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is this a rerun?

No, it’s not a rerun… it’s just my weekend.

sunrise on the way to the airport

Less than a week after I had returned from California, I was headed right back to the Golden State. It wasn’t a business trip, it was purely for fun and I had Jeremy as my traveling companion. The priorities were: wine country, San Francisco, great food, seeing good friends (we’d have to stay a year to see everyone!), some rest and relaxation for Jeremy, and something important I needed to do.

mexican taqueria in bezerkeley with my buddy figs (cindy)

caffeine and cupcakes in healdsburg


cannelรฉs at the healdsburg downtown bakery

Having visited both the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, I like the Sonoma side. It is less foofie and the landscape is less manicured, which I prefer. I also loathe the traffic in Napa Valley. This is definitely my favorite time to visit wine country, because the leaves are turning and the weather is cool enough for me to feel comfortable instead of overheated (and angry). My friends always get a chuckle when I say hot weather makes me cranky, but for anyone who loves cool weather – you totally know where I’m coming from. It was delightfully cool and sunny – perfect weather for wine tasting and raiding all of the bakeries we could find.

maples were turning red

i can’t resist the red leaves…

a red-tailed hawk at the farmer’s market (sonoma wildlife rescue center)

i try to stretch fall out as much as possible

fiery reds

and some plump grapes on the vines that had yet to be harvested

We didn’t avoid Napa entirely though. A few months ago, I contacted some friends and asked if they were interested in getting together for dinner someplace. Non-planners would let that go through the spin cycle several times, but MY friends were completely on top of it and nabbed a reservation at Ad Hoc faster than you could sprint 100 meters. We met up with Chuck and Hungry Bear to check out the cupcakes at Sift first before the four of us headed up to Ad Hoc. Mmmm cupcakes… moist, not too sweet, good crumb, great flavors. We didn’t sample any of our cupcakes until later though, because I wanted to save room for dinner.

vanilla and vanilla

chocolate something or other, pumpkin, pink champagne, and lemon

We were joined at the restaurant by Anita and Mike, and Lisa and Shawn. Chuck reserved the big round table, which was perfect for eight people. The food was excellent, but the company was the best.

anita made pumpkin-peanut butter dog treats for kaweah!

starting with baby iceberg lettuce salad (pomegranate, persimmon, pea shoots, green goddess dressing)

food bloggers never dive in

grilled beef short ribs with rice and phenomenal vegetables

extra course: bone marrow with marmalade

barely buzzed cheese (lavender & espresso) and pear-fennel-hazelnut salad

pineapple upside down cake with coconut ice cream

thanks for the etch-a-sketch endorsement, mike!

Jeremy and I were originally supposed to come to California in August to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday (shhhh! don’t tell her I told you her age). We were planning to take my parents to Yosemite, spend time on the Eastern side of the Sierra and then come back to the Bay Area and celebrate with my grandma. But as some of you know, my beloved grandma passed away in May. My mom was very close to her mother. A few weeks after Grandma’s funeral, my mom told me she didn’t want to go to California for her birthday. It was just too painful for her without Grandma there. I understood. But Jeremy and I had already booked our flights, so we rescheduled our trip for the fall and made different plans. Sunday morning, we drove to visit my grandma. It’s the first time I’ve been to see her since I said good-bye in May. It’s a peaceful, beautiful location. Grandma, the pragmatist, picked it with several friends years ago. The granite plaque isn’t in the ground yet, but she’s there – with her pals. It’s so darn cute. This was the most important part of the trip for me.

i picked her favorite colors

We spent the rest of the morning in the city having coffee and catching up with Irvin, Sean (two of the hippest food bloggers I know), and John and Michele (one of the funniest food blog couples I know). Next we were digging into oysters with Lisa and Shawn at Waterbar because Jeremy *really* wanted to try those oysters that I enjoyed the week before. We walked off a small fraction of the calories consumed noodling around the Ferry Building before swinging by Tartine just before they closed. Tartine… I am in love with Tartine. We don’t have bakeries like that here. Earlier in the day, the line was out the door and down the street. We totally lucked out: in and out in ten minutes with sourdough loaf, tartlets, and croissants! When we turned to look back, the line was out the door and down the street AGAIN! And we ended the trip on a fine note – Chinese dinner in Bezerkeley with Chuck and Hungry Bear because I told them I’m obsessed with Peking Duck. So good.

irvin and sean – the coolest cats

i love john and michele

he wanted oysters, so we got oysters ($1 each!)

seared scallops: the winning plate at lunch

peking duuuuuuuuuuuuuck!

salt and pepper prawns, pea shoots, braised pork belly, eggplant

San Francisco is a terrific city – probably one of my favorites (Seattle being the other), but I’m not a city mouse… It’s like a day at Disneyland and then I’m pretty much done with the density of people, traffic, buildings, noise, lines, waiting, stress. Don’t laugh, but even wine country was a little too much people for me! Jeremy and I determined on the flight home that the ideal trip is to backpack and then hike out and spend a day in the city as a reward. Perhaps. But for now, my travels are mostly done for the year and I’m looking forward to skiing, cooking, working, and just being home in Colorado.

21 nibbles at “is this a rerun?”

  1. Jess says:

    Autumn is so gorgeous!

  2. April was in CT now CA says:

    I cannot convey my excitement over this post enough, for realz. We were just in Healdsburg on Sunday (rainy, rainy Sunday) and now I can’t wait to go back and get a canneles, which until I googled what it was I didn’t even know existed and now can’t live without. We’re still getting our bearings after moving to this area and I pretty much squeal when I see a place near by for us to try.

    The thought of going to SF sort of gives me hives because I’m no city mouse either, but I know I should take advantage of living so close to it while we’re here. Thanks for sharing your beautiful touch with a camera, I’m always in awe!

  3. Linda says:

    I really know what you mean about getting angry in the heat. I warn people about it. And the older I get, the meaner I get about it!

    Oh, Jen, I don’t know which pictures I like most; the food or the red leaves. Your photos are so, so touchingly beautiful. Sometimes they make me gasp in delight. I think this was your calling; this and food blogging…8-) I love your recipes, and now that my Turmeric has come from, I can make the Dal. I shop mostly online due to my spine and hip joint deciding they don’t like me anymore.

    I can’t wait for the next pictures and recipes. I am addicted.

  4. Dennise says:

    Love your site. The way you write and your picture are the best. It’s like I’m there with you.Thanks so much.

  5. Lisa is Bossy says:

    I love Mike and the Etch-a-Sketch!! I knew that’d be a cute pic. Was so great seeing you twice in a week, Jen! And even GREATER seeing Jeremy (who I haven’t seen since last July!) Happy to hear the travel is on pause for a bit. I’m sure Kaweah is happy to hear this as well. Hope we’ll see you in the spring!

  6. Y says:

    Fabulous post! So much to comment on that I don’t even know where to begin. Isn’t it great to go away for a little bit and catch up with friends, then return and find an even greater appreciation for what you already have at home :)

  7. merry jennifer says:

    Oh, what a wonderful trip you must have had. We’ve been to Napa or Sonoma a couple of times, and I am just dying to get back out there. And San Francisco…what a great place on so many levels.

  8. Kristin says:

    I’m always surprised when heat doesn’t make people cranky. Did Cindy give any indication of wanting to start posting on her blog again? Beautiful flowers for your grandma. Hospice is being arranged right now for my 93 year old grandpa, which is making me realize that my beloved grandma might really be mortal, and I might lose her someday. I’m making sure to talk to her often…just wish she didn’t live 8 hours away.

  9. Margie says:

    Welcome back home; I especially loved this post. My daughter often speaks of Healdsburg. It’s one of her favorite spots to visit and where she and J would eventually like to settle. (Daughter M1 ran the half marathon there a few weeks ago.)

    Beautiful fall shots! Our colors are not so spectacular; the drought zapped all the energies this year.

  10. Anh says:

    I’m originally from the Bay Area (born South Bay, studied at Cal), and your beautiful pics make me miss home soo much!

  11. Melissa | Dash of East says:

    Beautiful photos, as always, Jen! Yet another kick in my butt to finally visit California, I can’t believe I’ve never been before. And of course, knowing me, I’m completely adoring the photo of the red-tailed hawk.

  12. cheryl says:

    Your blog is a gem…what joy it brings and how lucky am I to have stumbled upon it.

  13. Connie says:

    I am from Cali but now in Colorado. This post really reminds me of the beauty of fall in Cali. Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures.

  14. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking says:

    I’m sad I missed you in San Francisco — I was there for the second time this weekend, and oh how I love that city! I would’ve loved to meet you. As it is, I loved this post and the recap of your adventures. I’m glad you got to honor your grandma <3

  15. Bev Weidner says:

    GOR.GEOUS. I can’t even move.

  16. Jane M says:

    Your photos are just so drop dead gorgeous – and your travels I’m envious of. AAAAH – hopefully once we get out from under tuition payments we’ll have a little extra cash in our pockets! so for now I’ll just drool over your photos.

  17. Debbie says:

    Such beautiful pictures….I could just look at your pics all day. When you mentioned your grandma I remembered the pics that you had posted of her. From her pictures she always looked absolutely sweet and adorable. Grandma’s and grandpa’s always have a special place in our heart.

  18. laura h says:

    Do you have a suggestion for a decent slr camera that’s not as expensive as your beaut?

  19. kathleen says:

    Ahhhh, I am reliving my honeymoon through your wonderful photos! We were in Sonoma, Napa & San Francisco around this time of year just two years ago, eating & drinking our way around the area……

  20. Jeanaq says:

    ahh Peking Duck! love love love! <3 Was the Chinese restaurant The Great China?? They have THE best Peking Duck in Berkeley! and all the maples are gorgeous! It makes me miss fall weather because FL doesn't have any!

  21. jenyu says:

    April – feel free to email me if you want some recommendations for places to go around the area!

    Linda – that’s incredibly sweet of you to say :) Thank you and I hope you like the dal!

    Dennise – thank you.

    Lisa – I really do hope we’ll see you guys in the spring xxoo

    Y – so very true :)

    MJ – it’s sort of magical out there, huh? xo

    Kristin – well, Cindy’s daughter is now a tweener and so Cindy is extra careful not to divulge too much anymore on the blog. She may pick it up again, she may not. She has great recipes on there though (and she’s hilarious). Grandparents are precious. My grandma was my last one.

    Margie – Healdsburg is indeed a lovely town. Not sure I could live there, but it is really wonderful to visit. Bummer about the colors :(

    Melissa – I can’t believe you’ve never been before either! Git on it, girl! ;)

    cheryl – thank you!

    Connie – you’re very welcome.

    Julie – ah well, there is never time to meet with everyone and of course, this trip was more for Jeremy than for me.

    Jane – thank you. I really do hope you get to go and visit. It’s a great place!

    Debbie – yes, so true! :)

    laura h – I own three Nikon bodies and they range from relatively inexpensive to ridiculously expensive. Most dSLRs these days are decent. If you want an entry level camera, you have plenty to choose from (Nikon or Canon, either way you can’t go wrong). I suggest reading reviews on and going into a store to play with some of the models to see what feels right.

    kathleen – how fun!

    Jeanaq – yes, it was! Pretty good duck, although I’ve had good duck in the south bay too :) California rocks!

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