Monthly Archives: August 2012

“Steppin’ Out” Column for August 31, 2012

“Man does not live by coffee alone. Have a Danish.”
Oft quoted “Unknown”

Fire Dawg Coffee Company

For several weeks I have driven by this new business at 493 Main Street (the corner of Highway 49 and China Garden Road) in Diamond Springs. I thought I would give them a bit of time to get organized and now the time seemed right, so last week I stopped by to see how things were going. I was a bit like “old home week.”

Matt Silva, his wife Gracie and sons Jeff and Bobby run this small café that serves coffee and coffee drinks, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, smoothies, milkshakes, Hawaiian shaved ice, baked goods and more.

In 2006 Matt retired from his job as Fire Chief in Cameron Park and, in his words, “I just wanted to do something.” His wife Gracie, who he will tell you hides in the kitchen creating wonderful things, is a paralegal and used to work with me at a local attorney’s office before going to work for the State of California.

I had quite a nice chat with Matt about important things like, “Why is it shave ice in Hawaii, but shaved ice here?” and, “What is the difference between that and a snow cone?”

It turns out that shaved ice is finer and the flavoring syrup stays in the top and doesn’t end up dripping on your brand new shirt and pants. And, because of that, it can be supplemented with a scoop of ice cream in the bottom, which I will get into later. Why the spelling difference? Only the Hawaiians know.

“We are still working on the menu,” said Matt. “At lunch we are serving salads, along with sandwiches made with turkey, roast beef, pastrami and Gracie’s own recipe chicken salad, served on your choice of sourdough, rye or wheat bread, or a ciabatta or French roll. We are trying to find out what our growing number of regular customers want, and then will adjust our menu to suit them.”

I had to try Gracie’s chicken salad on a ciabatta roll. I love chicken salad, especially when someone else makes it, and it was really good: lots of chunks of roasted chicken. When I had finished, Matt said I should try a shaved ice and brought me the menu.

There were a lot of flavors to select from, and even combinations of flavors with names like “Batman,” “Spiderman” and “Red Velvet,” but when I saw “dreamsicle” I went for it. Matt added a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it was closer to a childhood orange and vanilla ice cream bar than anything I have tried lately, even the ice cream bar itself.

As I finished my shaved ice, Gracie brought out one of her new creations, a meatball slider on a pretzel roll. It came with extra marinara sauce and grated Pecorino Romano cheese, but I was too full to enjoy it and had it packed for later (I keep foam shipping boxes in my car just for times like this).

I had it for dinner that evening and it was so good I drove back the next day just to tell Gracie. And, while I was there, tried a sample of the delicious pizza that they are thinking about adding to the menu.

While looking around at the many interesting pictures and fire related relics on the wall, I noticed that their coffee came from El Dorado Coffee & Tea Co. in El Dorado Hills.

“They buy their beans directly from small producers they have visited and roast them themselves.” said Matt, “That insures consistency in their products and our customers really like their coffee and tea. We also buy many of our baked goods from Sugar Lillie Bakery in the town of El Dorado and are trying to find local sources for more of what we need.”

Coffee Dawg Coffee Company is open Monday through Friday from 7 until 4, but they are thinking about adding Sunday to the list.

As I was leaving I asked Matt why the logo on their hats and shirts read, Coffee Dawg Coffee Co. 1. He said, “Who knows, be we might open more than one.”

For more information give them a call at (530) 306-7242.

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M.O.R.E. Chili Cook Off at Burke Junction in Cameron Park

This year’s M.O.R.E. Chili Cook Off will again be at  Burke Junction in Cameron Park.

It takes place on Saturday, September 8, starting at 10 a.m. with a classic car show and then, at noon, you can taste all the chili, which by that time will have hopefully been judged by a panel of local celebrities. But, you get to do the real judging, the People’s Choice, and you also get to vote for the best classic car.

