Friday, July 31, 2009

80 North: Berkeley, Caffe Trieste


Caffe Trieste 2500 San Pablo Ave./Dwight Way, (510) 548 5198. Sun-Thur to 10pm, F-Sat to 11; $. Located on a retail strip known as the Left Bank, this is a branch of the famous North Beach coffeehouse. Though it doesn’t have a restaurant kitchen, a microwave can heat up delicious pastries, pizzettas, salads, and panini. Opera is scheduled on Sundays at 3 p.m.

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image courtesy of venu

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wine Country: Silverado Trail, Calistoga, Solage Calistoga Resort

Solage Calistoga Resort  755 Silverado Trail, in Calistoga, (866) 942-7442, (707) 226-0800. 89 rooms. 3 pools; 2 hot tubs; fitness room; full-service spa. Restaurant; room service. Pets ok. Guest rooms at this low-key luxury resort feature open floor plans, contemporary decor, and cave-like stone showers with pebble floors. Special touches include Italian linens, down bedding, and complimentary cruiser bicycles parked by each unit’s door for guests to use in exploring the property and town. All units have private or semi-private courtyards, and some suites also have private hot tubs. The heart of the resort is the bath house, spa, and fitness center (must be age 18+). The bath house features a large 100-degree geothermal mineral pool, plus private swimsuit-optional areas for men and women that each hold a hot tub with presssure-point jets strong enough to nearly topple an adult, a deep cold-water plunge pool, and a really hot eucalyptus steam room. This area also offers the property’s signature Mud Bar, where guests sidle up to a bar and select their fragrance to be mixed by a “mud-tender” with nutrient-rich local volcanic mud, then retire to a room to slather the made-to-order concoction onto their own body, then move on to a “mud lounge” or patio to bake, then on to a soaking tub filled with mineral water, and finally finish it off swathed in warm wraps in a sound chair designed to allow floating into a stress-free state of harmonic balance. The spa provides a refreshing outdoor waiting/resting area, and treatments include trendy Kate Somerville facials for both men and women. An adult pool (age 13+) and an area for families with children under 13--with a large pool, hot tub, and play area—are side by side. They use a salt-water, ozone-based filtration system. All water on the property is geothermally heated. Calistoga Water is bottled right next door and available throughout the resort.

The casual bar and Solbar restaurant (B-L-D daily; $$-$$$.) opens onto a large outdoor terrace with a fire pit/water fountain, bocce courts and views of the Palisades Mountains. The bar serves creative cocktails and has the Napa Valley's largest champagne list. The spacious one-room restaurant and bar boast beautiful beams and natural-wood accents. A smallish eclectic menu offeris comfort food as and well as health-minded cuisine. The winner of local awards and a Michelin star, the restaurant showcases seasonal organic produce from nearby surrounding farms and makes its own delicious butter and biscuits. A large pool-view terrace with a striking fire pit/water fountain provides alfresco dining nearly 10 months of the year. The popular indoor-outdoor bar has Napa Valley’s largest champagne list and draws locals as well as hotel guests.

More things to do in Calistoga.

More things to do in the Wine Country.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image copyright 2009 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, July 24, 2009

80 North: Berkeley, San Francisco Soup Company

San Francisco Soup Company  2512 Bancroft Way/Telegraph Ave., (510) 848-7687. Daily; hrs. vary; $. Located at the University’s main intersection, this small venue has only a few seats but is well equipped to prepare orders for take-out. With the expansive lawns of the University just across this street, this is a good option. Though the owners were inspired by the famous Seinfeld “Soup Nazi” episode, the friendly service actually encountered is anything but. The made-from-scratch soups are, of course, the way to go, but sandwiches and salads are also available. Among the tasty soup selections on the regularly changing menu is a hearty matzo ball that is put together in several steps, assuring noodles and matzo balls that don’t become mush right away (note, however, that as good as this soup is, great matzo balls are found only in NYC). The tasty West African Peanut and minced Turkey Chili with a minimum of beans are also noteworthy. Branches are found in San Francisco, Oakland, and Palo Alto.

