Summer Begins!

Our second moving truck!

Phew!  At first glance, June seems like it will be more mellow than May, which was filled with lots of great trips.  I think, though, that finishing up fellowship and moving will bring its own version of excitement to the month.

SMS and I got a lot done over Memorial Day weekend.  His parents had cancelled a trip to visit us so we decided to move instead.  Bad tradeoff!  But it was nice to get the moving done.  We rented a truck and moved the furniture that he’s keeping.  Some of the smaller items were moved via a few car loads.  The process was fairly painless and our new place is shaping up really nicely.

Main course at Madera

We also went out for a great dinner on Friday night.  SMS had a great week at work so we decided to celebrate by going to Madera.  It’s at a very fancypants hotel in Silicon Valley and since he’s been doing so well here, we decided to dine among the high-rollers!  The food was really good.  One of the highlights was the pre-dinner bread basket- great focaccia and light scones.  I got a lamb dish that was quite tasty and SMS had a halibut carpaccio that was awesome.  Our dessert was pretty amazing and the plating was very artistic. The service was a little on the hands-off side but I think they’re used to people wanting to be left alone.  Maybe it’s kinder to say the service was inconspicuous.

Dessert- very impressive!

The short workweek was pretty uneventful.  We met up with friends on Thursday night and had dinner by the pool.  It was a lot of fun.  It’s pretty funny how fearless kids are.  Their kid can’t swim but that didn’t stop him from sprinting repeatedly to the pool to jump back in.  Self-preservation does not necessarily seem like the greatest strength of the 0-5 years old set.

Pastry Counter

This weekend, we headed down to Newport Beach for some family time.  We stayed at the condo with Linda and Rip and hung out with both of SMS’ grandfathers.  The weather was in June Gloom-mode but we had a great time.  We hung out with family, walked on the beach and had a really nice dinner at home.  Yesterday, we had a great lunch at Xanadu Cafe, a newly opened cafe about two miles from the house.

More desserts

I’m about to go for a run and then I think we’re going jeans shopping later.  We’re leaving tonight but stopping at the Blue Water Grill first on our way to the airport with Pam and Marty.

Weekend Updates and Sonoma!

Kettle is a gift from Mom!

Hello!  SMS and I have taken a little breather from our weekend road trips and enjoying Mountain View.  It’s nice to enjoy our place and each other!  Two weekends ago was a little cloudy/rainy so we were pretty low-key.  Saturday, SMS joined me at running club, which was a lot of fun.  I’m not sure if SMS would describe it as “fun,” but he’s trying to work out a little more consistently and it’s fun to do together.

AWESOME breakfast!

Hmm, what else?  SMS made me a fantastic breakfast on Sunday morning before we went to the Farmer’s Market.  The produce we bought was fantastic. Before going to the market, we stopped at the Tesla statue where it looked like SMS was getting anointed as a knight.  We also went shopping for work shirts and stopped by the Tesla store.  We finished up our afternoon with a climbing session at Belmont Gym, which was a nice change of scenery.
Continue reading “Weekend Updates and Sonoma!”


Screenshots from Neko Atsume.  Even in my brief time, I collected several “Rare Cats:”
Peaches, Joe DiMeowgio, and Senor Don Gato.  And a rude butt cat, but that wasn’t rare.

Since the marathon, SMS and I have been staying more local which is fun and restful but not very exciting for the blog.  Since I usually write about our travels, I sort of fall off the map when things aren’t as “eventful.”  But here are some updates, bullet-style…

* I’ve run three times since the marathon: a tempo run (excellent), 3.5 miles with the Mountain View Running Club (MVRC- fun!), 14.5 miles (ok).  I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach post-marathon running and there seem to be many opinions on the best post-race plan.  I ended up going with the “Run when I feel like running” plan.  I kept Jyots company on two runs and we both went to the MVRC two weeks in a row.  I really like the social aspect of the MVRC run so I will keep that up.  I’m not sure where I want to keep my long run mileage.   Anyway, zzzzzz….  Boring!  I have almost fallen asleep typing this so I’m going to move on.  Here’s a funny article about hating on marathon runners before you go.

