Semifreddi’s Bakery Tour in Alameda, California

Monday October 24, 2011 at 12:12 AM | 2 Comments

"Tom Frainier Semifreddi Bakery"

Tom Frainier, Semifreddi’s self-proclaimed Chief Boot Licker stands in front of the original Semifreddi’s bread oven.

Semifreddi’s – the people’s bakery

When I asked Tom Frainier to describe his Semifreddi’s Bakery business,  the UC Berkeley graduate exclaimed with a smile, “we’re the people’s bakery!” Frainer joined his sister and brother-in-law in their tiny Kensington, California bakery after ditching corporate life at Clorox back in 1988.

"Semifreddie's Tom Frainier, Barbara & Mike Rose"

Tom Frainier, Barbara & Mike Rose in the original Kensington, California Semifreddi’s Bakery

Dreamer of dreams Tom Frainier

Like Willy Wonka of chocolate fame, Frainier is a dreamer of dreams who, along with his partners, has successfully grown the family-owned business from Kensington to a 33,000 square foot, environmentally-friendly bakery production center located in Alameda, California. Frainier has kept his sense of humor intact, swapping his CEO title for Chief Boot Licker and truly values his hard-working employees.

Tom Frainier and the Hand-Crafted Dough Factory

With his spiked blonde hair, Frainier dons a hairnet and opens the gates to Semifreddi’s Bakery to give me a first hand look at his bread factory. While Frainier insists this is not a factory, the magic of the place is reminiscent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

Watching the flour travel from the silo in one room, up through pipes, hugging the walls and ceiling of the wonderland, to ultimately dump into vats in another room, reminded me of Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, sans umpa lumpas. Yet instead of chocolate, my nose was pleasantly over-whelmed with the aroma of cinnamon and fresh baked bread.

"Semifreddi's country levain bread"

Racks of Semifreddi’s artisian breads await delivery to bay area locations

Focaccia bread –  is good sheet…bread

The Alameda company is known for their sourdough, sweet and seeded baguettes, as well as  challah, cinnamon twist,  ciabatta, country levain, rosemary focaccia – this is good sheet….bread, rye, sourdough and the sweet batard. While high tech machines help the bread baking process along, it is the employees who hand craft the artisan breads.

Frainier points out that his breads contain four ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast. “The less ingredients,” says Frainier, “the fresher and the more local it is.” In fact, 75% of the companies sales are within 30 miles of Alameda.

"Semifreddi's Bread Dough"

Semifreddi’s Bakery worker prepares bread dough

Semifreddi Pasteries

You may know the bay area bakery for hand-crafted breads, but did you know Semifreddi’s also bakes morning buns, cinnamon morning buns, cinnamon swirl bread, biscotti, almond biscotti, almond croissants, chocolate croissants, apple turnovers, muffins, scones, blueberry cream cheese danish and pecan swirls? Dessert fans may enjoy chocolate chip, oatmeal or snickerdoodle cookies and seasonal breads such as pumpkin or ginger bread. Salad lovers have not been over-looked; try the super garlic croutons. Frainier hands packets of garlic croutons out to his neighborhood trick-or-treaters during Halloween night.

"Semifreddi's Super Garlic Croutons"

Semifreddi’s Super Garlic Croutons


Tour Semifreddi’s Bakery

Tours of the 33,000 square foot bakery are free and open to the general public with a minimum of 10 people – children and school groups welcome – advance reservations required.

Travelers will like Semifreddi’s for their almond biscotti and chocolate-dipped biscotti. Packed with nutritional value, the biscotti is available on line, as are the garlic croutons, and fit easily into backpacks and earthquake kits.

Follow Semifreddi Bakery on Twitter or friend them on Facebook. For all things travel related, follow Travel Expert Nancy D. Brown on Twitter.

"Semifreddi breads rest in proofing baskets"

Semifreddi breads rest in proofing baskets

If You Go:

Semifreddi Bakery (510) 596-9930

1980 North Loop Road
Alameda, CA 94502

Have you been to Alameda? What are your favorite things to do in Alameda, California?


Semifreddi’s Bakery, located in Alameda, California, is open to the public for tours with advance reservations

Article, photos and YouTube video produced by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown

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Suzanne Somers NAP26 App Travel Gear Review

Friday October 21, 2011 at 12:12 AM | 4 Comments

Sleep deprived college student reviews Suzanne Somers NAP26 - Travel Gear Review

I am a college student who has struggled with sleep issues for the past year or so. I have tried many different sleep aids and devices but nothing has seen to work for me and Nap26 is no exception. The idea behind Suzanne Somers’ CD “Nap26” is that after listening to soothing sounds for 26 minutes, the listener will wake up feeling like they have just slept for three hours.

Dowload NAP26 App to iPhone or iPad

I downloaded the CD onto my iPod and hoped to fall asleep listening to the track. The CD begins by telling the listener to get comfortable and relax, which was easy enough. The CD then goes on to play 26 minutes of what sounds like Niagara Falls. This is not soothing; it is irritating. Not only did I never even become close to falling asleep, the dull monotonous drone of the water made me more anxious. I kept waiting for the soothing sounds to begin. I looked at my iPod and the track was already halfway over and I was in no way tired. Finally after painfully listening to the same sound for about 24 minutes, the track ends with a man saying “You can wake up from your name now.” Really? Can I? I was never napping. Then for some reason birds start chirping and the track is finished.

NAP26 App – good intentions – no sleep relief

Nap26 has good intentions,  but it proved completely unsuccessful for me. I did not feel energized or more alert. I listened to the track later to give it a second chance and had to shut it off. If you can fall asleep next to Niagara Falls, then you can fall asleep to Nap26, if not, then you’re out of luck.

Do you have trouble getting enough sleep during your travels? What helps you when you feel sleep fatigued?

IF You Go:

NAP26 App

The Suzanne Somers NAP26 App for iPhone, iPad and Android platforms is available from the Apple App Store, Android Marketplace and Blackberry platform. You may follow NAP26 on Twitter or follow Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter for all things travel related.

College student Kendall Brown wrote this travel gear review. Powr Naps  supplied me with this travel app and CD for review.

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Travel Tips on raveable

King Pacific Lodge, Things to See and Do, Northern British Columbia, Canada

Friday October 14, 2011 at 12:12 AM | 7 Comments

"Barnard Harbor" "King Pacific Lodge" i

Paddle a kayak around secluded Barnard Harbor where King Pacific Lodge is tied to Princess Royal Island

King Pacific Outdoor Adventure Lodge

If you are interested in outdoor adventure activity,  yet you enjoy gourmet dining, snugly robes and a soft place to rest your head at night, I have just the place for you in British Columbia, Canada. Former San Francisco 49er football quarter back Joe Montana came here with his family and movie star Kevin Costner enjoyed this water world, otherwise known as King Pacific Lodge.

Once you have landed in Barnard Harbor via float plane, you’ll be greeted with a glass of champagne and ushered to your room in the luxury lodge. But don’t head inside just yet.  The back deck behind King Pacific Lodge is the place to watch  sea otters dive for fish heads after the fishing boats have returned or maybe you’ll get lucky and spot an eagle.

Seeking solitude at King Pacific Lodge

Love fishing and getting away to the great outdoors? Walk the decks and docks of the floating King Pacific Lodge.  There is always somewhere to go for quiet contemplation, to read a book or savour a glass of wine or a cigar after dinner.

After a busy day outdoors, come inside and relax in the great room by the stone fireplace. Craving something sweet? The cookie jar is always stocked.


While King Pacific Lodge is located in the Great Bear Rainforest, don’t let the rain keep you inside. The  Lodge provides guests with Mustang Survival Suits that will keep you warm and toasty out on the Pacific Ocean. When you do find yourself inside for an afternoon or evening, book  yourself a spa treatment or simply hang out at the hot tub, then take a dip into the cold plunge pool.

