Unplugging at Shinneyboo Creek [PHOTOS]

Last week was the annual Cool family summer vacation fest, and this year we decided to try our hand at camping. We spent 3 nights at the awesomely named Shinneyboo Creek Cabins resort. Shinneyboo is located between Colfax and Truckee up I-80, about 75 miles away and about 7500 feet elevation.

We stayed in a tent cabin, which offers a lot of room and actual beds (though we still opted for sleeping bags). Roughing it without having to pitch your own tent (though next time we are down for that). There are about a dozen or so tent cabin sites at Shinneyboo, and each is provided a fire pit, a park style BBQ grill, and enough space to stretch out and make your own. There is potable water and there are facilities (including a shower)!

Continue reading “Unplugging at Shinneyboo Creek [PHOTOS]”

Barbera: A Local Treasure That Needs To Be Treasured

barberaIf we were to be honest with ourselves for just a moment, we’d readily admit that we live in the deep, enveloping cleavage of the bosom of great wine. Just barely peeking out over the plunging neckline of our beautiful valley, we can see some of the best vineyards in America staring back at us. And while Zinfandel, Cab, and Chardonnay get all the attention and all the praise, it is the simple Barbera that I seek out every time.

An Italian grape, Barbera is a foundational piece of many Italian table wines. Following suit, it’s been grown predominantly in the Central Valley as a blending grape in jug wines. (Shout out to my boy Carlo!) But in recent years, winemakers in Amador, El Dorado, and, to a lesser but by no means less successful extent, Paso Robles have taken the Barbera and turned it into an absolutely yummy single varietal that, in my mind, kicks the pants off of most zins, pinots, and cabs.

What does Barbera taste like? To be honest, it tastes like the cloudy mists of the firmament wrapped in bubble gum and dusted with cotton candy kisses. However, some have also described it as an inky dark, velvety wine with balanced berry sweetness and almost no tannins; it’s eminently drinkable and, like most Italian wines, very food friendly.  Take your pick of descriptions. Wine, after all, is a subjective beverage.

Where do you find good Barbera? One place you’ll rarely find it is on a restaurant’s wine list. The Firehouse, for example, whose wine list runs over 80 pages, has only a handful of Barberas from the U.S. and Italy. On last check, Biba’s wine list had two. L Wine Lounge, whose wine list admittedly is about variety and quality over quantity, carries only one.  Same with The Kitchen. Continue reading “Barbera: A Local Treasure That Needs To Be Treasured”

Jenkinson Lake, Sly Park

This weekend’s outing brought the CoolDMZs to Jenkinson Lake, in the Sly Park Recreation Area of El Dorado County. Longtime residents know Sly Park from the various youth camps located there, most notably the Sacramento Trad Jazz Camp and Sly Park Basketball School for grade-school hoopsters.

Continue reading “Jenkinson Lake, Sly Park”

Run for the Foothills, It’s Country French Cuisine

(NOTE:  The Eats clan will be moving from our current digs in a few months to a new family abode off the greater Eastern & El Camino corridor.  So, gone are the days of long, detail filled ramblings about all the eateries in the Fair Oaks Blvd sphere of influence.  You can now look forward to long, intricate musings on the joy that is the Plaza Hof Brau.)

 Anyway, back to our story.  Mike Dunne over at the Bee has spent plenty of words praising a little French joint up in the foothills called “Zachary Jacques.” I won’t spend much time, therefore, totally agreeing with him and talking about the wonderful food, great service and charming atmosphere that make the hour long drive totally and completely worth it. I’ll instead talk about how to use Zachary Jacques in a recipe to create a perfect birthday in the foothills.
Continue reading “Run for the Foothills, It’s Country French Cuisine”


According to the spot-on meteorologists at channel 10, the weather is getting cooler. Can’t you feel those chilly breezes in your bones? Does your breath steam in the air yet? Of course not, because weather people are morons and should be given approximately 30 seconds of the news broadcast to give a five day forecast and then shut their traps.

Nevertheless, the weather will, even according to Al Gore, eventually cool off, which makes it perfect weather for daytripping. If you’re tired of Apple Hill, El Dorado/Amador/Sea of Tranquility wine tasting or cities with UC campuses, then I’ve got an idea for you, CHICO! Yes, that’s right, CHICO! (from now on all CHICO! references will be capitalized and exclamation pointed)
Continue reading “Daytrippin’”

Apple Hill, CoolDMZ-style

Originally uploaded by cooldmz.

The CoolDMZs made their way up to Camino for some apple tasting this weekend, inspired by sac-eats’ (or was it?) official Sac Rag unofficial guide. Needless to say, the apples were a-poppin, and a good time was had by all.

I have pictures (one of which is of a pig on a spit) and snarky things to say (if you didn’t assume that)…

Continue reading “Apple Hill, CoolDMZ-style”

Unofficial Apple Hill Guide

NOTE: For an updated 2007 Apple Hill Guide, click here. (Don’t worry, it’s not link to another website.)

Fall is in the air, and on the calendar, and in the malls, but nowhere more omnipresent than up highway 50 at Apple Hill. I’ve had a few shocks in my life, including that time when I missed two straight periods (turned out to just be work stress), but none more jarring that finding out that several good friends and close acquaintances had never been to Apple Hill. Hating to think that those unfamiliar with the joys of the hill might not want to venture east because of the alien nature of the trip, I’ve concocted my own little visitor’s guide. The following are just suggestions, mind you, and please feel free to let me know if there is anything that I missed, but more than anything, I provide this little guide because I don’t want to hear anyone say that they didn’t head up the hill this year because they “didn’t know where to go, what to do, my kids were sick, I had a flesh eating virus, I’m a big puss-puss, etc.”
Continue reading “Unofficial Apple Hill Guide”