BeFries are fry perfection


 5 Star Star Star Star Star

Yes, I finally found them. French fry perfection. Although, in this case, it's Belgian fry perfection. BeFries has stolen my heart. There can be no other fries beyond this moment. So lucky we just happened upon this new (less than one year) establishment while exploring the streets of Brighton. And happier still I had resisted ordering fries at the local pub.

This family of siblings -- Joe, Dash, Chan and Ezda (and friend Harry) have created fry magic. Locally sourced potatoes, fresh-cut and double-fried are crisp on the outside and a melting soft on the inside. Not overcooked crisp -- but a crust like nothing I have ever experienced. Delivered in their paper cone, the BeFries are also a perfect IMAG3590temperature. Slowly making our way through the large order, they were still nicely warm to the very end. 

First timers, we indulged in 10 dipping sauces. Moving from one to another and then back again, I decided Green Peppercorn and the daily special, Jerk Mayo, were my favorites. I have never used ketchup on my fries and the idea of 'mayo' is just something I've never understood. However, at BeFries I broke my fry purist rules with total abandon. 

Open seven days a week, I wish these young fry fiends nothing but success. And who knows maybe franchises down the road will cross the great wide pond and find their way west. I lied when I said, "These might just be the fest fries ever!" No 'might' about it. They are the BEST! Vote for BeFries for Brighton & Hove Food & Drink Awards 2017. I already did!

46 West Street
Brighton, England

Photos on Facebook

Make Lemonade

Interesting that I should have written this more than 10 years ago and just publishing for the first time today and adding the current year's date. California will remember the winter of 2017.

We've all heard the old adage about when life gives you lemons.

Caples Lake Sierra Nevada Credit Barbara L Steinberg 2017The same can be said about California waters. Dry winters of little rain or snow translate into lackluster springs. The early browning of grasses across mountains and valleys; a mere window of time between the chill of winter and the fire of summer. In other words, no lemonade.

But in winters of plenty: Plenty of snow, plenty of rain and plenty of cold, that's a lemonade year. Hills above Fish Slough Credit David Mazel

While Californians pine and moan about the winter weather, I say, "Go live where they actually have winter weather! Places like South Dakota or Minnesota. Our winters of plenty--such as 2017--translate into a spring exploding with wildflowers from the hottest desert valleys to the coldest mountain peak. Our winters of plenty mean landscapes of wildflower eye candy.

Thank you Mother Nature for a winter abundant with lemons and a spring overflowing with lemonade.



If my Subaru can't get me there, 
that's a good reason not to go!

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Susan Sipe Rabinovitz a Sacramento Maker

Susan Rabinovitz Little Relics Photo by Evan E. Duran for Submerge MagazineIf less is more, the same is true at Little Relics Art & Jewelry Gallery. Susan Sipe Rabinovitz forges diminutive wearable art – bracelets, earrings, rings, pendants – using 14th-century goldsmith techniques. A bench jeweler, a hammer and torch are the tools of her trade. “My inspiration comes from Jean Miró a pre-cubist, abstract artist, Midtown Little Relics Artisan Jewelry Credit Barbara L Steinberg2architecture and my daughters.” A Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts graduate, Susan put herself through school making earrings for Nordstrom. Now, she sculpts precious metals and jewels into custom-made keepsakes and, also, does repairs.

Little Relics Art & Jewelry Gallery
908 - 21st Street, Sacramento, CA
Monday-Saturday 11am to 6pm
Sunday 11am to 4pm 

More about Little Relics: Socially Respons
ible Bling featured in Submerge magazine

Mecca for Outdoor Enthusiasts Visit Redding and Shasta Cascade

Web sizeThink alfresco!  From small executive retreats to company-wide conferences, the meeting planner team at Visit Redding can help design and implement outdoor fun for any group and offers an array of complimentary services including event planning, site negotiations and familiarization tours.

 “Our team is at the ready to help with all the meeting and event details. We are focused on the needs of your group and offer rejuvenating, educational and inspirational outdoor ideas to make your meeting a memorable one,” explains Jennifer Fontana, Industry Relations /Group Coordinator at Visit Redding. Give them a call, their priorities are in order: kayaking, hiking, boating and more.

Get Wet
Is your corporate retreat all wet? It could be! Trinity River Rafting offers groups tours. Collaboration and On water Yoga Courtesty of On Water Yogacoordination is the name of the game as teams paddle together through white-water rapids.  Redding Jet Boat Tours  depart from the famous Sundial Bridge, taking groups on a scenic ride down the Sacramento River aboard a custom-built 26-foot jet boat. At Headwaters Adventure Company, experienced paddlers demonstrate all the right moves to help you enjoy your kayaking and paddleboarding experience on Whiskeytown Lake.  Shuttle Service is available for groups, nine or fewer. Ranger-led tours are offered for small groups by special request through Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.  Or just breathe with Audrey Delong’s On Water Yoga. The Zen of paddleboarding, outings are tailored for private events.

Lake Shaata Caverns Courtsey of Visit ReddingGo Back in Time
Enjoy a scenic 10-minute catamaran cruise to Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark and one-hour tour of what some geologists consider one of the most beautiful limestone caves in America. Then there’s the Lava Beds National Monument. This land of turmoil, both geological and historical, will make problem solving back at the office seem like a piece of cake. More than 700 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields and campsites, and high desert wilderness experiences await your group.

ManaBall Courtesy of Visit RedgingWild and Crazy
Redding’s newest contact sport revolutionizes team building experiences. ManaBall provides more than 30 customized and coordinated extreme bubble-ball games. An exciting twist on traditional sports, team players are wrapped in a giant, soft inflatable Bubble Ball with shoulder harnesses and handles inside! Bonding has never been more hilarious.

Sundial Bridge Courtesy of Visit ReddingBefore and After Hours
Located at Turtle Bay Exploration Park, the Sundial Bridge is an architectural and artistic marvel and one of the largest working sundials in the world. Silhouetted above the Sacramento River, the glass-decked pedestrian bridge is illuminated at night. A memorable way for groups to gather, the Bridge Amphitheater and North Plaza offer unique settings for outdoor parties, ceremonies, and receptions.

Wildcard Brewing Courtesy of Visit ReddingDowntown Redding is ready to fulfill all your after-hour needs to shop, dine, and enjoy live music and other entertainment. Savor everything from casual to fine dining, as well as wine tasting rooms, craft beer bars, and dance clubs for after-hours merriment. The Redding Civic Auditorium, convention hotels, and local vineyards also welcome groups of all sizes.

Redding Transportation
Redding Municipal Airport provides commercial airline passenger service via United, with direct flights to San Francisco, and Pen Air offers direct flights to Portland. If you prefer to charter your own plane, aviation services and aircraft hangar facilities are available to make your trip memorable. Car rentals, Amtrak and Greyhound service, buses, taxis, limousines, bicycle rentals, and even pedicabs are another way to see the sites and get around. Shuttle service and group ice breaker from Sacramento International sets an upbeat tone. 

Redding is located at the northern end of the Sacramento Valley, two hours north of Sacramento and three hours northeast of San Francisco.  With more than 300 days of sunshine, Redding is truly your year-round outdoor destination. Nearby scenic lakes, rivers, national forests, state and national parks – Shasta State Historic Park, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area and Lassen Volcanic National Park – make Redding a fantastic base-camp. Redding is conveniently located at the crossroads of Interstate-5 and California state routes 299 and 44.

Roughly the size of Ireland, the Shasta Cascade region is the perfect place to get back to nature, relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Comprised of eight rural counties, this majestic Northern California region is dotted with lakes, rivers and mountains and includes three national parks, six national forests and 12 California state parks.

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Benjamin Schwartz a Sacramento Maker

My Sacramento Benjamin Schwartz Credit Alexander TardifStudying film at the prestigious Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Ben Schwartz returned to Sacramento roots to complete his degree. He started making films and then settled on a 9 to 5 State job. A regular paycheck with benefits seemed like a safer route, but not his destiny.  A chance meeting with British shoemaker was pivotal. Nine years later, his shoes are made for walking.

"I found this book on making shoes, but didn’t act on it for about a year. There were no apprenticeships; it was just a hobby.  A friend suggested having the designs factory made, but we decided to make them ourselves.  In 2014, there Benjamin Shoe Co Credit are You That Woman Barbara L Steinbergwas one prototype when we went online. The idea of work changes when you work for yourself; more hours than you’d ever work otherwise. I sold everything I owned and, with two friends, we “bootstrapped” the business. It’s surprising, in a good way, how much local support we received. We’ve become such a throwaway society, I want to be a model for other small brands being mindful and making things that last."

Benjamins Shoes
1104 R Street, Suite 130
Sacramento, CA 95811
Tues.-Sat. 11am to 7pm
Sunday 11am to 6pm

Social networking from California: A Letter

Seeking Dana Smith by Barbara Steinberg

I have shared this story again and again, here it is one more time. This letter was originally published on February 26, 2010. My hopes for 2017, other then the usual: health, happiness, and world peace....would be an answer to this letter. Of course, I have passed another birthday and rounded the corner to 60 and the 42nd anniversary of Dana's supportive words. Maybe 2017 will be the magic year when the answer comes.

Dear Mrs. Smith –

May I call you Dana? Now that I am nearly 60 years old it seems appropriate. I don’t know if you will remember me…though I believe you will. You were my English teacher (freshman and senior years [1970-1971 & 1973-1974]) at W. T. Woodson High School.  This is not the first letter I have written you.  I wrote to you after I graduated from high school and thanked you for coming into my life!  Here I am again.

You and I bumped heads that first year, 1970.  Diagramming sentences and all those English technicalities drove me crazy; I was so bored.  You may have suffered some of the same boredom. 

D. Smith My senior year (1973-1974) with you included media/marketing and writing courses.  What an eye-opener for me!  Those experiences would eventually figure into my professional life in so many ways.  In my senior yearbook you wrote, “I expect to be buying your books soon,” Good Luck, D. Smith.  That was the most powerful and memorable thing anyone had ever said to me.

After graduating, I told you all of this in a letter.After moving to California, I stopped by to say ‘hello’ and let you know what was going on in my life.  You told me that you and your husband (whom I never met) were moving to Kentucky.  I believe you said he was a photographer and planned to open a studio.  Again, this is what I think was said.  I don’t remember if you said where in Kentucky or (specifically) when you were going.

I don’t recall if we spoke again, but I have thought of you often.

I have been looking for you for a long time.  I stopped by and called WTW – the English department, the principal – no one responded.  I contacted the teachers association.  Each time I explained, but no one seemed interested.  I have looked online.Searched through, Google searches, and people-finder websites. Someone from my graduating class knows someone who is currently on staff in the English Department. They were going to do some asking on my behalf, but then I never heard anything more.

I posted the following on Facebook believing that this ‘six degrees of separation’ Mecca would find someone out there who recognized you. Or maybe even find you!

Barbara imageI am still hoping to find Dana Smith who taught English at W.T. Woodson back in the '70s. She was still in Fairfax the last
time I saw her but she said planning to move to Kentucky. Her husband was a photographer (I think this is what I remember).
 December 13, 2009 at 8:38pm

Why is it so important that I find you?  Because I want to thank you…again!  Thank you for seeing something in me when I was only 17-years-old. Something no one else had noticed or nurtured. My life took many paths, all of them leading to my life as a writer and editor.Though I have been writing my whole life, I wasn't professionally published until my mid 30s. For 16 years I was the director of publications for Visit California. Since 2006, I have been a freelance travel writer and marketing California as a travel destination -- passionate about the subject!

I have often talked about what you taught me about the power of marketing. And, ironically, one of the first places I visited in California was the Hearst Castle…all because you had us watch "Citizen Kane" our senior year in a media class you taught.That’s true!  And from time-to-time, I take out my yearbook just to re-read your message.There are a couple of books I want to write, but finding the time is a major stumbling block.Your words of support may bring that to fruition someday. 

I hope this letter reaches you!  I want you to know that after 42 years I still remember and thank you from the bottom of my heart. In the meantime, others will know about the power of few well-placed words. Years later I still remember.

Love - Barbara

PS – Just before my senior year I visited a friend in the UK. Her mother, Joan, was a travel writer. When she explained this concept to me I said, “That’s a job?! I want that job.” I was just 17 years old and was just getting ready to begin my senior year in your class. The Universe and D. Smith saw the writing on the wall.   

Bites on Broadway Southeast Comfort in Skagway Alaska


Rating: Star*Star*Star*Star*Star*

Southeast Alaska is giving the Deep South a run for its culinary money and gives southern cooking a whole new meaning.  Two guys from Mississippi have graced Skagway’s main street – Broadway -- with comfort foods. I should know, my Virginia southern roots told me so. I grew up eating grits and mustard greens with vinegar.

Wander past Broadway’s "we serve Starbucks" crowd and find yourself at Bites on Broadway. Lucky me, to find them just across the road from my lodging at Historic Skagway Inn. In the morning, I could peek out to see the lights were on and wander across the street for fresh-brewed coffee before the sunrise. That's saying something when it's July in Alaska. The owners, Nils and Skipper, learned the fine art of southern cooking Bites on Broadway Cheese biscuit with sweet potato butter Credit Are You That Womanfrom their mothers -- and they were excellent students. It was the plain cake doughnut that caught my eye on the first visit. And while munching away, spotted the cheese biscuit and something about sweet potato butter (instead of apple). OMG! Not ashamed to say I wolfed this down and still dreaming of that delightful moment. Hey, can I try a little of the Alaskan Salmon Chowder? Another taste bud celebration.

There weren't enough days or hours to eat everything on the menu. Clearly the locals have embraced this breakfast and lunch destination. So did I, more than once! Still dreaming about this down south in Northern California, y'all!


Alaska's Gateway City

Bites on Broadway Sweet Potato Butter Credit Are You That WomanShop online for delicious sweet potato butter and more!

Morro Bay Nature Sublime

 Morro Bay is a Sensory Wonderland By Barbara L. Steinberg

Inhale. Watch the sun set behind Morro Rock, bark at sea lions, call to a night heron, and walk in silence Morro Bay 2012 Credit Barbara L Steinberg5beside a forest of pygmy oaks.  At every turn, open spaces and environmentally sensitive biomes of extraordinary splendor await.  Miles and miles of nature preserves, state parks, state beaches, and magical places with names like The Elfin Forest elevate Morro Bay’s allure.  From a waterfront perch at the Inn at Morro Bay, only one question emerges, “What next?” Mother Nature worked overtime to create this canvas.  It deserves all your attention.

Head for Montaña de Oro State Park toward shoreline and estuary views.  In just a few miles, the road narrows; the “real” world drops away. Some days are sunny. Today, fog drapes the hillsides but without diminishing the heightened anticipation to reach Sandspit Beach – a four-mile “ecologically diverse” sand dune area separating Morro Bay from the Pacific Ocean.

Montana de Oro State Park Lupine Credit Barbara L SteinbergOne vehicle in the parking lot alludes to a park ranger, nowhere to be seen.  Out of your own four-wheeler, the world is quiet.  You zigzag along with the boardwalk, along sensitive dunes dotted with sand verbena and lupine.  A slight rise in the dune and – suddenly – stillness to crashing waves!  A view that thrills you to the bone.

Breathe. One seriously long, deep breath of the fog, the mist, the ocean air.

See. Open your eyes, wide! Really, really wide to an abundance of sand, shore birds, ocean debris, wildflowers, pounding surf. Incredibly, you are the sole inhabitant on this expanse of beach inside Montaña de Oro State Park.  Imagine the coastal Chumash who once called this home.

Montana de Oro State Park 2012 Credit Barbara L. Steinberg12Step. Follow the footprints – some four-footed – the comings and goings of previous visitors. The tide rushes up and laps at your feet, washing away remnants of your passing and those before you.

Gaze. Scan for signs of life. A troop of curlews hurries in and out of the surf chasing an elusive breakfast.  A band of brown pelicans rises and falls with the light as if on some unseen carnival ride. Bashful snowy plovers sneak – left, right, left right – over dunes to  protected nesting ground.  A gang of turkey vultures nibble on the carcass of a dolphin, its mouth agape in a petrified smile. Heartbreaking, but it is the nature of things and now part of this memory.

Sun and fog debate which will prevail over today’s weather. Fog appears to be winning.  Though a distance away, you linger in hopes that Morro Rock will reappear through the mist. Not to be on this adventure. After a mile on the spit, it’s time to turn back.

A ghostly surfer slips the top of a wave, a solitary figure, as you depart. Exhale.

Julia Morgan's Berkeley City Club is so special

Julia Morgan's Little Castle is a Well-Kept Berkeley Secret
Berkeley City Club1

Yes, you can actually stay in an honest to goodness Julia Morgan-designed and built hotel. Originally a women-only, member club, the Berkeley City Club is now part of the prestigious Historic Hotels of America.  The Julia Morgan-designed Berkeley City Club turned 86 in 2016. Celebrate its past, present, and future! Treat yourself to something so very special.

Call (510) 848-7800 or for more information to book your stay at the “little castle”, check online. Be sure to check-out the calendar of Berkeley City Club theatric and musical events.

Oh, and about that indoor pool....

Berkeley City Club5 Berkeley City at the Holidays Credit Barbara L Steinberg  Berkeley City Club one of the Many Royal Subjects Standing Guard 2 Credit Barbara L Steinberg 2010 Berkeley City Club The LIttle Castle 2 Credit Barbara L Steinberg 2010 T Johnson Room 2 Courtesy of BCC

Juneau Food Tours are food fantasy

Rating:  Star*Star*Star*Star*Star*

Tracy's King Crab Shack and here's the proof Credit The 5-star Excellence rating for Juneau Food Tours says it all. What a day! What a feast! Just a few small, delicious bites and my tummy was doing a crazy, happy dance. coma! Chowing my way through Juneau's burgeoning food scene. Local crab, local brews, local salmon, local food artisans! Yep, I was a gleeful locavore. Crab bisque from those king crab legs had me weeping tears of joy.

Tracy's King Crab Shack, Panhandle Provisions, Alaska Knifeworks, V's Cellar Door and Alaskan Hotel and Bar - some of Travel Juneau's best. Wow! Did someone really tell me there's no good food here? Insanity! Great history and background of the city. I won't soon forget. A truly authentic experience. Midgi is energetic and enthusiastic. And why not? Beautiful scenery, delicious food, and Alaska!

Midgi's an outstanding storyteller and shared an insider tip about the local Commercial Fisherman's Memorial. Shhh, the secret's safe with me. Rain or shine, you'll be smiling!