Sunday, March 29, 2015

Traditional California Fare

Greg and I ate at a lot of places in California. This week I am taking you to NorCal where we grabbed steak sandwiches at a roadside, classic Hollywood-themed diner called Josie's Star Cafe on our drive from the Oakland airport to Eureka, dined on vegan Mexican fare at Gracis Madre in the Mission in San Francisco, grabbed morning coffee and tea from the Blue Danube Coffee House in Alameda, chowed down on some delicious Japanese food (I got nikudon!) enjoyed a nice pre-flight "Original" chai blended, and so much more.

But I am going to focus on the Samoa Cookhouse located in Humboldt County. (For those keeping track, that's one county away from the Oregon border, so it's up there. This also means Greg and I spanned almost the entire length of the state of California in our 9 days of travel. And it wasn't enough.) 

The Samoa Cookhouse is possibly the last remaining "lumber style" cookhouse still operating. It dates to 1890! There is also a museum to the logging history of the area, which reminded me a little of our visit to the Hartwick Pines State Park last September. This may make me a dork, but I found it really interesting to contrast these two very different regions, so far apart, still sharing so much history. 

At the Samoa Cookhouse, you do not pick your meal from a list of varied options. If you want to pick your food, check the menu posted on their Facebook page and find a night whose menu sounds good to you. It changes and all diners are served the same delicious dishes family style. Here is what the website says:

Breakfast, served family style, can include eggs, french toast, pancakes, sausages, biscuits & gravy, hash browns, coffee and orange juice. Lunch and Dinner, served family style, include entrée, soup, salad, bread, vegetable, potato, coffee, tea and dessert.

My friend and former roommate from San Francisco days, Sherelle, works there now (and was our guide to True NorCal). The three of us went to the Cookhouse for breakfast and enjoyed biscuits and gravy (my favorite road food), scrambled eggs, French toast, bacon, orange juice, coffee... It was awesome. If you do not leave satisfied, you were clearly doing it wrong.

Humboldt maybe isn't the biggest destination in California, but it is absolutely gorgeous. Mountains, redwoods, the shoreline... It's also a vibrant place! And the Samoa Cookhouse is a unique spot that I'd frequent if I lived in the area. On the one hand, it's too bad there aren't more places like it. On the other, I like that it's special. :)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Two Geeky Places to Visit in the LA Area: Steampunk Coffee Bar & Kitchen and Game Haus

While my fiance Greg and I were vacationing in California earlier this month, we hung out at two really cool, kinda nerdy places outside Los Angeles: the SteamPunk CoffeeBar & Kitchen and Game Haus Board Game Cafe. We were told about the coffee bar while shopping at Clockwork Couture in Burbank. Located only a short drive away, the SteamPunk Coffeebar was more than worth it. I had the chicken strips and they were the best damn chicken strips ever! Ok, maybe the second best. My friend Sherelle makes some pretty spectacular chicken strips. But the SteamPunk strips were wonderful. Not greasy and not overwhelmed by batter. Loved them.

The nifty thing about the fries (the best fries ever from a restaurant - like my mother's homemade) was the choice of three dipping sauces. Garlic aioli was my favorite, but the curry ketchup was also pretty tasty. Our third sauce was recommended by the cashier, a habanero something. That last one was all right. I liked it - it wasn't too spicy. But not my favorite. I don't think Greg liked it at all.

What made this steampunk? The art on the walls mostly. What really marked this place for me was the food. I want more chicken strips!

The other place we visited that I wish we had here was Game Haus located just outside LA in Glendale. You pay a $5 cover to get in and have access to their envious number of board games. Play all day or just a few hours, the choice is yours. There is a lovely selection of sandwiches named after popular games, like the Turkey to Ride, which was delicious. Also available are pastries, munchies, coffee and ten drinks... Just about anything you could want while hanging out with your friends playing board games.

As for games? Too many to name. We enjoyed a new game (for us) called Dixit. I liked it! And not just because I won. It's sort of a word game, sort of a picture game. It involves being clever. I like clever. We tried to play Takenoko, what we nicknamed "the panda-feeding game," because it looked cute. It was also a little too complicated for a group of new players with limited time. So instead we played a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity. (Classic.)

So that was the beginning of our food adventures in California. If you live in the LA area, check these places out! (Yes, I know that's a lot of ground to cover.) If you visit LA and you like these kinds of nerdy things you should definitely check them out! If nothing else, do it for the chicken strips. Mmm... Chicken strips.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I've Returned

Greetings from my new 2-in-1 tablet-laptop.  I'm actually writing this, not typing it. DREAM COME TRUE. 

Anyway, I just got back from vacation in California, so I don't have a lot to post about just yet. We visited restaurants and had some great home cooking while we were out  there, then had next to nothing in the cupboards when we arrived home. I had a cup of yogurt for breakfast and the cats mistook it for gushy cat food, crying the whole time, thinking I was holding out on them.

I will post about some of the places we stopped and ate at soon. For now, I rest and re-acclimate to the weather and time zone. (And the stupid time change.)