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October 2009

Such a Deal in Alturas

Off Road & On, the California Travel Insider had an Inside Track on Alturas

I don't often read the Real Estate Section of the Sunday Sacramento Bee. But this morning, I reached Alturas Featured Property From Sac Bee Sunday July 26 for it with glee when I saw this "featured" property. A place after my own heart. If you haven't seen my tagline at the top of the page -- Off Road & On, From Alturas to Zzyzx -- then you might not understand the humor.

Alturas is in Modoc Countyin the far northeastern corner of California. Now I am only slightly ashamed to say, I have never been to Alturas, but it has been on my list of places to see for many years. And trust me, I will get there. And soon!  This unexpected piece in today's paper is clearly the Universe telling me, "Get thee to Alturas!" 

I have been close. Oh, so close in the adjacent Siskiyou County. Time simply didn't allow for me to cross over to Modoc and get to Alturas and the beauty of the region. There is so much great open space, wildlife, historic landmarks, and fantastic parks. Some people use to ask,"Why Alturas? There's nothing up there!" Well, I love those kinds of places. And even though I haven't been there yet, I know there is plenty to see and do in Alturas.
 ZZyzx Barbara

By the way, I have been to Zzyzx...and that's saying something.

Sonoma County has So Many Reasons for You to Come & Enjoy

    Summer and autumn in Sonoma County is all about weddings, 
                                wine and wicked-yummy food!

Now is when the fields are burgeoning with fresh produce that will end up on your plate Sonoma Grapes at their most beautiful Credit Barbara steinberg tonight. Grapes in the vineyards are climbing toward the end of their cycle, with harvest set to start late summer and go into autumn. Brides are planning to walk down a petal-strewn path amidst the vines.

Join in the celebration of love, laughter and life with your own Sonoma County vacation. Visit to start planning your adventure today.

Barefoot to Boufant - Brides reign in Sonoma Wedding Country

The Wedding of Your Dreams:
Runaway Brides provide elopement, vow renewal and commitment ceremonies in wine country. This one-stop wedding shop uses local venues and vendors to help even the most discriminating bride have the day of her dreams.

All-inclusive packages are unbeatable in detail, services and price. There are more than 10 venues, with more signing up. The focus is on the bride and making that special day memorable. Their motto is "Your Day, Your Way."

Media, Sales and Public Contact
Bret Smallwood
(707) 799-2045

Elopements at Trentadue Winery:
A wedding or elopement at Trentadue Winery, in Geyserville, the heart of the prestigious Alexander Valley, is the perfect way to begin a marriage. This beautiful, Tuscany-style venue with breathtaking views of lush green vineyards and surrounding mountains is a romantic location for elopements and small weddings with up to 50 guests.

A Dream Wedding/Montero Productions
(707) 579-5886

To receive more information about weddings in Sonoma's wine country, visit

It's Time for Sonoma County Wine:
Valley of the Moon has launched a food and wine pairing experience at the winery, "Valley of the Moon Epicurean Experience." This private tasting features distinctive varietals paired perfectly with contemporary cuisine that is sure to please any palate. The pairing is $25 a person and is offered Friday through Sunday at 11 a.m., 12:30 and 2 p.m. Reservations are recommended, (707) 939-4510.

In related news, on Aug.1, Lake Sonoma Winery will be relocating its Healdsburg Tasting Room to the Valley of the Moon Winery.

Valley of the Moon Winery
777 Madrone Road
Glen Ellen, CA  95442
(707) 939-4510

Merriam Vineyards Opens New Tasting Room:
Merriam Vineyards opened a new winery and tasting room on the warmest edge of the Russian River Valley. With easy access from Highway 101, the Merriam Vineyards tasting room in Healdsburg offers a new perspective on Russian River Valley winegrowing, inviting visitors to cross cultures as they taste California-crafted Bordeaux-style wines in a tasting room designed to reflect the comfort and warmth of a New England-style home.

Merriam Vineyards Tasting Room
11650 Los Amigos Road
Healdsburg, CA
(707) 433-4032 

Benziger Family Winery Launches Biodynamic Discovery Trail:
Benziger Biodynamic Winery Benziger Family Winery launched its Biodynamic Discovery Trail this spring. The first-ever educational display devoted to biodynamics in North America, the Biodynamic Discovery Trail on Benzigers Glen Ellen estate illustrates how this regenerative method of farming paves the way for healthier vines and more interesting, site specific wines.

