California, Here We Come!

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billyboy
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/15 15:01:14 (permalink)
Will do, Cliff.  Glad you enjoyed the donuts.  When I told the counter lady that I was sending them with a friend who would be bringing them to even more friends out of state who had never tried them before, she turned around and grabbed two handfuls of donut holes for the box.  Naturally I bought one loose donut for myself as there was no way I'd be able to resist sampling from that box otherwise!
 
Sorry, to hear about the ice cream at Vic's.  Homemade peppermint stick with home made hot fudge was always a childhood favorite of mine at a couple of local ice cream stands.
 
I was reading some food articles last night and found out about a butcher shop in Harlem called Harlem Shambles that is hand-making traditional Cornish pasties with beef, turnip, potato, onion and spices.  $3.00 a piece (though I don't know how big they are but a trip uptown just might be in order!!).
post edited by billyboy - 2013/08/20 08:36:54
love2bake
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/15 17:57:40 (permalink)
OMG - that photo of the glistening hot fudge sauce over ice cream is over the top!
 
I agree with you on brightly colored ice creams.  Marianne's in Santa Cruz does that, and it's a put-off for me.  (Probably a good thing, now that I think about it!)  But then again, we're talking Santa Cruz, where a "higher" percentage of the population are walking around in a purple haze, anyway.
buffetbuster
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 13:07:35 (permalink)
love2bake-
We have a farm around here that makes their own ice cream and I was so excited to try it.  Unfortunately, the ice cream had so much food coloring in, they practically glowed.  Such a disappointment and completely unnecessary.  Oh, and I really like that photo, too.
 
billyboy-
It is just a matter of time until someone opens up a Cornish pasty themed restaurant in NYC!  I hope you get a chance to try Harlem Shambles.
 
buffetbuster
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 13:41:32 (permalink)
Wednesday April 24th, 2013
 
The only breakfast place in Sacramento on Roadfood is a place called Pancake Circus.  Okay, right up front,I am not a big fan of the circus and flat out dislike clowns.  So the idea of a circus themed restaurant holds no appeal.  On top of that, TTM ate here a few years ago and did not care for it.  But, this place is a bit of an institution in Sacramento and I am willing to try anyplace once, so here we are.

 
As feared, the circus/clown theme is everywhere





in the decorating.  Even the front of the menu. 

Well, if you are going to have a terrible theme for a restaurant, you mind as well go all out.
 
Johnny got us started with a stack of blueberry buckwheat pancakes. 

Certainly can't complain about the amount of fruit on top, they sure don't skimp.  Johnny likes buckwheat pancakes and blueberries, so this was a winning combination for him.  On the side, he got four slices of borderline, overdone strips of bacon.

 
My meal was the chorizo, which features chorizo sausage mixed in with scrambled eggs,

plus a stack of three regular pancakes.

The pancakes here really aren't anything special, but were elevated by the fact that the syrup is served warm.  The chorizo scrambled eggs was actually quite good, with the sausage having just the right mix of flavor and spice.
 
We were seated near to the cash register and the owner kept a running conversation with us.  In fact, everyone at Pancake Circus was nice and even a few police officers enjoying their morning meal said hello as they walked by.  This turned out to be a better experience than anticipated.  I'm not going to say this is the best breakfast in Sacramento, but I wouldn't be adverse to returning.
 
Pancake Circus
2101 Broadway
Sacramento, CA
916-452-3322
 
Much more to come..... 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/16 13:43:55
CajunKing
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 16:31:00 (permalink)
Hey wait a minute TTM joined you for breakfast

 
(You know we love you TTM)
plb
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 17:50:18 (permalink)
The bacon looks fine to me.
MetroplexJim
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 18:17:41 (permalink)
That egg/chorizo scramble looked really tasty, but I'd have a hard time digesting with all those clowns looking on!
billyboy
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 21:03:25 (permalink)
Clowns have always been creepy and then John Wayne Gacy went and destroyed any chance of them becoming mainstream!
Tex-Max
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 21:45:23 (permalink)
Regarding the painting with the 5 clowns.  I think they are all famous clowns from the 50's and 60's of course I can't remember their names.  But the upper right looks like Red Skeleton.   Anyone else recognize a clown?
 
Boy, they don't skimp on the blueberries do they!  
mayor al
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 21:56:29 (permalink)
I think the one on the lower left is Emett Kelly another well-noted performer in that arena.
 
I am with you Cliff, I probably would pass by the place due to the ambience. Never have been a Circus Fan.
Foodbme
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/17 00:32:37 (permalink)
Whatta Ya Guys talkin' about???
The place was just re-decorated by Chef Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible!!!
ann peeples
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/17 07:13:02 (permalink)
I hate clowns. Glad you had a decent breakfast despite them.....
buffetbuster
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 08:40:45 (permalink)
Wednesday April 24, 2013 (cont.)
 
Neither one of us felt particularly full after Pancake Circus, so it was no problem to go straight to another food stop.  This time, it was Jim-Denny's,

a classic downtown burger joint since 1934!  Great neon sign,

that undoubtedly looks better at night.
 
There are ten stools across the counter,

which leads to one of my favorite things about this place.  Against the far wall is a pay phone,

which is no longer in service.  Do you see that yellow piece of paper that is framed?  It says:  "Jim's rule - If you sit next to the phone, you must answer it take the order or ask them to hold.  Jim Denny's may I help you?  Jim Denny's please hold."  I think it would have been fun to have eaten here back in the day and taken some phone orders.  At least until my burger arrives!  BTW, notice how worn that counter is in that last photo.
 
Since this was still morning, the other customers were asking for pancakes and omelets.  And Jim-Denny's

is famous for pancakes that take up an entire dinner plate or huge omelets.  We saw one of those omelets go by and it had to be six eggs and along with all the meat and cheese, we were glad we stuck to the burgers.  Here is the burger portion of the menu,

along with the special burger of the day.

 
We placed our order and killed time soaking in the scenery.  This is a very visually appealing place.  Love those old wooden shelves,

with fancy cheeseburgers and fancy cube steaks painted on it.  After all, what could be fancier than a cube steak?  We could also watch the grill in the corner

and the young lady tending it did a fine job of keeping the burgers, pancakes and omelets coming out at a steady pace.
 
Johnny's choice was the 50's burger,

which was two patties, swiss cheese on a hoagie bun.  This was a substantial burger and even though Johnny ate the entire thing, I don't have the feeling he thought it was anything more than average.  He said that the fried zucchini on the side had an especially heavy, thick breading.
 
Mine was the old fashioned burger,

which came with mustard and mayo, along with the standard lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle.  The bun was nicely toasted and the cheddar choice blended nicely with the rest of the toppings, but this still would not make my list of best burgers of the trip.  The sweet potato fries

were extra crispy and came with their special sauce, which seemed to be a thousand islands dressing.
 
To drink, they do offer a nice roster of milkshakes,

but we decided to pass on the shakes here, with Johnny drinking a Dr. Pepper and I had an iced tea.
 
Maybe the thing I will remember most about our visit to Jim-Denny's was the young lady we met.  It isn't that often that an attractive young woman sits down and starts talking to us, but she was 23 years old, already had three small kids at home and we suspected, was just looking for some adult conversation.  But since there weren't any adults around, she ended up talking to us.  When we told her we were eating our way around Sacramento, she wrote down some interesting suggestions for us, but we were never able to fit those in.  You know how sometimes you meet someone and they just seem like a lost soul?   
 
Jim-Denny's
816 12th Street
Sacramento, CA
916-443-9655
 
By this time, we were full and ready to do some sightseeing.
 
Much more to come.....   
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/19 09:09:18
ChiTownDiner
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 10:23:18 (permalink)
The milkshake flavor list is shaped like a Christmas Tree! 
buffetbuster
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 11:25:24 (permalink)
Apparently I'm not alone on the dislike of clowns.  Growing up, one buddy's parents had several real creepy clown paintings around the house.  I always tried to avoid going there if possible.
 
CTD-
Looking back at that milkshake list, now I am really wishing we tried something.  And isn't is strange to see egg nog in April?
ScreamingChicken
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 11:43:26 (permalink)
buffetbuster

Apparently I'm not alone on the dislike of clowns.
I'm wondering what might be painted on the walls inside the bathroom and its stalls.  That would be seriously disturbing!
 
Too bad Jim-Denny's didn't appeal to you more.  I can almost smell the burgers and onions sizzling on the flattop!
ChiTownDiner
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 12:01:10 (permalink)
bb - I was looking at the peach!  Egg Nog in April is strange but I am thinking the list never changes...year around! 
buffetbuster
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 13:39:32 (permalink)
Wednesday April 24th, 2013 (cont.)
 
Old Sacramento



is a living history site with museums and original buildings from the earliest days of the city. 
 
