Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bay to Breakers 2016 weekend

This past weekend was amazing and packed with fun events.  There was even a special bonus on Monday (teaser alert!).
Pretty Mountain View Garden- not ours though!
On Friday, we picked up our keys to the new place and did our walk-through.  The house is absolutely lovely.  The property manager spent two weeks between the two tenants fixing up the place- and it had already been quite nice!  There's new paint, completely clean interior, new recessed lighting and a backyard drought-resistant landscaping, aka, mostly gravel.  SMS and I love the place and are so happy!
SMS moves rocks.  Literally.
Saturday was a little less glamorous as we rented a truck, bought and picked up a couch on Craigslist and moved SMS' stuff from storage to the his new garage!  We met a neighbor building an electric go-kart and overall, we're looking forward to our new place.  It was really a very lucky find!
Beautiful SF day!
After moving, I headed up to the city to pick up my Bay to Breakers bib.  The expo was pretty cool and absolutely mobbed.  Thanks to the power of Facebook, I messaged and met up with two friends from San Diego.  We belonged to the same book club and they are so much fun.  They had originally come to San Francisco for the Spartan Race but when they heard B to B was going on, they signed up for that too.  I was so happy to meet up with CL and Beth!
This is how I will take my coffee from now on!
Plus, we met up at The Buena Vista Cafe, famed for its Irish Coffee.  The cafe has been on my "SF List" and through serendipity, I ended up there with two great friends.  The coffee was delicious and I highly recommend.  Well, actually, there's a caveat because we actually went to two places with Irish coffee.   The second was one that Darren, SF native, knew about called the Gold Dust Cafe.  Here, hidden in plain sight among the tourist traps in Fisherman's Wharf, is San Francisco's "best and cheapest" Irish Coffee.   Unlike the Buena Vista with its white-tiled, bright interior, Gold Dust is more lounge-y with lots of crushed red velvet.  Both are awesome and really, can you ever have too many Irish coffees? Yes, I'm sure the answer is actually yes but if you have two spaced out over a few hours, you should be alright.
Yummy shabu shabu!
After leaving CL and Beth, SMS and I met up for a late shabu shabu dinner at Shabuway in Mountain View.  It was pretty tasty and brought back good Japan memories!
The Ladies!

Costumes from Bay to Breakers
More Bay to Breakers photos!
The next day, I met up with CL and Beth for Bay to Breakers.  They were actually fairly hungover thanks to several Irish Coffees (see above) with more drinking after that.  But they rallied like champs!  We jogged/walked the race and had an amazing time.  There were so many people with costumes to see.  It was an incredible event and I'm so glad I did it.  I've been wanting to do it for years and since this is the year I live here, I made it a priority.
After the race, we met up with SMS and headed to Andytown Coffee for a Snowy Plover.  Oh man, that drink is so delicious.  Since it's been awhile on the blog, I'll remind the reader that a Snowy Plover is espresso, Pellegrino and whipped cream.  Delectable!

Then we headed out to Lale cafe in Inner Sunset.  It was very good and best of all, no line for brunch!  I got an egg scramble with a homemade English muffin, which was delicious.

After brunch, we dropped CL and Beth off at their house and went to Glass Key Photo where SMS sold a camera.  It was a cute shop with a lot of old cameras.  We headed home and relaxed for the afternoon.
Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires
That evening, we went to Mountain Winery for a John Prine concert.  He's an excellent performer with great songs, although I want to listen to some of his older recordings since his voice was a little clearer when he was young.  The opener was Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires.  They were excellent and a new-to-me find.  I also want to seek out some more of their work, which shouldn't be hard since Jason Isbell is a very well-known performer in his own right, even though I hadn't known about him before the show.

The venue was absolutely gorgeous.  It was also so cold!  There was a mountain breeze and the temps were in the low 50s/possibly high 40s.  Yuck!  We were definitely not dressed for it.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Nashville Weekend

View from the Acme Rooftop
Last week, I took business trip to Nashville to attend a two-day course at Vanderbilt.  The course was exceptional- great faculty, excellent temporal bone lab component and a fun evening social event at the end of day one.  If you're ever looking for excellent courses that are very reasonably priced, check out CME offerings from Vanderbilt.
Art museum flowers
And...guess where Vanderbilt is?  Nashville!  Nashville is one of my favorite cities in the US.  A lot of people are moving there.  96 people/day is an often-cited, though oddly specific statistic.  It's an energetic town with a really cool vibe- something cool always seems to be happening but in an effortless rather than trying-to-hard way.

I arrived on Thursday night and stayed at a Marriott very close to the Midtown Hattie B's hot chicken. That wasn't the reason for choosing the hotel (getting the discounted rate on a popular weekend was), but it was a nice bonus.  I went to Hattie B's last time I was in Nashville and went again later in the weekend.

