Road Trip to San Francisco, CA: Vineyards and local inspiration - Day 3

It was our last full day in the Bay Area and Sunday Brunch at the Bay Grille was the perfect way to start off the morning. I decided on a Denver Omelet with sausage, croissant, and blueberry blintz. I love blintzes, especially with blueberries, one of my weaknesses! They also had a great selection of muffins from blueberry to oat bran to an almost coffee cake like muffin with a streusel on topping. The aroma alone was divine! Fresh fruit, yogurt, along with cereal rounded out a delectable array of selections.

  • Travel tip: Gold Hhonors and higher receive free breakfast every day of your stay. The registration staff will give you coupons upon check in.

In the late morning, we drove across the Bay Bridge to AT&T Park to meet our tour bus to experience the V. Sattui Winery  in St. Helena, CA, part of the Napa Valley Wine Country. The two-hour luxury coach ride to and from was so relaxing. On the way there, I was able to capture scenic shots of seemingly endless vineyards stretching across the hills. I can see why thousands upon thousands visit Napa Valley. It’s definitely not just for the wine but being able to awaken your other senses as well. I missed a great photo op of the largest Jack Rabbit I had ever seen. At first I thought I was looking at a dog, until it hopped across the field with those unmistakable rabbit ears held high. 

Road Trip to San Francisco, CA: Bay watch and clam chowder - Day 2

After a restful night’s sleep, breakfast was calling our names. The Bay Grille at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Berkeley Marina starts breakfast at 6:30am on the weekends along with an omelet station. I couldn’t resist as I needed to start my day with a healthy dose of protein. The chef made a spinach, mushroom, and cheese omelet for me and it was delicious. I added some bacon, sausage, and a fresh croissant. The “breakfast of champions” stared me in the face. With my coffee and orange juice, it was game time! The restaurant has a 180° view of the marina. We enjoyed watching people walking their canine companions as we enjoyed breakfast at our leisure.

Road Trip to San Francisco, CA: Modernism and seafood - Day 1

The drive from SoCal to NorCal can be a long one. But the drive through Central Valley is beautiful and puts the fragrance from all of the agriculture and trucks make recipes in your mind. The recipes I imagine the most are either marinara sauce or salsa. I always seem to be following or next to tomato, onion, and garlic trucks. In our case, it was a dark, lonely drive through the night as we reached Berkeley, CA a little after midnight.

Travel tip: It is much more cost-effective to stay in Berkeley versus San Francisco. The hotel rates are much less. You can drive, pay the toll, and pay for parking, which is still much cheaper than the cost to house your vehicle at the hotel in the city per night. You can also take the BART which will take you under the bay and connect to street cars and buses in the city. Bridge tolls are part of the FasTrak system. The center lanes are for the transponders and can get you into the city much quicker.

The DoubleTree by HiltonHotel Berkeley Marina is off the beaten path and a very quiet hotel. It sits right on the marina. The fog gave the morning a soft light to wake up to. Our room faced the courtyard where beautiful purple flowers bloomed. This hotel is also dog-friendly and many guests walk their dogs in the morning along the marina. After breakfast, we decided just to hang out for the day and recover from the long drive the night before.

California Gold BBQ Rub presents “Heroic!” + recipes by OC Food Diva

California Gold BBQ Rub is a side arm of the Tastee BQ Grilling Co., a catering company based out of Los Angeles, CA. Heroic! is their second blend of SuperFoods – including garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and cocoa. Heroic! is gluten-free and has no added salt or sugar. The spice blend is very aromatic and lends itself well to marinades and wet or dry BBQ rubs. Below are two recipes that I made using Heroic! as the base. 

Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards + ceviche recipe

Even though we are in the middle of October, SoCal is still seeing summertime temperatures. Wild Horse Winery has teamed up with Chef Santos MacDonal to share his Shrimp & Scallop Ceviche recipe. Chef Santos owns Il Cortile which encompasses a Mediterranean approach to California food and wine. His latest restaurant, La Cosecha (which means harvest) focuses on Spanish and South American cuisine – simple food paired with wine.

2013 Viognier started with grapes from the Central Coast near Paso Robles. The 2013 growing season was 70% drier than average, yet temperatures and overall conditions were favorable. It produced a slightly higher than average crop with fruit from Wild Horse Estate, Nevarez, and Fralich. From bin to press, free-run juice was separated from the press fraction to maintain pH balance and avoid bitterness from the tannins. Fermented in tanks and transferred to neutral French oak barrels at 17° Brix to complete fermentation. The wine aged sur lie in neutral French oak for six months prior to blending and bottling. Tasting notes: Lychee, citrus, and stone fruit aromatics experienced; Peach flavor experienced on the front of the palate and lemon on the back end; Food pairing: Chicken and light pasta dishes. Rating: 3.6/5 stars 

To read more, see recipe, and slideshow, please visit:

Product Review: Blue Isle’s Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads

Cream cheese has been the American favorite spread for bagels and used as an ingredient for sweet and savory dips and treats. If you’re looking for a healthier alternative that’s rich in calcium, contains probiotics (for digestive health), and no added sugar, Blue Isle’s Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads are on the market and can be found in the dairy aisle. A 2-tablespoon serving has only 60 calories and 6 grams of fat (40% fewer calories and total fat than cream cheese). The ingredients are natural and OU Kosher certified.

The Original is creamy, tangy, and anything but plain. This is for the purist. This would be great as a spread for a sandwich, a bagel, or as a base for your favorite vegetable or chip dip. Rating: 4/5

Melissa’s Deluxe Pantry Box Recipe Series: Quinoa Cranberry Pudding Parfait

Melissa’s Deluxe Pantry Box in this post was provided by Melissa’s Produce but the opinions expressed here are my own.