Sonoma Saturday

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SMS and I on the rooftop of Singlethread

What an amazing birthday weekend!  SMS and I had an epic few days in Sonoma.  We had so much fun together and I’m definitely sad it’s over.  But rather than drown in my pinot-tinged tears, let me tell you about our trip!

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Wisteria at Preston

We started on Saturday morning with an ambitiously scheduled 11 a.m. tour at Preston Farm and Winery.  Yes, well, that didn’t happen.  We stopped in Oakland for breakfast and even though we passed on the wait at the delicious looking Sequoia Diner, our drive there was a bit more of a detour than I realized.  We went to the World Ground Coffeeshop, which was pretty cool.

I called Preston Farm and they told us not to worry, that they’d even refund the tour charge once we got there!  Lucky us!  Preston is in the Dry Creek appellation of Sonoma. I picked it after researching several Sonoma wineries.  I liked the fact that there was a produce farm in addition to the winery.  In addition, they grow Mourvèdre grapes, which I really like in red blends.  They’re actually releasing a 100% Mourvèdre in a week so I might buy it off their website!

It’s not terribly difficult to get to although the last half mile is on a packed dirt road.  The gardens are beautiful and it is an idyllic place to sit.  There is a bocce ball court which, if I were to make a Mean Girls t-shirt for Preston, it would say, “On weekdays, we play bocce” since there were several (!) signs saying bocce was not to be played on weekends.

SMS and I each had a tasting.  We tried two whites and four reds.  We thought they were fine, but not mind-blowing.  We bought the white blend “Madam Preston” since it was our favorite of the flight and the tasting fee was waived with a bottle purchase.   Free wine!

The wine pourers were all really nice.  We got several biking recs and a few other tasting room suggestions.  One of the women enthusiastically endorsed our planned Monday tour at Medlock-Ames so we were excited about that!

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View at Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve

After Preston, we went to Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve.  We parked on a residential street near the trailhead and went on a two mile walk/hike.  There were really pretty views of the valley and it was a nice way to spend some time on a gorgeous day!

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Rockpile, the tasting room next to Rockpile, the construction site

After our hike, we went into Healdsburg.  We stayed at America’s Best Value Inn, which was fine.  It was clean and inexpensive, which was our goal for that night’s stay!  We walked into town, which I thought would be easy.  It was not.  There’s a construction zone for a roundabout that the locals, if you bring it up, will immediately start to vent about how long it’s taking and how ridiculous the whole thing is.  What was funny though is that there is a tasting room right on the developing roundabout called Rockville, which is very appropriate.  I think the name precedes the construction site though.

We went to the Idlewild tasting room, which was recommended to us at Preston.  The winery focuses on Piedmont, Italy wines.  The flight, which we shared, featured 5 single varietals, 2 white/3 red.  We also tried the Rosé, made from 47% Nebbiolo, 28% Barbera, and 25% Dolcetto.  Most rosés are made from Pinot Noir grapes so this was an interesting variation.  I got a full glass, which was definitely a great choice.  We talked with the pourer Scott for awhile!  He was very interesting and quite knowledgeable about the wine/restaurant scene. He is a somewhat recent transplant, having arrived from NYC about three years ago.

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Flowers at Shed

While the wines were good (especially paired with an incredible cheese plate- Piedmont Sola and a buffalo Camembert), we decided not to buy any bottles.  I think we were too lazy to carry them!  We headed over to Shed, where we had a reservation.  I had wanted to eat there since our last visit so I was really happy to go.

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Cheese, Salumi, Pickles- Shed

At Shed, we split three plates, which was a lot of food (as pointed out by SMS before we ordered).  I ordered the cheese/salumi plate and the ricotta-nettles dumplings.  Both were very good.  SMS ordered the savory toast, which was excellent.  The toast was pretty heavy since there was a lot of butter soaking the bread, topped by pesto and other toppings.  I never thought I would say there was too much better on toast but this one was slightly toeing the line.

After a great dinner, we headed back to the hotel.  It was time for bed in anticipation of Sonoma Sunday!

Tahoe Thanksgiving!

Balcony view

Happy Thanksgiving!  SMS and I took a weekend trip to Lake Tahoe!  It’s 4 hours away and it’s hard to muster up the motivation to drive out there on an ordinary weekend.  I booked an AirBnb cabin and we headed up on Thursday morning.

 
The Lake- approximately 3 blocks from our cabin.
The cabin was in Carnelian Bay, North Lake Tahoe.  It was a residential neighborhood but there was a lot of space between cabins and the trees made it feel more secluded.  Inside the house, it was super cozy and cute.  I told SMS, “I want to buy a cabin in the woods!”   He pointed out we could just keep booking AirBnBs.   Touché.
Thanksgiving Feast, semi-home cooked style- roasted turkey breast, box stuffing, rolls
from a can, cranberry sauce from a can, roasted brussel sprouts and sweet potato
casserole.  The heavenly light seems to be favoring the rolls.
Thanksgiving was pretty mellow.   We relaxed after our drive and started cooking.  We had a delicious feast with a ton of leftovers so it was definitely a successful Thanksgiving!

