Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shoe Rack

I finally did something about my apparent shoe issue.  I bought a shoe rack! So far we've only had two mishaps (shoes falling off).  We also discovered that it looks best by not filling it to capacity but keeping it at 22-24 pairs instead of the advertised 33(!).
I really enjoy organization but have a hard time staying (or even getting) organized.  I like to think small things like this help.  The shoe rack came from the Container Store, which I love since it is all about organizing your home.  The boyfriend wasn't as excited about it.  Clearly I'm going to have to be the organized person in this relationship.  Now that the shoes have been taken care of the top shelf of my closet is up next!

Avenue Q

It sucks to be me! (ok, not really, at least I don't have a B.A. in English)

Wish I could've gotten a better picture, but the bf was tired and didn't want to wait...

A few friends and I got $50 tickets to see Avenue Q in SF.  It was my second time seeing it so I knew most of the jokes and punch lines already, but I still really enjoyed it.  There are so many great and inappropriate things about that show.  The boyfriend seemed to get a little sentimental during this line "the more you love someone the you want to kill them" and kept looking my way, I wonder if he was hinting at something...

I love this line "being on an elevator when somebody shouts "hold the door",  No!  Schadenfreude, fuck you lady that's what stairs are for!" because every time I'm on an elevator and a door shuts in someone's face I feel like singing out that line.  I also love the song "I Wish I Could go Back to College" because it is so very true.

The actors were great, especially the guy who played Princeton/Rod (David Corris).  We had an understudy for the female lead, but you never would've known because she was great too.  All around I forgot how good of a show this was and it kept me laughing and entertained the whole time!

Birthday Boy

The bf's birthday was last week and even though we celebrated over the weekend we also went out to a special dinner on his actual birthday.  We ate at a place I've been wanting to try for a while, Pican.  It's in the Uptown area of Oakland surrounded by other really cool new restaurants like Plum, Ozumo, Bakesale Betty, and The Punchdown.

The restaurant was very swanky inside, had a good looking bar area and an open kitchen on one wall.  We brought our own wine ($25 corkage fee) so I don't know how the drinks are, but I do know that they specialize in Bourbon.  We had fried green tomatoes as an appetizer that were dressed up all fancy with feta, radishes, and a buttermilk dressing.  I really enjoyed them but the bf thinks he could make it better and less fancy himself.  For our main courses he had the duck and I had the fried chicken.  The fried chicken was so good and to make it even better it was served with a smoked Gouda mac and cheese, yumzo!  We also got a side of andoullie and scallion hushpuppies with a vinegar sauce, these were also very good.  It was too much food for us so we ended up taking home half of the chicken and some hushpuppies.  I really liked the food and atmosphere here and will definitely try to go back!

Valentine's Day for Me!

I have never been allowed to make a big deal about Valentine's day because my boyfriend's birthday is the day after.  This means it is all about him and I am usually just an afterthought :(  This year, to my surprise, I actually got a gift (chocolate!) and flowers for Valentine's Day.  I think it is the first time in my life that I have ever gotten flowers from a guy!  I know it's very cliche and typical but I do really like flowers and it made me very happy.
I also got chocolates from a fancy local place called Michael Mischer.  I haven't tried all of them yet but the champagne is my favorite so far.
We tried to think of the last time my boyfriend got me anything for Valentine's Day.  The only thing I could think of was sophomore year when he left a handmade card on my dorm room door saying he didn't have any money or a car (it had just died) but I should still like him, romantic huh?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Napa Part 2: Dowtown Wine

One of the reason we went to Napa was because they have a downtown Napa tasting card.  For $25 you can taste wine for 10 cents at 12 different tasting rooms all within walking distance of each other.  When we talked to the innkeeper about this he said no, the card isn't worth it since he had a bunch of 2 for 1 tastings and many places would comp your tasting fee if you buy a bottle.  So we decided not to buy the cards, although we heard different opinions about it throughout the day.  We took a look at the tasting cards the innkeeper gave us gave us and mapped out where we wanted to go.

We started at the Vintner's Collective, which was recommended by our B&B but we didn't have a tasting card, luckily they gave us a 2 for 1 price anyway.  This was a collection of many different smaller wineries, most pricey (above $50 a bottle, yeah we're kinda cheap).  It was nice getting to try all these wines but it was our most expensive tasting at $25 per person which unfortunately wouldn't have been applied had we bought a bottle. 

We tried to go to Twenty Rows next, but when we got there found out they were open by appointment only (which was contradictory to their tasting card, and the open sign in the window) we tried calling and knocking but no luck, so we moved on.

The next stop couldn't have been any different from the first. Mason was up next, and we went into a cheery room with a great wine pourer named Trish.  First bonus is that they have complimentary tastings, second bonus was when we realized how cheap their wine was and how much we were enjoying it.  They specialize in Sauvingnon Blancs, which aren't my favorite and the bf really doesn't like them, but all the ones we tried here were great and fruity and we ended up buying three bottles.  They also had some fun reds and we took a bottle home of their Merlot, which is something that we have never done.  Fun fact about Merlot from the movie Sideways: the main character bashes Merlot throughout the movie and the sales of Merlot apparently suffered from it, however the wine that he has been saving for a special occasion and ends up drinking at the end is actually 70% Merlot!  Trish said it was a fun inside joke in the wine community.  Our second stop of the day and we already have four bottles, but Trish sad she'd bring them back to our b&b for us and that if we buy bottles other places to drop them off with her and she'd deliver all of them.  We <3 Trish!!

Next up was Taste which had two different wineries, Wasterstone and Mahoney.  We came to this tasting room two years ago after a lunch on the wine train that Mahoney had paired wines with and had given us free tasting passes.  The last time we came was really fun and one of the main pourers was a huge Michigan fan and was wearing a Big House t-shirt so we were very excited to return.  Sadly this place didn't live up to our expectations.  The pourers were boring and didn't engage us in conversation. We did still end up buy two bottles because we liked the wine.  This was another place where they didn't apply the tasting fee to the bottles (we did have a two for one) but they were having a 20% discount for Valentine's day so that made up for it, I guess.  The service there was still boring.

We headed next door to Gustavo Thrace.  We found out from a previous tasting that it is Gustavo from the movie Bottle Shock!  They shared a tasting room with Toolbox and we got to pick two wines from each one to taste.  All was good but most of the wines were just a little out of our price range, except the Third Bottle.  The Third Bottle wine is meant to be your third bottle at dinner after you've drunk your more expensive, fancy wine, however we think its a great first bottle and ended up buying one.  The tasting fee here was applied to the purchase of the bottle, which is awesome.

At this point we took a break for a snack, see this post.

After our snack we went across the street to Uncorked.  We walked in and the place was super busy, but we had a complimentary tasting pass for two so we figured it'd be ok to wait.  They were very kind to us while we were waiting and eventually we got to try some wine.  The pourers here were very friendly and made for a fun atmosphere.  Ahnfeldt and Carducci share this tasting room so we got to try some of both.  We ended up buying one bottle here before we left.

Our last stop before heading back to our B&B for their wine tasting was at Ceja.  One of the best things about this tasting was they had iPads for you to rate all the wines you try and leave comments.  We also had a delicious cheese plate here.  As we were making our purchase (of course we couldn't leave without buying a bottle) we got to try their chocolate cabernet sauce, omg so good!  So we ended up with a bottle of that as well.

That concludes our downtown Napa wine tasting.  It was awesome being able to walk everywhere and we had a great time at all of the tasting rooms.  By the end of the day we had purchased 9 bottles of wine and one bottle of chocolate sauce!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Napa Part 1: Downtown Accommodations and Food

We spent the last weekend in Napa for a Valentine's/Birthday for the bf extravaganza!  There is so much to talk about so I'll split it up into a three different sections, accommodations and food, wine, and our adventure on the second day.  We decided to try downtown Napa for a change, I had read a good article in Via magazine about it and heard other good things.  We like the idea that you can walk to a bunch of tasting rooms and not have to worry about driving.

I made the decision to stay at a Bed and Breakfast since it seemed like there were many available and I've always liked the idea.  We stayed at the Old World Inn, which was wonderful.  There are two locations so of course we went to the wrong one first, luckily the correct one was only about a block away.  The Innkeeper gave us a quick tour of the place, there was always coffee out (pre-measured french press!) and they had fresh cookies at 3:30, wine and appetizers at 5:30, and chocolates after 9!  We then were shown to our room which was super cute, although it was probably the smallest room there it was enough room for us and very cozy.  We had a fireplace and a small patio! This card was waiting for us on the bed:

We got ourselves settled in and headed out for a day of wine tasting (more on that later). 

Sometime in the afternoon we realized it was probably a good idea to have something to eat and I wanted to check out Oxbow.  It was very fun inside and we had some great, unique, tacos at Casa.  I had grilled garlic citrus prawns with corn relish, shaved cabbage salad, avocado crema, garlic aioli and cilantro.  The bf had skirt steak with grilled onions, blue cheese, avocado, jalapeƱos, garlic aioli, cilantro & salsa picante.

I felt like I wanted to spend more time there but we were on a schedule for wine tasting so we headed out.  At one of our final wine stops we decided to get a cheese plate, it was a very good decision.

We loved the middle cheese so much I took a picture of the name on the menu and asked where we could buy it, luckily we could buy it at Oxbow, and planned to do that the next day!

After all the wine we headed back to our b&b for their wine tasting and to get ready for dinner.  We never made it to dinner, I blame the super comfortable bed but the bf blamed all the wine we (or I) had.  Not too big of a deal missing dinner though, because we knew there was a big breakfast in store for us the next morning. 

Breakfast was great, maybe a little too sweet for some but still great.  It started with fresh fruit and orange juice, then the main course was caramel french toast, yummy.

I would've loved something a little more savory to complement it like some nice crunchy bacon, but still enjoyed it quite a bit!  At this point we said goodbye to our awesome b&b and headed out on our Day 2 adventure, more on that later as well!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Next to Normal

Last week I went to see Next to Normal in SF.  It was an amazing show! 

Alice Ripley won the Tony for Best Actress in this part and she was staring in the tour.  Love or hate her voice, she is perfect for the part.  I knew the music and the basic idea of the story, but seeing it live made it all come together and made it an even more moving show.  The set, lighting, and music were really great.  The actors were all very talented, but the one character I really wanted to like was probably my least favorite.  I don’t want to give too much away, but I didn’t love Gabe as much as I though I would.  At first I thought I didn’t like the actor (mostly because I LOVE the original actor, Aaron Tveit) but I later reconsidered that maybe I just wasn’t crazy about that character.  Here’s their performance from the 2009 Tonys:

After being blown away by this show, I’m a little surprised it didn’t win best musical in 2009.  Billy Elliott won best musical that year and I will be seeing it this summer, in my mind it has a lot to live up to, to convince me that it was the best musical that year.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Since my boyfriend blogged about my huge amount of shoes (which really isn’t that many at 19 pairs), I thought this would be a good time to show off a pair that he bought me, a little hypocritical, no?

But the real reason to show them off today is because we are playing the hated buckeyes at 4:00 (PST).  Even worse is that they are undefeated and ranked number 1 in the country, YUCK!  I’m feeling the big upset, LET’S GO BLUE!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Orchid Success, Wishing for a Snowpocalypse, and Some Sports

I bought a new beauty on Friday at the Farmer’s Market.  I asked the seller which ones were the easiest to keep alive, letting him know that I’ve almost killed one that didn’t belong to me.  He then gave me a discount!  Probably felt sorry for me...

There were two blooms on Friday, and when I came in on Monday there were four!  It makes me so happy and it is very pretty.  Hopefully I will be able to keep this one alive.

I think I’m the only person in my part of California who wishes we were having a Snowpocalypse.  The rest of the country has gotten so much snow these past months, and we haven't got anything.  I miss having real seasons...

The Michigan Basketball team is on a 2 game winning streak, woohoo!  But most importantly we went to East Lansing and finally put little brother back in his place, wow he was getting annoying! 

Also excited to hear that Fernando Torres will be transferring from Liverpool to Chelsea!

Restaurant Week

Last week was Oakland Restaurant Week and we had a chance to eat at two of the restaurants participating.  First up was Camino.  I’ve been interested in this restaurant for a while, it’s always mentioned with some of the best in the Oakland/Berkeley area and it is right in my neighborhood.  The inside of Camino is very cool, most of the patrons sit at two very long communal tables, but there were some individual tables in the middle too.  The cocktails were fantastic and inventive.  We started with a very good, fresh tasting fennel salad.  The main course was half a Dungeness crab cooked in the wood fired oven, served over endives, sunchokes, and beets.  Although this was messy it had very good flavor and was a little spicy, which I loved!  Dessert was an orange custard with fruit compote, not too sweet and a great ending to the meal.  I really enjoyed my meal here and will definitely be coming back.  My boyfriend wasn’t as crazy about it as I was, I think the portions were a little too small for him and he felt awkward trying to eat the messy crab in a nicer setting.

Next up was Bocanova.  I didn’t know much about this restaurant, but always like to find new places down at Jack London Square.  For restaurant week Bocanova served everything family style so the whole table had to participate.  I think we had a total of seven(!) different courses/plates. Again, the cocktails were very inventive and very tasty! Starting with an appetizer of Peruvian olives and seasoned mushrooms, I dislike both these things but tried them anyway and actually enjoyed the mushrooms. The next appetizer was a lobster and shrimp cocktail, this was also delicious. The main courses were steak with chimichurri sauce, sea scallops, and mashed winter squash. All three of the were amazing! The only unfortunate part was dessert, the menu listed a chocolate bread pudding (which sounded amazing), but we were served pineapple and kiwi empanadas. These were good, but the bread pudding sounded better. This restaurant totally impressed me, I didn’t expect it to be that good!  Our whole group really enjoyed the meal, and I highly recommend this place as a change of pace from the seafood restaurants at Jack London Square.

Next time I talk about a restaurant I'll try and have better descriptions of the food, hopefully what the menu actually said instead of me making up what I thought it said.