apple huckleberry pie may flowers and silent auction gnocchi with morels and sage shrimp tatsuta-age


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postcards from california

I was away last week in California. I thought I might get a chance to post from Yosemite Valley, but the internets were unavailable and well… there were better things to do anyway! I took Kat with me because she had never been to Yosemite. We had to fix that and toss in an afternoon in San Francisco to boot. Here are my snaps (iphone and otherwise) from the trip!

We woke up at puke-thirty in the morning to catch our flight out of Denver and were rewarded with a glorious sunrise. We have pretty awesome sunrises in Colorado. You really have to experience a Colorado sunrise before you die.


from the long-term parking lot looking west

and the view east toward sunrise

the walkway in denver international airport



En route to Yosemite National Park, we passed through California’s Central Valley and stopped at my favorite taqueria (Taqueria La Estrella in Manteca). Say what you will about the Central Valley (one gentleman in the drugstore informed us that this was “the hood”), but that Mexican food will make you cry. In fact, that’s exactly what we did when we took our first bites.

how to choose what to order

salsa bar!!!!

crispy tacos with carnitas (omg!!) and pastor



Then it was onward to Yosemite, a special place any time of year, but wonderfully empty in autumn compared to summer standards. We toured the valley, saw the giant sequoias, and had a delightful dinner at the Mountain Lodge (with a view of Yosemite Falls, except it was pitch dark) with my mentor Michael and his charming wife. Surprisingly good quality food and cocktails!

a handful of remaining azaleas in the valley meadows

the grizzly giant sequoia

big leaf maples

layers of gold and green

this fat squirrel kept trying to sneak into the general store

a (stuffed animal) bear peering out the window

french onion soup at the mountain room in yosemite



The next day we traveled east to Tuolumne Meadows, Tioga Pass, Mammoth Lakes, Devils Postpile, Mono Lake… Jeremy and I have spent a lot of time in the Eastern Sierra, so this really felt like coming home to me. The weather was sunny and clear, which made travel over the Sierra Nevada perfect. You could easily spend weeks exploring the eastern side, but Kat and I only had a day. We made sure to hit up Schat’s Bakery in Mammoth Lakes (I like the one in Bishop more, but we didn’t have time), and the Whoa Nellie Deli which serves up great food considering it is 1) a Mobil gas station and 2) in the middle of bleeping nowhere (Lee Vining).

schat’s (bread, pastries, gourmet goodies, coffee)

whoa nellie!

on the jmt (john muir trail)

devils postpile

science!!!! (geology)

columnar basalt with glacial polish



I’ll get my Yosemite photos up soon, but in the meantime… We left the park Thursday morning and high-tailed it to San Francisco after stalking some strange plant/fruit, stopping at the taqueria once more, and raiding a Trader Joe’s on the way. Tartine was a must visit. We also hit Chantal Guillon for the French macarons, the Ferry Building, and Waterbar for happy hour oysters with my good friends Anita and Lisa. We began the day viewing sunrise in Yosemite Valley and ended it with dinner at R & G Lounge in San Francisco’s Chinatown with Irvin and Lisa. Amazing!

anyone know what this is?

lemon tartlet at tartine

i bought hazelnut chocolate and berry frangipane tartlets for jeremy and my parents

making quick work of the tartlet

sturgeon dip with chips at waterbar

$1 oysters for happy hour!

anita and lisa – two of my favorite gals

lisa and irvin at r & g lounge

salt and pepper crab

r & g special beef (secret recipe, so they say)

sautéed pea shoots (with peking duck and scallop egg white fried rice in the back)



We had so much fun eating our way through the city, meeting up with friends, and enjoying the incredible weather. I quite love California. I love to visit. But I knew when I walked through the snow into our house and Kaweah began to dance around me, licking my pants, that Colorado is home. Thanks, California. I’ll be back! xo

18 nibbles at “postcards from california”

  1. vanillasugarblog says:

    jealous jealous jealous.
    (hey at least i’m honest)
    really loved this post!

  2. Kat says:

    It’s like re-living it all over again! :)

  3. Margie says:

    Yum, yum, yum….it all looks so lovely.

    I think that chubby little squirrel finds his way into the store from time to time ;) He’s too cute!

    (I’m anxious to know what that fruit is…kinda, sorta looks like a pear of sorts.)

  4. Lisa is Bossy says:

    Hey cool, you can see the bridge behind us! So much fun seeing you Jen. Glad I don’t have to wait long for next time!!

  5. Terri @ Terri's Table says:

    I’m a California gal, born and bred, and I miss it soooo much!

  6. Dorothy says:

    California Buckeye.

    THANK YOU, Dorothy!!! You’re awesome! :) -jen

  7. carole says:

    You live such a big life! Thanks for sharing it, it’s truly inspiring.

  8. Anita says:

    Jen, the only thing missing in that photo is YOU! We need to get one with the three of us next time!:)

  9. Bobbie says:

    As usual, I really love the pics. Furthermore, if my husband ever divorces me I am marrying that salsa bar. That looks fantabulous!

  10. April was in CT now CA says:

    We moved to the bay area a few months ago and it looks like we need YOU to come HERE and show us around!! Looks like a wonderful time!

  11. Christine @ Oatmeal in my Bowl says:

    Yup. Gotta love shaats in Bishop. Yum. Was just there last month and celebrated my bday w their fruit tart. Mmmm. Did you hike up to Rainbow Falls. Its totally worth it. If you catch the rainbow its like being in Candyland. :)

  12. Boulder Locavore says:

    Having lived in San Francisco myself, spending a great deal of time in Yosemite (including a madcap camping trip in October where the bears were everywhere breaking car windows for coolers and stocking up for winter) this was a nostalgic trip back for me. You can’t beat it for a food city either. Thanks Jen! Toni

  13. zingara says:

    i was born in san diego & lived there for a lot of years. [now living in texas]…i have relatives in the bay area, so in visiting them, we were able to experience the wonders of the area. up-state calif is like another world. so/cal is not w/out it’s wonders too, but entirely different. please include some pix of yourself, jen…i don’t remember seeing any. i would like to put a face to your little essays. you & jeremy [& kaweah] have a special life. thank god you each have the other. god bless your family…marianne

  14. laura h says:

    Crap! I’m jealous, too!

  15. Diana Banana says:

    wow, devil’s post pile looks phenomenal! and i’m going to start using your phrase of getting up at “puke-thirty” to catch a flight. :)

  16. brenda s 'okie in colorado' says:

    Love your photos, Jen. I lived in Northern California for 20 years before moving to the Denver area. Why is it that California seems to be the only state in our country that knows how to make really great Mexican food. I have yet to find good Mexican food in Colorado. Seems all the food tastes better in California. Best Asian, Mexican, Italian, etc. Love the puke thirty phrase. lol
    Have you tried the Red Lion Inn restaurant west of Boulder? We had dinner there last night. Just wandering what your opinion is of the food and atmosphere.

  17. Alice says:

    Jen, I passed a tree of those pear-like fruits just this week at a nearby open space preserve (San Antonio). This might be the answer http://www.flickr.com/photos/elwetritsche/1820630617/

    R&G is one of our favorite places!

  18. jenyu says:

    vanillasugarblog – ah, don’t be jealous – just go and visit! :)

    Kat – :)

    Margie – actually, two of those chubby squirrels were running around inside the store. One even ran off with a candy bar. And that fruit is a California Buckeye (thanks to Dorothy for IDing it for me!)

    Lisa – yay!!!

    Terri – it’s still there and as awesome as ever!

    Dorothy – thank you!

    carole – it sometimes feels a little too busy. Glad to have some downtime at last!

    Anita – ha ha, we forgot again :)

    Bobbie – ha ha ha!! You crack me up (the salsa bar is true love).

    April – It’s only because my friends know the low down on the bay area :)

    Christine – No, we didn’t have the time (although in hindsight, we probably should have).

    Boulder Locavore – no bears this time. I think people are far better about following storage rules.

    zingara – oh, I rarely have photos of myself! I think that’s boring ;)

    laura h – oh noes!!! xo

    Diana Banana – it’s super cool (natural phenomena usually are!)

    Brenda – Well, there is fantastic Mexican food to be had in New Mexico – but that’s New Mexican. I like it for the spice :) I’ve not yet been to Red Lion even though I pass it all the time.

    Alice – yup! They’re California Buckeyes!

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