Napa Marathon Weekend

Although Napa is fairly close by, J and I decided to make a short getaway out of our trip.  On Saturday, we met up at the Runner’s Expo in the Napa Marriott.  There we picked up our bibs, our duffel bags and tech shirts.  The lines weren’t too long and things were well organized.  I also tried several Nuun flavors at their booth.  They weren’t terrible (great recommendation) and if I ever needed to get into hydration supplements, I’d probably pick the watermelon flavor.

After the Expo, we booked it over to the Whole Foods to get our other swag bags.  The bag was awesome!  Lots of drinks, bars and little snacks.  Not everyone got one so I’m glad we hustled over to pick one up. 
There was a lot of rain but we were becoming happier with the developing forecast that was predicting little rain the next morning.  We headed up to Calistoga to check into our hotel and then headed downstairs to the restaurant for an early dinner.  A lot of dishes were shared.  SMS and I got pizzas and his mushroom pizza seemed to be the table’s favorite dish.  It was generous with the mushrooms and the cheese was perfectly paired.  It was pretty delicious.
Then it was off to bed.  I didn’t sleep all that well because I was more nervous than I thought.  But I woke up feeling fairly rested and most of all, excited!
After the race, we headed to Oxbow Market for lunch.  I really sold the group on the place saying it was like “a food court in a big shed.”  But no one put up a fight and when we got there, A&J really liked it.  A suggested that it was more like a food hall in a European Train Station and that is definitely a better description.  We went to Kitchen Door, which is a restaurant with its own seating section.  I didn’t want to have to deal with hovering and snagging the limited tables in the central area.  It was really crowded and I didn’t have the energy!  The food there was great.  I enjoyed a plate of Singapore noodles.  SMS had a delicious beef tartare breakfast plate.  My favorite was A’s salmon eggs benedict.  Those were pretty phenomenal.  
Next, we went to Hess and Alpha & Omega for wine tastings. When in Napa!  We met a really nice group in Hess that we talked to for a bit.  J and I wore our medals all day and they were definitely conversation starters!  Maybe I’ll start wearing it all the time!  But, yes, wearing the medals helped us identify fellow runners (most everyone recovers so nicely once the race is done!).  We also talked to people who were curious to know what event had shut down the roads earlier in the morning or thought that the idea of a marathon was cool.
For dinner, we went to Evangeline in Calistoga.  My favorite dish was actually the pickled vegetables.  They were so good!  They were crisp and fresh tasting, even though they were lightly pickled.  Amazing!  I also had the salmon appetizer for dinner.  It’s delicious although my description isn’t- salmon with creme fraiche on a hash brown. 
I was a little less impressed with the maitre’d initially because he tried to seat us outside on the patio saying, “It’s heated.”  Um, no.  It’s raining and there are tables inside that I just called about and you said were free.  I think it was because we had a toddler with us but guess who is awesome?  That kid!  He is so cute and well-behaved.  And sure enough, he was quieter than some of the other patrons.  So, even though I sometimes cringe when I see kids at a less-than-family friendly restaurant, there are definitely some kids who can handle it.  

Scenes from the Museum: De Young, Pierre Bonnard and Highlights from the Collection

Tartine, a great start to our day!
On Sunday, we woke up, checked out and headed over to the Mission District for breakfast.  I hadn’t been to Tartine yet since moving here and I was in the mood for some delicious carb-y carb carbs!  SMS and I stood in line for awhile and then bought several things– a Croque Monsieur, a frangipane-filled croissant, a savory scone, a hazelnut tart and a morning bun.  The purchases lasted until the next day (honest!).  My favorite was the morning bun.  It was amazing!  I think it is an under-the-radar Cronut, since it had the flaky layers of a croissant with some excellent fried/baked with-so-much-butter-it-may-as-well-be-fried goodness.  We also talked briefly to the girls next to us who were having a reunion after many years.  One of the girls was from Japan and had spent time as an exchange student at the other girl’s house in Philadelphia several years ago.  
A safe in Room and Board.  Not for sale.
After desser- I mean, breakfast, we went to Room & Board, a furniture shop where I had seen a desk I thought SMS would like.  After some debate and browsing, it was deemed a winner and SMS ordered it in charcoal.  He’s going to have the nicest furniture in the house soon!

Does it look like someone in Heaven has an upset stomach?
After Room & Board, we headed to the de Young museum.  I wanted to see the Young Woman with a Unicorn by Raphael, which is on loan from the Galleria Borghese in Rome.  I heard about it from my Aunt Maria’s friends so I was excited.  It was a beautiful painting.  Some of the permanent collection pieces on the way there were also pretty epic in their own way.  I took pictures of two of my favorites.
I imagine there are several expressions one could have while holding a severed head, but
I feel like this expression of bored detachment would not be one of them. 
Pierre Bonnard- I really liked this sequence of four.

After we acted like mature art aficionados, we headed downstairs to the Pierre Bonnard retrospective.  It was an excellent exhibit and I feel lucky to have seen it.  I actually preferred his Japonaise-inspired prints in addition to some of the colors and patterns seen in his interior paintings, including his nudes.  If you have a chance to go, I definitely recommend it.  I’m not the biggest fan of his late work of huge murals with more muddy green but that actually speaks to the strength of the show.  The viewer gets to see examples from his entire career in an exhibit that flows very smoothly.  
Snowy!  Plover!
After the museum, we headed to Andytown Coffee Roasters in Outer Sunset, which is my favorite neighborhood.  I ordered a snowy plover, a delicious concoction of soda water, espresso, brown sugar and a huge dollop of freshly-whipped cream.  Intensity!  It is so delicious.  SMS got a decaf espresso.  He also noted, while we were in line, that I “know all the places in San Francisco to stand in line.”  I told him to channel it into a Japanese-type experience, where standing in line is part of the deal.  I’m not sure he bought it.  
Then we headed home.  It was nice to have a full weekend but still get home while the sun was still out.  We watched some more of Mozart in the Jungle, which we both really enjoy and recommend.  It’s pretty unusual for us to find a show we both like but this one is a major win!

San Francisco Saturday

Saturday was light on pictures, so have some cats
from Neko Atsume!

This past weekend was absolutely beautiful weather-wise. SMS and I decided to spend most of it in San Francisco. The main reason was for a Williams alumni event emphasizing the continuing relevance of a liberal arts education in various disciplines. The San Francisco event focused on Science and Technology but there are other events in different cities focusing on health, finance, etc.

We headed up Saturdgamba our best and I think we stand a fairly good chance of achieving a BQ!
ay morning after I went for a run with the local running club. It was the weekly Saturday run, a 3.5 mile loop that ends at Starbucks. I ran with 3 guys and we ran two of the miles at a 7:30 pace!  I felt pretty awesome!  I’m looking forward to the marathon. I feel really ready training-wise so as long as I feel good on race day, it should be a pretty good day. J and I want to qualify for the Boston marathon. Unfortunately, we’re right on the border pace-wise so there’s no time to spare which is a little nerve-wracking since there are things like water stations, bathroom breaks and the fact that runners often run a little more than 26.2 miles due to not being able to “follow the line” exactly due to banking of the road.  But we will

Anyway, enough running talk.  We went to Japantown and ate at Kushitsuru.  It was fine.  On the menu it said it was the best restaurant in Japantown.  SMS pointed that out.  Later in the meal, I said that I was so happy we were eating at the best restaurant in Japantown.  SMS was drinking tea at the time and laughed, which almost caused it to come out his nose.  I didn’t even mean to be funny!

After lunch, SMS headed to the Kabuki spa.  They have a traditional Japanese onsen, but it’s single sex on alternating days so only he would be able to enjoy the baths.  I went to the Korean make-up shops, where I looked at all the character masks and marveled at the incredible mark-ups on the snail goo products compared to the prices in Seoul.

SMS was done more quickly than I expected.  A person can only hang out in hot baths for so long!  We headed to the Financial District and checked into our hotel.  We stayed at Club Quarters, which was very nice.  It was clean, functional and fairly inexpensive.  I booked the trip through Priceline as a hidden 4-star hotel.  Although the hotel is nice, I wouldn’t quite call it 4-star.  When I was looking on their FAQ checking regarding parking, there was also a question about the 4-star rating and where it came from.  It was hilarious because the answer was basically, “Not from any outside agency but we think our amenities compare favorably to four star hotels.”  Self-rating doesn’t seem like the most objective way, but it does show a high level of confidence, I suppose!

We headed over to the Williams event and had a really nice time.  The event was really well-done.  The lectures were excellent and we spoke to some interesting people.  I saw some people from my class and overall, it was a really good afternoon.  There was a cocktail reception afterwards that seemed to go on for awhile so SMS and I left, thinking that I had misread that there would be dinner. Oops, there was dinner.  I feel a little badly leaving when I had been in the head count but really, I thought it was winding down.

Leo’s Atrium

One positive for not believing what I read (hey, the critical liberal arts mind strikes again!) is that we had an awesome dinner at Leo’s Oyster Bar.  Oh my goodness, it was delicious.  We had two California oysters each and then were treated to a pair of St Simone by a really eager maitre d’.  He was very enthusiastic about oysters and the restaurant.  We had a really nice time talking to him.  He also delivered the wrong order to our table which we didn’t realize until we had a bite.  We had been waiting on uni toasts and when we were delivered a lump of something surrounded by toast, we thought it was our order.  It was actually the salmon tartare.  The waitress said not to worry about it and to enjoy it so really, even though we went out to eat, we continued our evening’s trend of getting free food!

We also enjoyed (and paid for) the lobster roll.  It was really delicious and the bun was absolute perfection- toasted, golden and with a near-perfect ratio of bread to lobster.  I think the perfect ratio would be hard because can there ever be too much lobster?

We also really liked where we sat. We were on the side of the bar, in the atrium.  The atrium has a very vintage decor feel with high ceilings.  It was nice to sit in an area with the best of both worlds- the energy of the bar and the uniqueness of a creatively decorated space.  Our area was called the “Low Bar,” which felt slightly like a kid’s table since the seats were smaller and lower than normal bar seating.  It was lovely and unique.  If you want a table, reservations appear to be a must but we were very happy to get in and our seating was perfect.

How do you back-in a dragon?  Very carefully!

Afterwards, we headed out and saw the tail-end of the Chinese New Year’s parade.  The highlight was seeing a human-carried dragon puppet get backed into the lobby of a building.  The dragon was super long and navigating the head with the tall horns was a bit challenging.  But they did it!  Then they set off the remainder of their noisemaker fireworks which was really loud.  I feel very grateful to live in a country that is safe enough that when people hear explosions and loud sounds, they look for the fireworks instead of worrying about bombs.

Then we headed back to our four-star abode.  It was a really nice day and we were excited to see a little more of San Francisco the next day.

Pebble Beach, CA

Sunset at the tide pools in front of the Inn

Take two non-golfers and a world-famous golf resort and what do you get?  A great weekend!  SMS and I headed to the Inn at Spanish Bay this weekend after my boss gave us the stay as a gift.  Apparently, he and his golf partner each had a room through an event they were playing but his friend wanted to stay in the house he owned in the area.  Based on the houses around Pebble Beach, I’m sure it was a real dump.

Well, we were very happy and appreciative and off we went, battling rain and end-of-rush-hour traffic to get to the hotel.  The room was really nice.  The main room had a gas fireplace with two armchairs across from the two double beds that had really luxurious bed linens.  The bathroom had a separate vanity/sink area and an inner toilet/sink/shower and bath.  The bathtub looked like an amazing soaking tub but I didn’t check it out because, despite all the recent rain, CA is still in drought status.

We saw a Chinese woman feeding the seagulls.  It looked dangerous.

We woke up in the morning and noticed that are room was a partial ocean view room- beautiful!  We lazed around until the siren call of pancakes became too great for SMS’ stomach.  We headed over towards Sticks, the small restaurant by the first tee.  We shared blueberry pancakes and poached eggs and hash.  Fortified, we headed off to the Coast trail, where we walked 2 miles each way between the Inn and Bird Rock.  It was high tide and the ocean waves were pretty turbulent.  It was so beautiful.  It was nice to walk because I’ve driven on 17 Mile Rd before and it’s hard to sightsee to my heart’s content while driving.

After our walk, we split a club sandwich by the outside fire pit.  It was so delicious- lots of turkey on sourdough toast (yeah!) along with perfectly ripe avocado and cooked bacon.  So delicious, in fact, that seagulls tried to join our lunch (boo!), so we moved inside.  One gull was tolerable but then it opened its big mouth and called all its friends.  I know a flock of circling seagulls may not sound as scary as, say, hawks or vultures, but it was still disconcerting.  I was not about to share my sandwich!

