Warning, this is a long one!
We left around 5:00 on Thursday and arrived in Oakland around 10 something. Todd’s friend Lou picked us up and we went back to his very cute house near Berkeley. We met his wife Sue there.
Friday, I woke up at the crack of dawn (time change!) and headed out for a nice run on the very close bike path. Lou and the kids (who are both freaking adorable) were up when I got back. That day, after an awesome authentic Mexican breakfast, Lou, "baby girl," Todd and I headed into San Francisco. Todd and I walked around the De Young and then the botanical gardens while Lou and "baby girl" played on the playground. We met up with them and Sue and headed to a beer store called City Beer where we tried some awesome beer. Then we drove to Berkeley and bought lots of incredible cheese at the Cheese Board (you get to sample everything first!!) and some pizza at their pizza place next door. They only do one flavor a day but it was delicious. After picking up "the boy" and hanging out, the four of us went to a fabulous dinner at Chez Panisse. (We did the café, not the fixed-price restaurant). I had a salad with green goddess dressing and some kind of fish. It was really wonderful.
Saturday I ran again and then we hung out all day and prepared for Lou’s big 40th birthday party that night. A bunch of his friends came over and he opened tons of bottle of mayjah beer. Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of big stouts but I could at least appreciate that they were amazing for people who are.
I was prepared for a major hangover on Sunday but was pleasantly surprised. Todd and I went over to the 4th Street shops in Berkeley and walked around there. It’s a cute area with some good shopping. Also a cute little ice cream store called Sketch. Todd got vanilla bean with olive oil and sea salt which is shockingly good and not as weird as it sounds. I got less crazy but equally delicious vanilla bean with caramel sauce. 4th Street is kind of like a more real-life Easton, for those of you in Columbus. That night we went and saw “I Love You Man” at their local theater, which awesomely has couches, pizza, and alcohol. It’s like a slightly more cleaned up version of Studio 35 near me. The movie was hysterical although I didn’t think my secret boyfriend Paul Rudd looked as cute as he normally does in it.
Monday, we ventured out on our own. After renting a car, Todd and I headed up to Napa. We visited a ton of wineries, which I’ll try to remember as best as I can. I think I’ll actually do a separate post on just the Napa and Sonoma part of the trip, so I can post about each winery and what wine we bought (or as much as I can remember anyway). We stopped for lunch at the ever-fabulous Oakville Grocery. We stayed in Sonoma that night at the El Dorado Hotel, and had a great meal at their restaurant, the El Dorado Kitchen. I had the most amazing cocktail there. I forget what they called it, but it had lemon-verbena vodka, cucumbers, asian pears, sour mix, and I think maybe a splash of prosecco. It was so good that I had another the following night. My entree (some kind of fish, I can't remember) was really delicious. Todd didn't love the flavor of his but thought the meat was cooked really nicely. The hotel was very hip and cute. Our room was small but completely fine and we really loved the location, right on the square.
Tuesday morning, I got up and went for a run around Sonoma. It’s a very cute town. Our hotel room had a big balcony looking over the Sonoma square, so I insisted that we get breakfast form the little kitchenette downstairs in the hotel and eat out there. Only problem was the record-breaking 95 degree heat that made it boiling in the sun even at 9 am. We quickly went inside. ☺ This day we spent hitting wineries in Sonoma. We grabbed lunch at the boulangerie on the square and picnicked at Gundlach Bundschu, a nearby winery. For dinner, we had another great meal, this time at the girl and the fig. Todd had a really great scallop dish. My fish was not as fabulous but everything else I ordered was quite tasty. We finished it off with a cheese plate for dessert.
Wednesday, after I took another run (I finally found the bike path which was only about a block from the hotel, duh!) we hit some more wineries on our way out of town. Then we headed up to Santa Rosa to go to Russian River Brewing. Both the beer and the pizza were great. Then we drove back down and went into San Francisco. We checked into our hotel (we got amazing deal at the Mark Hopkins, home of the Top of the Mark) and managed to get the car returned by 5. BTW, Budget let us pick up near Lou’s and drop off in downtown SF for no extra charge! We walked around some shops on Union Street in the marina area (I need to go back there!!) and then had a great dinner at Nettie’s Crab Shack. I really enjoyed my crab Louis salad and the few bites of Todd’s crab roll (like a New England lobster roll, but with crab) that I could wheedle from him. Then we were able to meet up for a minute with my old friend Mike Rovins, who lives in SF now. It was really nice seeing him and catching up. Then we headed back to our hotel and had one last drink at the Top of the Mark, overlooking the city.
Thursday we had a quick breakfast (I was dying for lox on a bagel) and then I had a meeting for work at SFMoMA. It went fine and then they were nice enough to show me their new roof garden space, which is going to be a fantastic space. Todd and I walked through some of the shops near Union Square. I didn’t buy anything because I realized I’d already way overspent my budget. I had my eyes on a Kate Spade purse I definitely couldn’t afford. Then we headed to the Ferry Building and walked around all of the great shops there before having lunch at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher. My veggie burger was awesome and I was so glad Todd ordered a vanilla shake so I could drink way more than my share. After that, we took a cable car back to our hotel, picked up our bags and took the Bart back to Lou’s house. That night, we headed over to a tiki bar in Alameda called Forbidden Island. Todd loves tiki bars, and this one did not disappoint!
Friday morning I ran again but I wasn’t feeling well so we kind of bummed around that day. We went back to the 4th Street shops in Berkeley and had lunch at Tacubaya. Very yummy Mexican. We walked through a few more shops and then drove up to Shattuck Avenue and hit the Cheese Board again. We also walked up the street to my great-aunt’s house to look at it. She’s 101 and not in great health so I didn’t stop to see her but it was cool to see the house again. We also went into an adorable paper store called Twig and Fig where they let me look at their letterpress! I love letterpress paper. We also went to a cool chocolate shop where we bought some amazing chocolate. Friday night we took Lou and Sue out to a great seafood restaurant Sue had chosen called Sea Salt. I know the guys loved their oyster shooters. My fish was delicious although not quite as good as what I had at Chez Panisse. The crab cakes and my salad were wonderful. Lou is a huge fan of the BLT trout sandwich, and I must admit that the bite he gave me was great. We had a few fancy beers back home and then went to bed. Saturday morning we left for the airport and got home Saturday night!
So, more to come, including winery reviews. ☺ This is obviously way too long already! It was a really nice trip. I returned home feeling refreshed and happy. :)
Where is Spring?
3 years ago