October 27, 2011

Plymouth: Shenandoah Inn; hotel review

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country

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.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 24, 2011

Berkeley: Ajanta; restaurant review

80 North 

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. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 7, 2011

San Francisco: Zeum; things to do

San Francisco 

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.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
(depicts carousel in Berkeley's Tilden Park)

October 3, 2011

Ukiah: Branches Wood Fired Chop House (CLOSED) + Hampton Inn; restaurant review + hotel review

Branches Wood Fired Chop House  CLOSED  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.

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image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers