Wednesday, December 28, 2011

80 North: Berkeley, Thai Delight Cuisine

Thai Delight Cuisine 1700 Shattuck Ave./Virginia St., Gourmet Ghetto, (510) 549-0611. L-D daily; $$. Reservations accepted. Featuring a pleasant atmosphere, this one-room Thai venue provides a wall lined with comfortable booths as well as a sea of tables and chairs. The extensive lunch menu is well priced, with noodle dishes and rice plates, plus an entire page of veggie options and an additional several pages of organic choices. Particularly tasty items include pad Thai, green curry, pumpkin curry, basil eggplant, and pra ram tofu (with peanut sauce on top of spinach and broccoli). If you want spicy, do request it.

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.

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Thai Delight Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

80 North: El Cerrito, Banh Mi Ba Le

update 10-31-14
 

Banh Mi Ba Le 10174 San Pablo Ave./Central, (510) 528-8882. Daily 8-6; $3-$3.25/sandwich. Cash only.  This tiny strip-mall take-out spot has only one table inside plus two outside. The specialty is super delicious, cheap Vietnamese sandwiches that consist of a large crispy sandwich roll (made so crunchy by using a combination of wheat and rice flour), a choice of stuffing.  They are spiced with chili pepper and fluffed with cucumber slices, shredded carrots, and cilantro.  Of the ten choices, I favor the #7 (very red barbecued pork) and the #5 (meatballs that seem more like unstuffed sausage), but bacon and tofu veggie ham are also among the possibilities. I thought the sandwiches must be quite small since they are each around $3, and so I ordered two. Big mistake for one person, since these sandwiches measure almost 12 inches, but I just took the extra one home and ate it the next day. To order, just get in line and choose your filling. Several other enticing take-out items are available, and some unusual drinks are in the fridge. Try to refrain from eating in your car because you’ll wind up with a lot of crumbs.

More things to do in El Cerrito. 

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Banh Mi Ba Le on Urbanspoon


Monday, December 19, 2011

80 North: Berkeley, ACCI Gallery

ACCI Gallery 1652 Shattuck Ave., (510) 843-2527. M-Sat 11-6, Sun 12-5. Featuring ceramics, jewelry, paintings and more, this is the place to find thet perfect gift.

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 


More art galleries. 

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, December 16, 2011

San Francisco: Samovar

Samovar 730 Howard St./3rd St., Upper Terrace of Yerba Buena Gardens, (415) 227-9400. Daily 10-8; $$. No reservations. A menu of whole-leaf teas along with some sweet or savory treats are just the thing to enjoy here in the airy, high-ceilinged interior space or outside on the sprawling patio overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens. The Upper Terrace is home to Sister City Gardens, which features flowering plants from San Francisco’s thirteen sister cities. Try the housemade Masala chai paired with a cherry-oat scone or smoked wild salmon quiche, or maybe one of the cultural tea services—the Moorish spread comes with veggie kebabs, mint salad, endamame hummus and roasted eggplant spreads, chevre-stuffed dates, and mint tea.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

More tea rooms.

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

image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Samovar Tea Lounge on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

San Francisco: Contemporary Jewish Museum

update/page 28

Who knew that Bay Area “Jewish surf music” even existed? A delightful photo of "Hassids with surfboards" (it is also on the album cover of Meshugga Beach Party's latest album, “Let’s Go Shleppin!”) is part of the "California Dreaming" show here, running through October 16, 2012. Don't miss it . . . or the Houdini: Art and Magic show, which displays some amazing video footage and continues through January 16, 2012.


more about the Contemporary Jewish Museum, including the deli restaurant (scroll down).

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco.

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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