What I was most interested in seeing was the B.F. Hastings Building,

dating back to 1853.  It would probably look older if it wasn't for the fancy new sportscar parked out front.  Not only was this building the western terminus for the Pony Express, but it also held the California Supreme Court.  Inside is the Wells Fargo History Museum, with some interesting collectables from the Pony Express. 

You know a job is dangerous when they say orphans preferred!
 
The man working inside the museum was very helpful and did a great job of explaining the displays.  My favorite thing here was this painting,

which has an optical illusion in it.  Whether you stand all the way to the left of the painting or to the right, the man on the white horse seems to be riding directly at you.  Across the street from the museum is an expressive Pony Express statue.

We spent a good 1 1/2 hours walking around and exploring the different buildings, but it was impossible to see everything in a short amount of time.
 
On my previous visit to Sacramento ten years earlier, I landed in town on the Friday night at had dinner at Al's Place in Locke, CA.  The next morning, Johnny arrived and got to hear me talk about how much I liked the place the rest of the trip.  Today was the day we were finally getting Johnny to Al's!
 
This has to be one of the most strangest, most unusual Roadfood restaurants.  First of all, they use an alternate name which is Al the Wops
 

Yeah, not the most progressive name in the world, but they probably won't be changing it anytime soon.  And it is also located in a small town that used to be all Chinese.  The last time I was here the town was rather rundown, but looks much better today.
 
When you first walk in the door, the front room is a very dark bar,


with money hanging off of the ceiling.  Pass through another door to get to the dining room in the back.  All seating is at long picnic tables.

 
One of the things Al's is most famous for is the peanut butter and marmalade on the table.  I think it was originally supposed to be homemade peanut butter, but nowadays it is just Jif. 

Luckily, the preserves is a made in house pineapple-apricot preserves and we loved spreading it on the bread.

 
The menu is two-sided,


but still there isn't a lot of choices.  The meals started with an excellent green salad,

mine with thousand islands, Johnny's with vinegar and oil.  Also on the salad was some carrot, garbanzo and kidney beans, which was a nice touch.
 
Because of how he had already eaten, Johnny got the soup, salad and bread and the soup was a big bowl of minestrone, 

with lots of potatoes, zucchini and carrots, which we enjoyed.  The best part of both of our meals, was the crunchy garlic bread.
 
Unfortunately, my lunch was not as successful.  I got the chicken and mushrooms,

which came in a garlic and white wine sauce.  This sure sounds like something I would love to eat, but the chicken itself was hard and too chewy.  This was a little disappointing, but atmosphere like this can make up for a lot.
 
We were the first customers here, but soon after a few bikers wandered in and then a few more, until the restaurant was filled.  This seems to be a destination restaurant for those on motorcycles, which explains this sign

out front.
 
Al's Place is still a must-visit destination for anyone in central California.  We loved visit here, even if we did not have a great meal.  Luckily for us, we wouldn't have to wait long to get a great meal!
 
Al's Place
13936 Main Street
Locke, CA
916-776-1800
 
I am curious what people think about a place calling itself Al the Wops?   
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/19 13:42:30
Sundancer7
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 14:02:06 (permalink)
BB:  The place that you visited that served the mega burger for $9.95 was very very reasonable but somewhat confusing was the other burgers which were considerably smaller sold for just a small amount less?  Go figure.
 
If you used the term "WOP" in the corporate world, your pink slip would be on your desk PDQ.  Political correctness is highly in order.  Never even thought about those issues when I was growing up although my parentage strictly forbid any such language.  Good thing as you know my current situation now.
 
Paul E. Smith
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mayor al
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 15:20:31 (permalink)
The High Point for me has always been the State Rail Museum located in 'Old Sacramento'. It could keep a visitor interested for days ,if time allowed.
 
   Please keep up the great report, BB , we are reliving many visits thru this 'look-back'  at history.
buffetbuster
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 15:39:58 (permalink)
Wednesday April 24th, 2013 (cont.)
 
Since we were in this great looking small town, we had to walk around and explore.  Like I said previously, the last time in Locke, the whole town looked rundown, but it is vastly improved.  The streets are still narrow,

which can make parking a bit of an issue.
 
There is still very much a Chinese influence on the town. 

The street signs

are in both English and Chinese.  There are a couple of Chinese restaurants

that look new, a Chinese art gallery,

even a place that specializes in Chinese medicine. 

My favorite place was a garden

that was well maintained and had some lovely Chinese sculptures in it.



 
I did go into the general store and bought us a couple bottles of water (this turned out to be the hottest day of the trip) and some beautiful hand painted chopsticks.  While there are some buildings that are in disrepair,

it is obvious that Locke is making a comeback.
 
