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Everything posted by tanabutler

  1. As I am fond of saying, "If you don't go to Ferry Plaza marketplace, I'll ______________." Plotz. Cry. Strike you from my list. Don't even THINK of missing it. Short rec: Hog Island Oyster Company: a dozen oysters and a bottle of dry French wine for $38. Split a green salad and grilled cheese sandwich, and you will be perfectly full. For accommodations in San Francisco, I have been using www.HotelRes.com for years. They are usually cheaper and more versatile than other travel discount sites, and you aren't buying a pig in a poke. Some of the better deals include Beresford Hotel, Beresford Arms, Queen Anne, Hotel Majestic, the Mosser, and the Francisco Bay Inn (in the Marina, which is about as loud as Union Square, which is about as loud as Rome--but the rooms are big, it's got wireless, free parking and it is a great bargain). Parking adds a lot of cost to most hotels, especially those in Union Square. Free parking = a good thing in San Francisco. Eh. There's not much there worth the trip. Really, head to the wineries in Paso Robles, then go to Cambria and see Hearst Castle. (It's not expensive, and it's actually really cool.) A stop in Harmony, a little artists' enclave (population 18), would be worthwhile—it's just a few miles from Cambria. Cambria itself is a very nice little town: there are good galleries and good enough food. It's not as expensive to stay in as Paso Robles. I've stayed in a cabin at the Cambria Pines Lodge and loved it. http://www.cambriapineslodge.com/ Check out some of their specials: if you hit it right, you can stay for $99 and get a good breakfast (they call it Continental, but there was much more out than stale pastries and juice), dinner, or other goodies thrown in. The cabins are not "rustic," in my experience: they're just older, and have the charm of their era. Marble bathroom floors, wood paneling on the walls, and wall heaters instead of central. They are also more private: they're duplexes as opposed to the main lodge. I would go back there in a heartbeat. Their gardens are just great, too--I can't believe they're not featured more on the website. Robin's is a good place for dinner (fresh/local/seasonal), and not too expensive. http://www.robinsrestaurant.com/ See below for Santa Cruz/Central Coast recs. I think you will be happy. We were considering this, but I didn't know if we were taking on too much. Napa is pretty darned expensive, relatively. I mean, it's glorious, yes. If it were me, I'd probably skip Eureka and Mendocino, as they're so remote, and do either some Napa or Sonoma. Santa Cruz is a very gay-friendly spot (there are a couple of gay bar/dance clubs, and a lesbian bookstore called Herland). If you're looking for hidden gems and local treasures, it's a must. I would definitely recommend it for your stopping point on the Central Coast. Visit Monterey (the aquarium is fabulous, and so is A Taste of Monterey, on the same side of the street and up a block or two -- you can taste Monterey wines for very little money, with a 180-plus degree view of the bay). Carmel is okay, but the snooty factor can be oppressive at times. Like a bunch of Mrs. Thurston Howell III's, you know? Carmel Valley Road is more enjoyable for me. Both places are more expensive than Santa Cruz. For Central Coast lodgings, you can stay at the very nice Inn at Pasatiempo, just outside Santa Cruz, for $49 during the week. This is an extraordinary bargain, believe me. It's charming. http://www.innatpasatiempo.com/html/managers-special.asp Make SURE you use the Manager's Specials page, which are only posted a week in advance. Otherwise expect to pay $130 a night. You won't find a better deal on the Central Coast. The two best breakfasts in town (good value, too) are Linda's Seabreeze Café and Silver Spur on Soquel Drive (there is always a big line there, and it's one of the bigger restaurants for breakfast/lunch in town). It's closed on Sunday, though. Fancy that! I won't advise on the big splurge meals, except to add my resounding endorsement that you have one of your splurge meals at Manresa. It's in Los Gatos, about a half hour north of Santa Cruz. You could get there from Pasatiempo in probably twenty-five minutes, tops. Not only will you get a world class meal from an amazing chef, but you will get so much more value for your money. (Search the site for Manresa, and read the whole thread. Look at all the photos.) Michael Bauer, of the SF Chronicle, called it "the French Laundry of the South Bay." Dinner won't set you back $600 for two, either. (Strongly recommend Chef's Tasting with paired wines, for $165.) http://www.manresarestaurant.com Also, sorry for lazy linking. I wrote the bulk of this in my e-mail program, and didn't have clickable HTML-coding.
  2. Santa Cruz... Oswald, Avanti, Soif, Tacos Morenos Watsonville... De La Comena, La Pajaro Food Center, The ceviche truck... ← Oswald is my most consistent recommendation for Santa Cruz, along with Ristorante Avanti if Brian Curry is cooking. Milla and I will have to arm-wrestle as I endorse Tacqueria Vallarta instead. Personal preference. I personally love the burrito stuffed with roasted chicken: as big as a fat baby's leg. He may have other, more adventuresome endorsements. Tacqueria Vallarta has multiple locations, but I am only familiar with the one next to Shopper's Corner on Soquel Avenue, and the 41st Avenue location. Can you give more location about your budget, desires, and schedule? San Luis Obispo isn't that noteworthy, if you ask me. I say stop in Paso Robles and skip SLO. But give more information about your style/age/desires. Oh, and the San Diego eats are also not so noteworthy, given a city of its size. Where do you want to sleep? How open are you to detours? Ciao.
  3. Oh, I knew where they'd all be: Bargetto Winery hosts more community gatherings in Soquel than anyone I can think of. I drove by just to see the jubilation: a huge hand-painted banner adorned the bridge over Soquel Creek, right before Main Street, where Bargetto Winery is located...more yellow ribbons. And in front of the winery, four separate news trucks. I am too shy to have gone in without my girl, but it was enough for me to know that the this huge and good family (Paul is one of ten siblings) is rejoicing tonight. It's enough for me that Homecoming Week has a very sweet meaning for our community. Wish someone had told me I should worry less, and given me exhaustive details on the difference between being "missing" and "stuck" in a blizzard. Thanks, and if someone wants to delete this whole thread, it's fine with me. Job well done, and thanks for the comfort, y'all.
  4. My daughter's school is covered in yellow ribbons, and they adorn the wrist of nearly every student in the school, as well. I was in a meeting just a short distance from the Bargetto Winery when the owner of Theo's (the restaurant where we met) received a call from his wife that they'd been found. I admit it, I broke down sobbing in relief. What jubilation. Now we just hope they're all physically fine, and that they will heal from the trauma. It's homecoming week here in Santa Cruz County, and what a homecoming it is. Yeah, we gotta find out where they're serving all that wine!
  5. Oh, boo hoo for the Yankees. Give someone else a chance! It's like seeing Meryl Streep or Tom Hanks nominated for an Oscar again. I understand why the Janks (as my Brooklyn buddy calls 'em) fans love their team: New York City is the most charmingly arrogant joint in America, and the Yanks just embody that. I think it's cute as hell. I have no problems with fan loyalty. I am just happy for Boston. You know, "always a bridesmaid, never a bride"? I'm so glad someone threw the bouquet to the Red Sox. Note: this is the first time in my life that I've ever rooted for an AL team. I mean, "designated hitters"? C'mon! Play ball. Baseball is a great American tradition. I like when the non-dominant heirlooms kick in. Juneau?* *Read phonetically. Not geographically. Emphasis on the second syllable. Juneau?
  6. Thanks for the heads up. Someone else wrote it up once before, too, and you might enjoy that report here. But some of the images are broken, so I found the original here. Sounds like a very good place to go.
  7. Looks like baked beans and clam chowder are in order. CONGRATULATIONS, you long-suffering diehard Red Sox fans. I am thrilled for you all! (And I knew they were going to win today.)
  8. The maestro of service: great Kim Severson piece on Laura Cunningham, manager of French Laundry and Per Se.
  9. tanabutler

    Per Se

    The maestro of service: very nice article by Kim Severson (SF Chronicle, now with the NY Times, I hear) about Laura Cunningham, manager of Per Se and French Laundry. And in one of those"connect the dots" stories, the captain mentioned, Phoebe Damrosch-Williams, is the niece of Barbara Damrosch, who is married to Eliot Coleman, often called "the father of organic farming," at least on the East Coast. He designed the greenhouses at Blue Hills Stone Barns, which is where I met all three of them. They attended the Outstanding in the Field farm dinner last October--very very nice people.
  10. If you have any spare prayers laying around and wouldn't mind pointing them this way, we know some of these guys: Hikers still missing in Sierra snow. Paul Bargetto, twin brother of Peter, is one of the partners at Soquel Vineyards (a wonderful winery in the Santa Cruz mountains); they are two of ten siblings of the enormous Bargetto Winery family. The teenaged boy is a close friend of my daughter's. All the dads I know are very optimistic; all the moms I know are worried. Apparently the rescuers (sixty-plus people including military) reached the lake today. These guys are experienced, fit, and smart, and they filed a plan before they left. Hoping for the best here in Soquel.
  11. "Doesn't eat vegetables?" I know it's English but it makes no sense. What a stumper, Kathy. What about Chilaquile Casserole (basically a Mexican lasagne with tortillas instead of noodles)? You can stick the veggies on one side of it. Other than that, yeah, pizza. If you want to make it easy on yourself, buy a couple of Bobolis and top one with tomato sauce/veg/cheese and the other with an entire yak with Mozzarella. Good luck.
  12. Anna, I am glad to see you blogging. I've always liked seeing your dinners, etc. This is a great contribution. I like your kitchen. Mine is about the same size, but alas, there is a wall between me and the L-shaped living room. My life is spent craning my neck to see TV if it's on. (I usually cook for a gang during football season, including Monday nights.)
  13. Mike, if you're interested in French bistro, try Le Petit Robert on Polk/Green. 'Swonnnnnnnnderful! I especially like the flexibility on the wine list: everything (almost) available by glass, bottle or carafe. Seasonal menu—he knows his farmers, and they love him. Some of Robert Cubberly's food from a farm dinner at Frog's Leap Winery this summer. One of the best "farm dinners" I've ever had: the food was so well-suited to the event. Every single dish was just gazonga. Probably the duck and the bean salad were best, and the dessert was perfect.
  14. Is this it? (I used "Cesare" as a search term, and came up with nine recipes.) Sfogliatine di Pomodoro e Arance con Crema (Tomato and OrangeTart with Mascarpone-Basil Cream)
  15. This is one of the most beautifully written posts I've ever read, on any forum. Thoughtful, attentive, so informed, educational, and respectful. Impressive. Thanks.
  16. This is very helpful to me (especially ishopindian.com) -- I am wondering where people in my neck of the woods (Santa Cruz, California) buy spices. Do I need to go over to San Jose or Ranch 99?
  17. tanabutler

    Wine Blog

    Congratulations again on a fantastic blog, Carolyn. It's so exciting to see the season progress.
  18. tanabutler


    Gael Greene on Dévi and Suvir Saran: scroll down.
  19. Yum yum yum at Tacquerias Vallarta. What'd you get? And of course, yum yum yum at Manresa. What'd you get?
  20. I think most people wouldn't see that as the ruby it is. It's a great shot from any camera, especially one relying on ambient lighting. It's very good.
  21. Carl Perkins = Jack McDavid. Dick Clark = Jacques. Who else that age has all that hair?
  22. Hi, Chris: the dinners are winding down for the year, as the weather's changing. However, to answer your question more thoroughly: Chef Sheehan is not the only person doing farm dinners; my biggest web site client is Outstanding in the Field, who is also a member of CASCC. They are just returning from a national tour (they visited farms in Colorado, Illinois, New York (3), and Georgia). There will be one more dinner on November 20, but not sure it will be on an actual farm. Next year, OitF will do lots of dinners in California, and possibly more out of state as well. I think CASCC will be doing a few, as Lynn Sheehan really loves cooking outdoors. She did a bang-up job yesterday. You can sign up on the CASCC web site for updates and non-spam mailings from them.
  23. I was invited to photograph a dinner yesterday prepared by Chef Lynn Sheehan: the event was the final in the CASCC Harvest Dinner Series. She teamed up with River Run Vintners and Osocalis Distillery; the setting was beautiful Live Earth Farm. Photos and menu from the dinner We took our little grandson, Logan, who is eight months old. He ate every single thing that was served (eggplant caponata, chicken/green bean salad, tomato gazpacho with heirloom tomato slabs and bacon, chicken, chard, carrots, potatoes). Logan does not have a single tooth in his little Muppet mouth—he's a vacuum cleaner. (Normally I wouldn't take a child to an event like this, but it worked out perfectly, as I knew it would. He's a sunny little soul who holds court like the Churchill he is.) The meal was so perfect: it straddled the line between summer and autumn beautifully. I regret no photos of dessert, which was one of the best things I've ever had. It was a Warren pear spice cake with brandied raisins and cream, along with a glass of Osocalis brandy, made in the hills near my house.
  24. Glory. Utter glory. Great work, and thanks, I'm famished and haven't even had breakfast yet.
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