June 29, 2012 |
MIscellaneous Wine Fun! , Wine & Food Pairings, Wine Country Travel |
I Left My Heart In San Francisco--But Took Home A Few Pounds
Mark Twain said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." Usually, those words ring true. The fog lays over the "City By the Bay" and cold winds blow off the Pacific. But, this weekend we thumbed our noses at Mark Twain and enjoyed two days of glorious sunshine. When the sun shines on San Francisco, the city, the bay and Pacific sparkle and the views are breathtaking.
We chose the Galleria Park Hotel, one of Touring & Tasting's featured accommodations, which lives up to its high ratings in Yelp for being a "cute trendy stylish spot very convenient", "hip", "well kept and has a nice artsy vibe". We liked the rooftop park and jogging track, the organic soaps and lotions, and its well-placed location in the Financial District just blocks from Union Square and the Moscone Center. The lobby was buzzing with conviviality when we checked in during happy hour with a complimentary wine tasting. The staff was extra friendly and helpful, giving us a map of the city and suggestions for dinner. Tired from our drive, we were happy to discover the Belden Taverna was just a block from the hotel. On a short street reminiscent of the old town of Barcelona, where the narrow streets are filled with music and crowded with tables, the Taverna had a food-friendly and inexpensive house Rioja that went well with the handmade ravioli.
The next morning, we went next door to the hotel and had a tasty, breakfast sandwich at Bread and Cocoa which boasts: "We prepare all of our offerings the old fashioned way, handmade in our cafe with fresh all-natural and organic ingredients that are sourced from local purveyors and farms." Fortified, we walked to the one of the biggest farmer's markets in the country. They say 21,000 visitors attend the Saturday market which sounds like an overwhelming crush of people. But, the Ferry Building that houses it is enormous, plus the food booths spill out to the front street and cover the pier in the back. Enjoying the view of the Bay Bridge, we nibbled on samples of honey roasted almonds, goat cheese, peaches, strawberries, nectarines and wildflower honey.
Years ago, we made the kids walk the mile and a half from the Ferry Building to Fisherman's Wharf and had to endure a lot of complaining. This weekend, seeing the line of pedicab drivers out front, we sprung for the $20 for a fun ride in the sun along the ocean. Fisherman's Wharf was busy with street musicians and artists and throngs of tourists from around the world--stand in one spot and you will hear a dozen different languages being spoken. We looked through the 13,000 square foot gallery of nature photographer Rodney Lough, Jr. who documents Yellowstone, Banff, Death Valley and other photo-worthy landscapes, then shared fish and chips at Sally's Famous Fishwich--a tiny take-out next to the mammoth Franciscan Crab Restaurant. For only $8, we got a meaty piece of fish with minimal breading and pungent and delectable garlic fries. Next door is Boudin Bakery with an overhead conveyer belt of bread baskets weaving through the store from the glass-walled kitchen where one can see the baking team wheel racks of bread into the enormous ovens, portion dough and form loaves into braids and turtle shapes.
That night, we had a short walk to the Moscone Center to have sushi and udon at the Japanese restaurant Sanraku. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Fountain in the Center is closed for repair--it's a must-see when it re-opens in the fall--a 50 foot tall waterfall that one can walk underneath, that cascades over rough hewn granite inscribed with quotations from Dr. King. Two movie theaters are nearby--the Metreon and the Century, where we enjoyed Pixar's newest release "Brave" at the Century Theater. The Galleria Park Hotel offers an earth-friendly option: decline the daily room cleaning and receive $5 off in their Hecho restaurant which serves Japanese food for lunch and dinner and American food for breakfast. We had a nice bowl of oatmeal with pineapple--a new favorite flavor combination!
Next stop Sonoma County! Another blog post coming soon…