford have both been sighted here.  All in all, the Cameo is a “Joy” to experience, and that is the very movie I saw here most recently.  When offered, Silverado Squatters, based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson and performed live by local resident Donald Davis, is a don’t-miss.


exterior of The Cameo Cinema in St. Helena, California


stars on entry floor of The Cameo Cinema in St. Helena, California


snack bar at The Cameo Cinema in St. Helena, California

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wine Country: St. Helena, Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room


Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room  709 Main St., (707) 968-0625.  Tasting daily 10am-6pm; pairings by appt.  
exterior of Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

This small tasting room presents casual wine tasting combined with a knowledgeable, friendly, and welcoming tasting-room staff, plus the opportunity to enjoy a tasting paired thoughtfully with tasty nibbles.  The tasting room is part of the Clif Bar empire, whose headquarters is in Emeryville but whose owners are now locals and owner of the Clif Family Winery here (the winery is not open for visits but does sometimes hold special events, and it is where many of the bruschetta ingredients are grown).
interior of Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

I was greeted with my name on a star in front of a tasting set-up at a dining table.
wine-tasting set-up at Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

My hunny and I had the Bruschetteria Trio pairing ($30/person), which includes samplings of the best from the Bruschetteria food truck that operates outside on the street.
Bruschetteria food truck at Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

First up was a blush-colored NV Sonoma Coast Sparkling Brut—described so nicely by Samantha as having “a kiss of sweetness on the finish”--paired with some coconut-cashew snack mix.  Next was a 2014 Oak Knoll Chardonnay with a creamy finish, paired with a Porchetta Bruschetta (pork).  Then came a 2011 Gary’s Improv Napa Valley Zin paired with Funghi Bruschetta (mushrooms).  And finally a 2011 Kit’s Killer Howell Mountain Cab with rice arrancini balls.  (That’s actually four pairings, but who’s counting?)
Bruschetteria Trio pairing at Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

This was adequate as a small lunch, but if you are still hungry you can order additional food from the truck.  I recommend the spectacular caramelized Brussels sprouts and the over-the-top delicious cured salmon-avocado-pickled lemon bruschetta described by Executive Chef John Mc Connell as “California on toast.”  Indeed.
California on toast plust carmelized Brussels sprouts at Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California

You can also add on a sweet ending, which we did with a TCHO chocolate budino topped with Cabernet Sauvignon salt and paired with a big and bold but not sweet Petit Sirah Port.
TCHO chocolat budino at Clif Family Velo Vino Tasting Room in St. Helena, California
Clif Family Bruschetteria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All this is available and non-alcoholic drinks, too!  Wines are available for purchase only online or at the tasting room.  Should you want to combine your tasting with a bike trip, check with the Calistoga Bike Shop about tasting-biking packages.  A Valentine’s Day hint—if you can’t make it in for a tasting on February 14, give your sweetie a gift certificate and visit later at your convenience.  

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 



Monday, February 1, 2016

San Francisco: Comstock Saloon


Comstock Saloon  155 Columbus Ave./Kearny St., North Beach, (415) 617-0071.  Located on a corner, this saloon-bar has been open since 1907.  Walking in the doors is like stepping back in time.  Hanging from the high ceiling, old-time Asian paddle fans cool the air, and comfy oversize booths line the wall.  Live music emanates from the hidden mezzanine, generally beginning around 7:30 p.m. and lasting for hours.  GQ ranked this spot as one of the top cocktail bars in America, and my to-try drink list includes the Blood and Sand (Scotch, sweet vermouth, orange, and cherry liqueur) and the Cherry Bounce (Bourbon, cherry brandy, lemon, Angostura, Champagne).  The menu is short but includes plenty of appetizers plus a burger, roasted chicken, and mushroom pot pie.  
Comstock Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


exterior of Comstock Saloon in San Francisco, California


interior of Comstock Saloon in San Francisco, California

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Wine Country: St. Helena, Charles Krug Winery

update/p.425

Charles Krug Winery  2800 Main St., 1.5 mi. N of town, (800) 682-KRUG, (707) 967-2200.  Tasting daily 10:30-5; food pairings by appt.; tour M-F at 10:30 & 3, Sat-Sun at 10:30, & by appt. 
tasting room at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

In 1858, using a small cider press borrowed from Agoston Haraszthy at the Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma, this winery made the first commercial wines in the Napa Valley.  It was also the very first to stop stomping grapes with human feet and start pressing them with machines.  Now producing 16 different wines, the winery is noted most for its Cabernet Sauvignons and Sauvignon Blancs.  
wines with heart at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

But it’s not just wine tasting any more.  A gigantic new tasting room, strikingly outfitted with wood reclaimed from the property’s huge old redwood tanks, offers traditional bar tastings, plus food pairings at tables on the weekend.  
interior of tasting room at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

vintage redwood barrel at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

A Reserve Flight Pairing ($95/person; reservations required) concludes with a bittersweet dark chocolate truffle frosted with gold (it is made by the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone located across the street; the institute also tends a large vegetable garden adjacent to the winery parking lot).
Reserve Flight Pairing at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

CIA Student Farm at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

Cucina Pairings ($18/small plate + 3-ounce pour; reservations not needed) might include a warm bruschetta with prosciutto and acorn squash paired with a Merlot, or stuffed cremini mushrooms with a Pinot Noir—perhaps just the perfect excursion and experience to enjoy with your Valentine?  
All this and picnic tables under a giant oak, too.
picnic area at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California


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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 
 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

101 North: San Rafael, Yet Wah


Yet Wah  1238 4th St./B St., (415) 460-9883.  L-D daily; $$.  I first dined at Yet Wah way back when it had several locations on Clement Street in San Francisco.  It grew into a mini-chain (the Diamond Heights location is reputed to have been the venue of choice for a Rolling Stones event), and now has shrunk back to just this one location.  When we dined early on a Saturday night, the main dining room was empty, so we sat in a warm, cozy, and quiet alcove in front with big windows and a view of the sidewalk.  In the mood to take advantage of the full bar, my dining partner and I each started with an umbrella-crowned mai tai made with seven ingredients.
mai tais at Yet Wah in San Rafael, California

We loved the crispy pan-friend pot stickers and deemed them the best we’ve had in a long, long time.
pot stickers at Yet Wah in San Rafael, California

We followed with kung pao chicken, which we selected because of the vegetables that dish comes with.  I would have liked that dish to be spicier and solved the problem with hot oil.
kung pao chicken at Yet Wah in San Rafael, California

Next time we’ll try the hard-to-find almond pressed duck that the kitchen is famous for (pressed duck with sweet-and-sour sauce and almonds).  Family-style set dinners are available and can be a good value, especially if you are hungry or can take home leftovers, and lunch specials are available on weekdays.

fortune cookie at Yet Wah in San Rafael, California
I'm still waiting.
Yet Wah Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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image ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers