Travel: Day 3, Marquette to Ironwood, Michigan

Good evening to all!

Today’s travel was 180 miles, mostly on backroads.  (Recent storms caused some bridge repairs that were still ongoing.). It made for a long day but we had a pleasant afternoon exploring Ironwood, Michigan

and Hurley, Wisconsin.

Both towns are less than vibrant showing their age and a shrinking economy.

That said, we discovered an excellent coffee house, Contrast Coffee Co.,

several promising restaurants and a few art and home furnishing galleries.  (BIG THANKS to our friend Jeff! in Minneapolis) and the staff at the hotel.

We are currently enjoying a little down time before dinner.  Tonight we decided Italian, again thanks to Jeff!

We are just back from dinner.  More thanks to Jeff for the referral.  Liberty Bell Cafe, Hurley, Wisconsin.  Excellent pizza, pasta and traditional Italian entrees.

Old fashion Italian Restaurant. Excellent food and service. It’s one of those places where you want the staff as personal friends outside of work. Refreshingly rare.

Here are some pixs from our drive today!

One of a dozen lakes on this mornings drive.
Momma duck and her growing ducklings.

Agate Falls was an unexpected surprise this morning.

Hwy 28 over Agate Falls.
The trail to the Falls.
Lots of water but difficult viewing.
A surreal view from under the still active train trestle bridge.

Food: Some of our favorite San Francisco eateries!

Hi to all!

We are often asked to share our favorite San Francisco restaurants and we finally stopped long enough to formalize a list.

One can always search the internet for the top 10 or 20 restaurants and that list will be sure to please, along with a hefty check.

We decided to share our “go to” places that are “Jim and John approved” without a painful withdrawal from your pocketbook.  That said, bear in mind San Francisco has become one of the most expensive cities in the country.

Below are tried and true restaurant recommendations. We have been to all of them, mostly for lunch. And can highly recommend them all. Most are inexpensive by SF standards, but probably expensive by Omaha and Des Moines standards. 😎

Enjoy!  J&J

San Tung. Chinese. 1031 Irving Street. Local place with the best Chinese chicken wings in the city. Near Golden Gate Park so lots of college kids go there for take out and then a picnic in the park. We eat in.

Marnee Thai. 1243 9th Avenue near Irving. Very good Thai. Near GG Park.

Naan and Curry. 642 Irving. Very good Indian has been around for years. Very local.

Nopalito. Mexican. 1224 9th Street. Across the street from Marnee Thai. Very gourmet, artisan Mexican. Very good. Not expensive.

(The above four restaurants can be easily reached by the N Judah Muni subway. Get off the train at 9th Avenue.)

Ton Kiang. 5821 Geary Blvd. Our favorite dim sum place and very good Hakka Chinese cuisine.  Hakka is a region of China cuisine with very few US restaurants. We go Sunday mornings. But they are open all week all day.

Dragon Beaux. 5700 Geary Blvd. The current hot spot for Chinese, Mongolian BBQ and hot pot dishes. Also excellent dim sum. Popular with twenty-somethings. We are usually the oldest two in the place.

Hong Kong Lounge. 5322 Geary Blvd.  Great dim sum and Chinese specialties. Like being in Hong Kong. Very popular and we are sometimes the only two non Asians in a very large place. Especially on weekends.

Akira Japanese Restaurant. 1634 Bush Street. One block from our house and we love it for lunch. Super sushi and teriyaki dishes. Very, very good.

Tea Leaf Salad

Burma Super Star. 309 Clement Street. Excellent Burmese food. Do not miss the tea leaf salad. Literally the best outside Burma. Open for lunch at 11:30.

Tia Margarita. 300 19th Avenue corner of Clement. Excellent Mexican. Old stand by for us been around years.

La Taqueria. 2889 Mission Street. Local place with excellent Mexican food. Consistently rated best burritos in the country and always a top 100 Bay Area restaurant. Very inexpensive. $15 for two. Lots of Central American clientele and menu items.

Old Jerusalem. 2966 Mission. We love this hole in the wall Palestinian place. Humus, kebabs, salads are excellent. Very inexpensive. $22 for two.

Steamed Pork Buns, Chicken salad.

OTD (Out the Door). 2232 Bush Street. Vietnamese. Open Table reservation recommended. We love this place. An easy 15 minute walk from our house. The best won ton noodle soup, steamed buns, chicken salad. Lots of other things. Really good. Their main restaurant, Slanted Door, has a Michelin Star and is in the ferry terminal. OTD is their much less expensive neighborhood joint.

Brenda’s French Soul Food. 652 Polk Street. Just past City Hall. Excellent soul food and very popular. They also have a less crowded place on Divisidero Street.

De Afhganan Kebob House. 1035 Geary Street between Van Ness and Polk. Afghanistan food. Great kebabs and salads and Afghan bread. We go there for lunch before a movie at the nearby AMC. Very inexpensive. $30 for two.

Bun Mee. 2015 Fillmore Street. Great Vietnamese sandwiches. On Fillmore Street which is a very nice upscale shopping/restaurant Street.

WoodHouse Fish Co. 1914 Fillmore. Very good clam chowder, fish and chips, shrimp filled steamed artichoke, etc.

La Mediterranee. 288 Noe at Market Street. Very good and inexpensive Lebanese food. They also have a location on Fillmore Street just past Sacramento Street.

Rose’s Cafe. 2298 Union Street at Steiner. In Cow Hollow neighborhood. Like walking into a Paris cafe. We go for breakfast, but open all day.

Chloe’s. 1399 Church Street. Our favorite breakfast place. Open only for breakfast and lunch. 8:00 to 3:00. The J Church streetcar stops in front.  If you go tell TJ that Jim and John and say hello.

Delfina’s. 2406 California Street at Fillmore. Great pizza and other Italian specialties. We really enjoy this place.

Tony’s. 1570 Stockton Street at Washington Square in North Beach. Food Channel says this is the best pizza on the West Coast. Very, very good. In a fun neighborhood.

Near AT&T Ballpark:

21st Amendment. 563 2nd Street. Very good brew pub food and atmosphere. Three blocks from the ballpark. We recommend this place before or after a game.

Mo Mo’s. 760 2nd Street. Very popular and crowded on game days. Super California cuisine but not cheap. Bar area spills out onto the street on game days.

Mission Rock. 817 Terry A. Francois Blvd. south of the ballpark across the street from the under construction Warriors Stadium. Very popular outdoor deck over the bay with great views. Probably best to eat here for lunch on a non game day.

Two Highly Recommended Things to do:

If you go to Alcatraz book on line early and try for an evening tour.

Beach Blanket Babylon. A San Francisco institution and the longest running musical play in the country. This is a must! In North Beach on Green Street. Really not to be missed. They have a ticket office or book online. When the Queen of England was in town she went there! Very political and irreverent. Love it!

Food: New Recipes from the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend

Good day!

Holiday gatherings are always a welcomed event, especially at the Wisconsin lake house.  Such was the case on this last Memorial Day weekend.  Along with tons of laughter, days on the lake with the children, and the joyful chatter over any meal make for warm memories.

Here are a couple of recipes picked up from family friends.  Big THANKS to both Cathy and Aree for sharing these recipes.

Guacamole Dip (from Cathy and Mark)

4 normal avocados (or 6 small) halved and diced.

1 ripe medium tomato, seeded and diced.

1 small/medium white onion finely diced.

1 handful of cilantro finely chopped.

Salt and fresh lime juice to taste.

Mix all ingredients into a stainless steel or ceramic bowl.  Serve chilled.

Party Sandwiches (Courtesy of Aree)

Fresh hamburger buns of your liking.

Thin slices of any ham you favor (we are particularly partial to Honey Baked Ham slices.

Swiss cheese slices

Finely minced onion


Worcestershire Sauce

Poppy seeds to taste

Yellow mustard

Butter the inside of the hamburger buns.  Add ham slices as desired.  Spread diced onions, Worcestershire sauce, poppy seeds, and yellow mustard to taste.

Wrap each sandwich individually in foil.  Freeze or refigerate for at least 15 minutes.

To serve, heat an oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the wrapped sandwiches for 15 minutes if sandwiches are refrigerated or 30 minutes if frozen.  (Be prepared, there was a near stampede when these were ready!)  Enjoy!



Travel: Lisbon, Portugal, A Walk in the Alfama District

We arrived mid afternoon yesterday after a two hour flight from Paris Orly airport to Lisbon.  We were pleased to be greeted by mild weather.

After settling in, we decided to explore our immediate neighborhood.    The mix of old and new (or renovated) seems everywhere.  Little shops and restaurants are only a block away from the stores featurering Global Brands.

After a great night’s sleep, we decided a walk was in order.  We decided to explore the hilly Alfama District, one of the oldest parts of the city.

We refreshed ourselves on the subway system and four stops later we were at the waterfront facing a daunting climb/walk/hike up a formidable hill to the Se Cathedral, originally built in 1150 AD.  It was damaged over the centuries by three earthquakes and finally rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake.

