60 hours in San Francisco

Before I embarked on a two week tall ship training program, I spent the weekend with a dear friend of mine in San Francisco. I’ve never been a big fan of California, but then again my only real exposure to it has been Los Angeles (gag) and the Cali transplants that are taking over Seattle. Not the best impression. I had no idea how I would end up falling head over heels for The Golden Gate City…but then again, it was probably because I had the best local to show me all the things I would fall in love with. All the feelings.

Brooks and I met back in college and we’ve kept in touch over the years. He’s basically the extreme male version of me. I say extreme because he does everything to the nth degree. Always up for an adventure, says yes to just about anything, gets excited about everything, and loves life. So naturally, he planned the perfect weekend for me full of adventure, nature, and of course food. I mean look at this smiley face and twinkly eyes. How could you not love it?

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I arrived early on a Friday evening just as Brooks was wrapping up work at OpenTable…where he basically works on designing platforms for user experiences when using OpenTable services. Most of us in Seattle use OpenTable to make reservations at restaurants, but it turns out, in a true foodie city, OpenTable is used by restaurants for all types of restaurant management and organization. That’s the extent this technology-impaired girl could comprehend, but if you’re interested in learning more, an awesome article came out just before my visit highlighting Brook’s work. 🙂

Transportation

I couldn’t believe how easy transportation was in San Fran. It was definitely dated, but it was infinitely better than Seattle’s. As someone who works in transportation, I’m always so amazed how far behind Seattle is in these things. I know Seattle is young compared to most cities, but still…for the amount of technology and innovation that comes from our city…you would think the transportation would catch up too. But getting from the airport to the business district was a sinch for the lovely price of $8 (probably much cheaper than an uber or cab). A quick exit from the airport onto the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and 40 minutes later I arrived in the business district. When I came above ground and had my first real peak at the city, I felt similarly to my first time in New York coming out of the subway system. Except, instead of being blinded by the neon lights and flashing screens of Times Square, I was surrounding by the soft twinkling lights and triage of beautiful ornate buildings. Basically a super tall version of Pioneer Square. The buildings were charming, historically ornate in structure, but decked out with all the modern features such as floor to ceiling windows and other shiny things. 🙂 And of course, TONS of people walking about. To me, it was the more charming version of New York City.

A quick tour around the office (which was SO COOL), and off we went!

Samovar

All the food. It’s so good. San Francisco is a known mecca for foodies. With five Michelin star restaurants are around every corner…I have a feeling there were more good food places around than not good food places. Anyhow, my first meal in SF ended becoming a great feast! Brooks took me to his favorite tea spot, Samovar (in Castro…there are three apparently and each are a little different).

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We snagged the window nook, pillows and all where we were able to curl up and lounge with some great teas and great food.

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Our server snagged this series of photos of us as he tried to walk us through different modeling scenarios. He was amazing.

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We started with the Masala Chai ($5.75…just like in India! Cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black tea, whole milk, raw cane sugar ) and California Persion ($10…Black tea, cardamom, orange peel, rose petals, bergamot, jasmine). As with any tea house, the options are endless and I tried to keep it as simple as possible. We let our server take care of the tea service.

The food was fantastic. While we certainly ate more than we needed to, I didn’t feel gross and overly stuffed. Everything was fresh and light with great flavors. We went for the butternut squash dumplings ($7.50):

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And of course…being me…the cheese plate had to be tried. It was interesting as it came with pickled cauliflower, radishes, and carrots, as well as chutney and lightly drizzled crostini ($16).

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We also got the rice bowl with salmon, poached eggs, and picked veggies ($12) along with the yellow curry with tempeh, hearty vegetables, and basmati rice ($19).

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Just when we thought we couldn’t eat more (except I was really hoping to grab ice cream the Bi-Rite Creamery we walked by earlier)…Our amazing server surprised us with the most refreshing dessert! A chia pudding, with almond and coconut milk, bananas, apples, toasted walnuts, shredded coconut, and honey ($9).IMG_9877

It’s a good thing it was the perfect weather for a nighttime stroll. We were able to walk and digest before we met up with my friend Ashley at another bar.

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Sausilito

Brooks lives in one of the most amazing places in the world. It’s not far off to call it paradise. My first peek at Sausilito was at night, but I knew it was magical. Houseboat upon houseboats, each with it’s own curves and qwirks and Seattle has NOTHING on these unique creations. If you know me at all, you know it is my dream to live on a houseboat in Seattle. But these boats made Seattle house boats look boring. Brooks happens to live in a gorgeous houseboat at the end of the same dock Shel Silverstein lived on. The house was amazing, and I couldn’t wait to see it in the light.

My accommodations were nothing short of magical. I mean look at these captain’s quarters:

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As I curled up that night with a book in hand about the history of the Sausilito houseboats, I was giddy with excitement with what new experiences I knew would come my way.

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The morning light was incredible. I woke up just in time for the sunrise! I was hoping it would come through the porthole, but I suppose I had to settle for the normal windows… 🙂 I mean I could actually see the sun rising, from bed. But of course I went out to enjoy the sunrise, salty sweet air, and morning dew on the deck.

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I couldn’t get over the light in this room. Just gorgeous. After the sun rose, I spent the morning exploring the dock and viewing all the homes I read about the night before. Did you know Alan Watts and Shel Silverstein used to live in Sausilito? Brooks’s home is even on the same dock!

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This is Shel Silverstein’s former home: The Owl. Simply Marvelous.

The other homes were amazing as well:

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My lucky accommodation:

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Then this lovely pup came over to say hello to me and when I stooped lower to pet her, she rolled over like this. Well played dog, well played.

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The Vallejo...an old ferry where Alan Watts lived.

The Vallejo…an old ferry where Alan Watts lived.

Side note, if you don’t know who Alan Watts is…please look him up. He’s one of my favorite philosophers. Hits things right on the head. If you get a chance listen to this recording, in which my friend’s old band, Handful of Luvin’ wrote an arrangement with it, which is awesome. I’m not sure who created the video.

Muir Woods

After an amazing breakfast, Brooks and I gathered our gear for an adventurous day in Muir Woods. I have never seen the redwoods before and who knew it would It would be so close to San Francisco?

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We thought we would be able to squeeze in some rock climbing at the beach, but by the time we arrived, the sun was setting.

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So I bee-lined it for the water before we sat in the back of Brook’s new ride: GuruJeep. It was the perfect way to wrap up an amazing day!

Photo by Brooks Hassig

Photo by Brooks Hassig

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Photo by Brooks Hassig

 

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Photo by Brooks Hassig

 

Having a friend who is a graphic designer means I get some neat photos of me adventuring too! Brooks shared some great photos above.

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Meet: GuruJeep! We is an amazing adventure enabler. 🙂IMG_9995

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If  didn’t know any better, I would have thought Brooks took me on the most amazing date. I can’t imagine what amazingness he thinks up when he actually takes someone on a real date! Yes he’s single ladies… 🙂

We wrapped up the day with more food at a great underground sushi spot, Sushi Time. The sushi was decent, but the atmosphere was great. a small physically underground shop. Reminds me of something you would find in the alley of a place in Japan. The service was fantastic, but I think it was the company I enjoyed more. Catching up with good friends over good food never gets old.

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My last day in Sausilito could not have been more more magical. The sunrises are unreal. Spending your morning jumping off the dock and floating around the bay is one of the best ways to meditate. After a quick shower, we were off to catch a ferry! Brooks took me to the ferry building, just off the ferry dock in San Francisco that is essentially an indoor Pike Place Market. We were on a mission to gather some goodies for the Friendsgiving party he and his roommates would be hosting later that day.

The ferry ride was beautiful and great vantage point to see the bay. The sailboats were calling my name! Would love to come back for a big regatta sometime.

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We may have missed the outdoor farmer’s market, but the Ferry Building did not dissapoint. I had the most overpriced but hands down, best avocado sandwich of my life.

Frog Hollow Farm

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Frog Hollow Farm is everything I love about food. Using a farm to table policy and concept, they create a fantastic menu that appeals to the qualityy, comfort, and healthy parts of my heart (and stomach!). Honestly, I would not have paid $12 for an avocado toast on my own, but Brooks swore by it. I am SO glad I got it because the avocados were the best I’ve ever had. Perfectly ripe with a soft but full body. Oh my gosh it was seriously incredible! I don’t know if all california avocados taste like that, but holy crap, I would move here just to eat that everyday. The garlic bread was to DIE for. Chunks of fresh garlic baked into the bread, the crust was perfectly crisp and the body of the bread was most and not too heavy. It was perfect. The olive oil: wow. Takes me back to Italy and all the olive oil tastings I was lucky enough to participate in. It was simply, delicious. And of course, the salt and pepper was the perfect finish to this. I could’ve eaten 3 more of those orders. I loved it so much. It will certainly be a stop during my next visit.

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Everything from farm foraged mushrooms to cured meats, freshly baked bread, creameries, coffee..the ferry building had it all.

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I decided to contribute an easy appetizer classic. Sliced pears on brie and french bread drizzled with honey.

We picked up the bread from The Acme Bread Company. I decided upon a classic rustic italian loaf. BUt unlike typical italian breads, this was hearty and moist bread with the perfect crunchy crust.

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Next stop was the highlight of my food visit. Cowgirl Creamery. Simply put, it was cheese heaven. Known for their Mt. Tam cheese, which is made in a brie style, we bought plenty of it. I may have picked up some buffalo cheese to snack on while we were cooking too. 🙂 Everything I sampled was delectable. It may be a popular attraction, but it certainly lives up to its name. I may have to try to see if anyone in Seattle sells it.

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Next top: Beekind…I can’t rememember which type we got exactly, but we went for a light Hawaiian floral taste. But they had plenty of others I wanted to get. Everything from chai, lavenders, acacia, and truffle honey. It was allllll yummy.

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The last thing on our list were so fresh pears. We settled for Frog Hollow Farm, and I learned my first food lesson in San Francisco: Don’t buy food without a price listed. Because our four pears cost $16. They were delicious, but I’m not sure if any four pears should be worth $16. I’m beginning to think there is no way I can live in San Francisco because I would never be able to afford anything!

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When we got back to the houseboat, Brooks and I went on an fantastic kayak adventure to the next harbor over to check out the Taj Mahal. I had read about it in the book earlier, and wanted to see the replica Taj Mahal houseboat. I didn’t bring my camera for obvious reason so you get this old video I found so you get an idea of what it was like pulling up to it from the water.

Maybe one day I’ll invest in a GoPro. Anyway, the kayak tour was great. Complete with harbor seals sunbathing at the edge of the marina. Brooks told me they had just returned days earlier, my awe was quickly brought back to reality when we were downwind of them. Oh the fresh air of seals. 🙂

After an hour or so paddling, I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted upon pulling up to the dock, “Hey Sandy! Would you like an apple spice bourbon cocktail?” UH…WOULD I?!

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As the sun began to set, the evening began to unfold with many stories, laughter, tea, and tons of food!

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The main feature of the night was this labor intensive dish: a veggieducken. It’s the vegetarian version of a truducken. Roasted eggplant, herbs, spices, onions, breadcrumbs, and all the things veggies love.

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The night was long but full of many great stories and laughs. I was so sad knowing I had to leave early in the morning. Even if I was going on a great adventure…I knew I was leaving a big chunk of my heart behind. I didn’t know it, but it was just the beginning of my walk to recharge my soul. It was a magical weekend full of new foods, adventures, and friends. My heart was fully inspired, open, and ready for life. I had no idea what I was about to walk into.

Hawaiian Cheiftain, here I come.

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