80 North: Berkeley, Origen: a Farm to Fork Restaurant--CLOSED

Origen: a Farm to Fork Restaurant 2826 Telegraph Ave./Oregon St., (510) 848-9200. L Tu-F, D Tu-Sun; $$. The restaurant’s name is a Catalan word meaning “from the source.” The locally-sourced menu changes daily and features international flavors, Catalan influences, and a small plates presentation. Chef-owner Trace Leighton says, “We do large flavors on small plates.” My meal began with a stiff 50’s-style “freight & salvage” highball made with Redemption rye, Chartreuse, and Carpano. It took the edge off. My companion and I ordered everything to share: really good potatoes bravas with aioli, pan-fried baby Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and aged sherry vinegar, a silky wilted spinach salad with beets and pecans (it definitely wasn’t wilted, but was still very good). We enjoyed a highly-seasoned, spicy paella--one variety is available each day--with shrimp, pistachios, and squash; it had a creamy consistency like a risotto. Room remained for just a few slices of the tasty Basque chorizo pizza made in a wood-fired brick oven and so most of it went home with us (it measured 9 inches and featured a soft, fluffy, chewy crust). Many items can be prepared vegan by request. A five-course prix fixe menu with optional wine pairings changes daily. Desserts include homey bread pudding, a scrumptious butterscotch-pecan blondie, and assorted artisan cheeses. Polished wood paneling and accents by Berkeley Mills provide a warm decor, and some booths offer comfy seating. My favorite touch is the soft dish towels that are used as oversize napkins.

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.

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Origen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Christmas events, Nevada City & Grass Valley

updates/pp. 367, 370, &; 371



WHAT: Victorian Christmas
WHERE: Nevada City
WHEN: December 7, 11, 14, 18, and 21; Wednesdays 5-9 PM, Sundays 1:30-6 PM
DETAILS: This Gold Rush town’s historic district is closed to traffic and transformed into Christmas past, and enchanting melodies and costumed characters take visitors to another time and place. Enjoy tasting chestnuts roasted on an open fire, hearing strolling minstrels and brass bands, riding on a hay wagon, and more. Among the promises: Victorian singers, bagpipers, a living nativity scene, a walking Christmas tree, and, of course, Santa Claus.
MORE INFO: (800) 655-NJOY, (530) 265-2692
and
WHAT: Cornish Christmas
WHERE: Grass Valley
WHEN: On Fridays, beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving (November 25) until the Friday before Christmas (December 23), 6-9 PM.
DETAILS: Experience an old-time Christmas at this event celebrating the traditions of the Cornish miners who settled this neighboring Gold Rush town. Visitors can taste traditional food and drink, hear period music, and dance in the traffic-free downtown streets.
MORE INFO: (530) 272-8315

NEARBY LODGING: National Hotel (in Nevada City), (530) 265-4551. Located right in the center of all the action, on the town's main street, this claims to be the oldest continuously operating hotel west of the Rockies--maybe even west of the Mississippi. Built in 1856, it is a state historical landmark and features high ceilings, cozy floral wallpapers, and old-time furniture.

More things to do in Grass Valley.

More things to do in Nevada City.

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.
 
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  


Monday, December 5, 2011

101 North: Petaluma, Della Fattoria

Della Fattoria 141 Petaluma Blvd. N, (707) 763-0161. Tu-Thur & Sat 7-3, F 7am-9pm, Sun 9-3; $$. Part artisan bread bakery and part cafe, this is a cozy, pleasing venue for a tasty breakfast or lunch. Breakfast items include a housemade bagel with homemade cream cheese and smoked salmon (though it is near perfect, a few garnishes—perhaps some onions and pickles—would be nice) and a crusty housemade rosemary-Meyer lemon bread toasted and topped with pureed flageolet beans, Laura Chenel chevre, roasted garlic, and olive oil. Do remember to order up a loaf of bread and a bag of granola (heavy on nuts mixed with oats) to take home.

More things to see and do in Petaluma.  

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers



Della Fattoria on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 2, 2011

Greater East Bay: Orinda, Szechwan Restaurant

Szechwan Restaurant 79 Orinda Way, (925) 254-2020. L Tu-Sat, D Tu-Sun; $$. Simple, clean, and with a nice park view, this welcoming spot also has quite a few comfy booths. No MSG is used in the dishes, which include tasty hot-and-sour soup, sweet-and-sour pork (cut in small pieces and not overly sweet), and Szechwan beef (deep-fried meat punctuated with bright green peas). The bargain lunch special includes tea, soup, salad, appetizer, rice, entrée, orange slices, and a fortune cookie.

Szechwan Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Orinda.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

San Francisco: Jane

Jane  2123 Fillmore St., Upper Fillmore, (415) 931-5263. This small, narrow venue features tall ceilings and windows, a variety of seating options, and a scrumptious menu. Diners order at the counter near a mouth-watering display of baked goods. You can’t go wrong with the combo plate, most especially the veggie chopped salad combined with the tomato-basil-mozzarella-pesto panini. More tasty possibilities include a Nicoise salad, Asian chicken salad, and Duroc ham-Gruyere panini. Oh yeah, those pastries. I thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate chip toffee cookie, and plan to try the chocolate cherry cake next time.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 
 
image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Monday, November 28, 2011

101 North: Petaluma, Metro Hotel

Metro Hotel 508 Petaluma Blvd. S., 6 blocks SE of downtown, (707) 773-4900. 14 rooms, 2 cottages, 1 Airstream trailer; 2 stories. Limited continental breakfast. No pets.
Located on a main thoroughfare four blocks south of downtown, this unusual lodging complex consists of rooms within an 1870s mansion as well as several cottages and an Airstream trailer. A mix of cheerful French blue and other perky colors welcomes guests. For the minimalist breakfast you make your own cup of drip coffee--which is kind of fun and it is the gourmet organic Peet’s brand--and then select from a couple of pastries that might include a pumpkin or blueberry tea cake. The French atmosphere is enhanced with music and decor, yet subtle. Rooms are decorated similarly with a Parisian flair: walls in varying soft color washes; a chalk-board for a headboard; light, natural hardwood floors; distressed antiques. Most rooms have the spaciousness and high ceilings that come with Victorian mansions. Bathrooms vary, and all but two rooms have a clawfoot tub with a shower. Vintage touches include tiny one-inch, six-sided white floor tiles and two-faucet sinks. A bocce court invites play, and many benches beckon in the small garden.

More things to see and do in Petaluma.  

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, November 25, 2011

San Francisco: Hyatt Regency San Francisco

update/p.52

Hyatt Regency San Francisco is hosting snowfall throughout the holiday season in its dramatic atrium lobby--dubbed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest. Snow falls three times daily through December 31, 2011. In addition, you'll see thousands of dramatic cascading lights and a spectacular 30-foot tree.

Plus, Breakfast with Santa in the Eclipse Café occurs December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18 from 8am–noon










and
ice skating at the Embarcadero Holiday Skating Rink occurs daily from through January 2, 2012.

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  
images c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

80 North: Berkeley, 900 Grayson

900 Grayson  900 Grayson St./7th St., (510) 704-9900. B-L M-Sat; $$. No reservations. Situated within an atmospheric vintage building, this cozy restaurant usually requires a wait. Once inside, it isn’t easy to choose from the tantalizing menu choices, but The Demon Lover does seem to be the runaway favorite. It consists of a spectacular crispy fried chicken breast atop an unremarkable waffle and is draped in old-time white chicken gravy; it is fork-licking good, but next time I order it, I’m doing it a la carte and getting the chicken with a side of gravy and slaw). Herb french fries, a burger, a pulled-pork sandwich, and coriander-crusted rare ahi tuna are also very good. Libations include unique mixed drinks and agua fresca.

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.

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

900 Grayson on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 21, 2011

101 North: Santa Rosa, Safari West

update/p.233

Check out the new baby giraffe at Safari West:




Friday, November 18, 2011

880 South: Oakland, Oasis Food Market

Oasis Food Market 3045 Telegraph Ave., (510) 655-5111. Daily 9am-10pm; $. In addition to a deli and grocery, this Middle Eastern market has an informal dining area. It’s easy to fall in love with the smoky babaghanouge and crunchy red Turkish salad, especially when paired with 9-inch rounds of zatar-topped “pies,” but do save room for perhaps a kabob or shawarma or falafel. Five kinds of Feta and six varieties of olive are also available. Note that a paper menu at the counter makes ordering easier. Halal meat, hookahs, and Arabic kitchenware are also for sale.
 
More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland.

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

101 North: Petaluma, Sonoma Valley Portworks

Sonoma Valley Portworks 613 Second St., Riverfront Warehouse District, (707) 769-5203. Daily 12-5. Tasting here includes six wines—perhaps the chocolaty Deco port, or the Duet hazelnut sherry--plus the rich, sweet Sonomic “almost” vinegar. On weekends, tastings are paired with cheeses and sweets, and amazingly it’s all free. Bottling takes place in the back.

More things to see and do in Petaluma.  

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, November 14, 2011

101 North: Petaluma, The Find

The Find 322 Western Ave., (707) 763-2276. This spacious shop features home furnishings on consignment as well as many chicken-related items—perhaps a series of chicken-head paintings or an antique chicken egg incubator.

More things to see and do in Petaluma.  

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, November 11, 2011

101 South: Palo Alto, Hotel Keen

Hotel Keen 425 High St./University Ave., downtown, (650) 327-2775. 42 rooms; 3 stories. Afterrnoon wine tasting; evening cookies; grab-and-go breakfast. No pets. Located a quiet half-block from vibrant University Avenue and its plethora of shops and restaurants, this Very Now new hotel features a cool color scheme-- grey, black, and white with a few splashes of color. Spiffy touches include a shiny whiteboard wall behind each 32-inch flat screen TV (with HBO), where guests can write notes and express their inner artist. Though no parking is provided, free hours in an adjacent public lot accommodate most schedules. An alcove the sleek lobby holds an honor snack bar and a small breakfast room (breakfasts ordered the night before will be boxed and ready for pickup). Though not spacious, the deluxe room is efficient and comfortable for a couple; the standard room is 25% smaller and has no closet. The bathroom and closet door is a curtain. A nearby fitness center is available at additional charge.

More things to do in Palo Alto. 

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

image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Plymouth, Amador Flower Farm

Amador Flower Farm 22001 Shenandoah School Rd., (209) 245-6660. Daily 9-4. Free. No pets. Four acres of demonstration gardens display unusual perennials (including some deer-resistant varieties) and grasses plus almost a dozen types of peony (there are only two or three dozen in existence) that bloom in April and May and the 60 varieties of rose that begin blooming of May. The star attraction is the more than 1,000 different daylilies displayed. Peak of bloom is mid-June through July, when an annual Daylily Days celebration is held that includes fruit tasting and a free tram ride around the farm. Several pond-side picnic tables are provided under gigantic heritage oak trees.

More things to see and do in Plymouth.  

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.

More gardens.  

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


Monday, November 7, 2011

880 South: Oakland, Xyclo

Xyclo 4218 Piedmont Ave., Entrada Ave., (510) 654-2681. L-D daily; $$. Reservations advised. In simple but pleasant surroundings, this Vietnamese venue inspires diners to argue over which is the best dish. The list of possibilities includes stuffed eggplant (actually long slices of eggplant tossed with lengthwise slices of fried shrimp, green onion, and sake sauce), spicy green beans, chili ribs, devil wings, spicy steak salad, pho, double spring rolls, sugarcane shrimp roll, bird’s nest noodles, and lemongrass basil chicken dish. And on and on. It is difficult to order poorly.

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland.

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





image courtesy of venue


Xyclo Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 4, 2011

101 North: Ukiah, Schat’s Bakery Cafe

Schat’s Bakery Cafe 113 W. Perkins St., downtown, (707) 462-1670. B-L; $. Located across from the town’s court house, this popular Dutch-heritage bakery makes everything from scratch. Step up to the counter to order. For breakfast it’s omelettes, waffles, burritos, and plenty more; for lunch think soups, salads, stuffed baked potatoes, and sandwiches (including a build your own) made with delicious organic bread—do try the whole-grain sunflower seed or the cloud-soft sheepherder. Popular bakery items include Dutch crunch bread, fruit pastries, oversize macaroons, and hunky muffins. Goods are well priced to begin with, but leftovers become half-price after 5:30 p.m.

More things to do in Ukiah.

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


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

80 North: Berkeley, Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto

update/p.296

The new Sunday brunch buffet at Spenger's includes omelette/waffle and prime rib/ham carving stations, fresh fruit, seasonal fresh shell fish (usually the seafood trifecta of crab, prawns, oysters), smoked red salmon, talapia and catfish items, crispy romaine lettuce and delicious dressing, breakfast pastries, and more, plus coffee, tea, and soda ($29.95, age 10 and under $10.95).  In fact there are so many delicious options that I barely made a dent in them, yet I ate little more for the rest of the day.  A bottomless Mimosa or glass of sparkling wine is $8.  Seating in the central “snugs room” is light and cheery, while the comfy booths lining the bar buffet are darker but also closer to the food.  

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.

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

San Francisco: Ripley's Believe It or Not! San Francisco Odditorium

update/p.29

At last! You can visit Ripley’s for less moo-lah and do a good deed at the same time. Here’s the deal. With a donation of five non-perishable food items, you can purchse a ticket to Ripley's Believe It or Not! San Francisco Odditorium for just $5 (regular adult ticket price is $19.99). All food collected goes to the San Francisco Food Bank/Marin Food Bank partnership. Have fun while doing some good for others. Can’t beat that! Offer is good November 6 through 10.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco.

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Plymouth, Shenandoah Inn

Shenandoah Inn 17674 Village Dr., (800) 542-4549, (209) 245-4491. 46 rooms. Unheated pool; hot tub. Pets ok in some rooms. Continental breakfast. Featuring clean-lined contemporary style, this 2-story mission-style hilltop motel offers two wings of spacious, attractively decorated rooms outfitted with posh Sealy Posturepedic mattresses and a white double-sheeted comforter. Most rooms overlook Shenandoah Valley’s bucolic cow pastures. An area with picnic tables and barbecues is adjacent to the pool.

More things to see and do in Plymouth.  

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, October 24, 2011

80 North: Berkeley, Ajanta

update/p.289

Soft-spoken Ajanta owner Lachu Moorjani was the first to offer organic ingredients in a Bay Area Indian restaurant. He also is the first to bring in regional Indian dishes. (His cookbook--Ajanta: Regional Feasts of India--features these regional dishes and is available for purchase at the restaurant; he will sign it for you.) Other restaurants offer these exotic dishes now, but no one else has the variety. The menu rotates regularly, so each time you return many new dishes are available. I recently dined here once again and was particularly impressed with the creative vegetarian selections. Tandoori portobello mushrooms are moist and chewy and spiced with cloves and cinnamon. Badal Jaam consists of smoky, thick eggplant slices that are fried and brushed with housemade tomato sauce and mango powder. My favorite, Baby Squash Medley, consisted of a variety of squashes mixed with peas and paneer cheese in a tomato curry sauce. I also especially liked both the spectacular tandoori scallops appetizer (they had just the right texture and were served with a yogurt-cashew-tamarind sauce) and the Methi Machi (a filet of fresh wild salmon in a delicious tomato-based sauce). A mango mousse or creamy frozen Kulfi studded with pistachios paired with a cup of decaf chai provides the perfect ending.

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.

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Ajanta on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 7, 2011

San Francisco: Zeum

update/p.43

Zeum will reopen on October 15 transformed into the Children’s Creativity Museum.
• It provides hands-on art and technology experiences for kids age 3-12.
• The new Imagination Lab is ideally suited for the youngest visitors (ages 3-5).
• During opening weekend, October 15-16, Target will sponsor free admission to the Children’s Creativity Museum, as well as free rides on the historic 1906 Charles Looff carousel.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco.

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
(depicts carousel in Berkeley's Tilden Park)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

101 North: Ukiah, Branches Wood Fired Chop House & Hampton Inn

Branches Wood Fired Chop House 1180 Airport Park Blvd., 2 mi. S of town, (707) 468‐5400. $$. Reservations taken. This gargantuan space houses a retail area with a butcher shop and bakery, plus an upscale restaurant, a traditional Irish-style pub and sports bar (it is well-insulated so the noise does not spill over), and an adjacent quiet “grown-ups bar.” Diners can eat and then gather more goodies for their next meal at home. The wide-open main dining room has an extremely high ceiling with open rafters, plenty of comfortable booths, and a menu that offers dishes made from the freshest local ingredients. Almost everything is made in-house in the semi-open kitchen behind an outcropping of decorative reeds. The restaurant also has its own gardens. Though the menu changes regularly, popular items include a pepper-crusted filet mignon with Jack Daniels demi glace, a sourdough-crusted pizza, and some vegan items. Order one of the delicious sausages when available (the curried lamb and angry pig are superb). Pastry chef Debbie Coenen formerly cooked for the royals in Buckingham Palace, so be sure to try one of her delicious creations—perhaps an old-fashioned cream puff or an apricot tart.

Though usually there are no surprises in franchise lodgings, this boutique Hampton Inn (1160 Airport Park Blvd., (800) hampton, (707) 462-6555. 3 floors; 76 rooms. Some fireplaces. Pool; hot tub; fitness room. Full breakfast.) is next door and the only one in the U.S. with private patios and balconies. It features a nicely landscaped pool area with two koi ponds, and all rooms are oversize.

More things to do in Ukiah.

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Friday, September 30, 2011

Greater East Bay: Danville, Esin Restaurant and Bar

Esin Restaurant and Bar  750 Camino Ramon, in The Rose Garden shopping center, (925) 314-0974. L-D daily; $$-$$$. A favorite with local critics and foodies, this sophisticated restaurant features high ceilings, large windows, and comfortable seating--including banquettes and booths--in its large, airy open space. The menu offers housemade soups and creative salads as well as pastas, fish, and meats. Desserts are exceptional and not to be trifled with; don’t miss the black-bottom banana cream pie--oh my!—or the fave peanut butter cheesecake.

Esin Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Danville.

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers




Wednesday, September 28, 2011

80 North: Berkeley, Trattoria La Siciliana

Trattoria La Siciliana  2993 College Ave./Ashby Ave., in Elmwood, (510) 704-1474. D daily; $$. Cash only. Reservations advised (taken for 3+). Tables here are tucked into a narrow space with an upstairs area to help handle overflow. The menu is extensive, and all pastas are made from scratch on site. Meals are meant to be shared and begin with a tasty olive oil dip made with plenty of garlic and herbs and a hint of heat. Though it does seem difficult to order wrong, tried-and-true dishes include portobello mushroom ravioli, rollatini di Melenzane (eggplant rolls), pappardelle pasta with either a light mixture of sausage and kale or with a long-simmered pork ragu sauce, and sometimes lobster linguine.

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.

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Trattoria la Siciliana on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 26, 2011

101 North: Ukiah, Ukiah Brewing Company & Restaurant


Ukiah Brewing Company & Restaurant  102 S. State St., downtown, (707) 468-5898. L-D daily; $$. Takes reservations. Do your body a healthy favor and have a brew and a meal at the first certified organic brewpub and the second certified organic brewery in the U.S. Beers are not filtered and available only on site. Everything on the eclectic menu here is made in the kitchen except the bread and buns, which come from Schat’s Bakery next door. The Orr Springs IPA is the most popular brew, but many also favor the Sunhouse Amber, Doppel Dunkel Weizen, and dark Coops Stout. Menu favorites include a burger, fresh fish & chips, a Sloppy Joe with caramelized onions and side of mild red cabbage slaw, a beet-walnut salad, and garlic fries. Housemade cucumber pickles are available in summer, and daikon radish pickles the rest of the year. The funky warehouse-style space offers seating in several areas and also outside, and live music is scheduled most evenings.

More things to do in Ukiah.

More breweries.

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
 

Friday, September 23, 2011

80 North: Berkeley, Vegi Food--CLOSED

Vegi Food  2085 Vine St./Shattuck Ave., (510) 548-5244. L Tu-F, D daily; $. Reservations taken. No cards. This very simple cafe serves an all-vegan menu of Chinese food prepared in the Buddhist style--with no onions, garlic, eggs, fake meats, or MSG, but with plenty of vegetables and ginger and some tofu and gluten. Popular dishes include crispy fried pot stickers, spicy “shark fin” soup with plenty of tasty mushrooms but no sharks, soybean sheets with greens, crispy thin chow mein noodles with veggies, spicy eggplant, and asparagus or green beans in black bean sauce. Fried wontons and soup come with the bargain lunch special; brown rice is available at additional charge.

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley.

More vegan-vegetarian places.

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

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Vegi Food on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Plymouth, Deaver Vineyards & Winery and Amador Harvest Inn

Deaver Vineyards & Winery 12455 Steiner Rd., (209) 245-4099. Daily 11-5. Though this Shenandoah Valley tasting room is simple and unfussy, the wines are delicious and the tranquil grounds boast picnic tables overlooking two manmade lakes dating from the 1930s. Deaver has been making wines here for four generations and have some of the area’s oldest “mission vines” (planted by missionaries in the 1850s). The roots of old vines go 20 feet into the ground and source their own water, so they don’t need to be watered further and produce grapes with an earthy taste. Wines include a Zinfandel made from the fruit of 140-year-old vines, a Primitivo from the same grandfather grape hailing from Croatia, and a very nice Zinfandel Port. The winery’s ten ports are fortified with brandy and delightfully sealed with wax, making a lovely gift.

