May in the Bay

Erin’s friend Cara and her husband Mike recently had a baby girl whom they named Harper almost 4 months ago.  Erin has been itching to get out there and see her “niece” since she was born.  We made it happen last week and made our way to San Francisco (Richmond, mostly) from Wednesday evening through Sunday morning May 22-26.  
Harper living the active baby lifestyle
When we arrived at the Oakland airport, Mike, Cara, and Harper were all waiting to take us down to the In-N-Out Burger.  Although we don’t go every time we go out west, we almost do.  If you are wondering why, it is because “those are good burgers, Walter.” 
“Some Burgers, some beers, a few laughs…”
On Thursday morning Cara and I went to pick up coffee for everyone at Peets (yummy).  Once we got those down, we decided on some pastries from La Farine Bakery.  Following some great early morning conversation, Cara took us to Enterprise so we could pick up our little, white, four-door, Toyota Yaris for the weekend.  The Yaris provided a lovely drive over the Bay Bridge and up to Santa Rosa where we stopped at Russian River Brewing Company where we spent over two hours.

Erin and I ordered a sampler and the Nu Deal with added garlic from the pub menu. They had an amazing selection of IPAs including one brewed with 100% Simcoe hops called “Row 2, Hill 56.”  Their Blind Pig IPA and Pliny the Elder were also fantastic.  Of their wild ales, I found Supplication to be my favorite followed closely by Consecration and Sanctification.  With a BeerAdvocate rating of 98, Russian River is considered a “World-Class” brewery.

To kill some time before dinner and to let our lunch and noonday beers settle, we checked into our hotel in Healdsburg.  Erin wouldn’t let me take a nap, so we headed to downtown Healdsburg to get a coffee first at  Flying Goat Coffee.  Erin ordered an Aztec Mocha which was spicy and delicious.

We decided to try some wine, so we stopped in at the Hawley Tasting Room & Gallery.  John Hawley has come to Kirksville a time or two to do wine tastings at the country club.  Since we had tasted and enjoyed Hawley wine before, we thought we would stop in to their location in Healdsburg to say hello.

Hawley Tasting Room & Gallery

An FFA parade was about to roll through town to kick off the Memorial Day weekend, so we got ourselves some very coveted seats right inside the open windows of Windsor Vineyards Tasting Room.  We were able to see most of the parade from there while having a flight of wine and then selecting a bottle of Carignane to enjoy.  

By the time we made it to Bear Republic we were both warm and fuzzy all over.  We ordered a sampler and the Mega Roasted Garlic, which was described as “Gilroy Elephant garlic, roasted in olive oil, white wine and herbs. Served with brie, green apples, roasted red peppers and crostini.”  We get really pumped about our food.  I can’t remember what I got as a main course.  I barely touched it.  Back at the hotel, I almost passed out while it was still light out.  Maybe I was still suffering from jet lag.

On Friday, I slept all the way back to Mike and Cara’s while Erin drove.  They took us to Viks for lunch which served South Indian food.  I had some Masala Dosa, and Erin ordered Aloo Tikki Cholle and Samosa Cholle.  If this place was in Kirksville, it is possible it could survive on Erin’s and my business alone.

After lunch, Mike took over some babysitting duties (thanks, Mike) and Cara joined Erin and me to go sailing in the Bay.  We met Erin’s aunt and uncle (Mary Jo and Jim) at their condo in Point Richmond.  They were taking us with them for their first sailing outing of the year.  None of us had been sailing before, so I went to school.  I learned a lot and could see myself easily getting into something like this.

Even though we had some beers on the sailboat, sailing did make us ravenous.  We said our thank yous and good byes (a postcard will also be sent their way: Thanks Mary Jo and Jim) and headed back to pick up Mike and Harper to go to dinner.  They took us to Talevera Cafe in Berkeley.  I had Lamb Barbecoa and Erin had Mole Guajillo.  If you can’t tell, it made us very happy.

Mmmmmmm….. Foooooooood.
Saturday morning found us traveling down to the Ferry Building and the farmer’s market.  I picked up some post cards to send out and enjoyed a veggie spring roll.  We found some beer to drink that afternoon (Rodenbach Grand Cru and Sculpin IPA).  After taking these great photos next to the Ferry Building, we walked to Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. 

Tony’s opened at noon, and we got there a little before.  We found a line going down the block in anticipation of it opening.  Yes, it was that good.  Cara ordered her favorite fries to share, the Lillet Blanc Fries which had smoked pancetta, honey, and parmigiano.  We also ordered a small Margherita Pizza (wood fired at 900 degrees) and a large New Yorker (coal fired at 1000 degrees).  I had a pint of 90 Minute Dogfish Head IPA to go along with this taste bud orgy.  
Cara and the Lillet Blanc Fries
Mike teaching Harper all about Tony’s

Margharita and the New Yorker (with 90 Minute IPA)
Erin and I found it funny that Mike and Cara didn’t think we would finish all of the pizza.  Indeed, we consumed it all.  There was nothing left.  This is the Shaw way.  We walked back to the car and were going to spend some time at The Trappist, but Harper got us kicked out.  So, we went back to Mike and Cara’s for the drinking of the Grand Cru and Sculpin IPA.  
This was so fucking good. 
I’m not sure how this was possible, but we got hungry again.  To enjoy Sichuan Fusion in the best way possible requires a large table with the rotating table server in the center.  Thus, Mike invited their most excellent neighbors Kyle and Brandy to join us.  We dined Indiana Jones style.  I can’t tell you what we ordered exactly, but when going from one plate to the next and even back again, each dish that I tasted was my new favorite.  I’m not sure how that was possible, but it happened. 

What a fun trip.  Mike, Cara, and Harper were such great hosts.  They said we were good guests, too, and that we should come again sometime.  Hopefully they meant it, because we totally will be.   

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