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Gee, thanks, chowhounds

teela brown | Jun 20, 200501:22 PM

No, really, thank you very much.

We live in Morgan Hill, and just returned from a pleasant weekend in the City and Sonoma County. We had very good eating and drinking experiences, due in large part to information I have gleaned from reading chowhounds.

First good experience: we went to Bluebottle Coffee on Linden in the Hayes Valley on Saturday morning. We are espresso purists, and we drank there the best espresso of our lives. They pour an extravagantly concentrated restretto, thick, unctuous and rounded. We both had two double shots! I let the barista know we had heard about them on chowhounds and he was pleased. Sadly, they were closed on Sunday when we returned. Maybe that's a good thing - another two double shots might have me hyped out for the rest of the week.

Second good experience: Plouf on Belden Place. We each had moules frites, and both versions we tried (mariniere and Plouf) were very good. However, we had had a glass of Albarino first at B44, and wished we had eaten there instead. The tapas and paella coming and going looked and smelled blissful. This was our first visit to Belden Place and we liked the crowded, European cafe feel to the place. It was also fun watching the maitress-d's trying to seduce the passers-by into their restaurants.

Third good experience: not much to do with eating or drinking - the lavender fields at Matanzas Creek Winery are at full bloom at the moment. Experiencing this was our specific reason for going on this weekend trip. Anyone wishing to experience a half-acre of lavender in spectacular bloom, noisily abuzz with two species of bees, and fragrant to an unbelievable degree, should go now. The lavender will all be harvested at about the end of the month. I'm pretty sure I read about this at some point on

Fourth good experience: Speisekammer in Alameda. On our way home, we came down the east bay and I remembered reading about this place. So we turned onto Alameda Island (our first time there - what a cute town!), and found Speisekammer. It was after 2 p.m. on Sunday, so we were able to order draft beers for $3.50 each. Now, German beer is about my favorite drink in the world, and they had a nice selection of draft and bottled ones. I had a Weltenberger lager and my husband ordered a Trumer pils, and we were both very very happy with our find.

BTW, Trumer is a Salzburg brewery which recently opened a brewery in Berkeley on 4th Street. The master brewer there is importing his hops and other ingredients from Austria, and the resulting brew is the best pilsener style beer made in America, IMO. I called the brewery to see if they did tastings and tours, and they do not yet, but they hope to do so by the end of the summer.

So, thanks again, chowhounds. This place saves us a lot of money and hassle.

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