Outside the subway station looks like a Delacroix painting.
The facade of the SE Cathedral.
The Rose window and the tapestry are prized possessions of this Cathedral.

Next we continued our walk farther up the hill top of the Castelo fortress and the old neighborhoods nestled against the walls.  It was a rewarding walk that made sure we knew we weren’t in Paris anymore.

Lisbon’s streetcars have been running since electricity was developed.
Something in common with San Francisco, hills and the Bay.
One charming view after another.

The rewards for scaling these hills is view after view.

Happy we made it to the Castelo Walls.
The higher we explore, The narrower the path.
This is one of the rewarding views from the top.
Going down is almost as much effort as going up. (Well not really but it’s rewarding when you have accomplished the goal!)

Total distance 4.7 miles, 22 flights of stairs.

Travel: Paris, Walk 4: Sainte Chapelle, Musee Jacquemart Andre

The Conciergerie housed over 1400 prisoners after the revolution including Marie Antoinette. Most lost their lives to the guillotine. Behind is the Supreme Court and St. Chapelle.

It was a particularly cold but clear day with a bitterly cold breeze.  We were determined to make the best of it and visit a couple of old favorite sites we have not seen in a very long time.

Our first stop was Sainte Chapelle, built in 1242 to 1248.  Today it is considered to be the most beautiful church in Paris.  What is remarkable is the enormous volume of glass and light.  It is truly stunning.

The roof of St. Chapelle from the courtyard of the Supreme Court.
Remarkable stained glass dating to the 13th century.
The verses of the Bible can be read in the glass panels, left to right from the bottom to the top.
The ceiling is filled with gold leaf stars.

Our next stop was Musee Jacquemart Andre.  A private residence that  became an art museum bequeathed by the owners.  It holds an extraordinary collection including paintings by Rembrandt, Botticelli,   Uccello, and several others.

Upon arrival we decided a bite to eat was in order and we took advantage of the museum’s wonderful cafe.

Brunch with a nice Rose from Provence.

Now the house and collection.

The entrance.
The Salon.
The Conservatory.
Exceptional interiors.
Incredible ceilings.
An unknown court jester.

You cannot go to Paris without a visit to the Arc de Triomphe.

A fitting finish for a fun visit.

Today’s walk: 5.4 miles, 16 flights of stairs.

Tomorrow we fly to Lisbon for the next leg of our journey.  Thank you Paris.  Hello Portugal!

Much love to you all,






Travel: Paris 4, Montmartre, and Belleville walk

It was yet another cold but sunny day in Paris. Today we literally hiked up to one of the most popular and scenic parts of Paris, Montmartre and its glorious Basilique du Sacre-Coeur.

The church dome overlooking the village artist’s square.
The exceptional beauty of the iconic church.
The view overlooking Paris from Montmartre.

Next was a visit to the neighborhood of Belleville.  Another hilly area settled by working class people for centuries northeast of the City Center.  It was made popular by the beloved Edith Piaf, who sang on the streets of Paris as a girl and was widely popular during her life.  Today, it’s still a diverse working class part of the city.

This church was often where the young Edith would sing on the streets for passing locals.
If you listen carefully you can still her Edith singing.
This plaque is mounted in front of the house where legend says Edith was born. Historical records show it was the hospital nearby.

Soon it’s time for lunch.  Our favorite in the area was closed but we stumbled upon a new discovery and managed to get a table.  It was a delightful surprise.  Add this to your list when you next visit.  Moncoeur Belleville 1, Rue Des Envierges 75020 Paris, http:

Classic traditional cafe with innovative food, attentive service and affordable. It’s popular with families.
John selected a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for us.
John’s main course was a creamy mushroom risotto with watercress.
Enjoying a new wine!
A delightful pasta primavera.

It was a fun day with a long walk through a part of Paris many visiting folks overlook.  Walking distance was 5.6 miles and 20 flights of stairs!

Tomorrow is our last full day in Paris.  We will be spontaneous since we have no plans at this time.  Monday we fly to Lisbon for our next adventure.


Travel: Paris 3, Musee Marmottan and the Latin Quarter to the Bastille

Today was another great day.  We visited an incredible museum, Musee Marmottan.  The collection is housed in a 19th century mansion.  It’s the largest collection of Monet’s paintings anywhere in the world.  It was the gift of Michel Monet, Claude Monet’s son.  The collection included Monet’s personal collection of Camille Pissarro, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley.