"Black Bear"

Go bear watching at King Pacific Lodge in northern British Columbia, Canada

When you come to King Pacific Lodge, get your picture taken by a fishing guide as you reel in a salmon; in front of the waterfall that tumbles down the mountain behind the lodge; or in a kayak heading off for some bear watching.

Meat lovers or those in need of gluten-free food will be happy to know that King Pacific Lodge will accommodate special dietary requests. If you love seafood, order the Catch of the day – being located on the coast you know that everything on the menu is going to be as fresh as possible.

"Heber Reece"

Coast Tsimishian Artist Heber Reece carved eagle and frog on cedar

It’s true that King Pacific Lodge is not the place to go for shopping retail therapy, but if you are interested in  First Nations art – from jewelry to artwork, drop into the store and consider taking home a special memory.

For the ultimate guided trip, go heli-hiking and let the lodge helicopter drop you on one of the neighboring mountain ridges so that you can enjoy above-tree-line trekking or access one of the numerous snowfields that linger well into the summer.

"Sea lions"

Bring your camera to King Pacific Lodge and Sea Lion Rock

A camera is a must for a trip to King Pacific Lodge. You may see Orcas and humpback whales – on a whale watching trip you might be lucky enough to see a whale breach; bears – black bears or, if you are very fortunate, a ‘spirit’ or Kermode bear; or just walk amongst 1000-year-old hemlocks and fern-clad canyons and feel dwarfed by these majestic giants. The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of one of the remote islands a short boat trip from King Pacific Lodge. On a day hike you can scramble to the summit of an island and have 360-degree views of the Great Bear Rainforest and pristine beaches.

Did I mention that King Pacific Lodge is perched on a 15,000 square foot floating barge? Ask for a “behind the scenes” tour of King Pacific Lodge. The lodge was built on an ex-US navy barge and a tour of the back of house reveals a fascinating world under the public spaces.

Looking for some exercise? Hike amid the old-growth forests of the Great Bear Rainforest; paddle a kayak to Cameron Cove to watch the salmon. At low tide you’ll see the world’s largest sea stars. Keep your eyes peeled for bears browsing on sedge grasses. My favorite walking route is the hike to the waterfall on the wilderness side of the lodge.

"Kermode Spirit Bear"

The fall is the best time for viewing a Kermode Spirit Bear in the Great Bear Rainforest

First Nations Gitga’at Village

If you are interested in First Nations culture, be sure to ask about a trip to the Gitga’at village (rhymes with Kit Kat) of Hartley Bay, where First Nations traditions of fishing for salmon, then smoking the fish to sustain the community in the winter months have gone on for thousands of years.

If you plan a trip to King Pacific Lodge in the spring,  look out for bears waking from hibernation and young bears keeping close to mother bear.

In the summer you’ll fish for Chinook salmon – the largest of the Pacific Ocean salmon, often growing up to 50 lbs.

The fall is the pinnacle time for bear viewing – grizzlies, black bears and the rare white Kermode or ‘spirit bear’ as it is known by the natives, greedily feed on migrating salmon so plentiful that the rivers and streams appear black. The guides know just where to take you on wildlife watching tours for that incomparable glimpse of the temperate rainforest’s most magnificent carnivore.

"Humpback Whale"

Go whale watching in Drummond Bay by Banard Harbor

Whale watching with pros

Go whale watching with Janie Wray and Hermann Meuter, whale researchers at the remote CetaceaLab.

Get out on the water and go kayaking around Barnard Harbour, or grab your hiking boots and hit the forest.

If you have kids, the Family Adventure Package, where adults and kids share adventures and kids learn to tie a fly, master a few words in Sm’algyax (the language of the Gitga’at) and fill their Adventure Passport, may be just the ticket.

Have you been to King Pacific Lodge in the Great Bear Rain Forest? What are your favorite things to do in Northern British Columbia, Canada?

Thanks to  Jayne Lloyd-Jones and Liz Sperandeo of Spectacular Ink for assistance with this post. Bear photos and whale fluke courtesy of Chris Vadden and Tanja Betz. Additional photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of King Pacific Lodge and Tourism British Columbia.

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