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image courtesy of venue

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

101 North: Novato, Toast Novato--CLOSED

Toast Novato  TOAST IS TOAST--CLOSED  5800 Nave Dr., in Hamilton Marketplace, (415) 382-1144. B-L-D daily; $$. This large, clean-lined, barn of a room has a long open kitchen with counter seating, several communal tables, and a central bar area with sports TVs. Children make happy sounds, and sometimes the smell of almost-burned toast permeates the air. The extensive menu offers contemporary American comfort food in the form of custom-made omelettes and scrambles at breakfast (served until 2:30), poached salmon or heirloom tomato sandwiches on bruschetta at lunch, and a chopped salad and assortment of pizzas at dinner. The kids menu features Minnie Mouse pancakes and mini burgers. Sweet conclusions include a classic root beer, banana cream pie, and vanilla Heath Bar bread pudding.

More things to do in Novato. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

101 North: Novato, Dollhouses, Trains & More

Dollhouses, Trains & More  300 Entrada Dr., (415) 883-0388. Located just before the Inn Marin property, this extraordinary barn of a store is a wonderland of dollhouses and miniatures, trains and landscapes, and more. More includes operating miniature carnival rides, Halloween and Christmas townscapes, and plenty of dolls. Browsing the website is fun, but browsing the store is positively exciting.

More things to do in Novato. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image ©2009 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, July 17, 2009

101 North: Novato, Inn Marin + Rickey's

Inn Marin  250 Entrada Dr./Enfrente Rd., (800) 652-6565, (415) 883-5952. 68 rooms. Pool; hot tub; fitness room. Continental breakfast; restaurant; limited room service. Situated just off Highway 101, at the quiet end of a frontage road, this delightful gem of a vintage motel dates from 1949. It features a 1-story Mission-style architecture, 6-inch-thick slumpstone adobe walls painted in a warm color palatte, and expansive lawns (it sits on 5 acres). Cars can drive right up to the guestroom door, and blue hydrangea-lined walkways lead around the property. Recently renovated to green standards, rooms feature sustainable bamboo floors, soft bamboo fabric bedding, and even bamboo ice buckets, but also flat screen TVs and small refrigerators.

Nicely appointed Rickey’s restaurant ((415) 883-9477. D daily, Sat-SunBr; $$.) features a sedate interior of handcrafted mission-style furniture and custom chandeliers. American comfort food made with fresh local ingredients is the fare, and poolside live jazz is added on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. You’ll want to be there when Frank Sinatra sound-alike Brad Bann is booked in to croon smooth songs from the early ‘60s.

More things to do in Novato. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image ©2009 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

San Francisco: The Contemporary Jewish Museum

update/page 28:

Set in the airy "Yud" Gallery, "Jews on Vinyl" offers the opportunity to sit down on a comfy couch and listen to all kinds of Jews singing all kinds of music. A soundtrack pulled from a display of related kitchy album covers includes Bob Dylan, Johnny Mathis, and KISS. Runs through October 13.

Across the way, "Chagall and the Artists of the Russian Jewish Theater, 1919-1949," uses paintings, costume and set design sketches, and film climps to tell this story of a period of cultural history in the Soviet Union. An audio guide is available at the admissions desk for $5. Runs through September 7.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

San Francisco: ANZU

update/page 46:

The "Smooth Jazz Sunday Brunch" at ANZU features KBLX radio 102.9 broadcasting live from the dining room. Currently, music is recordings only. The champagne brunch menu changes monthly. Current selections include bacon and eggs and smoked salmon and bagels as well as salads, sushi, assorted main dishes, delectable desserts, and more. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. $48, 62+ $38, 5-12 $25. Reservations advised.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

Friday, July 10, 2009

Greater East Bay: Lafayette, Chow

Chow  53 Lafayette Circle, in La Fiesta Square, (925) 962-2469. B-L-D daily; $-$$. Delicious, well-priced chow made with top ingredients is the name of the game at this spot that is wildly popular with locals. Fresh-pressed organic juices, sandwiches, salads, pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and meat and fish entrees are all on the menu. Dining here is especially pleasant in warm weather, when all the doors and windows are opened to let in a cooling breeze and when outside dining is an option. After, pick up some produce and to-go items in the small on-site grocery.

More things to do in Lafayette. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.