The self-guided trail takes visitors from the early history of biodynamics to its application in the surrounding vineyards. Educational displays include samples of the homeopathic remedies cultivated and applied to the vines on the 85-acre estate.

Benziger Family Winery
1883 London Ranch Road
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(707) 935-3000  

Celebrate Late at Sebastiani:
Sebastiani Winery and Vineyards is now open late every Friday night, through October, with live music every other weekend. The concert series may extend to every Friday if it proves popular enough. The music runs from 7 to 9 p.m. and there is no cover.

Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery
389 4th Street East
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 933-3204

                    A Veritable Feast for Foodies

Wine Country's First Bacon of the Month Club:
John Stewart and Duskie Estes, of Zazu Restaurant, are at it again. John's fame as a salumist led to creating Black Pig Meats - bacon and salumi made from antibiotic- and hormone-free pork, boar, lamb and more - has sparked another gem: Sonoma County's first-ever Bacon of the Month club.

For $110 a year, you'll receive a package of Black Pig bacon each month. For $130, you'll accept your monthly shipment wearing the stylish Black Pig t-shirt. (That's one shirt and 12 months of bacon.) A two-year membership is $199. Not ready to sign up yet? Individual packages of bacon are $10.

Zazu Restaurant & Farm
3535 Guerneville Road
Santa Rosa
(707) 523-4814

boon eat + drink - A Chic Addition to Guerneville:
boon hotel + spa's commitment to sustainability now includes a restaurant and bar. The atmosphere is chic, minimalistic and modern with a menu influenced by local farmers. Selections vary from a cheese tray consisting of local cheeses to salads of local ingredients and grilled local, free-range meats. Their wine list features only Russian River wines along with beers from regional microbreweries.

boon hotel + spa
16248 Main Street
Guerneville, CA 95446
(707) 869-0780

It's OK to have Martinis for Breakfast:
The Glen Ellen Inn Oyster Grill & Martini Bar is now offering a weekend brunch! Brunch from 10:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday (and even holiday Mondays). Brunch includes delicious dishes like a Baby Benny (a single poached egg,  Canadian bacon, rustic potatoes and fresh fruit), a Kobe Supreme Benedict, (Kobe beef patty, poached egg, and hollandaise on a house-made scone, with fresh fruit and rustic potatoes), caramelized apple french toast, among other items. Also available is a full bar serving pomegranate-lychee mimosas and Bloody Marys and, of course, martinis!

Glen Ellen Inn
13670 Arnold Drive
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(707) 996-6409

            Sonoma County is Spa-licious in Summer

Spa & Pool Packages at Hyatt Vineyard Creek :
You want to book a treatment at the Hyatt Vineyard Creek and you want to make an afternoon of it. So, book a mini-treatment. At $49, it includes a full-body lavender and chamomile scrub. Or, for $79, you get a 50-minute full-body massage. Book either of these packages at the spa; you get the use of the pool, sauna and spa locker room. Get pampered, get hydrated and get relaxed. While you're at it, enjoy some mojitos by the pool.

Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel & Spa
170 Railroad Street
Santa Rosa, CA 9540
(707) 636-7300

Celebrations, Tours, Service and New Places:
Armstrong Redwoods Celebrates 75 Years as a State Park
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve, an 805-acre park featuring a magnificent grove of ancient redwoods, a large outdoor amphitheater, self-guided nature trails and a variety of picnic facilities, turns 75 years old this year. A number of celebrations are planned to celebrate this historic landmark. To find out more about upcoming event, please visit

Stewards of the Coast & Redwoods
P.O. Box 2
Duncans Mills, CA 95430
(707) 869-3263   

Embrace Your Wild Child at the Fall Wine Safari:
Ever wondered how a Pinot pairs with a Rhino? A new 2009 Fall Wine Safari package slated September through November, Safari West welcomes wine country visitors by offering an exclusive, post-winery adventure. Bring your favorite wines purchased at a local winery to enjoy a unique afternoon escape on a private safari for up to 10 people. They’ll waive the corkage and even throw in snacks for everyone. A private wine safari makes your excursion intimate and personalized. Your private three-hour adventure is $650 for up to 10 people. Reservations are required.

Safari West
3115 Porter Creek Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 566-3620

'Cheesy' Tour Offered at Cowgirl Creamery:
The Cowgirl Creamery cheesemaking facility, in Petaluma, is offering an in-depth look at the cheesemaking process from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. You will see cheese being made, taste Mt. Tam, Cowgirl's popular cheese,  at different ages and take home a generous sampler bag of Cowgirl Creamery cheese. 

Cowgirl Creamery
(866) 433-7834

Backroads Sonoma Farm Tour:
From Farm to Table is adding a Sonoma Farm Tour to its burgeoning menu of culinary field trips. Groups traverse the bucolic backroads of Sonoma County, before arriving at an artisan farm or family vineyard for a private tour. After walking the land with the farmer or winegrower, guests settle in for a "farm-driven" dinner, prepared al fresco, by From Farm to Table's resident chef. Touting its mission as "leading small bands of roving foodies on excursions in good taste, and outings worth toasting," The Sonoma Farm Tour includes round-trip transportation, time spent with a local food or wine producer, and a chef-led meal paired with Sonoma wines.

From Farm to Table
13875 Sonoma Highway
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(707) 738-5405

Simi Fall Forage Kicks off Farm Trails Weekend:
Friday, Sept. 25, from 4 to 7 p.m. Evening kick-off celebration for “Sonoma County Weekend Along the Farm Trails” - Artisanal farmers from Sonoma County and Simi chefs will present a sampling of the bounty of Sonoma paired with a variety of Simi wines. Farmers from each Sonoma region will share history and highlights about farms that can be visited in their area. Price: $25 per person.

Saturday, Sept. 26, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Forage Workshop and Lunch - A hands-on cooking demonstration with foraged foods and how to pair the right foods/flavors with different wine varietals. Price: $75 per person.

6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Fall Forage Feast - A fabulous tasting menu composed of the abundance of Sonoma County artisan farmers paired with Simi wines and hosted by Simi's winemaking team. Price: $125 per person.

Proceeds from these events will benefit Sonoma County Farm Trails. Simi remains devoted to producing wines that carry the stamp of the land, while always reflecting the vineyards where they are grown and the care with which they are made. For information about Sonoma County Farm Trails, please visit

Simi Winery
16725 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 473-3236

Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa Credit Barbara Steinberg Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn's Scott Chappell Awarded Membership Les Clefs d’Or:
Les Clefs d ‘Or USA has awarded Scott Chappell, Concierge at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa membership into the elite organization. He joins his colleague Judy Mendel as the only concierges in Sonoma County to receive such distinction. 

Les Clefs d’Or (pronounced “lay clay door”) is French and literally translates as "keys of gold." Crossed gold keys displayed on hotel concierge lapels assure travelers they are dealing with a seasoned professional who is dedicated to serving their every need and who has fulfilled intense membership and service requirements.

For reservations
(800) 441-1414
(707) 938-9000

Media Contact
Michelle Heston
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
(707) 939- 2477

New Bicycle Shop Pedals into Bodega Bay:
Bodega Bay Cycles has a large selection of  rentals, including performance models, as well as parts and accessories for every cyclist. A mechanic is on duty everyday, except Tuesday. There are also a couple of great bike routes that are family friends and aren't on Hwy. 1. The routes start from the shop's front door and are a great way to see the bay without all the traffic.

Mat Yocum
Bodega Bay Cycles
1580 Eastshore Road Suite J
Bodega Bay, Ca. 94923
(707) 875-2255 shop
(707) 409-6447 fax

Photos by Barbara L. Steinberg©  

Top Ice Cream Sandwiches in Sacramento & San Jose

Barbara's Bites on the Best Ice Cream Sandwiches in Sacramento & Beyond
by Barbara L. Steinberg©  

If you haven't figured it out by now, I am very specific when it comes food. Not all things food...but there are those things I would say, "I am a snob when it comes to ______,"  You can fill in the blank. Now don't misunderstand...I love to eat just about anything and everything. But some things, well, I have my standards.

Ice cream is one of those things where my standards are high. But particularly, and in this case, ice cream sandwiches. It's all about the sandwich AND the ice cream. I must say I have been jaded because Sacramento has a FABULOUS cookie store...Goodie Tuchews...where they also hand-make iceGoodie Tuchew Ice Cream Sandwich Credit Barbara Steinberg 2009 cream sandwiches right before your eyes...and taste buds. Goodie Tuchews isn't alone in this world of ice cream sandwich (I.C.S.) creations, but what owner Terry O'Reilly has is more than 25 years in the cookie kingdom, producing 19...yes, that's a one and a nine, 19 varieties of cookies from which to assemble a luscious ice cream sandwich.