 

Inspiration Point with Emerald Bay below
Emerald Bay

The next day, we took a field trip to South Lake Tahoe to check out Emerald Bay and Inspiration Point.  It was fairly crowded but we found a parking spot without too much trouble by utilizing one of the road pullouts.  It’s legal as long as the car is inside the line, aka completely off the main road.  If we had waited for one of the lots, it would have been awhile!

Vikingsholm
Tree along the trail
We hiked down a gravel road to Vikingsholm, a former Summer residence of several rich Californians as it changed hands over the years.  Now it’s owned by the State and open for tours in the Summer.  Ever since visiting Denmark twice, I’ve enjoy checking out Scandinavian design so it was cool to see here in Tahoe.  I recommend checking it out!

 

Our brief foray outside

On Saturday, we had a leisurely drive back to Mountain View.  Our first stop was in Truckee at the very cool Coffeebar.  Our drinks were delicious and SMS had an awesome sausage breakfast burrito.  We tried to brave the outside in the full sun but we wimped out and headed inside.  Our drinks would have been cold in an instant!

The coveted Gose, second from the right!

In Sacramento, we stopped for lunch at our favorite spot, Nido.  I had the vegan nut burger, SMS had the vegan steam buns and we split a beer sampler.  According to SMS, I drank more than my fair share of the Gose so I went back up to get another sampler.  Peace restored! 

Then we drove home and traded cars with our friend.  We had borrowed his front-wheel car with chains since snow was (remotely) in the forecast.  Better safe than sorry!  We actually just missed the snow- there was snow on the ground while we were there and on Saturday overnight, 8 inches fell!

Holiday Weekend!

The past weekend was a federal holiday weekend (yay!) and a nice mixture of being mellow and hanging out with family and friends.  This post will be scant on pictures.  It was a “live the moment” weekend instead of picture-taking, which I know, I know, does not make for very good blogging.

Gorgeous flowers outside of Neiman Marcus.

Anyway!  I took Friday off and was pretty mellow while SMS was at work.  I ran to his work and we met up for lunch.  I spent the rest of the afternoon at the shopping mall trying to find a specific lipstick but had no luck.  That night, we went to Tomi for dinner, which was pretty delicious.

ZZZZzzzzz….wake up!  The weekend gets more interesting!  On Saturday, SMS and I went to run club.  Neither one of us had been for awhile so it was nice to see our running friends.  Then, we went into the city to hang out with SMS’s sister and brother-in-law.  We headed up to Tomales Bay, picked up oysters and had an amazing picnic in Pt. Reyes Station.  Afterwards, we drove out to Pt. Reyes lighthouse, admiring the happy cows along the way.  Does this sound familiar?   It’s because we did the same trip with SMS’ parents and his sister wanted to recreate it.

Smokestack!

After we dropped them off, SMS and I went out to dinner in the city.  I hadn’t really thought of a place, so we ended up going to the Dogpatch and eating at Smokestack.  I loved the interior and the BBQ and drinks were delicious.  Another huge bonus is they had free water on tap- still and sparkling!  I love bubbles!  I ordered a salad b/c I wasn’t very hungry.  SMS ordered some delicious BBQ, sustainably sourced and cooked over a woodchip grill only, of course.  I mean, really, we are in San Francisco (ha ha).

The next day, we met up with a friend of ours for brunch.  I really wanted the chicken and waffle, but went with a big salad instead.  Aiming for healthier eating is not always the most fun, but choices, choices.   Afterwards, we went to the American Heritage Museum in Palo Alto, which was pretty cute.  It was staffed by a lot of older volunteers, who gave us a tour.  We saw several old printing presses, staffed by a guy who had been a typesetter for 30+ years.  I really liked the interior of the house, since a doctor owned it and one room was an OR theatre.  You can’t tell now, but the skylights were perfectly positioned for illuminating the operative field.  I loved it!

Since we had been eating out like kings and queens, we decided to eat at home.  I made a version of tacorisu, a Japanese dish that translates into….wait for it…taco rice!  It was pretty good so I’ll be making it again.

Fall Weekend!

Yoda mendala outside of Mountain View library

 SMS and I had an amazing weekend!  It was a great mix of enjoying the area and relaxing at home.

Saturday was our lazy day. We woke up and SMS made an egg-in-a-hole for each of us. It was delicious and accompanied by a delicious from-the-garden heirloom tomato. Yum!  There was also an avocado, but that was store bought. 
What goes with coffee?  Psycho Donuts!

We decided to head out to a nearby coffee shop, Chromatic. We went with our former next door neighbor, which made for nice company. I had the Keynote coffee, part of a Kouign Amann (a caramelized croissant dough pastry) and, finally, a cafe brûlée with almond milk. It was basically a latte with flame torched muscadon sugar on top. It was pretty awesome. I was so entranced by watching it get made that I forgot the coffee beans I bought. Fortunately, they let me replace the bag next day free of charge even though I didn’t have my receipt. 

