Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin and Danville are bustling with events, restaurants, cafés, galleries, theaters and shops, so there’s never a shortage of things to do. From lively street festivals to the serene Livermore Valley wine region, it’s no wonder why our cities have been hailed as one of the “Hottest Neighborhoods in America”.
Here are a couple of summer treat recipes with an adult-spin to help the grownups beat the summer heat.
LIVERMORE WHITE WINE STRAWBERRY AND LEMON ICE POPS:
1 ½ lbs. Fresh Strawberries
½ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Water
1 tbsp. Lemon Peel
1 cup of your favorite Livermore Valley stainless steel aged white wine (we used Vasco Urbano 2015 Coco Blanc)
Bring water, sugar, and lemon peel to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Let the mixture simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the lemon peels once the syrup has cooled. In a large cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberries with the wine. Add the lemon syrup and give it a hard shake. Pour into popsicle molds and stick in the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Bring wine to a boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes to reduce. Once the wine has reduced, take it off the heat and whisk in the chocolate chips. Stir in milk and pour the mixture into popsicle molds. Stick them in the freezer 6 hours or overnight.
Mix wine, brandy, lime juice, and agave nectar in a pitcher or large bowl. Inside of your popsicle molds, drop a few raspberries inside along with a thin lime slice. Pour sangria mixture to fill each mold. Freeze for 30 minutes – 1 hour until you can stick your popsicle sticks in the middle of each mold and they will stay. After sticks are in place, freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight. Optional:serve popsicles in a glass with 4 oz of Wente Brut for a touch of fizziness.
Coffee time is all the time – discover your new local caffeine fix! Here are our favorites in Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin and Danville.
Espresso Rosetta, Livermore
This locally-owned, independent artisanal coffee company makes all of their syrups in-house and serves their drinks in porcelain cups to enhance the flavors. For those on the go, there are double-walled porcelain travel mugs for purchase. Loose leaf tea from Blue Willow, a local tea company, is also available. We recommend ordering the Nicco Macchiato Truffle (an intriguing blend of orange, cinnamon and vanilla) and taking a theater seat (reclaimed from an old theater in Berkeley) for a unique experience. espressorosetta.com
The Press, Pleasanton
Get your cameras ready, because the coffee drinks and food here as gorgeous as they are tasty. Make sure to grab a cup of locally-roasted McLaughlin Coffee and an order of their toastinis or homemade marshmallows! Don’t be fooled by their strip mall location, once you’re there you’ll find a mixed crowd of young professionals, students and families forming a line out the door. thepressartisancafe.com
The coffee service here begins with a selection of beans sourced from artisans’ hand roasting in small batches. Snag a seat at one of the vintage tables, whip out your laptop and get some work done. If you work into the night, don’t worry – there are blankets available for use, and you can order a delicious dinner. itsonthesideboard.com
Inklings Coffee & Tea, Pleasanton
Inklings Coffee features specialty coffee and tea. They also have several meeting rooms and an event center available for rent. Catch live music too! What we love about Inklings is their investment in a building with enough space to fit you, your friends, your family, and anyone you might bump into on the street. inklingscoffee.com
Summer is here in the Tri-Valley, but Winter is Coming to Westeros.
And it seems the only way our beloved Game of Thrones characters can get through life is with ale. Here’s a list of Tri-Valley breweries where you might catch ’em toasting their victories or drinking their sorrows away.
Why: We suspect that Brienne would go out of her way to support a woman-owned and operated business such as Three Sheets. Imagined and maintained by a shared passion for craft beer and honed through extensive travels, this bar is the perfect welcome for the out-of-towner.
Why: With its lively crowd and ever-changing menu, we think Tyrion Lannister would frequent Altamont as often as he spews sarcasm. He has a way with words, so he’d appreciate the unique beer names and the amount of people to exchange jokes with.
Why: Littlefinger knows his history, and we’d like to think he would consider a home at The Hop Yard for its ties to the past. Located on what was once the largest hop farm in the world, The Hop Yard is reminiscent of simpler times, allowing the energy and excitement of those in attendance to enjoy themselves and indulge in the region’s offerings.
At the helm of McGrail Vineyards in Livermore, Heather McGrail gets down to earth in both the culture and terroir of Livermore Valley wine country. The winery is a family affair dedicated to creating an unforgettable experience and crafting the finest Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is managed with sustainability and quality in mind.
Here, Heather shares some of her most favorite experiences in the Tri-Valley.
What does a perfect day in the Tri-Valley look like?
There are so many Perfect Days in the Tri-Valley and Livermore Valley Wine Country I can’t just pick one. So for my family day (since I’m a mom of three, most of my days are family days) we love to ride our bikes through the vineyards to Underdog Wine Bar for lunch or Retzlaff for tasting and a picnic, and then downtown to the Farmer’s Market or Ale House. Most of the wineries are family friendly, so often times we will pick up sandwiches from Casse Croute Bakery and then bike to one of the wineries and enjoy a picnic on the beautiful grounds.
When my girlfriends come into town I try to always stay at the Purple Orchid (or Rose Hotel) and get a spa treatment. Then we head out to the wineries for a fun day of discovering new wines. After a day of wine tasting, we end up downtown and love to hit up Double Barrel, Swirl, Beer Baron, and Pura Vida. I love that most places have live music on the weekends.
Why stay overnight?
The real question is… why wouldn’t you stay overnight in the Tri-Valley? The Bankhead Theater is putting on great shows and then the downtown area in Livermore is hopping, from Simply Fondue to Zephyr Bar and Grill and everything in between. You can hike, bike, wine taste, beer taste, enjoy a food tour, and stay for more the next day.
Favorite tasting experiences in Livermore Valley Wine Country?
My favorite tasting experiences include Nottingham Cellars and what they have going on off of Vasco Road. You can park and hit up at least four wineries, a brewery, and a distillery. Then after you get a feel for the “industrial” type of wine tasting experience heading to the Greenville Hill will give you a picturesque view of the Valley and several vineyards.
A few of my favorites are our neighbors 3 Steves and Charles R Vineyards. Their wine is delicious and you feel like you have left the city, but you’re only a few minutes from town.
And you can’t beat sitting on the patio at our place, McGrail Vineyards, and sipping on our rosé overlooking a game of bocce and the entire Livermore Valley.
Company coming? No need to cook the whole weekend away – there’s no better place to entertain out than right here in the Tri-Valley. From hip and scene-y to family-friendly, we’ve found the best places to take holiday guests in town. A few meals at these tasty hot spots, and you may never save leftovers again.
The breakfast at Denica’s is so popular that come late morning, the line for baked goods is out the door. Your guests won’t mind though, as cookie samples as large as other place’s actual cookies are passed out to hungry waiting customers. The Dublin (and now Livermore) go-to café offers up decadent breakfast, like a veggie Noah G breakfast burrito or cookie dough waffle, and lunch, featuring artisan sandwiches and south-of-the-border faves.
If you need a break from Americana, head to the yummy, upper-scale China Lounge in Pleasanton. The dining room and bar are stunning, and the Szechuan menu offers the spiciest dishes for those who can take it – like the signature fish in chili oil that’s served in a clay pot. Or spring for milder favorites, such as braised pork belly and ginger hot and sour soup.
If you’re craving an elegant steak dinner, make a reservation at Forbes Mill Steakhouse in Danville. Dress to the nines, sit down to an impressive wine list and dine on a menu of the finest cuts of beef, including prime certified Angus and decadent Tajima Black Wagyu. There is also plenty of fresh seafood and all the classic sides.
When you’re good to mama, mama’s good to you. Make Mother’s Day extra special in the East Bay for the lovely ladies in your life. Let us tell you the ways:
Now until Saturday, May 13
Make a reservation at The English Rose for afternoon tea, delicate savories and desserts. Tea service is available from May 2nd to 27th at $40 for adults and $30 for children under 12 years old. Note: The English Rose is closed on Sunday (on Mother’s Day) and Monday.
For active moms, save a spot at Barre3 for a full-body, low-impact workout. Barre3 mixes athleticism, grace, and the latest innovations designed to balance the body.
After a hard workout, relax and unwind with mom and grandma at The Purple Orchid. Undergo the ultimate in indulgent and revitalizing spa experiences and let the world outside melt away. Get pampered with a hot stone massage, biodynamic facials, or a coconut mango sugar body scrub. Ahhh!
Got an artistic mom? Explore your creativity together with a glass of wine at Pinot’s Palette. Is she more of a thespian? Experience the musical masterpiece, EVITA, with its Latin, jazz and pop influences at the Firehouse Arts Theater.