Monthly Archives: October 2014

Steppin’ Out – California Kitchen

Eight months ago Russ Salazar and I stopped by this same location – 251 Main Street in Placerville – to try the food at Torino’s Bar & Grill. Last week we stopped in again, but this time it is a different restaurant known as California Kitchen.

It was about 1:00 p.m.when we got there, so after sitting down and looking over the menu, we decided to forego breakfast and split a couple of sandwiches.
Salazar, who has now learned how do to my job better than I, immediately asked our server what most people ordered. She answered,“The California Kitchen Benedict, Monte Cristo (available as both a breakfast and lunch) and Saul’s Favorite ( a fried chicken breast served on grilled ciabatta and topped with fresh spinach, smoked bacon, mozzarella, two eggs and a chipotle cream sauce).”

I thought about the Monte Cristo or their NY Style Reuben for a minute, but then saw the Santa Barbara Steak Sandwich, made with grilled tri-tip, bleu cheese crumbles, sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions, lettuce and chipotle mao on a ciabatta roll. That looked especially good.

Salazar immediately noticed their Nuevo California Torta, which is a Mexican style sandwich made with roast pork or tri-tip and served on a telera roll with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, refried beans, avocado, pickled jalapaños and queso fresco (fresh Mexican style cheese).

We ordered both the steak and torta sandwiches and added one side of their crispy French fries. As you can guess, neither of us needs a whole serving of fries.

A short time later our server brought us our order and everything looked delicious. The eye gives you a hint about the food and everything was beautiful.

We both started with the fries, which were hot and, as advertised, very crispy. I didn’t ask if they were coated or not, but they were some of the best I have eaten in quite a while.

I moved on to the steak sandwich and it was delicious. The ciabatta roll had great flavor and the meat was not overcooked (I asked for medium and got medium). If there was anything I would change on it, it would ask them to cut back on the bleu cheese crumbles. As delicious as they were, they somewhat overpowered the other flavors. Salazar, when he got to this sandwich, made the same comment to me, even thought I had not mentioned it to him beforehand.

Before trying the torta, I looked at it on the cut side. The sandwich was nicely put together with the roast pork, onion, tomato and lettuce centered and covering the whole roll. I hate it when you get half way through a sandwich before discovering that something was only on half of it.

From the first bite it was delicious and full of flavor, with an added slight tang from the pickled jalapeño slices. It was both Salazar’s and my favorite.

As I have said a number of times before, “The crust makes the pizza and the bread makes the sandwich.” The bread on both of these sandwiches was excellent.

Their large menu varies from a basic breakfast to French toast, flapjacks, Belgian waffles, several Benedicts, omelets and a number of house specialities. They also serve what they call “Old California Breakfasts,” and “California Farm Scrambles,” both of which looked very interesting.

The menu continues with a number of salads and a list of nearly 20 different and delicious looking sandwiches. Those are followed by half a dozen burgers, a bunch of desserts and, of course, a kids menu.

At first look I thought is was a bit pricy – the sandwiches were each $8.99 – but when they came and I saw them and then tasted all the fresh ingredients, I decided that was a very fair price.

Not only is the food good, the restaurants is beautiful and clean, with some tables near the windows so you can watch the passing crowd (I love that in a restaurant).

Again, California Kitchen is open daily from 7 until 3, serving both breakfast and lunch. For more information give them a call at (530) 622-7500.

For you old-timers, they are located where La Casa Grande used to be.

Post Offices of El Dorado County – Part 20 – “V”-“Z”

In El Dorado County there were, at one time or another, over 100 post offices with some 120 different names. Some had a short life and some apparently never even existed at all, although history books make reference to them. The latter were appropriately called phantom post offices. Others existed, but nobody was sure of their exact location. These were called ghost post offices. Many others, once established, continue to operate until this day.

VirnerVIRNER – This post office eight miles northeast of Georgetown was established on Sep. 11, 1897 with Jenny L. Tuttle serving as the first postmaster.

