I have a friend who says, “My camera eats first.” Well, unfortunately, I’m not quite as good at documenting my meals or company at fancy restaurants but I have had two delicious dining out experiences lately.
Last week, I went out to 7 Adams with two colleagues. We had some funds to spend for “team-building.” One of the women is known for stellar restaurant recommendations and she picked another winner. The restaurant features a tasting menu, with some set appetizers and a few choices for the mains. We started off with himachi, followed by a broccoli dish (above). For my pasta main, I picked a fancy ravioli/tortellini hybrid (a carmelle!) that was amazing. For the meat, I selected the black cod, followed by an apple tart for dessert. The meal was spectacular. I’m actually heading back soon on a double date with SMS and two friends of ours.
On Saturday, SMS and I used his birthday gift card to eat at Ethyl’s Fancy. We took the train, and I was about to miss the stop since I thought it was off of California Ave (mid-Palo Alto) rather than University. But we made it and had a nice date night. We split several “morsels” that included oysters, greens, milk bread, and miso marinated cucumbers. We split the mains of halibut and porkbelly. The food was excellent and we will definitely be back! SMS noted that when it first opened, the food was a lot more experimental in its combos. Now, it still seems innovative but I think it would appeal to a wider range of palates.
After an unexpected flight cancellation, I had an extra day in NYC before leaving that evening for SFO. I wanted to make the most of it, despite the pretty gloomy weather. I woke up to rain, left during a lull, and quickly realized that the best $10 I was going to spend the entire weekend was on a basic black umbrella. It was pretty flimsy but since there was only rain without wind, it held up fine.
First, I wanted a NYC bagel so I found Liberty Cafe via Google Maps. There was a line, so that’s a good sign. I ordered the #5 on advice from the guy at the door who was serving as crowd control. The customer in front of me had asked him what his favorite bagel was. The guy responded, “Why do you ask?” and then laughed uproariously. Man’s got jokes.
Mom had suggested I go to The Cloisters, but first I decided to go to the Met for another chance at going to the Van Gogh’s Cypruses exhibit. I’m so glad I did because it was so good! The virtual queue was only 15 minutes. It was in a three room exhibition gallery that was definitely congested, but not terrible. Gaps would open up here and there that allowed me to get close to the paintings and even stay for a little bit. Except for Starry Night. That painting required it’s own crowd control man. He was pretty chill, moving people along “only after their 17th selfie.” I asked him if he photo-bombed any pictures and he said, “Sometimes. But only if they’ve taken a lot.”
I really liked the exhibit. There were sketches, drawings, and paintings. There were two paintings hung Wheat Field With Cypruses and A Wheatfield, With Cypruses (keep them straight!) that hadn’t been hung together since 1901. The left painting was more edgy while the right more stylized. I preferred the left, but it was interesting to see what changes led to a more refined painting, per art critics.
The apogee of the Cyprus theme was Country Road in Provence by Night. In his own writings, Van Gogh stated that he felt he had really captured the night stars, the cyprus, and the surrounding landscape. I agree. And I spotted a selfie stick!
Before leaving, I wandered through the Dutch Masterpieces at The Met Exhibit. There were a lot of 17th century Dutch businessmen in excellent lighting, but I was most impressed that The Met had three Vermeers just casually hung as part of a larger exhibit. Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just super famous and rare! There are only 36 known Vermeers in the world!
As I walked through the museum, I accidentally came across a Fabergé exhibit with three eggs just casually on display. Amazing! There are only 57 known surviving eggs today.
I also hung out with George.
And I spent some time in a gallery full of Winslow Homer, including his last, unfinished painting.
And finally, I found Leda, the anti-bird lady. Although really, who could blame her? That myth seems particularly terrible.
On my way to the subway, I got caught in some rain. My shoes were soaked.
Then, it was up the island to The Cloisters which, once I got to them, were amazing. The train ride wasn’t bad, I just took the longest walking route possible and nothing makes an imported stone-by-stone castle seem enormous as when I’m forced to walk around the whole thing trying to find the entrance.
So, as far as I could tell, John D. Rockefeller imported a castle which was reconstructed brick-by-brick and then put in a bunch of chapels and alters from other provenance inside. This is probably not the tour guide version, but this is what I think was going on. [Ok, ok, I had to look it up. It seems its a compilation of five separate cloisters.]
And looked what I found! Only the most famous unicorn tapestry in the world! Somewhat gruesomely, it is part of a tapestry commemorating a unicorn hunt. Even this tapestry called The Unicorn Rests in the Garden is clearly an injured unicorn penned into too small an enclosure.
The central courtyard was really pretty.
It was a really great museum and I was so glad my Mom had told me about it. I had never heard of it before and it was a great place to see.
After seeing The Cloisters, I headed back downtown to see a show. Although I considered seeing something different, I decided I had to stick with the theme of the weekend and see Camelot!
Even though it was no where near as magical as seeing it with my parents and my seat was no where near as good, it was awesome to see again. The score and lyrics are so good! Also, based on the shortened run, I don’t think this is a musical that’s going to have a revival anytime soon. So, totally worth seeing twice!
Then I went to the West Village for dinner at L’Artusi, which came highly recommended by members of a particularly discerning Facebook group. Yes, I know. That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement but apart from the blackberry focaccia, which was only ok, the rest of the food was so good! I had a salad, scallops, and a delicious red. I sat next to a nice-enough guy. We spoke a bit, but he also ordered three different mains. Maybe he’s a once-a-day eater cramming it all in, but he certainly didn’t look like a person who would pack that much away!
And then, that was it! It was time to head home via JFK to SFO. The flight was again delayed so I got home really, really late. Like, 2 hours before I had to go to work late. Yuck. So, not the best travel experience, but the weekend overall was amazing. And I definitely feel lucky the bad travel was on at the end so I didn’t miss the show and our awesome Friday together!
SMS and I celebrated our 10th anniversary this year! While it doesn’t feel like a lot of time has passed, it’s amazing to think back on how many events and experiences the last 10 years contain. One of those experiences was a dinner/overnight at Singlethread. It is a total splurge of an experience and we decided that a return visit was a gift to ourselves to mark our special day!
We decided on a two-night stay so we could enjoy the amenities of the inn a little more. There are so many snacks and treats, it’s hard to fit them into a single overnight. We were also excited about two breakfasts. Last time, we were upgraded to the suite (!) but this time, I think Singlethread is more renowned and more fully booked.
We decided against dinner in the restaurant. Although it’s spectacular, SMS and I have realized that big fancy dinners are less our thing than they used to be. While we’ve had some incredible meals/experiences over the years, we’re usually overly full, sleep poorly, and overall feel a little out of sorts the next day. So even though the food is amazing, the huge foodie omekase experience is less tempting than it used to be. Instead, we decided on the upstairs hot pot meal to have a more ryokan-like experience. The meal started with a few special bites, followed by a delicious sashimi course.
The main event was the donabe hot pot! We picked the Chicken Meatball Tan Tan hot pot. It sounded unique and difficult to find elsewhere. We almost picked the Hokkaido Style Seafood Miso, but felt that the broth might be too rich. But that’s a really minor quibble- we were just trying to figure out the best choice for us among four really tempting options! A mother-daughter pair across the study from us had the Hokkaido pot and although we were happy with our order, trying another pot is as good a reason as any to plan on a return trip someday!
While I don’t think Singlethread is going to call me asking me to be their new food photographer, I wanted to show how the donabe arrives. Everything is hot and ready to eat. The greens wilted super quickly once they were stirred in and we started eating right away. It was so tasty! The broth was so savory with deep flavor. All the ingredients were perfect and it just worked really well as a dish. We really enjoyed ourselves. The waiter was actually one of the guest experience directors filling in since they’re a little short-staffed. It was fun to talk to him a little bit about the local area and high-end hospitality industry.
The next day, we had scheduled a tasting at Skipstone. We had tried one of their wines at a restaurant and SMS liked it so much, he wanted to tour the place since were were nearby. It was just the two of us and the guide, who brought us to the vines and told us a little bit about the place. He was pretty cool, but also a little burnt out on the job, I think. Like, totally professional but sometimes weirdly candid about things he thought were “bullshit.” We had a really nice time on a gorgeous day. If you had a special connection to the wine, like having had it at a special occasion, I would totally recommend going. If not, you can probably have a similarly good experience at other wineries if you preferred.
The grounds were really nice. They had chicken and sheep. I took a picture of a new graft, as well as our delicious cheese plate!
Finally, I want to end with one of the things I had been looking forward to the most- breakfast! The first day, SMS and I both ordered the Japanese breakfast. I think. I was looking forward. to this more than the hot pot! There was fish, tamago, pickled veggies, miso, rice, fruit. It was an absolute feast and so delicious. I really miss Japanese breakfasts in hotels. So good. Although I do laugh when I tried to get Dad to try fish at the Miyajima ryokan and he kind of blanched and said that in the morning, “Not my thing.”
The spread was absolutely amazing. Definitely a highlight of our stay.
The next day, we were tempted by another Japanese breakfast, but we decided to branch out. I got the Japanese pancake, SMS got the omelet, and we split some excellent bacon. I’m glad we sampled the menu, even though I was thisclose to not! Either choice would have been a good one, though.
And then, it was time to go. On the way out, we saw the tiny door for tiny budgets. It might be a tight squeeze, especially after the second breakfast. But maybe…
Aaaand…we’re back! Second half of July! On Saturday, I decided to treat ourselves by booking tickets to Hamilton! I have wanted to see the show for a really long time. I was excited to take SMS to a show since it isn’t something we have really done together before. Actually, we had seen Wicked and that was pretty awesome but that was six years ago!
In the spirit of a decadent night out, we went to Rich Table in San Francisco for an early dinner. Jyotsna raved about the place and she was right- it was exceptional! The menu changes often but there are a few regulars. We ordered two: the dried porcini doughnuts, raclette and the sardine potato chip with horseradish. The former was sublime and the latter was interesting but not worth ordering again. As I type this, I’m getting a case of serious deja vu…wait! I wrote about this in June! But we went in July! Oh, the perils and trials of writing too late. But this was definitely Rich Table. June was State Bird Provisions, now that I think about it. I am writing this correction here because who knows if I’ll get to it in the actual post. I can’t even blog on time! Anyway, between the two restaurants, I would go to Rich Table any day but both are gustatory treats!
Hamilton was awesome. Wow, such an original opinion and so cutting-edge! I had listened to the soundtrack prior to the show, but the experience was elevated by the incredible staging. My favorite aspect was the rotating stage that was particularly effective during a slightly dream-like, time-and-perspective shifting scene during the song “Satisfied.” I also liked seeing King George III on the sides of different scenes with his snarky expressions and body language even when his songs weren’t featured.
The next day, we met up with Jyotsna and Akshay for our long-planned Pt. Reyes picnic and outing. We went to Tomales Bay Oyster Co for several dozen oysters. Unfortunately, they no longer have picnic facilities there so we went to Pt. Reyes Station and ate in the small garden/picnic area of Cowgirl Creamery. There, we supplemented our picnic with cheese, bread, and a few other delicious things like…wine!
After our picnic, we decided to go to Heidrun Meadery, a favorite of A&J. We had gotten a late-ish start so we didn’t have it in us to head out to the lighthouse, although it is a great place. It just adds a fair bit of car time to take the backroads to the farthest parts of Point Reyes National Seashore.
After an awesome house-hunting leave (and I did find an apartment on Craigslist for Coronado!), I went back to work. I really worked until the very end, seeing clinic and even operating on my very last day (31 July) because a patient really wanted me to do her tracheostomy. She said I “didn’t bullshit her” when talking about medical care so chalk that up to good bedside manner (I think!).
Before that last day, however, I spent the last weekend of July in Belmar, NJ where I got together with my college friends whom I’ve kept in touch with for the last 18 years and known for the last 21! Ooo, I just noticed those years are very college-age lengths of time. I drove from Norfolk to NJ via Philadelphia to pick up Gisele and her sons. My brain was a little fried from PA traffic and the stress of being late, but once we arrived in NJ, things were pret-ty perfect! The six of us hung out all weekend long and were fairly mellow. I had the best time and feel so lucky to know these wonderful women. We were missing one of our “group,” who’s on the West Coast and recently-ish had a baby but six out of seven isn’t bad. Keeping in touch doesn’t seem to be anyone’s strong suit in the group but we write and get together just enough that I feel we are still in each other’s lives. Four of the seven live in the NYC area so they’re in more frequent contact (lucky!) but there’s still room for the three of us who aren’t local!
Finally, after a month of highlight upon highlight, it was time to leave Norfolk. SMS flew in on the 31st in preparation for leaving 1 Aug. Our trip will be featured in next month’s highlights but a teaser photo is below.
Day 9 started out on the drizzly side. After waking up and saying goodbye to Ricardo and Brady, I headed out to teamLab Borderless in Odaiba. SMS and I had seen an exhibit in Palo Alto and thought it was pretty cool. I had slight regrets in pre-purchasing my tickets since I now thought I’d rather get to Kanazawa earlier but the money was spent and off I went.
When I got there, there were hundreds of tomodachis already in line. There was an employee holding a multilingual “End of the line” sign far from the entrance, which was simultaneously helpful and depressing. Eventually, I got into the exhibit which was really crowded. This is in contrast to the fake! news! website which features solo visitors only! Of course, I wasn’t really expecting to be on my own. It’s popular and very cool. I do think that once you’ve seen one exhibit, that’s kind of enough since essentially, a large part of the exhibit consists of fancy light projector effects.
Part of my meh reaction to the exhibit is that I really had not allowed myself enough time since I had picked the time I wanted to leave for Kanazawa. I wanted to arrive mid-afternoon so I could see a sight or two before closing. I took a crazy tight schedule of two subways to Tokyo station and just made the shinkansen. Running was involved, which always makes me feel like a crazed tourist godzilla but it’s an acceptable trade-off at times.
It’s a really neat installation of a limestone pool with a glass bottom over a room painted aquamarine. It’s a very playful way of tweaking assumptions of what we think we see in common objects and what they actually may be.
The whole museum was quite cool. There are only a few exhibits but that allowed me to focus on them rather than have many go by in a blur. There was a love exhibit that consisted of paintings that looked all the world like neon signs.
An added museum bonus goes to lockers that, while mandatory for larger bags, have a refundable Y100 charge. Travel tip for people with hand luggage in Japan- lockers are everywhere and are awesome to avoid lugging bags around. Even light bags can be heavy! Just have several Y100 coins in your change purse!
After the museum closed, I walked back to the bus stop and headed towards my capsule hotel. I had made an online reservation, which I feel is the way to go! Especially since capsule hotels for women are not as common.
The capsule was clean and, since this was only my second time staying in one, a really unique experience! I was given a goodie bag of towels and pajamas for my stay.
Now, it was time to plan for dinner. Kanazawa is known for being a foodie town, so I wanted to have something delicious. I found an amazing sushi place online, but the it was small and I felt it was unlikely I’d get a seat. Then I found Iwashigumi, a restaurant specializing in sardines. This sounded so niche and quintessentially Japanese (focusing on one thing and doing it really well), that I decided I was in even though my familiarity with sardines is limited to Caesar salad dressing and occasional forays into trying to up my Omega-3 intake by queasily eating small fillets.
I walked down the 157 towards the river. The restaurant had the type of wooden slated door, which always seems like such a commitment when I enter that I almost chickened out. But I went in, sat down, and ended up having the most incredible dining experience!
There were two main people I interacted with, an older man and older woman who worked there. They didn’t speak English and I hardly speak Japanese so there wasn’t a lot of verbal conversation, but we still communicated with each other throughout the night. It was an atmosphere of such warm hospitality that I felt at ease and at home. I loved it!
There was an English menu, which was very helpful. I decided to go all in and get the extended tasting menu. I was hungry and I felt that I was in for a singular experience. I wasn’t wrong!
The first three courses were a sardine salad with assorted sashimi, followed by a sardine croquette. Next was a larger sardine served whole. Given the size, there was a good amount of fish to eat. I did not eat the whole thing- the head stayed!
After that was a sardine chawanmushi, which was delicious! It’s one of my favorite dishes. Sardines in wonton-like wrappers were next, with a sardine “meatball” tofu soup to follow. Finally, the savory dishes ended with assorted sushi.
The last dish was a little ice cream sandwich. I do not think it had sardines in it but, given the theme, who knows!? It did taste like fairly straight-forward vanilla. During the dinner, I had sake served in a small pitcher shaped like a fugu. It was very cute.
Afterwards, the chef gave me a little goodie bag with a box of sardine prep mix to cook at home. I have instructions and I’m saving it to cook for SMS. I’m not sure if it’s curry, soup, etc at this point but one of these nights, we’ll find out! I also filled out my address and several weeks later, I received a postcard. It was such a wonderful experience and I would recommend the restaurant to anyone (other than vegetarians!). It was such a warm, kind-hearted vibe that I absolutely loved the place!
On my walk home, I walked past Mariya, a shop my Dad had told me about. The temari balls were beautiful and I resolved to go the next day when the shop was open.