Whether you are a first timer or a seasoned Napa Valley wine connoisseur, taking a Napa Valley Wine Tour is a hassle-free way to explore and enjoy world-class wineries Napa Valley has to offer. Take a ride through picturesque Napa Valley on board of one of the hand-built replicas of a California Street Cable Car….
For authentic Mexican fare, La Cocina Mexicana is the place to be. Located in the small town of Dixon, an hour drive from Sacramento, this restaurant will not only satisfy your taste buds, but also, with its cozy atmosphere composed of beautifully carved and painted tables, chairs, and wall art, will be a feast for your eyes. Created by the owner’s husband, these artfully made colorful pieces are a beautiful compliment to the flavorful and bold dishes that are served here.
From salsa and chips to mole and hearty dishes made using recipes passed down from the owner’s mother, dining at La Cocina Mexicana will be a memorable experience. Here is what I had for dinner:
Estrella Jalisco – an authentic Mexican beer.
Salsa and Chips.
Verde Chicken Salad – pan seared yellow and green squash, carrots, bell peppers, onion, broccoli, and mushrooms topped with chicken breast and black beans.
Two Enchiladas – beef enchiladas served with mole and a side of rice and beans.
A display of chilly sauces – every chilly lovers dream.
Following are the beautiful pieces made by the owner’s husband.
Friendly and accommodating staff makes the dining experience at this family run restaurant so much more enjoyable. This is definitely a place to come back to. Happy travels!
After leaving Lake Tahoe, I headed in the direction of Napa Valley. My first stop on the way there was Sacramento. It was a hot day, 97 F kind of hot. Not very far from the California Capitol Building, I found a Mexican restaurant, Carolina’s Mexican Food. The restaurant’s menu features enchiladas, burritos, and tacos made with fresh ingredients. I ordered a burrito – carnitas with fresh guacamole and pico de gallo salsa. It was as delicious as it looked.
To escape the heat of the day, I decided to tour the State Capitol. After cooling off in the well air- conditioned building and learning a little bit of history, I went on a walk in the adjacent to the Capitol gardens, which feature plants from around the world.
My next stop in Sacramento was the Old Sacramento. Old Sacramento or Old Sac is located within the Old Sacramento Historic District of Sacramento, California. With its Gold Rush era buildings, quiet streets, and railroad station, the place has a feel of an Old Western movie set.
After being restored and developed, the historic district has become one of the main tourist attractions in Sacramento. With over 5 million visitors annually, Old Sac offers a great variety of attractions such as museums, river boat tours, railroad excursions, riverside bike treks, and horse-drown carriages. The most popular event in Old Sac is Gold Rush Days, a 4 day free to the public Sacramento heritage celebration, which takes place over Labor Day weekend. The event features live music, Old West theatrics, history re-enactments, horse-drawn carriages, cowboys on horseback, ladies riding sidesaddle, wagon rides, and gold panning.
Once again to cool off, I stopped at Rio City Cafe. With its view of the historic Tower Bridge and the Ziggurat Building, the cafe was an ideal place to enjoy my cold drink.
On a cooler day, I would have definitely chosen to sit outside on the cafe’s spacious deck, overlooking the Sacramento River. I didn’t get to dine here on this trip, but I made sure to look at the menu. Rio City Cafe offers California Cuisine prepared with local and seasonal ingredients, and the drink menu features wines from Napa Valley and other California wineries.
Unfortunately I didn’t not have enough time to stop at the history rich River City Saloon. The saloon serves deli style sandwiches, and on its drink menu you can find Old West Sarsaparilla brewed exclusively for the saloon by River City Brewing Company.
In this tranquil town souvenir shops, candy stores, restaurants, museums, and many other attractions are just walking distance from each other.
To learn how railroads affected American society, visit the California State Railroad Museum, and take a train excursion on the South Sacramento Railroad.
My 5 hour stay in Sacramento didn’t only satisfy my taste-buds, but it also expanded my knowledge of California history, so if you are a foodie and a history buff, Sacramento is a right place for you. Happy travels!
Every spring, in the middle of May, hundreds of Alaskans put on their waders and grab their nets to harvest hooligan, a small fish found along the Pacific coast of North America from northern California to Alaska. Once a vital part of diet and a source of income for many indigenous communities of the Pacific Coast, hooligan dipnetting has become more of a recreational activity for Native Americans and other residents. Hooligan oil aka grease was one of the most valuable products sold in the interior Alaska, and as a result, the trade routes became to be known as “grease trails”. The high fat content of hooligan makes it possible to burn dried fish as a candle hence one of its many names – candlefish.
Congregation of predators like seagulls, eagles, seals, and whales near the rivers is one of the signs that hooligan are running. Hooligan usually run after high tide, and their numbers can sometimes reach tens of thousands, which allows dipnetters to scoop up fish with ease.
The most popular way to prepare hooligan is to fry them, but I prefer to grill or broil them with a little bit of salt and pepper and sprinkle some lime or lemon juice over them once the fish are ready to eat.
Because hooligan are small in size, they are typically stored frozen whole without being gutted, but they can also be dried, canned, or smoked. Nowadays, the fish is also used as a bait and food for dogs and cats.
Whether you are an Alaska resident or you live in an area where the fish run, give hooligan dipnetting a try. It is a fun activity for the whole family, and children are the ones who have the most fun!
After leaving the Redwoods, I headed east to Lake Tohoe, the largest alpine lake in North America. Lake Tahoe offers a wide variety of activities to locals and its visitors. Winter sports, summer outdoor recreation, and spectacular scenery are all there to be taken advantage of. The Nevada side of the lake also has large casinos and plenty of entertainment.
To explore the foodie scene, I spent two nights in the east end of South Lake Tahoe, a popular tourist destination with restaurants, shopping, hotels, and Heavenly Mountain Resort. For skiers, snowboarders, and adventure lovers Heavenly Mountain is the place to be. Overlooking emerald colored waters of Lake Tahoe, this resort is heavenly indeed.
The first place I stopped at for local beer and lunch was The Brewery, Lake Tahoe’s original brewpub. With its convenient location in South Lake Tahoe, The Brewery not only offers great selection of handcrafted ales, but also a full menu, which includes steaks, burgers, sandwiches, seafood, pasta, pizza, and salads.
My beer choice was light and refreshing wheat ale – White Out Wit (number 2 on the menu below).
Their Spicy Chicken Sandwich with the side of Coleslaw was delicious.
The second brewery I visited was Cold Water – all-grain brewery featuring hand-crafted beer brewed on site. Besides alcohol the brewery’s menu features a great selection of dishes. I especially enjoyed their appetizers and their flight of beer which offers samplers to satisfy every palate.
My very delicious and satiating dinner consisted of Truffle Parmesan Fries, Clam Boil served with toasted baguette,
and the brewery’s famous South Tahoe Loaf – a sourdough loaf served with the choice of Cheddar Beer Fondue or Kale Artichoke Dip (In this case the loaf was served with both the fondue and the dip).
And for a little treat, I stopped at Sugar Pine Bakery, a locally owned bakery. The bakery is popular for its beautiful cakes, brownies, pies, cookies, and other baked goods. All their products are baked every day to guarantee their freshness.
I ordered a scrumptious mini pumpkin pie.
In between my foodie adventures, I went on a short hike at Emerald Bay, which is located 11.2 miles north-east from South Lake Tahoe. Emerald Bay is a National Natural Landmark, which offers magnificent view of the bay and the surrounding area.
After taking in this spectacular view (the first image of the post), I walked down the Rubicon Trail to Emerald Beach.
While relaxing on the beach on a beautiful day, I watched children play in the water, kayakers paddle around, and an eagle soar in the blue ski, and I though about all the delicious food I had on this leg of my road trip. Lake Tahoe with its great outdoors and a small but colorful foodie scene is a place to remember. Happy travels!
After crossing the Oregon border into California, I spent the night in Crescent City. Located on the Pacific coast in the northwestern part of California, about 20 miles south of the Oregon border, Crescent City is the site of the Redwood National Park headquarters.
For lunch that day, I had a Cobb Sandwich: turkey breast, bacon, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, and mayonnaise on grilled sourdough bread with a cup of Ministrone Soup at Good Harvest Cafe, a locally owned restaurant that serves traditional American food and has a full bar. The second floor of the restaurant offers harbor- view where you can sip on a cocktail and enjoy the view.
After lunch, I went to explore ancient trees at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. The park was named after first American explorer, Jedediah Smith, who traveled by land from the Mississippi River to California in 1826, passing through the area. To get to the park I took one of the most scenic redwood drives in California, Howland Hill Road, which passes through the center of the park. Located 9 miles east of Crescent City along the Smith River, the park offers 18 miles of hiking trails and over 100 camping sites.
Magnificent redwoods leaning against each other.
The next morning before leaving Crescent City, I went on a short walk at the harbor. It was a beautiful morning – the sun was shining brightly and a light breeze was coming from the ocean.
After the walk, I headed south on U.S. Route 101 and stopped in Eureka for lunch. The city is located on the shores of Humboldt Bay, adjacent to theredwoods, 270 miles north of San Francisco and 100 miles south of the Oregon border.
I decided to try something exotic this time, so I went for Annie’s Cambodian Cuisine. I tried two dishes: Rice Vermicelli Noodle Salad: grilled pork, lettuce, cucumber, and bean sprouts served with house sauce, drizzled with coconut sauce, and topped with crushed peanuts.
Grilled Meat: grilled marinated meat served with homemade pickled vegetables, house sauce, and topped with crushed peanuts.
After delicious and satisfying lunch, it was time to drive in the direction of the Humboldt Redwoods State Park on the Avenue of the Giants, California’s third largest state park and the largest old-growth contiguous coastal redwood forest in the world. The park is named after the great nineteenth-century scientist, Alexander von Humboldt. Before continuing my beautiful drive through the 32 mile long Avenue of Giants, I grabbed some quality coffee to go from The Daily Grind in Myers Flat, a small town in the heart of the redwoods. I didn’t drive through the famous Shrine Tree though, which I should’ve done. Maybe next time.
Over 100 of the 137 known coastal redwood trees over 350 feet tall grow in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The average age of the redwoods is between 500 – 700 years old.
Walking among the redwood giants is one of a kind experience – a tree lover’s heaven I should say. Even though it was my second visit to the redwoods, I was in awe looking at and touching these resilient giants that stand the test of time by reaching for the skies. Happy travels!