Thursday, March 24, 2011

Help a Sister out

I am an engineer. My sister is a photographer.  We are about as opposite as you could get.  Although we use the opposite sides of our brain we have some things in common, we are passionate and care a lot about what we do, and always produce quality work.  I can't prove to you that I do good work (hopefully the proof will be when the plant I'm designing finally gets up and running) but I can prove to you that my sister's work is great.  She just opened an etsy shop!  I thinking about getting this picture, love the colors and I think it would look great on a white wall!

Here is the link to her etsy shop:


Browse her photos first and pick one out that you might like:


She's giving a discount to her blog readers:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Beach Blanket Babylon

Love love love love LOVE this show.  This was my third (or maybe fourth) time seeing it and I think it was the best so far.  We decided last minute to attend and bought tickets about an hour and a half before the show started and then waited in line.  Since it is all open seating within the section you purchase, it's a good idea to get in line early so we ended up with pretty good seats in our section. 

The actors were amazing, as always, but the content was quite different from the last time I saw it.  Of course all the political stuff was still there and Meg Whitman (played by a man) was probably one of my favorites.  They did a big thing about the Giants and their World Series Championship, which got a great reaction from the crowd.  All the current pop starts got their due, Katie Perry, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, even the cast of gLee!  Towards the end they did a spin off on Les Miserables to represent the current state of our country.  I found this very amusing, but I guess the average person doesn't know the music/story from Les Miserables as well as I do :)  Luckily, the bf liked the show and thought it lived up to all my hype (this is rare, since I always tend to hype things up too much).

Grand Tavern

We ate at the Grand Tavern a few weeks ago, and I'm just getting around to reviewing it, oops!  I had read about this place in a recent Oakland Tribune article and it sounded like a fun place to try.  The restaurant itself is a little strange because it really seems like you are in someone's house (that happens to have a bar in one corner).  You walk in and it's a long hallway with no hostess stand or anything to let you know that you are in the right place.  But once you are inside it is very cozy, some of the tables have big comfy chairs by the fire, some are side benches or window seats, and some are regular looking dinning room tables.  Since we had a group of 6 we sat at one of these bigger tables.  The service we had wasn't great, but I think our waiter might have just been having an off night and it seemed like everyone else's waiters were more attentive. 

On to the important stuff, the food and drinks!  The drink list was expansive and every drink we ordered was great.  I had a gin drink with sparkling wine and a bunch of other stuff that was very refreshing, and everyone else at our table really enjoyed their drinks.  The food was also great, but since this is more of a bar or gastropub a lot of it was small plates so there was lots of sharing.  The bf somehow found the only thing on the menu that wasn't a small plate, a burger with everything and anything on it.

Apparently it was good, and all of our other small plates were delicious.  I shared some of the ravioli and the crab and artichoke brushetta, bother very tasty and the ravioli was actually a good size serving.  Even though this place it probably more about getting together in a fun setting for some drinks and a snack, it was also a fine choice for dinner.  As we were leaving I noticed a patio out front which would be an awesome hangout place when the weather is warmer, I guess I'll have to go back!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Napa Part 3: Day Two Adventure

This is the final post from our Napa trip, I finally got around to writing it!

We woke up Sunday morning without much of a plan for the day, thinking we might go drive to some wineries and then maybe just head home.  But the bf started thinking and got us heading out the door with a crazy itinerary in hand.

We started the day back at the oxbow public market to buy the cheese from the night before and to see if there was anything else we needed/wanted.  We bought the cheese, then came across the chocolate vendor who makes the Ceja chocolate wine sauce.  We had wanted to get something for Trish (the awesome pourer at Mason) and thought a cute little bottle of wine chocolate sauce would be great.  She was so excited to see us again, and loved the gift!

We then said goodbye to downtown Napa and headed north to hit a few wineries, the first was Frank Family.  The bf had some of this wine at the Pasadena wine festival and that was our main reason for visiting.  The place wasn't super friendly or personal, you had to pay as soon as you walk in and then you go to different stations for each type of wine.  We split the reserve tasting since I wanted to try the sparkling wines and he wanted the reserve reds.  The sparkling wines left much to be desired (and were pretty expensive) so we moved onto the reds.  The reds were good, but it was in a very small room with lots of people and only one pourer crammed into the corner.  A weird experience after all the fun downtown rooms we tasted in the previous day.  Off to our next stop, Chateau Montelena!

For those of you who don't know, Chateau Montelena pretty much put Napa on the map in the 1970s.  I highly recommend the movie Bottle Shock for a quick and fun history lesson (if you remember, we also tried the wine from another winery featured in the movie, Gustavo Thrace, the previous day).  We were a little concerned that the tasting would be similar to Frank Family and not very personal, luckily we were wrong!

The grounds and building were gorgeous, see above, and we decided if it looked too crowded inside we could leave.  Pretty soon after we walked in someone motioned us to head to a back room where they had more tasting areas and we had a pourer just for us!  The tasting fee was expensive ($20) but we split it and felt like we got our money's worth since we got to try bottles that sold for $150.  The wine was great but mostly out of our price range although we did walk out of there with a copy of Bottle Shock signed by Bo Barrett!

Now for the real adventure we headed to the next valley over, Sonoma.  The last time we went wine tasting in Sonoma we LOVED it, and we realized it wasn't too far out of the way and we could get back home just as easy as if we had stayed in the Napa valley.  First pit stop was at the Dry Creek General Store for some lunch.  The sandwiches here are wonderful but the wait can be long, in the end it was worth it and we enjoyed our sandwiches.

The next stop was Dry Creek Olive Oil since the bf is a member of their club.  We got to try all the current releases they have and since he gets a 20% discount we bought a bottle of some cara cara orange infused olive oil that wasn't part of the shipment he got.  The person there recommended we drizzle it over goat cheese which we have since done and it was delicious! The bf also wanted to get a new shirt since his was lost in the great flood of 2010/2011 (a pipe burst in his wall).  When they couldn't find a shirt in his size they gave him the size bigger for free!

The last stop was our favorite winery from our last trip, Hook and Ladder.  I was a little worried that we were thinking too highly of it since it was one of our last stops last time.  It lived up to all our expectations, and since we liked it so much we decided to join their wine club (it's the first one we joined so its kind of a big deal).  We bought three bottles, got a cute reusable carrying case (that we were told fits two bottles and two wine glasses) and were on our way home.

That concluded our Napa adventure, glad I finally got it all written (only 4 weeks late :)