Then we went upstairs and I laid down on the bed for 5 minutes.  It ended up being a two hour nap that even SMS participated in, which has never happened before!  It was awesome!  Unfortunately, the one experience does not seemed to have converted SMS to the love of naps but hey, maybe I can work on him.

I went for a quick run and cut it slightly short when I saw how beautiful the sunset and the light was on the nearby dunes.  I ran and got SMS and we walked along the shoreline, exploring the tide pools and walking on the boardwalks among the dunes.  It was fantastically beautiful.

After our sunset walk, we headed back to the room to get ready for dinner.  I thought it would be nice to eat in one of the Inn’s restaurants so I had made reservations at Peppoli.  We had a great Italian dinner.  The highlight was how amazing the pasta was.  It was super fresh and homemade.  It was the best pasta I’ve ever had.  The sauces didn’t quite hold their own against the pasta, but they were still pretty good.  We ended with a shared almond cake for dessert and it was really a great meal.

On Sunday, I slept in.  I woke up at 7 but then started dozing until after 9!  Usually when I’m up, I’m up but I guess I was getting into the resort lifestyle.  We ordered room service because I’ve loved room service ever since ordering it with Jenny and Theresa one New Year’s.  It felt very luxurious and I’m glad we did it!  SMS had the waffle and I had scrambled eggs.  After breakfast, we headed over to the tennis courts where we played for about an hour.  SMS was a total ringer since I didn’t find out until we were there that he had been on a tennis team for two years.  Unfair advantage!

The Lone Cyprus
After tennis, we headed over to the main Pebble Beach Inn to check out the famed Lodge.  Along the way, we stopped at a few 17 Mile Dr. sites to include the Cyrus Lookout and the Lone Cyprus Tree. 

At the Pebble Beach Lodge, SMS wanted to see the clay tennis courts, which were waterlogged and closed but still interesting to see.  We ate lunch on the terrace even though I was completely underdressed.  Whah.  I like meeting attire requirements but apparently, they’re loosened during the day and lunch was delicious so it was worth looking like a slob, I guess.  We went all out and started with a  dozen oysters (yay!) followed by an artichoke and a hamburger, which we shared.  It was really awesome and the view was spectacular.  We were overlooking the bay with Carmel across from us.  Even though they were setting up tents for the AT&T Pro-Am in mid-Feb, there was still plenty of beautiful scenery to take in and enjoy.

The Lone Cyprus’ not-famous cousin, Pt Lobos
Whale watching!

 After lunch, we headed out to Point Lobos State Park, which was stunning.   We hiked in the Cyprus Grove, where the Monterey cyprus and other local trees are in their natural element.  We talked to a nice older couple manning the Park Service Info Booth and after turning over our car keys (yikes!), we got a pair of loaner binoculars.  I’m glad we had them because we got to see whale spouts and the backs of gray whales!  I was really hoping to see a tail or a whale flipping through the water like the old Echo the Dolphin Sega game, but I wasn’t that lucky!

Near China Cove, Pt Lobos Park

After the park, we headed back to the Inn.  We decided to head back and be responsible adults.  No snow days for us unlike so many people on the East Coast!  It was a great weekend and a beautiful setting to stay and explore.

Anchors Away!

SMS and I had a great weekend. On Friday, we went to Shiva, a local Indian restaurant that was delicious!  I had been eyeing it for awhile but had read somewhat mixed reviews. SMS likes being more spontaneous and not as review-dependent. Either way, we both wanted to go and it was awesome. I won in the ordering department that night since I got a delicious palak paneer with lumps of delicious paneer. SMS’ was also good but the paneer was pressed out and cut into triangles, which we didn’t like as much. His dish was a honeyed tomato sauce which was good but not as yummy as the palak. We also ordered bread and I had a masala tea. 
The next day, Jyostsna and I met up for our 18 mile long run. I felt pretty good through the whole run and I’m really happy with how our training is progressing. 

Afterwards, there was no time to sit on the couch because it was time to rally and go on our tour of Anchor Brewery. I booked our tickets awhile back and the tour was excellent. The factory is amazing and quite small for its output. The beer is made in three large boilers with each boiler sequentially used for a separate stage of  the process. The boilers are copper and apparently can cycle through 5-6 batches a day, although that makes for a very long day. 

Afterward, we tried six of the beers including Anchor Steam, California Ale, Liberty Ale, a double IPA from the Argonaut collection, a dark Winter Wheat and the Christmas Ale (41st year). There’s one I’m leaving off but I misplaced my tasting list.


