Wednesday, August 31, 2011

101 South: Redwood City, Donato Enoteca

Donato Enoteca 1041 Middlefield Rd./Main St., (650) 701-1000. L-D daily; $$$. Operating in a varied space that offers a casual front room, a bar, a posh backroom with upholstered chairs and a rustic wood-paneled ceiling, and patio seating, this popular spot features a contemporary Italian menu. Appetizers include wild boar bruchetta on grilled ciabatta, ungreasy fritto of organic artichokes and rock shrimp, and sometimes a caprese salad with colorful heirloom tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. The prix-fixe menu is a bargain with three courses for $34, and sometimes its dessert is the best of the lot--like when it is poached organic peaches on puff pastry with peach sorbet. Pastas are all housemade and include spinach pappardelle topped with braised lamb in red sauce, small meat-stuffed ravioli, and very popular squid-ink spaghetti with rock shrimp, peas, and grape tomatoes. The risottos are reputedly quite special, and pizza made in a wood-fired oven, grilled whole seabass, and terra cotta-roasted free-range chicken are more options. The wine list is heavy on Italian vintages, and that back room is lined with wine storage cabinets. Delicious bread and dipping sauce is complimentary.

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, August 29, 2011

101 South: Palo Alto, Bell's Books

Bell’s Books 536 Emerson St., (650) 323-7822; . M-Thur 9:30-5:30, F 9:30-9, Sat 9:30-5. Family-owned since 1935, this small and delightful old-fashioned book shop stocks out-of-print books, antique prints, and a selection of new books. Books are stacked high, and related gift items are found here and there in appropriate sections.

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image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, August 26, 2011

880 South: Oakland, Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe

Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe 1805 Telegraph Ave/18th St., Uptown, (510) 251-9400. B-L-D daily; $-$$. Reservations taken for 6+. Located adjacent to the historic Fox Theater and open daily until 1 a.m., this vibrant cafe-diner features a high ceiling, oversize unpadded blue-wood booths, and orange tabletops. A 40-foot- long Doll Walk of Fame features a zoo of Barbie-size dolls wearing a mini-version Rudy’s uniform. A 10-person private booth within a stainless-steel dining car replica anchors the rear; booking it with a show at the Fox sometimes includes use of a private VIP entrance into the theater. The cafe’s name comes from a song by a 1980s band, and many dishes on the menu have song-related titles. Sunday brunch is an especially grand time to eat here because street parking is generally free, and after your meal it is just a short drive to Jack London Square to shop the farmer’s market. And then there’s the food. The brunch menu includes such goodies as three-egg omelets (the super Southwestern is stuffed with chorizo, avocado, and melted pepper Jack), scrambles (vegans should try the colorful sesame tofu scramble with green onion, mushroom, tomato, and spinach), and the kitchen’s specialty fluffy challah french toast topped with toasted slivered almonds (“One of the most addictive items we have,” says manager Doug Smith.). A head-spinning number of substitutions are available (I loved the biscuit I subbed in for toast). Noteworthy items at other times include Buffalo Chicken Salad (crisp romaine, tomato, onion, and crumbled blue cheese), Rudy's Slider Sampler (a mini Cajun Burger, Ranchero Burger, and Blue Cheese Burger), Combat Mac and Cheese, Mr. Roadies Fish and Chips, and the Mile High Club. Locally made pies and cakes are the perfect dessert. Appealing vegetarian and vegan options are plentiful, breakfast is served all day, and original cocktails are available. Specialty coffee drinks include design-topped lattes and the Shakin’ Jesse Milkshake made with Guinness Stout, chocolate ice cream, and espresso. And if all that isn’t enough, the cachet attached to the fact that Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt is a co-owner should do it.

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Way more things to do in Oakland.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Greater East Bay: Moraga, Chef Chao Restaurant

Chef Chao Restaurant 343 Rheem Blvd., in Lamorinda, (925) 376-1740. L M-Sat, D daily. No MSG is used in the Szechwan and Mandarin cuisine here. The bargain lunch special includes appetizer, soup, rice, and a fortune cookie. Among the popular dishes on the extensive menu are hot and sour soup, potstickers, lemon chicken, spicy eggplant, and honey walnut prawns. A variety of chow meins and chow funs are available, and family-style dinners are an option. The spacious dining room is filled with natural light by the wall of windows, and in the evening dangling electric icycles add romance. Comfortable seating includes many booths.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, August 22, 2011

San Francisco: Crown & Crumpet Tea Salon

This blog is written by guest blogger Cassidy Meyers, age11. She is depicted in the image. 

Crown & Crumpet Tea Salon (415) 771-4252. L & afternoon tea daily from 11am-5:15pm, F-Sat to 8:15pm.

A Well Spent Royal Afternoon
San Francisco's very own Crown & Crumpet Tea Salon should be enjoyed by people from all over, and not just the local community. From it's bubbling kettles, to petite treats, it's safe to say that it is absolutely charming. Here are the simple steps to making your tea time perfect. First, choose your desired tea--chamomile, peppermint, jasmine, all of the above, and more. Next they will bring you a three-tiered tea tray full of crumpets, sandwiches, and mini cupcakes! After you're done with your wonderful tea time afternoon experience, there is a gift shop full of delicate cups, kettles, and cute things to take home! Once you have gone to Crown & Crumpet, you will be certified royalty, and you'll really know how to have an English spot of tea.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, August 19, 2011

101 North: Ukiah, Vichy Springs Resort

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Vichy Springs Resort  2605 Vichy Springs Rd., 3 mi. E of town, (707) 462-9515. 18 rooms, 8 cabins; $$-$$$+. No TVs; some kitchens & gas fireplaces. Solar-heated mineral-water pool (avail. summer only); mineral springs hot tub; 14 hot springs soaking tubs. Full breakfast. No pets. Day use: $30-$50/person.

Founded in 1854, this 700-acre resort still has three renovated cottages from that era--they are the oldest still-standing structures in Mendocino County--plus two strips of redwood hotel rooms that date to the 1860s. The resort has the only naturally carbonated warm mineral baths in North America and is named for the famous French springs that have the same kind of alkaline waters and were discovered by Julius Caesar. In its heyday the resort attracted guests from San Francisco who endured an all-day journey to travel the 100 miles to get here--by ferry across the bay, by train to Cloverdale, then by stagecoach to the springs. They came in search of curative powers attributed to the waters that continue to bubble up from 5 miles underground at the rate of 65 gallons per minute. Among the famous vintage guests are writers Mark Twain, Jack London, and Robert Louis Stevenson, and presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, and Teddy Roosevelt. Vichy’s concrete "champagne" tubs, which date from 1860 and fill continuously with tingling 90-degree naturally carbonated water, are situated in several wood bathhouses as well as outside in a shady area overlooking Little Grizzly Creek. Swimsuits are required. Guests can also swim in a 130-year-old Olympic-size pool filled with unchlorinated mineral water, schedule a treatment in the massage cottage, and hike to a 40-foot-high waterfall or mountain bike over dirt roads. Picnic lunches can be arranged.

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video c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Plymouth, Amador 360 Wine & Visitor Center

Amador 360 Wine & Visitor Center 9310 Pacific St., (209) 267-4355. Tasting daily 10-6. This is the perfect starting point for a visit to Plymouth’s wineries. This visitor center showcases the quality and diversity of Amador County wines, and enthusiastic and knowledgeable proprietor,
-->Gregg Lamer, guides tasters to wineries suited to their palates. Choose five wines for $5 and keep the medical-grade plastic Govino glass for your picnics. Advice on guided tours, where to have a perfect picnic, and wine shipping is also dispensed. Most area wines are also available for purchase here and online.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, August 15, 2011

101 North: Ukiah, City of Ten Thousand Buddhas


City of Ten Thousand Buddhas 4951 Bodhi Way, 4 mi. SE of town, across 101, (707) 462-0939. Daily 8-6. One of the first Buddhist temples and monasteries built in the U.S., this 448-acre facility operates on the grounds of a former state mental hospital. After passing through the ornate gate onto the property, stop at the office for a map and visiting rules. Monks and nuns are spotted walking and riding bikes, and peacocks roam freely. The temple (in the former gymnasium) has walls lined with perhaps 10,000 golden Buddha figurines in various sizes, and good-timing presents the opportunity to witness chanting. The property also houses a K-12 school and a university. A gift shop sells Buddhist souvenirs, including newly made carved-stone amulets.

video and image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 



Jyun Kang Vegetarian Restaurant ((707) 468-7966. L W-M (12-3); $. Cash only. Reservations taken.) operates in one simple room with round tables. Decoration is limited to sporadic touches of lace. The name translates as "to your health," and the kitchen serves an Asian-style vegetarian/vegan lunch. Dishes are prepared without MSG, onions, garlic, scallions, leeks, shallots, or egg, but they do use hot red peppers and warn that the food is spicy but not hot. Recommended items include broccoli with cashews, mushrooms with greens, eggplant with basil, veggie noodles, veggie fried rice, curry noodle soup, mushroom and tomato soup, and sweet and sour tofu. Servers sometimes speak little English. When the restaurant gets crowded, diners are doubled-up at one table. Frozen food is available to go.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Wine Country: Napa, Judd’s Hill

