On the Road Eats: San Francisco and Sonoma

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A trip out west!  Just what I needed after a couple crazy months of work so I could spend some one on one time with my husband.  I have flown through San Francisco but never spent any time there as an adult.  Below are the things we did, where we stayed and where we ate!

Fairmont San Francisco:
We started celebrating our anniversary a few months late each year to coordinate with the camp schedule. As soon as her camp spot was confirmed we started planning. Leave first thing Friday, arrive in time for lunch. Our room was not ready when we arrived but it was worth the wait. An amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Coit Tower!

San Francisco Activities:
WOW- I have never walked, biked and climbed steps so much in my life. We were there for full two days so I greatly appreciate my friend Shay telling me to leave all of my heels and wedges at home and wear sneakers and comfortable FLAT shoes the entire time I was in the city.  The highlights: the hike up to Coit Tower and the amazing views, seeing Lombard Street and the number of spectators, the morning at the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building, Dim Sum at Yank Sing, our entertaining visit to the Buena Vista and best of all, Biking the Bridge.  We rented bikes from town, rode through Chrissy Park all the way over the Golden Gate Bridge, and then over to Sausalito.  We caught the Ferry back and had the best night of sleep EVER!

What did we eat?
I decided not to make reservations since I wanted to eat when I was hungry.  I have to admit that it was weird not to plan the meals but worked quite well.  Plus, next time I am there I will take some time to do a fabulous tasting menu.  For this trip, we hit Fisherman’s Wharf and grabbed chowder in a bread bowl(super touristy, probably won’t go back).  We went for cioppino in North Beach, dim sum at Yank Sing(the only reservation I made while already in SF)- loved the soup dumplings, the potstickers and the pork buns, stopped by the Buena Vista for an Irish Coffee, had an amazing breakfast of Albacore tuna “lox” on sourdough with cream cheese, roasted golden beets and pickled onions at the Farmer’s Market, and drinks at the Tonga Room at the Fairmont.

We biked the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito from San Francisco.  We needed to catch the last ferry so we didn’t have a chance to have dinner there but we did stop there for breakfast the next morning on the way to Sonoma.  You must stop at Fred’s!  Amazing lemon ricotta pancakes, perfectly cooked eggs and Millionaire’s Bacon(bacon glazed with pepper and brown sugar) – Delicious!!

Sonoma Fairmont:
After a short drive from Sausalito, we arrived at the Fairmont.  We stopped at Shug Winery and Gun Bun first and were then greeted at the Fairmont with two glasses of sparkling wine from Gloria Ferrer.  The hotel grounds are very relaxing with a hotel pool and a more private pool(quiet) near the spa.  One morning we rented bikes and rode to the square for a delicious breakfast.  And they offer complimentary car service to the restaurants on the square.  Next time, I will definitely make an appointment at the spa.

Glen Ellen Star
Everyone told me to go to Napa to eat but for two nights I knew I could find two amazing spots.  The first was Glen Ellen Star.  It has about 10-12 tables and a bar and great service.  The menu was great and we shared numerous dishes.


Oakmont Village Market & Deli:
I mentioned in my wine post that they lost power at St. Francis Winery so we needed to go on a hunt for both food and a spot that had power.  We took a quick 5-minute drive and found a great deli.  Lots of options for prepared meals and a full deli.  We opted to share a sandwich since we had a dinner reservation a couple hours later.  But if you want an amazing sandwich and need it quick, this is the spot!

Girl and the Fig
I was told this was a great restaurant for both locals and visitors.  It’s right on the square and I made the mistake of eating way too many appetizers and never finished my entree.  But of course I had a little room for a shared dessert!  Great local spot and super close the hotel.

I’ve been home for a couple months now and am ready to go back!


Wine Education….in Sonoma

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There is a mom get together coming up and I need to bring a bottle of wine. Do I know a lot about wines? No. Can I use my Vivino app at Trader Joe’s?  Sure.  Or I can head to Total Wine and ask for help.  But I wanted to learn.

So when my daughter left for sleep away camp, we headed to Sonoma.  Here are the four wineries we visited- an easy day or two in wine country.

Day 1:

Schug Winery:  Hal was there to greet us and my husband and I shared a tasting since it was 10:30 in the morning.  I also shared that it was my first time in Sonoma and so he gave me some lessons on the best way to taste wine and what to look for on the label.

Gundlach Bundschu:  Also known as “Gun Bun”, we drove up to the tasting area and found ourselves in the middle of a picnic area.  They had a larger tasting room than Schug with a “concierge” at the front entrance.  We had the option to do the tasting inside or out or purchase a bottle of wine and sit and enjoy the scenery.  We did the standard tasting, actually shared it, and really enjoyed the Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards:  I was looking forward to this for weeks.  I read amazing reviews about their food and wine pairing and I got the last open reservation.  We had a late breakfast and skipped lunch.  When we arrived, we were given a glass of wine to start and told to walk around and enjoy the vineyard.  And then they lost power.  Unfortunately, we did not get to do the complete food tasting but the two dishes we had along with the wines were fantastic.  Plus it was complimentary due to the outage so we will definitely go back the next time we head to Sonoma.

Day 2:

Gloria Ferrer:  We met some friends in Sonoma and there was a request for sparkling wines.  And so we headed to Gloria Ferrer for a noon bubbles and bites tasting.  We had a chef explain the pairings and a wine concierge to tell us about each wine that was selected.  The property was beautiful and the company was fantastic.  My favorite:  the Royal Cuvée.

Check out my post (coming soon) on where we stayed and where we ate!


On the Road Eats: Vegas, Baby!

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Vegas.  I go for the food.  Well, technically I went for a tradeshow with 30-thousand other people but I look forward to the food.  Although I stayed off Strip, many options to hit some great restaurants.  I spent most of the evenings at the Cosmopolitan and had some great meals.

Blue Ribbon at Cosmopolitan
My colleague and I arrived early and being on different time zones decided to grab an early dinner.  Once we saw a pu pu platter on the menu, we decided to hit the Social Hour at Blue Ribbon.  Great bartenders and definitely enjoyed the food!

China Poblano
Group dinner of 7 colleagues- pick a place that has lots of small plates that we can all share since we all like each other.  A few misses but overall a good meal and a fun experience.  I even did a tequila tasting!

Beauty & Essex
Love that I get to walk into a pawn shop in order to eat dinner and extra points that they had a Biggie Smalls figurine for sale!  Great atmosphere, a bit dark and great food!

Sometimes you have to have dinner twice in Vegas.  I met a friend early for dinner at Beauty & Essex and then walked over to the Aria to meet another friend who I had not seen in 11 years.  Not only did I get to reconnect with her, but she picked an amazing spot for dinner.  I loved this place and will definitely go back!


On the Road Eats: Park City, Utah

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Another awesome trip to Park City, Utah. The highlights- my daughter skied her first black, we all enjoyed the Olympic Park ropes course, zip line and 65 foot free fall and of course the food!

Hotel Park City, the Autograph Collection
Marriott has some great properties and I noticed that this was an all-suites hotel with a spa. Perfect! Every morning and afternoon they offered shuttle service to the mountain AND would drive you to town or dinner at night.  Plus there was a breakfast buffet every day!

Now for the restaurants –

Loved the atmosphere. Walk in, down the stairs and our table was ready (Thank you OpenTable!)  My daughter had a direct view of the sushi bar from where we sat so she was happy.   We ordered sake and some sushi, a couple appetizers and the black cod. Loved this spot!

Sammy’s Bistro:
Sometimes I will check the foodtv websites to see what restaurants the celeb chefs have profiled on their shows.  I found one for Park City and the whole family enjoyed it.  It was super casual(needed after skiing) and had a line out the door.  We even tried the “Chivito” Club Sandwich that was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives and it was really good!  Need super casual and kid friendly with a great price point – THIS is your spot!

Blind Dog Restaurant & Sushi:
I did some google searches and found The Female Foodie.  I had been to a bunch of spots that she recommended in Park City but this one was new to me.  This spot is closer to the Marriott rather than on Main Street. We enjoyed another dinner and loved the quotes all along the restaurant wall.

A seafood shack in Park City – ok, we are headed to the tubing spot close by so let’s try it!

Buona Vita:
We decided to try an Italian spot although our first choice was not open on Mondays. Although I was not a fan of what I ordered (too much bacon in the pasta with clam sauce- strange, right?), my husband said his Alfredo was good. And of course my daughter loved her spaghetti and meatballs.

Pasta with Clams (and Bacon)
Pasta with Clams (and Bacon)

Java Cow:
After a full Italian meal you head north on Main Street to get ice cream. Sorbet for me, ice cream for them, we were all happy.

Java Cow Sorbet
Java Cow Sorbet

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse:
Yes, if you live in a major city you can dine at Ruth’s Chris but sometimes after a full day of skiing you are just too damn tired to leave the hotel. So, an elevator ride away we dined on French onion soup, bone in ribeyes with creamed spinach and sautéed mushrooms, splurged on a very rich lobster Mac and cheese and finished with Creme Brûlée to share. Time for bed!

Last night of the trip and we were celebrating my birthday so I chose Fletcher’s.  I did try a few new things although stuck with the same biscuits, salad, and dessert that I loved from the last trip!

Let me know if I should add another spot to my list for the next trip!