Monday, June 29, 2015

Brad Pitt Ate Here!

You'd never believe it if I just told you that Brad Pitt (yes, THAT Brad Pitt) eats at Zippy's. So here's proof:

Brad Pitt bought one of those "HUGS Heart" cards, wrote his name on it, and taped it to the wall of the Zippy's Manoa dining room near the entrance. How nice of him.

What? What are you talking about? Sure, he did that. Lookit the card! It has his name on it. You mean ... you mean ... noooooo, it's real, I tell ya! REAL!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Azura Hotel in Santa Rosa

During our recent overnighter in Santa Rosa, we stayed at The Azura Hotel, located on Healdsburg Avenue near downtown Santa Rosa.

The Azura refers to itself as a "boutique hotel." Actually, it's more like a really nice motel with nice appointments and amenities. But believe me, it's not bad ... not bad at all.

First of all, it has a neat room card. You don't have to insert it in the door handle. Instead, you just turn the little design on the card toward the matching design on the door handle, and the door unlocks. This is the first of this kind that I've ever seen.

The bed is top drawer. It's thick and tall like the one I had recently at the Luxor in Las Vegas.

It's very, very comfortable and it delivers one helluva good night's sleep. And isn't that what hotel beds are for anyway?

Only one problem – it's hard to climb into or onto because it's so high. I almost had to do a running start. Once I got on, I didn't want to get off because of the effort required.

They have Illy espresso coffee and custom coffee brewer all filled with water waiting for you when you arrive, and a large bottle of Pellegrino sparkling water as well.

It's the first time I've been given a complimentary bottle of sparkling water.

The shower is weird. How so, you may ask? Well, for one thing, there's no shower door to close. A large glass pane fronts the shower, but only halfway. Why? Because the shower head is mounted ... well, not on the wall, but on the ceiling. It's large, and round, and the water falls on you like an overhead rain shower. The bathroom floor got slightly wet during my shower.

Hand wash, body lotion, shampoo/conditioner and shower gel are all in refillable pump bottles of the non-removable persuasion. They all have a delightfully refreshing aroma.

Nice room, huh?

Oh, and when I checked out, I wanted to pay in cash, but they don't accept cash. What? They don't accept cash? You heard that right. The office girl said they had an "incident" a while back so the owner instituted a credit card-only policy. She never explained "incident."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Kendall-Jackson Winery Flowers

As promised, here are more of the beautiful flowers (roses) that grace the grounds of the Kendall-Jackson Winery that we visited on a recent day-trip to Santa Rosa.




Now ... don't you think you should visit the winery the next time you're in California wine country?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kendall-Jackson Winery

The wife and I originally were going to visit wineries on the second day of our visit to Santa Rosa, but when we got to the Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa a half hour before closing on our first day there, they'd already shut down for the day. No, correct that, they're closed on Mondays.

So we visited the nearby Kendall-Jackson winery instead, wandered the grounds for a bit, and did some shopping in their tasting room gift shop.

The main building is architecturally beautiful, with nice appointments both inside and out:


Their gift shop is stocked with great logo gifts and Kendall-Jackson wines:

And finally, the landscaped grounds are full of beautiful plants and flowers:

I'll show you more flowers next time.

As for wine tasting, the wife and I don't imbibe. Besides, the tasting counter was filled with amateur oenologists carrying on deep discussions with the pourers.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center

The very first thing the wife and I did after an hour and 15-minute drive north from Fremont to Santa Rosa, the principal city in the Napa-Sonoma wine haven of the San Francisco Bay Area, was head for the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center.

Schulz, you remember, is the creator of the deeply loved comic strip, Peanuts, and its lovable characters – Charlie and Sally Brown, Lucy and Linus Van Pelt, Schroeder, Rerun, Peppermint Patty, Woodstock, and of course, everybody's favorite beagle, Snoopy.

We'd tried to check into our hotel room, but it was 'way too early. But I'd anticipated that, used the GPS on my iPad Air2, and confidently headed for the museum.

Oops, I missed the off ramp for the street I needed to get to (it came up 'way too fast), and I ended up miles too far north before backtracking. Thankfully, there was an off ramp coming and we soon got there. Good thing too. This was a Monday and if we went on Tuesday, the museum would have been closed. Adult admission is $10, but seniors 62+ and kids 4-18 are $5, with younger kids free.

Gotta tell you, it's mostly comic strips – in display cases and on the walls, with special rooms devoted to Alice in Wonderland, sports, nostalgic photographs and the like. There's even a children's room where kids can learn how to draw and color the Peanuts characters.

Was it worth the long drive and the $5 admission? Hell yes. Enjoy my photos:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Stop the Presses!

Extra! Extra! This just in ... The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported yesterday that the Foo Fighters and their front man Dave Grohl can't finish their current tour.

Why? Well according to the newspaper, he braked his ankle. Yep, you read that right. "Grohl brakes his ankle," the story read. You can see the actual clipping to the left.

All I can say is ... here we go again. Whoever's in charge of headline writing, and whoever's in charge of news editing at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is/are living up to his/her/their reputation of inaccuracy and unprofessionalism.

I can just hear it in the newsroom: "Whoa, Ankle! WHOA!"

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Town of Niles in Fremont, CA

When the Fremont family went to breakfast one Sunday, none of us had any idea that the cafe we'd picked was in such a historic area of Fremont, California, yea, even the San Francisco Bay Area.

It was The Nile Cafe, which will be reviewed in my "A Place for My Taste" restaurant blog in the near future. The restaurant is on Niles Canyon Road at its terminus, and is in an old building on I Street in the historic Niles district.

Entering Niles is like going into the past. The main drag is lined with bars, gift shop and a goodly number of antique shops that only hint at what a bustling town it used to be. The old Southern-Pacific (now the Niles Canyon Railway) and the Western-Pacific (now the Union Pacific) passed through the town.

A couple of old train cars still are parked near the old depot that's now a train museum.

But my favorite discovery is that the old Essenay Studios, one of the earliest movie studios (1912-1916) was situated there. Its two biggest stars, Charlie Chaplin and Bronco Billy, made some of their most famous silent movies in Niles. Its legacy is the Niles Essenay Silent Movie Museum.

Niles was named in 1869 after Judge Addison C. Niles, who was later elected to the California Supreme Court. In 1956, Niles joined with the townships of Irvington, Centerville, Mission San Jose and Warm Springs to incorporate as the City of Fremont.

We had to return to the house soon after lunch, so I didn't get a chance to see the museums. That's okay; it gives me a reason to return.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Phone Pix 48: Produce

Although I consider myself a meat-atarian, I do enjoy some nicely prepared vegetable dishes, or a few juicy fruits right out of the fridge.

And, y'know, there's something quite appealing about the way produce managers in the market arrange their wares. It's so damned enticing, makes one want to fill the shopping cart.

Check out these phone pictures I took on April 20, 2015 at 99 Ranch Market in Fremont, CA (see what I mean?):