May 24, 2018

Upper Lake: Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant


101 North

Tallman Hotel  9550 Main St., in Upper Lake, north lake, (866) 708-5253, (707) 275-2244.  17 rooms; $$-$$$.  Heated pool (closed Nov-Apr); hot tub.  Continental breakfast; restaurant.

exteriors of Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon in Upper Lake, California
exteriors of Tallman Hotel and Blue Wing Saloon in Upper Lake, California



Built in 1895, this beautifully restored hotel combines rustic and chic in a delightful manner.  The original hotel has four high-ceilinged guest rooms that are decorator-adorned in a soothing mix of subdued colors in a fashionable mix of patterns and styles.  Should a guest fall in love with any fabric or color, a resource book is kept at the desk to advise of brands and code numbers.  One of the most interesting features is the highly functional antique bathroom plumbing, which is so old it’s new again.  Room #1 has both an oversize clawfoot tub with center drain and a tall shower enclosure with a wrap-around chrome fixture sporting all kinds of porcelain knobs and levers that control a giant sunflower head and side sprayers.  Lodging is available in several adjacent buildings, and some new-construction garden rooms have a Japanese ofuro soaking tub on a private patio with outdoor shower.

exterior of Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California
exterior of Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California


exterior of bungalow at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California
exterior of bungalow at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California


guest room in bungalow at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California
guest room in bungalow at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California


wall decor in lobby at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California
wall decor in lobby at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California


antique safe at check-in desk at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California
antique safe at check-in desk at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California


breakfast room at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California
breakfast room at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California


breakfast buffet at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California
breakfast buffet at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California


breakfast plate at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California
breakfast plate at Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, California


The complex’s Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant serves a well-priced eclectic menu.  The roasted beet-goat cheese salad and the baked oysters make super starters.  Entrée specialties include barbecued tri tip, seafood cioppino, and my personal favorite--portobello mushroom ravioli--but a variety of burgers are also options.  Local wines are featured, and beers and sarsaparilla are on tap.  Sunday brunch is a particularly popular time and features live music, plus a really good mushroom omelette is on the menu then.  Diners can sit in the cozy interior or, in good weather, outside on a delightful garden patio sheltered by umbrellas and plane trees.  It is hard to believe the saloon is all new construction.  Do take time to admire the long bar made from one seamless piece of straight-grained black walnut wood salvaged from a tree that fell down on the property.  The Blue Wing Blues Festival is held here each August.

exterior of Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California
exterior of Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California


dining room at Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California
dining room at Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California


entertainment in dining room at Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California
entertainment in dining room at Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California


chef Pablo at Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California
chef Pablo at Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California


mushroom omelette at Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California
mushroom omelette at Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California


beet salad at Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California
beet salad at Blue Wing Saloon Restaurant in Upper Lake, California
Blue Wing Saloon & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


A few doors down, beneath the historic landmark town clock, The Upper Lake Mercantile operates as the hotel’s gift shop in the town’s long-vacant 1921 bank building.  It features huge windows, beautiful wood floors, and high ceilings and purveys an eclectic mix of goods made by local artists and craftspeople.

exterior of Upper Lake Mercantile in Upper Lake, California
exterior of Upper Lake Mercantile in Upper Lake, California


interior of Upper Lake Mercantile in Upper Lake, California
interior of Upper Lake Mercantile in Upper Lake, California


UPPER LAKE is a tad larger than a one-horse town.  Once the end of the stage coach line from Cloverdale, it now holds a wine-tasting bar and several antiques shops.  The berg now has a welcoming town arch over the street and Victorian-style street lights.  Horse-drawn carriage rides are sometimes available.  Highway 20 to Ukiah makes a direct route in or out to Highway 101.


horse-drawn carriage in Upper Lake, California
horse-drawn carriage in Upper Lake, California


More town businesses
Lake County Wine Studio  #9505, (707) 275-8030.  Tasting:  6 wines/$8.  The The walls here feature the work of local artists, and hard-to-find artisan wines from local producers can be tasted.  (Guests of the Tallman hotel receive a free tasting.)

wine-tasting set up at Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake, California
wine-tasting set up at Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake, California


tasty vintages at Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake, California
tasty vintages at Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake, California


The cheese from local maker Yerba Santa Goat Dairy & Bodega Goat Cheese  which is made from “free grazing, happy Alpine goats,” is available here.  I had the opportunity to taste some of these fresh and aged goat cheeses, including fresh chevre, semi-soft chevito, and dry aged shepherds cheese.  They were all delicious, but my favorite was the soft fresh version.  They sell almost exclusively at farmers markets, including the one at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.  The farm is open to visits, and when I was there, the herd consisted of 83 females and 2 males.

Yerba Santa Goat Dairy owners at Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake, California
Yerba Santa Goat Dairy owners at Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake, California


Yerba Santa Goat Dairy cheeses at Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake, California
Yerba Santa Goat Dairy cheeses at Lake County Wine Studio in Upper Lake, California


Lavender Blue  #9505, (707) 245-9643.  This sweet shop purveys gifts, plants, and more.

exterior of Lavender Blue shop in Upper Lake, California
exterior of Lavender Blue shop in Upper Lake, California


merchandise at Lavender Blue shop in Upper Lake, California
merchandise at Lavender Blue shop in Upper Lake, California


Mi Chelas Mexican Restaurant  #9475, (707) 275-4065.  L-D Thur-Tu.  Everyone raves about the food here.  I enjoyed an inexpensive, delicious bowl of Azteca soup that was thick with beans and chicken.


Oliveira Antiques  #9515, (707) 275-9408.  This shop features a collection of western art, a stage coach, and guns galore.  The owner sometimes leads an informal, eccentric tour of his homage to the old west.

exterior of Oliveira Antiques shop in Upper Lake, California
exterior of Oliveira Antiques shop in Upper Lake, California



May 22, 2018

Cupertino: Cupertino Village Shopping Center


101 South

Cupertino Village Shopping Center  10765-11111 N. Wolfe Rd./Homestead Rd., (408) 252-8084.  This spread-out complex is filled with Asian restaurants and shops, plus a Starbucks.

99 Ranch Market  This supermarket has a vast selection of Asian grocery items.  More description.

Fantasia Coffee & Tea  #10933.  Daily 10-10.  Many people think this is the best boba (pearl tea) in the Bay Area.  There is plenty of seating indoors, plus a spacious shady outdoor courtyard that is nice on sunny days.

patio at Fantasia Coffee & Tea in Cupertino, California
patio at Fantasia Coffee & Tea in Cupertino, California


Joy Luck Palace  #10911, (408) 255-6988.  L-D daily.  Delicious dim sum lunches combine with a Cantonese menu for great options here.  Though “palace” is a bit of a stretch, it is a popular spot.
A separate dining room is known for serving excellent Cantonese-style won ton noodles--a skinny crunchy Hong Kong-style noodle.  Excellent Cantonese-style congee porridge is also available.
Joy Luck Palace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

dining room at Joy Luck Palace in Cupertino, California
dining room at Joy Luck Palace in Cupertino, California


diners by fish tanks at Joy Luck Palace in Cupertino, California
diners by fish tanks at Joy Luck Palace in Cupertino, California


cutting fried taro dumplings at Joy Luck Palace in Cupertino, California
cutting fried taro dumplings at Joy Luck Palace in Cupertino, California


steamed barbecue pork buns at Joy Luck Palace in Cupertino, California
steamed barbecue pork buns at Joy Luck Palace in Cupertino, California


Shanghai Restaurant  #10877, (408) 873-4813.  This spot has the usual Chinese dishes along with traditional Shanghai dishes not served in most restaurants.  The signature dish Xiao Long Bao is particularly good.  These dumplings are made fresh when you place your order.  The Green Onion Pancake, crispy fish fillet with (fried with seaweed), crispy duck, pork fried rice, and giant meatballs in a thick sauce are also popular.

Sheng Kee Bakery  #10961.  More description.

Ten Ren Tea  #10881, (408) 873-2038.  Come here for boba milk tea with pearls--a mix of green tea and flavored milk with black tapioca balls on the bottom.  I enjoyed the Mango Milk Green Tea.  Order it to your specs—mine are coconut milk boba with less tea and more milk.  The tapioca is satisfyingly chewy.  Seating is limited to two small tree-trunk tables.

interior of Ten Ren Tea in Cupertino, California
interior of Ten Ren Tea in Cupertino, California


More things to do in Cupertino.

Things to do in nearby San Jose.

More ideas for exploring Northern California.

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

May 18, 2018

Cupertino: Apple Park Visitor Center


101 South

Apple Park Visitor Center  10600 N. Tantau Ave.  M-F 9am-7pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 11am-6pm.  Located across the street from the spectacular new mother ship (known as the Ring Building), which houses Apple employees in a groundbreaking new circular glass building, this new visitor center attempts to bring non-Applers some of the glitz and excitement.  The center features the all-glass walls of the main campus and consists of an Apple store, an exhibition hall with a 11,000-pound programmed scale model of the new campus along with iPads that allow you to view it in augmented reality, an upscale cafe with Illy espresso drinks and fine chocolates (the limited menu is on an iPad Mini), and a rooftop observation deck that looks out to the campus.  The visitor center--which is the only place where you can buy Apple-branded paraphernalia like T-shirts and notebooks--is fronted by a mature olive grove.

iPads allow viewing augmented reality at Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, California
iPads allow viewing augmented reality at Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, California


cafe at Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, California
cafe at Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, California


Apple store at Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, California
Apple store at Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, California


The 2.8 million-square-foot Apple Park campus itself is bounded by N. Wolfe Road, E. Homestead Road, N. Tantau Avenue, and Highway 280.  It has the largest footprint of any building in the world.  It houses 13,000 employees, and walls are 45-foot-tall curved safety glass.  The outdoors center of the circle features 175-acres of woodlands, drought-tolerant plants, and fruit trees (including 13 varieties of apple trees) and is described by an employee as “everywhere you look is greenery.”  And it really does have an other-worldly presence resembling a space ship.

Apple Park campus seen from Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, California
Apple Park campus seen from Apple Park Visitor Center in Cupertino, California




More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

May 15, 2018

Berkeley: Shen Hua


80 North

Shen Hua  2914 College Ave./Ashby Ave., Elmwood, (510) 883-1777.  18 L Tu-Sat, D Tu-Sun; $-$$.  Reservations accepted.  Featuring a contemporary décor of dark wood tables and chairs brightened by Tuscan-gold walls, huge windows, and a high ceiling, this Chinese restaurant presents Northern-style Beijing and Sichuan cuisine.  It has a full bar in the front and a large open kitchen in the back.  Noodles, some dim sum, and crispy oversize pot stickers are housemade daily.  Winning dishes include peppery hot and sour soup, dry sautéed green beans, spicy dry fried chicken prepared with ginger and garlic, Andy’s chicken sautéed with red hot peppers and fermented black beans, deep-fried cherry pork in a colorful ginger-cherry sauce, spicy Sichuan dry-fried prawns, walnut prawns, and garlic noodles (a personal favorite).  There is also a good-sized vegetarian section on the menu.  Tea brews are exotic and cost additional.  Lunch specials are well-priced at around $9 to $10 and include hot and sour soup and a mild kim chee (or other appetizer).

Shen Hua Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


dining room at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California
dining room at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California


dining room at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California
dining room at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California


lunch menu at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California
lunch menu at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California


dim sum menu at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California
dim sum menu at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California


garlic noodles and cherry pork at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California
garlic noodles and cherry pork at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California


terracotta warrior statue at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California
terracotta warrior statue at Shen Hua in Berkeley, California


More things to do in Berkeley. 

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

May 3, 2018

Albany: La Crema


80 North

La Crema  1106 Solano Ave./San Pablo Ave, (510) 558-3349.  Situated inside an expansive space with high ceilings and big windows, this simple yet colorful spot provides plenty of seating.  My favorite seating is in one of the tiny window pop-outs that makes you feel like you’re right on the sidewalk, yet you are protected from all the negatives of that.  The menu features not only the usual suspects in a Mexican restaurant--burritos, enchiladas, tacos--but also taquitos and nachos not to mention pupusas, plantains, and empanadas.  Many vegetarian options are available.  On Taco Tuesdays the price of a street taco drops from $3 to $2.  They are small, so you’ll want two or three.  Larger plates (platos) include enchiladas verde or mole, fajitas, and a chile relleno.  Drinks include aguas frescas, beer, and Mexican hot chocolate.  At weekend brunch, look for chilaquiles and huevos rancheros.  You order at the counter, then secure your utensils and pick a seat.  Menu.

exterior of La Crema in Albany, California
exterior of La Crema in Albany, California


order counter at La Crema in Albany, California
order counter at La Crema in Albany, California


interior at La Crema in Albany, California
interior at La Crema in Albany, California


pop-out window seating at La Crema in Albany, California
pop-out window seating at La Crema in Albany, California


taco at La Crema in Albany, California
taco at La Crema in Albany, California

More things to do in Albany. 

More things to do in nearby Berkeley. 

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

More ideas for exploring Northern California. 

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers