Friday, December 8, 2017

San Francisco: Holiday Tea at InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco


Hotels everywhere roll out the carpet with special events for the Christmas season.  Here in San Francisco, the legendary InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco does the same.  Think afternoon Holiday Teas served with individual 3-tiered trays holding tea sandwiches, scones, and sweets.  And the 12 Cocktails of Christmas, each served with a souvenir cocktail charm--how about a Ten Lords a-Leaping made with Smirnoff Vanilla Vodka, Chambord, cranberry juice, and fresh raspberries?  Earlier, Thanksgiving features a petting zoo in the lobby, and later, New Year's Eve brings on a New Year's Eve dinner and dancing special at the Top of the Mark. 


Holiday Tea at the Top of the Mark, InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco
Holiday Tea at the Top of the Mark, InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco


tea tray close-up at Holiday Tea at the Top of the Mark, InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco
tea tray close-up at Holiday Tea at the Top of the Mark, InterContinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco



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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

80 North: Berkeley, Tamon Tea


Tamon Tea  2055-A Center St./Shattuck Ave., downtown, (510) 647-9370.  Daily 10:30-6.  Cash only.  In this tiny, little hole in the wall, you’ll find an array of simple, affordable Japanese delicacies.  Omusubi--seaweed-wrapped triangles of rice wrapped around a choice of fillings--are made fresh when ordered, so the rice is moist and warm; brown rice is an option.  Fillings include the very popular unagi (eel) as well as spicy tuna, sukiyaki beef, pickled plum, Spam, and many more; $3/each.  Donburi bowls are more filling; $8.  I adore chewy mochi, and when it is made fresh, like it is here, it is as soft as a baby’s butt.  Kushi dango stuffed with red bean and threaded on a stick, includes flavors that tend to be fruity--mango, pineapple, strawberry, and blueberry; $3/stick of three.  (Dango is a dumpling made with rice flour; “hanami” indicates they are stuffed with azuki beans; “mitarashi” indicates they are glazed with sweetened soy sauce; “kushi” indicates they are served on skewers.).  A machine from Hawaii produces powdery shave ice that is particularly pretty with blue Hawaiian ice cream soda.  For drinks, choose from a plethora of teas.  Plan to take away your order, as there are only a few tiny tables squeezed into the back.  

exterior of Tamon Tea in Berkeley, California
exterior of Tamon Tea in Berkeley, California


order counter at Tamon Tea in Berkeley, California
order counter at Tamon Tea in Berkeley, California


dango selection at Tamon Tea in Berkeley, California
dango selection at Tamon Tea in Berkeley, California


pleasant service at Tamon Tea in Berkeley, California
pleasant service at Tamon Tea in Berkeley, California
Tamon Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 
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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

1 South: Carmel, background information



update p.123
CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA

A Little Background
They had take the direct country road across the hills from Monterey, instead of the Seventeen Mile Drive around by the coast so that Carmel Bay came upon them without any fore-glimmering of its beauty.  Dropping down throgent pines, they passed woods-embowered cottages, quaint and rustic, of artists and writers, and went on across wind-blown rolling sand hills held to place by sturdy lupines and nodding with pale California poppies.  Saxon screamed in sudden wonder of delight, then caught her breath and gazed at the amazing peacock-blue of a breaker, shot through with golden sunlight, over-falling in a mile-long sweep and thundering into white ruin of foam on a crescent beach of scarcely less white.   
    --Jack London, from Valley of the Moon, 1913

A well-established getaway destination, Carmel is best known for its specialty shops, cozy lodgings, and picturesque white sand beach.  Located adjacent, exclusive Pebble Beach, is famous for its spectacularly scenic golf courses.  And Carmel is super dog-friendly, perhaps the most dog-friendly place I’ve ever been.  Water bowls for dogs are found outside many shops, and canine lovelies are seen everywhere with their doting owners.  However, they are not permitted in Deavendorf Park--the town’s main park.  

crazed doggie with tongue exposed in Carmel, California
crazed doggie with tongue exposed in Carmel, California

Carmel is also known for the things it doesn't have.  No street signs, streetlights, electric or neon signs, jukeboxes, parking meters, chain businesses, or buildings over 2 stories high are allowed in town.  No sidewalks, curbs, or house numbers are found in the residential sections.  And buildings have no screens on windows (because the town has no flying, biting bugs) and no air conditioning (because it is not needed).  These absent items help Carmel keep its village ambiance.
 

Do be careful.  Eccentric laws in the town make it illegal to wear high heels on the sidewalks (but you can get a permit at City Hall).    
exterior of City Hall in Carmel, California
exterior of City Hall in Carmel, California

It seems that almost every weekend some special event is scheduled in the area, making available lodging perpetually scarce.  Book accommodations far in advance, especially for the quainter venues, and consider taking advantage of the special rates often available for midweek stays.   


Guided Tour
Carmel Walks  (831) 642-2700.  u-F at 10 am, Sat at 10 & 2.  $30.  This 2-hour walking tour of the village visits secret pathways, hidden courtyards and gardens, fairy-tale cottages, and even spots that have connections with famous artists, writers, and movie stars.  The enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide for my walk was a local artist, Kelly Steele.  
Carmel Walks guide Kelly Steele in front of rustic newstand in Carmel, California
Carmel Walks guide Kelly Steele in front of rustic newstand in Carmel, California


Getting There

Located 120 miles south of San Francisco, and 70 miles south of San Jose.

More Information




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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Thursday, November 9, 2017

101 South: San Luis Obispo, History Center Museum of San Luis Obispo County Museum


History Center Museum of San Luis Obispo County Museum  696 Monterey St., (805) 543-0638.  Daily 10-4.  Free.  This former Carnegie Library building located across the street from the mission    features exhibits that highlight the history and culture of this county.  A group of panels describes the growth of the area as it became more accessible with the automobile, and a small theatre presents a 15-minute history of San Luis Obispo and the surrounding area.  The downstairs has been converted into offices and research areas and is not accessible.  

exterior of History Center Museum of San Luis Obispo County Museum in San Luis Obispo, California
exterior of History Center Museum of San Luis Obispo County Museum in San Luis Obispo, California


display at History Center Museum of San Luis Obispo County Museum in San Luis Obispo, California
display at History Center Museum of San Luis Obispo County Museum in San Luis Obispo, California


display at History Center Museum of San Luis Obispo County Museum in San Luis Obispo, California
display at History Center Museum of San Luis Obispo County Museum in San Luis Obispo, California


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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, October 20, 2017

80 North: Berkeley, La Marcha


La Marcha  2026 San Pablo Ave./University Ave.  D Tu-Sun; two Happy Hours, 4-6pm & 10pm-12am, free tapas with purchased drinks.  This vibrant restaurant seems to be the busiest spot on the block, usually with a line waiting to get in.  A relatively small space, its two sweetest tables are tucked into the front bay windows and extra seating is found at the bar.  Overall, it evokes an authentic cozy atmosphere that I remember from tapas bars in Spain.  A TV above the bar adds to the ambiance.

interior of La Marcha in Berkeley, California
interior of La Marcha in Berkeley, California


sweet window seating at La Marcha in Berkeley, California
sweet window seating at La Marcha in Berkeley, California


bar at La Marcha in Berkeley, California
bar at La Marcha in Berkeley, California

There are more than 20 kinds of tapas.  Salads are also an option, and the restaurant is known as well for its large variety of paellas (there are six).  I was attracted to La Marcha by a special event sherry-pairing dinner that I was unable to attend.  So at a later date my dining companion and I had our own private tasting with the assistance of knowledgeable Jason (indeed, the entire staff is friendly and helpful), who explained the finer points of each of the dry sherries in my flight covering the five main styles--from a light fino to a robust oloroso.  I came away knowing that I favor a robust sherry.

Jason delivers sherry flights at La Marcha in Berkeley, California
Jason delivers sherry flights at La Marcha in Berkeley, California


tapas and sherry flights at La Marcha in Berkeley, California
tapas and sherry flights at La Marcha in Berkeley, California

Our tapas selection included patatas bravas, a trio of croquetas (mushroom, salt cod, chicken), albondigas (wild boar meatballs), gambas (prawns with heads on), goat cheese-stuffed piquillo peppers, and cumin lamb sliders.  I regret that I missed the bruselas (grape-sweetened fried Brussels sprouts).  Next time.

wild boar albondigas at La Marcha in Berkeley, California
wild boar albondigas at La Marcha in Berkeley, California

Our perfect ending to this repast was traditional churros con chocolate.

churros con chocolate at La Marcha in Berkeley, California
churros con chocolate at La Marcha in Berkeley, California

The extensive drink menu includes eight sherry flights, plus wines, ciders, Spanish beers, and an extensive collection of fortified wines, sweet wines, and sherries.   “La Marcha” is a reference to the typical late-night Spanish bar crawl, where patrons stroll from place to place and enjoy small plates and drinks throughout the evening.  Here you can stay put and do it all in one spot.  In addition to special event dinners (including sherry-pairing and cider-pairing as well as winemaker dinners), the restaurant offers two daily happy hours and half-off sangria every Sunday (the popular sangria here is made with Tempranillo wine, oloroso sherry, fruit juice, chopped fruit, and a splash of Pedro Ximénez).  And, every Tuesday is Flamenco Night.  Ole! 

In honor of International Sherry Week, November 6-12, 2017, La Marcha is hosting an array of events--including a three-course sherry pairing dinner and educational sherry flights, plus the inaugural “Night in Jerez,” the ultimate sherry-tasting party featuring tapas, paella, and a live flamenco show on November 10.  Check the website for more details. 

La Marcha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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