Faceplant.  This is how Snowball feels about having
5 pages of a dedicated photo album to her.

*I have had the rise and fall of Neko Atsume on my phone.  I read about it in the NYTimes, which definitely means I’ve already missed the trend by at least six months.  Nevertheless, I downloaded it on my phone and became weirdly obsessed with gold fish, silver fish, and that chubby chubster Tubbs who kept eating all the food.  In fairness to Tubbs, he usually left more fish than the food cost but the times he didn’t- infuriating.  Tubbs, you did not just leave 20 silver fish for a 3 gold fish can of Ritzy Bitz!!!! And that was when I realized that I was becoming a little weird about the game and spending way to much time tapping on my screen like a little lab animal.  So, away it went.  But not before I bought the room expansion (proud moment!).

Tubbs, oh tubby tub Tubbs.  Other rare cats include Ms. Fortune, Guy Furry and Ramses the Great.
*Our Chinese class is over!  Yay!  SMS and I saw our commitment through and had perfect attendance (Mom and Dad, you raised me well!).  Chinese is very difficult and the pronunciation, combined with the tones, really takes a lot of dedicated practice and perseverance.  We’ve decided we’re not super-interested in pursuing it so for now, my mastery of the Chinese language is decidedly on hold.
Beginning of the party, clearly.

 *We had a really nice dinner with friends last night where we drank fancy California wine and ate Buddha bowls with veg and paleo options.  The base is rice (real or fake no-carb “rice), lots of veggies (carrots, red cabbage, beets, sweet potatoes) and a protein (peanut sauce tofu or coconut amino-flavored chicken).  It was all delicious and we got to use SMS’ new decanter while he looked on, barely partaking since he sort of wrecked himself climbing like a maniac earlier in the day and was completely wiped out.

*Silicon Valley is crazy.  We were talking about a package offered by a local hotel for $9,995 that is completely insane since it mostly features things that are free.  I want to do most of the activities but I’ll do it on my own rather than place my money carefully on their concierge’s counter and then set it on fire.  I have figured out a way to make money though- we are going to rent our little cardboard home on AirBnB.  The listing is almost complete.  I just need to get better pictures!

It has a certain j’ne sais quoi, non?

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

San Jose Veteran’s Run Half Marathon and Spectre

On Sunday, I ran in the San Jose National Veterans Day Run.  I signed up for the half marathon because I wanted to get a baseline before my marathon training kicks into high intensity.  Oh, wait, I’m doing a marathon?  Yes!  In the Spring, I signed up a marathon with my new training partner J.  I’m really excited b/c we have a great training plan and it’s going to be fun to see how well we can do.

Anyway, back to Sunday.  It was a chilly morning and the race started out well.  Honestly, maybe a little too well.  I felt like I was going out a little too fast and I felt a significant slowdown around the 3 mile mark.  Um, that’s a little early for a half marathon!  It ended up being a slight slog of a long run- I almost refuse to call it a race based on my personal results.  But it was useful to learn a few long-forgotten lessons about race nutrition and hydration.  I’ve been doing a Whole 30 this month and I had inadvertently eaten really low-carb the day before so that was unhelpful.  I also was dehydrated from the start which again, not ideal.  I’m happy I learned these lessons in a low-key, pretty inexpensive race and now it’s time to start figuring out what works for me during longer training runs so that I’m good to go next year.

Participation Medal!

I hung out at the finish for a bit with J&A, then we decided to head to Chromatic Coffee.  I got a cup of Keynote, which was pretty acidic and I couldn’t finish it although part of that was due to post-race stomach, I think.  Unfortunately, J had a vasovagal event away from A and I so we had no idea that she was feeling poorly until the paramedics arrived!  Someone in the bathroom line had called 911 for J.  I had no idea since I was playing with their son outside- we were actually admiring the ambulance and fire truck.  It was slightly frustrating for me since I feel I could have done something if I had known what was going on.  The important thing though was that J was ok and she got excellent care.

