Wednesday, February 27, 2013

80 North: Berkeley, Riva Cucina

Riva Cucina  800 Heinz Ave./7th St.  Situated way out in a business park in southwest Berkeley, this contemporary Italian restaurant operates inside a vintage brick building.  It has high ceilings, polished wood floors, and heavy drapes dividing the space into two rooms, and an outdoor area is inviting in good weather.  Try the eggplant or housemade Italian sausage panino, the excellent execution of pasta al nero (squid-ink pasta topped with squid, scallops, and prawns), or the delicious tagliatelle Bolognese with traditional pork-beef-tomato ragu, and save room for the heavenly panna cotta.  Service is attentive. 

Riva Cucina on Urbanspoon

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 c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, February 25, 2013

1 South: Carmel Valley, Wild Goose Bakery Café and Art Gallery

Wild Goose Bakery Café and Art Gallery  18 E. Carmel Valley Rd., in Carmel Valley Village, 12 mi. from Hwy. 1, (831) 659-5052.  Daily 6:30am-6:30pm.  A popular community hangout, this rustic country-style coffeehouse serves up delicious housemade pastries—a flawless custard brioche, a stretchy almond croissant that just might be the world’s best--and displays on its walls paintings and photographs by locals that customers can buy on the spot.  Cookies are big and pies are worth the calories.  Panini and sandwiches on house-baked bread join the menu for lunch.

Wild Goose Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

 More things to do in Carmel.

More art galleries

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

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Thursday, February 21, 2013

San Francisco: Tulipmania, Pier 39

update/p.40

This year you'll see 20 varieties of red and yellow tulips, plus daffodils and narcissus galore.  Free tours are given at Pier 39 daily at 10 a.m., and a self-guided tour is available online.  Guided tours meet at the entrance plaza and conclude with complimentary refreshments at the Wines of California Wine Bar.  Runs through this Sunday, February 24. 

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

More gardens.  

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


image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

80 North: Berkeley, Flacos

Flacos  3031 Adeline St./Ashby, South Berkeley.  The bricks-and-mortar outgrowth of a Berkeley farmers market stand (it also continues on at the markets), this all-vegan counter-order spot operates inside a cute, clean little cottage-like structure decorated lightly with Mexican crafts.  The music mix includes Bob Marley and Jimmie Hendrix.  Tight seating inside holds about 12, while roomier tables are available outside on the edge of the free parking lot.  Menu items include crunchy taquitos filled with a soy mix (they are the size of a regular taco shell); tasty soft-shell tacos stuffed with vegan meat, radishes, and cabbage; banana-leaf-wrapped tamales in mole; gluten-free tamales filled with roasted poblano chiles, refried pinto beans, and potatoes; chalupas stuffed with potatoes and soyrizo; arroz sin leche (soy-milk rice pudding); and soy-milk Mexican hot chocolate.  You’ll find no cheese, sour cream, chips, or alcohol (instead, try the aqua fresca of the day).  The house specialty avocado salsa is slathered on some items.   On Taquito Tuesdays they are $1/per instead of $2/per (and there is a whole lot of crunchin’ goin’ on).  Taco Thursdays are $2/per.  Rice is brown, corn tortillas are fresh-pressed, and packaging is biodegradable.  Bulk organic vegan masa is available by advance order.

Flacos on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley.

More vegan-vegetarian places.

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

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, February 15, 2013

1 South: Monterey, Hyatt Regency Monterey

update/p.116

Hyatt Regency Monterey  1 Old Golf Course Rd., (800) 233-1234, (831) 372-1234.  4 stories; 550 rooms; $$-$$$.  2 heated pools; 2 hot tubs; fitness room; full-service spa; 6 tennis courts (some night lights).  3 restaurants; room service.  $20/day resort fee.  This sprawling resort is located away from town, adjacent to the scenic Del Monte Golf Course (1300 Sylvan Rd., (831) 373-2700.)--the longest continuously operating golf course west of the Mississippi (for more than 100 years).  Bicycle rentals are available, and Camp Hyatt operates for ages 3 through 12. Choose from two restaurants.  Knuckles Historical Sports Bar has a casual but sleek atmosphere and 20 flat-screen TVs tuned to the action.  A three-sided “Table Tender” booth with its own self-serve spigot in the table’s center can be reserved.  Larger, more sophisticated TusCA Monterey offers a choice of breakfast menu or a buffet that includes an omelette station.  Dinner brings on a delicate artichoke bisque, tender ricotta gnocchi with sautéed garlic, and delicate ravioli stuffed with a pear-gorgonzola mix and topped with a delicious rich Cognac cream.  Pastas are housemade, and pizza is also an option.

Tusca Ristorante/ Hyatt Regency Monterey on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Monterey.

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

1 South: Carmel, Tea Rose



Tea Rose  Ocean Ave./Monte Verde, (831) 624-3097.  This romantic, flowery shop offers an expansive collection of everything tea--floral tea cups and saucers, tea bag tidies, citrus curds—plus divine greeting cards and lovely linens.  It's the perfect spot to find the perfect gift for your valentine. 


image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, February 11, 2013

80 North: Berkeley, Meritage at the Claremont

update/p.287

Formerly known as Jordan's, romantic Meritage at the Claremont has a new chef (Scott Quinn) and a new menu of contemporary California cuisine that includes a fixed-price four-course tasting menu—think Champagne-poached pear salad, yellow-fin tuna tartare, oxtail rillette with persimmon gelee, and Elvis bread pudding with peanut butter ice cream and maple bacon.  The food is enhanced with an extensive selection of wines.  Comfortable chairs invite sitting back and enjoying the spectacular bay view as well as the dramatic high-ceilinged interior dining room.  Sunday brunch is an extravagant buffet of salads, fresh fruit, seafood, and meats.  It includes a design-your-own-omelette station and a dessert table laden with fine cakes, chocolate éclairs, chocolate fondue, and several flavors of mousse.  Live music is scheduled on Sunday evenings.

Meritage on Urbanspoon

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 c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, February 8, 2013

1 North: Point Reyes Station, Tomales Bay Foods

Tomales Bay Foods  80 4th St./B St., (415) 663-9336.  W-Sun 10-7.  “Taste the coast” by selecting from among the locally grown products sold in this refurbished haybarn. Picnic tables are provided.. 

Cowgirl Creamery  (415) 663-9335.  Tours F at 11:30; reservations required.  Cowgirl’s signature organic Red Hawk cheese, whose orange rind comes from a native area bacteria, can only be made right here (their other cheeses are made in their Petaluma facility).  The cheese-making processs can be viewed through large windows.  All the Cowgirl cheeses can be purchased here, including a large-curd cottage cheese and a buffalo mozzarella, along with other local products and imported artisan cheeses. 


Cowgirl Cantina  (415) 663-9335.  Tasty soups, salads, sandwiches and even roasted organic rotisserie chicken tempt the palate here. 

Susan Hayes Handwovens  (415) 663-8057.  Handknit sweaters, California-made jewelry, an assortment of local and American-made accessories, and handwoven jackets and scarves made in the shop’s own studio (custom orders are taken) are purveyed here. 


More things to do in the Point Reyes area.

View the NPS Point Reyes Natuional Seashore webcam.

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wine Country: Yountville, Yountville Art Walk

Yountville Art Walk  Follow the map to various art installations while taking detours to wine-tasting rooms, lunch spots, and shops.  My favorite among the art works is Rich Botto’s “Rock Mushrooms.”  Feeling competitive?  Perhaps the most difficult to find is Phillip Glashoff’s “Great Blue Heron.” 

More things to do in Yountville. 

More things to do in the Wine Country.


More art galleries

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

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, February 4, 2013

1 South: Aptos, Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant

Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant  261 Center Ave., at the State Park drive exit, (831) 688-4848.  L-D daily; $$.  Reservations advised.  The traditional Mexican menu in this casual spot includes combination plates, nightly specials, and a la carte items.  Among the tastiest options are cheese enchiladas, chili colorado, chili rellenos, carne asada tacos, and chicken flautas.  The complimentary chips and salsa are also very good, and don’t miss the margaritas and Mexican chocolate ice cream.  Seacliff State Beach is adjacent.

Manuel's Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Aptos.

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Friday, February 1, 2013

San Francisco: Le Soleil


Le Soleil  133 Clement St./2nd Ave., Inner Richmond, (415) 668-4848.  L-D W-M; $$.  Reservations advised.  Offering refined Vietnamese cuisine, this neighborhood favorite has a short-but-sweet menu full of noteworthy dishes.  In fact, I met nothing that I didn’t like, and I found several things that I will  return to experience again.  Sure things among the appetizers include:  barbeque pork fresh spring rolls, crispy chicken-wing lolipops, tasty and tender beef carpaccio, two-inch “rice krispies” shrimp cake balls, a crispy fried tumeric crepe with chicken and shrimp that you wrap in lettuce and fresh herbs, a sweet and flavorful quail that is dramatically flambeed at the table, and a strongly flavored shrimp-papaya salad.  Moving on to entrées, don’t miss the sweet caramelized sea bass, tender luc lac “shaken beef,” and exquisitely delicious garlic noodles with tiger prawns or crab (my hands-down favorite dish).  For dessert, you can’t go wrong with mango sticky rice or a crispy, creamy fried banana with coconut ice cream.  Over-order so you can try more items and take home the leftovers.  I enjoyed a bottle of Vietnamese B33 beer, and my dining partner savored a glass of Leese-Fitch Pinot Noir, but even the water is crystal clear, clean tasting, and freshened with citrus slices.  The sleek dining room has black wood tables, grey slate floors, and twisty track lighting; wall decorations made by mom showcase working abacuses. The restaurant is family run, with mom taking care of business, dad (and ex-husband) working wonders in the kitchen, and three daughters waiting tables.  
 

 Le Soleil on Urbanspoon

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.  

 
images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers