A Tasty Twist: California Balsamics – Ukiah, California

Visiting Thomas Allen at California Balsamics

I often write about unique and quirky road side attractions, offbeat eateries and fun travel destinations.  It is not often, however, that I visit and write about unique products and their businesses.

But, on my 8154 Road Trip, as I now call my Epic Road Trip from mid-January to mid-February, we did have occasion to stop in Ukiah, California for a visit with Thomas Allen and his unique California Balsamic business.

Located in a nondescript building in what looks like an industrial warehouse complex, Thomas runs his predominantly mail-order and food-fair Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil Business.  From what I gathered, they don’t usually sell directly from their small warehouse.

Various sizes and varieties of California Balsamics

I stopped by to visit in order to pick up a number of items for my wife, who uses Balsamic in all of her salads and other items as part of her Whole Food Plant-Based dietary regimen.  Many of the California Balsamic products are sodium free, gluten free, vegan and vegetarian friendly. Their products feature the finest fruit essential oils, rice bran oil and 25 star balsamic from Modena, Italy – a custom balsamic made with an exceptionally high quality grape must (freshly crushed fruit juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit) from the Trebbiano and Spirgola grape that enhance flavor and texture. The sugars found in the balsamic vinegars are natural sugars from the grapes. No processed sugar is added to any of the California Balsamic products.

Unique Balsamic Flavors including the Curry Balsamic
California Balsamic owner Thomas Allen shows off his product

Knowing we would be driving to (and ultimately staying overnight in) Ukiah after a wonderful drive through the Northern California redwood forests, I called Thomas to arrange for a visit and was grateful for his willingness to visit with me after-hours in order to fulfill our order.  We got there after 7 PM and he was gracious and even gave me a small tour and loaded my palate with a number of unique flavors.  I have had a number of balsamic vinegar flavors from a place local in Lexington, but nothing like what they make there in Ukiah.

Thomas purchased the business in 1996 after traveling to various places in the world and also living in Japan.  (We even did a little conversing in Japanese!!)

Unique flavors filled with herbs and spices. Shake well!

After the little tour, Thomas began introducing me to a number of his flavors.  Unlike the balsamics we had bought in Lexington, many of his have other flavors, herbs and spices blended in.  They actually need to be shaken well to mix everything.  Some of his flavors, like his Blazin Habanero Balsamic and Spice Traders Curry Balsamic are to die for…really.  They are so flavorful you can take a small spoonful and enjoy them on their own!  Then there is the habanero infused Raspberry Flame Balsamic which is just wonderful.

Travel Size Bottles perfect for taking on an airplane

Thomas is also thoughtful enough to have made sure that he could provide TSA-approved 3 oz travel size plastic bottles of most of his flavors. These are great for those wanting to get a salad before their flight (or take on a flight) and not have to use dressings with oil and sugar.  My wife loves these as well for taking her balsamic flavors to work and not having to lug a big bottle with her.  She now has many good flavors and uses the smaller bottles for refilling.

I really can’t say enough about Thomas Allen and his business.  After our trip,we turned around and ordered even more.  The glass bottles of Balsamic arrived in less than a week and none were broken.  Excellent job!

More fruity flavors – look how thick the vinaigrette is

If you like Balsamic Vinegars and have not tried California Balsamics, please give them a try.  You can order them at https://californiabalsamic.com/ and Thomas will get them out quickly. Let them know that Sumoflam sent you.

(Note to readers:  I am not getting any commission or free product for this post.  However, they have sent me some samples of up and coming flavors which are yet unannounced.)

WATCH FOR MY NEW BOOK “8154” — COMING SOON TO AMAZON

I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l

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A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The U Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Usa Shrine – Usa, Japan

Family at Usa Shrine in Oita Prefecture ca. 1990
Daughter Amaree in Usa, Japan 1987

Uncasville, Connecticut

Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT
Sumoflam and Bronto at Wells Dinosaur Haven in Uncasville, CT

Upper Lake, California

Welcome to Upper Lake, CA
Upper Lake, CA
Old Town Upper Lake Antiques

Unexpected Texas – Tui Snider – Azle, Texas

Unexpected Texas Cover features the famous Cowboy Hat adorned Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas (photo courtesy of Tui Snider)
Tui Snider – author of “Unexpected Texas” (courtesy of Tui Snider)

Uniroyal Gals – Blackfoot, Idaho; Gainesville, Texas

Glenn Goode’s Big People has a Uniroyal Gal too
Uniroyal Gal dressed as a Waitress in Blackfoot, ID

Uncle Roosters – Seymour, Missouri

Uncle Roosters in Seymour, Missouri
Uncle Rooster’s Big Rooster on US 60 near Seymour, Missouri

Ukiah, California

Ukiah, CA
California Strawberries! found near Ukiah, CA

Usuki, Japan

Usuki, Japan 1988

Union Pacific Railroad Museum – Council Bluffs, Iowa

Union Pacific Railroad Museum

Uncertain, Texas

Uncertain, TX
Uncertain Department of Tourism
Uncertain Inn … An Uncertain Place to Stay
Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

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A to Z Challenge: Reflections #atozchallenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]During the month of April 2016 I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge had each blogger select a theme and then do a post thematically from A to Z during each day of April , except Sundays.

This was my first opportunity to really participate in this annual event, which just completed its 6th year.  It was not easy!!  I had to not only post something daily, but also create a theme and stick with it.  And, in my perfectionist way, I wanted to make sure there were plenty of photos and commentary.  I wrote in such a way to draw people to the more detailed posts, where ever possible. 

It was a load of fun and I completed the challenge.  Not sure how many actually did, but it was certainly tough, yet fulfilling. 

What I really loved about the event was being able to communicate and link up with others doing the same thing.  I have made some new friends on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  I have found some interesting blogs to follow and also have a few new followers.

I most certainly look forward to participating again next year.  Now to start thinking of a good theme for next year.  May actually take a long time!!!

A BIG Thanks to Arlee Bird and her wonderful team!!

My blog was number 1337 out of 1670 participating blogs. This year my A to Z posts took readers across the back roads of America to many unique towns.  See what other bloggers posted about, check out the link: A to Z Theme Reveal List for 2016

Following is a complete listing of each with the banners associated with each post’s link. Click on the Lettered Banner to go to the specific post.

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The A Towns: Amarillo, TX – Adair, IA – Alzada, MT – Alamogordo, NM – Alligator, MS – Alliance, NE – Ada, MI – Akela Flats, NM

 

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The B Towns: Bemidji, MN – Boring, OR – Blackfoot, ID – Burk’s Falls, ON – Booger Holler, AR – Brownsville, TN – Babb, MT – Blackwater, MO – Bena, MN – Bucksnort, TN – Bugtussle, KY – Bugtussle, TX

 

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The C Towns: Cactus Flat, SD – Centralia, MO – Cape Elizabeth, ME – Climax, NC – Climax, KY – Choteau, MT – Cave City, KY – Charm, OH – Chelsea, MI – Champaign, IL – Cut Bank, MT – Caledonia, ON – Cut and Shoot, TX – China Grove, TX – Cool, TX – Coolville, OH

 

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The D Towns: Douglas, WY – DeForest, WI – Discovery Bay, WA – Dublin, OH – Dublin, TX – Dragoon, AZ – Denton, TX – Durant, OK – Danville, IL – Dallas, SD – Denver, NC – Damon, TX

 

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The E Towns: Earth, TX – Eureka Springs, AR – Elbe, WA – Easton, PA – Eldon, IA – Egg Harbor, WI – East Peoria, IL – Embro, ON – Eagle, CO – Endeavor, WI

 

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The F Towns: Flagstaff, AZ – Friendly, WV – Friendship, AR – Flippin, AR – Fair Play, SC – Fergus Falls, MN – Feely, MT – Flippin, KY – Fly, OH – Four Way, TX – Future City, IL

 

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The G Towns: Gainesville, TX – Gothenburg, NE – Guthrie, KY – Gregory, SD – Galata, MT – Glasgow, MT – Glasgow, KY – Gardiner, MT – Gillette, WY – Granbury, TX – Grand Forks, ND – Gravel Switch, KY – Gilboa, OH – Georgetown, TX

 

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The H Towns: Hell, MI – Hamtramck, MI – Hamilton, ON – Hatch, NM – Hico, TX – Hopland, CA – Hoboken, NJ – Hugo, OK – Hershey, PA – Home on the Range, ND – Hamburg, IA

 

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The I Towns: Indian Head, SK – Intercourse, PA – Ironwood, MI – Independence, MO – Idaho Falls, ID – Iona, ID – Inverness, MT – Iron River, WI

 

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The J Towns: Jamestown, ND – Joseph, OR – Jeffersonville, IN – Juneau, AK – Jackson Hole, WY – Janesville, WI – Jackson Center, OH – Jamaica Beach, TX – Jamestown, NY

 

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The K Towns: Kemmerer, WY – Keystone, SD – Ketchikan, AK – Kensington District, ON – Kadoka, SD – Kremlin, MT – Kirkwood, MO

 

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The L Towns: LeClaire, IA – Lake Nebagamon, WI – Lesage, WV – LeRoy, NY – Lizard Lick, NC – Lake Jackson, TX – Lost Springs, WY – Langdon, ND

 

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The M Towns: Mt. Horeb, WI – Meadville, PA – Metropolis, IL – Marshfield, WI – Moenave, AZ – Mystic, CT – Montrose, SD – Minot, ND – Mitchell, SD – Mapleton, ON – Medina, NY – Moose Jaw, SK – Mars, PA

 

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The N Towns: Nicholson, PA – Nekoma, ND – Natchez, MS – Neah Bay, WA – Nauvoo, IL – Newport, OR – Newark, OH – Normal, IL – Nice, CA – New Salem, ND

 

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The O Towns: Only, TN – Old Orchard Beach, ME – Okay, OK – Oil Springs, ON – Oak Creek, CO – Oacoma, SD – Odd, WV – Onawa, IA – Oddville, KY

 

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The P Towns: Pella, IA – Peculiar, MO – Pierre Part, LA – Point Pleasant, WV – Paris, KY – Paris, TX – Paris, TN – Paris, ON – Port Orchard, WA – Powder River, WY – Paducah, KY – Port Gibson, MS – Palmyra, NY – Perryville, KY – Paxton, NE – Pembroke, NY – Penn Yan, NY – Ponder, TX

 

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The Q Towns: Quincy, IL – Quartzsite, AZ – Queen City, OH (Cincinnati) – Quicksand, KY

 

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The R Towns: Roswell, NM – Regent, ND – Rhinelander, WI – Rabbit Hash, KY – Raton, NM – Red Lodge, MT – Riverside, IA – Rugby, ND – Rudyard, MT

 

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The S Towns: Steubenville, OH – Stanley, ID – Sedona, AZ – Santa Rosa, CA – Staunton, IL – Sisters, OR – Seymour, WI – Santa Claus, IN – Sandwich, NH – Sweet Grass, MT – Shakespeare, ON – Stratford, ON – Sikeston, MO – Success, MO – Soda Springs, ID

 

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The T Towns: Tightwad, MO – Talent, OR – Toad Suck, AR – Thermopolis, WY – Teton Valley, ID – Tetonia, ID – Tuba City, AZ – Tornado, WV – Tavistock, ON – Tomahawk, WI – Tripp, SD – Tunica, MS – Tioga, TX – Ten Sleep, WY – Torch, OH

 

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The U Towns: Uncertain, TX – Uncasville, CT – Upper Lake, CA – Ukiah, CA – Upton, KY

 

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The V Towns: Vulcan, AB – Valier, MT – Vernal, UT – Vandalia, IL – Vicksburg, MS – Versailles, KY – Vincennes, IN

 

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The W Towns: Wharton, TX – Welland, ON – Wapiti, WY – Wall, SD – Winterset, IA – Winner, SD – Walla Wall, WA – Worland, WY – Walcott, IA – Waldo, AR – West Montrose, ON

 

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The X Towns: Xenia, OH – Lexington, KY – Cotopaxi, CO – Oxford County, ON – Texarkana, AR – Texline, TX – Rexburg, ID – Exie, KY

 

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The Y Towns: Yampa, CO – West Yellowstone, MT –  Yellville, AR – York, NE

 

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The Z Towns: Zanesville, OH – Zelienople, PA – Zurich, MT

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