Afterwards, we walked up Potrero Hill, which led to pretty views of the city. We tried walking to the Dogpatch area but I got a little turned around so that was a fail.

A secret path!

We went to Japantown where I had planned to try Yamada ramen but the line was long and we started talking about Chinese pulled noodles. So, off we went to Inner Richmond to San Dong Best. We ordered the same beef stew with pulled noodles and it was really good and really filling. I also placed an order of dumplings that were also pretty standout.

I love noodles!  Also, they make dumplings in the window (see background).

Sunday was pretty mellow. I read some chapters from the textbook I had just ordered.  I also made some cookies for a blog bake-off and a work cookie Exchange. I also took a long nap. It was a perfect lazy Sunday on a cool, gray, rainy day.

Delicious Christmas Cookies!

Weekend, weekend!

This weekend was pretty nice.  SMS and I did a lot, but at the same time, it was all local and didn’t feel particularly rushed.  It was just a really pleasant, overall relaxing weekend.

R&W Estate Vineyard

 On Friday, I went to my book club meeting.  We had read Pretty Girls, which I do not recommend at all.  The only reason why I even read it at all is this is the first book club I’ve belonged to where people actually read the book.  Pretty Girls is in the genre of sex crimes mystery/thriller and I just think it’s kind of a gross genre.  I don’t watch those types of TV shows either.  I know there are horrible things in the world, but I don’t find them as a source of fictional entertainment.  I’m not trying to sound holier-than-thou (and I did read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, that was a huge trend a few years back), but it’s just a genre I don’t like.

Anyway, book feelings aside, it was a great club meeting.  We each write two questions- one book related and one not- and then put them in a bucket and draw them out.  On Friday, we also had a White Elephant gift exchange, which focused on nicer gifts rather than sad-sack gifts that no one really likes (which I think is what a White Elephant is about).  Anyway, I brought an awesomely funny mug that got stolen once, a key sign that the gift is awesome.  I had a wine glass stolen from me that said “Treat Yo’ Self” and I ended up picking the last present.  Karma has rewarded me for all the bad presents I’ve brought in the past because it wasn’t that great- a bunch of samples from The Face Shop in a cute tin.  However, the samples are still cool and I will use the tin for my work’s upcoming cookie exchange so still, winner!
UC Berkeley’s Sather Tower, too early on a Saturday morning
On Saturday, SMS was going to meet up with a “friend” to go rock climbing but the guy is turning out to be an A+ flaker.  Hopefully, SMS will meet other climbing partners soon.  I had to head up to Berkeley for a 7 am (ugh!) meeting and PRT with the NROTC unit.  I like the staff up there and I had a great run.  It’s fun being the old lady and still beating a fairly sizable portion of the other, younger runners.  Comparatively, I didn’t do as well as other PRTs that I’ve run b/c this one had several recent USNA male grads who are in very good shape and take the run seriously.  One guy even had his Theristick out, rolling out his muscles before the run.  Keep in mind, the run is 1.5 miles.  I ran it in 10:15 and the fastest guy ran it in about 8 minutes, I would guess.  
After the run, I headed into work and drilled some temporal bones in the lab for awhile. It’s nice to practice and reinforce some anatomy lessons and relationships.  I got a text from SMS and we were invited to a party by the neighbor.  I stopped at the store to buy crescent roll dough and hotdogs for excellent pigs-in-a-blanket.  Not super elegant but definitely super delicious!
The party was a lot of fun.  Most people were from an electric car start-up so there stories were interesting, especially since a lot of them knew each other from the UK and working on Lotuses.  There were also some other start-up people and it was just really a lot of fun to talk to such a different crowd.  Everyone was super nice and mingle-y and it was a great party.  The food highlight for me, apart from my own, was homemade pork-and-cabbage dumplings with homemade dough.  Sagoy!  They were so good!
Mile 11 was our last RP mile, which was 7:57.
Yesterday, I went for my weekly long run with Jyotsna, my excellent training partner.  We went for 16 miles with 6 miles at race pace in the middle, which we ran even faster than race pace.  Our 6 miles ranged from 7:54-8:16.  We were very happy with ourselves and how we felt.  I felt like I was pushing myself but not hurting myself so that’s good!
I like to pretend this is my home 😉
After the run, I felt a little wiped but SMS and I decided to head up to R&W’s holiday party.  We sampled some wine, listened to bluegrass and took in the incredible view.  Afterwards, we went to San Pedro Market and had some tacos as we watched the nail biter end to the Panthers-Saints game.
Merry Christmas!  Maybe not Christmas Card worthy with the lighting, but still festive!
So, it was a pretty great weekend and with a few parties thrown in, it feels like the holidays.  I tried to decorate last night but I fear I pulled a Clark Griswold and ended up shorting out several strings of lights.  Hmmm, will have to try again (putting up lights, that is, not shorting them!).

Even dogs in Silicon Valley are smarter than you

Glen Canyon, Tiled Steps, Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach!

SMS and I had an awesome Saturday together!  After I came back from my weekly running group, I was feeling a little uninspired in the planning department.  I’m usually the one who plans our adventures but yesterday, SMS took the lead and we ended up having the best time.

Giant Boulders!

We got ready to go and were dressed in our sporty gear because our first stop was Glen Canyon, a preserve and excellent bouldering site.  We parked on Crags Ct (auspicious name!) and hiked into the canyon.  It was awesome.  There were a lot of hikers and it had a nice neighborly feel.  We went over to the boulders where SMS found a lot of awesome routes, most of which had not been written about online.

The rock was very feature-y and a lot of fun to climb.  The rocks were on the large side and I was leary of bouldering that high (aka, no rope since that’s what bouldering is) so I mostly lain out in the sun, which felt amazing.  There were a few other climbers there and it was really a fantastic spot.

After we hiked out of the canyon, we headed back to the car and drove over to the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood.  Our destination was the 16th Ave Tiled Steps, a community art project spanning 163 steps.  It was absolutely beautiful and a stunning example of how much San Francisco has to offer, most of which I’m not even aware of!  The steps are quite popular and attracted local and foreign tourists.  What’s even better about the steps is that they lead to Grand View Park, a tiny clearing on the top of a hill next to Twin Peaks that has an absolutely phenomenal view of the city.  We also had the best weather yesterday so it was really fantastic.

Grand View Park’s Grand View

We walked towards Inner Sunset to see another set of 148 tiled steps, The Hidden Garden Steps.  They were also beautiful and no one else was there.  Not that I expect a tourist destination to be completely devoid of people, but it is fun when I get to experience something as if it’s a hidden treasure!  We actually looked at the steps more on the way back up but first, we stopped at a completely delightful coffee shop Hollow.


Hollow brews Ritual Coffee and has a spare, beach-y feeling aesthetic inside.  There are old-fashioned light bulbs, a beautiful bar and a backroom with a small collection of beautiful things for sale, mainly toiletries, perfumes and expensive chocolates.  I loved it and wished it was closer to Mountain View.  It would be my go-to spot!

On the way back to the car, we walked up the Hidden Garden Steps and thought the tilework was really beautiful- maybe slightly prettier than the 16th St Steps but it’s hard to decide!

At this point, it was about 45 minutes to sunset.  I suggested watching from Grand View Park but SMS downvoted that idea because he was “done climbing steps.”  This seemed pretty wise and we decided to head to Outer Sunset and watch the sunset from there.

We walked along the dunes because there were paths through them that SMS, earth and dunes protector deemed dune-friendly.  I was very happy because last time, we didn’t see any and SMS thwarted my sand dune sledding/running plans.  I didn’t want to be known as the destroyer of dunes and I realized he was right but this time, through the dune paths we went!

The sunset was really pretty and again, the visibility was fantastic.  We saw all the way out to Farallon Islands, which we later researched and found hilarious Google+ reviews about it.  For the record, it’s closed to public access and is a wildlife preserve, mostly used by migrating birds.

Clearly, no one likes William

We drove back towards home and stopped in Los Altos for dinner.  We went to a Greek restaurant that was pretty good, but the feel of the town is sort of old-people touristy in the manner of La Jolla cove or Orange St in Coronado.  Wherever there’s a Chico’s…

After dinner, we watched an episode of Archer, a not new cartoon spoof of a retro-modern spy agency.  It’s ridiculously not-PC but it’s also pretty funny and one of the few shows that we can watch together and both be entertained.  Now I need to carve out some time to watch Season 3 of House of Cards since that’s not interesting to SMS at all.

Mumm Champagne and Calistoga

On Saturday, the excitement was second only to Christmas morning.  It was time to go to Napa- hooray!  We all got up and were ready around the same time so we headed out to Panotiq for breakfast and coffee.  I had a pain au chocolat while everyone else got breakfast sandwiches either on a croissant or French biscuit  (the real name is eluding me right now).
We hit the road and arrived in Napa around 11.  Thank goodness- it was time to eat again!  Well truthfully, even though eating and drinking definitely were the themes of the weekend, we were still a little full from breakfast.  So we walked around the Farmer’s market (last of the season!) and Oxbow market to pick up some picnic provisions.  We got back in the car and headed up to Yountville where we had an awesome picnic in the French Laundry gardens.  There are several picnic tables on either end of the garden and it was really an exquisite setting.  Our picnic was  delicious and then we walked through the gardens before heading to our first tasting!
Our tasting was at Mumm, in honor of Linda’s birthday and her preference for sparkling wines.   We had a reservation on the Oak Terrace and it was really nice and relaxed.  Our pourer was knowledgeable and I learned the best takeaway tip.  If the sparkling wine is not made via “method traditionale,” the carbonation and sugars are added artificially in the second stage which is the way to make a hangover in a bottle.   So, you don’t need to spend a lot but look out for those production methods!

SMS did this climb!
After the tasting, we went to the photography gallery.  There was a landscape photography exhibit by Ben Nixon, which was excellent.  SMS is convinced that the photographer must be a rock climber because he took picture in several places SMS recognized and several other places that SMS now wants to go.  There was also an Ansel Adams gallery with prints there on long-term loan.  Even though the photos exist in multiple prints, SMS explained that Ansel Adams printed each one by hand so each is unique due to subtle differences in darkroom manipulation techniques.  It was a small, but excellent, collection.
Then we were off to Calistoga!  We arrived at the B&B a little earlier than planned so we headed into town and tried wines at the Huge Bear Tasting Room.  Afterwards, we headed back to the B&B to rest up before dinner.  We went out to Evangeline, a French-Creole inspired restaurant with a huge patio.  We split three amazing salads- heirloom tomato, pork belly with egg and shaved persimmon-pear.  Afterwards, I had smoked salmon.  Everyone’s dishes were really nice but to me, the salads were the standouts. 

Then, after a day of eating and drinking, we were tired!  So we walked back despite Rip’s exhortations to keep the party going.  We went to bed, ready for our Sunday Funday of tastings complete with a driver!

San Francisco

I love the scale in this photo!

This past weekend was split between being mellow and venturing out. On Saturday, I went for a run with my running club which was a lot of fun. I ran the 5K distance at a pretty good clip and then enjoyed some fun conversation at Starbucks afterwards.

The rest of the day was pretty mellow. SMS was out with his climbing friend so I went to the library and read a book for an upcoming book club.
The next day, we decided to head up to the city. We had brunch at Outerlands, which was pretty awesome. I love their lavain bread, which we had toasted. Then we each had “Eggs in Jail,” a very fancy version of egg-in-a-hole. It was good but I think next time I’ll get something a little more adventurous…maybe a Dutch pancake.
SMS and I got to pika pura and made cool photo stickers, complete with anime eyes!

After brunch (and a pre-brunch stop at Trouble coffee to restock on beans), we went to Japantown to check it out. There was an art walk that day where we bought a “passport” and went to 16 different stops throughout the 6 block area and got the book stamped with original designs by different artists. It was a fun way to explore the area!

As the girl shouted into her cell phone, “I’M IN MARINA!”

After Japantown, SMS wanted to check out another part of San Francisco so we decided to head over to Cow Hollow and the Marina area. It was a really pretty area with a lot of fancy shops. We stopped in for a drink at one of the restaurants and watched the end of a football game. Afterwards, we walked to the water where they were breaking down the setup for the Nike half-marathon.

Alcatraz in the fading golden hour!
We skipped dinner in the city since we weren’t hungry and headed home. It was a nice day with a lot of walking, exploring new-to-us parts of the city.

2 Days, 1 Night in Napa

Last weekend, SMS and I went to Napa.  I was off-call and was able to venture a little farther away than normal.  We are going next month as well with SMS’ parents but even though the two trips are close together, I kind of wanted to get my “Napa Newbie” trip done.  It was nice to get the lay of the land and see a few places that I had heard about to weed out the “Repeat.  Must do again” from the “Ehh…it’s to somebody’s taste, but not mine.”

Coffee Scales for Pour-over at Ritual

On Saturday, I got up for a run and then we were off a little after 9.  We arrived in Napa by 11 and headed to the Farmer’s Market.  It skewed towards ready-made goods more than produce but it was a a lot of fun.  We bought figs, which I hadn’t seen in Mountain View for a few weeks.  We also had sandwiches for an earlier breakfast from “A Proper Sandwich.”  We split the sandwiches- I favored the roasted delicata squash with caramelized onions, fig spread, greens and pepitas on a hearty bread. SMS ordered the pimento cheese sandwich which was tasty but basically, a holiday cheese ball smashed into a sandwich.  I wasn’t quite expecting that but still, it’s nice to try something different.

Oxbow Market- crowded but awesome

Although we were full, we wandered through Oxbow Market.  It is super cute and airy with lots of great stand-alone shops, mostly food service.  It is similar to the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the San Pedro Market in San Jose.  There’s a Hog’s Head Oyster bar, a restaurant called The Kitchen Door, Ritual Coffee, and C Casa, a great Mexican food place that is pricy for Mexican food but relatively inexpensive for Napa :/

How to strap that to a car…

After looking at Oxbow, we decided to make a big driving loop up the Silverado Trail and back on the 29 to Napa, where I had booked our last-minute hotel.  The whole area was very crowded- it’s harvest time!  We stopped in St. Helena and window-shopped.  We found a motorcycle rental shop with some jet-engines out front.

I think this looks very Wild West…with gourmet tastes!

We also went to Oakville Grocery, which was smaller than I thought and although the building was historically interesting, I was a bigger fan of Oxbow.  I was definitely glad that we stopped though because I had heard so much about it.

Even the cheese at V. Sattui are crowded, ha ha.  But delicious!

Then we went to V. Sattui for a late lunch and glass of wine.  There are large picnic grounds there and  although the layout was nice, neither one of us really liked it.  And to be honest, most people’s rave reviews are usually in context of when they had already had a few tastings and then went to V. Sattui and really, that’s how it struck me- a place that would be more fun if you were drunk.  You know, get a little food, drink a little more, relax under a tree or on a picnic bench.  Definitely fun in the right mindframe but as a stand-alone stopping point in Napa?  I recommend a pass.

The French Laundry


We stopped in Yountville to take ultimate tourist photos at The French Laundry.  We also walked around the gardens which were very impressive.  So well-laid out and perfectly ordered with excellent irrigation set-ups.  There was also a chicken coup/playground for chickens and a greenhouse.  It was really cool to wander in there.

Then we went to Napa, checked into our hotel, had a cookie and milk break at 6 and headed out to dinner.  We walked towards the downtown where we had dinner at Carpe Diem, which was really fun.  We each had a shot of yellow lentil soup and then we shared a salad and a flatbread.  I had a flight of the “interesting reds,” which included a pinot noir I really liked (usually I find them a little too light and fruity).

Tasting Time!

Hess Courtyard and small pond with little goldfish

The next day, we had breakfast at the hotel which was carb-tastic!  We each had a waffle and then we split a homemade blueberry-banana mini-loaf.  Yum!  Then we headed out to Hess Winery, which was fantastic.  We went to the tasting room first where we tried a flight of three cabs (we liked 2010 the best) and a flight of four varied wine (I liked the Syrah).  Our pourer was really nice and the room was very cool.  We wandered around the gift shop and then went to view the attached museum/private collection of Mr. Hess, which is an incredible modern art collection.  After 40 minutes, we went on a tour of the vineyards and buildings which was about 30 minutes, but got the main points across.  It was a really pleasant, fun place and we were big fans!

Very cool collection and layout
Working winery next to the art!

After that, we decided to head home after a lunch at C Casa in Oxbow Market.  We stopped at UC-Berkeley and walked around for a bit. We also went to the top of the campus tower and had a great view on a pretty clear day.  Then we went to Stout Poutine so that SMS could get his poutine fix that he had had since reading about poutine in Berkeley.  They are really good but maybe a little much after a food-centric weekend!

Westward view from the tower

Then, we headed home and prepared for the week.  It was a fun weekend get-away and makes me really excited for our trip in a few weeks!  I’ve made some reservations and hired a driver so it will be a little more wine-centric.  Hey, maybe we should stop at V. Sattui!