There will be live music, courtesy of “Out of the Blue,” along with cold drinks, hot dogs and snacks, a bounce house, train rides and a drawing for valuable prizes.

Admission is a suggested donation of $7.00 per adult (under 10 are $5 person and under 3 are free). All proceeds benefit adults with developmental disabilities.

Call 530-622-4848 for more information, along with chili competition and car show applications.

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Barrel Tasting and Harvest Picnic at Sierra Vista Winery

On Saturday September 8, from noon until 4 p.m., Sierra Vista Winery will be offering barrel samples of their 2010 Syrah Ancient Vine Reserve, 2010 Old Clone Zinfandel, and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Ancient Vine Reserve. Unlike some barrel samples, these wines are finished blends ready for bottling.

Also, enjoy an afternoon of wine and a delicious picnic of barbecue chicken with pasta salad of tomato, kalamata olive and mozzarella cheese, along with a black bean, red pepper and corn salad all paired deliciously with the Fall new releases.

The cost is $6 to non-club members. Space is limited, so RSVP by today, August 31, to 530-622-7221.

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Miraflores Parings

This Saturday and Sunday, September 1 and 2, the chef for Miraflores Winery’s Pairings will be Gabriel Glasier, Executive chef at Maranello Restaurant in Fair Oaks.

The cost is $30 for club members and $40 for non-club members.

You can make a reservation for anytime between 11 and 3 both days. They start your delicious meal when you get there.

For more information call 530-647-8505.

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Celebrate the Day

Birthdays you can celebrate today: Italian physician and educator, Maria Montessori (1870); American writer of Armenian descent, William Saroyan (1908); editor of “The New Yorker” for 35 years, William Shawn (1907); actors James Coburn (1928), G. D. Spradlin (1920), Jack Thompson (1940), Chris Tucker (1972) and Noble Willingham (1931); singers Debbie Gibson (1970), Van Morrison (1945) and Glenn Tilbrook (1957); comedian and actor Buddy Hackett (1924); violinist Itzhak Perlman (1945) and journalist Daniel Schorr (1916). It is also the anniversary of the Klondike Eldorado Gold Discovery in 1896.

Community Profiles – El Dorado Hills

Mormon Tavern - about 1860

Mormon Tavern – about 1860

Most of the early history of the El Dorado Hills area occurred on and along two of the earliest major immigration and trade routes in early California, Green Valley Road to the north and to the south what is now generally Highway 50, but was historically known by many names including the Carson-Immigrant Trail, the Overland Trail, the Sacramento-Washoe Road and White Rock Road.

Green Valley Road is the oldest of these two and a major portion of it was the old Coloma road, which led from Sacramento via Folsom, Mormon Island, Green Valley, Rose Springs (Rescue) to Uniontown (Lotus) and Coloma. There were also important branches of this road, including one forking off at New York ravine, crossing the South Fork of the American River at Salmon Falls into the northern part of the county and running up to Greenwood Valley and Georgetown. From there the road branched out in all directions, even back to Placerville via Kelsey’s, Spanish Flat and American Flat.

The old immigrant road on the south entered California State from the east and followed the Carson River up the Carson Valley. After crossing the Sierra Nevada it descended along the divide between the headwaters of the American and Cosumnes rivers. It followed this divide through Sly Park, Pleasant Valley, Diamond Springs, Mud Springs (El Dorado) and Shingle Springs, Clarksville and White Rock Springs into Sacramento County. This was the “Carson immigrant route” listed in all of the guide books.

From its main route through the county, it branched at places like Grizzly Flat south to Brownsville, Indian Diggin’s and Fiddletown; at Diamond Springs via Placerville to Coloma, Georgetown and the northern mines; at Mud Springs south to Logtown, Saratoga, Drytown and the southern mines; and at Clarksville to Folsom. The main part of the emigrant route is loosely approximated today by portions of Highway 50, Mother Lode Drive, Pleasant Valley Road, Mormon Immigrant Trail and Highway 88.