Dark, grainy photo of delicious food!
On Thursday night, I walked downtown to Broadway St.  It was a busy Thursday!  The Nashville Predators were playing in the Stanley Cup play-offs, it was Cinco de Mayo and, in general, I think every night is a weekend night downtown!  I briefly thought about going to the hockey game but it was sold out so I kept walking.  I ended up at Acme Feed & Seed company.  There, I listened to a Santana cover set that switched gears at the end with "Hold the Line," a song by Toto since the lead singer was performing guest vocals with the band.  I ate a late dinner and ordered "The Hatchery," curried chickpeas, coconut rice, cashews, cilantro & fried egg with fry bread.  Oh my goodness.  It was delicious, especially the fry bread.  Fry bread, where have you been all my life?  After that culinary piece of heaven, I went back to the hotel and turned in.

Overlooking The Gulch train tracks
On Friday, the course went from 6:45-17:30, although my dissection group went a half-hour over so we ended at 6.  It was a great education day.  Afterward, we were treated to a BBQ dinner at Peg Leg Porker in the Gulch, a small district I hadn't been to.  It was delicious!  I had pulled pork, bean, cornbread and craft beers. Yum!  It was fun to talk to different classmates in the course and I really had a great time.

Saturday started a little later, 7:30 yay!  We went to about 16:45 and then the course was done.  It was 18 hours of CME and really, an excellent, excellent course.  I'm so happy I went!  Because the last Westward flight left at 1700 from the Nashville airport and I would have missed part of the course if I left, I had to stay the night and leave the next day.  Yay! More time in Nashville!

After the course, I went out and walked to 12 South.  On the way, I grabbed a small cone from Jeni's. This time, I selected Honey Pistachio and Darkest Chocolate.  It was delicious!  In 12 South, there was a small artists' market going on with street closures, which was pretty neat.  I also stopped in Imogene & Willie, a jeans boutique.  The jeans were nice but they only had super skinny-style, which I'm not in the market for.  Too hot for Summer!

Early morning photo, that's why there's no line!
Saturday night, I went out with two people from the course to Hattie B's.  I had the small White Chicken with beans, greens and mac 'n' cheese.  I couldn't finish it but it was so good!  Afterward, I hung out with Amy.  We headed over to 12 South because we thought we'd find a mellow music spot. Wrong.  There were just (very cool) bars and restaurants.  It was a beautiful night and sitting on the patio would have been amazing with a big group, but since it was just the two of us and we were definitely not hungry after HB, we took an Uber over to Downtown.

Tom Childers and the BTA
We went back to the Acme and, after hanging out on the awesome rooftop for a bit, saw an excellent band, Tom Childers and the Black Tie Affair.  They were very talented musicians and had an amazing extended version of "Superstition" that featured long solos from several of the band members.  They also did a great cover of "Valerie" by Amy Winehouse that I'm now obsessed with.    After the band's set was over, we headed up the street,  hung out at Tootsie's for a bit and then headed back.  It was nice to have a new friend to hang out with!
The next day, I slept in a bit, worked out in the hotel gym, showered and checked out.  I left my bag at the hotel and it was time to explore again!  I rented a bike from B Cycles, the company with stands all over town.  I biked down to Pinewood Social, which was a really cool place.  It was, as the PA from work said, Hipster-with-a-capital-H.  It was pretty busy and I was more in the mood for a coffee so I walked over to Crema, a delightful, airy coffee shop.  I ordered the Cuban latte and a coffee soda, just to try the two recommended drinks.  Both were excellent, although I favor the Snowy Plover in Outer Sunset for my sparkling coffee soda of choice!
Downtown Nashville and my new hat!
After coffee, I went downtown and bought a hat, as one does in Nashville.  Then, I walked over the pedestrian bridge from downtown Nashville over towards the football stadium.  I checked out another bike and cycled into East Nashville.  It was cool, but a little busier traffic-wise and a tiny bit more spread-out than I was expecting.  I went into a few boutiques and ended up at Edley's BBQ, which was delicious.   I had the Tuck's Sandwich with egg, brisket, red and white sauce, cheese and pimento spread.  Again, I couldn't finish it but it was off-the-hook delicious!
Much photographed Weenie mobile and sign

A delicious mess!
All good things must end and after my late lunch, it was time to go.  I caught an Uber to the hotel and airport and flew home.  It was a great weekend and again, the course was amazing if not the most interesting for the blog.  Blogging about Nashville is much more fun!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

San Diego Sunday

Brunch the end, the sun was out completely!
After Wedding Saturday, we spent an idyllic Sunday in San Diego.  The day started off a little overcast but by 1030, it was gorgeous.  We met up with SMS's sister and brother-in-law for an early Mother's Day brunch.  We went to the anti-sub base at the end of Point Loma.  The location was beautiful!  We sat outside on the deck and enjoyed a delicious brunch.  There were eggs, taco fixings, smoked salmon, seared ahi, sweet potato hash, crepes, waffles and a dessert bar.  I was surprised at how good it was!

Kind of a ridiculous picture that I sent to my sister to make her jealous but it does show off
what a gorgeous day it was!
We sat for awhile, eating and catching up.  We had a really great time and I highly recommend the brunch if you're ever at Ocean View, Ballast Point.  Afterward, we headed back to the house and spent time lounging by the pool.  It was fantastic.  I went in the pool, spa and then took a little nap.
The market was so cool and this is the picture I took?
Unfortunately, the time to go to the airport came to soon.  But before we went, we stopped at the new Liberty Public Market, an excellent collection of food stands and mini-restaurants.  I had baked empanadas, which I hadn't had since enjoying Julia's in Adams-Morgan, DC.  We ate outside and soaked up a little more sunshine before SMS and I were dropped off at the airport.

The flight was uneventful.  We went straight from the airport to meet up with friends for a late dinner at Oren's Hummus.  One of friends is going on a last-minute holiday for a few weeks so it was nice to see him before he took off.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

San Diego Wedding Weekend!

The bride, groom and a photo bomber!
SMS and I are in San Diego for the wedding of SMS' childhood best friend.  They've known each other since first grade!  SMS was the best man and the last two weekends have been wedding-focused.  Last weekend, he came down for the bachelor party where they shot lots of guns, went out to Ironside and then partied late into the night at the Andaz Hotel rooftop.  I stayed home and drank green juice.  Boring!
Academy of Our Lady Peace, San Diego (Wedding Venue)

This weekend, we both came to San Diego for the actual wedding weekend.  After a delay on Southwest, we arrived in San Diego at lunchtime.  Rip and Linda picked us up and we had lunch at El Indio.  Yum!  SMS and I shared several Mexican food items- a tamale, enchilada and California burrito (steak, fries, cheese).  We only ate half of the burrito though but never fear, it was still at least three pounds of food!

After lunch, we headed back to the Homestead where we spent a lazy afternoon.  SMS and I headed out to the rehearsal around 4:30.  The rehearsal started at 5 and I very quickly realized that it was going to be a long one.  So, I texted a residency friend and we met up for Sangria at Cueva- a much better plan!  We caught up on work gossip and talked about our respective new jobs coming up this Summer.  It was so great to see her and I really had a great time.

SMS texted a "SOS" so I headed back to the Church.  The head camp counselor, aka the wedding coordinator, still had about 20 minutes of talking left but finally, we made it out of there.  We went to Kahn's Cave for the rehearsal dinner.  It's an Asian fusion/tapas type place and it was really tasty.  I liked the sesame chicken and the calamari the best.  The beer came in close second.  I had a milk stout and a Belgian gold style- eclectic choices but delicious.

It was great to catch up with the bride and groom, plus his sister who's a really close friend of mine. After dinner, we headed home and went to bed.  I slept well, which was great after a really tiring week.

Caffe Calabria!
The next day was wedding day!  SMS and I did some fun errands after a lazy morning.  We went to North Park and hit up Caffe Calabria *my heart* and Pigment.  Then we went to the Exchange where I stocked up on some makeup.  It was definitely worth the savings!  We headed back home where SMS got ready.  He looked great in his tuxedo!
My wonderful in-laws!
Wedding Party
Rip, Linda and I went to the Church together.  The wedding was nice with a Priest who fancied himself to be quite the comedian.  After the ceremony, we headed over to the Admiral Kidd where they had a beautiful, huge (300 people!) reception.  SMS did a great job with his best man's toast and we had a lot of fun.  We're so happy for John and Grace and wish the very best for them!
Sailboat on San Diego Bay.  And me!
BEST best man!
Best man duties!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

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.
Tesla says, "Go forth, young man."
This past weekend was a little busier but just as fun.  On Saturday, we went to run club and had a really interesting conversation about patents afterwards.  No, seriously!  After we cleaned up at home, we went to our new house where we signed the lease, which was really exciting!  The place has a garage, orange tree, cute interior and is right off the running trail.  It was a great find!

Then we headed home where I took an epic nap (win!) and SMS hung out with a friend of his who is leaving for NYC soon. That evening, we hung out with two new friends at Bier Haus.  SMS and I had never hung out there for dinner but the food was excellent and I really liked the two beers I tried- a Doppelbock and a Marzen.

The next day, SMS and I headed up to San Francisco for breakfast before heading up to Sonoma with friends.  He was navigating and found a really delicious restaurant Park Chow in the Sunset/Richmond District.  After breakfast, we wandered into San Franpsycho, a probably-too-cool-for-us clothing store where I got an Outer Sunset shirt.  Yay!

Then, it was off to Sonoma where we went wine tasting at Williams Selyem and Woodenhead.  The wines, especially at WS, were delicious.  I'm not normally a huge fan of pinot noirs but the whole experience was really amazing.  The tasting room at WS is gorgeous and with the beautiful weather, the doors were open, a breeze was blowing and it was really idyllic.

After the two wineries, we headed to Armstrong State Natural Preserve to take in some big trees.  I think the group was getting a little tired by that point but it was nice to go back to the park, especially since we were so close.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Birthday weekend, Part 4: Palo Alto, SJC

After an amazing birthday weekend, I got a little extra bonus time to spend with my parents.  I had Monday morning off from work so after saying goodbye to SMS, I hung out in the morning until they woke up.  Then we ate breakfast and had coffee.

We had a small window of time before we had to leave to the airport, so we went to the Stanford museum, The Cantor Center for the Visual Arts.  We went to the Rodin Sculpture Garden and then we went inside for a few minutes.  Better a glimpse of beauty and art than none at all, right?

I thought Mom and Dad would like the 19th & 20th Century European Galleries.  The space is beautiful and really well laid-out.  I saw an older Picasso that I really liked (1909?).  The bottom left corner in particular had a beautiful palette so I snapped a picture for future inspiration.

Then, le boo, it was time for Mom and Dad to go to the airport.  I drove them to SJC and was pretty sad.  BUT, we had a great weekend and everyone is happy and doing well so really, I feel very lucky.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Birthday Weekend, Part 3: Napa, Mt Tam, Muir Woods

Cloudy start to our estate tour! The dog is Jasper, annihilator of sticks.
Sunday started off with another round of Bouchon pastries (for the win!), coffee and juice.  We all went out to pick our favorite(s) and then ate back at the house.  We walked around the estate and saw the horse exerciser- a rotating soft gate that apparently makes the horse move along at different paces in the ring.  The horse we saw could pass for a unicorn, sans horn, and didn't seem to mind nor was it breaking a sweat.

Sunny by noon!
Around 11, Mom's cousin came over and it was really nice to catch up with him.  The day started off cloudy but by the time we all left at noon, it was another gorgeous sunny day.  I decided to enjoy the beauty of Marin County by going to Mt. Tam and Dad really wanted to see Muir Woods.
Top left is my favorite piece in the Hess, "The Metamorphosis;" Barrel Room and more art.
First, we went to Hess winery to check out the art museum and tasting room.  The tasting room is very cool and we went into their barrel room after the guy noticed us looking through the window and told us we could go in.    The modern art collection is varied and interesting even if some of the works make me feel like I can do it too (I probably can't.  Probably).

Close up of my birthday flowers :) and Oxbow Market
Afterward, we ate lunch at Oxbow Market.  Dad was craving pizza so we shared three pies from Ca 'Momi.   It was excellent and such a good call!  Mom and Dad really liked walking around the market as we waited for our pizzas.  We sat outside at a table for four and really had a nice time.  Mom got her glass of wine comped by the guy taking our order inside, which just shows she still has it!

The road to the Mt Tam Peak is long but nice in that it eliminates that long walking part that some people don't like about hiking.  There's a 0.7 mile loop trail that gets a person to the summit so we all went on that.  There were some grumblings at the top about why the lookout tower wasn't open (grumble, grumble) but the views were magnificent and I think overall, we were pretty happy we went for the hike.  Someone did point out that the views from the parking lot were about the same as the ones from the top though (One gues- Dad!).

Then we headed back down the mountain to Muir Woods.  My National Park Pass got us in for free (yay!) and we went on the 1 mile boardwalk loop that took us past three distinct groves and several other Sequoia sempervirens.  It's pretty amazing and I'm glad we went to Muir Woods on the way back rather than add more time by going to Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.  The trees in Armstrong are larger and the area is slightly less tamed (aka, no boardwalk) but sometimes, it's nice to avoid too much car time.

Mt Tam and the Golden Gate!
Then, it was time to head home.  We drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and took the 280 back.  I had plans to make food at home but people were hungry and hungry now so we went to the best taco truck, Super Tacos El Conrro!  It's a converted ambulance with four people inside making the most delicious tacos.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend.

We were all pretty tired when we got home but we splurged on dessert and shared some Dolce wine before going to bed.  It was the perfect end to a day!