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November 2008
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Delta House Old Sacramento California - See the Seafood

Fishing for Tacos by Barbara L. Steinberg©     

Old Sacramento Delta House Fish Tacos Credit Barbara Steinberg One late evening in Old Sacramento, I was in search of food. Now there is certainly more than enough places to eat in Old Sacramento, but I was heading for a meeting, didn't want take-out, but didn't have time for a real sit-down affair. I wandered around looking in windows, checking out menus, and fearing hunger pains might lead me astary. I spotted a sign touting the day's special  Two Fish Tacos $6.95. I decided to take the bait.

Entering the Delta House I wasn't sure I'd made the right choice. It was just me and the guy behind the counter, who turned out to be the owner Dean Huitrado who opened the cafe earlier this year. Who opens a restaurant these days? Well, evidently Dean does! After commuting to SF for 12 years he jumped ship and decided to create a little of Fisherman's Wharf close to home. By close, I mean really close. Dean lives in Old Sacramento. Talk about fuel efficient.

Dean and I chatted a bit. Lots of fried seafood on the menu, but the tacos and Fish & Chips were of Old Sacramento Delta House Fish Tacos and Fish Chips Credit Barbara Steinberg greatest interest to me. Particuarly the tacos. Let me just say, I was back in less than a week! Wonderfully crisp cod served up in flour or corn tortillas with crunchy cabbage, homemade salsa and a wonderful "special sauce" made with mayo, yogurt, some capers, cayenne and jalapeñ was just the right spice for me! The tacos were more than generous. The Fish & Chips were also yummy though the pre-fab fries (another of my addictions) were nothing remarkable. Dean is looking into doing fresh-cut fries -- FF freak that I am, I'm hoping he does.

Another House-made item is the clam chowder in the bread bowl. Hefty and hearty, I think you'll be pleased. Dean is also planning to serve fresh-cracked crab; a good reason to check back. Didn't get a chance to try the burgers, but was told these are hand-formed by Delta House. Something to try on my next visit...although, the fish tacos might win out regardless.

1100 Front St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 443-7300

Solano County California Offers Bountiful Holiday Gifts

Solano County Banner

Solano's Bounty isn't Just Seasonal by Barbara L. Steinberg©     

 On just another beautiful day in Solano County, I found myself enjoying good things from the Earth at local farm stands and bakeries.

Previous visits to the region brought me good news about Pure Grain Bakery. I will say this more than once along the way, I am a glutton for great bread. I would rather have a fresh loaf of bread -- warm, crusty, chewy, whole-grains, cheesy, full of raisins, coated in nuts and seeds -- then chocolate cake, fresh cookies, or most any other sweet you can name. I have had Pure Grain breads before, but had no idea this honest-to-goodness German-style bread bakery was nearby.  So during a return trip to the region, I Googled Pure Grain and put the Subaru on remote. 

Pure Grain Bakery Sign Vaca Valley Road Credit Barbara Steinberg 2008 Visiting the "mother ship" in Vacaville,California was akin to Mecca. Located in a commercial district off Vaca Valley Road, it's no wonder I had never passed this bread haven before. But once there, I loaded myself up with a fresh-baked seeded baguette, pumpkinseed and caraway rolls, a Christmas stollen for my father-in-law, some holiday cookies, and one German pretzel to quell my bread cravings. The pastries looked and smelled yummy. Eying the cinnamon rolls, I had to pull myself away. Though small and obscurely located, the bakery was doing a brisk business on Saturday morning. In fact, they had sold out of rye bread to a single customer. Grrrrr...what I wouldn't give for a loaf. Talk about glutton. What about the rest of us poor bread junkies?

Pure Grain Sandwich Sign Vaca Valley Credit Barbara Steinberg 2008As if this wasn't enough punishment, I had to check-out the Pure Grain Cafe's Main Street branch in downtown Vacaville. The place was packed. Not hard to figure out why. Coffee, tea, pastries, bread, and made-to-order sandwiches...moms, dads, kids, friends, out-of-towners (me)...the cafe was humming. And so was I by the time I left.

Pure Grain is family owned and operated by boyhood friends, Michael Miethe and Holger Seibert, Pure Grain Bakery Bread Display Credit Barbara Steinberg 2008graduated from the same high school in a small town near Saarbrucken, Germany. They opened the Vaca Valley bakery in 1991...what more can I say? All the details are available online at Pure Grain Bakery.

After departing with my bread bonanza, I headed into the rolling hills and green fields nearby in Fairfield's Suisun Valley. I have visited many times but I always run out of time before I run out of travel...this is my new favorite phrase. This latest outing I have two very specific places in mind: Willotta Ranch and 99 Cherry Orchard. It's very convenient because they're both on Rockville Road.

The Rest of the Story.....

Fairfield California's Suisun Valley is Farm Fresh Heaven

   Suisun Valley is this Locavore's Delight by Barbara L. Steinberg©                                           

                                                             Susiun valley logo

After departing with my bread bonanza, I headed into the rolling hills and green fields of Suisun Valley. I have visited many times, but I always run out of time before I run out of travel...this is my new favorite phrase. This latest outing I had two very specific places in mind: Willotta Ranch and 99 Cherry Orchard. This was a very convenient because they're both on Rockville Road. And unbelievably, just a few miles from busy Interstate 5 and Fairfield California.

