Monday, August 31, 2009

Seafood & Vineyards

We've just returned from a visit to our good friend, Matt, in San Francisco. It was an incredible trip, full of excellent food, gorgeous views, vineyards and A LOT of walking!

We arrived in San Fran on a Thursday aftenoon and went directly to Matt's neighborhood in Hayes Valley. Its a very up-and-coming, hip neighborhood whose high-end shops, trendy eateries and tight-knit community are sure to make it one of San Francisco's top neighborhoods. After dropping off luggage and grabbing a six-pack of local micro-brews, we hiked the hilly sidewalks to Delores Park, where we spent the afternoon admiring the camaraderie of hipsters, punks and dogs and soaking up the warm sunshine in a typically chilly San Francisco.

We soon found ourselves ready for dinner and were treated to an excellent sushi display at Domo, located in the heart of Hayes Valley. Top menu item: Firecracker Balls. We finished off the evening with a night cap at the Absinthe Brasserie & Bar.

The next morning we made our way up the coast of California, first crossing the Golden Gate bridge and then enjoying a scenic view of the country side to Napa Valley. Our first vineyard was Cakebread Cellars. A long time favorite of mine, Cakebread Cellars was everything I had hoped it would be and so very much more. Eager for the best of the best, we chose the reserve tasting room and enjoyed 5 tastings of the most sultry, complex and deeply satisfying wines I've ever enjoyed.

The afternoon brought a visit V.Sattui where we had an incredible cheese, bread and pasta lunch on the exquisitely landscaped property. We finished off the day with a tasting at Franciscan vineyards (another of my favorite wines) and headed into downtown Napa to check in to our hotel.

That evening, we ventured out on to Main Street and were surprised to find a free concert in a small park across the street from our dinner choice, Zulu. Zulu may very well be the best dinner I've ever enjoyed at the most reasonable price. Their tappas menu offers creative flavors, a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options and a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. Top menu item: Octopus over Fingerling Potatoes

Saturday morning, we ventured out to do more tastings. The highlights included Sterling Vineyards, with their beautiful tram to the top of the vineyard, Castillo de Amarosa...because well....its a castle, and Clos Pegase, whose obscure sculptures on on-site artist turned a tasting into a fantastic gallery visit.

Back in San Francisco, we enjoyed dinner at the famous Tadich Grill. Its crowded, traditional atmosphere, large menu, amazing serving staff and world famous seafood make it a must visit spot! Top Menu Item: Cioppino

Sunday we visited San Francisco top tourist locations including Fisherman's Warf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombardt Street and Alamo Square (the place with all the houses from the opening scenes of Full know, you remember). It was day filled with cool breezes, clam chowder and crab, hill after hilly-hill and the great company of my husband and good friend, Matt.

Overall San Francisco was an incredible trip! I'd recommend Napa Valley to all wine-lovers and those who want to learn more about wine, Zulu to any person who enjoys food and Hayes Valley for a quaint, trendy and friendly part of San Francisco that you won't get to see on a tourist bus.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

28 is Great....

In four months I'll be turning 29....entering the last year of my twenties and inching my way closer to the unavoidable 30th birthday. I know its out there...looming out on the horizon, providing me a definitive time frame to do whatever it is one is supposed to do before the sun sets on my youthful playground and rises at..... Where does the sun come up on your 30th birthday?

I find myself wondering, at a place where I don't get carded at bars, but do get carded by 18-year old waitresses, am I really where I want to be in life? A marketing manager with my own home, happy husband, adorable pug and lots of friends....I'm certainly lucky and feel that hard work, a bit of determination, slightly neurotic tendencies and my one creative bone have landed me where I am today. But am I really where I'm supposed to be?
So I've spent sometime thinking about what it is that I enjoy in life...and what my purpose is.

Fitness, food, wine, beer, fashion, outdoors, art, dogs, travel and event planning pretty much sum me up. I admit, I'm not an expert (or even slightly knowledgeable) about any of the aforementioned topics but I find myself pouring over foodie articles about oysters and fois grois (even though I've been a partial-vegetarian for 8 years). I sign up for tastings at tap rooms and a multi-thousand dollar art event and pet every dog I see. While I don't travel often, I find myself being asked to provide restaurant, hotel, venue and activity suggestions for those who do.... and often help plan a local event or wedding. I run triathalons and half-marathons and love to explore the Rocky Mountains. And like every other Jersey girl, I believe that deep down I really do have a flair for fashion.

So...I surround myself with the things I love....and I have decided that my calling in life is to share thoughts, words, secrets, ideas, things and smiles with those around me. This blog is my first step in sharing, in fulfilling my purpose. As I practice writing (Lord knows I need the practice) I hope to develop some level of understanding and deeper appreciation for all the topics I claim a level of interest in above. Before me is a map (clever...a navigation analogy to describe the journey of life...) and on my map, I hope to discover a path that leads me to a destination where in one year and four months, I wake 30...and find myself exactly where I'm supposed to be.