March 22, 2010

California Dreaming

I may not have dropped off the face of the earth, but I did drop temporarily into heaven. My California vacation was just what the doctor ordered and felt like it lasted forever - how often does that happen? I was more relaxed than I've been for as long as I can remember and yes, that involved blowing off a hefty chunk of training, but I think I needed it.

There is no way to truly share my experience out there so I'm going to share the most important things - the restaurants I visited and the food I ate. The dining was phenomenal; there just weren't enough meals in the day for me to try everything I wanted! The wine was truly incredible as well, but it would take weeks to document my experiences there, so here's the eating rundown:


Saturday - Dinner at Bouchon: Oysters, scallops, duck and of course, the signature chocolate bouchon for dessert. Magnificent.

Sunday - Morning snack at Bouchon Bakery, and by snack I mean huge chocolate almond croissant. Brunch at Ad Hoc: Monkey bread, steak and eggs and carrot cake bars. I didn't leave a morsel behind. Dinner at Ad Hoc: Yes, I liked it that much. Smoked trout salad, seared ahi tuna, espresso panna cotta. I shared this meal with two Napa winemakers so it was incredibly fun.

Monday - Another breakfast at Bouchon Bakery, this time a divine bacon cheddar scone. There are not words to describe it.

Lunch - Taylor's Refresher: Bacon cheeseburger and garlic fries. Oh my. Dinner – Redd: Oysters, lobster risotto with meyer lemon, crispy duck confit with foie gras meatballs and spaetzle. Not surprisingly, no room for dessert.

Tuesday - Last breakfast at Bouchon Bakery. I think I shed a tear on the way out. I bought so much it required a small shopping bag! I had a pressed ham and cheese croissant, a bacon scone for the road, an oatmeal cookie with brown sugar and toasted nut goodness and the fuhgettaboutit - a rice crispy treat with a layer of salted caramel on top, all dipped in chocolate with more salt on top. Heaven. I stopped for lunch in the Russian River Valley for more oysters and another trout salad before heading to San Francisco.


Chez Panisse: Pea soup, grilled shrimp, berkshire pork and tiramisu. I've wanted to eat at Chez Panisse for years so it was quite a treat.

Cheeseboard Pizza: I'm a New Yorker and we're pizza snobs, but this was outrageously good. It was a style unlike New York so a totally different experience. I sat in the grassy median in the middle of the street to eat it along with all the other in-the-know patrons. I loved the experience.

Cafe Fanny - Another Alice Waters stop and one of my most favorite places. I felt I could sit there all day ordering small, perfectly made snacks. I had a hot chocolate after my Cheeseboard lunch and returned at breakfast for the poached eggs and some beignets to go.

San Francisco

Hog Island Oysters: We hit this for oyster happy hour to indulge in the $1 oyster special. My friend and I each had two dozen and shared some mussels. This is a happy hour I could go to every day!

Slanted Door: Simply amazing! I had yellowtail sashimi with crispy scallions, cellophane noodles with Dungeness crab and two different types of spring rolls. Both were shrimp and pork, one in a cellophane wrapper and steamed and the other fried, but served with a lettuce leaf wrapper, fresh mint leaves and noodles. You dipped the noodles and roll in the sauce, tore off some fresh mint and then wrapped it all up in a leaf. It was incredibly messy and incredibly fun, a huge explosion of flavors.

Did I train at all? Yes, but barely. I didn’t do anything while in Napa aside from take a one-hour walk around town after our huge Ad Hoc brunch. But when I got back to San Francisco, I did a 45-minute run, which was pure misery aside from the view, a medium swim and then my longest run to date since the injury. I covered 6.12 miles on Embarcadero from the Ferry Building to Aquatic Park and back with some excursions on piers. It gave me a chance to do some sightseeing that wasn’t on the way to a restaurant. And it earned my Slanted Door lunch.

Now that I’m back I’m kicking it into high gear. I feel a little weak from the breaks I’ve taken, but I’ve got a fitness base to build from and I have four months until my first race. I’m not worried and I’m just going to try to enjoy my training and keep some balance in my life.


  1. OH MY!! Good thing you have 4 months to train! Dad.

  2. Sounds yummy; but, come on, you've got to at least tell us your favorite vineyard tour. How about a top ten list of the wines you liked best.

  3. it's good to take a break sometimes - and while on vacation seems like a good excuse. sounds like you took full advantage of the time off :) glad you had a good trip!

  4. So glad you had a good time - you deserved it! The food (and wine, no doubt) sound absolutely divine.



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