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.

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