Thursday, November 24, 2011

Guest Chef: Cooking From The Heart

Guest Chef Vera R. Ciammetti
Oakland, CA – Here’s a novel idea for all you foodies out there: a restaurant that features a new chef every two weeks. The folks at Guest Chef on College Avenue in Oakland are on to something.  Last night I had a simple, yet flavorful meal cooked by Chef Vera R. Ciammeti: salad greens with butternut squash; hot spaghetti aglio e olio con pepperoncini; and a glass of red wine.  The dining room is intimate with seats for only 16 – 20 guests, creating an inviting family-style experience.  Chef Vera came by with samples of lasagna and to check on our dining experience.  Heck, even Pablo Voitzuk, who pimps Pacific Sun Olive Oil, the extra virgin olive oil that Chef Vera uses exclusively, came by to say hi.  At about $9 per plate, this is the best deal in town.  Don’t wait too long—Chef Vera’s run at Guest Chef finishes on December 4.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Architecture In Tahoe: Squaw Valley Chapel

Lake Tahoe, CA --The Squaw Valley Chapel is a stylized little Alpine church set among the majestic mountains of the Olympic Valley at an altitude of over 6,000 feet. It was the Poulsen family, the original landowners of nearby Squaw Valley Ski Resort who donated the land where the chapel now stands prior to the 1960 Winter Olympics. At that time the family stipulated that a Protestant Church was to be built on that land for the Olympians, their families and all those attending the Olympics.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Discovering Lake Tahoe: Trailblazer John Fremont

Lake Tahoe, CA -- The first recorded discovery of Lake Tahoe by white explorers was on Feb. 14, 1844 when John Frémont and Charles Preuss climbed the dividing ridge of the Sierra crest to spot the second deepest lake in the United States.  It’s uncertain if they were impressed by the lake’s clarity and luminous blue color—their documented impression was rather nondescript: “beautiful view of a mountain lake…”   Frémont, along with his 23 men including explorer Kit Carson, simply wanted to get off the Sierra Nevada and make their way down to the fertile Sacramento Valley below. They’d been exploring unchartered territory since the spring of 1843 and their quest for food always kept them edgy.  The previous night Frémont wrote: “We had tonight an extraordinary dinner—pea soup, mule, and dog.”  Thank you trailblazers!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Toast Wine Lounge: Ambiance to Spare

Oakland, CA – Dining outdoors on a crisp November evening under a heat lamp at a bistro table while drinking a glass of wine is my idea of California dreamin’.  Toast Wine Lounge on College Avenue offers hand-selected wines, small plates and ambiance to spare.   I recommend the Seam Wines 2008 Barbera from Calaveras County:  a bold berry with a strong finish.  Cheers to Toast.   

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wolfdale's: Tahoe City Restaurant

Tahoe City, CA -- Chef Douglas Wolfdale has been at work in his vibrant, progressive Tahoe City restaurant for 30 years. Try the sashimi of Ahi Tuna and Hamachi with ginger, arame and wasabi—divine.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Year In California -- So Far...

Photo taken in the extreme
northeastern part of California near Cedarville.
Basecamp, CA  -- The book proposal is written and sent out.  The Twitter site is up-and-running.  The blog is resurrected.  After a full year on the road in search for the meaning of my life, the infrastructure, for all intent and purpose for the book is in place.  What's left?  To write the freakin' book. 

My mentor is Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote (in her words--not mine) the "freakishly" successful book: Eat, Pray, Love.  Elizabeth or "Liz" shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. Listen to her TED speech on nurturing creativity at:

The quote d'jour follows: "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair." --Mary Heaton. 

Duly noted.  California, here I come.