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White Wolf Lodge Update, 2014

Meant to add to my report: yes, the phone lines are down but they do have internet by satellite (in the office only, not for guests, and email isn't an option for making a dinner reservation). The satellite is used mostly to order supplies and run credit cards, so yes, they accept all major credit cards as payment for meals.

Jul 21, 2014
susancinsf in California

White Wolf Lodge Update, 2014

I will be in Glen Aulin for two nights in two weeks (with yet another stay at White Wolf to acclimatize first. Life is rough :-)) and will report back on the food. Very excited! I can report that we stayed and ate at the May Lake High Sierra Camp for one night last year and the food was excellent. One note about the backcountry camps: unlike Tuolumne Meadows and White Wolf, alcoholic beverages are not available for sale. You either pack in your own, or if you are really thinking ahead and your wine really matters to you, there is a way to have it shipped in by mule back, but that is quite expensive, and I am not sure if it will be possible to arrange in advance given that the phones are down....

Jul 21, 2014
susancinsf in California

White Wolf Lodge Update, 2014

I've been lucky enough to be in Yosemite National Park several times already this summer (we do live relatively nearby), and have had three dinners and a few breakfasts at White Wolf Lodge on the Tioga Road. Thought I'd do a quick update for those looking for spots to eat in the park. In the past few years, the food at White Wolf has disappointed (even by not-too-high Yosemite standards) but they have a new chef, or something, and we've been very pleased this year. A few pointers and thoughts:

-White Wolf is a good option if you are driving on the Tioga Road, and would even be a viable option for those staying in the Valley if you've been out hiking or visiting the high country for the day. You don't need to stay at the tent cabins at the lodge to eat there, (although it is a great place to stay), the restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner (no lunch served, other than bag lunches you can order the night before if you are a lodge guest).

-the phones are currently down all along the Tioga Road, including in Tuolumne Meadows and at White Wolf, and are likely to be down for a long time (indeed, there is some question as to whether they can be fixed at all: the main phone line was buried several weeks ago in a massive rock slide). So, while reservations are accepted if you are there in person (so you could stop by in the am for a dinner reservation that night) it means that you don't need to make a reservation: show up for one of the four seatings and they should be able to seat you. (don't show up at nine pm expecting to eat, however, dinner ends early. I think the last seating is at 7:45 p.m. although I did see some folks come in at eight and get seated).

-all dinners are family style and you will eat with strangers. There is a fixed menu that varies by day of the week, with vegetarian and other special diet options available on request (at one dinner they made a delicious- looking pasta dish to order for a patron with a number of allergies that coincided with the ingredients in the main offerings.) Dinner as a fixed price meal with soup, salad, main course and veggies/sides, and dessert, but while they don't advertise it they will serve just soup and salad (plus bread) for a lower price (although I forgot to ask what that lower price is). Beer and wine are available for purchase, and we saw folks bring their own bottles as well.

-the full four course dinner is $29 for four courses, there is a $4 senior discount for ages sixty and over, and I think children under 12 are also less. A full buffet breakfast is $12 (with a slight senior discount); continental breakfast which includes hot cereal is $7.95 (no senior discount on the continential breakfast). All meals are all you can eat (served on platters family style, and just ask for more if you want it). While it isn't cheap, prices are reasonable for the remote location and the limited dining options in the vicinity (closest other restaurants at in Tuolumne Meadows and Yosemite Valley, each about 40 to 45 minutes drive away; or you can get groceries at Crane Flat, about a 20 to 30 minute drive away).

-As mentioned, menus vary by day of the week: we've had Saturday's steak dinner twice, and the flatiron steak was actually served medium rare as requested (yay), with a real baked potato and grilled asparagus, plus soup, a great tossed salad (with lettuce at one meal, a fresh spinach salad at another), and dessert. The veggie option one night was a stuffed belled pepper. We've also had the Friday night option of chicken 'fajitas', which was really grilled pieces of chicken, grilled veggies, rice and beans, served with salsa, warm tortillas you could make into a sort of burrito (along with soup, salad and dessert). Not as good as the steak, but decent.

-I've had three different soups, and all have been housemade and very good to excellent (soups are all vegetarian). Desserts have been a highlight: an excellent carrot cake one night, outstanding cheesecake another night, and a delicious apple pie. Whoever is making the desserts this year knows what they are doing.

-service otoh, is fairly amatuerish, but very friendly. Most of the staff are college students and recent grads enjoying some time in the mountains.

White Wolf Lodge will be closed all of the 2015 season for rennovations, to reopen in 2016. Hope they can keep the current chef. This is the first year in several that the food is good enough to put this one on the recommended list.

Jul 20, 2014
susancinsf in California

Big Island - Kohala Ranch and beyond.

I recall seeing their mushrooms in shops when I was there in May, so my guess is probably yes (?).

Jul 15, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Big Island - Kohala Ranch and beyond.

no, that makes sense, and please do report back on any places you try: We visit the BI as often as we can afford (or maybe even a bit more often than that :-)) and updates are always welcome!

Regarding the cooking at home: absolutely the way to go, even if the house weren't amazing. The quality of Big Island fish, meats and produce exceeds the quality of its restaurants, at least in my opinion. There is good dining there, but not much in the way of great dining, and yet lots of great ingredients.

Hawi has a Saturday Farmer's Market, by the way (I think), and Waimea has two on Saturdays...(as well as a mid-week market on Wednesday).

Edited to add: my email is in my profile: would love a private message with a link to the house you are staying in...especially if you end up loving it as much as you expect to do. Have fun!

Jul 15, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Maui and Big Island Report, Part III (Kona, Keahou and Holualoa)

Since I referred to this thread in another post, I will update it to report that Tacos del Mar is no longer in business, not a huge loss. There was a coming soon sign for another place that I think (?) was also Mexican. We did eat at Pine Tree Cafe this trip: it made a decent stop to get "plate lunch" type options to go to take to the beach for sunset options. Low prices, ok food, not memorable, but not bad. The hull hull chicken seems to be a favorite here, but they had just sold out when we ordered.

Jul 14, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Big Island - Kohala Ranch and beyond.

This thread has my long report on Holuakoa Cafe from a few years ago. Yes, it is a long drive and no, I wouldn't go back.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/746860

Jul 14, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Big Island - Kohala Ranch and beyond.

On my May visit, I liked Da Poke shack, but honestly am not sure it is road worthy all the way from Kohala Ranch area, unless one is heading to Kailua Kona anyway. For me it was very good, but not great. There wasn't much of a line when we went, and I was glad I didn't wait longer given the quality. I will say that it looked spotlessly clean and was well managed.

Village Burger was great. Highly recommended and one of our favorite meals this last trip. Be aware that there is almost no seating: two tables outside in the mall parking lot, a counter inside, and that's about it. You can call ahead and place your order and perhaps take it to picnic somewhere (although we ate there, and I am not sure how well the food would travel). There is also a food court next to it in the mall which has lots of tables, so presumably you could eat at one of those.

Food at Monstera in the Mauna Lani shops was fabulous on this, my second visit. However, service was 'relaxed' to the point of being annoying: LOONG waits between plates, we heard them tell a neighboring table about specials we weren't informed of, and bill was brought without asking if we wanted dessert...However, that wouldn't stop me from going again; the food really is that good.

Jul 14, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Reserving Vegetarian/vegan meal for flight?

As I read the descriptions above, 'Asian Veg' IS Indian vegetarian, they are not different items. Sounds like you should bring snacks.

Jul 13, 2014
susancinsf in Vegetarian & Vegan

Famous foods from your region you find tasty and delicious.

no to shoo-fly pie? Hubby hails from central PA, and years ago (perhaps before they stored pics and lots of information from passports on computers?) when his passport and all identifying docs were stolen in Rome, one of the questions the US Embassy asked him to establish he was who he said he was, after asking where he spent his childhood, was to describe shoo-fly pie.....In any case, I like it, more than much of the regional food I've tasted in that area.

He also remembers corn, pulled from the stalk and cooked within minutes, and sometimes just eaten raw. He remembers more than one August dinner that consisted of corn. and nothing else other than a bit of salt, pepper and butter.

I can also report that while I was born in and have lived most of my life in California (and agree with the obvious: we really do have some of the best produce anywhere), the best tomatoes I ever ate were in a salad in an otherwise forgettable restaurant in rural Western PA.

Speaking of obvious: San Francisco Bay Area: Dungeness Crab. Sourdough.

Jul 13, 2014
susancinsf in General Topics

Unique to SF or Cal - Must eats for out-of towners

My husband often tells the story of the first time he even saw an artichoke: it was shortly after he moved from central Pennsylvania to California, and a new friend served artichokes at a dinner party. He had to ask for help on how to eat it...

Jul 07, 2014
susancinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

authentic mexican in bakersfield, visalia and in between

great, looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Jul 01, 2014
susancinsf in California

2014 Monterey Peninsula Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

Thanks for the detailed report! Sounds like you ate well overall. Can you tell us how recently you were there?

Jul 01, 2014
susancinsf in California

authentic mexican in bakersfield, visalia and in between

La Perla Tapatia in Delano, just off the 99. I haven't been in a year or so and would love an update report. Lovely house made tortillas. On other sites people mention the shrimp tacos. I am a fan of their chicken soup. Here is my original report:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/790249

Jul 01, 2014
susancinsf in California

Itinerary Review (Kauai, Oaho, Big Island)

Indeed, to truly take advantage of the best of the food that Hawaii has to offer, IMO one also should try a bit of cooking with the distinctive ingredients that are hard to find elsewhere. Even coming from California where most anything is available if one looks a bit, I see fruit in the farmers markets in Hawaii that I've never tried before, even after multiple trips. and the markets are fun as well as a good way to learn more about those ingredients. But of course, shopping takes time and cooking a few meals is difficult when one is in a different locale every night or two.

Jul 01, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Itinerary Review (Kauai, Oaho, Big Island)

That sort of makes sense then, *other* than the fact that if the weather is at all iffy, I think you will regret your decision to take the saddle road after dark (and there really isn't that much to see or do at the Mauna Kea visitor's station unless the stars are out, so presumably you are timing it for after dark). Would be a total bust if it is cloudy or raining, and the road can be daunting in the (not uncommon) fog. (quite possible for the visitor's station to be above the fog, but not the rest of the road. If it is raining, you won't see stars anywhere along the route). Besides, the northern route from Honoka'a to Hilo is beautiful, with waterfalls and gardens that are gorgeous rain or shine. Edited to add: If you do insist on such craziness, I'd just do a light lunch/snack at Tex's and then have your early dinner at Merriman's rather than take the extra time to drive down to Waikaloa. My one unimpressive meal at Merriman's was at lunch, and I wonder if they aren't a better dinner place. Take a look at the lunch and dinner menus online: they do seem to be different.

Jun 30, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Itinerary Review (Kauai, Oaho, Big Island)

It was the part about going up to Honoka'a to have a snack at Tex and then back to Waimea for lunch, after breakfast in Waimea, that confused me the most. Perhaps the morning is being spent touring Waipio Valley? My point is that I don't think the backtracking to have lunch at Merriman's is worth it, but just my opinion. I'd have lunch with malasadas and keep going towards Hilo rather than head back Merriman's for lunch. and I wouldn't build an itinerary around the malasadas to begin with.....

I've never been to Miyo's and if there has been much reporting here about it, I've missed it. Would love to hear more if you have a recent report.

Jun 30, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Itinerary Review (Kauai, Oaho, Big Island)

Regarding Day 8: the itinerary confuses me. Take a closer look at the map, you are zigzagging back and forth, and I agree with other posters that Roy's isn't worth the zig zagging (not sure it is worth the stop period. If you are looking for an upscale dinner near Waikaloa, Monstera in the Mauna Lani shops beats the pants off of Roy's. On our last visit in May, hubby declared Monstera the best food he had on the Big Island (and I was inclined to agree, especially the outstanding seaweed salad), although we both found the service to be lacking. (on a previous visit when I sat at the sushi bar, service was fantastic). Monstera is open for lunch if that works better. Personally, I just don't get why you'd want to have dinner on the west side and then drive to Hilo after dinner, especially since that is when the saddle road (ordinarily fine these days) is more likely to be very, very foggy and deserted. I wouldn't hesitate to drive the saddle road these days but I WOULD hesitate to drive it at night.

I am not a Merriman's fan, personally, though I've only eaten there once. (I thought it was too pricey and food wasn't as good as I'd expect). But others seem to like it.

A lower end and quicker option in Waimea is VIllage Burger. Made to order, delicious burgers and if you ask for it rare, you get it rare. You can call ahead to order. On our trip to BI in May it was one of the best meals of our trip.

My recommendation for the post manta snack would be to be sure you get an accomodation with a fridge, and then get extra at Da Poke Shack and keep it in your fridge for after the snorkle. You will likely be cold and want a hot shower before you eat, and yeah, there isn't much open as late as it will be after all of that.

Also, unless there is a new Hawaiian Style Cafe that I am unaware of, the closest one to Kona is in Waimea, which means if you are staying in Kailua Kona proper, you will have to drive AT LEAST 45 minutes for breakfast. Otherwise, if you are staying up near Waikaloa, I am even more confused by your itinerary for Day 8: breakfast in Waimea, up to Tex's, back to Waimea for lunch, over to Waikaloa for dinner, THEN to Hilo? I thnk you need to make google maps your friend and rethink some of this itinerary, particularly this part of it. To further emphasize: some of what you are proposing MIGHT (emphasis on the MIGHT) make sense if the primary purpose of your trip is to eat. But, if the primary purpose is to eat, skip the Big Island and hit Maui instead. A lot of the places you list are good, but certainly not good enough that you will want to give up seeing what is best about the Big Island (its underwater wonders, its historical sites, the Volcano, wandering in its farmer's markets, its small towns to wander in) in order to eat there...especially if you are coming from New York. IMHO of course..

Jun 29, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Itinerary Review (Kauai, Oaho, Big Island)

yes, I concur. A better stop than Punalu'u in my opinion.

Jun 29, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Itinerary Review (Kauai, Oaho, Big Island)

Island Naturals is in Hilo and thus 45 minutes or so backtrack in the wrong direction assuming the OP is staying in Volcano the night before as the itinerary implies. Options are fairly limited in Volcano, but many accomodations include breakfast, probably for that reason. Or try the Kilauea Military camp: open to the public and getting good reports, although I've never been.

Regarding Hana Hou: I've never been but you will be there too early to want lunch unless you hang out a while in Volcano before going over to the Kona side. You might want to consider lunch at Super J's this day instead of day 11, as it is very much out of your way once you are in Kona proper, your itinerary is too ambitous already, and you won't want to backtrack to go there. We really liked it, but as a stop on the way to Volcano, not as somewhere I'd drive back from Kona to go to after spending a week doing way too much driving already.

Regarding Punalu'u Bake shop: first of all, it isn't very far from Hana Hou, so the only reason to stop there would be to get food for later. I wouldnt bother. We stopped there on our last trip, and were so overwhelmed by the touristy nature of the place, number of people (around lunch time) and LOUD music that totally destroyed what little 'out of the way' ambiance the place had, that we used the admittedly very nice and clean (and large, they get tourist bus traffic) restrooms, and left. You've been warned. I refuse to believe you can't get snacks just as good elsewhere without the hype.

Jun 28, 2014
susancinsf in Hawaii

Interesting eats along I-80 between SF and Auburn?

For those who don't know I-80 as well as you, that would be Douglas Blvd exit in Roseville I believe.

Jun 25, 2014
susancinsf in California

What foods have you made and then decided store bought was good enough, thank you, based upon cost, time, and taste?

I have told this story on CH before: but a number of years ago at a Sedar I served two types of gefilte fish: from the jar, and some freshly house made that I spent a small fortune for at my local high end fishmonger. The group was split completely along cultural and religious lines: those of us who came from Jewish households and grew up eating the stuff from the jar, ranked it as much better (and it is a LOT cheaper when purchased on sale). However, every person who was tasting gefilte fish for the first time, definitely preferred the 'homemade' version.

Jun 23, 2014
susancinsf in General Topics

What foods have you made and then decided store bought was good enough, thank you, based upon cost, time, and taste?

I add butter to my home made applesauce, which definitely elevates it above store-bought. (Ingredients are apples, a little butter, a little apple juice). However, I only make it on special occasions, and rely most often on store bought. I almost never make jams or preserves and we don't eat that much of them. However, I really should make plum jam this year given my once again overly prolific back yard plum tree ....

I more or less agree with the quote about the taste of pumpkin pie, but unless we are discussing cooking the pumpkin from scratch, they really aren't much trouble to make.

Jun 23, 2014
susancinsf in General Topics

Growing veggies in the front yard

Cut off the ends of the zucchini, shred the squash coursely as is (no need to peel) with a cheese grater, then freeze in small freezer bags. When winter comes, you can add it still frozen to stews and soups, meatloaf (I know, not in your house, but for others :-)), spaguetti sauce, and more. Uses up a lot of those squash, you feel virtuous.

Jun 18, 2014
susancinsf in Gardening
1

Growing veggies in the front yard

We used to have a prolific, large fig tree in our front yard. No one ever took the figs, although I attributed that to the fact that figs weren't that popular (this was a number of years ago, before I was enlightened to the deliciousness of the fig, so we didn't pick many either). One day, my door bell rang: it was a passer-by noting that the figs were ripe, and would I mind if she took a few. I happily encouraged her to fill a huge paper bag I gave her.

Now that I have come to appreciate figs, my neighbor has a prolific tree that he doesn't trim often, and that has several large branches that hang into our yard. The other neighbor has a meyer lemon tree that hangs into our yard. I figure if the branch is above our property, we don't need to ask to harvest that part of it. Indeed, the neighbor with the meyer lemon tree came over to ask us if we wanted the entire harvest: she never picked or used them!

Jun 16, 2014
susancinsf in Gardening
1

Bing Cherries from Christopher Ranch in Gilroy

I saw a few open stands around Hollister on my day trip to Monterey the weekend before this past one; didn't stop to check them out.

But yes, it might too late for this year. My back yard bing cherries (in the Central Valley) were all harvested well before Memorial Day. Quality was very good, but (as may be true with the commercial cherries as well) it was a bad year in terms of quantity.

Jun 12, 2014
susancinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Turtle Tower, Lers Ros, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, La Ciccia (San Francisco: Day 3)

Ice cream just because and THEN dinner at LaCiccia. My kind of evening! :-) Thanks for the report.

Jun 04, 2014
susancinsf in San Francisco Bay Area
2

Los Banos taqueria

What do you like at Cutija? I've thought of stopping several times....what to try when finally I do?

Jun 04, 2014
susancinsf in California

La Villa de Jerez, Hollister (East Street location)

Hollister is a cute town and worth the detour, although note that while it is only a few miles off the 152/156 route, it is about 12 - 15 miles off of 101....

Jun 02, 2014
susancinsf in California

La Villa de Jerez, Hollister (East Street location)

one possible edit: there is a long bar along one side of the room, and I think (?) I recall seeing cocktails on the menu, but now that I think about it more, I am not sure they really do serve a full range of cocktails since neither one of us was interested in anything alcoholic beyond the one beer....

Jun 02, 2014
susancinsf in California