Wednesday, September 10, 2014

80 North: Berkeley, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

update/p.285, + blog update

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive  2626 Bancroft Way/College Ave.  Free 1st Thursday of month.  Many visitors think that this museum building itself is as interesting and unusual as its contents.

interior of Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California
Built in a Modernist style of architecture, it is strikingly reminiscent of New York’s Guggenheim--except that it is angular instead of circular.  The Berkeley Art Museum’s permanent collection stresses modern and Asian art and includes a large collection of paintings by Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann.

"Hofmann by Hofmann" show at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California
A current show—“Hofmann by Hofmann”--displays some of the colorful paintings Hofmann himself gave as a gift to U.C. Berkeley.  It runs through December 21.  Another show, “Forrest Bess:  Seeing Things Invisible,” displays small paintings by this Texas artist through September 14.  Bess depicts his gender identity issues—he was born a male but identified as a hermaphrodite--in his work.

elephant god in show at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California
“Deities, Demons, and Teachers of Tibet, Nepal, and India” displays a glorious grouping through September 14.

gallery 2 prepping for show at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California
Gallery 2 prepping for folk art show
Beginning October 1, “American Wonder:  Folk Art from the Collection” will show portraits, weather vanes, and decorative sculptures from the BAM/PFA collection. 

The Pacific Film Archive has one of five world-class public archival film collections in the U.S.  It has the largest collection of Japanese titles outside of Japan and one of the world’s largest collections of silent and early films from the former Soviet Union and pre-1960 Eastern Europe, plus hundreds of experimental movies by West Coast filmmakers.  Film programs span world cinema from the silent era to the present.  Screenings take place at the PFA Theater at 2575 Bancroft Way.  The theater is clean, the sound system excellent, and the audience well mannered.  No snacks are available.

Babette cafe at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California
On the basement level, Babette opens to a courtyard and grassy expanse where children, especially, enjoy a good frolic.

quiche at Babette cafe at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California
It offers a very limited and weekly-changing breakfast and lunch menu based on locally sourced seasonal ingredients, and scrumptious house-made pastries are always available.  At brunch, my dining partner enjoyed the quiche of the day, while I ordered the entire a la carte menu:  two eggs over easy, perfectly roasted potatoes, tasty apple-smoked bacon, and housemade bread toasted and served with yummy plum jam.  Quirky policies include no salt and pepper shakers on the table, but if you request them you get the cafe’s single communal pepper grinder and a tiny open bowl of salt (this is Berkeley).  Also, no catsup is available, nor is a paper receipt—you must print out your receipt at home (I find this ridiculous in the name of saving trees, because if one was printed out at the counter it would be on a tiny piece of paper but at home it is on a full-size 8½” by 11” sheet).  Adding to the pleasant atmosphere, mellow background music sometimes radiates from vintage vinyl records played on an old-time turntable, and at other times it comes from a plugged-in iPod.  Though pricey for a counter-service cafe, the food is extra good. 

t-shirts at Cal Student Store in Berkeley, California
After my museum visit, we strolled down Bancroft Way towards Telegraph Avenue, passing the Cal Student Store, that is temporarily here selling Cal t-shirts and caps, and the San Francisco Soup Company, which is a great place for take-out or take-home.  We turned the corner onto Telegraph Avenue, and checked out two new fast-food spots.

interior of Sheng Kee Bakery in Berkeley, California
Sheng Kee Bakery  2307 Telegraph Ave./Bancroft Way, (510) 848-8200.  Daily 7am-11pm; $.  This bright, spacious bakery is part of a Bay Area chain.  It will suck you in when you see the mouth-watering array of pastries both sweet and savory.

chocolate cream buns at Sheng Kee Bakery in Berkeley, California
I chose several to take home for dinner, among them a ham-and-cheese croissant (yummy) and a chocolate-frosted cream-stuffed bun (not as tasty as it was beautiful).  Next time I’ll try the Purple Romance, consisting of soft taro bread stuffed with creamy taro.  The system is self-serve, so pick up a tray and tongs and select what you like.  Baked goods are kept in heated compartments behind glass.  Sandwiches, refined pastries, and boba milk tea are also available.  No seating is provided.

cookies at Pacific Cookie Company in Berkeley, California
In case you want even more sweets, a branch of Santa Cruz’s Pacific Cookie Company is next door.  You can’t go wrong with the white chocolate-macademia nut or the oatmeal-raisin. 

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, September 8, 2014

1 North: Fort Bragg, Pacific Star Winery and Tasting Room

Dad's Daily Red wine at Pacific Star Tasting Room in Fort Bragg, California

Pacific Star Tasting Room  401 N. Main St., (707) 962-9463.  Daily 11-5.  Tasting $5.  Located right in town, this convenient branch tasting room pours the winery’s signature blends--Dad’s Daily Red (named for the winery owner’s father, who drank this daily to assist with a war ailment) and It’s My Fault.  My tasting included several unusual varietals--a buttery white Roussanne, a nice Tempranillo, and a puckery, rough Carignane.  Bottles are topped with an unusual hand-blown degasser made in Grass Valley. 

Pacific Star Winery  33000 N. Hwy. 1, 12 mi. N of town, between Caspar & Westport, (707) 964-1155.  Daily 11-5.  No dogs.  Perched on the rim of the ocean and surrounded by vineyards, this remote winery is the westernmost in the continental U.S.  Wines are filtered naturally by the waves crashing against the bluffs, shaking the barrels and causing natural settling and permitting reds unstripped by the usual filtering process.  A bluff-top picnic area has a panoramic view that provides for great whale-watching. 

More things to do in Fort Bragg. 

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image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, September 5, 2014

1 North: Fort Bragg, Laurel Deli & Desserts and Headlands Coffeehouse

Laurel Deli in Fort Bragg, California
Laurel Deli & Desserts  401 N. Main St., (707) 964-7812.  Daily 7-4:30; $. Located in an indoor mini-mall adjacent to the Skunk Train depot, this informal spot dishes up freshly made soups and sandwiches as well as gigantic blackberry muffins and delicious housemade pies.  Favorite items include a great clam chowder, burger, hot dog, and coleslaw.  A full-size antique locomotive adds atmosphere as part of the decor, and a coin-operated kiddie train ride joggles the kids. 
Laurel Deli & Desserts on Urbanspoon

Headlands Coffeehouse in Fort Bragg, California
Headlands Coffeehouse  120 E. Laurel St., (707) 964-1987.  M-Sat 7am-10pm, Sun 7am-7pm; $. Operating now in the original location of Laural Deli, this low-key spot brews 16 kinds of coffee and serves up baked goods, smoothies, Belgian waffles, sandwiches, salads, and pizza.  Live music is often scheduled in the evening. 
Headlands Coffeehouse on Urbanspoon

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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. 
Mendo Bistro on Urbanspoon

          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. 
Mendocino Cookie Co on Urbanspoon

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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?

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

1 North: Fort Bragg, Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens


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.

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, August 25, 2014

1 North: Mendocino, Heritage House


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

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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. 

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image courtesy of venue

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

101 North: Duncans Mills, shops


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. 


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. 

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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

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image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers