What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?!

I’ve been doing up New Year’s Eve in The City for so long , I should be over it by now. But I’m not. I’ve been to parties, clubs, restaurants, did a midnight 5K run ONCE, (never again) and on occasion, did absolutely nothing. But the doing nothing part only happened a couple of times. The lack of available taxis has not proven to deter me when on a mission to participate in the biggest party night of the year. And I have to admit, though I’ve had some major highlights this year (finding my honey), overall, I can’t wait to say, Bon Voyage to this stinking year. I’ll let you in on what and where we’ll be going but first, I’ll let you in on some ghosts of parties past, what I think is still tried and true, and hopefully give you some ideas on where to ring in the New Year if you are still pondering on what the heck to do.

First up, the man who was responsible for a lot of late nights and an empty wallet by the end of the night, Harry Denton. Forget the trendy DJ’s, Harry Denton has been San Francisco’s biggest partier through numerous presidencies. Harry Denton’s Starlite Room at the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco has been going strong for some time now. Offering a combination of a spectacular view along with great, live entertainment, great drinks, and a touch of opulence that you could only expect from Harry Denton. If you’re into getting dressed to kill and having a special night out on the town, this is just one of many destinations to consider.

How about a night of European Caberet? Teatro ZinZanni has been a waterfront hot spot for many New Year’s Eve celebrations. It’s a combination of cabaret, Cirque du Soleil, and good drinks and food. This is the year to go because there is a bit of controversy over the production having to uproot the show to make room for the upcoming America’s Cup. (Don’t get me started.) Though always a crowd pleaser, there will be a break in production for a while until they relocate so I definitely want to start the drumbeat to support them for their last New Year’s Eve at the historic waterfront location. Just a side note: This group also hosts circus summer camps for kids which might be fun to check out. I have friends whose kids would be naturals and could probably teach other kids how to be clowns. Just saying. Check out a video of this fabulous group here.

Of course, I’m going to tout the Cat Club’s 80’s mix dance party. On any given Thursday night, you can find Generation X’ers and wannabe Gen X’ers alike partying to Culture Club all over again. It’s AWESOME! Complete with the original dance videos, it is known as THE place to go if you want the hear the same stuff you used to listen to on your Walkman. (Don’t laugh yourself to death.) I can’t think of a better way to ring in the New Year than to be dancing to Rick Astley which is yes, who I request to hear when I go to the Cat Club. No comments please. If nothing else, you can pull up their website to see the cool, retro Blondie magazine cover they used to promote the event.

You can always count on the free fireworks show at the Embarcadero which is always a hit. It’s beautiful to watch but at this time of year, it can be hit and miss due to the fog. It’s a great party, but dress like you’re going to the snow and wear comfortable shoes. It’s a great family atmosphere and you might get on tv!

The Grand Hyatt, also located on the Embarcadero, is another option to ring in the New Year in style. It’s not the most inexpensive ticket in town but their Grand Ballroom is a fantastic place to be at midnight. The music is usually top 40, everyone is dressed to to kill, and the balloon drop in the Grand Ballroom is memorable. The room is huge and the ceiling is high so the noise at midnight is crazy but in a good, fun kind of crazy. Awesome party. Check it out if you want to sport your best digs.

I can’t do a New Year’s Eve post and not mention my home town throwing a party that makes me want to drive home and participate. El Jardin Tequila Bar and Restaurant in San Jose, is hosting the Mayan Apocalypse New Year’s Eve party. Free admission, Apocalypse drink specials, and live salsa music. Now we’re talking. Located in the beautiful Santana Row shopping center, this restaurant and bar has received great reviews and you can’t beat the location.

We’re going to dinner. With all of the restaurants in town, how can we not. Afterwards? Who knows. As you can see, the possibilities are endless. I’ll give you some dinner ideas here. All I can say is that after years of learning lessons the hard way about New Year’s Eve in SF, wear comfortable shoes (ya, right. Comfortable shoes aren’t pretty), dress warm, (again, how are you supposed to show your stuff?) and don’t hold your breath for a taxi at 12:15 a.m. Start walking. Seriously, you’ll get home or back to your hotel faster. Start walking. And above all, be safe and happy that we are sending this year packing! Bring on the Apocalypse!

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Oh Tacky Tannenbaum!

I have always had this family tradition of going to the woods and cutting down my Christmas trees, no less than a 15 feet usually. I still take my uncle to get his monster tree for his apartment but in the recent years, my pals and I put up a standard 8 foot tree in the living room and I have also resorted to setting up my little tabletop, astro turf tree with one string of lights, on my desk or chest of drawers. I usually deck it out with my travel ornaments and pretty, girly ornaments but those ornaments made it to the living room tree this year. So, I threw the tree in the back of my car with intentions of using it to decorate any unused space at work. As it turned out, it looks like Christmas and Hanukkah threw up simultaneously in our building so my little tree wasn’t needed. Until last night. I discovered that my boyfriend didn’t have anything festive around his place so I put my little tree up on top of his file cabinet. It dressed the place right up! The sad part is that I forgot to bring over some ornaments so we just had an astro turf tree with lights and no ornaments. Leave it to my uncle with the 18 foot tree in a small apartment to have a bag of ornaments he picked up from the thrift store. He collects Christmas ornaments so he usually picks up a $1.00 bag of crappy ornaments if  he finds one ornament in the mix that is of use to him. Consequently, he ends up with bags of crap while all the good stuff of course ends up on his tree.

So, in the effort to create some sort of Christmas tree like atmosphere, we took our bag of rejects and created the Tacky Tannenbaum. Since I didn’t have time to put a proper tree together in the first place, you guessed it, I also didn’t have time to buy hooks for our new ornaments. We used dental floss to hang the ones that didn’t have leftover hooks or strings already attached and produced a 4 foot marvel that only Charlie Brown would appreciate.

Do you have a hammerhead shark on your tree? I didn’t think so.

How about a nice Halloween spider for your Christmas tree? I love that this is actually a Christmas ornament.

Of course, living in San Francisco, we like to celebrate everybody’s holidays. We got a two for one deal with the star of David Christmas ornament.

Ahhhh…..the Love Tree.

This is my favorite. You gotta love an ornament that depicts a child snatching Santa.

This is proof that it’s never too late to get into the Holiday spirit. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune and your decorations obviously don’t have to impress anyone but yourself. Though I make it a point to visit the tree at Union Square every year, I know for a fact that the Union Square tree does not have a hammerhead shark on its branches, so there you go.

~ Oh Tannenbaum, oh tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine blatter!

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!

WW

A British Christmas in San Francisco-Don’t Miss it!

The last of couple of years, my friend and I have made it a tradition to attend the Charles Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco. Every year, the Cow Palace, which has been home to everything from gun shows to rodeos (yes, even in San Francisco) gets a transformation which needs to be seen in order to believe it. If you’ve never experienced it, definitely go and try to drag those who wouldn’t be caught dead going to something like this. You know who I mean. The boyfriends and friends who reduce anything with a ribbon on it down to a craft fair. I’m not very crafty so I admittedly avoid any run-ins with doilies myself, but this is so much more than that. This is truly a trip back in time, in Victorian London where you leave feeling like you escaped for the day. In short, here is why I love this fair:

The Participants-Everyone who participates in the fair has to remain in character the entire time. That way it stays authentic and you don’t feel like you’re at a decorated carnival. It’s an experience.

The Food-They offer up everything from English bangers, Greek food, hot toddies, roasted chestnuts, and a variety of other goodies. Going back to the bah-hum-buggers in your life, maybe entice them with one of their various pubs found around the “village.” They have varieties of ales as well as hot buttered rum and champagne, among other beers and wines to choose from. Did I mention the bar maids? I could care less but every year they seem to find authentic bar maids who represent what I think were the original Hooters girls. (I usually just get my hot chocolate and leave. Fighting men to get to a bar at the Dickens Fair for hot chocolate becomes silly at some point.)

Entertainment-The entertainment is fantastic. They have full entertainment schedules throughout the day including my favorites, the Irish cloggers, as well as others such as the singing drunken sailors.

Gifts-My favorite part of going to the fair is because of the fabulous gifts I find every year without fail. I have been able to find quality gifts such as handmade silk and faux fur scarves, beautifully made hats, Christmas ornaments, wooden gift boxes, and other goodies that have made for special gifts for loved ones.

Whatever you fancy, take some time out from the dreaded holiday shopping to enjoy yourself!

To see my post from last year, click here.

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’!!!