Friday, March 27, 2015

San Francisco: Palace of Fine Arts

update/p.27

Palace of Fine Arts  3301 Lyon St./Bay St., in the Marina, (415) 563-6504.  Free.  This cavernous building was designed by architect Bernard Maybeck in 1915 as part of the Panama-Pacific Exposition (an early World’s Fair celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal) and is said to be the world’s largest artificial ruin.  No longer home to the Exploratorium, which moved in 2013, it now is open only for special events that are scheduled regularly in its theater.  A paved path leads around the lagoon and makes a lovely walk. 

Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

On my stroll, I saw an impressive range of wildlife that included the expected ducks, swans, and seagulls, but also turtles, large catfish, white egrets, and giant blue herons doing a mating dance in their tree nest.  Grassy areas and plentiful benches provide the perfect spot for a picnic. 

swan in lagoon at Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco


great blue herons nesting in tree at Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco


mystery bird in lagoon at Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco
Can you identify this bird?

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sutter Creek: BellaGrace Vineyards tasting room


BellaGrace Vineyards tasting room  73 Main St., (209) 267-8053.  Thur-Mon 11-5.  Set back from the street in a historic house surrounded by a white picket fence, this circa 1860 house is converted into a charming tasting room.  In the entry, one room is devoted just to olive oil tasting.  Wine tasting occurs downstairs in a subterranean tasting room.  From mid-April through mid-October, live music by local artists is scheduled on the outside deck.  You are invited to bring a lawn chair and enjoy the music.  Specializing in estate-grown Rhone varietals as well as Zinfandel and Primitivo, this winery also offers tastings in the newly completed wine caves at its vineyard estate in Plymouth.   

BellaGrace tasting room in Sutter Creek, California

olive oil tasting bar at BellaGrace winery tasting room in Sutter Creek, California

subterranean tasting room at BellaGrace winery in Sutter Creek, California

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, March 23, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sutter Creek: Monteverde General Store Museum & AmadorArts Gallery


Monteverde General Store Museum  11 Randolph St., (209) 267-1431.  Thur-M by appt.  Free.  Located on a side street, this museum is the actual interior of an 1890s general store.  The store opened in 1896 and has been preserved as it was when it closed for business in 1971.  The shelves are loaded with appropriate merchandise—dry goods, clothing, penny candy.  Look for the original cast-iron pot-belly stove and an ornately carved oak icebox that is set into the wall.  Note that hours are not set are dependent upon the availability of volunteers. 
    Next door is the small office that houses AmadorArts Gallery, where murals by local artist Rand Hugget depicting Sutter Creek’s history are hand-painted onto the walls.  The gallery also features a new collection of works by local artists each month.  (209) 267-9038.  M-Tues & Thur-F, 9am-2pm, Sat-Sun noon-4pm.


exterior of Monteverde General Store Museum in Sutter Creek, California


interior of Monteverde General Store Museum in Sutter Creek, California


interior of Monteverde General Store Museum in Sutter Creek, California

More things to do in Sutter Creek.

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, March 20, 2015

880 South: Oakland, The Growlers' Arms



The Growlers' Arms  4214 Park Blvd./Glenfield Ave., Glenview neighborhood, (510) 328-1315.  D Tu-Sat, Sat&SunBr; $$$.  Entering this dark corner restaurant takes you far away, into the land of friendly neighborhood pubs.  But this is not your run-of-the-mill pub.  It is a gastropub, with a finesse in service and quality in cuisine.  


The interior has an exposed wood-beam ceiling painted black, a vintage red-brick wall, and mellow Beatles music playing softly in the background.

interior of The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


To start I chose the rarebit appetizer, which according to the waiter was made with “unctuous” white Irish goat cheese melted in a 700-degree wood-burning oven atop a slab of housemade bread and further topped with the most luscious fresh green peas.  (I love the sound of the word “unctuous” but admit I did have to look it up, and I was surprised to learn it only means “fatty.”)

rarebit at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


My main course was a very tasty oven-roasted flat iron steak that was served sliced for easy eating.  It came with a little bowl of housemade catsup and a side of the most delicious crispy-crisp chips I’ve even eaten.

flat iron steak at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


Fortunately, I opted for a luscious and potent Boulevardier cocktail (bourbon, sweet vermouth, Campari) to go with it.

Boulevardier cocktail at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


My companion ordered what he says is the best trout he’s ever had, served atop whipped potato-like celeriac champ.

trout atop celeriac champ at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


For dessert we shared the Growlers’ Mess, which is indeed a lovely mess of grapefruit segments, meringue, vanilla ice cream, and candied citrus skin whose flavor stayed in my mouth right out into the street.  I do so wish we’d had room also for the traditional Irish banoffee pie made with banana cream on the bottom and toffee on the top, and also for the sticky toffee pudding ice cream.  I can’t believe I turned those down!

Growlers' Mess at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


We also shared “a proper pot of tea” with dessert, and I was just delighted with the floral cups and saucers that came with it.  My waiter told me that the owners themselves searched for the tea cups and mix-matched silverware at garage sales and flea markets.

a proper tea service at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


The menu suggests ordering a picnic pork pie to go for lunch the next day.  The next day I was definitely sorry I forgot to do that.  The menu here changes daily, depending on what is good at the market, and the kitchen butchers its own meat, makes its own salumi, and prepares breads from scratch.  Plentiful seating is available in two rooms on banquettes, in booths, and at the bar.  It was obvious that many people were repeat customers, and the staff was so friendly that I’ll bet they even remember names.

Growlers' Arms on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Oakland.

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sutter Creek: Hotel Sutter


Hotel Sutter  53 Main St., (800) 892-2276, (209) 267-0242.  3 stories; 21 rooms.  Continental breakfast included.  A hotel has been here since 1852, though several have burned to the ground--in fact, in 1865 the whole town burned down!  The current incarnation was built out of stone and has been here since the early 1900s.  In those earlier days, the 7:30 a.m. stagecoach to San Francisco left from right in front.  Impromptu trials and hangings also occurred there.  The current owners have completed an extensive renovation and are continuing to uncover hidden bricks and woodwork.  Guest rooms are on the second and third floors, and each is decorated attractively in deep jewel tones and holds a bed covered with an elegant handcrafted quilt

exterior of Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek, California 
 
lobby at Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek, California
lobby at Hotel Sutter

guest room at Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek, California
guest room at Hotel Sutter

     The Hotel Sutter Restaurant offers fine dining on the ground floor.  The Lobby Bar is a sweet place to whet your whistle, the Balcony bar offers prime seats for watching over the town action, and The Cellar subterranean lounge is outfitted with comfortable puffy chairs and schedules live music on weekends. 

apple corn cake at Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek, California
apple corn cake at Hotel Sutter


The Lobby Bar at Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek, California
The Lobby Bar at Hotel Sutter
Hotel Sutter on Urbanspoon

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers