Friday, January 29, 2016

Wine Country: St. Helena, Charles Krug Winery

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Charles Krug Winery  2800 Main St., 1.5 mi. N of town, (800) 682-KRUG, (707) 967-2200.  Tasting daily 10:30-5; food pairings by appt.; tour M-F at 10:30 & 3, Sat-Sun at 10:30, & by appt. 
tasting room at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

In 1858, using a small cider press borrowed from Agoston Haraszthy at the Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma, this winery made the first commercial wines in the Napa Valley.  It was also the very first to stop stomping grapes with human feet and start pressing them with machines.  Now producing 16 different wines, the winery is noted most for its Cabernet Sauvignons and Sauvignon Blancs.  
wines with heart at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

But it’s not just wine tasting any more.  A gigantic new tasting room, strikingly outfitted with wood reclaimed from the property’s huge old redwood tanks, offers traditional bar tastings, plus food pairings at tables on the weekend.  
interior of tasting room at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

vintage redwood barrel at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

A Reserve Flight Pairing ($95/person; reservations required) concludes with a bittersweet dark chocolate truffle frosted with gold (it is made by the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone located across the street; the institute also tends a large vegetable garden adjacent to the winery parking lot).
Reserve Flight Pairing at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

CIA Student Farm at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California

Cucina Pairings ($18/small plate + 3-ounce pour; reservations not needed) might include a warm bruschetta with prosciutto and acorn squash paired with a Merlot, or stuffed cremini mushrooms with a Pinot Noir—perhaps just the perfect excursion and experience to enjoy with your Valentine?  
All this and picnic tables under a giant oak, too.
picnic area at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena, California


More things to do in St. Helena. 

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 
 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

101 North: San Rafael, Yet Wah


Yet Wah  1238 4th St./B St., (415) 460-9883.  L-D daily; $$.  I first dined at Yet Wah way back when it had several locations on Clement Street in San Francisco.  It grew into a mini-chain (the Diamond Heights location is reputed to have been the venue of choice for a Rolling Stones event), and now has shrunk back to just this one location.  When we dined early on a Saturday night, the main dining room was empty, so we sat in a warm, cozy, and quiet alcove in front with big windows and a view of the sidewalk.  In the mood to take advantage of the full bar, my dining partner and I each started with an umbrella-crowned mai tai made with seven ingredients.
mai tais at Yet Wah in San Rafael, California

We loved the crispy pan-friend pot stickers and deemed them the best we’ve had in a long, long time.
pot stickers at Yet Wah in San Rafael, California

We followed with kung pao chicken, which we selected because of the vegetables that dish comes with.  I would have liked that dish to be spicier and solved the problem with hot oil.
kung pao chicken at Yet Wah in San Rafael, California

Next time we’ll try the hard-to-find almond pressed duck that the kitchen is famous for (pressed duck with sweet-and-sour sauce and almonds).  Family-style set dinners are available and can be a good value, especially if you are hungry or can take home leftovers, and lunch specials are available on weekdays.

fortune cookie at Yet Wah in San Rafael, California
I'm still waiting.
Yet Wah Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in San Rafael.

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

image ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, January 25, 2016

101 North: San Anselmo, rockflowerpaper


rockflowerpaper   145 Tunstead Ave., (800) 281-0357, (415) 462-0001.  M-Sat 9-5:30.  Located a few short blocks down from this tiny town’s main street, this outlet shop carries the full line for this brand and most items are offered at bargain prices.  Inventory includes colorful Indian-style tunic blouses, patterned espadrilles made in Bangladesh, scarves, tote bags, lacquer trays, and more.  Designing takes place upstairs.  


exterior of rockflowerpaper shop in San Anselmo, California


man relaxing at exterior of rockflowerpaper shop in San Anselmo, California

interior of rockflowerpaper shop in San Anselmo, California
 
Indian-style tunics at rockflowerpaper shop in San Anselmo, California


colorful espadrilles at rockflowerpaper shop in San Anselmo, California

More things to do in San Anselmo. 

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

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, January 22, 2016

101 South: San Mateo, Central Park

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Central Park  El Camino Real/5th Ave., downtown, (650) 522-7434.  Free.  Mini train:  Sat-Sun 11am-3pm, daily in summer.  $1.25.  Dating from 1922, this is the oldest municipal park in the county.  Facilities include a The Bianchi Railroad mini train--a miniature version of the long-gone Southern Pacific Coast Daylight—plus a botanical garden, tennis courts, and a large, colorful playground.
playground in Central Park in San Mateo, California


The park’s tidy Japanese Garden was designed by Nagao Sakurai, a former landscape architect at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.  Features include a teahouse (no tea service), a central pond divided by a narrow bridge (koi are usually fed at 11 a.m.), two waterfalls, a pagoda, and a shrine.  Narrow pathways are designed to make visitors slow down and really look.  Rare and unusual plants include a weeping beech and an umbrella pine.
overview of Japanese Garden in Central Park in San Mateo, California


koi pond in Japanese Garden in Central Park in San Mateo, California


buddah in Japanese Garden in Central Park in San Mateo, California

More things to do in San Mateo.

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

images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

880 South: Berkeley, A ’Cuppa Tea


A ’Cuppa Tea  2992 College Ave./Ashby Ave., Elmwood, (510) 848-2032.  Duck into this peaceful place to relax in a comfy overstuffed armchair while you sip a cup of tea from the extensive selection.  I chose a boba milk tea, made from scratch with top notch black tea mixed with real coconut chunks (the owner showed me how it is especially stored).  Because I am sensitive to caffeine and was concerned about imbibing boba tea after noon, I was pleased to find out that next time I can order a decaffeinated Earl Grey milk tea and so will be able to drink it at any hour.  (Boba tea is made with a bottom layer of large tapioca balls that you suck up through an oversize straw.)   Hot teas, coffees, and more are among the other drink options.  Considering how small this place is and that it is a mom and pop business with no other help, a good-sized breakfast--think breakfast burrito or berry scone--and lunch menu is available.  I ordered the lunch special rice bowl, which consisted of some tasty chicken and stir-fried veggies.  I hear the Thai iced tea and beef noodle soup are also very good.  Extra seating is available on a second floor.


exterior of A 'Cuppa Tea in Berkeley, California


order counter at A 'Cuppa Tea in Berkeley, California


boba tea and chicken rice bowl at A 'Cuppa Tea in Berkeley, California
A'Cuppa Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 
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Way more thing to do in Berkeley.  

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


Friday, January 15, 2016

101 South: Millbrae, The Westin San Francisco Airport & Aloft San Francisco Airport


The Westin San Francisco Airport  1 Old Bayshore Hwy., (650) 692-3500.  Indoor pool & hot tub; fitness room.  Restaurant.  Pets ok.  Self and valet parking $25-$30; complimentary shuttle to airport.  This airport hotel is a comfortable perch while recovering from or getting ready for a flight.  The lobby has plenty of comfortable seating and an adjacent Lobby Bar & Lounge that serves light fare.  Grill & Vine Restaurant serves sophisticated bistro-style American cuisine and offers both fine wines by the glass and cocktails.












Aloft San Francisco Airport  401 East Millbrae Ave., (866) 716-8143, (650) 443-5500.  Just next door, this trendier, edgier sister hotel is another option.  It has similar features to the Westin plus the popular WXYZ bar.




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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers