Viewing entries tagged
Visit California


California Redwoods + Steinbeck + Happy Links


{"The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a visionthat stays with you always." // John Steinbeck}

Happy Links:

  • I love this list of ways to "get local" while traveling. Anything you would add?
  • Patti Murphy and her sister Kat are launching a collaborative art show and they're accepting submissions from all over the world. I'm thinking about submitting something. Anyone else creating a fun, inspiring banner to submit?
  • Do you all follow the Flickr blog? They call for contributions to a themed collection every week. This last week the theme was "London Calling" and now I want to go. Like, now.

Wrap it Up:

  • I shared a little north coast goodness (including a little glimpse of California's magnificent redwoods) on Monday. More to come, I promise!
  • Mighty Girl Maggie Mason and her life list got me all inspired and I finally posted my Mighty {fine} Life List on Wednesday. I hope you'll share links to your lists as well.


Have a lovely weekend, all!



North Coast Road Trip: Taking the Time

I'm back this week after another trip to visit family in Crescent City, California. You may remember a few photo-heavy posts (here, here and here) about the lovely little town in which I used to live.This time around I decided to mix work and play by taking the time to really appreciate the already long drive. I stopped often to capture fun places to explore along Highway 101 (which I hope to share eventually), had to take a detour along a road I've never traveled and spent some much-needed time with family.


If you're heading from the Sacramento area to the north coast, I recommend taking I-5 to Highway 20 to Highway 101. That was my plan, but was turned back due to an accident that closed Highway 20. The nice Caltrans worker suggested I take CA 175 to get to Highway 101 instead. The road is pretty dicey in places and goes up (then down) a very steep grade, but the views made the detour totally worth the extra effort:


Taking the time to stop at some of the beautiful areas along the way was also well worth it. I'm sad to say that I usually just cruise on by, too preoccupied with getting to where I'm going. I hope to stop more often in the future. Here's why:


I spent some time tooling around Crescent City visiting tourist sites I haven't paid much attention to in years past. Here's a view of Battery Point Lighthouse from Crescent City's harbor (mermaid included):


On the driest day (it seems we only get one or two whenever we visit), we decided to head to the nearest trail head in the Redwood National and State Park system to spend a few hours appreciating both old growth...


...and new growth:


Beautiful, right?


I look forward to sharing more about the places I know and love in the coming months. So many Californians haven't experienced much of the north coast and I'm hoping to inspire at least a few people to keep on trucking once they get through wine country. I promise it's worth the drive.

What about you? Any north coast adventures you'd care to share? Let's chat about them in the comment section, shall we?



California, I Love You

My love for this great state shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Though I often think about what it would be like to call someplace else home, I would sure have trouble leaving California's beauty behind.Today I'm offering up a simple photo essay of some of my favorite places. If you're planning a trip here anytime soon, may I suggest beginning your adventure in Northern California?

She's a stunner:


{Alcatraz from the Presidio in San Francisco.}


{Upper Sacramento River}


{Taft Point in Yosemite National Park}


{Blue Ridge Loop, overlooking Lake Berryessa}


{View of Rodeo Beach & Lagoon, Marin Headlands}


{Castle Crags State Park near Dunsmuir, California}


{Sunrise over the American River in Sacramento}


{Views of the Napa Valley}


{Pigeon Point Lighthouse near Pescadero}


{Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park}


{Pebble Beach in Crescent City}

See what I mean? B-E-A-utiful.

If you’re planning to spend time in Northern California this summer, be sure to check out a mobile collection of my favorite outdoor spots here.

Now tell me: which places and spaces make you love California? Any spots on the "must see" list for Southern California? I'm always looking for recommendations!



Farm to Fork Field Trip: Restaurant Thir13en

Does this Red Russian Kale look familiar?


Well, it should! A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit Feeding Crane Farms to learn a little bit about the emerging Farm-to-Fork movement here in Sacramento, California. In my attempt to follow the kale from farm to fork for this project, I also enlisted the help of Chef Adam Pechal with Restaurant Thir13en and Tuli Bistro. If you're a fan of ABC's The Taste, you may recognize him from the first season as a member of Team Malarkey.


I stopped by Restaurant Thir13een on the beautiful (yet soggy) first day of spring to talk a little Farm-to-Fork shop. If you've never been to the restaurant located on the ground floor of The Sterling Hotel, I highly recommend it. I've spent quite a few happy hours on their sweet little patio out front.


The mood shifts a bit when you step inside, which makes it a fantastic date night spot.


And the food? Well, I'm a pretty big fan. Chef Pechal kindly let me in the kitchen to catch a glimpse of the beginnings of a Red Russian Kale Pesto. To get started, he removed the stems from each leaf:


He then blanched the kale by putting it in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes (until the leaves were bright green and tender):


Then the kale moved on over to the ice bath to cool:


Eventually the blanched kale will be transformed into a beautiful pesto for all of those delicious pasta dishes. I wasn't able to partake in the entire process, but Chef Pechal did agree to share the recipe with us. The good news? It's a super easy recipe that will be making it to my fork at home very soon.

Restaurant Thir13en's Red Russian Kale Pesto

  • 2 bunches Red Russian Kale, blanched & chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Awesome for pizza, pastas or anywhere else you'd use pesto!  --  Chef Adam Pechal

Side note: If you subscribe to Sactown Magazine, you may recognize this pesto from page 52 of the latest issue. Great minds think alike here in Sacramento and the folks at the magazine devoted almost an entire issue to the Farm-to-Fork movement.

What can I say? We love our farmers and we love our food!


I also had the opportunity to ask a few questions about how Chef Pechal and his crew incorporate food from local farms into the menus at both Tuli Bistro and Restaurant Thir13en.

From which local farms do you source food for your restaurants? We work with Feeding Crane Farms, Del Rio Botanical, Ray Yeung, Soil Born Farms and Waldorf School. Some of the food is delivered through Produce Express, which is a huge proponent and distributor of local farms. Others deliver farm direct like Feeding Crane Farms.

What types of food do you source locally? Mostly produce but lately we've been getting whole hogs from fairly local sources like Stone Valley Farm and a few other very small independent ranchers. Lucky Dog Ranch is a local ranch that produces great grass-fed beef. We've also got some great cheese producers like the Sierra Nevada Cheese Company.

Are some products tough to find here in Sacramento, California? Nothing is hard to find here in Sacramento. I feel lucky to have restaurants here with great access to top-notch products. With the addition of the new Sunh Fish here downtown, we now have access to amazing seafood from both local California sources and sources around the world.

What are your favorite locally grown foods to use in the kitchen? One of my favorites would have to be Del Rio's arugula. I've been using three or more cases a week for most of Tuli Bistro's lifetime (over five years). It's typically available year round, which is awesome for us chefs trying to plan menus. As cliche as it is, I'd be lying if Sacramento heirloom tomatoes weren't at the top of my list. Every year I see new and different varieties popping up which makes it one of the most fun foods out there. The variance in colors and flavors make them so adaptable to so many preparations.


Be sure to check out the tasty food at Tuli Bistro and Restaurant Thir13en, my friends. I love knowing that so much of the food at these local restaurants comes from right here in Northern California!


For those of you interested in my final map design project (which spurred this little field trip), here it is:


I decided to craft the final design as a tool for storytelling, rather than trying to map the entire Farm-to-Fork movement in Sacramento. Plus, it's been a long time since I've used my animated GIF-making skills. The photos don't render well in the GIF format, but you get the idea!

If you'd like to see how the project unfolded, you can read more here.


Here's to eating more fresh, local foods!



Snowshoeing in Donner Memorial State Park

It's no secret that much of Northern California has been experiencing a long stretch of fairly dry weather. We could use a nice soaking (or three) in the Sacramento Valley and the snow pack in the Sierras is dwindling.That said, we still found a nice base of snow this weekend at Donner Memorial State Park for our first-ever snowshoeing adventure!


We decided to check out Donner Memorial State Park because the flat terrain seemed good for beginners. You can download the winter trail map here, if you're interested. From the Sacramento Valley, the park is easy to find and the trip only takes about an hour and a half, depending on traffic.

The park was covered in a beautiful blanket of snow and the two-hour nature walk was exactly what we were looking for. At the start of the Lake Loop Trail, we stopped to take photos and were treated to a bald eagle spotting:


Not a bad way to start the trek! The spring-like weather made for some slushy areas, but overall, the park was a perfect place to fall in love with a new hobby.


As we walked along, we came across this big fella:


No, my friends, this is not photoshopped. We found this double-headed tree just off the trail and could not stop staring!


It was even more impressive up close. I've seen trees grow together before, but the symmetry of this guy was something else!

The trail is a nice, easy loop that takes you along a short section of the south shore of Donner Lake. It was a beautiful place to rest for a bit, but I couldn't help wishing for a little more snow!


We ventured off the path several times to find some powder:


We've definitely found a fun outdoor activity in snowshoeing. As beginners, we weren't quite sure how difficult it would be to get started. Did we need lessons? What should we wear?

As it turns out, snowshoeing is super easy. I turned to the internet and found this somewhat cheesy video for beginners and this informative video for clothing advice. I opted to go with waterproof everything, since I knew I'd be getting into the snow to take pictures.


My husband, on the other hand, went with jeans, a few cotton layers and a waterproof coat because the weather was so mild. We were both happy campers, so I suppose the best advice is to bring lots of layers, know your body (do you run hot or cold?) and pay attention to weather conditions. Waterproof shoes (hiking boots or snow boots) seem to be the best investment since wet, cold feet can end an outdoor adventure pretty quickly.

We don't own snowshoe gear, so we borrowed what we could from a friend (thanks, Amy!) and rented the rest from our local REI store. After a little bit of research (read: we consulted the internet, friends and the nice folks at REI), we decided to go without snowshoe poles. The low snow pack and negligible elevation change on the trail meant we would be okay without them. Again, just take a look at the conditions and the terrain and decide what gear you need for your snowshoe adventures.


Your turn: Have any of you snowshoed before? What did you think? Any great trails we should check out? If you have advice for newbies like us, feel free to share your knowledge in the comment section!