Suisun Valley Willotta Ranch Kiwis Credit Barbara Steinberg 2008 1 The Willotta Ranch was named after William and Loretta (Lottie) Pierce who owned and operated the ranch in the early 1900s.  Their grandson, Lewis Pierce III, introduced Kiwifruit to the ranch in 1972 before it became popular.  Lewis' daughter, Linda Pierce Wedemeyer inherited the ranch in 1991 and operated it for only two years before she died of cancer leaving the ranch in trust to her three children. Linda's husband, Austin, operates the ranch today.

The Willotta Ranch farm stand is open seasonally. Located on Rockville Road inside an old roadside market it doesn't Willota Ranch Kiwifruit Courtesiy of scream, "HEY! The best darn kiwis this side of kiwi heaven!" And organic too, by the way. There's a few small signs along the way directing you. Slow down, enjoy the ride, and don't miss the turn-in. They'll be closing down December 31. They box and ship domestically anywhere you want kiwis to be. Makes a great gift! Margie was there to greet me the day I stopped by. Her family has worked at the ranch for decades. She makes kiwi-pineapple jam and dried kiwi, which is also sold at the stand.

Hurry over! Next year fruit stand is in question as Austin heads off on a newly-wed adventure -- congratulations!We hope that future generations won't be deprived of this Suisun Valley gem. But farming is hard work, requiring lots of dedication. The Willotta Ranch legacy has been all that...and more!

More to come on neighboring 99 Cherry Orchard...stay tuned.

Life Imitates Art at Historic Asilomar Conference Grounds Pacific Grove California


Ms10_morganportrait_sm This original play honors the life and achievements of California ’s iconic female architect is presented at Asilomar December 18-21. Fans of Julia Morgan and William Randolph Hearst won't want to miss this award-winning production.

Asilomar Conference Grounds, home to the world’s largest collection of Julia Morgan designed buildings, will literally and figuratively set the stage for an original live theater production “Becoming Julia Morgan” December 18-21. The historic Pacific Grove retreat, designed and built in part by Julia Morgan as a YWCA camp in 1913, will present the play in the Grace M. Dodge Chapel Auditorium, a classic and highly revered example of Morgan’s signature Arts and Crafts style built in 1915.

Written by Bay Area playwright Belinda Taylor, “Becoming Julia Morgan” is a two-act play that chronicles the life and career of California architectural pioneer Julia Morgan. The dramatic production follows her life over a six-year period, 1931-1937, with flashbacks to her student days at UC Berkeley Young Juila and L’Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Paris, and a flash-forward to modern times. The play involves a San Francisco Examiner reporter who tries valiantly to overcome her no-nonsense, deeply private persona while trying to write her biography. The ensemble production will feature four actors playing a total of 17 characters, including Laura Akard as Julia Morgan.

The family-friendly production will be offered at 8:00 pm on December 18, 19 and 20, plus a 2:00 pm matinee performance on December 21. Tickets are available at $25 per adult and $15 per child for the show only; $50 per adult and $30 per child for a show and dinner package; and $225 for a special show, dinner and overnight lodging package. The overnight package is based on double occupancy and includes full breakfast for two plus a special keepsake book about Julia Morgan.

Paying further homage to Morgan, all related show festivities will be held in historic Asilomar buildings that were designed by the famous architect. Evening performances begin with a beer and wine reception in the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Social Hall, which was Morgan’s first completed building in 1913; pre-theater dinner is offered in the nostalgic Crocker Dining Hall, which showcases an interpretive display of archival photos; and the play will grace the expansive stage of the Grace M. Dodge Chapel Auditorium, which recently underwent a $1.2 million restoration project to conform to modern building codes while painstakingly preserving Morgan’s period-specific integrity. 

“We are thrilled to sponsor Ms. Taylor’s brilliant production, which is the first full-length play chronicling Julia Morgan’s life and career”, said Scott McQuiston, Asilomar Front Desk Manager and the play’s director. “Not only is Asilomar the perfect stage for this production, but the holiday period is an ideal time for such an inspiring story about an important figure whose local architectural contributions have been recognized worldwide.”

Reservations and ticket information for the production of “Becoming Julia Morgan” is available by calling 831-372-8016. Reservations are advised for the dinner and/or overnight lodging package; show only tickets are available for purchase on a space available basis prior to the performance.

About Asilomar Conference Grounds

Tucked on 107 scenic acres along the Asilomar State Beach and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Asilomar Conference Grounds welcomes guests in 312 ocean- and forest-view rooms. Boasting 29,000 square feet of meeting space, the historic retreat is centrally located in the charming town of Pacific Grove , just minutes from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, the scenic 17-Mile Drive , a host of golf courses, wineries and restaurants.  But, perhaps its most distinguishing feature is its rich history and the buildings designed by Julia Morgan. As California ’s first licensed female architect who assisted in the creation of Hearst Castle , Morgan created Asilomar’s original 15 structures between 1913 and 1928. Thirteen structures remain today and combined constitute her largest collection of Arts & Crafts style architecture in one location.  These structures were listed as a National Historic landmark in 1987 and are listed on the Registrar of Historic Places.

Asilomar is operated under contract with California State Parks by Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts, a subsidiary of Delaware North Companies, Inc., one of the world’s leading hospitality and food service providers.

In further recognition of Julia Morgan's incredible contributions, nn December 15, Governor Schwarzennegger is inducting Julia Morgan into the California Hall of Fame

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