Wednesday, August 20, 2014

101 North: Duncans Mills, shops

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DUNCANS MILLS  On Hwy. 116, 8 mi. W of Guerneville, 4 mi. E of ocean, (707) 865-2024.  Once a lumber village, this tiny rustic town—population 85 in 2006-- is now home to a collection of eclectic shops, a general store with a deli, a restaurant, and a riverside campground with private beach.  Cattle graze on the peaceful adjacent hillside, and benches invite relaxing for a stretch, especially on a sunny day. 

shops:


Antiquarian and Florabunda Fine Flowers in Duncans Mills, California
Antiquarian and Florabunda Fine Flowers  25195 Main St., (707) 865-9897.  This rustic log cabin greets your nose with a delicious aroma from its house blend of potpourri.  Enjoy it while you browse the unusual antiques.  Fresh flowers are available to go and are especially nice when arranged in a vintage vessel.

Christopher Queen Galleries in Duncans Mills, California
Christopher Queen Galleries  (707) 865-1318.  14 W-M 11-5.  This gallery is one of the first to specialize in early and contemporary California art. 

Thistledown Antiques in Duncans Mills, California
          An adjoining shop, Thistledown Antiques, purveys the unusual in fine china, jewelry, and furnishings.

Mr. Trombly’s Tea  25185 Main St., (707) 865-9979.  M-Sat 10-6, Sun 11-5.  Claiming to have the largest selection of vintage and new teapots in California, this tea-oriented shop also has a plethora of accoutrements and sells a vast variety of tea in bulk.

Mr. Trombly's Tea in Duncans Mills, California
         Mr. Trombly’s Table, a kitchen shop, is adjacent. 

Sophie’s Cellars  25179 Main St./Hwy 116.  Daily in summer 11am-5pm; shorter hours rest of year; happy hour F 4-7pm, $5/glass of wine+$5 hors d’oeuvres.

Sophie's Cellars in Duncans Mills, California
 Stop into this sweet little cottage for a tasting paired with local cheeses and freshly baked breads.  Happy hour includes an hors d’oeuvres buffet. 

More things to do in nearby Guerneville.

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, August 18, 2014

101 North: Guerneville, Coffee Bazaar

Coffee Bazaar in Guerneville, California
Coffee Bazaar  14045 Armstrong Woods Rd., (707) 869-9706.  Located just around the corner from this town’s busy main street and particularly popular with locals, this mellow coffeehouse operates in a spacious room with a wall of wood banquettes facing copper-topped tables.  Breakfast is served all day, but the excellent pastries disappear early.  I enjoyed a simple BLT and an exhilarating coffee bon bon cookie made with espresso. 
         Twice Told Books, which specializes in used books, operates on the other side of an open doorway. 

More things to do in Guerneville.

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image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, August 15, 2014

80 North: Berkeley, Venus


Venus  2327 Shattuck Ave./Durant St., (510) 540-5950.  B-L M-F, D Thur-M, Sat-SunBr; $-$$.  No reservations.


interior of Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California
 This very popular, very small restaurant has a cozy brick-walled dining room with a comfy banquette along one wall.  It is particularly busy for weekend brunch, and breakfast is served daily until 2:30pm.


eggs Benedict at Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California
I enjoyed my Venus Benedict consisting of a housemade English muffin topped with sliced tomato, spinach, Hollandaise sauce, and two puffy poached eggs.  Though tasty, and served with home fries dabbed with sour cream, next time I will add flavor in the form of lox or ham.


biscuits and gravy at Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California
I also have my eye on the biscuits and gravy, which received a good report from a dining companion.


Indian Brunch plate at Venus restaurant in Berkeley, California
My husband feasted on the exotic Indian Brunch, which included colorful curried carrot-zucchini-parsnip pancakes, scrambled eggs akoori (with chiles, tomato, and cilantro), mango aioli, handmade chapati, and banana raita.  Lemon ricotta pancakes and stuffed French toast are also very popular.  The made-from-scratch hot chocolate is a delicious alternative if you are caffeined out.  I plan to come back for lunch to try the 14-hour Slow Roasted Cuban Pork Sandwich with gruyere, lettuce, sweet pickles, tomato and chipotle aioli, or maybe the fried egg sandwich with white cheddar and chipotle mayo.  The menu has many vegetarian options.
Venus on Urbanspoon

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

880 South: Alameda, Pacific Pinball Museum


Pacific Pinball Museum 1510 Webster St./Haight Ave., 3 mi. from downtown, (510) 205-6959.  Tu-Thur 2-9pm, F 2pm-mid, Sat 11am-mid, Sun 11-9; closed M.  $15, under 17 $7.50.  No pets.


gallery at Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, California
This non-profit hands-on museum attracts a variety of people.  Many like to view exhibits and learn more about these intriguing machines, but most also want to play.  Fortunately, admission includes unlimited play on more than 100 of the colorful machines that are spread through a warren of rooms.  Three jukeboxes are also on free play.  It can get noisy.



I toured the museum with founder Michael Schiess, and what a trip it was!  Here’s what I learned.  Though the idea of pinball started in France with rolling a ball up a hill, pinball machines are mostly an American thing.  The first pinball patent in the U.S. was in 1869.  The first coin-operated pinball machine, the Whiffle, came along in 1931.  The World’s Fair Jigsaw is the all-time best seller at almost 80,000; runner up is the newer “Adams Family,” at about 24,000.  When Oakland banned pinball in the 1930s as gambling, many of the machines found their way to Alameda where rules were more lax.  Flippers were added to the machines in 1947, and artwork became more important in the 1960s.  Between the 1950s and 1970s, pinball machines actually made more money than movies!


Captain Fantastic machine at Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda, California
The machines are still evolving, with TV screens added in 2000 and a “CSI” model added in 2008.  The museum’s collection now is at around 1,000, and the 900 that are warehoused are rotated in and out so you never know for sure what you will see.

More things to do in Alameda.

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images and video ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers



Friday, August 8, 2014

880 South: Alameda, Ole’s Waffle Shop

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Ole’s Waffle Shop  1507 Park St./Santa Clara Ave., downtown, (510) 522-8108.  B-L-D daily; $.  No reservations.


Ole's Waffle Shop in Alameda, California
 Always packed, this old-fashioned diner has comfy booths and a long counter with swivel chairs.


deep-fried broasted chicken at Ole's Waffle Shop in Alameda, California
Breakfast is served all day--biscuits and gravy are on the menu--but many folks come here for the burgers, steaks, and deep-fried broasted chicken.  Jell-O, tapioca pudding, and fresh-squeezed OJ made by a machine that sits in the dining room are also available.  But be careful!  Order dessert with your meal.  I was disappointed early on a Sunday night to be told they were completely out of pie.

Ole's Waffle Shop on Urbanspoon

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

880 South: Alameda, St. George Spirits

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St. George Spirits  2601 Monarch St., 4 mi. from downtown, (510) 769-1601.  Tasting on the hour, W-Sat 12-6, Sun 12-4; $15.  Tour+tasting W, Thur, & F at 5:30, Sat at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6, Sun at 1, 2, 3, & 4; $20.  Reservations advised.


exterior of St. George Spirits in Alameda, California
Located way out there, through a residential area and then past a plethora of boarded-up buildings on the former Alameda Naval Air Station, this distillery operates inside a huge repurposed hangar.  The tour is a must and prepares you for your tasting.


interior of St. George Spirits in Alameda, California
You’ll find out how copper stills work and learn that 30 pounds of pears is used in just one bottle of pear brandy!  I heard way more than I could drink in and digest.


absinthe ingredients at St. George Spirits in Alameda, California
I was most interested by the story about absinthe, which just became legal in the U.S. in 2007.  In fact, St. George Spirits was the first American company since 1912 to produce and sell absinthe in the U.S.


celebrity shark Bruce from "Deep Blue Sea" movie at St. George Spirits in Alameda, California
 I also enjoyed meeting the celebrity shark Bruce, who ate Samuel L. Jackson and LL Cool J in the “Deep Blue Sea” movie.


tasting room at St. George Spirits in Alameda, California
After, we tasted five items, including Dry Rye Gin, a gin-whiskey love child; Terroir Gin, which tastes like a forest; and the celebrated olive-oil green Absinthe Verte, which is poured over ice and tastes of licorice.  Suffice it to say that you can get hammered even on the tiny tastes that are poured.  Drink the water provided. 

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 



Monday, August 4, 2014

Wine Country: Sonoma, Sonoma’s Best Guest Cottages and Sonoma’s Best Market Cafe


Sonoma’s Best Guest Cottages 1190 East Napa St./Old Winery Rd., ((800) 291-8962, (707) 933-0340.  4 cottages.  All full kitchens.  Built in 1935, these cottages are in a rural area about 8 blocks from Sonoma’s central plaza.  Three accommodate two people, and the fourth has a loft with two twin beds and accommodates four.  Kitchens are stocked with an assortment of local products to get you started, including a bag of Blue Bottle Coffee and a half-bottle of wine.  Each cottage has a patio with lounge chairs, a chiminea fireplace that burns real wood, and a gas barbecue, and each is individually decorated.


Spring Flowers cottage at Sonoma’s Best Guest Cottages in Sonoma, California
Sweet little Spring Flowers has hardwood floors and sunflower-yellow walls hung with colorful original art.


rose boquet at Sonoma’s Best Guest Cottages in Sonoma, California
When blooming, fragrant roses from the property’s rose garden add to the decor.  Bikes are available for loan. 


Sonoma’s Best Market Cafe in Sonoma, California
    ●Sonoma’s Best Market Cafe  (707) 933-3000.  This vintage store has been in business here since 1913.  The perfect stop for picnic supplies, it serves Blue Bottle Coffee and purveys some prepared food and many packaged local food products.  A wine-tasting room pours samplings of local vintages; the $5 tasting fee is donated to Pet Lifeline. 

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image ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, August 1, 2014

880 South: Oakland, Galeto Brazilian Grill


Galeto Brazilian Grill  1019 Clay St./11th St., in Old Oakland, (510) 238-9488.  L-D daily; dinner $38.95, lunch $18.95.  Large windows bring in plenty of light to the high-ceiling open room housing this Brazilian restaurant, and it operates a little differently than the other ones I’ve been to that serve skewered meats.  This one melds the meat service with Italian dishes.  


appetizers at Galeto Brazilian Grill in Oakland, California
Dinner here begin with an appetizer plate bearing a tiny puff that is very much like a popover, a sliver of polenta, and a piece of fried banana.  This is followed by capeletti pasta soup.  


salads at Galeto Brazilian Grill in Oakland, California
Then comes a trip to the spectacular salad bar bearing an array I couldn’t resist filling my plate—and belly--with, including jicama, marinated artichokes, beets, and tiny red, very hot peppers.  I thought I’d be eating this with the traditional Brazilian grilled meat, but that arrives later.


pastas at Galeto Brazilian Grill in Oakland, California
 First comes a serving of the house’s signature grilled chicken--served and kept hot on a small grill placed on the table--followed by a plate of mushroom-stuffed ravioli in a cream sauce and another plate of fettucine with tomato sauce.


skewered meat service at Galeto Brazilian Grill in Oakland, California
 Now the skewered meat (three beef and one pork choice) starts coming around, carved by lances tableside to your request.  I really like the charred meat slices, but you can get the second slice and have it more rare if you prefer.  After the meat makes the rounds, it is put back on the grill in the kitchen.  Ingredients here are free range and organic.


tres leches cake at Galeto Brazilian Grill in Oakland, California
 If you have the space!, dessert might include Brazilian flan, a petit gateau, or moist tres leches cake; it costs additional.  Wine, beer, and a fruity white sangria keep things rolling, and live musical entertainment is featured on Friday and Saturday nights.

Galeto Brazilian Grill on Urbanspoon

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

101 North: Geyserville, Lake Sonoma

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Lake Sonoma  3333 Skaggs Springs Rd., (707) 433-9483.  Free.


 
This scenic spot hosts all manner of water activities--fishing, boating, water-skiing, swimming.  Everything from a canoe to a patio boat or houseboat can be rented from the Lake Sonoma Resort.  Campsites are available. 


     The Milt Brandt Visitors Center displays the area's wildlife and provides a self-guided tour through the Congressman Don Clausen Fish Hatchery.  When the steelhead trout and salmon run here, usually from November through April, they can be observed using a man-made fish ladder. 

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images courtesy of venues


Monday, July 28, 2014

101 North: Geyserville, Locals Tasting Room

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Locals Tasting Room  21023 Geyserville Ave., (707) 857-4900.  Daily 11-6.  Free.  Taste a flight of delicious wines from ten small-production artisan wineries that are not distributed through retail outlets or restaurants.  

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image courtesy of venue