July 7, 2008
Taste of Europe in Truckee

IMGP3240_edited.JPGBartholomew Gill, of course. I'd drawn a blank Friday night as I struggled to recall the name of one of my favorite writers of Irish crime novels. It only came back to me after we'd returned home and I scanned my collection of mysteries featuring Chief Superintendent Peter McGarr: "The Death of an Irish Tinker," "The Death of an Irish Sea Wolf" and "The Death of a Joyce Scholar," among others, all by the late Bartholomew Gill.

Now I've got to get word to Patrick Timothy Callaghan, the bartender who seemed so interested in Irish novelists. The subject came up as we sat in what has to be the smallest bar in Truckee, Callaghan's, tucked off to one side of the lobby of The Cedar House, a hotel we luckily stumbled across after learning that our reservation at another inn wasn't available after all.

That The Cedar House would have a vacancy on the Fourth of July has to be something of a miracle, but maybe that's because it only seems to cater largely to a winter-sports clientele. (The skis alongside the fireplace just inside the front door was my first clue.)

The Cedar House is a "sport hotel," drawing people just like us, dusty, sweaty and sore from hiking. But it's so classy we felt as if we should have checked into another hotel first just for a shower before walking into The Cedar House. With soaring timbers and steel bracing, The Cedar House is something of a post-modern Sierra lodge, inspired by inns of the European Alps, right down to sod with perennials blooming on the roof.

As attractively as it blends the rusticity of its generous use of wood, steel and concrete with the sophistication of its European furnishings, what's most appealing about the place is the unusual cordiality of its staff, from the clerk who avoided admonishing us for not having reservations and who graciously showed us a selection of rooms to the story spinning of Callaghan.

Though there's no restaurant on site, the owners, Jeff and Patty Baird, spread out a light but varied casual evening assortment of snacks - cheeses, guacamole, fruit, salami - which is but a preview of the generous continental breakfast they provide guests in the morning. Jeff Baird then steps behind the bar to proudly and happily prepare complimentary cappuccinos and lattes as guests debate between the wholesome oatmeal and the seductive pastries. Muffins, bagels, more fruit, smoked salmon and sliced tomatoes topped with wedges of avocado also help round out the selection.

Sacramentans already familiar with The Cedar House - this was our first visit - will be let down to learn that the resident border collie, Jake, died last week. A successor already is on the premises, however, the puppy Baxter. Guests also are welcome to bring their dogs.

For more information visit the hotel's Web site.

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