Saturday, September 11, 2010

One of my most favorite places...

has become the San Francisco Bay Area.

As most of you know, I ventured out there this past week for some interviews, meetings, and, of course, to see some of my Middlebury friends who are living out there. My week's schedule was jam-packed down to 15 minute intervals, so there was not a lot of time for fun in the sun (or fog, as the first half of the week was graced with puffs of fog rolling in off the Pacific) like my trip two years back (The first of four posts is here) and our whirlwind of a weekend in wine country. However, I did have a chance to visit many new finds, and some old favorites. I couldn't resist not sharing them with you!

Tuesday: A whirlwind day of meetings on the peninsula, but some time for lunch and shopping in Palo Alto was a must. The perfect end to a delightfully (yes, I love the fog) foggy day? An inaugural BART trip, followed by dinner and drinks in San Francisco.

Must-try cafe for lunch in Palo Alto: Cafe Epi, 405 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA

My most favorite store on University (and the source of this year's Christmas presents for my family): Dolma Handicrafts, 278 University Avenue, Palo Alto, CA

For dinner, we were going to try the wonderful gastrotavern, The Tipsy Pig. We walked in the the delightfully warm and friendly space, hoping for a cozy spot in from the cool breezes blowing in off the bay. However, despite there being a large table open (we figured only 1 waitress?), we were informed of a 45 minute wait. Discouraged, but not in despair, we went to the next stop we were torn between: Tacolicious! Much to our delight (and my hungry tummy's relief) we were seated immediately, and quickly presented with a pitcher of the margarita de la casa and multiple baskets of chips and perfectly spicy farmers market fresh salsa.

As someone who has a sensitive relationship with dried corn products, I was a bit wary of the menu. Yet, my fears were quickly allayed with the delightful array of farm-fresh produce filled dishes. I decided on the Marina Girl salad, heavily bolstered by homemade chips, salsa, and guacamole. As partial vegetarians, my friends fiance got a side of the Drunken Beans and my friend and I split the Heirloom Beans. Our Heirloom Beans blew the Drunken ones out of the water...perfectly warm and cooked just right. What a meal! And it wasn't just my next drink, the Fillmore Paloma with Elderflower and Grapefruit, that made it so good.

The perfect nightcap? A trip to Monaghan's for some tennis and white russians!

Wednesday: Another busy day, capped off by a rosé Mumm to celebrate my friends' engagement and my visit to CA, and of course the Federer vs. Soderling match on DVR. We followed this by a wonderful sushi for dinner in Milbrae: Zen Bistro, 420 Broadway Street, Milbrae, CA

The evening's nightcap? A bit of tasting at 750 mL: 227 South San Mateo Drive (@3rd), San Mateo, CA. Still thinking about the wonderful Malbec I had there...

Thursday brought a farewell to my friends in San Bruno (thank goodness the horrible explosion that night did not impact them, or their apartment, and all are safe) as I ventured off to San Fran for many meetings (with a quick adventure to the Ferry Building) before heading up to Berkeley for the night. I have three close friends all at business school at Haas, so what would a visit be to CA without stopping by to see their amazing home, sharing an amazing meal, and an introduction to "Speed Scrabble."

I've heard SO much about the Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley all this summer, and my visit coincided perfectly with the North Berkeley Farmers Market. Two farmers marketing loving foodies, Amy and I easily agreed that a home-prepared meal with farmers market finds and the day's Cheeseboard pizza would be the perfect dinner. And the menu?

Local mesclun greens and edible flowers, with cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes and a balsamic dressing

Cheeseboard pizzas: local zucchini with red onion, mozzarella, feta, and pesto (this was AMAZING)

Super-sweet and juicy organic Berkeley peaches with Ici's rum-cinnamon-candied almond ice cream (too good to be true, again)

Friday: I had to wave the Bay Area goodbye (for now...) and head back to Manhattan. After a homemade breakfast of scrambled eggs, local Berkeley bread, and some homemade RI raspberry jam, it was off into the car. But, of course, my trip would not be complete without a stop at Berkeley's own Blue Bottle coffee brewer, Guerilla Coffee (and my friend Tyler's favorite).

Back in New York, I miss CA, all of my dear friends, and gracious hostesses, already very much (and the cooler weather!), but I have a feeling I may be back there, very, very soon...

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