Monthly Archives: August 2012

Community Profiles – Coloma, Part 1


Sutter's Mill

Sutter’s Mill with James Marshall (possibly)

Some ask why it turned out that Coloma, which gets its name from a nearby Southern Maidu village with the name of Culloma, was the site of the California gold discovery. After all, there were many, many places in the Mother Lode where such a occurrence could have easily taken place. Gold was in streams and rivers everywhere along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. But there were several reasons, including luck, that Coloma would have the destiny to become the site of this discovery that would immediately change the the world.

Coloma lies on the South Fork of the American River, a place with sufficient water power for a sawmill, a place with great stands of timber and a place only a day or two ride upriver from John Sutter’s fort, which lay to the west at a place he called New Helvetia (now Sacramento), in honor of his Swiss heritage. It was for these reasons that John Sutter and James Marshall selected this site for Sutter’s sawmill and in doing so, established the first real permanent camp in the foothills of the Sierra. That is what set the stage for the discovery of gold in the Mother Lode to take place at this location.

For the first few years after James Wilson Marshall’s famed discovery of gold, Coloma was where everyone headed. They might end up somewhere else but Coloma, “Sutter’s Mill” or just “The Mill,” was their original destination.

People arrived from all over the world. Most came up the river from San Francisco to Sutter’s Fort and then headed to Coloma through what is now Folsom, Rescue and Lotus. Later, as the word of the  “Gold Rush” reached the east coast, they came by boat to San Francisco or over the Sierra Nevada by wagon.

Fire Dawg Coffee Co. – Diamond Springs

“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 said, Coffee Dawg Coffee Co. No. 1. He said, “Who knows, be we might open more than one.”

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

Diamond Chinese – Diamond Springs

Diamond Chinese

Diamond Chinese, the restaurant next to the post office in Diamond Springs, is one of my favorite places when I want a delicious, inexpensive lunch of freshly prepared Chinese food.

My friend Bruce Alden and I had some business in Placerville last Friday, so, on our way back, we stopped in for lunch. From its three items lunch combo ($5.75) I ordered cashew chicken, pork chow mein and, the little kid in me added sweet and sour pork. Bruce picked cheese wonton, Szechuan wings and pork fried rice.

Our very attentive server, who came by several times to make sure we had water and that everything was to our liking, first brought us egg flower soup, which was very nice. Then came our meals. Everything was hot, fresh and delicious, and the portions were generous. Bruce took half his rice home, I ate everything on my plate — again.

Diamond Chinese Restaurant has a huge menu with all kinds of dishes, family dinners, combination dinner plates and more, along with the lunch combos and over rice lunch dishes.

The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Call 530-622-8188 for more information.

Lunch at ZacJack Bistro – Cameron Park

Lunch at ZacJack Bistro

Chef John Evans asked me to stop by and try something from their new “Business Lunch” menu, which is available weekdays from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. It features several items, all priced at $6.99.

You can choose from a Niman Ranch, all natural third pound burger with cheese and fries, half a salad or half a sandwich and soup du jour, an individual cheese, meat or vegetable pizza or a free range chicken burger.

I tried the chicken burger which came on a French bun with lettuce, tomatoes, Swiss cheese and basil aioli, accompanied by hand-cut fries with house-made catsup. I have eaten a lot of chicken sandwiches in my time and this one was outstanding: a full chicken breast, moist and perfectly cooked with a wonderful “snappy” taste from the basil aioli. I ate it extra slowly so that I could really enjoy the wonderful flavors.

ZacJack Bistro is open daily from 8 a.m. until closing, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. No corkage on Mondays, Tuesday is Ladies Night and there is brunch on the weekends. They also have monthly wine dinners and more. For more information call 530-676-2969.