The combinations are nearly endless. How about Snickerdoodle top and Milk Chocolate Chip bottom. (Hmmm, how do you determine which end is up?!) Or an Oatmeal Everything (that would be raisins, nuts & chocolate chips) and Chocolate Peanut Butter. Yeoweeeee! My personal fave is the Snickerdoodle -- top and bottom. Terry only has one ice cream flavor but it's an excellent choice and also VERY local -- the wonderfully smooth and creamy vanilla ice cream from the landmark of 69 years of ice cream joy, Gunther's.  If you want a special order, then Terry is happy to provide other Gunther's ice cream flavors. But be sure to plan ahead.  Goodie Tuchews ice cream sandwiches have been dessert at more than one of my family celebrations -- and they are a sure winner. Located in Downtown Sacramento at 1015 L Street, you need to get your I.C.S. fix Monday - Friday -- come ahead...916/444-6048.

After thinking about this whole ice cream sandwich thing, I wondered how many others were serving up this old-fashioned delight.  And so decided I would punish myself in pursuit of all things sandwich and ice cream.

Locally, my second favorite is ice cream sandwich at Masullo's at 2711 Riverside Boulevard in Land Park. A newcomer on the Sacramento dining scene and really known for their outstanding was the news of their ice cream sandwich that recently brought me back. It was no slouch and glad I was to enjoy and pay for a dinner of pizza and salads to get to the dessert at the end. The Masullo-made oatmeal cookie is
A-W-E-S-O-M-E!  I usually like my sandwich cookie on the chewy side, but in Masullo's case the oatmeal cookie crisp with currants is outrageous. The ice cream is from another decades-old Sacramento landmark, Vic's Ice Cream.  This luscious I.C.S. wins high marks as my second favorite Sacramento offering.

So, two down...and number three...the envelope please! The winner is...Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates in Midtown at 1801 L Street.  The chocolates are beyond lovely; even for someone like me who's not a chocolate junky. But when I heard about the I.C.S. I had to check this out. The Parisian Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches are beautiful. The "sandwich" -- a work of art --  is a wonderfully chewy macaroon-ish affair.  Now remember what I said about being an ice cream snob. Well, Ginger Elizabeth gets all my points for the ice cream portion of her I.C.S. She makes the creamy stuff! It is spectacular. I had the meyer lemon I.C.S. and it was fabulous. Others would probably choose this sandwich over others, but as much as I devoured the Macron and lemon ice cream, it was a little too rich for me. Still, don't let my tastebuds stop you from rushing to Ginger Elizabeth's...she's definitely got it going on. Plus she has other tempting ice cream items and flavors. Such a talent.

Whew. I am tired...but there's one last I.C.S. I have to mention. It's from out-of-town and I stumbled upon this delightful number at this year's Sunset Celebration Weekend - a travel, garden, food and wine event on the grounds of Sunset Magazine in Menlo Park. It was my good luck to be "working" at the event and just happened up Kicks Cookies & Ice of the many food vendors. They have a cookie and ice cream cart -- be still my heart -- ice cream sandwiches on wheels. They can come to you and your event but they also just opened their first store in San Jose. Anyway...I tried their homemade Snickerdoodle cookies with a scoop of Double Rainbow strawberry ice cream. Let me just say, if I find myself in San Jose I am definitely seeking them out. I think you'll agree that this dark chocolate cookie I.C.S. might be worth a drive to the Bay Area.
If you have a favorite I.C.S. you think we should know about...please, send it over.


Terry assembles my I.C.S. Barbara L. Steinberg©     

Masullo I.C.S. I think you get the point.   Barbara L. Steinberg©  

Sacramento's Grange Restaurant & Bar at The Citizen Hotel Offers Culinary I.O.U.s


 There is no need to wait until October to cash California state IOU’s when Grange Restaurant & Bar is issuing IOU’s of their own with redemption through Sept. 7, 2009. Grange, specializing in locally grown and raised artisanal food, introduces IOU Happy Hour every Monday beginning July 20, 2009, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., featuring beer, wine, cocktails and appetizers discounted up to 60 percent. Grange Restaurant IOU’s for a complimentary appetizer will be presented upon receipt and can be used for future dining before Sept. 7, 2009.