For years these two roads were indisputably the most traveled in California, one bringing tired but excited immigrants westward into the state and the other filled with anxious miners heading in the direction of Coloma and beyond. Both roads were also heavily traveled by the wagon loads of supplies needed to support the quest for gold, numerous stage lines and, for a short time, the Pony Express. Even with all of this going on, most of the land now known as El Dorado Hills remained as a quiet place where wildlife browsed — with a few exceptions.

Community Profiles – Diamond Springs


Diiamond Springs - 1854

Diiamond Springs – 1854

Is it Diamond Spring or Diamond Springs? And, is it named for the crystal clear springs where the immigrants watered their livestock or for the diamond-like quartz crystals that were found nearby?

The first question has an easy answer. The name of the townsite was written both as Diamond Spring and Diamond Springs until July 1, 1950 when the “s” was officially added by the U.S. Post Office Department, making it from that day forward Diamond Springs.

The crystal springs answer to the second question is the reference that shows up in a large majority of the early histories of El Dorado County, so we can probably go with that one, although the quartz crystal option is somewhat more interesting.

We do know that the group of springs in the middle of this Gold Rush community were a favorite stopping and camping place for the immigrants who reached here by way of the old immigrant road (Carson trail) that followed the course of the Carson River up over the Sierra Nevada and then down towards this spot passing Silver Lake, Sly Park and Pleasant Valley along the way.

It was an ideal location to stop since it was at this point that the immigrants had to make a choice, either take the road to the north, towards Hangtown, Coloma, Georgetown and the northern mining camps, continue west for about two miles and and then turn south to Jackson, Sonora and the southern mining camps or just stay on the road going west to Sacramento and what was commonly known as the “plains.”

Although the Diamond Springs area would later prove to be quite rich in gold, no one realized it at first and there was no real settlement here – save one log cabin – until late in the summer of 1850. Prior to that time most who arrived stayed only long enough to rest, water and feed their stock and then continue their trip. But, as we will see, not everybody moved on.

Community Profiles – Coloma, Part 2


Dedication of Marshall Monument - 1890

Dedication of Marshall Monument – 1890

There are obviously many tales that can be told about early Coloma and its citizens. After all, as a former publisher of the Mountain Democrat aptly put it, “…civilization here was young and the reign of law, a fiction.” One of the most intriguing stories involves its bid to obtain and retain the county seat of El Dorado County.

When El Dorado County was organized by an act of the state legislature on February 18, 1850 (yes, before California was a state), Coloma was the largest town at that time and, with the large number of voters living there (males over 21), it was easily chosen as the county seat.

Four years later, when the center of population had shifted, a number of towns jealously showed a desire to replace it as the county seat. Thus in 1854 another election was held with the following results: Coloma, 4,601; Placerville, 3,745; Diamond Springs, 2,073; Mud Springs (El Dorado), 685 and Greenwood Valley, 441.

This did not set well with the citizens of the new city of Placerville and they started an unfruitful movement to divide the county (around that time many of the original 27 counties were being divided and, in fact in 1854 Amador County was created from portions of Calaveras and El Dorado counties). Subsequently, the Board of Supervisors ordered another election to move the county seat to be held on May 17, 1856. The results were very interesting, to say the least.

In this election, the official returns gave Coloma 7,413 votes and Placerville, the only other candidate, 5,895 votes. Because of the results of the 1854 election, the citizens of Placerville had feared the possibility of fraud and thus obtained returns at the close of the polls, prior to the “official returns.” These showed that Coloma had received only 5,280 votes, some 600 less than Placerville. It was also noted that there had been 2,038 votes cast in the townsite of Coloma alone, over a thousand more than had been cast in the previous presidential election and, some say, far more that the number of eligible voters plus all of the dogs and chickens.

Quite a fuss resulted and, finally tired of the antics of the local citizens, in January of 1857 the state legislature permanently solved the problem and firmly established the county seat at the city of Placerville, where it has remained since.