Monday, January 28, 2013

Treasure Island Flea

Every last weekend of the month, Treasure Island hosts a flea market with gourmet food trucks, tons of unique stalls, and one of the best views in the bay.  Ever since I learned of it, my mom and I have talked about going, and finally this past weekend we made it happen.

We circled the food trucks present like hawks scoping out their prey, until we finally settled on one featuring Peruvian sandwiches.  I enjoyed a fantastic pork loin sandwich with fried sweet potatoes and lime-marinated red onion. 

As with any flea market, there was an unbelievable variety of stuff, some of it artisan, some of it antique, and some of it junk.  One stall even sold cacti.  My award for most unique item at the flea market?  It would hands down go to this mint-colored torture, I mean dentistry, chair.  Talk about a conversation piece for your man cave.

After fighting our way through the crowds and the wind, we stopped at The Winery, next door, to enjoy a glass of wine in this rustic, geometric warehouse-turned-winery.

And while we're on the topic of "flea", I'll leave you with this clever little limerick:

A flea and a fly in a flue
Were trapped and knew not what to do,
Said the fly, "let us flee!"
"Let us fly!" said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

Monday, January 21, 2013


You Only Live Once, so it's necessary to take advantage of carefree weekends away with friends while you can.  Ian made the trip up to the bay to spend a few days of fine wine, good food, and even better views with us ladies.  

The others were forced to spend Friday living vicariously through Ian and me as we spent a relaxing day together in Napa County, predominately at Stags' Leap Winery, where Brittany's mom, Faith, leads tasting tours.  She did such a fantastic job bringing to life the manor house's history, telling of long summers spent relaxing by the manor's first-in-California in-ground swimming pool, or of the American Indians' legend of the elusive and mystical leaping stag, or of prohibition times when the basement was turned into a boisterous speakeasy frequented by all the local officials. 

We had a fantastic time exploring the estate, sipping on wine, and hanging out with Faith in that glorious house.  I told her that the property reminded me a lot of the villa in which I lived in Tuscany, not just because of its lush view and remarkable structure, but also because of the eeriness evoked when there alone.  

I felt like Faith and I were keeping a secret from all the others on the tour, because she addressed us as if we'd never met before.  Little did our fellow wine enthusiasts know, she remembers when I was in kindergarten.  Thanks again to Faith for such a lovely day!

Much of the next 24 hours was dominated by tasty treats, whether it be Peruvian cuisine at Limón, quirky coffee, a long wait for much-appreciated soup and sandwiches at Outerlands, or Gio's butternut squash risotto.

Saturday afternoon we ventured out to the Sutro Baths, where there are stunning views of the water, the Golden Gate, and most notably the sunset.  A two-hour photo shoot ensued.  The weather was stunning, and we enjoyed the time sitting and soaking up the sun as much as we did exploring the site. 

I felt like I needed to pinch myself, the view was so incredible.  And not only that, but I was enjoying it with such great friends.  Take a gander for yourself:

That night, after dinner, cards, and Icelandic digestives at Gio's in the Presidio, we headed downtown and split our time between the classy Burritt Room and the hip Rickshaw.  In the following picture, I feel the need to say that my height was altered by the fact that I'm seated on a barstool, but it's possible that I would have appeared that short even standing.

Since Ian left the next day out of Sacramento, we only had a few more hours to spend in the city, and we chose to spend them down by the wharf.  We stumbled upon Hyde St. Pier, another place I can't recall ever visiting, and drank in the nostalgia of the old boats, especially the ferry originally used to transport people from Sausalito to San Fran before the erection of the Golden Gate Bridge. 

All in all, another beautiful weekend spent in San Francisco.  Did it take me 12 hours of sleep last night to recover from it?  Maybe.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Crabbin' Cousins

What a crabby weekend.  The fam and I headed south to Monterey to get a glimpse of the water and stay at the Naval Post-Graduate School, with a Saturday evening jaunt to Hollister for the Portuguese crab feed at the hall.  The base's lodging is in the historic Del Monte Hotel, whose name has been demoted in grandeur to the more military-appropriate Herrmann Hall.  The grounds and the main building do not seem to have lost any of their original magnificence, however.  A stroll around the property, especially through the rose garden or by the shallow fountain pool, are particularly serene.  I spent my stroll hunting down the alleged resident peacock, who I have deemed a figment of my parents' imagination, as I have not glimpsed him on either of my visits.

Friday night we spent at the bar in Herrmann Hall, enjoying their "gourmet" cheese (does pepper jack in any way deserve the title "gourmet"?) and playing pool.  My mom even participated, to even out the numbers, and she and I were ecstatic when we succeeded in sinking one ball each.  (Don't worry, it wasn't boys versus girls.)

The next afternoon we headed to Hollister to get our crab on.  It's all you can eat-you bring the tools and they'll provide the bibs. 

The Portuguese crab feed has surged in popularity among Ashley's friends, so it was sort of like an Ashley & Ryan's wedding reunion for me.  I got to see almost all the bridesmaids/Vegas girls, and it made for a lively bunch.  One of them, Jen, felt crowned "The Chosen One" since her place had been set with not one, but two, bibs.  Ashley was cute trying to teach all the tricks, and was especially adamant about lemon under the fingernails to clean up ("Whatever, at least my hands won't smell like crab tomorrow.").

There's a running joke about the wine served at Portuguese functions.  My parents and godparents were recently at one of the Portuguese restaurants in San Jose, and commented to the proprietor that they really liked the wine because it reminded them of what they used to drink back home in the Azores.  He replied that everyone says that, which is why they don't feel bad serving the Carlo Rossi red to their patrons.  Such refined taste we Portagees have!  But hey, it's not easy to bottle nostalgia.

While the red is drinkable, I can't say the same for the Carlo Rossi white.   The website describes it as a "semi-dry white wine with...crisp, light taste and flavors of ripe pear."  That's quite an exaggeration for what tasted like spiked apple juice.  I asked my padrinho about it and he shrugged, saying, "Yeah, it's a chablis."  I couldn't help replying, "Well, it's cha-bad."

But how was the crab, you ask?  Well the crab was damn good.

Look at these handsome Portagees in their fancy aprons.  You might think I caught them at a particularly industrious moment, but no, they were taking a break to watch the niner game.

At one point, someone asked Daniel to describe the Portuguese beer, Sagres.  He pondered for a moment before replying, "It's sort of like a Mexican Bud Light."  Well, there you have it advertising execs.  Throw that on a billboard and call it a day.

It really was such a fun night filled with good food and family.  Plus, you can't beat a DJ playing Gangnam Style, the Electric Slide, and some classic Portuguese tunes.  Am I right?  

 Can't wait for next year!

Friday, January 4, 2013

'Twas the Month of December

'Twas the month of December when all through the bay
Everybody was stirring, planning parties all day.
The dresses were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that the fun times soon would be there.

The girls were prepared for birthdays galore,
While visions of gifts never left them wanting more.
And Britt in her costume, and I in my sash,
Had just left the house for my big birthday bash.

When out at the bar there arose such a clatter,
We sang
Call Me Maybe but no glass did we shatter.
For dinner the schnitzel was worth a salute,
And my Erdinger beer I done drunk from a boot.

The rest of the month was spent at more parties still,
With Louis' Christmas party warming the chill.
Twenty-six years both Gio and Mary made,
Carnie food and tapas to secure the upgrade!

Friends came to visit from lands near and far
To share a friendly drink from a mason jar.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But my main man Romo, sharing good cheer.

The parties continued, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment from my fingers they'd slip.
More rapid than eagles the fun went and came,
And I decided to cherish these great friends by name!

"Now Kristen! Now, Jodi! Now Jessie, and Mary!
On, Preetam! On, Gio! On
Louis and Brittany!
To the top of the club! To the top of the wall!
Now dance away! Dance away! Dance away all!"

And then, in a twinkling, we were in San Jose
Prancing and eating and laughing all day.
To the Uncles' Christmas party we went with a bound,
And fun times with Britt's family never slowed down.

Christmas, how it twinkled! My family, how merry!
And we cherished the day Jesus was born to Mary.

The family opened white elephants wrapped up in a bow
And we ate and we ate 'till we thought we'd explode.

A New Year's Eve party Brittany and Jodi staged,
And a fantastic evening unfolded and raged!
Some wisdom from 2012 we hope to glean,
And it'll all be clear in 2013.

I give thanks to my family, my colleagues, my friends,
For reminding me that something new starts when something else ends.
And laying much promise on this new year ahead,
I know in my heart I have nothing to dread.

So I sprang to the internet, to my blog gave a whistle,
And away my thoughts flew like the down of a thistle.
Now you'll hear me exclaim, through these words that I write,
"Happy New Year to all, and to all a good-night!"