I haven’t been that great about updating my blog as of late, I know. I’ve actually been looking around and am mostly sure that I’m going to migrate my blog and stuff to my mac mini that I’ve set up as a web server. Everything should be smooth if I do it before I fill up the 1 gig I get on livejournal with a free account. Anyhoo, back to the subject at hand.

2 YEARS! (well a few days more than that now) That’s how long me and my sweetie have been together. We cashed in some credit card points and found some good deals and were able to coordinate a long weekend trip to San Francisco to celebrate (do we celebrate in style or what?). It will probably be pretty picture intensive, so get ready for a super post about our trip! We tried to diligently record our foods, but admittedly slacked on our wine documentation, but hopefully my sister will forgive me. ;-)

Saturday

Because MC couldn’t take too many days off work, we decided to leave saturday morning to head out to San Fran, but we still wanted to get there early enough to take advantage of the day. So here’s a funny factoid. Thursday night I went to bed a little after 2 AM. On Friday night, I set my alarm for 2 AM. Good times. :-) So we were out the door by 3 AM to head to Jacksonville (tickets are way more expensive out of Tally) to make sure we had plenty of time to make our early flight. Needless to say it was a helluva way to start the trip, but I think it was worth it even if it resulted in some sleepy travelers.

All our flights went according to plan (a rarity nowadays with the airline industry) and got to San Francisco safely. Hopped in a cab and it was to our snazzy hotel we went!

One of the first things on our agenda was some wedding dress related stuff, which just happened to take us down 6th street (i.e. the land of the homeless). We still made it unaccosted and since I, obviously, cannot really participate in such activities I found ways to entertain myself while MC did her thing.

 

On a side note, I had heard of a site called Yelp that has many user reviews of restaurants and many other things. I had never really looked into it, but thought it sounded kinda interesting (and MC’s friend Maria is a higher up for them and, thus, a very active user) so I had installed the app on my phone. I thought it might come in handy in San Fran so I actually created an account and tried it out. I must say it was frickin’ awesome. Seeing a list of restaurants near us and all the user reviews lead us to some pretty snazzy places. The first of which was our first lunch at Saffron 685. It was a little Mediterranean place that got good reviews so we thought we would try it out and boy was that the right decision to make!


After lunch we meandered back to the hotel to actually get settled in a little bit and rest before dinner. Another service that I employed a lot this trip was the Google Maps app on my phone. Unfortunately, in the process of meeting Anna, Aaron, Wil, and Kristen for dinner, we discovered that looking at the elevation change when planning a walk through San Francisco could be a helpful thing. Turns out that the first 8 blocks of the walk to Rogue (a type of satellite of the Oregon-based brewery, one of my favorites) was pretty heavily uphill. We eventually made it and enjoyed some good beers and good company. From there, we headed to Vesuvio to partake in a few more adult beverages. It was down by a pretty active strip including, according to Wil, the first topless (then first bottomless) strip club in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

We enjoyed the odd coincidence that Wil and his lady friend happened to be visiting at the same time we were. I was beginning to think Kristen didn’t really exist. ;-)


It had been a long day (approaching the 24h mark), so we bid the group adieu after drinks and hit the sack hard.

Sunday

Our actual anniversary! We made it two whole years! (and hopefully many many more to come) To celebrate we decided to do a wine tour through Napa. It made for a kinda early morning (we’ll sleep when we’re dead, right?) but it was going to be a full and fun day of sampling some wines! While most of you know that I’m more of a beer guy, I was still interested in learning a little more and trying some new things. We wanted to get a little food in our tummies before we set off so we hit up the Yelp! machine and found Daniel’s Cafe.

It was perfect and I had an amazing croissant to start off the day! We caught a taxi to the origin of our wine tour, hopped on, and began enjoying the views!

Though they have a lot of fog, we still caught a nice skyline…

and a good ol’ San Franciscan tunnel.

Seeing acres upon acres of vineyards was definitely impressive! Especially when you began to notice the variety and the guide described all the little nuances in how they were set up and how it affected the grapes and, thus, the resulting wines.

Interspersed amongst the vineyard lands were many wild mustard plants. If I remember correctly, they are nitrogen rich plants and helped keep the soil fertile.

Our first stop was Domaine Chandon where they produced many sparkling wines. It was the only place that we got a full tour of and it was quite the facility!

 

We learned that the real difference between champagne and sparkling wine is just the region from whence it comes. If it doesn’t come from the Champagne region in France, it really shouldn’t be called a champagne. I also learned that Extra Dry is sweeter than Brut and we learned about the origin of the term Brut. Basically the British wanted a dryer sparkling wine than the French were giving them and, being the #1 consumer of French sparkling wine, the French thought they would try to appease them (much to their displeasure I’m sure). So in the process of creating sparkling wines, sugar is added for the second fermentation. For the British, the French excluded this sugar addition resulting in a much dryer sparkling wine. The term “brut” comes from the French for “unfinished,” which is how they regarded this British favorite. Anyhoo, this turned out to be my favorite stop on the tour. Not just because I tend to like sparkling wines more than regular ones, but our tourguide was pretty entertaining as well!

All of these areas were beautiful, and we continued to perfect the art of self-portraiture.

On the way to the next winery, I had been noticing some interesting propeller type objects out in the vineyards. Luckily, our tour guide was on top of it and explained that they are set to start up at a certain temperature and humidity and basically circulate the air around the grapes when it starts getting chilly. This protects them by giving them an extra few degrees before frost settles on them, which can really affect the grapes (who knew grapes were so sensitive?).

Our next stop was the V. Sattui Winery. This was also our lunch stop (sorry no pics, we were hungry!). The food was super scrumptious, though nothing too fancy (except the wide selection of cheeses that had MC mesmerized).

Our “wine mistress” (as the tour guide called them) wasn’t the friendliest, but it was still a fun tasting. MC had her first port (not a fan) and a syrah that (I believe) was her favorite wine of the trip. If only they had told us while we were there that to order it from them you must order a minimum of 6 bottles. Geesh! It was still a pretty cool property and good experience.

On the way out we stopped to watch the Napa Valley Wine Train pass by…

then it was off to the Black Stallion Winery.

It was built on some old horse stable grounds and had a pretty small output compared to the others we visited. Another interesting thing was that this winery seemed to talk more than the others about the various accolades and awards which they had recently received. This was especially interesting because this was by far and away our least favorite of the tour (and not just because we had already had a lot of wine. It got beat out easily by the fourth and final winery). Though unimpressive, it was still a very interesting experience. From there it was off the Andretti Winery (yes, of Mario Andretti the super awesome race car driver).

The wines there were pretty good and the guy who served us was entertaining, but I don’t think there was anything that particularly caught our fancy (except another nice photo op).

The Andretti Winery was our final winery and, honestly, MC and I were pretty happy to hop on that wine tour bus!

We were both a little wine’d out so I think it would have been hard for us to enjoy it had their been many more stops. The bus took us to the ferry stop so we got a little different scenery on the ride home. We saw the Golden Gate bridge (which we had driven over on at the beginning of the tour) through the fog and got a pretty good view of Alcatraz as well.

Even though it was a long day, we were looking forward to a nice romantic anniversary dinner. After talking to the wine tour guide we decided to check out the Hayes Street Grill. It was a little pricey, but the food was pretty darn good.


It was a wonderful evening with my sweetie and a great ending to a great 2 year celebration.

Monday

This morning Yelp! steered us to the Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery and it was SUPER good!


MC’s
Mine


By this point in the trip, we had logged many hilly miles around San Francisco and MC wanted to ride the cable car, so we moseyed to the nearest stop and hopped aboard!

We took it all the way to the end of the line, just short of Fisherman’s Wharf.

After checking out some of the local merchants, we decided to take a walk over towards Pier 39 to really get into something touristy. And boy were we not disappointed! We thought about checking out the aquarium, but 15 bucks a head was a little steep. We did get to visit a good friend of ours though!

We checked out some of the various shops in the area, then decided to see if the sea lions were hanging out that day (it wasn’t too cold, but with clouds and lots of wind it got cool in a hurry!) Sure enough, they were lounging about as always and even putting on a little performance for MC and me.

Since we had a coupon that we acquired after buying our souvenirs, we decided to check out the Fog Harbor Fish House for lunch. We decided to keep it pretty simple and enjoyed a nice view of the waterfront while we dined. From there we walked over to the famous Ghirardelli Square!

We had an awesome ice cream spread that included some obligatory Ghirardelli chocolate and it was, of course, delectable.

We then we decided we needed to burn some of those calories by hiking up some more hills! Did I mention that you can have a little fun with the panorama mode on many cameras?

We made it to the top of the crazily curvy and crooked Lombard Street (second in crookedness only to Wall Street, according to our wine tour guide) and crooked it was!

Luckily there was a cablecar stop nearby so we were able to catch that to get us the rest of the way back to the hotel. After a little regroup, we decided to hit some of the nearby shopping then rested a little before walking to the “French Quarter” (i.e. one street).

There we were meeting back up with Anna, Aaron, Wil and Kristen for dinner at a fancy French restaurant, Plouf. I had a ginger encrusted sablefish that was one of the most interesting dishes I have had in a long time (in a very good way). It wasn’t just ginger, but similar to gingerbread that coated the fish resulting in a very interesting amalgam of flavors. Old man Wil was getting a little beat so we bid him and Kristen farewell and headed to a bar for a few more drinks with Aaron and Anna. We had a long travel day the next day so we wrapped things up and headed back to the Hilton for a final night of San Francisco rest.

Tuesday

Tuesday we got up, again sampled some croissant from the nearby Daniel’s Cafe, then hopped in our snazzy Lincoln (that we didn’t know the hotel would have available for less than the cost of a cab) to head to the airport. Goodbye San Francisco!

All-in-all it was an amazing trip and an amazing way to celebrate two years with an amazing girl. If only we had the money to have trips like this more often. Perhaps one day! ;-) Happy 2 years my love!

Final shot courtesy of Wilson Onstott