Welcome to Food Journeys SF!

Because food and travel are almost one in the same as far as I’m concerned, I created Food Journeys SF as an extension to the wanderings of  this wandering woman who is always looking for ways to experience life, even in my own backyard.  Check it out to get some ideas on what I like to eat and where I like to dine with my peeps in the San Francisco Bay Area, and sometimes beyond. Get the unprofessional, unsolicited, unbiased, always opinionated advice on where I like to catch a bite or have a well-made drink after work. Thanks always for stopping by and I hope you will enjoy Food Journeys SF!

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Happy Thanksgiving from the Wandering Woman!

This is the time of year that we all hopefully take a moment and reflect on what we are thankful for. It’s hard not to notice that people have really been challenged this past year and don’t feel that they have much to feel any gratitude for. And who can blame them? When you’re trying to get a job after not having one for a while or trying to hang on to your house, or maybe even lost everything this year, it’s nearly impossible to be hopeful much less thankful. I’ve had a challenging year myself but somehow have been able to tell myself that everything is temporary. Challenges are meant to teach us something though most of us have enough character without having to deal with the house falling on top of us. I guess if I’ve learned nothing else this year, I’ve been reminded that we have to be grateful for TODAY. That’s it. I haven’t been able to venture off this year the way I would have liked but instead I found my partner and learned to explore where we live, making me appreciate home instead of looking outward. That’s not to say that my wanderlust has been squelched or that I don’t dream of going to Africa every day of my life, but for finding him, I’m grateful.

Which leads me to our challenge. In the middle of our whirlwind tour of dining around San Francisco and planning all of the fabulous trips we’re going to take together, we were forced to only think about today. He was diagnosed with cancer in the fall, and though his prognosis is very good, we’ve had to answer to the challenge. I’ve watched him soldier on and go to work in spite of feeling sick from chemotherapy, while constantly concerned about how he is affecting me and making sure I’m not upset by all of this . (Impossible.)  The lesson I’ve learned from him is that if he can go through all of this and still pick himself up and live everyday, I have nothing to complain about. (Though it’s hard for a leopard to change it’s spots.)

So today,  I’m so incredibly grateful for his health and him having a good day. He’s able to do what he loves which is cook and make great food for those he loves. I’m also grateful that my friends and family who have been so supportive, are also healthy and relatively happy. Not everybody can be wildly happy all the time but I think everybody is pretty darn close to it. I’m also grateful that my Phoebe kitty is still playing like a kitten and am so grateful for the wonderful connections I’ve made through my little blog. Live for today, enjoy every minute, and tell your peeps that you love them. You might find that you have more in your life than you thought!

Happy Thanksgiving!

You Say Erster, I Say Oyster-Tomales Bay, CA

Call ’em what you want…..I love them. They’re slimy and scary looking but I don’t know how anyone can pass them up. A little lemon juice, a little hot sauce, and voila.

Located just north of San Francisco (just over an hour’s drive) is California’s longest running shellfish farm. Tomales Bay Oyster Company is just off of Highway 1, and offers a perfect setting to run away for a day trip or weekend stay. It’s hard to imagine that you can have such a great afternoon on an oyster farm but it’s actually a great setting for a perfect day out with the family, friends, or your honey. Mine luckily is a master shucker, shucking two dozen oysters for the two of us without any bloodshed. I on the other hand would have ended up in the ER so I just sliced up some sourdough bread while the master did his thing. Add some quality cheese and salami, hot sauce for the oysters and a bottle of champagne and you’ve got the fixings for a perfect picnic.

If you would like to stay overnight, there are plenty of accommodations in the area. However, we chose to stay about 15-20 minutes away at the Sheraton in Petaluma. This is a great hotel to stay at if you need a central location while wandering around Sonoma County for wine tasting, a day of kayaking, oyster shucking, or just enjoying everything that Sonoma County has to offer. The hotel itself is a beautiful, waterfront property which has been renovated and named one of the top 10 getaways near a major city by Travel and Leisure magazine. After a day of driving around the beautiful countryside around Sonoma County, you can relax by the pool (if it’s warm enough!) or just get cozy by the lobby fireplace or your own room with the fluffy down comforter on your bed. Whatever you decide, it’s a beautiful hotel to enjoy. They have great specials to look out for so keep an eye on this one for a weekend getaway. We only paid $99 for a Saturday night stay which isn’t bad for a lovely property such as this.

If you’re not a fan of the shelled creatures, too bad for you. It’s o.k., I don’t like escargot and I know I’m missing out but to each is own. However, for those who are like me, a little less Andrew Zimmerman, a little more Anthony Bourdain, Tomales Bay is a must. It’s fun just to observe how everyone chooses to indulge in their mollusks. Some people throw theirs on the grill and wait for them to simply pop open. They may even throw some corn on the cob next to them and grill up an entire meal. Maybe next time. We’re shooter people. We like the old-fashioned way of squeezing lime juice, adding a hint of hot sauce and……SLURP!! That’s some good eatin’!!!

Now That’s a Cocktail

A reservoir glass filled with a naturally colo...

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes I’m in the mood for a drink and not just anything will do. I do have my standards after all. Actually, I think it’s just a matter of being…..let’s say over 30… and not able to handle cheap alcohol anymore. I have grown to appreciate a well-made drink and think that it should be enjoyed in the same manner as enjoying a nice meal. Enough to enjoy but not over indulge so that it becomes gluttonous. (O.K., a little gluttony doesn’t hurt.)

A french brasserie in San Francisco known as Absinthe, has been praised for it’s fine cuisine and beautiful atmosphere but they also have a great reputation for serving a mean cocktail. Located at the corner of Hayes and Gough in Hayes Valley, Absinthe reminds me of brasseries I wandered into in the Bastille neighborhood in Paris. The decor is classic and the menus are heavenly. But if all you are after is a beautifully made cocktail made with precision, then Absinthe is the place to go. This is for those who want something beyond a shot of this with a splash of that. See for yourself on their cocktail menu. For obvious reasons, I had a drink called The Wonderlust which can be found on their Premium cocktail list. It’s not only a beautiful drink to look at, but delicious and different from anything I’ve had which includes a splash of…..you guessed it…..Absinthe. (Hey, I wanted to see what all of the shouting is about.) Held on the last Monday of each month, they host an event called, Pickled which features a set menu of seaonal cocktails with food to compliment the tasty drinks.

No matter the poison you pick, it will be made to perfection. Don’t miss this little slice of Paris while in The City.

New Year’s Non-Resolutions

It’s that time again. Another year gone and time for new beginnings. This is about the time of year that people start contemplating on what changes they need to make in their life and where there is room for improvement. In looking back, I think I’ve had a pretty good year considering the state of the world today so with that said, I’m not changing a damn thing! I have become a firm believer that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This realization sort of hit me this year after realizing that I spent so many years trying to reinvent the wheel for no reason. I am lucky that most of my friends and family have been relatively happy and healthy and the ones who have had extreme challenges this past year reminded me about what’s really important in life and that we have to embrace it the best we can for however long we’re here.

With that in mind, instead of creating the New Year’s anxiety that I seem to foolishly drum up annually for myself, why not try something different and let myself off the hook for once? I have never tried to start the New Year off with the intention of changing nothing or not wanting to shed anything. Those are the buzz words, right? CHANGE. SHED. START OVER. GAIN THIS, LOSE THAT. Bleh. I’m looking forward to a new year hopefully filled with travels, and good health but I decided to create specific non-resolutions for 2011 such as:

*  I’m not going on a diet. I have yo-yo’ed about 5-15 lbs for almost 20 years now. I’m at peace with that. My friends can tell you that I’ve gone vegan, organic, holistic, sugar free, gluten free, and fat free only to throw it all out the window on a whim and order a plate of pesto tortellini with a basket of garlic bread and a bottle of wine. FOR MYSELF. Considering that I do give all of the health fads an honest chance if only for a little while, I see this as my version of finding balance in my diet.

*  I will not be on the hunt for the perfect mate. I just got rid of my not so perfect…or perfect for somebody else, mate, and I would like to continue to focus on pastimes and interesting people instead of finding a replacement. I decided earlier in the year to go back to what I know which is allowing all types of fabulous people to come into my life with no agenda. It’s a formula that has worked, giving me life-long soul mates so if it ain’t broke………

*  I’m not going to try to save money. I know that sounds totally stupid to make it an actual goal  but I have finally burned out on the concept. I’m no richer or poorer than I was a year ago and as my little blog will tell you, I did o.k. Can I buy that charming cottage in the South of France right now? No, but I can afford the occasional plane ticket and cat food. What more do I need? (Although if this economy doesn’t pick up I may be buying cat food for two.)

*  I’m not going to exercise more. I exercise enough. I go to the gym when I feel that I am about to morph into a full-blown sloth, I take the occasional yoga class, walk at the beach when it’s warm enough, and we just acquired a Wii fit in the house which I may or may not use. I like to exercise, in fact need to exercise on some level, but I’ve never been one of those people who looks at a mountain and feels a need to conquer it. Great for those who do. I’ll just sit back and marvel at your brilliance!

*  I’m not going to drink less. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting drinking, nor do I grab rubbing alcohol from the linen closet if I run out of Pinot Noir. But I enjoy one glass of good wine with a nice meal. I also love the 200 different types of Martinis created by a good Vodka, not to mention that my dad’s killer hot chocolate recipe calls for a splash of Brandy. Alcoholic drinks can be enjoyable when you want to compliment a really great dish. Food and a good drink go hand in hand as far as I’m concerned, calories or not. Like everything else, everything in moderation.

BUT DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE PEOPLE! YOU WANT TO BE AROUND FOR FUTURE NEW YEARS!!

*  I’m not going to “get organized” the way all of the magazines say I should. I do the spring cleaning routine in the spring, summer, fall, pre-Christmas, and after Christmas but if you have a borderline hoarding issue with books, photos, and magazines, then “getting organized” doesn’t really help anything. It’s only a band aid. I have what I call, organized chaos. It works for me, I’m sticking to it.

So there you have it. My Napolean stance on New Year’s Eve resolutions. A lot of thought went into my revolt against resolutions and I may decide to make this a part of my belief system. Or, maybe I’m just burned out from the holidays and am too damn lazy and tired at this point to make any!

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I want to thank everyone who has taken the time this year to read my little ramblings. I didn’t know how to put a blog together a year ago and have learned so much just from reading other creative and talented bloggers. I look forward to learning more from those who have this blogging thing down to a science while hopefully delivering happy, fun, and sometimes snarky tidbits to those who have the slightest bit of interest.

Have a safe, happy and healthy New Year everybody! Cheers!