It is a “not to be missed” site by any art appreciation visitor to Paris.  Photography was permitted without flash much to our surprise.  Here’s some of our favorites.

Apologies:  The collection included too many to record details.

Gustave Caillebotte, Rue de Paris, 1877.
Portrait of Napoleon as a a child.
Still life by Gauguin.

The Monet’s:

The Water Lilies: (and at least a dozen more)

The House:

And of course, we rewarded ourselves with lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Brasserie Balzar!

Following lunch we walked back to our apartment.  Total distance, 5 miles.


Greetings to all!

This is just a quick note to let you all know we are having some technical difficulties with our primary computer.  Our computer is at the shop for some service work.  It will take a few days to sort out the problem and get the issues resolved.

There will not be any posts until the problems are resolved.  We are still available via email, Skype, FaceTime and text using other devices.

All is well with us.  We have settled into our usual routines back in San Francisco. It seems we gained a few pounds back East so we are focused on diet and exercise until we shed the unwelcomed carry ons we brought home with us.

In the meantime, we send big hugs and best wishes to all.


Food: Acquerello, 1722 Sacramento St., San Francisco, CA 94109


We were fortunate to recently dine at one of the consistently best restaurants in San Francisco, Acquerello.  Owner/chef Suzette Gresham and her highly skilled team have been delivering seasonal Italian fare for over twenty years, and have earned a two star Michelin rating.


This is ideal for a special occasion.  The dining room was formerly a chapel.  It has been transformed into a beautiful intimate setting much like a sophisticated club or retreat.  It is known for its service, extensive 100 page Italian wine list and consistently inventive food.

A complementary starter from the kitchen.

The menu offers three, four or five course dinners that allow customers to select from a lengthy list of options.  There are also many complementary surprises. Ours included a pre-dinner cocktail of fresh orange juice and sweet vermouth, followed by two amuse bites.  Later extra sweet bites for our special occasion, and before we left, a box of almond biscotti freshly baked that day.  That made coffee the next morning a special event.

We ordered the four course dinner and a bottle of white wine from Umbria.

Also complementary, Crab tart with caviar ring.
John’s pasta course, Artichoke mezzelune, salsa rossa, Urfa bread tuile, lemon, and marjoram.
Jim’s pasta course, Pork filled ravioli with white bean, roasted ramps and fried sweetbreads.
Jim’s main course, Ora King Salmon, Monococco, walnut, Morels, fava and nasturtium.
John’s main course, Maine lobster, heirloom tomato, sourdough, ‘nduja salami, Borlotti beans, and basil.
John’s desert, Canoli special of the evening.
Jim’s desert, chocolate with dark chocolate and carmel.
Shared birthday goodies.
Sweet goodbye!

Food: Ginger-Sesame Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Mom, Jenny, Lucy, 2016

John’s Mom, Kay, and I have been known to spend time in the kitchen playing with recipes old and new.  Kay is a superb cook and has been very generous sharing her family recipes and mentoring the next generations, including me, how good food, made with love and experience, brings a family together at the table.  Thanks Mom for all these years of love and communion, and your recipes!

I found this recipe a few weeks ago after a family visit.  John and I were looking for something on the lighter side one evening and it turned our to be a new favorite. It’s quick and easy too.  We hope you will enjoy.


Ginger-Sesame Chicken Lettuce Wraps

1 Tbs.  cornstarch
2 Tbs.  peanut (or vegetable oil)
6 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, greens and whites separated
1 1/2 Tbs. fresh grated ginger
1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
1 lb. ground chicken (breast is lighter, thighs have a bit more flavor)
1/2 cup canned sliced water chestnuts, cut into 1/4 inch matchsticks
2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
2 Tbs. soy sauce

1 tsp. Sriracha (more to taste)

Sesame oil to taste

8 to 16 whole tender lettuce leaves, Bibb, Butter or Red Leaf

Torn  cilantro leaves, as garnish

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with 3 Tbs. water.

Heat the oil in a wok or 12 inch skillet over medium heat.  Add the scallion whites, ginger, garlic, and stir-fry until softened, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the chicken and stir-fry breaking it into small pieces until no longer pink, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Add water chestnuts, sugar, soy sauce and Sriracha.  Give the cornstarch a stir, and add to pan, stirring until the sauce thickens.  Add the scallion greens and season to taste with a little sesame oil.

To serve, place 1/4 cup of filling in the middle of one (or two stacked) lettuce leaves, and top with a few cilantro leaves and a little more Srirachi, if you like.  Serves 4 as a starter, or two for lunch/dinner.