Monday, April 29, 2013

880 South: Oakland, Golden Lotus

Golden Lotus  1301 Franklin St./13th St., (510) 893-0383; downtown.  B-L-D daily; $.  Reservations for 6+.  This simple spot features an extensive all-vegan menu of Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines and is worth a visit if you find yourself in this sketchy area between BART and the Oakland Museum.  Dishes are made without eggs or MSG and use fresh ingredients, mock meats, tasty sauces, and a minimum of.  Lunch features a bargain steam table (three items/$6).  Specialties include spicy lemongrass “chicken” (fried tofu), a rice claypot, and sautéed garlic beef.  More items worth consideration include fried imperial rolls, pot stickers, caramelized “chicken,” sautéed whole mushrooms with basil, “chicken” drumsticks with sesame sauce, yellow “chicken”-potato curry, and green beans with spicy peanut sauce.  Non-alcoholic beer is among the drinks, and mocha-chocolate cake, caramel flan, and carrot cupcakes provide a sweet ending.  Some booths are available, and service is fast but does lack finesse.

Golden Lotus Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland.  

More vegan-vegetarian places. 

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

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

San Francisco: Bay Lights

Have you seen the "Bay Lights" show  on the Bay Bridge yet?  It is the world's largest LED light installation.  I viewed it recently from the Embarcadero, which seems to be the best spot for getting up close and personal.  You might be able to park and walk out on one of the piers to get even closer, but driving along slowly provides a good view.  The show will remain into 2015. 

More detailed information about "Bay Lights" and a guide to biking to good viewing spots.

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.

video c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, April 22, 2013

1 South: Monterey, Casa Gutierrez

Casa Gutierrez   590 Calle Principal/near Madison St.   This historic adobe was built by a young Chilean soldier for his bride circa 1846--when Monterey was still part of Mexico.  Fifteen children were raised by them here!  It is one of the few remaining adobes built in a simpler Mexican style and is now part of Monterey State Historic Park. 

All-adobe tour of Monterey.

More things to do in Monterey.

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, April 19, 2013

80 North: Berkeley, Corso Trattoria

Corso Trattoria  1788 Shattuck Ave./Francisco St., (510) 704-8004.  D daily; $$.  Reservations advised.  Serving a rustic Florentine-style menu, this casual trattoria features high ceilings, seating at dark-wood tables with chairs, and a granite-topped bar in a back corner that is perfect for solo dining.  Signature dishes include tagliatelle al sugo with a delicious sauce of braised beef and pork, and a crispy-skinned chicken breast swimming in browned butter that is best sopped up with the house baguette (I understand this dish is based on one served at Trattoria Sostanza in Florence); recipe.  The menu changes regularly, but other especially good dishes include gnocchi, polenta, housemade salumi, house-pulled mozzarella burrata, deep-fried arancini, and crostini topped with wild mushrooms and ricotta-goat cheese spread.  Wines can be ordered by the taste or half-glass, which permitted me to start with a sparkly prosecco and enjoy a rustic primitivo red with my meal.

Trattoria Corso 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

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

San Francisco: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

update/p.24

SFMOMA is preparing to close for three years for a major expansion.  A closing show is running until the very end.  "The Clock" is a 24-hour movie that shows on the screen scenes for movies depicting clocks verifying the current time.  So at 3:10, it's the "3:10 to Yuma" and at noon it simply must be Gary Cooper getting ready for a show down in "High Noon" (I'm not sure because I wasn't in the theatre at that hour--does anyone out there know?).  The screening room is set up with comfortable couches that hold three people each.  There is usually a line, but it usually moves quickly and gets less crowded in late afternoon.  Once in the theater, an usher will find you a seat.  I watched for more than an hour and would have liked to stay a lot longer.  Mark your calendar.  The museum's last day is June 2.  As a final farewell, "The Clock" will do a 24-hour-plus stint, beginning at 10 a.m. on June 1 and concluding at 5:45 p.m. on June 2.  Don't miss it!

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 c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, April 15, 2013

San Francisco: Nopalito

Nopalito  306 Broderick St./Oak St., Lower Haight, (415) 437-0303.   L-D daily; $$.  No reservations.  This popular Mexican spot often requires a long wait.  Menu favorites include posole, ceviche, carnitas, and any of the delicious moles.  My companion and I shared vegetarian potato-spinach taquitos and a plate of chicken enchiladas with mole.  Housemade seasonal fruit paletas (popsicles) make a refreshing dessert.  Unfortunately, margaritas are available only unblended and served in ordinary glasses; fortunately, they are big and potent.  A large selection of Mezcals and Tequilas are available, and housemade non-alcoholic drinks include guava juice, organic almond horchata, and Blue Bottle coffee.  Complimentary nicieties include spicy roasted chickpeas to nibble on while you peruse the menu (I found them addictive and ordered up some to take home with me), housemade sparkling tap water, and almond cookies with the check (chips and salsa are additional). 
Nopalito on Urbanspoon



A Peet’s and upscale Falletti market are next door.

More things to do in San Francisco 

Way more things to do in San Francisco.  

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images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, April 12, 2013

San Francisco: Pasión & Sakura

Pasión  737 Irving St./9th Ave., Inner Sunset District, (415) 742-5727. L M-F, D daily, Sat-SunBr; $$$.  Reservations advised.  Peruvian-style cuisine with complex sauces dominate the menu in this sleek, sophisticated restaurant furnished with dark wood tables and chairs softened by a few comfy banquettes.  Floors are polished grey cement, and large windows provide views to the street.  As would be expected, the menu offers a bevy of ceviches (my favorite is the scrumptious cooked lobster version with mango and avocado) and a raw oyster bar.  Appetizers include conchitas (seared wild scallops from Maine topped with a sweet plantain tostone and colorful cilantro mojito sauce), albondigas (lamb meatballs in a creamy sherry-truffle sauce topped with fresno peppers), and duck empanadas.  Entrees include a paella and traditional lomito saltado stir-fry of sirloin steak strips,  tomatoes, and onions plus a side of french fries.  Among the desserts are moist tres leches cake and chocolate-coconut bread pudding.  Pisco drinks are a house specialty (I loved the traditional pisco sour with a swirl of bitters in the foam), and sangria is an option.



    Before or after, enjoy a pleasant stroll along busy Irving Street and browse the shops.  One of my favorites is Sakura (936 Irving St./10th Ave. (415) 665-5064.  Daily 10:30am-7pm.), a small shop that sells Japanese household items and foods.  I picked up a big bag of rice crackers like they serve in nearby Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden, some wasabi-covered hard green pea snacks, and a box of guava cookies from Kauai.
Pasion 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

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young Museum

update/p.23

The de Young Museum is the first North American venue to present "Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis," a selection of paintings from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.  The show displays 35 paintings from the collection, including the renowned Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer, The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius (my personal favorite), and four works by Rembrandt van Rijn.  Tickets are timed.  You can purchase advance tickets online.  Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons are typically the slowest days/times of the week.  For day-of ticket purchasing on week days, you should have no problem. On Saturdays and Sundays, come in the morning as tickets tend to sell out by the afternoon. Show runs through June 2, 2013.


More things to do in Golden Gate Park.

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 courtesy of the museum

   

Monday, April 8, 2013

1 South: Monterey, Casa Alvarado Adobe and Garden

Casa Alvarado Adobe and Garden  510 Dutra St.  This three-room house was built in the 1830s by Don Juan Bautista Alvarado--the first Monterey-born Governor of California and a direct descendent of Captain Cortez.  Originally topped with a tule-reed roof, the adobe illustrates several design characteristics customary of the period:  1.  It faced the east so the residentss could enjoy the morning sun at the front of the house.  2.  All rooms opened directly to the outdoors.  3.  Its walls are composed of 24-inch-thick adobe bricks supported by a heavy chalk-rock foundation.

All-adobe tour of Monterey.

More things to do in Monterey.

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, April 5, 2013

1 North: Point Reyes Station, Bovine Bakery

Bovine Bakery  11315 State Route 1, (415) 663-9420.  M-F 6:30am-5pm, Sat-Sun 7am-5pm; $.  Tiny and usually busy, expect a line to reach the yummy pastries.  This bakery is a great spot for a quick snack, and famous for its coffee and morning buns but it also serves pizza and soup.  The town’s famous Brick Maiden sourdough bread is available here. 

Bovine Bakery on Urbanspoon

More things to do in the Point Reyes area.

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

80 North: Berkeley, Chocolatier Blue Parlor

Chocolatier Blue Parlor  1809 Fourth St./Hearst St., (510) 665-9500.  M-Thur 11-7, F-Sun 11-8.  Take a shopping break here and enjoy a hand-crafted ice cream or sorbet—perhaps a classic dark chocolate or trendy salted caramel or unusual light and fruity basil-pineapple.  You’ll never get bored because flavors change monthly.  Toppings include butterscotch, white chocolate fudge, and crushed nuts.  And then there are the chocolates—rows and rows of sweet little treats that might include a heart-shaped, orange-covered dark chocolate, or a geometric red-colored dark chocolate with delicate chili flavor, or a classic milk chocolate with hazelnut.  Enjoy several things at once in a cookie sundae consisting of a chocolate-chip cookie mushed into a container and topped with your choice of ice cream (two flavors is ok, so I chose pistachio and salted-caramel) and topping (again two is ok, so I chose caramel and chocolate).  Yum, yum!  An assortment of hot chocolates and coffees is also available.  Though no seating is provided inside, a patio in front has some seating.

Chocolatier Blue on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley.  

More ice cream shops.  

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

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, April 1, 2013

1 South: Aptos, Village Fair Antiques

Village Fair Antiques  417 Trout Gulch Rd., (831) 688-9883.  Thur-Sun 10-5.  This antiques collective is set up in  a 100-year-old apple-packing barn.  A visit here would be special fun on a rainy day.

More things to do in Aptos

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

image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers