Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beach Bliss 3 Gayle

I insisted we stop by Gayle's Bakery in Capitola.  I needed a mid day snack after a long car hike in the woods. I had heard that locals complain that Gayle's is a tourists-trap. I didn't care. Here are some fun facts about Gayle's Bakery.
  • They have been open for 23 years
  • They use REAL butter
  • They use 2 tons of REAL butter per month
  • They make over 250 homemade items every day
  • They use 1 ton of chocolate per month
  • They use 38,000 eggs per month
  • They have a deli 
  • They have a coffee bar
Even though the place was packed, they were very organized. You get a number, they have at least 10 employees, who like a well oiled machine call each number within minutes. The employees were friendly even though I was having a very hard time making up my mind. Everything looked so good...

I had the lemon chiffon cake with whipped cream something or other.  It was fresh, fluffy and zesty! My gig a low had a scone. Tourist trap or not, both were fantastic! I bought dinner rolls, flaky, buttery croissants and cheese sticks made out of the croissants. The cheese sticks were my favorite. I wish I could order them on line. It would be worth the drive just to get more cheese sticks. I think Gayle's is a great mid day stop! I give them 5 out of 5 chocolate chip cookies!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Beach Bliss Part 2 The Forest of Nisene Marks

The great thing about this part of the central coast, it has something for everyone. My gig a low and I love the redwood trees! He suggested we take a hike...ok, but are we just a tad out of shape I thought to myself. My gig a low still sees himself as the young strapping buck he once was at 25. We have already been to Big Basin, and Henry Cowell park. This time we decided to go to The Forest of Nisene Marks. It was beautiful.

This forest was clear cut from 1883 - 1923. Once the loggers were gone, the forest healed, and once again has become a place of majesty. My gig a low and I thought it would be a good idea to take the 1.5 mile loope to see the old trees that remain. Someone had stolen the trail markings so we ended up going down this steep embankment down into a ravine. At the bottom there was a clear peaceful creek, and a lovely bridge to stand on to admire Gods handiwork. It was stunning.

I could of stood there for a very long time, maybe all day. My gig a low said we had to go climb out of the ravine. When we made it to the top, we both were just a little short of breath...So we made a plan to do car hiking for the rest of our journey. Driving through the forest along a meandering gravel road on a car hike was perfect. We would stop and take photos, do a little exploring, get back in the car and start again. We found a bridge to stop at.

Sidenote: How many times do you see people who get off the beaten path fall or get stuck and have to be rescued? In the bay area it happens offen because we have mountains and beaches and deltas. I ALWAYS think, look those idiots who don't follow the rules, now we have to spend our tax payer money to save their dumb asses.

photo of the underside of the bridge

So I start looking to see if there is a way to get under the bridge...yes.. it looks kind of perpendicular...but I think I can do it....why not? I start down the vigorous path to get under the bridge. I fall flat on my butt and start sliding down the hill. OH SHOOT I AM GOING TO BE ONE OF THOSE DUMB ASSES. I manage to save myself and get back to my feet. I made it under the bridge, my gig a low no where to be found. Humm, how am I going to get out of here??? I started to climb out. I was grabbing tree roots, vines, pebbles anything  to help me get out. Nothing was working. I started praying, please GOD I promise never to be a dumbass again and go off the trail, please help me get out of here! I carefully tiptoed to the other side of the bridge. I assessed the situation and thought oh my I am in big trouble. Somehow I managed to climb out. I was little dirty but very happy to be topside again. My gig a low said where have you been? Under the bridge, WHAT, yes thats right I went under the bridge, Why, good question. I did not answer. It was time to car hike out of the park and get ready for a snack. We took our time driving along the dusty road. I hated to leave. But a I knew another adventure was right around the corner.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

East Coast

I wanted to let the people on the east coast know that your in our thoughts and prayers.

Beach Biss Part 1 of 5

Me and my gig a low just got home from a trip to Aptos. IT WAS THE BEST TRIP OF THE SUMMER! We stayed in Dahlia's beach condo. It is her home away from home, and she also rents the condo as a vacation rental, if any of you are interested.

Dahlia's condo is on the top right,
on the bluff, by the tall trees in the photo.

I had seen photos of her beach house before, but none do it justice.
From her balcony you have a breath taking view of the ocean.
You can see all the way to the horizon.
Outside the air smells fresh salty, not briny. More on the condo later.

So the minute we park at Dahlia's condo my gig a low wants to go to the beach. Those of you who know me, know I am really not a beach person. I hold a great respect for the ocean, I see it as powerful and unforgiving. I don't find it calm at all. I like walking the beach up at the condo. (My fear of the ocean came long ago when and unnamed family member threw me in to Pacific to "teach me how to swim")

So I was brave, I walk along the back shore, tracking behind my gig a low. As you can see in the photo above there is a river that flows into the ocean. Over time people had build driftwood bridges across the river to get to the seashore (or you can walk the long way around and still get close to the seashore.) My gig glow thought it would be fun to cross the river on a makeshift bridge to get to the seashore quicker.

My gig a low (boy scout extraordinaire) crosses the bridge with three steps and a hop, with a perfect landing in the sand. I look at the river that is about 1 foot deep at this crossing point, I look at the bridge and tell myself I can do this. I get on the driftwood log, and start scooting inch by inch sideways. It is slippery with sand, my gig a low is coaching me to go faster, I almost made it to the end to the log, I fell in. Par for the course. Oh well. My gig a low praised me for giving it the college try. (I have to admit it was fun!)

I could see in my gig a lows eyes he was having great time walking along the sea shore. My eyes were glue to the surf making sure it was not coming to get me. As you can see from the photo above the river feeds into the ocean, and the ocean flows into the river. My gig a low told me if we timed it just right, that we could make it to the other side of the river and not get caught by the surf (the river at this point is only a few inches deep.) I watch him cross with impeccable timing. My turn...ugh..ok 1,2,3 go! Just about the middle the surf plows into me. I lose one of my sandals. I fumble around the water trying to find my sandal. I could feel the ocean trying to suck me in. My gig a low, chivalrous life guard hero jumps back in and tries to find my sandal so I could get out of the water. I ran to the dry beach. I lost my perscription glasses in the salt water blast while trying to locate my sandal. As you well know, most of the time when the ocean takes things, Neptune and his friends keep them.

Some lady walking her pitbull even helped with the search and rescue effort. I told my gig a low and the kind lady to forget about it and thank them both. The lady and her dog moved on. Just about that time I SEE MY SANDAL! I hop and jump across the river to get to the frothy water edge and pull out my bobbing sandal! My sandal was broke, thats why it fell off. Ok, I cross the river again and found my glasses in the sand near the rivers edge where the waters meet. It seemed very rare the ocean ever gives anything back let- alone two items. I felt very blessed and figured Neptune must of been in a good mood. I suggested to my gig a low that we go back to the condo, change out of our wet close and get something to eat. He agreed. From that point on I admired the ocean from the balcony at the condo.

Side note: We ate Chinese food the "Panda Inn." It was very good. 4 out of 5 chop sticks.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Photo Album Placerville Arts & Crafts

I went to the Placerville Arts and Crafts Festival.
It had a strange mix of traditional crafts as well as some artiest described themselves as hippy's.
The Hippy's felt really out of place. I told the Hippy's that they should sell their stuff at the Treasure Island Fle .
They would feel comfortable there.
I had a great time. 
I will add links when I find the businesses cards .....
Where are those cards!!!

RQ's Best In Show - Rhodesian Ridgeback wall hanging

Rocks made into Lotus flower

Wine Glass Cozy

My favorite artiest of the day, every thing made out of wool

Hand stitching on different kinds of balls WOW

These young ladies painted glow in the dark rocks.

Two sister who make things out of recycled burlap sacks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Crème de la Crème

This past weekend I made plans to go to an arts and crafts festival in downtown Placerville. My gig a low told me to look up a restaurant for a nice dinner. YEY! So I searched the Internet to find someplace to eat. I found a French restaurant called "zachary Jacques." (Sorry my capital z does not work.) I looked over the menu, and decided to make reservations right away.. I have not had french food in a long time!!!

It seems to be our normal "M.O" to hit the peak of traffic anytime we travel. As my gig a low and I sat in traffic all I could think about was dinner. At long last we made it to Placerville.

The GPS told us to go down this curvy road. We kept driving and driving. Past a little gold mining town called Diamond Springs. We kept driving. I was starting to think the GPS was taking us on a wild goose chase again. I remembered when I made reservations the lady said it was across the street from the fire station. I saw the fire station. There nestle among the pine trees was the French restaurant- "zachary Jacques"

Come to find out the restaurant's address is Placerville, but the restaurant is in Diamond Springs.

Anyways I jumped out of my car to start taking photos. Guess who left the flash drive in the printer? Thats right me. Therefore, I had to take all the photos with my cell phone. It was dusk like because of the trees and dimly lit inside. No flash. Oh well.

I loved the way the outside of the restaurant had been decorated !

I was starving. The hostess was so kind to let us come in and eat despite the fact we were 1 1/2 hours early.
We requested a window seat. Once again they showed us grace.

My gig a low and I ordered from the Prix Fixe menu. We each got a 3 course meal. "zachary Jacques" gives many choices for each of the courses. First up was a pork pate. I am really not the biggest fan of pate, but I ate it. The pate was accompanied by a green olive chutney, and a mini dill pickle. I forgot to take a photo. To me the pate tasted like a mild salami with green olives in it.

My gig a low ordered a Cesar salad and Soup su Jour - clam chowder. I ordered the escargot "burgundy style". THATS RIGHT I ORDERED THE SNAILS. I am at that stage in my life when I have to step it up a notch. I thought this would be a good way to start.

Clam Chowder

Caesar Salad


Funny how you have to drive 100 miles inland to get good clam chowder (referring to our stay at Bodega Bay.) The salad was very good. The lettuce was crisp and sparkling. The Cesar dressing was  refreshing. I LIKED the escargot. The texture was not rubbery or gooey. The escargot themselves did not have much taste. The butter and garlic the escargot was boiling in tasted wonderful on top of the baguette slices. I thought if this is any indication how my meal was going to be, this is going to be one outstanding meal.
Our first course, billet doux !

Filet of Beef with Port wine Sauce and Bearnaise Sauce, Green Beans
It is really to bad this photo did not turn out well. "zachary Jacque's" makes their potatoes different every day. The potatoes were Yukon gold! We were lucky enough to go to the restaurant on the the day they made them gratin style. The green beans- ewwwww. The meat was cooked to a perfection, medium rare, just like I like it. I could cut it with a butter knife. The sauces were like a musical notes to make a perfect harmony with the meat.
The second course "Belle époque"

My gig a low had rich chocolate cake

I had the St. Honore cake for dessert.

It has an egg custard base, puff pastry cream puffs, puff pastry dollops, tons of whipped cream, drizzled with caramelized sugar. I wanted to jump into the cake and swim in it. I was drunk with sugar coated yummyness.

Third course  Raison d'être !

This is what I really liked about the this restaurant besides the food: They waited until you were finished with one course, until they brought the next. They did not make you feel asthough you needed to gulp down your meal and get out. I know what your thinking, all fine dining is like that. No, I think not.

The restaurant had a great atmosphere. It was quiet despite being packed with people. I did not have to yell at my gig a low sitting across the table so he could hear me. They had jazz music playing in the background. Our server was professional. Great neighborhood if you like being out in the country.
I think "zachary Jacques" resturant is Joie de vivre !!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chocolate Tasting

The other day Dehlia and I went on a food adventurer. We tracked deep in the heart of the Gourmet Ghetto -
North Berkeley. This time we went chocolate tasting. Alegio Chocolate is located in a food nook called "Epicurious Garden." The food nook was very busy, like a bee hive buzzing with activity.

Alegio was chaotic with people coming and going. This is NOT a private tasting. Panos invited us to sit down on two wooden bar stools in the pandemonium. He would lead us on our tasting adventure.

The chocolate bean grows in pods on trees. Here is a pod. High quality chocolate is all about the bean!
Where it is grown, and how it is roasted has everything to do with the taste.

Enric Rovira is a choccolatier out of Spain. He gets his beans from a plantation in South America. The beans are roasted in South America and shipped to Spain. Enric Rovira likes to mix art with chocolate. He also uses the earth elements as an inspiration. Enric Rovira believes that a color palate is like a flavor palate.

Caludo Corallo is a chocolatier who is obsessed with getting the perfect chocolate .
Here is a short documentary about him.
His plantation is in Africa. They roast the beans on the plantation.
He oversees every step of the chocolate making process.

Our first taste was of the roasted chocolate beans.
I thought they would be bitter.
They were not bitter at all.
I was shocked that they tasted very good and crunchy.

These tiny bites of chocolate hold a powerful punch.
You do not bite this chocolate, you let in melt in your mouth so you can experience
the complex flavors that the chocolate has to offer.
Although I have never been wine tasting,
I believe the wine tasting and chocolate tasting experience are comparable.

Roasted chocolate nibs.
The nib comes from the coco bean.
The nibs fun, crunchy and tasty!

A few of the Cludio Corallo chocolate we tasted. WOW!
"A dap will do ya " as someone once said...

Claudio Corallo and Enric Rovira look for a clean pure taste.
It was time to taste flavored chocolate.
Panos challenged us to figure out what flavored chocolate we were tasting.
We tried salt, coffee, mint, orange and habanero pepper.
You could taste the chocolate first, then the flavor shows up.
I think the pepper chocolate would be great in chilli! That was a pleasureful experience.

This is a map to Enric Rovira truffles!
I loved the truffles.
We tried the raspberry truffle with the dragon fly art.
The raspberry truffles are worth the drive to Berkeley by themselves.
It is hard to believe the fantastic flavor that comes in such a small package.

Made by hand chocolate truffles

These are the truffles I bought. I think they use some kind of addictive additive. Once you try one you are hooked for life. Next thing you know you will see me on the tv show "intervention". I can hear my friends and family telling the tv audience- it all started when RQ went with Dahlia to Berkeley for a chocolate tasting...

I also bought Caludo Corallo's "chocolate com cafe liberica" coffee flavored.

The tasting was interesting and educational.
I would recommend setting some time aside to go to Berkeley and have a tasting of your own.
I give Alego Chocolate 4 out 5 chocolate beans.