Thursday, January 22, 2015

San Francisco: Great Eastern


Great Eastern  649 Jackson St./Grant, (415) 986-2500.  B-L-D daily; dim sum daily 10-3; $.


dining room at Great Eastern restaurant in San Francisco
Though small, this atmospheric spot located in the heart of Chinatown features an open room with mostly large round tables covered with white tablecloths.  A smaller room downstairs handles overflow.  A wall of tanks filled with live fish is in the back, verifying the restaurant’s reputation for serving one of Chinatown’s most extensive seafood selections.  Everything is cooked to order, so fried dishes arrive hot from the wok.  A laminated picture menu helps you select from the extensive dim sum options.  Dim sum items are mostly made to order, so no carts and few trays circulate.


deep-fried taro balls at Great Eastern restaurant in San Francisco
deep-fried taro balls
My favorites are the delicate and crunchy cilantro shrimp dumplings and the exquisite deep-friend taro balls.  In the evening if you have five to eight people in your group, consider ordering a set family-style dinner or a more elaborate banquet-style dinner--the crab version is reputedly particularly good.  President Obama stopped here for a take-out assortment of dumplings in 2012, and that certainly helped establish the restaurant’s popularity. 

Great Eastern on Urbanspoon

More dim sum photos.

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Nevada City: The Art Cottage & Art Studio


The Art Cottage & Art Studio  2-min. drive from town, (530) 478-0920.  Off-street parking is provided for both units.  Designed by an artist to rejuvenate your spirit, these quiet retreats are located in a quiet residential area that is just a 15-minute walk from town.  Bright colors and plenty of art is factored into the decor--even art-related videos are provided.  If your party rents both units, you can open the gate between the properties and share the yards.

The Art Cottage  This cozy vacation rental has two bedrooms and two baths (one with a whirlpool tub) and can accommodate three guests comfortably.  Amenities include a full kitchen with granite counters and a private yard with barbecue.

The Art Cottage rental in Nevada City, California


The Art Studio  This sister rental is a smaller studio apartment.  It has a full kitchen and is perfect for a single guest  or for a weekend stay for a couple.  The up-to-date bathroom has a shower with twelve massage jets. 

The Art Studio rental in Nevada City, California


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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, January 16, 2015

80 North: Berkeley, Townie


Townie  1799 University Ave./Grant St., (510) 356-4903.  D Tu-Sun, Sat-Sun Br.  Free parking in rear.


bar at Townie restaurant in Berkeley, California
The immense open dining room here features large windows to the street, a cozy original brick wall behind the bar, a black open-rafter ceiling, a few wood booths and other features made from reclaimed wood, and a concrete floor.  A sea of tables and chairs populate the center of the room.  The Sunday morning I was here for brunch, diners were sparse and the room was quiet—it felt like the room itself was having a own hangover from the night before.  Fortunately, music faves from the ‘50s and ’60s—“Runaround Sue,” “Walk like a Man”--perked things up.  The seasonal menu featuring New American cuisine small plates is short but sweet and makes use of spectacular seasonal ingredients.


eggs Benedict at Townie restaurant in Berkeley, California
I loved my eggs Benedict even though it was served on a very small plate with no garnish.  The large chunk of flavorful braised pork belly and the perfectly puffed eggs were delicious, and I downed them with an Irish Coffee made with a strong pour of Jameson Irish Whiskey.


bacon & eggs at Townie restaurant in Berkeley, California
My dining partner opted for eggs over easy, which were served with pillows of crispy hash browns, bacon, and very good sourdough toast with raspberry jam.  He drank a colorful fresh-orange Mimosa (grapefruit is also an option).  We were tempted to try the chia pudding because it is something we make at home, but the day pulled at us to move on.  Dinner brings on miyagi oysters from Marin, potato croquettes with serrano ham and manchego, and a Townie burger with hot sauce aioli.  Sometimes you might also find a Vietnamese banh mi pork belly sandwich, mussels, or hanger steak.  Fresh cocktails are whipped up behind a long bar with stool seating.  Live jazz is scheduled on the first Sunday of each month from 6 to 9 p.m.  Townie is a work in progress.  Changes are coming. 

Townie on Urbanspoon

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Nevada City: Broad Street Bistro & Gallery


Broad Street Bistro & Gallery  426 Broad St., (530) 265-4204.  Daily 7am-6pm.  You’ll find a small menu listed on a board above the order counter.  It includes simple items such as bagels, sandwiches, salads, and baked goods, as well as espressos, but the smoothies are only wannabees (they are way too thin).  Still, it makes a great place for a light meal or snack.  You can choose a seat in the cozy inside where local art decorates the walls, or in good weather out on the shady patio—as I did.

Broad Street Bistro on Urbanspoonpatio at Broad Street Bistro in Nevada City, California
 

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image ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, January 12, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Nevada City: Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Co.


Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Co.  211 Commercial St., (530) 470-8333.  Opens 7am; $$.  It’s all about the yeast here.  In addition to brewing their own beer on premises, all the bread is baked on site—it’s sourdough Saturday through Thursday, and challah on Fridays.  



Order at the counter.  The simple menu offers several soups—I enjoyed a tasty one with small white beans and kale—salads, and an array of sourdough thin-crust pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven.  Jams, condiments, processed meats such as sausage, and some cheeses are made in house.



Ingredients are organic and locally sourced—I enjoyed a colorful house salad that was sprinkled with kernels from a pomegranate harvested from the owners’ own garden.  The restaurant is famous for their pastries, cakes, pies, and cookies, so don’t miss out!  My beer choice was a Malakoff Maibock, described as a “German pale Bock lager-style that is traditionally brewed for release in May (Mai).  Lighter than a traditional German Bock, our Maibock has a strong backbone of Pilsner and Munich malts to give it a nice malty body, and is crisply balanced by Perle and Tettnang hops.  Clean and delicious, it is one of the Brewer’s favorite styles.”  It was quite satisfying.  The large, open dining space with high ceilings is a transformed warehouse that once stored dynamite.  Now it has a dynamite atmosphere, where everyone is busy having a good time.
More about the beer: 




Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co. on Urbanspoon

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images and video ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, January 9, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Nevada City: Miners Foundry Cultural Center


Miners Foundry Cultural Center  325 Spring St., (530) 265-5040.  This building dates back to 1856, when it made metal parts for local mines.

Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City, California


small Pelton Wheel Miners at Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City, California
small Pelton Wheel


In 1879, it made the world’s first Pelton Wheel--a local invention that revolutionized hydroelectric power production.  The foundry ceased operation in 1965.  A self-guided tour explains many historical artifact displays and exhibits.  Today this structure is used as a venue for special events, which are scheduled regularly.

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images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Nevada City: Nevada Theatre

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Nevada Theatre  401 Broad St., (530) 265-6161.  Schedule & ticket prices vary.  Opened in September of 1865 and lectured in twice by Mark Twain (Jack London and Motley Crue have also appeared here), this is the oldest original-use theater building in California.  It is refurbished to appear as it did when it first opened and is used year-round for plays, concerts, films, and other performing arts events.


historic Nevada Theatre in Nevada City, California

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image ©1983, 2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, January 5, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Nevada City: background, visitor information

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NEVADA CITY
A Little Background

Reputed to be the best privately preserved and restored small city in the state, this picturesque mining town is also said to contain residential and commercial buildings representative of all the major 19th-century architectural styles.

house at top of Broad Street in Nevada City, California

Scenically situated on seven hills, the town boasts a particularly fine assortment of lovely gingerbread-style Victorian homes, and the entire downtown district is on the National Register of Historic Places.  In addition, it is home to more artists per capita than any other California county, and these talented people attract and present themselves in high quality theater and music.  Events at the fairgrounds are doubly worth attending, because it is considered the most beautiful fairgrounds in California.  It is interesting to note that in Spanish “nevada” means “snow-covered.”

Visitor Information

Nevada City Chamber of Commerce  132 Main St., (800) 655-NJOY, (530) 265-2692.


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image ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

80 North: Berkeley, Dream Fluff Donuts


Dream Fluff Donuts  2637 Ashby Ave., Elmwood, (510) 649-0471.  M-Sat 4am-6pm, Sun 6:30am-2pm.