Judd’s Hill 2332 Silverado Trail, 1 mi. N of Napa, 707-255-2332. Tasting by appt. Famous for its special events, including a sometimes Lobster Luau and an annual December Hanukkah Hootenanny, this small family-owned winery also operates a 3-hour Bottle Blending Day Camp. The camp is described by Director of Fabulosity J Brewner as, “Like chemistry class all over again, but fun.” Brewner says that at the camp they want you to “sit there until you go ‘Wow! This is me in a bottle!’ ”

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Santa Cruz Mountains: Los Gatos, Very Knit Shop

Very Knit Shop 24 N. Santa Cruz Ave., (408) 354-1434. Sumptuous yarns in a vast array of colors and textures are a feast for the eyes in this spacious and welcoming knitter’s paradise. Samples of darling items for babies--and even a knitted dog--provide inspiration.

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image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Monday, August 8, 2011

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sutter Creek, Susan's Place

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Susan’s Place  15 Eureka St./Main St., (209) 267-0945. L-D Thur-Sun. Situated just off Main Street, this popular spot has a welcoming vine-covered courtyard that is especially inviting on a warm day. It is an atmosphere of colorful umbrellas and flowering plants as well as doves cooing in a small aviary. A small wine bar featuring mostly local labels is among the warren of delightfully designed spaces that provide diners comfortable seating and privacy, yet community. The menu items include an intriguing selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches, plus a don’t miss dessert—a divine walnut-caramel torte.

Gallery 10 ((209) 267-0203. Thur-M 11-5.) opens off the courtyard and displays paintings, ceramics, and jewelry by mostly local artists.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Friday, August 5, 2011

Wine Country: Napa, Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa

Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa 3425 Solano Ave., (707) 253-8600. 2 stories; 275 rooms. Heated pool; hot tub; fitness room; full-service spa. Restaurant; room service. Secluded but well located, this expansive compound provides a quiet escape from the often-frenetic sport of wine tasting. A horseshoe of rooms surrounds the center courtyard pool area, and a large spa and fitness room are in a separate building. Rumor has it that when the Oakland Raiders have their training camp in this area, they stay here.

image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

It is worth going out of your way for a meal the impressive VINeleven restaurant. Another horseshoe is found here in the form of a welcoming dining bar. The attractive amorphous restaurant flows into the lobby and out onto the pool patio. There’s no fancy foams here, just simple healthy meals from Chef Brian Whitmer, a self-described “simple mid-western person who is now a California dude.” Whitmer is enthusiast and passionate about his menu, and brings in the freshest veggies and herbs from his gorgeous Heirloom Garden growing right under the Marriott sign. His credentials include once accidentally giving Julia Child salt instead of sugar for a recipe and also once cooking in NYC with Thomas Keller (of The French Laundry). His creative offerings include everything from toasted pumpkin-flax seed granola with sun-dried cherries to classic eggs Benedict on a Model Bakery English muffin to a made-to-order zucchini salad to a flavorful runner bean-and-chorizo soup to a perfect salmon with white corn. House-marinated olives and housemade pickles are a must, and so is a fresh-herb cocktail—perhaps the lovely strawberry pink gin Heirloom made with fresh basil and mint. The menu, which seems to have only the rare miss, changes monthly. Picnic lunches will soon be available by advance order.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Santa Cruz Mountains: Los Gatos, Los Gatos Museums Gallery

Los Gatos Museums Gallery  24 N. Santa Cruz Ave., 408-354-4530. Tu-F 10-5:30, Sat 10-5, Sun 11-3. This gallery’s artist members are invited by a jury, and they each take turns operating the business end. So the person you ask questions of might be the very artist whose work you are admiring. Everything is for sale, and 70 per cent goes to the artist, 30 per cent to the Museums of Los Gatos.

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image ©2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Monday, August 1, 2011

Wine Country: Napa, Artesa Winery

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NEW: Food & Wine Pairing $75; reservation required. The perfect event to celebrate a special occasion, this mixing of small bites with big wines is a super treat. After a short tour of the tiny winery museum and subterranean production facility, your guide will seat you in a room with two glass walls and start you on a tasting of five wines matched with five exceptional tidbits prepared by chef Wendy Suvino. You’ll learn to always try wine first, then go to the food, then back to the wine to notice how the flavor changes. My favorites are a spicy firecracker prawn paired with a rare white Albarino (Artesa is only the second winery in the U.S. to grow this grape), and creamy polenta cake topped with apricot Stilton and roasted chicken paired with a brilliantly yellow Chardonnay. The complete tasting is an filling and memorable lunch. The tasting is limited to between two and ten people, and a vegetarian/vegan option is available. Wine Club members get 25% off.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers