Food & Wine News

The magnificent Mendocino County Coast taken from the Little River inn, California.Story and Photos By Lee Daley.

Now is the time to indulge in a getaway to Mendocino County. It’s all there, breathtaking beauty, surf, sand, a rocky coastline, world-class botanical gardens, and an oceanfront artistic village. A destination worth flying to from anywhere in the US, Mendocino County offers an idyllic interlude within a three-hour drive from  San Francisco.



San Francisco’s Top of the Mark Celebrates 50 Years

San Francisco skyline view of Transamerica Pyramid from Top of the Mark, Nob Hill, San FranciscoStory and Photos By Lee Daley

San Francisco Top of the Mark atop the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel is now celebrating the hotel’s 50-year anniversary. The iconic 19th-floor sky lounge has updated its live music roster to include acclaimed local musicians such as Nick Rossi and his Swing Four. Celebrate Easter Brunch with live piano music and unlimited Bellinis surrounded by spectacular views of the City and the Bay.



Celebrate Holidays in the Hills at Claremont Club & Spa

Golden Gate bridge view, Limewood Bar and RestaurantBy Lee Daley
Claremont Club & Spa: Create memories to treasure with a celebration of this year’s Holidays in the Hills at the Berkeley-based Limewood Bar and Restaurant’s outdoor dining deck. Here is where you’ll find stunning sunset views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Mount Tamalpais. Or choose the inside dining room and convivial bar, equally memorable. Look for farm-to-table dishes at this “castle on the hill” sitting at the base of Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve. A longtime favorite, Limewood is part of the Claremont Club & Spa whose amenities boast an impressive spa, and tennis courts. a seasonal skating rink, fitness center, and more. I recently visited the Limewood and found the views, the cuisine, and the ambiance the perfect setting for a romantic and relaxing interlude. Perfect to celebrate the holiday season, it’s long been a popular local destination as well.



Calaveras County: A Place for all Seasons

Photographers flock to the tree-lined garden path at Ironstone Vineyards in Calaveras CountyStory and Photos by Lee Daley.

When it comes to year-round activity, Calaveras County, a 2.5-hour drive from anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, has it all. Truly a place for all seasons, this is where outdoor activities, wine tasting, fine dining and just plain “fun in the sun” thrive. Here in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, you’ll find more ways to unwind than you can shake your bathing suit at. And to unwind any time of day, the county’s prize-winning wineries beckon. One thriving community with the unique moniker of Murphys boasts more than two dozen wine tasting venues along its downtown promenade. Take in its art galleries. Attend live theater events. Or stroll through its green community park with its bridge-covered creek and shaded picnic tables. Add in free summertime concerts in the park. Calaveras County beckons.




kitchen-Limewood-Bar-BerkeleyStory by Lee Daley.

Date night Winemaker Dinner to go: Coming soon and not to be missed, Executive Chef, Joseph Paire of Berkeley’s Limewood Restaurant, in partnership with La Crema winemaker Craig McAllister, will present an unmatched 4-course wine paired dinner to-go dinner for two on Friday, January 22, 2021. The perfect date-night evening will begin with a 30-minute Zoom session featuring the dynamic duo.



Chardonnay & Croquet at Sonoma Cutrer Winery

Sonoma Cutrer Winery

Story by Lee Daley with Photos by John Sundsmo and Lee Daley

Sonoma County is known for its excellent Chardonnay wines and those produced at Sonoma Cutrer Winery are no exception. Tucked away on a lush hillside in Windsor, Sonoma Cutrer may be one of the few places in Sonoma where you can play croquet and indulge in a picnic on beautifully manicured tree-shaded grounds all in the same day



Pacifica: The Beaches Are Only the Beginning

Pacfica,, CA, Rockaway Beach "Watchin' the tide roll in.", Sunset golden reflections on the waves, Taken about 5 p.m. as the sun was descending into the horizon.Story and Photos by Lee Daley     I’ve always known Pacifica’s coastline boasts just about the best and most diverse five-mile span of beaches in Northern California. I thought I knew it well. Until I extended my usual day-trip to two nights and three days in this quintessential surfer haven beach town, I had no idea how much I was missing. I soon discovered the beaches are only the beginning.



In Kauai, a bumper crop of food trucks

In Kauai, a bumper crop of food trucks, rainbow over the ocean, beach combing on Kauai's north shoreStory and Photos by Lee Daley.    The Hawaiian island of Kauai serves up cuisine that is both hot and cool. Hot as in haute and cool as in food trucks. Any stay on the Garden Isle offers a cornucopia of dining choices and so, on a recent visit, I went exploring for both haute and cool. My first priority was to find that special food truck, that secret find, where very fine island food could be had for a fair price  As it turned out, I lucked into two that spoke of authenticity and distinct island flavor. For my culinary caper in paradise, I signed up for a food tour with a mom and pop outfit, Tasting Kauai, run by food writer Marta Lane and her photographer hubby, Daniel. The food loving duo host culinary tours throughout the island with an emphasis on local, natural and delicious. Here’s my take on the food truck, mom and pop eatery scene, on Kauai’s North Shore.  


San Miguel de Allende at Hotel Matilda

San Miguel de Allende at Hotel Matilda, mural walkway, Our Lady of Guadaloupe, Mexico

San Miguel mural walkway

Story and Photos by Lee Daley.

For a soul soothing stay in San Miguel de Allende, Hotel Matilda, the “hotel different,” is an eye-opener. When you travel to a Mexican colonial city that has been designated a World Heritage Site, you might expect to stay in a well-preserved restored mansion turned hotel. And, in San Miguel, you would have your choice of some of Mexico’s finest examples of Baroque and Neoclassical architecture.The city’s historic center is filled with buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries, many lovingly restored.


Casa Majani at Punta de Mita, Mexico

Casa Majani sunset over the Bay of Banderas, Punta de Mita, MexicoStory and Photos by Lee Daley.    Approaching Punta de Mita on a bright fall day, the flawless sky a cerulean blue, I knew I was in for something special. The warm breeze felt like a caress; its clarity etched the curves of the Sierra Madre Mountains creating an epic backdrop to the famed Bay of Banderas and the valley below.



Rave Reviews for Rancho La Puerta’s La Cocina Que Canta

La Cocina Que Canta,Yawning sunrise, La Cocina Que Canta,Story and Photos by Sephanie Levin.     Snippets of independent, quiet conversations from our little band of hikers erupted as an umbrella of oak trees narrowed to a dirt trail that ascended, descended, twisted and ascended again before leveling out. I had signed on for the pre-dawn two-mile hike up to La Cocina Que Canta, translated as “The Kitchen That Sings,” Rancho La Puerta’s organic garden and cooking school. I’d never actually hiked anywhere before the sun came up; in fact, I don’t like to get up before sunrise, but the opportunity to enjoy breakfast at La Cocina Que Canta with ingredients from the renown organic garden was too irresistible to pass up. As the hike progressed, the serenity, the crunch of our shoes on the dirt, the aroma of sages, salvias and shrubs peaked my senses.



In Dharamsala. Finding my Cup of Tea

Story and Photos by Lee Daley.    Dharamsala came to light on the world map in 1959 when His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet and subsequently established his “government in exile” there. Upwards of 100,000 Tibetan exiles have since settled in Dharamsala with most of them living in the village of McLeod Ganj near the higher elevation of the city. Also known as a hill station, Dharamsala’s name means “spiritual dwelling,” because it originated as a resting place for trekkers on pilgrimage.




Downtown Napa: Sipping and Savoring

Angele Restaurant, rustic French fare in an old boathouseStory and Photos by Lee Daley    If you haven’t checked into Downtown Napa’s vibe for some time, you’re in for quite a treat.  The city is experiencing a thriving renaissance with an explosion of new restaurants, wine tasting rooms, nightlife and trendy shops. For good measure, add in the Napa River walk, outdoor sculptures, expanded walking and biking paths and you’re spoiled for choice.
Story by Lee Daley with Photos by John Sundsmo and Lee Daley.     Napa Valley’s Carneros AVA adds another winery to its map with the opening of Liana Estates. The winery fulfils a long cherished dream of its founders, Lisa and Ariana Peju of the Peju Province Winery family. Liana Estates is an experience-focused winery providing visitors with immersive experiences that embrace each of the five senses. The focus will be on offering an ever-changing selection of high-quality wines and bubbly while connecting visitors to the breathtaking scenery of Napa Valley and San Pablo Bay. This fall, several immersive experiences will include wellness activities like yoga, culinary classes and chef-centric vineyard dinners paired with wine selections. While these experiences are growing in popularity in Wine Country, Liana is eager to offer guests unique all-inclusive experiences that both stimulate and soothe the senses.

Dinner at Sea with Holland America Line

Dinner at Sea with Holland America Line, our cruise ship awaits as we explore Half Moon Cay, Holland America Line, Nieuw Amsterdam,Story and Photos by Lee Daley. “Where are we eating next?” became the favorite game my husband and I played during our brief four-night cruise from Ft. Lauderdale to Nassau aboard Holland America Line Nieuw Amsterdam.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner at sea gave us ample opportunity to sample the offerings of the Holland America Line kitchen and the ambience of its restaurants. Our cruise included two outings on land; one on Half Moon Cay, a private island owned by Holland America and the other a stop in port at Nassau. Except for lunch in those two ports, we hopscotched from one on-board eatery to the next. And in almost a dozen meals at sea, we never met with disappointment.


Lake County: Northern California’s Sweet Spot

Lake County: A Sweet Spot Getaway north of San Francisco, Olive Groves at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill,Olive Groves at Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill, Kelseyville, CA, Lake CountyStory and Photos by Lee Daley     Drive a few hours north of downtown San Francisco and a different world awaits. On a recent weekend getaway, my city stress lessened and lessened, almost in layers, and finally just plain disappeared once my ramble north landed in the land of lakes, aptly named Lake County. With dormant winter chill now giving way to warmer, sunnier days, I found a haven of rolling hillsides and emerald green valleys nestled in the grandeur of mountainsides. Grape vines and trees are just starting to open their buds, lake fishing looks good and goats in the valleys are having their kids.

A mythological wine tasting with Georgós Nu Wines

Georgós Nu Wines, Greek red wine, organic, hand harvested, Georgós Nu Wines imports grapes from Greece where they are shipped to the US and blended, then bottled in Sonoma, CA. Some of the grapes are grown here in Santorini on ancient, old-growth vines. vinesStory and Photos by Lee Daley     “Come. Taste my wines and experience the glory of Greece.” So said Georgós Zanganas, company founder of Georgós Nu Wines. And so our small group of wine lovers gathered in San Francisco to listen to the myths and taste the wines made from grapes organically grown and fermented in Greece on family land. We dined on complimentary bites accompanied by tastings of his five premium varietals, each symbolically named for iconic Greek islands and gods. I was fascinated with the homage given to the gods of Georgós homeland as much as I savored the uniquely palatable tastings.

Brac Island. Croatia: Sun, Sea and Stone

Brac Island. Croatia: Sun, Sea and Stone,, Croatia Dalmation Coast, In Croatia:, Being on Brac, Island of Stone and Sea, Bol Boat HarborStory and Photos by Lee Daley.  In Croatia, aboard the Katarina Line Futura:  As we watched deckside, our small cruise ship anchored alongside the Dalmatian Coast shore of Brac Island and its Golden Horn Beach, known as one of Europe’s most beautiful. Holding just 38 passengers, the Futura’s compact size fits into ports large ships can’t handle. Our eager group of sunbathers easily disembarked and clambered aboard small boats for the short ride to the coast line’s golden sands. Once ashore, my companion and I decided to meander. Sunbathing could come later.    

Rangoon Renaissance: Staying at The Strand

Shwedagon PagodaStory and Photos by Lee Daley.     Burma is now on many world travelers’ “A” list. With the release of Nobel Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest and her subsequent triumphant election campaign, tourism to the country is at an all-time high. Decades of international isolation have left the former British colony’s major city, Rangoon, with an enduring colonial charm that has pretty much disappeared elsewhere in Asia.


Burma’s Best: The Strand Hotel Story and Photos by Lee Daley.     Rangoon, Burma’s bustling metropolis is like a living museum where traditional tea houses, pagodas and temples sit side by side with grand edifices like the Strand Hotel built during the days of British colonialism. Among these treasures is the 2,500 year old Shwedagon Pagoda considered the most magnificent Buddhist shrine in all of Asia. During the Colonial Era, when Rudyard Kipling sailed up the Yangon River, he wrote of his sighting of the pagoda’s golden dome upon the horizon as his vessel neared the city. That glistening stupa still dominates today, both architecturally and symbolically.


Head “Down East” for Maine Lobster

Story and Photos by Lee Daley.     The expletive, “get crackin,!” takes on new meaning when faced with a Maine lobster. A culinary challenge worth every crunch, consuming the Homerus americanus known more colloquially as the American lobster, is a rewarding hands-on experience. Considered the “King of Seafood”, lobsters are harvested along the entire New England coast but Maine is considered “Lobster Central.”  Every Maine fishing cove harbors its own distinct clan of fishermen and women who “fence” their traditionally defined territories with brightly painted buoys.

Dining around: Boston

dining around BostonStory and Photos by Lee Daley.   On a recent visit, I explored Boston’s culinary scene and came away impressed with the distinctly diverse dining options available in this seacoast city. Along with a memorable meal, I looked for an ambiance that was quirky, artistic or historic, for an added vibe befitting a place that bills itself as the “Athens of America.” Each of these four Boston eateries earned high marks for a distinct sense of place.