Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Very Merry San Francisco Thanksgiving

I know it's been a week from Thanksgiving, but there were so many pictures and videos to upload and so much to write about from my trip! I cannot wait for you to see what's in store!

This Thanksgiving, there was much to be thankful for. My health, my family's (and dog's) health, a nice loving home, lots of friends and family, a high metabolism, and of course, having the resources to fulfill my insatiable appetite and curiosity of new foods and culture.

As usual, I always learn quite a lot about life (and myself) from my trips away from home. I've always known that you grow the most when out of your comfort zone. Vacations and trips of any kind always do that for me. I've come back knowing much more about what I want out of life, who I want around during this journey, and I've figured out who have really stuck with me- even during my worst of times. I spent this entire SF trip with old and new friends, and my Aunty and Uncle who I haven't seen in awhile, but were always just a car ride away from me during my University of San Francisco days. Not to mention, it was stupendous to be back in my college city!!

Simply put, this Thanksgiving trip to SF was an unforgettable one.

As usual, our first meal is a Boudin's Clam Chowder Bread Bowl.

Couldn't be happier.
A warm Hot Cocoa for the chilly weather, bought by the Ice rink in Union Square!

Shopping just hours after landing. Hah!

Gary Danko- If you can get reservations for this place, it's a must. At least once. My parents and I each ordered the 3-course set. You could choose 3 dishes to choose from, from Appetizers to Seafood to Meat and then of course, Dessert. We aren't big dessert fans, so we all skipped dessert to have another savory dish. You could pick 3 appetizers if you really wanted, and they would design it to fit standard meal sizes. Heck, I guess if you love dessert, you could literally have 3 dessert items!

I saw Foie Gras on Yelp, but apparently Foie Gras is banned in California. I guess PETA isn't too happy about force-feeding geese. I was disappointed.

Instead, I highly recommend their Roast Maine Lobster and Risotto with Lobster, Rock Shrimp, Shimeji Mushrooms, and Butternut Squash. The Lobster was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Best I've ever had! The Risotto was deliciously buttery and lobster and shrimp were both cooked perfectly in it as well.

On top of that, we also ordered the $95 Caviar course for all of us to share. It comes out first and fills you up- beware!! By the end of our Caviar and 3 other courses, we were ready to Kanak Attack (fall asleep after eating a heavy meal)!! The Caviar didn't impress me. It was almost too mild, and I could hardly taste any salty flavor. The buttery Blini (toast) was quite delicious. That was the highlight of the caviar!! And, they bring you extra when you run out!

I also saw a selection of Cheese on the menu, but looked past that very quickly. Then, I saw other tables order it and definitely wished I had got that instead. An array of 15 different cheeses are brought to you on a cart. Such a presentation!! Next time I'm ever at Gary Danko again, I'm getting the Cheese Platter!

Gary Danko was quite an experience. I hope all of you have a chance to try it in your lifetime. Although it was midnight by the time we left, it was worth the 3 hour dinner. We were full, happy and ready for a warm bed!

Complimentary from the Chef. Cold Cauliflower Soup. DELICIOUS. Wish this was an item on the menu!

Riesling for all 3 of us

Osetra Caviar


Blini, Creme Fraiche, Caviar.

Risotto with Lobster, Rock Shrimp, Shimeji Mushrooms and Butternut Squash

French Red Pumpkin Soup with Butternut Squash, Apple, Saba and Bacon. Not my favorite. I was debating between this and the Glazed Oysters, and wish I had gotten the Oysters instead. I figured the Chef's Cauliflower Soup was delicious, so this would be equally good as well. Oh well.

Roast Maine Lobster! Small, but SO ONO.

Mom had the Scallops, which she still raves about today.

Seared Filet of Beef with Yukon Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Shallot Marmalade, and Bordelaise Butter

Almond Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Braised Cheeks, Squash PureƩ, Apples, Chestnuts and Brussels Sprouts

Lobster again!

Dessert none of us wanted

Forgot to take a pic of this complimentary mini dessert platter before it was foraged.

Had a chance to snap a pic of this Cheese Platter before we left! AMAZING.

From Gary Danko- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Breakfast Cake for the next morning. So kind.

University of San Francisco- I asked my college friend, Ed, to do two things for me. One, take me back to USF, and second, take me to Napa Valley! We did just that. Here's USF first.

I was sad to see how much the school has changed since four years ago. I didn't recognize much of it. Guess that's where all our $$$ went?

Gorgeous St. Ignatius Church. Always loved looking at this, but took it for granted while up there at school.


The new cafeteria!

What we used to call "Crossroads"

We used to come here for late-night pizza cravings!

Rockband and any video games you want!

New Bookstore

Fireplace is on 24/7

Beautiful day

Old studio

Lou's Sandwiches- Before our trek to Napa Valley, Ed took me to Lou's on Geary for a quick bite. I've always wanted to go to Ike's in the Mission, but this was better than that! I got the Ami-cado, which was delicious. Pastrami, Salami, Avocado, Pepper Jack Cheese, Lou's special sauce on Soft and Sweet Roll. I ate half and saved the other for later. Definitely hit this place up if you haven't before. Such a good value for only $6.79! I don't even think sandwiches here on Oahu run that inexpensive!

Next time, I'm definitely trying their Crab Louie Salad. Saw this being made with LOTS of fresh crab meat!!


Ed ordered the R.B. Mushroom with Roast Beef, Mushroom, Bacon, Cheddar Cheese, Lou's Special Sauce on Dutch Crunch. Another popular sandwich here.

 On our way to Napa Valley!

A gorgeous day on the Golden Gate!

Silverado Trail!

First stop: Rombauer Vineyards

I couldn't get over these beautifully-colored leaves.

Fall is here

2008 Carneros Merlot to start

Bought the Rombauer Zinfandel for home!

Second stop: Beringer for some pictures. They were closing around 3pm that day. Early Thanksgiving for the staff, so we got some great photo ops around the estate. Beautiful winery and vineyard.

What you see driving in

V. Sattui- My favorite winery of them all. We got the most tastes (6) for our $15, and our host was so nice, he even gave us some extra sample tastes for free. I took home three wines from here! V. Sattui doesn't sell their wines in store, so you have to order online or from the winery in Napa. Check out their Gamay Rouge, Moscato (has an effervescent bite to it, which I love!), and also the Madeira which is fortified with Brandy. Really delicious and unique. Could be amazing with a cigar. Not my thing, but just saying...

Triple-fisting Zinfandel, Merlot and Syrah

Mondavi- Last stop. We were tired and drunk by this time.

Hog Island Oyster Co.- After our day of wine tasting, we settled on dinner at Hog Island Oyster Co in Napa. Raw Oysters and some Clam Chowder sounded good to us!

So glad it was a Wednesday! We got Happy Hour prices for our Beer and Pacific Oysters!

Porter was definitely heavy and on the sweet side

Raw Pacific Oysters

Chowder with Manila Clams, aromatic vegetables, bacon, potatoes and cream. THIS WAS AMAZING.

Crabbing in Pacifica

Fisherman's Wharf- Thanksgiving Day. Dazzling.

"Just put the tip in, see how it feels"

Check this video out! This guitarist was amazing. My mom bought two of his CDs that day, and has said they are wonderful. Listen to the whole song. He has a lot of great techniques!

The infamous Bushman! This guy's hilarious.



Calamari and fresh crab meat! Calamari had too much batter and not enough squid!

Thanksgiving Dinner at McCormick and Kuleto's, Ghirardelli Square

Your choice of Salad or Butternut Squash Soup to start

Thanksgiving Meal for $27.99!

Pumpkin Pie for dessert

Sear's Fine Foods- Mom really wanted to try their Swedish Pancakes, so we met my Aunty and Uncle here for Brunch. The pancakes were way too over-hyped for me. I've had better at Boots and Kimo's HERE. I did really enjoy my Seafood Omelette, though. Stuffed with a heaping amount of crab and shrimp and topped with rich Sherry cream sauce. Not to mention, everything else my family ordered looked and tasted scrumptious too! Take a look at my Aunty's Cranberry Apple Salad with a side of Crab meat. WOW.

Before Brunch, starting my morning off with a Starbucks. It was so convenient, located next door to our hotel!

Crab Chowder! A must!

Crab Avocado Sandwich. Amazing as well.

Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberries for everyone to share.

Sear's homemade Corn Beef Hash

Look at the colors on this thing! Cranberry Apple Salad with a side of CRAB MEAT. Crab Meat optional/side order. They should add this to their menu!

Fruit bowl

Seafood Omelette

Fluffy eggs, lots of cheese, creamy sauce, LOTS of crab and shrimp!!! Can't get any better than that!

Macy's Tree Lighting in Union Square

Macy's Tree Lighting recorded!!

Midnight on Black Friday. Macy's MADNESS. Look at that line. Wrapped around the block and took about 3-4 minutes to get everyone inside.

Sushi Boat. Check my original post here. Sushi pics look good, but Sushi Boat fell short this time. I guess it has lost its appeal. Avocado in the first pic was hard as a rock. Yuck.

Jones- My friend is the bartender here, so I had to check it out. Great place for drinks with friends. I love the design and lighting. If I lived in the city, it would be my place to drink and socialize! The place is huge- 3 bars- 2 inside and 1 outside. And the best part? Lots of unique, delicious drinks you can only get there. Watch the bartender make your drink too. Really fun! As for the food? That's for next time I'm there!

PS- I love the unisex bathroom with a huge faucet in the middle. You have to see it for yourself. So trendy!

"Drunken Pear"- Plymouth Gin poured over fresh ginger and pear slices, simple syrup, and lime juice.

"San Frantastic"- Belvedere Orange Vodka, Aperol Liquer, muddled Strawberries, lemon juice and a dash of sugar. Look at the name- My favorite, but of course.

"Peach Hat"- Orange Belvedere Vodka, Peach Liquer, fresh lemon juice topped with pillowy egg whites.

"Kensington Zinger"- Tanqueray, house-made ginger jalapeno syrup, along with lemon juice and ginger beer. My favorite part of this was the ginger beer. Just by itself. Hah. This was way too spicy for my liking. The spice hit you in the back of your throat.

My favorite was still the San Frantastic.

King of Thai- Amazing late night (and day time) Thai food at great prices! This was a favorite of mine during college. I lived on this and splurged on this any time I could. Craving after 4 years, satisfied!

Pad Thai with Shrimp

Yank Sing- 49 Stevenson location. Whenever my parents have visited, I have met them here for lunch. For old times sake and tradition, we took a taxi here for our last meal in SF before heading home. Unfortunately, it wasn't as we expected or remembered. It didn't seem to "wow" us as it had in the past. I'm still enthralled by the "museum" teapot, though. A gorgeous piece of accouterment.

Stuffed Mushrooms

I loved these Xiao Long Bao or Shanghai Dumplings. I could have just eaten two of these baskets and been happy. The best I've had was at Joe's Shanghai in NYC. A must try.

Siu Mai and Shrimp dumplings

Museum Teapot filled with yummy Jasmine Tea

Hom Sui Gok

Dad had to have his Crispy Noodle

Colorful dessert cart

Came out warm. So fresh!

Peking Duck for Dad and I!

Our GREAT hotel! Sir Francis Drake. Thank you Jeremy!!

The end of our trip...

I had to stop in this store at SFO. I had to get some Giants paraphernalia before I left!

Incredibly sad to leave

Leaving on a beautiful day in San Francisco. The best way to remember it.

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