Grand Tour Day 2

Standing in front of a casino in Jackpot, Nevada. We have just lost $35.00 but we’re happy. In a few minutes we will be leaving Nevada and crossing into Idaho. Once into Idaho, we started seeing farms and more farms. In Nevada, all we saw was desert and casinos.


Burley, Idaho

Staying at the Marriott, Radison.

“It’s a Sunday, so, there are only two restaurants open in town.” I scratch my head.

I look at the menu and hear a voice in my head,  “Kundan, you’re not in California anymore.”


Very nice indoor pool with spa. All to ourselves. Swam laps, went in spa, back in pool, back in spa, back in pool.  Totally relaxed. A great way to finish a day of driving a car.

Tomorrow, Yellowstone.


Eating the Bay 5

The B Star Bar, San Francisco, CA

It was my good fortune that my shakuhachi teacher’s daughter has moved to San Francisco from Japan to attend University. That meant that Kaoru combined a teaching trip to LA with a trip to SF to see his daughter. He was staying with one of his students, Karl Young. I had been invited to have dinner after my lesson.

Karl and his wife Sue live in the Richmond District in a nondescript apartment building; until you enter the lobby. It’s all restored 1940’s architecture. A hidden jewel.  Sue and, then, Karl, then Emi (Kaoru’s daughter) arrived during my lesson. Karl ‘s lesson followed mine.  After lessons, we all sat for a while in a very lively talk about art while sampling an excellent chocolate beer.

Primed and ready to go, we are led by Karl and Sue a few block way to the B Star Bar. A small Burmese restaurant. We’re lucky in that there is one table available for the five of us. Karl and Sue give us advice, starting with the Tea Leaf Salad. We also order various dishes that we share or not. The restaurant stocks a Belgian Chimey Beer. A marvellous complex mixture of flavours. I need to do a beer tour of Belgium some day! The Tea Leaf Salad is mixed at the table. A few bites and I know why they insisted that we order it. Everything is superb. So many flavours mixed perfectly. I am swooning. As we are leaving, I say to the waitress, “I didn’t think food could taste this good.”

Five stars, must go!

PS- Up the street is the original Burmese Superstar that the B Star Bar is spun off from. Same food.

Eating the Bay 3

Venus Cafe- Berkeley, CA

The morning after Picasso found me walking down Shattuck looking for a cafe that had been recommended for breakfast. Getting farther and farther from downtown. Slowed down. Did I come too far? A few yards ahead, something different. Somehow inviting. The Venus Cafe. Read the menu in window and entered. Waitress with a bright smile took my order for a cappuccino that came just as I finished perusing the menu. Ordered the Warm Poached Egg Salad. “Two poached eggs on a nest of mushrooms with tomato, goats cheese, mixed greens with tapenade toast.” The cap was in a little bit smaller cup than I had been served at other places. Just a little foam on the top. Dark brown underneath. Full rich flavour. This is what a cappuccino should taste like.

My food arrived just as I finished the cap. The poached eggs had large round balls of yolk containing a deep bright color inside. They sat on top of the mixed greens with the nest of mushrooms under all. A light dressing. I was able to finish the toast this time. After I had cleared my plate, the waitress asked how I liked my meal. I said, “I wish I didn’t have to stop eating.” All other breakfasts will be measured by this one. If you are ever in Berkeley, check it out. They use organic and local ingredients.

Eating the Bay 1

Homemade Cafe, Berkeley

My first morning in Berkeley, my couch-surfing host recommended the local cafe. We were in a residential neighbourhood away from the main commercial areas. I had seen the cafe when I had eaten at the Bread of India Restaurant the night before. It is on the corner; a traditional looking cafe. Big sign in the window “Sunrise Special 7-9 am $4.95”.

I arrived at 8:30 and found a seat at a small table near the kitchen area. Ordered a cappuccino and a Sunrise Special; two eggs (scrambled), fried potatoes with a large dollop of sour cream on top and toast.

The cap was passable, the eggs were light and cooked just right, the potatoes were cubed and fried nicely and plentiful (not too greasy). I couldn’t finish the toast. I was stuffed. The table had a pot of medium hot salsa that I used to help digest it all. For that kind of meal it was good. I enjoyed it. It kept me going until dinner time that evening. It was the kind of food that I can enjoy once in a great while.

What I really liked about the Homemade Cafe was it’s relaxed friendly happy feeling. The staff were joking with each other. There was that atmosphere of customers who came to be amongst each other even if they weren’t talking to each other. People reading the paper or a book. A few talking. An old-fashioned neighbourhood cafe.