This has been my go-to donut store for many years.  I am especially fond of the maple-glazed long john, but they also make a mean glazed raised, French cruller, and jelly donut.  I usually do a grab-and-go here, but recently I decided to sit down at the counter and have a cup of coffee—French vanilla—with my long john.  I could have changed my choice to a croissant, scone, breakfast sandwich, pancakes, or even bacon and eggs.  The menu on the wall is full of options, as well as bags of potato chips for purchase.  Lunch choices include sandwiches, burgers, and fries, plus there is a case full of round tubs filled with ice cream waiting to be scooped.


Just a tad bigger than a hole-in-the-wall, this casual spot has seating at two tables and at a very small counter with short floor stools.  Definitely on the other side of trendy, it has no Wi-Fi and no website.  But the TV was tuned to “The View” during my visit, and the vintage screen door made a satisfying squeak when anyone entered or exited.

Dream Fluff Donuts on Urbanspoon

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Monday, December 29, 2014

101 South: Burlingame, Fattoria e Mare


Fattoria e Mare  1095 Rollins Rd./near Cadillac Way, (650) 342-4923.  L M-F, D daily, Sat-SunBr; $$-$$$.  Free parking lot adjacent.  Located out by the car dealers near Broadway and the 101 freeway, this reworking of a former club-style restaurant provides spacious and comfortable seating, plenty of booths (many are the old-fashioned Hollywood half-moon style), and white tablecloths.  The Italian menu is locally sourced and mostly organic.  Specialties include house-made charcuterie, salumi, and pasta.  My dining partner and I shared everything, and at the end of each course the plates looked like we had licked them clean—each item was that good.


beet salad at Fattoria e Mare in Burlingame, California

We started with a delicious and lovely beet salad accented with crispy quinoa and carrots and a yogurt dressing.


burrata salad at Fattoria e Mare in Burlingame, California
We followed that with a pretty burrata made seasonal with pumpkin puree and pomegranate kernels.  Grilled octopus and seafood fritto misto with aioli also sounded enticing.


Stracchino cheese pizza at Fattoria e Mare in Burlingame, California
After hearing that the light Italian Stracchino cheese used in the stuffed foacaccia al recca pizza was made with cheese from the milk of “tired Italian cows,” we ordered this unusual dish.  Made fragrant with white truffle oil, it is chewy and satisfying and I recommend adding on the optional prosciutto.  Another of these light, thin-crust pizzas that sounds particularly tasty is the calabrese sausage with padron peppers and fennel.


futuristic pizza oven at Fattoria e Mare in Burlingame, California
The pizzas are cooked in a silver-painted, futuristic-looking masonry oven with a brick floor that it is seen when entering the restaurant.


wild mushroom pappardelle at Fattoria e Mare in Burlingame, California
I am a fan of pappardelle, so we ordered that with wild mushrooms.  Fusilli a la limone with whole shrimp and a baked veal bolognese were also enticing, and though we had no room left for an entrĂ©e I plan to try the grilled whole Branzino fish next time.  Our dinner was enhanced with a glass of white 2012 Vermentino and a traditional red 2011 Barbera D’Alba from Italy.  The wine list also has many California selections.


persimmon bread pudding at Fattoria e Mare in Burlingame, California

egg nog panna cotta at Fattoria e Mare in Burlingame, California
For dessert, we enjoyed a warm, homey persimmon bread pudding and a rich, dense egg nog panna cotta.  Gelatos, sorbets, and cheeses are additional options.  I look forward to returning when stone fruits are in season and when freshly prepared zabaglione is added to the menu.  Throughout our meal, music from the 50s entertained—“Mambo Italiano,” “Volare”—along with a few more unexpected tunes.  If you time your visit for Wednesday through Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m., you’ll be treated to a live jazz performance.  A full bar serves up specialty cocktails, including Il Colosseo, which serves three and is made with brandy, dark rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, lemongrass, sweet & sour, and almond syrup. 

Fattoria E Mare on Urbanspoon

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images ©2014 Carole Terwilliger Meyers