Monthly Archives: December 2011

Fernando’s Costa del Sol – Cameron Park

“For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne!”

— Traditional Scottish Tune, words by Robert Burns

Fernando’s Costa del Sol
Fernando’s Costa del Sol, which used to be at the southern corner of highways 49 and 193 in Placerville, moved to its present Cameron Park location at the southwest corner of Green Valley Road and Cameron Park Drive, about five years ago and has been doing well ever since.

To many it looks like a Mexican restaurant, which it is, but it is also something very special and different. It serves delicious Salvadorean food in addition to the Mexican menu.

The owner, Fernando Sierra, is from El Salvador and just happened to be visiting San Salvador when I dropped by. But, I was able to talk to his lovely daughter, Kristina, who gave me a rundown on everything old and new.

The items on the extensive menu, which Fernando makes sure are prepared with only the freshest ingredients, starts with quite a list of Mexican appetizers and sides. Then there is the ala carte menu of burritos, super burritos enchiladas, rellenos, tacos, tamales and more.

There are eight soups on the menu, five of which are Salvadorean style. The list starts with Sopa de Seven Mares (shrimp, fish, squid, clams and crab), which is followed by menudo, and sopa de camarones, chorizo, patas, pollo, res and the always tasty sopa de tortilla. The salad list includes chicken, fajita, taco, vegetarian taco and more.

The Salvadorean food list, which is next on the menu, includes a number of dishes using New York steak or chicken, sautéed or topped with different sauces, and some even come with French fries.

The Salvadorean specialities, which I like, include papusas filled with different meats and cheeses, Salvadorean tamales (tamals) which are cooked in a banana leaf, yucca (similar to potato) and fried plantains (platanos fritos).

Following these dishes on the menu is a whole page of delicious looking seafood items, including, prawns, stuffed prawns and fish cooked several ways.

The Mexican part of the menu includes the normal selection of different meats, all cooked in Fernando’s special way, and served as a one, two or three item combination plate or separately. The list is two extensive to describe here, but you will love it. These are followed by a short “Buenos Dias” menu including a breakfast burrito, huevos con chorizo, huevos rancheros, machaca con huevos and a Salvadorean scramble.

For dessert you can select from ice cream, fried ice cream, sopapilla, a strawberry chimichanga or a churro with ice cream.

On top of all of this, they have weekday lunch specials and vegetarian lunches and dinners.

To accompany the meal there is wine and wine drinks, quite a list of soft drinks, fountain and bottled (Mexican), orange juice, coffee, tea, milk, milkshakes, horchata, tamarindo and jamaica tea, along with domestic, Mexican and Salvadorean beers.

Recently they have introduced a happy hour weekdays from 3 until 6 p.m. and during Monday Night Football, 6 until 8 p.m. (several new televisions added for this and other sports). And to help introduce you to the world of Salvadorean food, they now have a Salvadorean sampler with a papusa, tamal, platanos and yucca.

Fernando’s Costa del Sol is open daily from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., has indoor and patio seating and can be reached at 530-676-4480.

Criminal Annals, Part 134: From Salmon Falls doctor to legislator

GWspring2004The October 4, 1852 edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” opens with a front page devoted mostly to advertisements and politics. In a column of odds and ends, is found one very interesting article from Canada.

“ANNEXATION OF CANADA TO THE UNITED STATES. — Mr. Papineau, who has just been elected to the Canadian Parliament by an extraordinary majority, has published a long address, in which he declares he is in favor of annexing Canada to the United States.”

Note: Louis-Joseph Papineau (1786-1871) supported the Montreal Annexation Manifesto that called for Canada to join the United States of America. He was a leader of the reformist Patriote movement, a political movement that existed in Lower Canada (present-day Quebec) from the beginning of the 19th century to the Patriote Rebellion of 1837 and 1838 and the subsequent Act of Union of 1840. The movement was a liberal reaction against colonial control of the government of Lower Canada, and a more general nationalistic reaction against British presence and domination over what had previously been an exclusively French territory.

Following an increasing  number of political articles is one simply entitled, “Placerville.”

“The prompt messenger of Hunter & Co.’s Express laid the El Dorado News [Coloma 1851, ultimately becoming the “Mountain Democrat”] on our table yesterday, at an early hour. We cull from it the following items:

“The stock of the South Fork Canal Company has been all taken and the books closed. This work, the News says, ‘is truly one of the most gigantic of any age or country, and certainly surpasses, in magnitude and importance, anything of the kind ever undertaken and accomplished by private individuals.”

