September 30, 2014

Fort Bragg: North Main Street shops; things to do

1 North

A walk along North Main Street in Fort Bragg allows a look at some of the town's most interesting shops. 

Carol Hall's Hot Pepper Jelly Company shop in Fort Bragg, California

Carol Hall's Hot Pepper Jelly Company  330 N. Main St.  Daily 10-5:30. 

Pick up a souvenir jar of delicious pepper jelly here.  Poured atop cream cheese and served with crackers, it makes  an instant hor'dourve.  I prefer the colorful red pepper jelly, but there are many other flavors, including mango pepper and jalapeno pepper.  More house products include jams and mustards and dessert toppings, and many other local food products are also available.

Mendocino Chocolate Company  232 N. Main St.  Daily 10-5:30. 

Stop in for hand-dipped chocolates and truffles.

Northcoast Artists Gallery in Fort Bragg, California

Northcoast Artists Gallery  362 N. Main St.  Daily 10-6. 

This cooperative gallery displays and sells the works of local artists.  Member artists take turns operating the shop. 

Roundman's Smoke House  412 N. Main St., (800) 545-2935, (707) 964-5954.  M-F 9-5:30, Sat 10-5:30, Sun 10-3. 

Stop in for smoked meat, fish, cheese, and an assortment of jerkies—including salmon or turkey—and flavors.  Summer sausage is also very good.  Items can be vacuum-sealed so they stay fresh.  Bread from a local bakery is available, and so it is easy to put together a simple picnic. 

More things to do in Fort Bragg. 

More things to do in nearby Mendocino.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

September 26, 2014

Philo: Phillips Hill Winery; things to do

101 North

Phillips Hill Winery  5101 Hwy. 128, in Philo, (707) 895-2209.  Tasting daily 10:30-5.  Tasting $5.

tasting room at Phillips Hill Winery in Philo, California

Situated in a rustic old building that was once used for drying apples, this open-air tasting room under which a stream cheerily meanders is delightful in warm weather.  I enjoyed tasting a creamy, smooth, un-oaky 2013 Ridley Vineyard Chardonnay; an aromatic, dry 2013 Gewurztraminer from the adjacent Valley Foothills Vineyard; and a soft 2012 Valenti Vineyard Pinot Noir.  Attractive label art, designed by owner Toby Hill, makes this luscious wine even more special.  Plan ahead and bring a lunch to enjoy in a picnic area under a gigantic weeping willow.  Optionally, a plate of French cheeses and charcuterie is usually available for purchase in summer, and if you are here at the right time you can pick a pear or apple for dessert right off one of the trees.  In winter, tasting moves indoors and upstairs.

Aroma Shed at Phillips Hill Winery in Philo, California

Be sure to visit the Aroma Shed to sniff wine descriptors and the former fruit stand to purchase wine jams imported from France.  The actual wine-making facility is located on Mendocino Ridge.

vintage apple dryer at Phillips Hill Winery in Philo, California
vintage apple dryer

More things to do in Philo.

Things to do in nearby Boonville.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

September 24, 2014

Berkeley: Caffe Strada; restaurant review

80 North

Caffe Strada  2300 College Ave./Bancroft Way, (510) 843-5282.  Daily 6am-11pm; $.  Cash only. 

I am particularly fond of this coffeehouse located directly across from campus because of its expansive outdoor seating sheltered by mature trees.

outdoor courtyard at Caffe Strada in Berkeley, California

Outdoor heaters make it pleasant even in our cold evenings.  Because it is continuously busy, finding a table can be difficult.  Students are attracted by the free WiFi and sometimes set up shop for the day.  But I always find somewhere to perch.

order counter at Caffe Strada in Berkeley, California

The usual coffees are on the menu, of course, but I favor the Strada Bianca (white chocolate milk) on ice.  Pastries, cookies, cakes, brownies, scones, and more are also available.  Out of cash?--there's an ATM inside.

Caffe Strada Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.
images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

September 10, 2014

Berkeley: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; things to do + restaurant review

80 North

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive  MOVED -- update 
2626 Bancroft Way/College Ave.  Free 1st Thursday of month.

Many visitors think that this museum building itself is as interesting and unusual as its contents.

interior of Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California

Built in a Modernist style of architecture, it is strikingly reminiscent of New York’s Guggenheim--except that it is angular instead of circular.  The Berkeley Art Museum’s permanent collection stresses modern and Asian art and includes a large collection of paintings by Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann.

