Monday, September 23, 2013

Wine Country: Calistoga, Ca’toga Galleria d’Arte and Ca’toga Villa Tour


Ca’toga Galleria d’Arte  1206 Cedar St., (707) 942-3900.  Thur-M 11-6.  $25.  This stunning art gallery features a hand-painted ceiling mural by artist Carlo Marchiori.  In fact, everything inside the gallery is made by Carlo—ceramic plates decorated with roosters, coffee mugs with dog-head handles, traditional yet unusual paintings.

Ca’toga Villa Tour  Sat at 11am; May-Oct.  No children; no pets.  Artist Carlo Marchiori also leads tours of his private residence, an Italian villa reconstructed here with pieces he selected in Italy and shipped over here.  His Venetian-style trompe l’oeil frescoes are spectacular and seen throughout.  “It’s Italy without airlines,” says Marchiori.  He describes his house as “art you can live with” and started our tour with, “You’ve seen a few wineries, now you need something for the mind.”  After exploring the magnificent art treasures of the house, including a witty cage in which the sleeper is inside and the kitty is outside looking in, the tour moved on to the expansive grounds, which includes a manmade lake, fountains, and 18th-century follies.  Marchiori says he didn’t intend to have an attraction.  He started his retirement project
25 years ago on 5 acres of weedy land.  Now, everywhere you look is something wonderful.  “Be careful,” he warned us with a smile.  “Our liability extends to a get well card.”  Wear sturdy walking shoes.  



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images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wine Country: St. Helena, La Condesa--CLOSED

La Condesa  1320 Main St./Hunt Ave., (707) 967-8111.  L-D daily; $$$.  The addictive thin tortilla chips here are served warm, and you can order a selection of four seasonal salsas to go with them or a special guacamole (I really liked the one mixed with strawberries and toasted pepita seeds).  Huaraches are a house specialty.  Made with a fat handmade corn tortilla bottom that resembles the Mexican sandal in shape, they are offered with an assortment of toppings such as wild mushrooms, housemade wild boar,  chorizo, pork belly, or Dungeness crab.  My husband was pleased with a chile relleno stuffed with butternut squash and quinoa, while I enjoyed the colorful and tasty chicken rojo topped with a pickled corn slaw salad.  The menu also offers elotes--Mexican-style street corn covered with cheese--and fresh ceviche.  Do save a tiny bit of room for the housemade helado (ice cream).  As they often are in Mexico, flavors are unusual—birthday cake, brown sugar banana, ancho chile, oatmeal raisin, tomatillo avocado, hot chai.  I opted for relatively boring, but delicious, coconut-guava.  A knotty-pine tequila bar is decorated with a stuffed bull’s head and offers an extensive collection of more than 200 tequilas and 30 mezcals, but I chose
a pretty pink prickly pear margarita that was both beautiful and delicious and rimmed with black pepper and habanero salt that stings—in a nice way--your tongue and lips.  It gets spicier and spicier and spicier.  On Friday and Saturday nights, a dedicated stage presents live music.

La Condesa on Urbanspoon

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images c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wine Country: Calistoga, Palisades Wine Company

Palisades Wine Company  3130 Old Lawley Toll Rd., (707) 942-8020.  Tastings/tours by appt.; $25-$45.  Tucked away in a little pocket valley known as Jericho Canyon, off a back road leading to Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, this informal winery opened for tastings just last year.  It is pot luck as far as what you’ll see when you visit.  You’ll get a personal tour and explanation and might even get to do a barrel tasting of a two-hour-old Sauvignon Blanc grape juice as I did.  All the wine-making and bottling is done here for four different boutique wineries—RARECAT, Amici Cellars, Meander, and Aiken.  The tasting room is located upstairs above the winery action, providing a chance to sample the various labels.  Bring a picnic if you like; tables are available down by a small spring-fed pond formed by a 9-year-old dam.  A scenic events space has views of the Palisades Mountains.


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image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wine Country: Calistoga, Bosko’s Trattoria



Bosko’s Trattoria  1364 Lincoln Ave., (707) 942-9088.  L-D daily; $$.  How can you go wrong ordering from a menu on which all the pastas, gnocchi, ravioli, and desserts are housemade?  You can’t.  Seated in a comfortable room with stone walls and some booths, we two decided to share everything.  We began with a tasty, lemony baked artichoke and garlic bread.  Then it was a spinach salad with toasted pine nuts and chopped egg, followed by a “Basilicata” fettuccine topped with fresh pesto cream sauce and more toasted pine nuts (can’t get too many of those).  Wood-fired pizzas (gluten-free dough is available) and sandwiches are also options.  Wine flights come in threes and are delivered dramatically perched in a wood holder.  We became fans of an exceptional spicy 2010 Andretti Sangiovese.  For dessert, it was a shared scoop of creamy spumoni--probably the best version I’ve ever had.  I wish I’d had room for the braised Brussels sprouts with pancetta and pine nuts, and for their famous cheesecake.  Next time.  

Boskos Trattoria on Urbanspoon


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image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

1 South: Monterey, Larkin House Adobe

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Larkin House Adobe  510 Calle Principal/Jefferson St.  Tours F-Sun at 12 & 3.  This circa 1834 house is one of the first two-story homes built in Monterey and is an early example of Monterey colonial architecture.  It blends the two styles that became the Monterey Tradition—two stories plus glass windows. 

All-adobe tour of Monterey.

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image c2013 Carole Terwilliger Meyers