[UPDATE: Some of you commented that you had some trouble seeing the photos, so I reloaded all of them. Please let me know if you can see them now...]
Wow--my trip to San Francisco has absolutely flown by. My friend Kelly and I fly home later today, and then Monday it's back to work. And every minute that we've been here has been just amazing. It's hard to think about going back to daily life after a week like this...
I wanted to do some blogging while I was out here but of course, I've been playing so hard that I've either been too busy or too exhausted most of the time. But I've thought a lot about blogging and I've taken lots of pictures to share. So sit back and get ready for a long post!
Our friend Kevin, whom we came out to visit, actually lives not in San Francisco but in the city of San Mateo, just to the south (though he's moving back to Atlanta in just a little over a month). So we spent a few days actually in the city of San Francisco, and the rest of the time we traveled around the area seeing other places, and hanging out in San Mateo a fair bit too. The first day after Kelly and I got here, last Friday, we went into San Francisco and walked around Fisherman's Wharf, down by the bay.
The bay was a spectacular sight, as was the view of the city behind it. We spent several hours just walking around the area, taking it all in.
And we took a break for Irish coffee (mine without cream, of course).
Many of you suggested that I try to make it to Millennium while I was here. Kelly and Kevin were open to the idea, so we headed there for dinner last Friday night.
The outside décor was nothing too fancy...
And the inside was low-key as well... and charming at the same time. All of us commented on these chandeliers, which somehow dressed up the room even in their simplicity.
We started off with some cocktails...
And we shared an appetizer, the Red Quinoa Timbale.
Each of us ordered a different entrée, and we all intended on trying each other's. It turned out that we all liked everything so much that we pretty much ended up sharing all three plates. Kevin ordered the Grilled Achiote Spiced Smoked Tempeh, which was sweet and spicy, with the flair of Latino cuisine.
Kelly's plate was the Erbette Chard Roulade, a French-inspired plate with toasted baguette slices filled with a tofu ricotta and cashew-chard "Florentine," on a bed of puy lentils.
I chose the Seared Edamame and Shiitake Cakes. The flavor of the fresh veggies on top played nicely off of the richness of the coconut-lime base.
Though we were quite satisfied after our meal, we still managed to share a dessert--the Chocolate Almond Midnight, a rich chocolate mousse cake with an almond cashew crust. This was a nice, sweet finish to our visit to Millennium. The waiter let me keep a menu, a great souvenir of the evening.
On Saturday we went hiking through Muir Woods... so no exciting food stories. But I did get to see some amazing redwood trees.
No photo, of course, can do justice to these spectacular trees, rugged survivors through hundreds of thousands of years of the history of the earth.
There were all sorts of wildflowers to be seen. These California poppies were among the most vibrant flowers I've ever encountered.
On Sunday we took it easy. We went down to the Stanford University campus and lay around in the sun for awhile. And we ate brunch at a cafe called Hobee's.
I had the Seven Veggie Medley, a vibrant dish of fresh veggies and tofu in a mildly spicy curry sauce.
On Monday evening we went down to the beach at Half Moon Bay, a straight shot west from San Mateo. I just love the ocean, and I had never seen the Pacific before.
Needless to say, it was fantastic.
The shore was wreathed by steep, rugged cliffs which were carpeted with these amazing, anemone-like flowers, that came in varying colors from pale yellow to deep fuchsia.
The sand along the shore was disturbed more by the footprints of seabirds than of people.
Tuesday we went up to Sonoma County... wine country. It was a cool, rainy day, not terribly conducive to taking photos.
Still, I did manage to get a few at each of the vineyards where we stopped. In particular, we took a walk through the viticulture garden at one of the vineyards, where I saw young wine grapes just beginning to bud on the vine. I believe this is a Merlot vine, but I can't remember for certain.
Wednesday while Kevin was at work, Kelly and I went on a short drive down Highway 1 along the coast. We started at Half Moon Bay and drove about an hour south to Santa Cruz... stopping often to soak up the incredible views.
We stopped for lunch in Santa Cruz, where we found this incredible falafel restaurant tucked away down one of the side roads.
I loved the message on this sign on the wall above the trash can. So, so true...
I got a sampler plate. The baba ganoush had yogurt in it, but the girl at the restaurant was happy to sub some dolmas for the non-vegan baba. The food was fabulous.
Thursday, Kelly and I went back to wine country. We both really love wine, and Kevin had some coupons for some free tastings, which he was happy to give us. One of the tastings was at an organic vineyard, and the first biodynamic winery in California. That was pretty interesting... though I would love to read more about the process of wine-making and its environmental impact. I have to admit that I'm not too knowledgeable on the topic.
At least as exciting as tasting the wine, though, was taking in the views of the vineyards throughout the valleys.
Yesterday was our last day to get out and see the city, so we headed back into San Francisco...
Though not before having lunch at Cafe Soulstice, a raw vegan restaurant right here in San Mateo.
In keeping with our custom, we shared several different items, starting with these nori rolls filled with fresh veggies and a "salmon" pâté.
We also shared the Nachos Rancheros...
And this fabulous sampler platter, which featured among other things some sunflower falafels, walnut hummus, and another taste of the pâté.
In the city we did what any visitor to San Francisco has to do at some point--we went for a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was pretty neat to see this landmark structure from this perspective.
But what was even more striking, to me, was the view of the bay and of the city.
Walking put us in the mood for ice cream, so we stopped in at Maggie Mudd, another spot that many of you recommended.
I was blown away by the extensive menu of dairy-free ice cream choices, and I had a difficult time choosing just one.
In the end, though, I settled on the Tarmack, a soy-based chocolate ice cream studded with peanut butter swirls and cookie chunks. Kelly chose a coconut milk-based flavor, the Dubliner, which I happily sampled.
And in just a couple of hours, I will be on the way back home. It's kind of sad to leave... but I've had so much fun here that I know I will be back out to the west coast again as soon as I have the opportunity. Thanks for sticking with me through this long, long post. I'll be back to blogging as usual in a few days... and another installment of my Atlanta Vegan Living series is coming soon. Cheers!