"Hofmann by Hofmann" show at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California

A current show—“Hofmann by Hofmann”--displays some of the colorful paintings Hofmann himself gave as a gift to U.C. Berkeley.  It runs through December 21.  Another show, “Forrest Bess:  Seeing Things Invisible,” displays small paintings by this Texas artist through September 14.  Bess depicts his gender identity issues—he was born a male but identified as a hermaphrodite--in his work.

elephant god in show at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California

“Deities, Demons, and Teachers of Tibet, Nepal, and India” displays a glorious grouping through September 14.

gallery 2 prepping for show at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California
Gallery 2 prepping for folk art show
Beginning October 1, “American Wonder:  Folk Art from the Collection” will show portraits, weather vanes, and decorative sculptures from the BAM/PFA collection. 

The Pacific Film Archive has one of five world-class public archival film collections in the U.S.  It has the largest collection of Japanese titles outside of Japan and one of the world’s largest collections of silent and early films from the former Soviet Union and pre-1960 Eastern Europe, plus hundreds of experimental movies by West Coast filmmakers.  Film programs span world cinema from the silent era to the present.  Screenings take place at the PFA Theater at 2575 Bancroft Way.  The theater is clean, the sound system excellent, and the audience well mannered.  No snacks are available.

Babette cafe at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California

On the basement level, Babette opens to a courtyard and grassy expanse where children, especially, enjoy a good frolic.

quiche at Babette cafe at Berkeley Art Museum in Berkeley, California

It offers a very limited and weekly-changing breakfast and lunch menu based on locally sourced seasonal ingredients, and scrumptious house-made pastries are always available.  At brunch, my dining partner enjoyed the quiche of the day, while I ordered the entire a la carte menu:  two eggs over easy, perfectly roasted potatoes, tasty apple-smoked bacon, and housemade bread toasted and served with yummy plum jam.  Quirky policies include no salt and pepper shakers on the table, but if you request them you get the cafe’s single communal pepper grinder and a tiny open bowl of salt (this is Berkeley).  Also, no catsup is available, nor is a paper receipt—you must print out your receipt at home (I find this ridiculous in the name of saving trees, because if one was printed out at the counter it would be on a tiny piece of paper but at home it is on a full-size 8½” by 11” sheet).  Adding to the pleasant atmosphere, mellow background music sometimes radiates from vintage vinyl records played on an old-time turntable, and at other times it comes from a plugged-in iPod.  Though pricey for a counter-service cafe, the food is extra good. 

t-shirts at Cal Student Store in Berkeley, California

After my museum visit, we strolled down Bancroft Way towards Telegraph Avenue, passing the Cal Student Store, that is temporarily here selling Cal t-shirts and caps, and the San Francisco Soup Company, which is a great place for take-out or take-home.  We turned the corner onto Telegraph Avenue, and checked out two new fast-food spots.

Sheng Kee Bakery  2307 Telegraph Ave./Bancroft Way, (510) 848-8200.  Daily 7am-11pm; $.

This bright, spacious bakery is part of a Bay Area chain.  It will suck you in when you see the mouth-watering array of pastries both sweet and savory.

interior of Sheng Kee Bakery in Berkeley, California

chocolate cream buns at Sheng Kee Bakery in Berkeley, California

I chose several to take home for dinner, among them a ham-and-cheese croissant (yummy) and a chocolate-frosted cream-stuffed bun (not as tasty as it was beautiful).  Next time I’ll try the Purple Romance, consisting of soft taro bread stuffed with creamy taro.  The system is self-serve, so pick up a tray and tongs and select what you like.  Baked goods are kept in heated compartments behind glass.  Sandwiches, refined pastries, and boba milk tea are also available.  No seating is provided.

In case you want even more sweets, a branch of Santa Cruz’s Pacific Cookie Company is next door.  You can’t go wrong with the white chocolate-macademia nut or the oatmeal-raisin.

cookies at Pacific Cookie Company in Berkeley, California

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

September 8, 2014

Fort Bragg: Pacific Star Winery and Tasting Room; things to do

Dad's Daily Red wine at Pacific Star Tasting Room in Fort Bragg, California

1 North

Pacific Star Tasting Room  401 N. Main St., (707) 962-9463.  Daily 11-5.  Tasting $5. 

Located right in town, this convenient branch tasting room pours the winery’s signature blends--Dad’s Daily Red (named for the winery owner’s father, who drank this daily to assist with a war ailment) and It’s My Fault.  My tasting included several unusual varietals--a buttery white Roussanne, a nice Tempranillo, and a puckery, rough Carignane.  Bottles are topped with an unusual hand-blown degasser made in Grass Valley. 

Pacific Star Winery  33000 N. Hwy. 1, 12 mi. N of town, between Caspar & Westport, (707) 964-1155.  Daily 11-5.  No dogs. 

Perched on the rim of the ocean and surrounded by vineyards, this remote winery is the westernmost in the continental U.S.  Wines are filtered naturally by the waves crashing against the bluffs, shaking the barrels and causing natural settling and permitting reds unstripped by the usual filtering process.  A bluff-top picnic area has a panoramic view that provides for great whale-watching. 

More things to do in Fort Bragg. 

More things to do in nearby Mendocino.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

September 5, 2014

Fort Bragg: Laurel Deli & Desserts + Headlands Coffeehouse; restaurant review

1 North

Laurel Deli in Fort Bragg, California

Laurel Deli & Desserts  401 N. Main St., (707) 964-7812.  Daily 7-4:30; $.

Located in an indoor mini-mall adjacent to the Skunk Train depot, this informal spot dishes up freshly made soups and sandwiches as well as gigantic blackberry muffins and delicious housemade pies.  Favorite items include a great clam chowder, burger, hot dog, and coleslaw.  A full-size antique locomotive adds atmosphere as part of the decor, and a coin-operated kiddie train ride joggles the kids. 

Laurel Deli & Desserts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Headlands Coffeehouse in Fort Bragg, California

Headlands Coffeehouse  120 E. Laurel St., (707) 964-1987.  M-Sat 7am-10pm, Sun 7am-7pm; $.

Operating now in the original location of Laural Deli, this low-key spot brews 16 kinds of coffee and serves up baked goods, smoothies, Belgian waffles, sandwiches, salads, and pizza.  Live music is often scheduled in the evening. 

Headlands Coffeehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in Fort Bragg. 

More things to do in nearby Mendocino.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

September 2, 2014

Fort Bragg: The Company Store restaurants; restaurant review

1 North

The Company Store  301 Main St.

The Company Store restaurant complex in Fort Bragg, California

Formerly a department store, the vintage Union Lumber Company Building has been converted into a unique indoor restaurant and shopping complex.  Though the interior is dark, it has a large, informal seating area that several cafes open on to where you can dine comfortably and with WiFi. 

Living Light Culinary Institute  (800) 816-2319, (707) 964-2420. 
Located upstairs, this is the premier organic raw vegan cooking school in the world.  Classes are scheduled regularly.

Living Light Cafe & Cuisine To Go  M-Sat 7-7, Sun 10-4; $. 
Downstairs, a cafe serves up healthy gourmet raw, organic, and vegan fare.  Menu items include sprouted buckwheat granola with almond milk, coconut chia pudding, and a sunflower burger, plus salads, sandwiches, soups, and smoothies.

Mendo Bistro  (707) 964-4974.  D daily; $$.  No reservations.

interior of Mendo Bistro restaurant in Fort Bragg, California

Taking up almost the entire top floor here, which is lined with two walls of tall windows, this spacious restaurant places diners above the busy streets below with plenty to look at.  Owner-chef Nicholas Petti has won many a crab cake cook-off in town, so order them when they are on the menu.  One menu option is to choose your own main-course ingredient, how you want it cooked, and which sauce you want with it.  I opted for one-fourth of a free-range chicken, batter fried and with roasted garlic gravy.  It took an incredibly long time before I was served a really good, perfectly-fried section of chicken with a tasty crispy skin and succulent meat.  It just might be the best I’ve ever had!  It came with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans.  My husband ordered seafood risotto, which he said was also delicious.

carrot soup at Mendo Bistro restaurant in Fort Bragg, California

A tangy carrot soup made a tasty appetizer, but a wilted Caesar salad was quite disappointing.  Housemade pastas and larger entrees are also on the menu.  Wines and beers are mostly local, and meats are hormone- and antibiotic-free. 

Mendo Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Barbelow  CLOSED  takes up the center of the ground floor.  It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail in a more informal setting, and Mendo Bistro food is served here, too.

Mendocino Cookie Company  (888) 937-4842, (707) 964-0282.

Backpacker cookie at Mendocino Cookie Company In Fort Bragg, Californi
The “Backpacker” cookie seems to have everything—chocolate and butterscotch chips, walnuts, and raisins--but you can also get a simple peanut butter and more, as well as muffins.  Coffee is also on the menu. Street-side seating is also available. 

Mendocino Cookie Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in Fort Bragg. 

More things to do in nearby Mendocino.

More vegan-vegetarian places.

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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