Every once in a while it’s good to get out of San Diego to see what the rest of the world is eating.  Recently, Buzz tripped up to the Monterey Peninsula.

In the Monterey/Pacific Grove area…great, fabulous coffee at Acme, in Seaside, two minutes north of Monterey.  Owner Larry Thurman opened this tiny place four years ago in a garage with the motto “Resist Corporate Coffee”.  Here you won’t find those over-the-top concoctions that mask the taste of good coffee.  You will find small batches of beans from small growers, roasted in-house, ground to order and made into espresso–properly, as shots–or as regular coffee made in a simple contraption called a drip bar that allows for the coffee to made fresh in the cup–with the coffee of your choice. No stale canister coffee here.  Thurman cleverly names his blends:  Motor City Espresso, Valve Job Blend, Road Dog Blend, you get the picture.  Try the natural Ethiopian as espresso, it’s rich, not burned and almost sweet but very satisfying.  Barista Chris and Larry both know how to make very good coffee.  Located just off Broadway on Contra Costa and Palm, Seaside, 831-393-9113, Monday-Friday 6:30am to 5pm, Saturday 7am to 3pm, closed Sunday.

Down in Pacific Grove, two minutes south of Monterey, you’ll find a walkable town with many historic Victorian homes and friendly people who acknowledge you with a smile or a good morning as you wander the streets to the ocean.  At the corner of Lighthouse and 18th you”ll find Fournier’s Bakery Café. Owner/chef Kevin Fournier turns out featherlight focaccia for sandwiches and panini, not too sweet dense cocoa brownies, almond paste bear claws and lots more including custom wedding and specialty cakes.  650 Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove, 831-655-1447.  Open daily 8am to 5pm.

Just a few blocks away on Lighthouse, is Mélange, one of the very few places with small bar–if you don’t want to sit at a table.  Open for dinner only, the small menu changes with the whim of chef/owner David Frappiea and the seasons.  David describes his menu as world fusion (and I would add, without, thankfully any confusion).  He resists overdoing flavors but isn’t afraid to tempt the palate with an offbeat take on a dish.  Always great is the house-made fettuccine with wild mushrooms, simple and very flavorful with a mélange of seasonal ‘shrooms in a light butter sauce with tomato and fresh basil.  A lovely shrimp risotto and even veal sweetbreads and braised rabbit starters appear on this small and well-priced (mostly mid $20’s) menu.  A thoughtful and interesting wine list pairs with the food and  David’s fiancée Dorothy has a terrific palate for wine/food pairings.  For my taste, however, I prefer to have my reds not at room temp (usually 65 or 70 degrees), but slightly cooler, as if they came directly from the cellar, to enhance the wine’s flavors.  Dinner only from 5:30pm to 10:00pm, Closed Sunday, 542 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove, 831-333-0301.

Recently, Buzz returned from three days in Napa attending Taste3, a conference at Copia that melds food, wine and art in deliciously unusual ways. Imagine a tour of three local artists studios, including glass designer Gordon Huether, painter Gail Chase-Bien and ceramic sculptor Renata Allen led by the legendary Margrit Mondavi that included lunch at Yountville’s Redd. Everything–and everyone, including the 12 lucky participants– from the art to the food made a terrific segue to the next two days.

This gathering was the third year of Taste3. Started by the bright and ingenious minds behind TED including the creative comedian Tom Rielly, this conference brings together cutting edge thinking presented by experts in their respective fields. Taste 3 tempts, teases and teaches…and is worth every minute of the experience.

In two jam-packed days, 32 speakers, four to a session, each talking about 18 minutes, covered such topics as “Seeds”, “Urban” and “Source”. In”Action/Reaction” I learned about climate change and its impact on viticulture and wine production from Greg Jones, who teaches geography Southern Oregon University. Earlier in “Source” Ben Roche, Moto‘s pastry chef, thrilled the audience as he showed how he designs “technically innovative” desserts that use nitrogen gas, helium and more to create “explosive” and delicious confections. Darra Goldstein in “Worldview” spoke of her trip to Israel and the West Bank and how food, including falafel, can be used as a bridge to quell Arab and Israeli conflict. Also in that session, Bruce Gutlove explained how he directs a Japanese winery (worked by developmentally disabled to produce wine served at the recent G-8 Summit).

Breaks featured chocolates from Tcho and Scharffen Berger, Equator Estate Coffees & Teas and even shoes from Tom’s. Winery dinners and a lovely party and concert at Mondavi winery finished out the symposium’s evenings.

If you’re traveling the I-5/405 corridor to Irvine and Los Angeles and get a craving for a really good pastrami on rye, find your way to Tommy Pastrami New York Delicatessen, just off Bake Parkway near the El Toro merge. This new franchise with three stores and more on the way serves overstuffed, high quality sandwiches of the type you’d find at top New York or Los Angeles delis that were noted last September in Los Angeles magazine. Unfortunately, there isn’t a deli in San Diego (DZ Akins and others pale by comparison) that holds a corned beef sandwich to those LA institutions. The new comer, Tommy Pastrami, even though their outlets don’t have table service, could certainly be added to the magazine’s list.

Fat sandwiches at Tommy Pastrami come in three sizes: 4-ounce ($4.95) 6-ounce ($6.95) a nd 8-ounce ($8.95). Whether it’s melt-in-your- mouth pastrami or thinly sliced, slightly marbled and tender corned beef or tuna with finely chopped celery and just enough mayo not to intrude on the tuna, or chopped liver with bits of hardboiled egg that is light not heavy, the top quality shows in the food. The half- inch plus slices of crunchy-crusted corn rye bread, an integral part of a great deli sandwich, make the trip worthwhile. Thick fries, a zippy homemade chili, salads, chicken soup, even matzo balls, cheesecake and rugala are among other treats on the menu.

Tommy Pastrami knows the business and they’ve hired some seasoned deli guys. In chatting with Howard, who took my order, I learned his dad started Marv’s (long since sold), one of the top ten listed in LA magazine. Yes, it’s worth the trouble to detour off the freeway for a pastrami (or any sandwich) on rye.  At the Commons, 8685 Irvine Center Drive, Irvine, (949)753-7445, Closed Sunday.

A quick trip last week to Sacramento found Buzz eating with a local foodie at the newest addition to the city’s thriving restaurant scene. g.v.hurley’s restaurant & bar hops with a great vibe, comfortable room with high ceilings, dark wood, booths, large horseshoe shaped bar, and a snappy outdoor cantina style bar at the back of the main dining room. The kitchen, under the guiding hand of executive chef David Hill creates small plates of addictive kennebec potato truffle fries with shaved Parmesan (not the usual puffs of grated cheese) ($8), a trio of Kobe beef sliders with all the trimmings ($15), and a not so successful duo of lobster corndogs that we figure won’t stay on the menu. One terrific plate featured perfectly cooked scallops on a bed of fresh fava bean, corn and fennel succotash with a garnish of deep fried lemon slices. The combination worked perfectly. Mac & cheese poppers sounded so good, but we were out of stomach space! This six- week-old restaurant is absolutely worth trying. Lunch and Dinner, 2713 J Street, Sacramento, 916-704-2410.

At the Sacramento Airport, if you find your Southwest flight delayed as I did, wander through the food court to Vino Volo. It’s a comfortable wine bar serving wines by the glass or flight. The $9 glass of Wolfberger Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé hit the spot as I relaxed away from the hubbub. Definitely a spot to seek if you’re not into noisy sports bars. Other airport locations include Seattle, Baltimore, New York City and Washington, DC.

Wando Shrimp Co.Just back from a three and a half day Southern Foodways Alliance trip to Charleston, SC to experience lowcountry cooking at its best. Lots of good food, including delicious riffs on southern favorites such as she crab soup, shrimp and grits and lots more. Fabulous food at Slightly North of Broad, aka SNOB, McCrady’s, along with a breakfast “Big Nasty” from Hominy Grill, and a fun dinner on-site at the Old City Jail with food from Magnolia’s, SNOB and Louis’s Charleston Restaurant. A gorgeous stroll, lunch and history talk at Middleton Place plantation with the oldest landscaped garden in the US, and lots of Charleston’s muggy, hot weather.

Imagine a Hurricane Hugo wrecked ship named Richard & Charlene that came loose from the dock during the fierce hurricane. The wreck sat impaled on the bare pilings for nine months until salvagers removed the remains. The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene is the funky restaurant that sits at the wreck’s site on Shem Creek as a reminder of Hugo’s destruction. Immediately next door, at the end of the road is Wando Shrimp Co. where workers sort just caught shrimp. The restaurant serves greaseless shell-on fried shrimp, so tasty you can eat the shell and this brunch was a perfect ending to the trip.

San Diego could take a page from the food and service that marks many of Charleston’s restaurants. Chef-owned venues serve fresh local ingredients in dishes that keep southern traditions, yet push taste and presentation to more modern creations. Southern hospitality can’t be beat in this wonderful city founded in 1680 that oozes history everywhere you turn.

Buzz settled in to an apartment in the 6th arrondisement of Paris and for its location, it was superb and something different instead of the usual hotel living. To experience the French way of life, one must be flexible, Tthe apartment was wonderfully quiet, so quiet the drip of the leaking cold water faucet in the bathroom could be heard in the night…even with the door closed. For a shower, it was necessary to turn on the hot water in the sink so that the hot water in the shower could flow. Small things, one can laugh about. Don’t assume that the WC (toilet) will be in the same room as the shower as many of the older apartments continue to have them separate.

The tiny kitchen had a glass cooktop, and in place of the small oven, the owner decided on a small dishwasher…amusing again, as it brings out the creative side of cooking with only a microwave and a toaster! Was it fun? Absolutely. Did I entertain 10 people at the apartment? You bet. Paris has good take-away places with all kinds of foods available. On my tiny street, I found pasta, potstickers and pastries, all from different tiny stores and all very good.

Only a block away from the apartment is the Bon Marche and you can buy everything from produce, wine, meat, poultry, Italian and French salami, breads, pastries, and food to go…Think of it as a food emporium similar to but larger than La Jolla’s newest market, Bristol Farms.

A recent trip to the east coast found me asking a gentleman leaving his Oppenheimer office in Portsmouth, New Hampshire where to have a good fish dinner in a casual place where I could sit at at the bar in my flip flops and not feel out of place. He’s a regular at Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Cafe that fit the bill for me perfectly. I had a glass of Basa, one of my favorite Spanish whites while muching on fried calamari with smoked tomato and roasted chili sauce and lemon vinaigrette. My bill was $16 and it was terrific. There’s a full bar, and the place is comfortable with a slightly funky feel, but clearly a locals hangout for their raw bar with oysters, shrimp and littleneck clams and entrees including haddock piccata, fishermans’s stew and grilled or pan seared red snapper, Arctic char and others. The most expensive item is $24. 150 Congress Street, Portsmouth NH, 603-766-FISH. www.jumpinjays.com