We had already eaten too much food on this day, but since we were so close by, we had to stop in at Giusti's
 

in Walnut Grove.  And as usually happens, we find our best meals when we are at our fullest!  The signs, with the wildlife and the mention of hunters and fishermans paradise should tell you that you are in the middle of nowhere.  
 
As a matter of fact, we actually drove right past the place at first.  You actually need to turn just before you come to the bridge.

Parking is right next to a small river or canal

and they do have boat docking at Giusti's, though no one was taking advantage of it while we were there.
 
Once again, the front room is the bar.  Here, they have an amazing amount of ball caps or farmers caps
 

hanging from the ceiling.  We were seated in the dining room to the left and up a couple of stairs.

This place really has a great Roadfood feel to it.  A quick look at the menu board

and we were ready to order quickly.
 
The table is actually a map of the local area. 

The place settings starts you off with a bowl with a glass in it,

which struck us as a little different.  But that is because every meals begins with a family style big bowl of minestrone soup,

which the waitress told us was from an old family recipe.  This version had less vegetables than what we ate earlier at Al's, but had lentils.  We both agreed that this was the tastier version.
 
Johnny's entrée was the lasagna,

which was a ridiculously large portion size.  Johnny described it as having six or seven very thin layers, a mixture of different cheeses and an outstanding homemade red sauce on top.  Although we laughed at the size of it when it was sat down in front of him and said he would never be able to finish it, well, I think you know that he was going to finish something this good.  I went with the salmon dinner. 

The outside had slightly crunchy exterior edges, but the inside was perfectly medium rare.  A wonderful piece of fish!  On the side was some deliciously buttery polenta.  Both Johnny and I agreed that Giusti's was on the short list of best meals we had on the trip.
 
Another thing we liked about Giusti's was that we struck up a conversation with the people at the table next to us.  It was a father-daughter and he was 91 years old and told us he has been eating here "forever".  He had some interesting stories of what the place used to be like and even our waitress was listening in to what he had to say.
 
Before we left, I was looking over the wall in the bar, which was filled with autographed photos of celebrities who have eaten here.  The thing is, who are these people? 

I recognized George Lindsay,

but most of them were a mystery.  At least until I finally came across a really big star and noticed that Roadfood's very own BuddyRoadhouse has been here!

 
Giusti's
14743 Walnut Grove-Thornton Road
Walnut Grove, CA
916-776-1808
 
We headed back to Sacramento to do more sightseeing.
 
Much more to come.....       
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/19 20:57:46
The Travelin Man
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 16:20:07 (permalink)
How did you manage to get a picture of Cousin Johnny with his eyes open?
buffetbuster
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 18:37:30 (permalink)
TTM-
I must have caught him by surprise!
 
MayorAl-
We were thinking of you when we saw the Rail Museum, but just didn't have time to see everything we wanted.  It would be very easy to spend the better part of a day in Old Sacramento.
 
buffetbuster
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 20:48:08 (permalink)
Wednesday April 24th, 2013 (cont.)
 
Once back in Sacramento, we headed for the state capitol building for a tour. 


On my previous visit, the capitol was being renovated and some areas were closed, so I was looking forward to seeing the entire building.
 
The tour starts in the lower level,

which has a distinctive checkered floor pattern and some attractive murals in a circle around you.  A group of about a dozen teenagers started with us and they immediately began asking stupid, smartass questions, while their friends giggled.  The young guide was patient at first, before she started ignoring them.  They quickly lost interest and dropped off the tour, much to the pleasure of the rest of us.
 
Some interior scenes:




 
Like most state capitol buildings, they have portraits on display of past governors.  The modern painting of Jerry Brown

is one of the more unusual I have seen.  One thing they do here I have only seen a few times before is that they have displays from each county in the state and what they are best known for. 

But, the best thing about the California State Capitol building is the golden bear

that guards the governor's office.  None of us were surprised that this was purchased by the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
 
Even though we still didn't have much appetite, we decided to squeeze in Whitey's Jolly Cone in West Sacramento.  This is a cute little drive-in


that looks like it has been here for a long time.  Nice looking old fashioned clock.

 
They have an extensive menu on boards right below the window,

with this being the one with burgers on it.  Because the prices were so cheap, we decided to order several different items and share them.  When the food came out, we started to eat at a picnic table, but it was so hot, we moved to the car.  And considering our hotel was five minutes away, we thought going there made more sense.  So the food did not get eaten for at least 15 minutes until after it arrived.  But, I don't think eating it immediately would have made a difference.
 
First up was the deep fried burrito.

The outside reminded us of an egg roll and it was so bland neither one of us took more than two bites.  The Chihuahua

suffered from a very cheap wiener and could have used more of the hot sauce.
 
The onion rings

were actually pretty good, although Johnny thought they were overcooked.  There was no doubt that the cream cheese jalapeno poppers

were undercooked and were a gooey mess.  The only food I can say that we really enjoyed was the king grilled onion and pepper burger

and I liked how all the ingredients worked together.
 
To drink, Johnny got a cherry shake, which was mostly melted from the heat by the time we got back to the room. 

I ordered the orange freeze, which seems to be a popular item in the Sacramento area.  This is something like a cross between a smoothie and a slushie and truthfully, didn't really have much orange flavor.  No doubt there are better orange freezes to be found in Sacramento.
 
Needless to say, I do not recommend Whitey's Jolly Kone and this probably goes on the short list of worst places I have ever eaten that is reviewed on Roadfood.  But, I can't be too hard on the Jon & Erika, who wrote the review, because they had already sent us to Nationwide Meats, Pasty Shack and Marie's Donuts.
 
Whitey's Jolly Kone
1300 Jefferson Boulevard
West Sacramento, CA
916-371-3605
 
We relaxed in the hotel for a few hours, debating whether or not to go out for dinner.
 
Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/19 20:52:56
billyboy
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 03:41:00 (permalink)
BB & Johnny, how was that interesting mixture of preserves and garlic bread at Al's?  I wouldn't have thought to combine the two! 
 
I think my food would get cold at Giusti's while I looked at all of those caps.  I think it would be fascinating if there was a way to know the story behind each one and the person that brought it in.  The bowl & glass presentation reminds me somewhat of the way they bring out the mushroom barley soup at the Second Avenue Deli in NYC. 
 
I always love your tours and photos of state capitol buildings.  Have you been to all 50 yet?  Glad those whippersnappers left the tour early on.  Dang kids!  For some reason, that painting of Jerry Brown really reminds me of the one that"Doc" painted of the warden in the Clint Eastwood film, "Escape From Alcatraz".  Those county displays look really cool and I think it's great that it gives visitors an idea of what to look for when travelling to other parts of the state. 
 
Sorry to hear about the duds at Whitey's.  That Chihuahua dog looks to me like one I've seen pictures of from Pink's.  Do you know if Jon and Erika are still on RF?  I miss their write-ups and reviews.
 
Can't wait for the next installment!
buffetbuster
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 08:03:44 (permalink)
billyboy-
Thanks so much for the interest and taking the time to ask those questions.  No, I have not been to all 50 state capitol buildings, but it is a lifetime goal.  The ones that are missing are Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Dakota.  I have been outside several of those, but I only count it if I have taken a tour.
 
Not sure what happened to Jon & Erika and I do wish they would post reviews again.  Besides the places in Sacramento they reviewed, they were also the first ones to write up the excellent Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger in Ann Arbor.  As far as I know, they have never posted in the forums.
 
Yeah, garlic bread wasn't the idea item to put a mixed fruit preserve on, but it was so good, we had to put it on something!  Luckily, it worked!  Maybe we should have just asked for some regular toast to put it on, but there is only so much appetite to go around. 
ScreamingChicken
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 09:32:41 (permalink)
Add walleye to the menu and Giusti's would fit perfectly in the upper midwest!
 
Since Jerry Brown has served non-consecutive terms as governor are there 2 separate portraits of him?
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 09:46:42 (permalink)
SC-
Now that you mention it, Giusti's did have a very Midwest feel about it.  Which is a good thing!
 
The painting are commissioned after the governor leaves office.  But, we did ask and there will be a second one for Governor Brown.  I was hoping to get a photo of Schwarzenegger's portrait, because you know it would have been entertaining, but it hasn't been completed, yet.
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/20 10:52:31
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 10:14:29 (permalink)
The Delta area between SF/Oakland and Sacramento is full of little isolated communities that time seems to have passed by (on the '5' Freeway), I'm pleased to see that you had the chance to wander outside of the City itself. You are doing a great job of bringing back memories for me...Thank You so much.
mar52
Sirloin
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Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 14:12:24 (permalink)
I should really revisit Sacramento.
 
Last time I was there the celebrities present were George Murphy and Ronald Reagan.  Guess it's been awhile.
 
I love the old town look of Locke. 
 
Also love your descriptions, pictures and choice of things to eat.  Great job!
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