20 March 2009

What I did on my four-day vacation

As I have mentioned in earlier posts, I went to California at the beginning of March to visit Stephanie, Peter and Sadie. I was gone for four days and it was such a magnificent time, I really wished I had made my trip longer. I'll know better for next time...

The day I landed, Stephanie picked me up from the airport and immediately whisked me off to La Note for lunch. We ordered Creme Fraiche pancakes, Tomatoes Provençal and Rosemary Potatoes. In my hunger and excitement, I forgot to photograph our food. The restaurant was really nice. The staff so accommodating and the people at the next table (we were practically rubbing elbows with them) were super friendly and really seemed to enjoy Sadie.

After we had lunch we went and walked around the UC Berkeley Campus. Stephanie said it was called Telegraph hill. We strolled through the campus, noticing how many of the students dresses like we did when we were in middle school and a LOT of them had dogs. I can't have imagined taking care of a pet when I was that age, but who knows about the kids these days?

Not only did we walk around the campus, but we walked around the neighborhood where we saw a really interesting art exhibit - mostly pieces that you could wear or use like jewelry, shoes, and clothing. Then we walked around the surrounding neighborhood and I saw a ton of beautiful homes that I also forgot to photograph. I wish I hadn't spaced about taking photos - I saw about 20 that I thought I could easily live in, although I'm sure they're far too expensive for us to afford.

After our walk we hit Trader Joe's (my favorite!) and picked up things to make for dinner that night. TJ's is within walking distance of S&P's apartment - they are SO lucky!

The following morning to start the day Stephanie and I made Vegan Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bottoms. Stephanie had a recipe ripped out of magazine she got from her in-laws. We used the coconut palm sugar I brought with me instead of the regular sugar the recipe called for. Palm sugar is really low on the glycemic index and can even be eaten by diabetics. It made the muffins sweet but not as sweet as they would have been had we used regular sugar. Afterward, S and I waxed philosophic about how else you could make those muffins - like with cranberries or blueberries instead of chocolate chips - or how you could use a little bit of cocoa powder and make them more chocolaty. They were scrumptious! (of course I forgot to photograph those too).

After baking and changing out of our pajamas we hit the streets of Emeryville for a nice, long walk. Stephanie gave me the grand tour through her neighborhood, past all the warehouses that were home to things like The Blue Bottle Coffee Company's roastery , a wine bottling facility where they had tastings four afternoons a week... we walked by Pixar studios, and then over to BevMo (I wish we had BevMo in NJ!!) and Trader Joe's again. We were probably gone about four hours!

Having finished our walk, we returned to the house and gave Sadie lunch.

We cleaned ourselves up for our trip into SF. We were meeting Peter to have dinner at Puerto Alegre. I've only been to SF two other times in my life and only one of those times I ate at the incredible Poncho Villa - Puerto Alegre is like PV but sit-down style. It was INCREDIBLE. The food and atmosphere were SO good and so were the margaritas!

The following day we went back on the BART and into the city to the Ferry Building and the Farmer's Market.

I was so excited for this! Not only was the weather incredible and the day spectacular but I couldn't wait to see all the fresh vegetables and fruit that is grown so near by.

I was not disappointed... The Ferry Building is beautiful - it's filled with little shops, restaurants and boutiques. There was so much to see and taste, including freshly shucked oysters and French Mararons from Miette.

We walked on the promenade down to the Fog City Diner for lunch. We drank Bloody Marys and Stephanie & I shared an Ahi Tuna sammy and The Dungeness Crab "Louie" Salad.

I thought it was delicious, although P & S said it used to be better. It didn't matter, we ate EVERYTHING anyway. Besides, what did I care? I was on vacation and I loved just sitting out in the sunshine, enjoying the company of my friends who I've missed so much since they left NJ a year and a half ago.

Later that day we walked away from the water and the market over to the Blue Bottle Coffee cafe where we bought some coffee for home.

Then we picked up some things for dinner like cheese and cherry tomatoes to go with the amazing bread we purchased earlier in the day.

Dinner was a casual affair, just a lovely cheese plate, the yummy bread and some really lovely wine.

After dinner, we chilled out and I gave Sadie a photography lesson and how to push the shutter release button and then check the photo when she's done. It was really funny - she's a super smart girl, that little one.

Sunday found the four of us meeting my friend Donna at Chester's Bayview Cafe in Berkeley.

Being brunch we of course had Bloody Marys. Stephanie and Donna ordered the "Not Huevos" Rancheros, made with Tofu and I ordered the North Berkeley Eggs, and the were nice enough to sub out my eggs with tofu too!

The food was delicious and while Stephanie and Sadie were checking out the view from the rooftop where we were eating, they spied some people with cupcakes. So after brunch because we hadn't eaten enough, we bought some cupcakes from Love at First Bite, which is right under Chester's in the Gourmet Ghetto area of Berkeley and just around the corner from the famous Chez Panisse, run by Alice Waters.

I have to say I was a little bit disappointed with the cupcakes. The shop was certainly cute and filled with nice things. The cupcakes were meticulously decorated but sadly, they looked prettier than they tasted. My favorite was the Strawberry.

We spent the rest of the day dropping by a few stores to run a few errands and then back to the house to chill and recover from the cupcake sugar crash we gave ourselves after eating the baked treats. We got to relax in the hot tub and then have a very easy dinner of baked tofu and fresh salad greens.

The next day (Monday) was my day to return to the Jerze. I can't believe how quickly my trip flew by! Not a moment was wasted and we packed as much fun and activities into such a short period of time as was possible. S & S rode the BART with me out to the airport where I was seriously sad to leave.

The next time I go out to visit I plan to stay longer and so Peter doesn't feel outnumbered, he can head to NJ to do man-things with Matty. I'm hoping S & P can make it out East, especially so they can look for a house to buy not far from us and move back to New Jersey. If not, I'll be happy to head back west as soon as I can. I just hope it's not so long in-between next time.

Please do go check out the remainder of my photos by clicking here.
You may read Stephanie's perspective on my visit here.
And I hope you enjoyed my trip even a fraction as much as I did.

Thanks for looking and have a great weekend!

1 comment:

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

1. You and I should open a BevMo. ;-)

2. How great do those "not egg" dishes look?!

3. I am coming next time. Stephanie and Sadie seem lovely, and I'm quiet and nice and stuff.


Glad you got to steal a few days away. Looks like you had an amazingly delicious time!