Hello Bay Area!
I always love visiting the Bay Area. I have many dear friends and relatives who live in the area; the food scene in San Francisco is phenomenal; and there's Napa and Sonoma just a hour away!
So it wasn't a hard decision when Bryan asked whether I wanted to join him in the Bay area over our anniversary week. He had to be there for business anyway. Since my work schedule was pretty flexible at the time, I decided to join him.
We had the luxury of spending an entire week in San Francisco before heading off to Sonoma for the long weekend. It was such a good week. I saw many of my close friends multiple times in one week, which is so rare these days since we live on opposite coasts.
Bryan and I explored some incredible restaurants, including one that served one of the best meals I've ever had.
I'll be sharing the details of many of these adventures with you throughout the next several weeks. For now, here is a brief summary of our entire trip as well as a sneak peek of what is to come!
First thing's first - ice cream! I love love love ice cream and I am always seeking it out. In the past, I had tried the ever-so-famous Bi Rite Ice cream. This time, since our hotel was near the Ferry Building, I stood in line at Humphrey Slocombe (known for their exotic flavors), and tried a phenomenal "Secret Breakfast" ice cream made with bourbon vanilla ice cream and corn flakes!
The addition of cereal really reminded me of my favorite ice cream, Tosci's grape nut ice cream, though the texture of this ice cream was much softer and less dense than my favorite ice cream in Boston.
My college roommate (and one of my best friends) lives in Japantown. She took me to Smitten Ice Cream, where they make ice cream on the spot with liquid nitrogen right in front of you! We ordered the summer corn ice cream, which was delicious.
Liquid nitrogen ice cream is really, really smooth and creamy. It's hard to describe, but it's really good and definitely worth trying!
I had a chance to try lots of fun food from many different cultures, such as this lovely Peruvian lunch at Fresca on Fillmore Street near Japantown.
We waited in line with Bryan's sister to eat a late dinner at Burma Superstar where we had a phenomenal tea leaf salad (soo good, why have I never tried this before?). I still dream about this dish.
We also met up with some dear friends who used to live in Boston. We tried Pim Techamuanvivit's very popular Thai restaurant Khin Khao, where we sampled a bunch of really interesting dishes.
The food was vibrant, full of flavor, and quite spicy! (though not as spicy as Pim would like it to be). We even briefly met Pim, though she had to run to pick up a friend from the airport so we didn't really have a chance to chat.
We celebrated our actual anniversary at Saison. It was extraordinary and easily one of the best meals I've had.
I can't wait to share with you this crazy, incredible, 20+ course meal.
I met my college roomate again for a lovely brunch at Boulette Larder (Ferry Building), where we enjoyed creamy goat's milk yogurt, a simple yet well-executed smoked salmon plate, and a creative twist on scrambled eggs.
The following evening, Bryan and I enjoyed yet another wonderful dinner at Quince, where we sipped on one of my favorite champagnes (hello Krug!) while working our way through another tasting menu, this time with an Italian focus.
And then Friday was here, and we were off to Sonoma! Hello Golden Gate Bridge!
It was a hot weekend in Sonoma (high in the mid-eighties), which worked out perfectly for us since we were renting a convertible. Can you see the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance?
Heh heh, I guess Bryan's concentrating on driving, which is a good thing!
Sonoma is gorgeous, full of rolling hills, acres of farms, and (of course), the stunning vineyards.
It's one of those places where Bryan says he doesn't mind driving long distances to get to places, because the drive itself is so pleasant.
Our first stop: Russian River Brewing Company! We've been fans of this cult-status brewery for quite a few years. Bryan always tries to bring back a few bottles, though he's limited since most stores in San Francisco only let you buy 1-2 bottles per person per week. The beers sell out almost immediately.
At the brewery's restaurant, we were finally able to do a fun tasting of ALL their beers (almost 20 different ones!) for only ~ $20+. Such a bargain! It was super fun trying them all, and we ended up buying a couple cases of beer to take home (yum!).
That evening we went to a wine dinner hosted by Sonoma Country Wine Weekend called Sonoma Starlight, an outdoor wine tasting and food sampling event at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery.
Food was excellent thanks to Sondra Berstein and Chef John Toulze from The Girl and the Fig (excellent restaurant, by the way).
Dessert was pretty impressive too.
After dinner, there was a lot of dancing along with great live music from Notorious, a super talented cover band that performed songs from multiple decades.
The next day, we drove up north to MacMurray Ranch to enjoy the Taste of Sonoma.
There were TONS of tents set up with wineries from all of the different sub-regions in the Sonoma area. Area restaurants, coffee shops, and product vendors passed out tasting samples of their food and drinks. The variety of options was mind-blowing and almost overwhelming at times.
Many hours after the Taste of Sonoma ended, we drove into the smaller town of Glen Ellen to eat at a restaurant that's super popular with the locals, Glen Ellen Star.
The restaurant has a huge, roaring oven that's used to cook everything from corn and Brussels sprouts to impressive meat dishes and even a really good apple cobbler dessert. It's a great restaurant and definitely worth visiting.
On our last day in Sonoma County, we headed into the town of Sonoma for a fancy champagne brunch at Sante. We sat outside next to the pool while enjoying an elegant 3-course brunch plus unlimited Gloria Ferrer sparkling white wine.
For dinner, we visited Kamen Estate Winery to have dinner with our friend, Robert.
He took us around the vineyard and we sampled fresh figs straight from the trees (so good!) and checked out some of his new crazy grapes that grow on lava rock. I can't wait to try that wine!
Finally, before heading back to the airport, we stopped by Petaluma Coffee Company. We had been intrigued by their nitro coffee made with beans aged in rye whiskey barrels. We were thrilled they still had some coffee left (they had made it specifically for the Taste of Sonoma event, where we had first sampled it). We each had a huge glass of this delicious coffee for "breakfast" before we headed back to SFO.
Stay tuned for more specific posts on most of the places mentioned in today's post!
Disclaimer: Parts of this trip were organized by the Sonoma Valley Visitor's Bureau. We received free admission to the Sonoma County Wine Weekend events, including the Sonoma Starlight and the Taste of Sonoma. We did not pay for our meals at Sante and we got a 50% discount for our meal at Glen Ellen Star. We paid for all of our other meals. All opinions are my own.