“Dr. S. A. McMeans had written a letter explaining his course on the ‘cooley bill’ [Foreign Miner’s License Tax of May 1852]of the last Legislature. The Doctor explains why he voted for the bill. He is a candidate for reelection to the next Legislature.

Note: Dr. Selden Allen McMeans (1808-1876) was born in Knoxville, Tenn., served in the Mexican War and arrived in California around 1849. He was one of the first doctors at Salmon Falls, El Dorado County. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1851, and again in 1852. In 1853 he was elected to the position of State Treasurer, a position he held until 1856.

In 1859, he moved to Virginia City, Nevada, after the Comstock Lode silver strike. When the news of the firing on Fort Sumter reached Virginia City in 1861, he announced that he, and a group called the Knights of the Golden Circle, would capture Fort Churchill for the Confederacy. But when they received news of a detachment of Union soldiers heading to Virginia City, they changed their mind. After the Civil War, he organized the Democratic Party in Nevada and became its first chairman. He finally moved his practice to Reno, where he died 1876.

Continuing with the article, “ FUGITIVE SLAVE CASE. –  A woman was arrested in this place, on Tuesday last, on the plea of being the property of Amelia Raymon, who brought her to this country in 1850. The case was tried before Thomas Wallace, Esq., who, we understand, discharged the woman, on the ground that the complaint did not state that she was to be taken back to Louisiana. She was subsequently arrested, to be tried before Judge Hall, on Thursday evening; but before the hour of trial arrived, however, a compromise wise was effected, and the woman discharged.

“RAIN. –  Just before our paper went to press this morning, it clouded up very suddenly, and in a few minutes we were favored with a refreshing shower of rain, which seemed to betoken, in the miners’s faces, the ‘good time coming.’ The shower was accompanied by repeated flashes of lightning and peals of thunder, which is something unusual; and we think the probability is that the weather, as well as the country, is becoming Americanized.”

Under the heading “From the Interior” are articles from Shasta, Sonoma and San Jose.


“We have received copies of the Shasta Courier [1852-1872], Marysville Herald [1850-1858] and Miner’s Advocate[Coloma 1852-Diamond Springs 1855], for which we are indebted to Adams & Co.’s Express. We make such selections from these as are of a general interest to our readers. We clip the following from the Courier:

“IMPORTANT FROM YREKA. –  Mr. Rains, of Cram, Rogers & Co.’s Express, furnished us with the sad news which we give below. Mr. Strawbridge forwarded. his letter to Mr. Rains after he left Yreka, and we are consequently in possession of no particulars except those contained in it:

“Yreka, Sept. 28, 1852.

“Dear Rains: Since you left yesterday a detachment from Ben Wright’s party beyond the Butte has reached here, conducting an imigrant [sic] train; they report that twelve miles from the trail the bodies of three men, one woman, and two children have been found, butchered by the Indians.

“You will recollect a short time since (about the time Coats was killed) Ben found a quantity of children’s clothing in an Indian camp. This was probably the property of this last murdered party, who, it is supposed, constituted one family. Some papers which may lead to a knowledge of their identity are in possession of D.D. Cotton, Esq.

“ All quiet here as you left us. ‘ Yours, truly, Jas. Strawbridge.”

“TROOPS FOR THE NORTH. — It is reported that a company of dragoons are now at Reading’s ranch. They departed from Benicia some weeks ago. It will be seen, therefore, that the progress of this body of troops towards the place where they are expected to do important service is rapid –  expeditious –  very. At this rate of travel they will probably reach their place of destination in the course of a month or two. In the meantime we have published the name of many who have been murdered. In another column it will be found that six more victims have been added to the list. We will not insult the common understanding and virtuous impulses of our readers with a single word of comment –  the facts speak for themselves.”

“INDIAN HUNTING. –  Owing to some depredations recently committed on Clear Creek [Shasta county] by the Indians, Capt. Larabee organize a small party and gave them chase. The party returned a few days since, bringing with them a number of squaws and children. During their absence on the scout they killed fifteen Indians. We are not furnished with a full account of the work done by this volunteer and independent company of frontier soldiers. It is probable that this wholesome and impromptu chastisement will eventually check the serious depredations which had lately become alarmingly frequent on Clear and Cottonwood Creeks. Should the Indians, however, still continue troublesome we are assured that this timely castigation will be repeated, and prosecuted even to a greater length, by the same company or another similarly organized.”


Hangtown Hot Dogs – Placerville

“If a man is hungry and can’t get to a fancy French restaurant, he’ll go to a hot dog stand.”