Amador Harvest Inn 12455 Steiner Rd., (800) 217-2304, (209) 245-5512. 4 rooms. Unsuitable for children under 12. Full breakfast. No pets. Located adjacent to the winery, this Cape Cod-style house overlooks vineyards, mature oaks, and rolling hills.

More things to see and do in Plymouth.  

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, September 19, 2011

101 North: Ukiah, Patrona

Patrona 130 W. Standley St., downtown, (707) 462-9181. L-D Tu-Sat; $$$. Reservations advised. Locally sourced California cuisine is served here in a serene atmosphere featuring rustic brick walls nicely accenting a chic decor of black leather hi-back chairs and tables of polished pepperwood repurposed from a nearby ranch. A creative cocktail is the perfect start—perhaps a pisco mojito with cucumber, lime, and mint--but the large Mendocino County wine list is also worth a look. The menu changes regularly, so there is no guarantee it will offer a tangy, finely chopped gazpacho soup, or a crunchy flash-fried cod with a sweet chili sauce, but fish here is generally very good.

More things to do in Ukiah.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Friday, September 16, 2011

101 North: Novato, Rustic Bakery

Rustic Bakery 1407 Grant Ave., (415) 878-4952. Daily 7am-5pm; $. Diners at this bakery cafe pass by a mouth-watering selection of baked goods—specialty breads, flaky croissants, fruit pastries, huge cookies, bread pudding—then place their order at the counter for sandwiches, salads, and soups. A large window looks into the bakery kitchen. Seating is at a bank of tables across from the counter, and outside on the sidewalk in good weather.

More things to do in Novato. 

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Greater East Bay: Moraga, town of Canyon

Canyon  Along Pinehurst Rd., 3 mi. from Moraga. A narrow winding road leads through redwoods into no man’s land—-the rustic unincorporated community of Canyon. Stop at the post office to absorb the quiet, woodsy atmosphere.

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, September 12, 2011

880 South: Livermore, La Rochelle & The Steven Kent Winery

Steven Mirassou, who owns both of these wineries, says, "The wine business is like the fashion business, but it doesn’t move as quickly. People are always looking for new things."

La Rochelle
5443 Tesla Rd., (925) 243-6442. Tasting daily 12-4:30; no tour.
This winery focuses on Pinot Noir. In addition to a regular tasting, a flight tasting paired with a food platter is offered in its relaxing tasting room; reservations are not necessary.


The Steven Kent Winery  5443 Tesla Rd., (925) 243-6440. Tasting daily 12-4:30; no tour.  This winery operates on the same property. Incredibly enthusiastic owner-winemaker Steven Mirassou focuses on Cabernet but also makes a delicious “Merrillie” Chardonnay and Vincere, and he is not above naming a vinatage for his grandma (Merrillie) or his cat (Lola). Picnic tables are shaded by several olive trees.

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, September 9, 2011

80 North: Berkeley, Joshu-ya Brasserie

Joshu-ya Brasserie 2441 Dwight Way/Telegraph Ave., (510) 848-5260. L M-Sat, D daily; $$. Though it retains part of the space’s former name, this is an all-new enterprise with an enthusiastic young chef from NYC. Surrounded as it is by a red wood fence, the remodeled restaurant is especially reminiscent of a Japanese country inn in the evening when warm lights glow in welcome. Though traditional Japanese favorites are on the menu and extremely well executed (crisp-battered shrimp and vegetable tempura, delicate vegetable gyoza potstickers), the izakaya (Japanese tapas) craze is apparent with choices such as cold but spicy jalapeno pork belly soba noodles or hanger steak sukiyaki with shitake mushrooms. And there is, of course, plenty of sushi (Lion King with baked salmon, crab, and avocado; Cinderella with vegetable tempura, avocado, and wakame seaweed). A bowl of miso soup and bottomless cup of roasted rice green tea are complimentary with every meal. Dining spaces include a large outside courtyard complete with soothing fountain, a formal front dining room with white tablecloths, a tucked-away back room reminiscent of a German beer pub, and a traditional sushi bar. For drinks, choose from Japanese craft beers, shochu (a Japanese distilled clear spirit similar to vodka), and fruity sake cocktails. Dessert choices include a baseball-size hunk of green tea ice cream wrapped in pound cake and deep fried.

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers