Tuesday, 29 July 2014

California Road Trip - Day 6 Sausalito and Muir Wood National Park

We were going to go to Yosemite park but there was a forest fire earlier in the week - so serious that it has to close a few main roads.  Also,  from the webcam on the website, it was still very smokey.  
We have decided to change our plan visit Napa Valley instead.  We felt it's no point driving 5 hours to get there if we know it is not going to be in its best state.  

On the way to Napa, we dropped by Sausalito and Muir Wood National Park.  
It is free when going North via Golden gate bridge.  If you are driving South, make sure you pay the fee online beforehand!  Otherwise you will be fined.  

It was a very foggy day.  


However, as soon as we've crossed the bridge- it's like a different world!!! Lovely and clear. 
I felt like I'm in Italy actually :p with the coast and blue sky.  

You can see that Golden gate bridge and San francisco covered in a huge cloud from where we were



For lunch, we went to Scoma's,  a lovely restaurant! 
http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/scomas-of-sausalito-sausalito

We got a table by the window.  
The food was amazing and the service was impeccable.  
We just had a main dish each and stole from each other as they all look so good.
Claim Spaghetti

Scallops risotto

Sole stuffed with crab and shrimps with Lobster sauce

We had a walk around the town after the meal - lots of nice little shops.  
Wish we had more time there but we hae to set off pretty soon as we want to go to Muir Wood National Park to see giant redwood trees before heading to Napa.  
The parking there was very limited.. we had to park qutie far away from the entrance by the road.  

The park is designed such that even people with wheel chair can get around quite easily.  
It was nice to have a walk after a heavy lunch.  
It was a little cool in the shades ..


It was the first time I saw an owl in "wild life" 

Demonstrating how we can tell the age of the tree by the diameter of the trunk.  

Monday, 28 July 2014

California Road Trip - Day 4/5 San Francisco

Our friend brought us to fisherman wharf to try out the crabs at Crab station.  
I was a bit sceptical at first - as it looks like a tourist trap.  but I was wrong.  
This was one of the best meal we had for the trip!  The crab was fingerlicking good!
The crab was just simply cooked to perfection - very fresh and sweet.




On top, we have also ordered clam chowder (Served in sourdough bowl from the famous Boudain) and fried calamari.  
The clam chowder was alright ... nothing exciting.  The sourdough bowl was very good.  
We were too full to finish it though.  

We then walked around pier 39.  Lots of shops for souvenirs, snacks and merry-go-round/rides for the kids.  


My friend recommended these yellow cherries sold at the market there.  
They weren't cheap but they were so sweet.  


bunch of lazy sealions sunbathing ..


Our friends were very nice and drove us to the main tourist attractions - so we can get a glimpse of everything pretty quickly:

Golden gate bridge

The car park next to the golden gate bridge was totally packed so we went a bit furtherer to the east beach  which allows us to get a glimpse of both the bridge and the alcatraz as well

Golden gate park

Beautiful flower beds by the observatory. 

Palace of fine arts

Beautiful tiled steps :)

http://www.tiledsteps.org/

China town:
We have been told you can get very good authentic Chinese food in San Francisco so we gave it a go
Our friend brought us to Washington Cha chaan teng (Cantonese cafe) 
http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/washington-bakery-and-restaurant-san-francisco?osq=chinese+restaurant+chinatown
I felt like I'm back in Hong Kong! 



For dinner, we went to Pacific Catch. The parking lot next door was tiny.
A wide range of food to choose from ... What I wanted to try is their sigature  Hawaiian Poke.
They were good - a bit like ceviche.
I was a bit disappointed with the fishwrap though - very average...

http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/pacific-catch-san-francisco-2


To start off the second day in San Francisco, we went to try the famous Blue bottle coffee near union square.

http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/blue-bottle-coffee-co-san-francisco-7

It was alright.. nothing special... 



We attempted to walk rather than taking public transport but because San francisco is so hilly - we were knackered after a while.   

Looking down from the top of Lombard road: 



We then went to Swan Oyster Depot (as recommended by Anthony Bourdain) for more seafood. 
It had a short queue ( around 8 people in front of us ) but we didn't have to wait for long 

They didn't have sea urchin on the day :( so we ordered crab and smoked salmon.  

They are sliced to order :p very fresh and I love those diced red onions and capers

Also very sweet and fresh

Unlike at the fisherman wharf, here.. we don't really need to get our hands dirty :p professionally hand pulled at the bar :


There was a very long queue for the cable car - we gave up... 
They look prettier outside anyway :P

We were really tired so just went to the food court at Westfield for dinner - just wanted something light and simple. 
There were quite a lot to choose from there but nothing very appealing :p 

We went for the vegetarian vietnamese from Loving Hut 
http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/loving-hut-san-francisco

It was surprisingly good! very light and refreshing

I love Beard papa and was devastated when I found out the London shop was closed a few years ago. 
Therefore I felt like I have to have one when I saw it there. 
I was a bit disappointed though as the choux doesn't taste very fresh and crunchy like it should be.
Not sure if it's because we visited at the end of the day ...

Sunday, 27 July 2014

California Road Trip - Day 3 Cupertino, Palo Alto and Stanford

We had breakfast at a proper American diner called Bobbie's



We shared a Monster scramble and a bowl of Chill soup with raw onion and cheese.  
I really enjoyed Monster scramble -which is a hash brown with bits of bacon, sausage, ham, pepper, onions and egg, topped with some cheese.
Love it :)

We then went to Nordstrom rack to do some major shopping.  Things were so cheap!  
It's a bit like TK Maxx here but tidier and with better products and bigger/proper discounts!


For dinner, we went to Mayfield at Palo Alto for dinner
http://www.mayfieldbakery.com/

The food was good - made from fresh produce.
Everything perfectly cooked 
It was very packed so remember to make a reservation

Golden Potato Gnocchi, Brussels Sprouts, Gorgonzola, Candied Walnuts
Crispy outside, soft and pillowy inside.

Pan-Seared Diver Scallops

Almond Wood-Grilled Bavette Steak

Braised Short Rib with Creamy Polenta and roast veg


Warm Beignets, Strawberry Jam

 Homemade Pie - Apple and blackberry

We were so full that we needed a little stroll after the dinner. 
We walked around Stanford university.  The chapel is stunning


Saturday, 26 July 2014

California Road Trip - Day 2 Giroy garlic festival

We were so glad that we plan to arrive not long after it opens. 
For us, we didn't have to queue for long at all.  There was a little bit of waiting because they were trying to be organized with the car parks.  Because we were early, we could park quite close to the entrance.  Some people were directed to a car park that requires taking a connecting bus.  
It is a very popular yearly event.. when we left around noon, we noticed the queue went on for milessssss.  
It wasn't as sunny in the morning too.
Overall, it was a very interested experience :) 
http://gilroygarlicfestival.com/


There are a wide range of things to eat 


Garlic fries!  
That was the best thing we had from the event. 

Calamari

Fries with crab and garlic mayo

Garlic Mussels

Globe artichoke

They also offers garlic ice cream for free but we were too lazy to join the long queue.  

There are also lots of stores selling non garlic related crafts