After the excitement at the coffee shop, I headed home and had a really mellow afternoon.  That evening, SMS and I headed to the comfy seats of the Shoreline Theater and watched Spectre.  It was pretty entertaining.  My favorite part was the helicopter acrobatic flying.  It seemed to defy physics at times!  I also really like Christoph Waltz.  I do feel badly though that I only know him as a bad guy character, both in this movie and Inglorious Bastards.  I will try to watch him in a good guy role although after quickly reading through his Wikipedia profile, it may be hard to find one!

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!

It’s Only 8 Miles: Hiking the PG&E Trail, Rancho San Antonio after Chez TJ

Last weekend, SMS and I had a pretty epic weekend with an incredible Saturday night celebration dinner and a very intense Sunday morning hike!  There was also a failed attempt at a Blood Moon sighting but hey, at least we tried!

Yes, we ate this.  All of this!

So, last Friday marked the first full work week for SMS at his new job!  Hooray!  As a result, we decided to celebrate.  I made a reservation at a restaurant that we came upon during one of our walks and it piqued both of our interest.  It’s a one-star Michelin restaurant called Chez TJ.  It’s a converted house, one of the oldest buildings in Mountain View (I’ll take our waiter’s word on that).  The restaurant features two tasting menus, one locally sourced within ~100 miles to the restaurant and the other a global menu full of the “world’s finest foods.”  Well, who needs local when you can have the world!?!?!

Fois gras, so arty!  Look at the cherry china!

We had so many wonderful courses and really had an amazing time together.  My favorite dishes were the Osetra caviar, which was served with homemade potato chips that transported me back to being a kid in Spain and getting potato chips in a twisted paper cone fresh from the park vendors.  So, yes, one of my favorites was a very expensive dip for a potato chip.  But it was so delicious!!!  There was also an incredible Japanese sweet potato (yakiimo!) mash that was delicious, as was the scallop and Wagyu beef.  It was a very decadent meal and very much a special occasion.  It was fantastic.

New friend offering up his good side for the photo.

On Sunday, SMS was in the mood for a hike and I heard great things about a nearby county park so off we went to Rancho San Antonio.  There are 24 miles of trails and we ended up hiking 12 of them. I may have told SMS that we were only doing 8 but by the time we got to the top of the PG&E trail (steep!), I really wanted to finish the hike to Black Mountain, which added 2 more miles each way.  We had water and snacks and made it through, although I was starting to feel a little sore at the 10 mile mark (and the next day!).  On the way back, we stopped in at the little Deer Hollow Farm where I took a picture of my new little friend.

Moffett Field Blimp Hanger

After the hike, we were hungry!  We went to Tres Potrillos, which SMS had found on his way to the rock climbing gym one day.  I had a California burrito (well, half of it) and it was fantastic! Then we headed home and waited around until it was sunset/Blood Moon time.  Unfortunately, there was a huge cloud cover in the exact area of the moonrise (and only there!) so we didn’t get to see it.  We even drove to Redwood City to try and get a little farther North but no dice.  Oh, well.  I guess we’ll try again in 18 years!

Mellow Weekend!

This past weekend, SMS and I had a pretty mellow time.  Well, I think that I was the main culprit for the mellowness since on Friday night, I had mentioned an ambitious Saturday Japantown adventure.  At some point, to SMS’ disappointment, my energy fizzled out and I was excited to just hang out PLUS I had made a reservation to Outerlands that I was really excited about and that, to me, was enough excitement for one day since I had been waiting weeks!  So, the morning was mellow leading into the early afternoon.  Then we headed out to check out a coffee house in San Francisco.  We got slightly distracted when we heard music from Castro St and we ended up strolling through the tents set up for the Art & Wine Festival in Mountain View.  We also picked up some kettle korn- yum!  The highlight was watching kids in these reverse vacuum-blown up bubbles that got pushed into a really large wading pool.  The looks on the kids’ faces were hilarious, especially when they got pushed into the pool from a slight drop.  As SMS points out, I tend to find kids being scared (in a harmless way) hilarious!

Inside Andytown

Then it was off to San Francisco.  We went back to my favorite neighborhood- Outer Sunset!  First, we went to Andytown coffee.  The menu had a “Snowy Plover,” which SMS had read was a real highlight.  I looked it up on Google and noticed that a Snowy Plover is my favorite beach bird!

My favorite (beach) bird!!!  So kawaii!

Well, at Andytown Coffee, a “Snowy Plover” is two shots of espresso, sparkling water and whipped cream.  The whipped cream is amazing and the whole drink is pretty good.  I told SMS that I would definitely order it again but not necessarily make a pilgrimage for it.  Does this make sense?

Another Snowy Plover

 After Andytown, we walked a few blocks over to the Trouble Coffee shop and then enjoyed a brief sit-down in the patio of The General Store.  There are beautiful succulents and dried driftwood- it’s just gorgeous!

The General Store Patio/Back Yard

Then, we started walking over to Golden Gate Park in order to pass the time before our restaurant reservation.  On the way, we checked out 3 Fish Studio which had awesome prints with the originals made from linoleum.  I wasn’t in a total shopping mood but I will definitely go back in the future for a little SF/California print.  I recommend checking it out!  I didn’t take a picture inside since the art was displayed everywhere and it just seemed a little rude.

3 Fish Studios

 Outerlands was pretty wonderful.  The menu is quite small but everything is on point!  SMS had their famous bread with incredible butter, cheese and strawberries; a melon & patrons chile salad with fingerling potatoes, feta and greens; smoked trout on salad; and an amazing chicken dish tomato panzanella, castelvetrano olive and charred gems.  The food was terrific.  I never order chicken but because the menu was so small and I love castelvetrano olives (my favorite, for those who care!), I went with it.  The reason I don’t order chicken and most pastas is because I feel I can make a pretty mean meal of those things myself, recent rubber chicken courtesy of Williams Sonoma’s Fast Weekday Meals excepting.    I was wrong and I have le sads because this chicken was like nothing I’ve ever made before.  It was spectacular!  I think though, my favorite dish was the butter I had with a side of bread.  It was really delicious.  I mean really, butterfat, butter and fat…what’s not to love?

Shoreline Park

The next day, I still had the lazies.  I read a book and in the afternoon, SMS and I decided to get out of the house.  We heard a great salsa band at the Wine Festival and then headed out to Shoreline Park where we went on a really long walk along the bay.  It was really beautiful.  I usually don’t think much of flat topography walks, but this is one I’d highly recommend!

So…you have a sister?

Has anyone noticed the insane amount of marketing/merchandise recently released for the upcoming Star Wars film?  It’s pretty nuts although Christmas shopping will be easy for any Star Wars fans in your life.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since I saw the Lucas films sponsored extravagant Star Wars tableau ice sculpture in Sapporo last Winter.  Anyway, just something I noticed.

So, yes!  I have a sister!  Ha, ha.  We had a lot of fun this week going out after work, especially when I left work early.  On Monday, we went to Palo Alto where we had oysters for Happy Hour at Gravity Bistro and Wine Bar.  It was pretty good but no Shell Shock.  We had the oysters, calamari and eggplant bruschetta.  It was tasty and we had fun but it’s not my favorite restaurant.  We decided to move on and try to find outdoor seating somewhere.  We ended up at Local Union 271 where we almost missed out on an outdoor table after we were waiting for it to be cleared and someone almost swooped in even though we were first.  That would have been a bummer but SMS saw what was happening and secured our table.  Hooray!  B and I shared a beet salad and chicken tacos.  It was all very delicious.  We then took a long-ish walk to the Stanford campus and went to the main courtyard, saw the Burghers of Calais installation and strolled through the Rodin garden.  It was really nice.  To make sure we didn’t incur a calorie deficit, we bought ice cream at the Scoop “microcreamery.”  The flavors there are subtle- not overwhelming sweet but really delicious.

Half Moon Bay

On Tuesday, we hopped in the car and drove out to Half Moon Bay.  We saw sandpipers and took a long walk on the beach.  This walk was made slightly longer by a closed trail and my erroneous map reading.  But, it was beautiful and we made it back!

Half Moon Bay

We went to the Half Moon Bay Brewing company for dinner, which was a cute place near the point where people watch the Mavericks surf competition.  We ate outside which was a little chilly but it’s so hard to choose indoor seating on a Summer’s evening, even if it is becoming a little more Fall-like.  We drove home and were stuck in a massive traffic jam from an accident ahead of us but we didn’t mind too much.  It was an opportunity to rest and digest!


Wednesday, we went into Oakland for dinner and a concert.  Dinner was absolutely heavenly.  B read up on the area we were going to and there are a lot of awesome restaurants, bars and clubs.  It’s the Uptown section of Oakland and really cool.  We ended up going to Hopscotch, an awesome restaurant with a farm-to-table, American cuisine with distinct Japanese fusion elements- miso sauces, yuzu flavoring, etc.  The restaurant bills itself as an “upscale diner.”  I’d argue that it’s more upscale than diner other than the one of the seating areas which does look like a nice, old-fashioned diner or ice cream parlor.  We sat in the other dining area two doors over and it was exquisitely decorated with several tables set against a comfortable tufted, pale yellow leather bench.  I loved it.

Dinner was pretty epic.  We ordered a lot of dishes and ate everything. The portions were moderate and we were hungry.  SMS and I each had a Yonsai oyster, an oyster with urchin, roe and citrus soy. It was delicious!  The three of us shared the Kakiage appetizer and the Greens and Shrooms (broccolini, king trumpet, shimeji and mung sprouts).  The Kakiage was fried goodness but the greens dish was amazing with a really good miso sauce binding all the veggies.  Plus, I love king trumpet mushrooms.

For mains, we shared again.  SMS ordered the black garlic gnocchi, I ordered the salmon and B got the mussels.  I loved the first two and didn’t quite care for the combo of mussels and miso broth. Brady and SMS did so it was just a personal preference issue.

As good as dinner was, could things get better?  Yes.  We had desserts that were so awesome.  We had homemade donuts with an amazing butterscotch custard and an almond mud pie.  There was also a dessert drink menu and we ordered a Uptown Egg Cream, which was outstanding!  The drinks at the restaurant are really on point.  I had ordered a maple old-fashioned and Brady had an incredible Kentucky daiquiri with bourbon, strawberry, lemon and ginger beer.  I was leary of it initially because I thought the strawberry would be fake and cloying but it was real and awesome!

Set-up at the Fox Theatre

So yes, I highly recommend Hopscotch!  Afterwards, we went to the Brandon Flowers concert.  He was really good and I recommend any BF or Killers show.  I’m a little bit of a fangirl.

BF in action

Thursday and Friday were a little light on Brady QT since she went to Monterey on Thursday and into the city on Friday afternoon.  We’re going to meet up for brunch on Sunday and hang out until her flight Sunday evening.  *Sniff!*

Take a Walk!

I’m so excited because my sister is here!  Hooray!  After finishing a tough clinical rotation, she came up to visit me, her coolest (ok, only) sister and SMS!

SMS and I went to pick her up at the San Jose Airport, which was a ghost town.  We headed home and relaxed, ready for a fun adventure the next day.  I just found an awesome San Francisco blog, 7×7 and I was inspired by their Ocean Beach to Presidio hike article. So Sunday morning, off we went!

The Bakery Walk added another mile, I think

We followed the article pretty much to a T, but I mapped out the hike on Google maps before going. I’m glad I did b/c the article describes landmarks more than distances and it’s nice to know that I wasn’t adding extra to an already slightly lengthy hike (until we got to the Presidio, ooops!).

General Store Patio with hilarious (to me) painted cat rock

First, we went to Outerlands for a delicious brunch.  This did not happen b/c the wait was 1 hour, 45 minutes.  Nope, nope, nope!  We had places to be and we were hungry.  First, we went to Trouble coffee shop and had delicious coffees, a slice of the deliciously buttery, thick-slabbed cinnamon toast and a slice of coffee cake.  We looked around the General Store, which was a really cute shop but Sunday was a window-shopping only kind of day.  The store also has a gorgeous courtyard in the back with the most beautiful succulents and drought-resistant plants.  I could have hung out there for awhile but again, there were places to go!  Like…

The Bakery!  We went to Devil’s Teeth Bakery, where there was quite a line.  The breakfast sandwiches sounded great but there was a 45-50 minute wait so we went for the baked goods.  I ordered a kale and cheese scone (good, but that savory scone I had in Sacramento was so good, all others have paled in comparison), a cinnamon bun (eaten the next day but still good), a peanut butter cookie and a doughnut muffin.  We also got some beignets which were ok, but I’d pass in the future.  I know, I know, this list makes us (me) sound like a bunch of pigglie wigglies.  In my defense, most of the pastries served as mid-trail snacks.  *oinkles*

The happiest dog in the world!

So, SMS wasn’t sure if we were ever going to start hiking and that’s when we were off!  We walked down to Ocean Beach and headed for the Cliff House.  Along the way, we saw a lot of people and the world’s happiest dog.  It was a cute Pomeranian with long hair being blown straight back in the wind. It was a little camera-shy so he kept tottering away which was even funnier to see.

CW from top left: From a distance; near the entrance; inside looking at the projection dish; a schematic

After reaching the Cliff House, we went behind to the Camera Obscura.  It’s based on the world’s oldest camera, described by da Vinci but apparently around in even earlier writings.  There’s a open aperture that rotates 360 and the light that comes through projects on a surface inside a dark room. The picture is everted but otherwise a faithful reproduction.  The $3 admission granted us access to the room which featured the image and several holograms (?).  It felt slightly old-school and carnival-like and we were glad we stopped.

After the Camera, we went inside the Cliff House to use the bathroom and then we were off to the Sutro Baths, a former indoor pool center now in ruins.  It looked like it would have been a spectacular place to swim.  The ruins were cool and we headed to the Sutros Bath Upper Trail which led to the Land’s End trail.  We missed the turnoff for the Eagle Point Labarynth, but apparently it was recently vandalized so we didn’t miss too much.  The viewpoints were pretty amazing though with great views of the Golden Gate Bridge.   Although the day had started out with some high clouds, it cleared up at the start of our hike and we had fantastic weather the whole day.

Views along the hike.  On the right, the Sand Ladder with a nudist just off-camera to the right.  You’re welcome?

After the Land’s End trail ended, we were in the Sea Cliff neighborhood itself which is super-swanky with amazing house.  We turned onto 25th Ave to access Baker’s Beach and we walked down to the Sand Ladder.  This was where I was glad I had checked the map prior to setting off because the ladder was pretty far down the beach where there were several nudists sunning and it would have been awkward to keep walking back and forth (“What are you looking at?!?!”).

Sights along the way.

We walked along some more trails past a few old gun batteries before heading into the Presidio.   The Presidio was cool but there’s a lot of construction so beware, if you walk by the water, you’re not going to reach the main lawn without back-tracking or walking to the Palace of Fine Arts.  We did walk by a pet cemetery though so that was pretty cool!

We walked along Chrissy Field and took some more pictures.  At this point, I realized that we weren’t going to make it to the main lawn since by this point, we were kind of done with walking.  We decided to call Uber from Chrissy Field.  It was our first time using Uber (B thought we were kidding) and it was great.  Our $20 credit meant our long (time-wise, not distance) trip back to our car was pretty cheap.

We decided to eat dinner in the city so we headed to the Mission District after realizing that the Anchor Steam brewery closed at 4, much to the disappointment of SMS who had wanted to add a stop there to our day’s activities.  We went to West of Pecos which was a great Tex-Mex sit-down place with a small front patio with a table open!  Score!  We got drinks and snack while waiting for Brady’s friend Rosa since we weren’t sure if we were going to restaurant hop for dinner.  As it turned out, Rosa had been wanting to eat there for awhile so we had a delicious dinner there.

Twin Peaks Sunset

After dinner and feeling a little stuffed, we decided to race up to Twin Peaks to view the sunset.  It was absolutely beautiful, as well as chilly and windy.  It felt very magical to see all the different parts of the city and the entire bay but we only stayed for a bit before piling into the car to drop Rosa off and then heading home to Mountain View.  It was an incredible day and I was so happy to explore new parts of the city with SMS and my amazing sister!