There’s nowhere like Big Valley and no farms like these. Mark Lipps says the tour is simple; just bring yourself, a positive attitude, and a smile. And if you didn’t come with a smile, you’re sure to leave with one. “We would love all visitors of Lake County to experience the different priorities a Lake County Big Valley small farm can embrace,” Mark says. “Come explore all of our farms for a great drive around the area. Start out as visitors, leave as friends.”
I may have already mentioned this, but I’m going to mention it again. One of my favorite things about living in California is great, authentic Mexican food. Whether we’re visiting our favorite restaurant, taco truck, or market, we take it for granted. It’s an everyday part of our lives. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. So it seems fitting to put together a list of The Bloom’s favorite Mexican restaurants in Lake County in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. The great thing about this list is that it will grow as we visit more restaurants around the county. How fun is that? We’re also pleased to bring you our next Pay It Forward article. Believe me, I’m as excited and surprised as you to learn which small business will be featured next. And we forgot to add a book review by our own Lake County resident and author last week. Better late than never. I see myself enjoying a margarita in just a few hours! Whatever your plans are for the weekend, Lake County, make it a great one. Cheers!
Lake County has an abundance of Mexican restaurants, and most all of them are wonderful. Everyone we talk to has their favorite, but there’s nothing wrong with trying something new. Of course, there are more than just four great Mexican restaurants in Lake County, but, if you’re looking to try something new and enjoy some great Mexican food, look no further than this list.
Main Street Kelseyville is a little busier than normal this Tuesday afternoon. With the recent warmer temperatures, mother nature is coaxing all of us to get out and about. Patrons leave Sophies Day Spa with a scoop of ice cream in one hand and a bag of goodies in another. A man leaves Bell Haven Florist with a bouquet and a smile in his step. Outside the Saw Shop, the covered patio and heaters remain in place just in case this warm spring weather should change its mind and bring us more rain. But the sky is clear and blue, and the rain seems a distant memory. It’s not a question on whether to eat outside or not. It would seem an insult to spring and its beauty to do otherwise.
Without a bit of research, I don’t know that I could say which came first: wine or art? I’m sure it’s art. But it seems to me, as far back as we look, both seem to be intertwined in humanity as long as we have been human. And what’s not to love about both? They bring great joy and an ever-changing and evolving perspective. That’s why when I learned Wine in the Willows was recently repurchased, I breathed a great sigh of relief, knowing that wine and art would not lose another supreme location.
There’s a crisp chill in the air this April afternoon. Gray clouds are high over Clear Lake, reminding us of recent rains and storms. But all is quiet today other than the sound of the residential Grebe calling for its mate. It’s easy to get lost in the view sitting on the porch of La Loose Caboose. But we’ve already decided to write about our experience. I mean, how often do you stay at a B & B and laugh as much as we already have after seeing bras hanging from the wall, mirrors over the bed, and the neon light glowing “La Playpen” over the sleeping area? It’s already too much fun.
“Where are you staying?” her blonde hair frames her bright smile.
“The La Loose?” my husband states with an I’m ready for anything at this point sound in his voice.
“Oh, the La Loose!” Jami’s smile brightens even more. “Well, be sure to add a bra to the collection if you have one you want to spare. Some of our guests have done that,” she says it so motherly, hospitably, and oh so matter of factly, like I’ve heard this conversation so many times before in my life.
My shock is real. I try to hide it. I’m sure I fail. I’m equally sure my husband is too. “Oh!” I say as delighted and with as little fear and trepidation as possible.
On Highway 20 in Clearlake Oaks sits an unassuming white building with red trim. It’s the home to Betty’s Tacos.
Betty’s tacos has a menu full of great items from oversized tortas to burritos, sopes, and salads. But, if you’re going there, you’ll have to try the tacos. Each four inch corn tortilla is filled with flavor; the beef is seasoned and tender, chopped fine, but not too small. Topped with tidbits of lettuce, cilantro, radish, grilled onion, a squeeze of lime, and the salsa of your choice, it’s bright, juicy, and tangy.
It’s another Thursday night in Lake County. We seem to be between rain storms, and even the sun has made an appearance as a promise of spring’s return. The sidewalks and streets of Lakeport are exchanging wet asphalt for dry. The day’s work is done, and most people are heading home for the evening. But on 11th Street, many are gathering, some strangers and some friends and acquaintances. My husband and I pull into the parking lot, dispersing a group of 4-H girls so we can park. Two men in Army uniforms approach the front doors to Umpqua Bank, and we know we are where we’re supposed to be on this third Thursday of the month in Lake County.
It’s a blustery day in Lake County. The wind whips the palm fronds stretched across the restaurant’s facade and across the highway, the lake, muddy brown, froths and splashes against the bulkhead of Lucerne Harbor Park. It’s cold, rainy, and miserable outside. But inside Grillagan’s island, it’s sunny, warm, and tropical. Calypso music plays on the speakers, tropical prints spread across the walls, and fishing nets hang from the ceiling. It’s the perfect place to get away on a short vacation and enjoy some great food. Cold, wet weather calls for grilled cheese and tomato soup; we all know that. And there’s no better place to enjoy it than at Grillagan’s Island. They specialize in grilled cheese and offer multiple ways to enjoy that delightful sandwich.
Tuesday afternoon in Kelseyville, August. Mike Guarniero and Danny Prather perch on barstools next to the front window, half-full beer glasses on the floor next to them. Danny’s taken the lead on a Neil Young tune he’s finishing, and odds are they’ll switch it around on the next song. Between the two of them, they could play all day and never repeat a tune. Danny gives a hearty strum on his guitar as the song ends, then grins as he leans over and takes a sip of his beer. Caroline Chavez, co-owner of Kelsey Creek, sees his glass empty and quickly brings over two full ones. “Now everybody,” she says, walking the smooth walk of a skilled bartender, “You all need to pitch in. I’m the only one buying them beer right now.” Mike and Danny happily grab their full brewskis, sip off the foam, and start a new song.
Operating since 2012, Hammers for Hope is a local nonprofit group whose sole mission is providing “charitable assistance to low and moderate-income households in Lake County through a program of home repairs and improvements.” Our all-volunteer Board is currently recruiting a part-time to full-time Outreach Coordinator.
The early morning sun’s bright winter yellow-blue hues glow between the slats of the window shades. There’s a stillness and unearthly quiet that can only mean one thing–the world is covered in a blanket of snow. Consciousness continues to drift in as a low hum of a generator from a distant neighbor pierces the stillness telling everyone the power is out. The realization that today is a snow day announces itself as a fact, not a maybe. No one is going to work or school today. Mother nature has decided that for us. Another reality sinks in–there’s no rush, no hurry to start the day or to leave the comfort of a warm bed. A smile and sigh seem the only definite choice for this moment.
There we sat week after week, watching the surf and our kids attempting to catch the perfect wave to ride into shore. Occasionally they got carried in standing, but more often than not, they came into shore tumbling and rolling. The thought of joining them in the wash cycle of the ocean didn’t seem all that appealing. Onlookers looked on with a little envy and wonder. There is definitely the feeling that those in the water were the cool people, and those of us on the beach in our dry clothes were definitely missing out. They were in the water, and we were not. Plain and simple.
The cool crisp air and clear nights make winter a great time of year for RV exploring. A stillness can almost be felt as nature slumbers in these shorter days and long nights. But it’s no bother with the added layer of a blanket and a hot beverage next to the crackling campfire, the only sound to be heard on this dark, peaceful night. Welcome to Quail Mesa Ranch, your Harvest Host for the evening.
By mid-summer 2022, We’d become experts at RV camping. We found some kind of compromise between the comforts of RVing and the nostalgia of tent camping. While we enjoyed the comforts of a bathroom and kitchen on wheels, glamping chairs, and carpet to boot, we decided the sleeping bags would stay. After years of tent camping, sheets seemed wrong, while zip-up flannel bags somehow seemed like a token to the good old days, even in summer. This was our final resolution between the two worlds.
“Do you hear that?” I asked after just stepping out of the Gaslight Grill on Main Street Lakeport. It was an ordinary Thursday evening, or so I thought. The winter chill and seasonal lights brought a festive glow and the perfect ending after a delicious dinner. We’d just finished a mouth-watering bacon blue cheese burger, fried pickles, a fresh seasonal salad, and a pint of good beer. It’s always the perfect meal experience with the friendliest faces and consistently some of the best food in Lakeport.
I’ll never forget the first time I found my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant. You know the place I’m talking about. It’s all about the food, convenience, comfort, and, most of all, consistency. No, this isn’t where you go for a business meeting. You go there because it’s quick, convenient, and your personal favorite spot for any number of reasons.
New Year’s Eve is one of the best party nights of the year. It’s a great chance to get together with friends, enjoy some good food, and laugh the night away. If, like me, you enjoy having a good time on December 31st, you may have experienced a vicious New Year’s Day hangover. You go to bed happy, albeit a bit dizzy, and wake up the next morning in misery. Your head’s pounding, your stomach’s in knots, and you can’t quite remember the three hours leading up to midnight. But have hope! (Sorry for the exclamation point; it even reads too loud.) Here are three great ways to handle a hangover.
Over the years, our family has enjoyed some Christmas reading. We’ve read through The Little Match Girl, The Elves and the Shoemaker, A Christmas Carol, Sherlock Holmes and The Adventures of the Blue Carbuncle, and many other great stories. But one of our favorites is poet Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, which we read every Christmas Eve. It’s a beautiful story that shares Christmas memories from over one hundred years ago. If you’re looking for an enjoyable short read, here’s a link to a public domain version:http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks07/0701261h.html
Kelseyville’s a great place, perfect for an afternoon or a weekend away. Resting at the foot of Mt. Konocti, it has kept that small-town, country friendliness. Plus, holiday shopping doesn’t get any easier than on Main Street. Just park your car and spend the afternoon perusing shops filled with local goods, tasting at award-winning wineries, and enjoying some great places to eat. We’re highlighting seven great places here, but that’s just a start: Kelseyville’s chock-full of great shopping.
Lakeport’s Main Street still has many original buildings, and it’s pedestrian-friendly and filled with shops. It’s simple to just park the car, hop out, and spend the rest of the day strolling through the shops, eating, and enjoying great food. Plus, if you’re looking for a diversion, swing by Lakeport–the Courthouse Museum’s one of the best in the county, and it’s right on Main Street so that the trip won’t slow down your shopping groove.
Resting at the foot of Mt. Saint Helena on Highway 29, Middletown has long been the gateway to Lake County. The first stagecoaches entering the county came through town and stopped at the hotel before either heading up Cobb Mountain to the numerous hot springs resorts or continuing on to the shores of Clear Lake. In fact, Middletown’s called Middletown because it’s–surprise–the midway point between Calistoga and Lower Lake. But Middletown has more than just stories. It’s also got some great places to shop and eat.
If you’re looking for some great wine to pair with your holiday feasts, look no further. Lake County has an abundance of high-quality wines. It’s all because of our unique volcanic terroir, the secret that makes every Lake County wine unique. Here are eight recommendations to make any meal better.
When we think of small, locally-owned businesses, we rarely think of our local grocery store. I remember amid the early years of motherhood, the grocery store was often a moment of sanity. Just to be an adult, even for only that moment, meant the world to me. I knew what every aisle was going to have. I never had to guess where the pasta and cereal was. In some ways, especially when I was in a hurry, that sense of sameness was an absolute comfort and lifesaver. But I’ll never forget that one trip when I was in the canned food aisle of a major supermarket. There I was, looking at the beans. I don’t know why it was the bean aisle, but it was. I needed something different to cook, something inspiring. All I saw were beans staring blankly back at me, offering nothing new or original.