The name was derived from Virner or Camp Virner, a mining camp and then a vacation resort at this location between Georgetown and Quintette, on what is now known as Wentworth Springs Road.

The Virner Post Office was discontinued on Mar. 31, 1913 and the mail moved to Georgetown.
In the 1800’s, James W. Marshall, the discoverer of gold at Coloma, built a cabin near here in Marshall Ravine.

Volcanoville

Volcanoville

VOLCANOVILLE – The post office at this mining camp from the 1850’s was not established until July 8, 1930, when Mrs. Clara P. Fraser was appointed as the first postmaster.

Located a few miles to the north of Kentucky Flat, on a point overlooking the Middle Fork of the American River, the town of Volcanoville was so named because a nearby mountain seemed to be an extinct volcano and the miners had to work through lava cement (a hardened ash/mud deposit) to get to the gold. When an 1879 forest fire destroyed most of the buildings in town, a majority of the mines closed. But, two years later the Dore (Maurice Dore) Mine was reopened as the Josephine Mine, taking its name from its new owner, Joseph Nouges. By the 1890s the mine was so successful that the town itself was actually renamed Josephine.

The Josephine post office was established on August 12, 1895 with store owner Jerome C. Akley as postmaster. The post office would be discontinued on October 20, 1915 and reestablished on July 11 of the next year. It would be closed for good on October 31, 1917.

It wasn’t until after the name of the town was changed back to Volcanoville that the Volcanoville post office was opened. Postal service was discontinued on January 31, 1953 and the mail moved to Georgetown.

By the 1960s most everything had shut down an a sign at the entrance to the town read: “Volcanoville. Pop. 4. Elev. 3036.”

At that time, Vera Frazier and her son Jim owned the town and operated a museum in a building that has once been a dance hall, general store and saloon. The museum burned in 1969, leaving only a few residences and a beer parlor.

YANKS STATION – This location on the main road through the Lake Tahoe Valley never had an official post office. However, it was an important Pioneer Stage Line Company stop and cancellations with this name have been reported.

The official post office at this location was named Lake Valley.

Yeomet 1856YEOMET – This early post office, more often known as Yornet and even sometimes as Saratoga, was established on July 14, 1854 with Eustace P. Bowman serving as the first postmaster.

The name of this 1850 gold mining camp, located at the junction of the North and South Forks of the Cosumnes River, is derived from “Yomet” an Indian word for some nearby falls.

In 1854 the southern boundary of El Dorado County was shifted and the post office found itself in Amador County. On June 8, 1861 the post office was closed and the mail moved to Jackson (Amador County).

YoungsYOUNGS – This post office, located at a vacation resort called Youngs, on the North Fork of the Cosumnes River one mile north of Somerset, was established on Mar. 7, 1924 with Morgan W. Young serving as the first postmaster.

On Aug. 1, 1950 the post office was closed and moved one mile south and renamed Somerset. The Somerset Post Office is still in operation.

ZODOK – This post office was established on Aug. 6, 1887 with Jasper M. Bell serving as the first postmaster.

The Postal Route Map shows the location of this post office as being five miles south of Placerville, but gives no origin for its unique name.

Less than one year after it opened, on June 30, 1888, service was discontinued and the mail moved to Placerville.

Sources for this story include, “History of California Post Offices, 1849-1976,” researched by H. E. Salley (1976); “The Gold Rush Mail Agents to California and Their Postal Markings,” by Theron Wierenga (1987); “California Town Postmarks, 1849-1935,” by John H. Williams (1997); “Short Stories Regarding The History of South El Dorado County,” by D. A. Wright (undated); the “History of El Dorado County,” by Paolo Sioli (1883), reprinted and indexed by the El Dorado Friends of the Library (1998); and the archives of the Mountain Democrat, Empire County Argus and Placer Times (on microfilm at the El Dorado County Main Library).