Enjoy libations from the exclusive IOU menu featuring a strawberry basil cocktail and peach cocktail prepared with fresh local white peaches. The menu also includes a list of local California wines and beers as well as small bites such as fritto misto with squid and white fish, grilled flatbread with herbed marinated goat cheese and olives, and organic popcorn.

Located adjacent to The Citizen Hotel in Sacramento’s vibrant downtown core, Grange graces the corner of 10th & J streets within walking distance of the California State Capitol. The restaurant has been a runaway success since opening, featuring the culinary talents of famed Chef Michael Tuohy and a hopping bar scene like none other in the downtown core. Renowned nationwide for his devotion to serving the finest regional, seasonal and sustainable foods, Chef Tuohy has created a dining experience that celebrates the bounty of California perfectly paired with the state’s celebrated selection of wines and cocktails.

For more information, visit

Monday Happy Hour

Marinated olives/grilled flatbread
Herbed marinated goat cheese

Fritto Misto
squid / white fish / onions
lemon / caper aioli

Organic 479 Popcorn
pimenton and caramel fleur de sel

Raspberry/ Ancho Chili
Sauza Hornitos tequila, lime, fresh raspberries,
agave nectar, ancho chilis.

Strawberry Basil
Fresh strawberries muddled with fresh basil, and combined with Square One organic vodka, fresh lime juice, and agave nectar - served up with a fresh strawberry.

Finlandia Grapefruit vodka, Cointreau, fresh grapefruit juice, lime and orange. Strained and served up in a chilled glass.

Fresh local white peaches and Roederer Sparkling California wine

Sauvignon Blanc, Source, Yountville
Chardonnay, Matchbook, Santa Barbara
Zinfandel, Karly Pokerville, Amador County
Syrah, Scott Harvey, Amador County
Pinot Noir, Bogle, Russian River

California Wild Horse Sanctuary Has Reason to Party


Celebrating 30 Years of Rescues the Wild Horse Sanctuary Still Needs Your Help

The Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, California, incorporated in 1979 and for three decades has been rescuing wild horses and burros.  During this time the original band of 80 wild horses rescued by Dianne Nelson and her family in 1978 have been joined by numerous horses rescued from federal lands in the West, some 40 wild mustangs from Nevada’s Shoshone Indian Nation and Virginia Range, a small herd of Santa Cruz Island horses from Channel Islands National Park, and several individual rescues such as Phantom, the magnificent wild stallion from western Nevada, who took up residence at the Wild Horse Sanctuary last year. 

On Saturday, August 15, the Wild Horse Sanctuary will be celebrating their 30th Anniversary as they welcome visitors to their annual Open House from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Open House festivities include a docent-led walk to view wild mustangs and burros up close; FREE horse rides for children 10 and under; raffle; barbecue; cowboy poetry, entertainment; and barn dance.  Other returning favorites include demonstrations on horseshoeing, horse grooming, and saddling scheduled throughout the day, plus a question and answer session with a veterinarian.  New this year is the The Great American Mustang, a parade of wild horses that have been adopted over the years from the Wild Horse Sanctuary.

To help raise funds to care for more than 300 wild horses and burros that roam the 5,000-acre Wild Horse Sanctuary, a raffle of premium items is being held.  Topping the list of raffle items is a Wild Horse Sanctuary 3-day trail ride for two and 2-night stay at the Weston House B&B in Shingletown, valued at $1,460.  To view all raffle items, visit, where you can also buy a book of five raffle tickets for only $10.  Raffle tickets will be available at the Open House too. 

“The Open House gives folks the rare opportunity to walk onto the Sanctuary and view wild mustangs in a natural setting,” stated Dianne Nelson, Co-Founder and President, Wild Horse Sanctuary.  “It is also an opportune time to share the Wild Horse Sanctuary story with our friends and neighbors,” added Nelson.

A non-profit organization, the Wild Horse Sanctuary has served as a haven for America’s wild horses and burros since 1978.  In its location at 5796 Wilson Hill Road near the northern California community of Shingletown (approximately 170 miles northeast of Sacramento), these disappearing symbols of the American West can roam free and live out their natural lives.

To learn more about the Wild Horse Sanctuary, get directions, or make a donation, call (530) 474-5770 or visit

Another Great Story about Wild Horse Sanctuary