— Joan Fontaine




Hangtown Hot Dogs
It has been nearly a year since Tymphani Schwall took over Hangtown Hot Dogs, which is located at 374 Main St. in Placerville. When interviewed last March, she said, “I have lived in Shingle Springs for seven and a half years, and I always enjoyed coming to Placerville to wander in and out of the shops, especially Placerville Hardware, where I usually ended up. I really love the town and the people. I work in office management, but there are no jobs available locally,” she continued, “so I went looking to buy myself a job. I am a real people person and didn’t want to have to commute to Sacramento for work.”

Nine months later she is still there, still smiling her wonderful smile, and doing well. “The first couple of months were a real struggle,” she said earlier this week. “I get a lot of support from the other merchants and that really helps.

“I made some changes, like switching to Steven’s for my old fashioned dog, but I still have the Nathan’s, which are gluten free, Hebrew Nationals and others.
“I have added some new dogs to my list of speciality dogs, like the Blue Dog, made with blue cheese, hot wing sauce and bacon. I also have a new, unnamed dog made with strawberry jam and Swiss cheese. It is sort of a variation on the ‘Monte Cristo.’ All my speciality dogs come with an old fashioned dog, but I can make them with any of my other sausages.

“For the winter I have also added chili and clam chowder in a bread bowl. Before doing it, I looked around Main Street to see if anyone else was using a bread bowl and I didn’t see any. We try to support each other and I didn’t want to step on anyone else’s toes.

“I also have churros for dessert. They are so big I have to cut them in two to fit in my oven,” she said.

Hangtown Hot Dogs serves a large list of dogs, varying from the teenie beef weenie to a one-third pound monster dog. You can also get a veggie or turkey dog, corn dog, bratwurst, hot link or Polish sausage and, if you are up to it, a habanero hot link. The specialty dogs, of which there are more than a dozen, vary from the America River with barbecue sauce, American cheese, jalapeños, tomato, onion, seasoning salt and bacon, to the Hangtown with mustard, mayo, onion, bacon, cheese, tomato and dill chips and the Reuben, with pastrami, Swiss cheese, brown mustard, 1000 island dressing, sauerkraut and a dill pickle spear.

Not up for a dog? She can also fix you up with a tamale, pizza, nachos (regular and deluxe), chili-cheese Fritos or nachos, chili, giant pretzels or a Reuben sandwich with macaroni or potato salad.

Oh, there is also another new item on the menu, sweet potato fries. “Those are getting really popular,” said Schwall.

To accompany your meal she serves fountain soda, hot cocoa and fresh brewed ice tea, along with a selection of chips and more.

Hangtown Hot Dogs is open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m., most days, closing at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, “To get some time off,” Schwall said. On Sunday the hours are from noon until 4 p.m.

For more information call 530-626-6546.

Looking for a unique gift, she also sells gift certificates.

Criminal Annals, Part 133: “Doctor” Marsh

John Marsh

Continuing with the Oct. 2, 1852, edition of the Sacramento “Daily Union,” we again find the most interesting of the articles listed under the doings in the Recorder’s Court, where minor criminals, many of whom seem to be there most of the time for various and continuing incidents, face Judge McGrew.

“RECORDER’S COURT. – Before Judge McGrew. Friday October1, 1852

“The morning fawned bright and beautiful, and the birds, if there had been any in the streets, would certainly have greeted it with their most joyful matins [a service of morning prayer]. Even the nightingales, whose songs and pipings rendered the air vocal, previous to their lighting down in the Station House, had a just appreciation of out-door loveliness, and looked pleased at the prospect of regaining immediate liberty. It is from contrasts alone that we derive the sweets of life. Those who have never been hungered, know little of the enjoyments of appetite – so, those who have never been locked up in a prison, can form but an indefinite idea of the bliss derived from freedom – freedom, too, when the glorious sun, the softly tempered breeze, and the shady watercourses, all invite to the abandonment of recreation.

“In the case of William O’Rourke, judgment was rendered in a fine of $40 and costs. Not having that small amount on hand—being at the conclusion of a ‘big spree,’ in which his money circulated freely – William was sent up for ten days. Before leaving, he took occasion to address the court as follows: ‘Your Honor, I did not make any defence, for I knew your Honor would punish me, whether guilty or not.’

John Blake, for assault and battery upon the person of Philip Smith, found guilty, and fined $20 and costs— in default five days imprisonment. The whole costs amounted to $40, which the defendant concluded he would rather go to prison than pay. While the warrant was being made out, however, he changed his determination and forked over.

Joseph H. Wheelwright, for petit larceny, found not guilty and discharged.

Matthew Rice, for assault and battery. This is the same individual who manifested such delight yesterday morning at escaping the infliction of the law ‘once more’ – the same that the Judge rebuked – ‘once more’ in the law’s clutches, from which he now found escape more difficult. All the crocodile evidences of contrition exhibited by Mr. Rice, had no effect in modifying the stern decision of justice. He was found guilty – $50 and costs – in default of paying which, he was sent to prison ten days.

John Turner, for disorderly conduct, flourishing a knife, and threatening to ‘carve’ people’s hearts out. As the prisoner was on a spree, and said a good deal more than he had any intention of executing, and in consideration of his general good character, he was fined only $[figure missing] and costs.

Matthew McGinley, Henry Davidson and John Carroll, for an assault and robbery upon the person of James H. Marsh. Case continued.

In the same edition is an article about an event called a “A Mike Fink Exploit,” referring to the a semi-legendary brawler and boatman, Mike Fink (1770/1780-1823) who exemplified the tough and hard-drinking men who ran keel-boats up and down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Apparently there had been some confusing publicity in San Francisco about a shooting between two men who knew each other, one of whom was a former friend of Mr. Fink.

“The ‘Mike Fink Exploit.’ – We give Mr. Taylor the full benefit of our columns to place himself right in reference to this affair. Our information was derived from a respectable gentleman of this place, and whose veracity we had no reason to doubt. We copy his communication to the S. F. Whig [May 1853 – February 1853, then continued under other names], preceded by the editor’s remarks :

“THE MIKE FINK AFFAIR AT MARTINEZ.– Below will be found a communication from Capt. Taylor, which sufficiently explains itself. We had the pleasure of a visit from him yesterday, and we are glad to find him enthusiastic in the support of Scott and Graham [Whig candidates for President and Vice President in 1852]. Capt. T. is a full cousin of the late President Taylor – is 63 years of age, was taken prisoner by the British during the war of 1812, was through the whole Texan war of Independence, was one of the Texas Rangers, was with Gen. Taylor during the war with Mexico, and took an active part in every fight Gen. Taylor had in Mexico:

Editor. Daily Whig: – In your paper of the 27th inst., you publish an account, under the head of ‘A Mike Fink Exploit,’ (copied from the Sacramento Union) of an occurrence which took place at Martinez, on Tuesday of last week, which is incorrect in some particulars, and which I trust you will allow me the space in your columns to correct. On that day I had a law-suit with a man named John Marsh, known as a doctor, in which I was the successful party, he is a man of whose character 1 will say nothing at present, but simply state that we have been at variance for some time past.

Note: “Doctor” John Marsh (1799-1856) was an early pioneer and settler in California (1836), and although he did not have a medical degree, is often regarded as the first person to practice medicine in California. His historic stone house will be part of the Cowell/John Marsh Property State Historic Park in Contra Costa County.

Continuing with the story; “In the evening after the suit, while sitting in the store of Mr. Sturges, of Martinez, I was attacked or menaced by a man whose name I cannot now recollect, and with whom 1 never had a difficulty, when off my guard, with a Bowie knife, from which I escaped without injury, and the would-be assassin fled. I have many old Texas friends in that neighborhood, and among the number, Col. Wm. Smith, (who, 1 believe, is well known in your city). Hearing of the murderous attack upon me, they made efforts to find the man who had made the attempt upon my life, but could not find him. We afterwards got together and spent a pleasant hour, during which time, the subject of our former exploits in Texas and elsewhere, were fully discussed; and it being known that the Celebrated Mike Fink and myself were old associates, and that we had many a time fired at bottles placed on each other’s heads, some bantering took place as to who was the best shot. Finally without any hesitation on my part or Col. Smith’s, a bottle was placed on my head, and fired at by the Colonel, with a revolving pistol, at the distance of thirty-five or forty feet. The firing was after dark and by candle light, and was done at the word. I knew him to be an excellent shot, but at the time, thought he was aiming a little too low, and so told him. Unfortunately my prediction was true, and the hall passed under one side of the bottom of the bottle, knocking it off without breaking it, and knocking out a piece of my skull bone about three inches long, and the depth and width of the ball, and yet without knocking me down.

“The above are the facts of the case. The statement that I called Col. Smith a coward and forced him to fire, and the further statement that he fled across the river, is entirely untrue. He is too brave a man for that, I have many friends in your city, and to satisfy them that I am not dangerously wounded, can inform them that I write this here, being down on business.

“Yours. &c., John H. Taylor. San Francisco. Sept 29, 1852.”