Friday, August 31, 2012

101 South: San Mateo, 31st Union

31st Union  5 S. Ellsworth St./Baldwin, near train station, (650) 458-0049.  D Tu-Sun; $$.  Decorated in a rustic style reminiscent of a mountain cabin, this restaurant has blackboard walls framed with reclaimed barn-wood panels, a high ceiling, and a state map that denotes the geographic sources of various ingredients.  The restaurant’s name combines the fact that California was the 31st state to enter the Union and the house commitment to using ingredients from within state lines whenever possible.  Featuring mostly small sharable plates, the menu changes regularly.  Populaar items include duck tacos, fish & chips, and fat lamb meatball sliders (a Romesco sauce makes them both colorful and tasty).
I especially liked the scrumptious bite-size roasted green padron peppers and the flavorful and juicy grilled hanger steak. All the desserts are inviting, though we opted for the cannoli ice cream sandwich and flaky peach pocket pie and not the beer float (next time).  Drinks include flights of wine, cocktails, and local artisanal beers.  Though open just two months now, when I visited on a Saturday night the Union roared with a capacity crowd.

31st Union on Urbanspoon

More things to do in San Mateo.

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images ©2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Greater East Bay: Pinole, Pear Street Bistro

Pear Street Bistro  2395 San Pablo Ave., (510) 741-8875.  L M-Sat, D daily, SunBr; $$.  Situated in Pinole’s historic downtown, this bar and restaurant is spacious and inviting and prepares everything fresh.  The large eclectic menu has something for everyone.  I especially enjoyed the prawn-avocado salad dressed with a tasty cocktail sauce and served with delicious house-fried corn chips, and also the pulled pork-and-slaw sandwich.  Next time I plan to try the pear-gorgonzola salad and fried chicken sliders. 

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


image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Pear Street Bistro on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 27, 2012

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sierra City, Big Springs Gardens

Big Springs Gardens  32613 Hwy. 49, 3½ mi. E of town, (530) 862-1333.  Mid-June-Sept only.  L W-F (12-1; order from menu); F eve bbq, Sat L & D, Sun brunch buffet (10:30-1).  Complete meal + garden $25; garden only $12, 6-12 $8.  Reservations required.  No credit cards.  No pets; no outside food.  This groomed 7-acre garden includes the 1-acre Spirit Pond that is filled with trout and waterlilies and accented with a deep-tourquoise arched “Bridge of Dreams” reminiscent of Giverny’s.  Meals take place in a flat, unpaved area outdoors under sheltering tall trees.  Meal price includes sales tax and gratuity; wine and beer are available.  Surrounding this is 23 acres of wild gardens.  A 2-mile trail leads through an old-growth forest to The Source, where water bubbles up from a spring and flows down through the property into the pond and eventually to a waterfall on Highway 49; it is the perfect after-meal hike.  This slice of paradise is the personal vision and private property of Don Phillips.

More things to do in Sierra City. 

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.

More gardens.  

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

image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, August 24, 2012

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sierra City, The Buttes Resort

The Buttes Resort  230 Main St., (800) 991-1170, (530) 862-1170.  11 units (8 cabins + 3 attached rooms).  Most have kitchens & gas fireplaces.  Closed Dec-Mar.  No pets.  Featuring a woodsy exterior reminiscent of a Swiss chalet, with fence cutouts in the shape of hearts, triangles, and crosses, these vintage cabins are popular with hikers and fishermen.  Reception and lobby are in a cozy lodge room with a pool table, where shelves are filled with books, DVDs, and games that guests can borrow.  Guests also have access to a free fish-cleaning station, plus a good view of the river below and the buttes above is provided from a large communal deck with tables and chairs, barbecue facilities, and lounge chairs.  Located on a bluff high above the river, this lodging is within an easy walk of several restaurants and bars (the town is only a few blocks long).  Mountain water here is good right out of the tap, and a nearby trail leads down to the river for sunbathing and swimming.  Rooms 9 and 10 have a small private deck with dining table and chairs plus two chairs for relaxing in while looking across at the tree-covered Sierra mountains and listening to the river below.  Rooms 4, 7, and 9 have a view of the river.  All rooms have a similar attractive decor that includes walls partially lined in knotty pine, tweed-carpeted floors, and Venetian blinds.  Room 9 has a claw-foot soaking tub and 12 has a whirlpool tub.

More things to do in Sierra City. 

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.

image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sierra City, The Gallery in Sierra City

The Gallery in Sierra City  231 Main St., (530) 862-1188.  Hours vary.  Newly operating within the town’s atmospheric and historic Wells Fargo building, this large gallery displays wall art as well as quilted and crocheted craft items and jewelry. 

More things to do in Sierra City. 

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.

More art galleries. 

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

image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, August 20, 2012

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sierra City, Sierra County Historical Park

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Sierra County Historical Park 100 Kentucky Mine Rd., off Hwy. 49, ½-mile E of town, (530) 862-1310.  W-Sun 10-5, June-Aug; closed Sept-May.  Mill tour at 11 & 2.  $7, 7-17 $3.50.  Museum only:  $1; under 6 free.  No credit cards. 
    The Kentucky Mine Museum displays mining artifacts, including an exact replica of the largest gold nugget ever found in Sierra County—a 103-pounder dubbed “The Monumental."  The museum is inside a reconstructed wood-frame former hotel dating from the mid-19th century.  Picnic tables and barbecue facilities are available under a canopy of oak trees.  A 45-minute guided tour through the reconstructed 7-story, 1850s Kentucky Mine Stamp Mill (where rocks were sorted and crushed) also begins here, and includes a visit to a replica miners’ cabin and to the portal of the mine (note that steep climbing and stairs are involved).  Participants view the original machinery--which is still intact and operable—and see a demonstration of a small Pelton water wheel and the stamping machine.

More things to do in Sierra City. 

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.

video c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers





Thursday, August 16, 2012

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sierra City and Sierra Country Store & Deli

Cars start falling off behind you as you drive in toward the little burg of Sierra City.  At an altitude of 4,187 feet, it is formed by a collection of Gold Rush-era buildings positioned on the North Yuba River and with a view of the sawtooth Sierra Buttes.  Some townsfolk describe living here as “like being in Mayberry.”  The town was destroyed by an avalanche in 1852, rebuilt, and in 1869 a 118-pound gold nugget was found.  Sierra Valley is the largest alpine valley in North America. 

Sierra Country Store & Deli  213 Main St., (530) 862-1560.  M-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 11-6.  Rebuilt after the avalanche, this building dates to the 1850s and now holds the town’s atmospheric full-service grocery store.  In addition to meat, produce, and beer, a small deli whips up treats.  The burgers are famous--the smallest is a completely personalized half-pounder that is as big as the nut on the Kentucky Mine jaw crusher, and the largest is the 1-pound “gut buster”--but deli sandwiches, a killer orange freeze, and milk shakes and other ice cream goodies are also available.  The best spot to dine is on a bench out on the front porch (the owner has installed some newer benches, too, measured to the specs of Bubba’s in Kauai, a personal favorite burger spot), but seating at a community table is also available in the back of the store. 

See Sierra City live via webcam. 

More things to do in Sierra City.  

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.

images c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

80 North: Berkeley, The Bone Room

The Bone Room  1569 Solano Ave., (510) 526-5252.  Tu-Sat 11-6.  Though I find it a bit creepy, this “natural history store” purveys bones, insects, fossils, animal remnants, and more.  On my visit I saw an open-topped cage with hundreds of live crickets, sea urchin spines, shells, tarantulas in Lucite, and framed butterflies.


More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.
  
image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

San Francisco: Machka

Machka  584 Washington St./Montgomery St., Financial District, (415) 391-8228.  L-D M-Sat; $$.  Contemporary Turkish cuisine prepared with mostly local organic ingredients is served in this intimate little spot at the edge of North Beach.  Seating is at high tables—with purse hooks underneath—in a room with a brick wall and large windows to a leafy street and the Transamerica pyramid.  The menu has small-plate mezes as well as durum (wraps), meat and vegetable kebabs, and larger entrees.  All my choices (shared with my dining companion) turned out to be winners.  The delicate creamy fennel soup of the day was delicious, though the taste of fennel was hard to detect.  A tasty babaganoush (eggplant spread) came with spectacular crisp lavash chips flavored with smoked paprika—it was impossible to stop eating them.  Blue cheese-chorizo stuffed dates, cumin lamb kebabs with a cherry tomato-enhanced rice pilaf, and a green salad of fava beans, English peas, and snap peas completed the main meal for us.  Desserts include a traditional fried k√ľnefe made with soft white cheese inside shredded filo dough topped with roasted pistachios, but I opted for delectable dried apricots stuffed with mascarpone and enhanced with pistachios and a housemade tart pomegranate molasses.  Thick Turkish coffee is available.  An exhibition kitchen adds to the cozy atmosphere.  Getting here by BART is easy.  The restaurant is 7 blocks from the Montgomery station.  It also makes an easy tie-in with a movie at the Embarcadero Center Cinema at One Embarcadero Center (www.landmarktheatres.com).  From the movie, it is a few blocks back to the Embarcadero BART station. 

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 c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Machka on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 6, 2012

880 South: Oakland, East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse

East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse  4695 Telegraph Ave./47th St., (510) 547-6470.  Daily 11-6.  This spot purveys an eclectic selection of sometimes bizarre donated items—you’ll see everything from colorful rayon sarongs to logo squishees--and is particularly popular with artists and teachers.  I dropped off a batch of well-received peach lugs and event badges when I visited. 

It is a few doors down from Burma SuperStar

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, August 3, 2012

Greater East Bay: Walnut Creek, Corners Tavern

Corners Tavern  1342 Broadway Plaza, (925) 948-8711.  L-D daily, SunBr; $$$.  Reservations advised.  Featuring an eclectic mix of seating and decor—Grimms fairytale wall murals painted by an owner, recycled antique snake cages turned room dividers holding the unexpected (think Barbie sitting in a champagne glass), wooden booths made from remnants of a Southern Oregon dairy farm barn, and even a floor threshold made from pennies.  On nice days, two massive garage doors at the front are raised to open an outdoor patio.  Sunday brunch features some unusual items--mild red chilaquiles topped with a sunny-side-up egg, a wild-mushroom omelette with potatoes fried in duck fat—as well as a killer hamburger served on a plank.  The pastry chef prepares the goods for a don’t-miss pastry basket that includes a scrumptious blackberry muffin, a light lemon scone, a gigantic butter croissant, and a thick piece of pound cake (it was actually served on a plank, and I was glad we needed to take some home for breakfast the next day).  Since the restaurant is at the south end of the town’s big mall, it is convenient to shopping before or after.

More things to do in Walnut Creek.  

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images ©2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Corners Tavern on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

80 North: Berkeley, Urbann Turbann

Urbann Turbann  1870 Euclid Ave./Hearst Ave., (510) 704-0109.   M-F 11-9; $.  No reservations.  Since there are only a few tables available, think take-out.  The concept is Indian curries used as a filling wrapped burrito-style in a naan instead of a tortilla.  Fresh veggies such as lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers (I ask for everything), and also masala potatoes (I ask for extra) and a choice of white or brown rice, not to mention a variety of chutney sauces (I like the spicy cilantro and the coconut), are included.  Fillings are mild but tasty and include succulent pork vindaloo, a saucy but dry butter chicken, and mushroom curry (you can choose two different fillings).  This makes for a gigantic, very messy Indian burrito.  I prefer to opt for the bowl version and pay an additional $1 for a naan on the side.  The last one I bought was enough for a lunch and two dinners!  If you have a bigger appetite, add in a samosa.

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

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image c2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Urbann Turbann on Urbanspoon