My new little piece of Paradise!

After Chromatic, we were lazy until we headed out for date night!  SMS had booked us a private spa at a kind of Japanese-style onsen in downtown Palo Alto. It was amazing!  The room was slate, tile and very clean. There was a shower inside and while I hope people rinse off before going in, the water was chlorinated. This is not similar in Japan since most of the onsens are continuously fed by the local springs.     There was relaxing music playing and I love it. I highly recommend the place. Next time, I might look into spa treatments too but really, the soak was relaxing enough. 

Fountain by the spa entrance

We walked around Palo Alto for a bit and then we went to the restaurant for our dinner reservation. We went to Thyme, which was pretty good. I had a delicious seafood soup. We both got the scallops which were fine. I’ve had better but I’ve also definitely had worse. The decor was nice and I liked sitting by the window during golden hour light. It made SMS look especially handsome!

On the Steep Ravine section of the trail


Sunday was our active day.  I wanted to finish a Mt Tam hike we started last year but had to turn back due to sunset. I printed out the instructions (here’s the link!) and we drove up to Marin/Mt Tamalpis. The hike was beautiful and I recommend it!  The scenery was quite varied as it included forest, second-growth redwoods, creeks and sun-exposed golden hills. There’s also a bathroom along the way so that was an added bonus!


SMS on Steep Ravine Trail

After the hike, we decided to head home. We were planning on cooking but after we had been driving for about 30 minutes, SMS said he “could use a snack.”  Well, my momma didn’t raise no fool!  I’ve thought in the past that there was a general idea of a snack at some point in the future. Nope, nope, nope. “Could use a snack” = emergency distress signal. (I, actually we, have learned this the hard way). So, we stopped at the In & Out that has been our emergency stop before (under worse circumstances when I thought it could wait and then we were stuck in 45 minute Golden Gate traffic. Wrong call!). We ordered food and oh my goodness, I didn’t realize how hungry I was either!  It really is our favorite In&Out!


Our oasis!

We drove home and got stuck in some Sunday traffic congestion. Maybe a little worse due to a morning Raiders game but I think the roads are just bad around here. 


Although I was really tired of walking, SMS tempted me into going into town to get a shave ice. We went to Teaspoon and got a tropical delight. It was amazing!  I think it’s a testament to how tired I was that I didn’t think to get my own but hey, I think it was better shared!

Monday morning, I went for a run. My legs felt good considering the hike but my times were a little slow. We went to breakfast at Esther’s German Cafe where I got to flash back to Switzerland by ordering a cheese plate for breakfast- hearty bread, butter, cheese and jam. Delicious!

Janelle Monae and a Great Weekend!

Thornton Beach Overlook hike

This past weekend was a mix of study and play as I worked on a paper for my “Strategy and War” class but also did several fun things with SMS.

Friday night, we headed out to Antolian Kitchen, a Turkish/Kurdish cuisine restaurant.  I had the broiled whole fish, which was really delicious.  I’m on the tail end of a Whole 30 month so I’m trying to go to places that fit within those strict parameters.  I’m sure I’ve inadvertently broke the rules with a tiny bit of added sugar, butter and oils but nothing major.  SMS had a baked meat-stuffed tomato eggplant dish that was awesome.  I think we’ll be back, even off of a diet!

Saturday was a study/paper-writing day.  SMS and I started the day with the I’m taking my course through the Naval War College Distance Learning program and it’s interesting to learn more about military history.  Some of the books are very dry so focusing is tough, but that’s what blog entry writing breaks are for!

Hanging out!

The next day was Sunday Fun Day.  SMS and I went up to San Francisco to the Stern Grove Festival.  It was opening day and Janelle Monae was the headliner.  I saw her at Coachella a few years ago and she was fantastic.  We were supposed to go with friends but their son was sick so they bailed.  The show was amazing with a great setlist:

  • Suite IV Electric Overture
  • Dance Apocalyptic
  • Sincerely, Jane.
  • Q.U.E.E.N.
  • Electric Lady
  • One Fine Day
  • I Got You (I Feel Good)
  • I Want You Back
  • Cold War
  • Tightrope
  • Yoga
  • Let’s Go Crazy Come Alive (The War of the Roses)

 

 

Sitting on the stump!

Our concert seats were…interesting.  The place was packed!  We arrived at 1:15, 45 minutes before the start of the show.  We climbed up the hill and found an awesome tree stump.  We stayed there through the opening act Midtown Social and then headed down the hill for most of Monae’s set.  The sound was better and the energy level higher.  It was great!

Thornton Beach

Afterwards, we went out for sushi at a place with a TV so we could watch the first half of the Warrior/Cavs game.  It was Game 7 and I think most of the Bay Area was watching!  It was a great game- very competitive.  We didn’t want to stay for the whole game so we headed back home and listened to it on the radio.  I even streamed the last few minutes on Periscope with mixed success.

Thornton Beach

On the way home, we stopped at Thornton Beach Overlook and hiked down to the beach cliffs.  It was so beautiful and a good impromptu hike along the Pacific.