Friday, September 30, 2016

San Francisco: Bun Mee


Bun Mee  650 Market St./Montgomery St., Financial District, (415) 362-8663.  L-D M-Sat.  Convenient to downtown and BART, this small space is super-busy at lunch and usually has a long line.  But if you stop in at dinner, like I did, you can waltz right up to the counter and place your order and then have your choice of seating--an outdoor space is especially nice on the rare warm San Francisco day.  Delicious Americanized versions of traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are the specialty.  They come fully loaded with fresh ingredients, some heat (when you order, you can add more in the form of fresh green chiles), and plenty of crunch (cucumbers, shredded carrots, pickled veggies, lightly toasted bun).  The Sloppy Bun is made with ground beef, the  Juicy Steak has lotus root relish, and the Belly Bun--my favorite--features fatty braised Kurobuta pork belly (they suggest you order it with a hard-boiled egg, but I declined).  Lemongrass Pork with housemade mayo and the vegan Smokey Eggplant with cauliflower and red curry mayo are on my to-try list.  Rice and noodle bowls, salads, and summer rolls round out the offerings.  Portions are generous; I took home half of my sandwich for lunch the next day.  The housemade strawberry-lychee drink is tasty but very sweet, so I advise sharing--pour one into two cups and then fill each with ice and water.  The housemade coconut cookie sandwich is a perfect ending.  


interior of Bun Mee Vietnamese sandwich shop in San Francisco
interior of Bun Mee Vietnamese sandwich shop in San Francisco


sandwiches at Bun Mee Vietnamese sandwich shop in San Francisco
sandwiches at Bun Mee Vietnamese sandwich shop in San Francisco


strawberry-lychee drink and coconut cookie sandwich at Bun Mee Vietnamese sandwich shop in San Francisco
strawberry-lychee drink and coconut cookie sandwich at Bun Mee Vietnamese sandwich shop in San Francisco
Bun Mee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in San Francisco.
 
Way more things to do in San Francisco. 
 
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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers
 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

5 North: Woodland, Uvaggio tasting room + Savory Cafe


Uvaggio tasting room  703 Main St., (530) 554-8534.  $1 per taste.  I started my tasting here backwards, with a delicious Twisted Rivers 2012 Petite Sirah.  Then I moved on to Turkovich’s tasty signature blend, The Boss, which became a personal favorite, and then to their delicious Tempranillo.  Then I sampled a Bridgehead Cabernet Franc, a buttery Acacia Chardonnay, and a surprisingly only-OK Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut Chardonnay.  Almost everyone in the room agreed that a Berryessa Gap Verdelho, with a floral nose and delicious taste, was not business as usual.  This tasting room is the perfect spot for an afternoon wine sampling enhanced with a bit of yum.  Among the bar snacks are rustic sourdough with dipping oil, and a cheese-and-salami slate accented with lavender chevre and local honey.  All wine and food is strictly local to Northern California.   

Uvaggio tasting room in Woodland, California
Uvaggio tasting room in Woodland, California


cheese-and-salami slate at Uvaggio tasting room in Woodland, California
cheese-and-salami slate at Uvaggio tasting room in Woodland, California



           When done tasting, if you are still hungry and thirsty, just cross the street to:
Savory Cafe  722A Main St., (530) 668-4009.  An exposed-brick wall adds coziness to the open room here, where the specialty is refined dishes made with an abundance of local products.  I enjoyed an earthy beet salad with baby arugula, followed by delicious crispy-skinned brick chicken with mashed potatoes and a tasty, garlicky chimchurri sauce.  With it I tasted several Putah Creek wines, and selected the flavorful, complex 2013 Malbec as my favorite.  


entrance to Savory Cafe in Woodland, California
entrance to Savory Cafe in Woodland, California


dining room at Savory Cafe in Woodland, California
dining room at Savory Cafe in Woodland, California


Putah Creek wine at Savory Cafe in Woodland, California
Putah Creek wine at Savory Cafe in Woodland, California


beet salad at Savory Cafe in Woodland, California
beet salad at Savory Cafe in Woodland, California


brick chicken at Savory Cafe in Woodland, California
brick chicken at Savory Cafe in Woodland, California


steak at Savory Cafe in Woodland, California
steak at Savory Cafe in Woodland, California
Savory Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

More things to do in Woodland. 

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images c2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, September 23, 2016

80 North: Albany, Cafe Eugene


Cafe Eugene  1175 Solano Ave./Stannage Ave., Albany, (510) 647-9999.  L M-Thur, Br F-Sun, D daily.  Featuring a woodsy interior that accents the Pacific Northwest lean of the menu, this new spot is particularly popular for breakfast and brunch.  One of the owners is from Eugene, Oregon, and was inspired by the Chez Panisse-like former Excelsior Cafe there, which I remember visiting in the 1970s and ‘80s.  Three big wood booths each will accommodate six people, and large windows revealing the exterior action give it a cafe feel, and a nice little sheltered dining area is out on the sidewalk in front.  Items on the menu that most give a nod to the north include delicate house-cured salmon and drinks mixed with marionberry liqueur--a I-5 High Five gin cocktail and marionberry mimosa.  Coffee is Catahoula’s smooth Lola blend.  My brunch choice was Green Eggs & Sam, which consisted of a perfect toasted biscuit topped with really good eggs scrambled with greens, some of that delicious house-cured salmon, and a lemony sauce--all topped yet again with a fanned sliced avocado half.  I would definitely order this tasty green dish again, but next time I would ask for the biscuit on the side with some butter and jam--it was just too delicious to not enjoy on its own.  My dining partner had the daily scramble mixed with asparagus and pecorino cheese and served atop smoky grilled Acme bread.  We shared a side of cute little cubes of perfectly crisped home fries topped with a nicely spicy horseradish sauce, no ketchup needed.  Though the bowl of fresh fruit  contained a variety of pit-fruit and berries and the shredded apple accent was a pleasant surprise, the boring presentation was a disappointment.  Items here are fresh and unusual.  If you want “the usual” you’ll need to extract it a la carte from the sides menu--two farm eggs any style, home fries, bacon.  I don’t know where we found the space, but we indulged in strawberry shortcake for dessert, which was made with one of those fabulous biscuits topped with macerated strawberries and whipped cream.  The lunch and brunch menus are almost identical, except lunch drops the egg options.  Dinner adds on some more substantial items, including mussels and steak.  One of the most popular items then is a shareable platter of smoked salmon, pickled vegetables, and hard-boiled eggs.  Bread is served by request.  


exterior of Cafe Eugene in Albany, California
exterior of Cafe Eugene in Albany, California


interior of Cafe Eugene in Albany, California
interior of Cafe Eugene in Albany, California


marionberry mimosa at Cafe Eugene in Albany, California
marionberry mimosa at Cafe Eugene in Albany, California

Green Eggs & Sam + more at Cafe Eugene in Albany, California
Green Eggs & Sam + more at Cafe Eugene in Albany, California

strawberry shortcake at Cafe Eugene in Albany, California
strawberry shortcake at Cafe Eugene in Albany, California
Café Eugene Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

More things to do in Albany. 

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

5 North: Woodland, First Friday Art Walk and antiques stores


First Friday Art Walk  1st F of month; 5-9:30pm.  Free.  Local galleries are open for this festive event, and many other shops stay open and display art as well.  Exhibits of children’s art and art featuring adoptable pets are sometimes part of the fun.  Live music enhances the experience—you might encounter a colorfully painted piano to play your own tune on, or, if you’re lucky, The Cups or The Bottom Dwellers might give a live performance.

local paintings at Poppies Gallery in Woodland, California
local paintings at Poppies Gallery in Woodland, California

children's art at First Friday Art Walk in Woodland, California
children's art at First Friday Art Walk in Woodland, California

pet art at First Friday Art Walk in Woodland, California
pet art at First Friday Art Walk in Woodland, California

piano to play at First Friday Art Walk in Woodland, California
piano to play at First Friday Art Walk in Woodland, California

The Bottom Dwellers perform at First Friday Art Walk in Woodland, California
The Bottom Dwellers perform at First Friday Art Walk in Woodland, California


Antiques stores galore are scattered along Main Street.
The House Dresser  617 Main St., (530) 661-9596.  This consignment shop features home furnishings. 
Main Street Antiques  531 Main St., (530) 723-3194.
Oak Tree Antiques  535 Main St., (530) 681-1983.  Local art is among the antiques and collectibles found here. 
Remember When Emporium  606 Main St., (530) 669-5755.  Come here for vintage antiques and collectibles. 

Main Street antiques store in Woodland, California
Main Street antiques store in Woodland, California

Main Street antiques store in Woodland, California
Main Street antiques store in Woodland, California

Main Street antiques store in Woodland, California
Main Street antiques store in Woodland, California

Main Street antiques store in Woodland, California
Main Street antiques store in Woodland, California

More things to do in Woodland. 
   
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images c2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

101 South: San Mateo, Coyote Point Recreation Area + CuriOdyssey

update/p.169

Coyote Point Recreation Area  1701 Coyote Point Dr., (650) 573-2592.  Daily 8-sunset.  $6/vehicle.  No pets; no smoking.  This 149-acre park (plus 538 additional underwater acres) is equipped with a barbecue are, picnic areas sheltered by fragrant eucalyptus, several playgrounds, inviting grassy expanses, several trails, an 18-hole golf course, a rifle range, and a swimming beach with bathhouse.  It is one of the best windsurfing sites in the U.S. and considered prime for beginners.  As if all this isn’t enough, it’s also located on the descent route for the San Francisco International Airport, making it a great place to just sit and watch planes land. 

CuriOdyssey   1651 Coyote Point Dr., (650) 342-7755.  Tu-Sun 10-5.  $9, 62+ & 13-17 $7, 2-12 $6.  Bay-side and surrounded by an aromatic grove of eucalyptus trees, the architecturally impressive aims to educate visitors with numerous hands-on and multi-media displays.  Exhibits inside include a live colony of bees.  Outside, the impressive Wildlife Habitats area includes exhibits of live, non-releasable native animals (burrowing owls, a porcupine, a banana slug), a walk-through aviary of native Bay Area birds, and a colorful demonstration garden composed of plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  Animal feedings occur daily.  Bring a lunch to enjoy in the inviting picnic area. 


interior exhibits at CuriOdyssey in San Mateo, California
interior exhibits at CuriOdyssey in San Mateo, California



cattle egret at CuriOdyssey in San Mateo, California
cattle egret at CuriOdyssey in San Mateo, California


great blue heron at CuriOdyssey in San Mateo, California
great blue heron at CuriOdyssey in San Mateo, California

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Thursday, September 1, 2016

San Francisco: Lovejoy’s Tea Room + Lovejoy’s Attic + Noe Valley neighborhood


Lovejoy’s Tea Room  1351 Church St./Clipper St., (3 blks. south of 24th St.), Noe Valley.  Begun in another location as an antique shop that served tea and named for a fictional antique dealer named Lovejoy, this delightful tea room is as cozy as anything encountered in England and provides a welcome retreat from city streets.  The menu offers all things English--toasted crumpets, scones, tea sandwiches, sausage rolls, pasties.  Tea service ranges from a simple Cream Tea  (two scones with Devon cream and fresh fruit) to an expansive High Tea (two tea sandwiches, two salads (green and cabbage), and a tea biscuit are added) to a Queen’s Tea (a crumpet with lemon curd and petit four are added), plus a special Wee Tea for children (cream cheese and jelly sandwich, a scone, fresh fruit, and a petit four, with an option to sub in hot chocolate for tea).  My favorite tea is the delicious black vanilla with lavender and the fragrant decaf Lady Grey with apricot.  The tea room is a popular spot for celebrations, and most customers show up dressed up and many wear sweet hats.  For those who forget, a hat rack offers loaners.  Tables here are covered with antique cloths, and the tableware is mix-matched vintage china. 

exterior of Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco
exterior of Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco

reservation card at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco
reservation card at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco

interior of Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco
interior of Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco

set at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco
set at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco

vintage teapot at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco
vintage teapot at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco

High Tea at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco
High Tea at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco

pretty pink petit four heart at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco
pretty pink petit four heart at Lovejoy’s Tea Room in San Francisco
Lovejoy's Antiques & Tea Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Across the street, Lovejoy’s Attic purveys a tea-related inventory that includes items both antique and new.  You’ll find tea towels, fancy tablecloths, tea paraphernalia and accoutrements, honey and lemon curd, and a fragrant back pantry filled with bags of teas.  Why, there are even bags of broken china to use for art projects.  I say, old chap, what fun!
exterior of Lovejoy’s Attic in San Francisco
exterior of Lovejoy’s Attic in San Francisco

tea set and lace at Lovejoy’s Attic in San Francisco
tea set and lace at Lovejoy’s Attic in San Francisco


The Noe Valley neighborhood is centered at Church/24th streets, and is situated between the Mission District on the east and the Castro District on the west.  The J Church streetcar runs from Embarcadero along Market Street downtown; stops along the way include 20th Street at Dolores Park.  This usually sunny neighborhood is a great place for brunch.  Restaurants and boutiques abound along 24th Street between Church Street and Castro Street, as do babies and dogs.  You’ll find all kinds of foods, including bagels, baked goods, and candies, plus plenty of fragrant flower shops.

a perfect day in the Noe Valley neighborhood in San Francisco
a perfect day in the Noe Valley neighborhood in San Francisco

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images ©2016 Carole Terwilliger Meyers