April 30, 2018

Kelseyville: Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill


101 North

Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill  5625 Gaddy Lane, Kelseyville, west lake, (707) 279-2995.  Daily 11am-5pm.  Tastings:  wines $5-$7; olive oil $5.  Set upon the former St. Gregory’s monastery and named for a town in Cornwall, England, this winery is known for its well-priced red wines and Chardonnays.  My favorites are the 2016 Chardonnay (a double-gold San Francisco Chronicle winner), the 2014 Red Hills Malbec (which I ordered later with dinner at the Park Place restaurant), and the 2015 Catspaw Merlot (who could resist that name?--not me!).  A variety of olive oils is also produced on site.  Though I like all that I tasted, my favorite was one flavored with blood orange.  Surprisingly, I especially enjoyed it poured over vanilla ice cream.  Who knew? 

exterior of Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, California
exterior of Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, California


wine tasting at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, California
wine tasting at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, California


olive groves at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, California
olive groves at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, California


olive oil tasting at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, California
olive oil tasting at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, California


olive oil soap at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, California
olive oil soap at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill in Kelseyville, California

More things to do in Clear Lake area. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

April 27, 2018

Oakland: Agave Uptown


880 South

Agave Uptown  2135 Franklin St./21st St., Uptown, (510) 288-3668.  L M-F, D daily.  The brightest spot on this dreary block, this cheery Mexican restaurant features a contemporary interior with big widows letting in plenty of light.  Diners have a choice of many seating areas, including an outside patio.  The Oaxacan-oriented menu requires some time to digest because it is not business as usual.  We started with a chunky guacamole served with thin chips--an “endless” basket of chips and salsa is also available--and cocktails.  The beverage menu includes both shaken and stirred mezcal cocktails (my partner ordered a gorgeous and tasty Agave signature sour) and a long list of mezcal shots.  Our waitress assisted me in selecting an El Vago Elote mezcal for a tasty margarita.  Plenty of Tequilas, beers, some wines, and an agua frescas of the day and whole coconut drink are also available.  I zeroed in on the enmoladas, which are basically a simple enchilada filled with tasty braised chicken and topped with the delicious housemade Mole Negro De Oaxaca--a secret version that uses 20 imported Oaxacan ingredients, including Chilhuacle negro chiles (jars of the vegan and gluten-free sauce are available to take home).  My partner chose the chile relleno--a stuffed poblano pepper also topped with the mole and some avocado slices.  Additional tempting entrée choices include Oaxacan cheese empanadas with mushrooms (or chorizo), a selection of salads, and several soups.  As would be expected, tacos are a good choice, but note that the tortillas here are small, so you might want to order extra, depending on your appetite.  In the future, I would like to try the salmon tacos with mango and avocado, and the prawns with peppers and red onions.  Most items are served with rice and mushed black beans.  Many items can be made vegetarian.  Be careful of the thin whole green chile used as a garnish.  I bit into mine--I love chills--and started hiccupping uncontrollably, to the point that I felt panic.  I do know what you’re supposed to do in this case is ingest lime juice, which helps, but I had none handy so I rode it out.  I was quite surprised because this is the first time in many years that I have had this reaction.  Take this as a warning and a helpful hint on how to handle this adverse reaction to a chili pepper should it happen to you--anywhere!  Dessert brings on ice creams--Tequila (ole), pistachio, and butterscotchy lucuma--as well as a cinnamony rice pudding and a cup of Oaxacan hot chocolate with a churro.  Since this restaurant is located just two blocks from a station, BART is a viable alternative mode of transportation.

exterior of Agave Uptown in Oakland, California
exterior of Agave Uptown in Oakland, California


bar at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California
bar at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California


interior at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California
interior at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California


cocktails at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California
cocktails at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California


guacamole at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California
guacamole at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California


enmoladas at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California
enmoladas at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California


desserts at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California
desserts at Agave Uptown in Oakland, California


More things to do in Oakland.

April 24, 2018

Kelseyville: Clear Lake State Park


101 North

Clear Lake State Park  5300 Soda Bay Rd., in Kelseyville, 3.5 mi. NE of town (9 mi. from Lakeport via scenic back road), west lake, (707) 279-4293.  Daily sunrise-sunset.  $8/vehicle.  Campsites available; lakeside cabins.  Located on the shores of the lake, this park offers swimming, fishing, a boat-launching ramp, picnic facilities, campsites, and miles of hiking trails--including the self-guided ¼-mile Indian Nature Trail that shows how the Pomo Indians used native plants and the 2-mile Dorn Nature Trail.  A Visitor Center provides a slide show introduction to the area and a Touch Corner for children.  Displays include local wildlife dioramas, a native fish aquarium, an erupting volcano, and exhibits on the area's Pomo Indian history.

entrance to Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville, California
entrance to Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville, California


road into Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville, California
road into Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville, California


scenic at Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville, California
scenic at Clear Lake State Park in Kelseyville, California


More things to do in Clear Lake area. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

April 19, 2018

Lakeport: Park Place


101 North

Park Place  50 3rd St., in Lakeport, west lake, (707) 263-0444.  L-D daily; $-$$.  Reservations advised.  Located lakefront and across the street from Library Park, this cafe offers great views from its outdoor rooftop dining area.  For starters, don't miss the magnificent bruchetta--a baguette topped with pesto and sun-dried tomatoes and then grilled--or the broiled Gorgonzola bread.  The menu has a large selection of fresh pastas, including several kinds of tortellini and raviolis, plus pizza, fresh fish, steaks, and hamburgers.  Personal favorites include the pasta marinara with housemade San Marzano tomato sauce atop housemade fettuccine and the beer-battered fish & chips.

bar at Park Place in Lakeport, California
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interior of Park Place in Lakeport, California
interior of Park Place in Lakeport, California


view of Clear Lake from Park Place in Lakeport, California
view of Clear Lake from Park Place in Lakeport, California


pasta marinara at Park Place in Lakeport, California
pasta marinara at Park Place in Lakeport, California


umami burger at Park Place in Lakeport, California
umami burger at Park Place in Lakeport, California
Park Place Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More things to do in Clear Lake area.

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

April 17, 2018

Lakeport: Angelina’s Bakery & Espresso


101 North

Angelina’s Bakery & Espresso  365 N. Main St., Lakeport, west lake, (707) 263-0391.  B-L daily.  This modest, casual coffeehouse-deli has a worn concrete floor and mix-matched seating.  It is famous for its gigantic fresh-baked cinnamon rolls, cookies, brownies, and lemon bars, and I can attest to the deliciousness of the blueberry muffin.  Housemade soup (good with a biscuit), specialty sandwiches and panini, pasta salads, and both ice cream and unique coffee ice cubes--especially popular in summer--are also on the menu.

interior of Angelina’s Bakery & Espresso in Lakeport, California
interior of Angelina’s Bakery & Espresso in Lakeport, California


blueberry muffin at Angelina’s Bakery & Espresso in Lakeport, California
blueberry muffin at Angelina’s Bakery & Espresso in Lakeport, California
Angelina's Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


More things to do in Clear Lake.

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

April 12, 2018

Lakeport: Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum


101 North

Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum  255 N. Main St., in Lakeport, west lake, (707) 263-4555.  W-Sat 10-4, Sun 12-4.  By donation, $2.  Formerly a courthouse, this 1871 brick building now reveals “The Mystery and History of Clear Lake” through its renowned collection of Pomo Indian artifacts--baskets, stone arrowheads, and tools--plus historical records, a restored courtroom, and a hunting and gun exhibit.  A dramatic 14-foot replica of a Pomo Indian tule boat is a standout exhibit, and lovely vintage display cases and small chandeliers add to the overall interest.  More exhibits include a collection of Lake County’s famous “diamonds,” an old-time telephone switchboard, and antlers from the last elk killed in Lake County.  The museum is situated in the town’s leafy central park, where a small Vietnam Veterans memorial is displayed.

exterior of Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California
exterior of Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California


Pomo Indian basket display at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California
Pomo Indian basket display at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California


replica Pomo Indian tule boat at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California
replica Pomo Indian tule boat at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California


description of Pomo Indian baskets at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California
description of Pomo Indian baskets at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California


Lake County diamonds display at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California
Lake County diamonds display at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California


old-time telephone switchboard displayed at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California
old-time telephone switchboard displayed at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California


antlers from last elk killed in Lake County at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California
antlers from last elk killed in Lake County at Lakeport Historic Courthouse Museum in Lakeport, California


More things to do in Clear Lake area. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

April 10, 2018

Clear Lake area: background information


101 North

CLEAR LAKE AREA


Clear Lake seen from Park Place restaurant window in Lakeport, California
Clear Lake seen from Park Place restaurant window in Lakeport, California

A Little Background 
Believed to be the oldest lake in North America, spring-fed Clear Lake is the largest natural fresh-water lake that is totally within California (Lake Tahoe is partially in Nevada).  It measures 19 miles by 8 miles.  The 90-mile drive around the perimeter takes 2½ to 3 hours.

Clear Lake is situated on volcanic terrain, giving it an unusual physical appearance and a profusion of hot springs.  According to a Pomo Indian legend, when there is no snow on 4,200-foot Mount Konocti in April, the volcano will erupt.  Those who heed legends should check the April snowfall before making vacation plans.

From the 1870s into the early 1900s, this area was world-famous for its health spas and huge luxury resort hotels.  Then, for various reasons, it fell into a state of disrepair and slowly lost its acclaim.  Now it is a reasonably priced family resort area.

Lake County is also noted for its high-elevation wines, and some wineries and vineyards offer spectacular views.  Grapes were planted here extensively before Prohibition, when they were taken out and replaced with plum, pear, and walnut trees.  Now the trees are losing their hold, and the grapes are coming back.

And North America’s only eagle species—bald eagles and golden eagles—come to Lake County to nest each year.

Lake County's first traffic light was installed in 1982.  There are now seven, but it still has no parking meters.

Getting There
Located approximately 19 miles east of Hopland via curvy Highway 175 (a tight, curvy, and scenic two-lane mountain-pass back road), and 110 miles north of San Francisco.   Alternatively, continue north to Ukiah and take Highway 20 east for 20 miles to the town of Upper Lake.

An alternate route follows Highway 29 north from St. Helena.  This scenic route goes through the heart of the Wine Country.  The rolling hills are strewn with blooming wild flowers in spring and with brilliantly colored foliage in fall.  Make the drive during daylight; this winding two-lane road is tedious to drive at night, and, of course, the lovely scenery cannot be enjoyed then.

More Information about Clear Lake.


More things to do in Clear Lake area.

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

April 6, 2018

San Francisco: Herlen Place


San Francisco

Herlen Place  334 Grant Ave./Harlan Pl., in the Financial District, 1 blk. S of Chinatown gate, (415) 391-0207.  Daily from 8am-9pm.  Located just a few doors down from its sister restaurant, Cafe de la Presse, this small glass-box of a spot features giant windows to the street action (one entertaining sight is the double-decker tourist buses that ply this popular area).  Sidewalk-side tables are available in front--perfect for the occasional warm weather--and assorted seating in the high-ceilinged interior includes couches, marble-topped high and low tables, and bar seating.  The interior displays a selection of images by renowned French photographer Bénédicte Lassalle.  The short menu changes regularly, and on the evening I dined here it featured tasty vegetable-centric small plates.  The also short but interesting wine menu presents complementary vintages along with a few beers and coffees.  The space is primarily a wine lounge, amd the staff is trained in assisting with selection.  Our waiter led us to three wines I enjoyed very much.  We ordered by the glass, and each vintage was served in a carafe making it easy to share our tasting.  We settled on two pinot noirs, a 2014 Bouchaine from Napa Valley and a 2015 Cigar Box from Casablanca Valley in Chile.  Both were very good, but we favored the more complex Cigar Box.  When the waiter realized I am fond of earthy pinot noirs from Oregon, he suggested a 2010 Marchesidi Gresy Merlot from Piemonte, Italy.  It was very, very good.  To enhance our wines and satisfy our hunger, we ordered a simple avocado hummus topped with pistachio nuts, a plate of vegetable tempura, and two empanadas--one beef with a spicy dipping sauce, and one chicken with a milder sauce.  More veggie options included a whole roasted cauliflower with curry butter, a vegetable pickle board, and potato croquettes.  Non-vegetarians can get their fix with buffalo chicken drumettes, a smoked salmon tart, and a charcuterie board.  Coffee and breakfast items--croissants, potato-cheese galettes, egg dishes--are served until 2:30 p.m.

exterior of Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California
exterior of Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California


exterior seating at Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California
exterior seating at Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California


bar at Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California
bar at Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California


table set up and view at Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California
table set up and view at Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California


wine pour and small plates at Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California
wine pour and small plates at Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California


colorful empanadas at Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California
colorful empanadas at Herlen Place wine bar in San Francisco, California


More things to do in San Francisco's Financial District.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

April 3, 2018

El Cerrito: El Cerrito Recycling Center & El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area


80 North

El Cerrito Recycling Center  7501 Schmidt Ln., (510) 215-4350.  M-F 8-5:30, Sat-Sun 9-4:30.  This is not your usual recycling center.  I’d been hearing about it for years and finally made a visit recently.  There are bins here for the basic categories--cardboard, paper, wire--plus the more unusual--batteries, prescription medications, hangars, Styrofoam--and there is also an area for appliances and electronics.  I particularly liked the book exchange, which is in a covered shed and also has a bin for magazines as well as space for movies, CDs, and DVDs.  This shed also has an area to leave things that can be reused, and a Goodwill depository is available so you can donate to a good cause and get a tax receipt, too.  Donations of canned goods are also accepted.  There is plenty of parking, and the entire space is kept clean.  You can also call the office here for referrals to other businesses that accept items that they do not.

magazine bin at El Cerrito Recycling Center in El Cerrito, California
magazine bin at El Cerrito Recycling Center in El Cerrito, California


books on shelves at El Cerrito Recycling Center in El Cerrito, California
books on shelves at El Cerrito Recycling Center in El Cerrito, California


Goodwill collection station at El Cerrito Recycling Center in El Cerrito, California
Goodwill collection station at El Cerrito Recycling Center in El Cerrito, California


El Cerrito Foundation Memorial Grove  7501 Schmidt Ln., just west of the recycling center.  Dogs on leash ok.  To reach the moderate 1.3-mile loop trail through this grove mixed with pines and redwoods, head up the fire road.  From this road, above the recycling center, you can see the remains of the former Hutchinson rock quarry.  Along the trail are views that include the Bay and Golden Gate bridges, Brooks Island, Point Richmond, Point Isabel, and Albany Hill.  Several paths lead off from the fire road to the left.  The third one was once a Boy Scout nature trail and still has marking posts, and two benches on that path are inscribed with the name of the troop that built it.
          This grove is part of the El Cerrito Hillside Natural Area, which features several trails through forests, grasslands, streams, and rocky outcroppings along with those sensational views.  Trails are unmarked; map
Way more information.


More things to do in El Cerrito.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images c2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers