Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas in the City - Fairmont Hotel's Holiday Gingerbread Afternoon Tea and Giant Gingerbread House

Christmas in the City - Gingerbread TeaIt is that time of the year again when the city is dressed up for the Holidays. And there is no better place to see and experience the Christmas spirit than the Fairmont Hotel .  

Mijo and I made it to the Fairmont Hotel on Friday afternoon to see its famed Gingerbread House and also to experience its Holiday Gingerbread Afternoon Tea. I've posted both black and white and colored pictures in the blog.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Light Show in the City - Nutcracker Under The Dome

Nutcracker Under The Dome - StartWhile window shopping last weekend, Mijo and I ran into a free light show that afternoon. We were just planning to rest by making a stop at the La Boulange du Dome for a light snack. 

We were lucky because SF Ballet's Nutcracker has a short light show starting at 5pm everyday. So while sipping our warm holiday beverages and tasty pastries, we were also watching and listening to The Nutcracker. We totally enjoyed the experience!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Landmark in the City - Coit Tower and a 360 degree view of the city

Coit Tower - TowerThe Coit Tower officially closed for renovation five days ago on November 20, 2013. Luckily, Mijo and I was able to visit this city landmark before that date.  It is scheduled to open in April 2014.

Let me take you on a virtual tour of the Coit Tower, its 360 degree views of the city, and the beautiful murals inside the tower.  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Opera in the City - San Francisco Opera's Community Open House

San Francisco Opera Open House - Community Open HouseI was at the War Memorial Opera House on a Saturday before noon a week ago.  If you say it was too early for the Opera, you are absolutely right. I was not there to see an official performance.

The San Francisco Opera had their second Community Open House in celebration of their 91st Season and the National Opera Week.  It was for free so I went to take a look. One of the highlights for me was seeing a couple of short scenes from The Barber of Seville and I saw the scenes not from one Box Seat view but from four different Box Seats. It was awesome!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Giving in the City - Help for Typhoon Haiyan victims

Bohol - Panglao Island islet high tideCentral Philippines is one of my favorite places in the entire world. This is where you can find the pristine white beaches and clear blue waters of Boracay, Bohol, Cebu and many others.

I was deeply saddened by the recent unfortunate events in that area. First was the earthquake that hit the island of Bohol and now the terrible aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Everyday Wine in the City - Casa Piena Our Gang 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Our Gang Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Napa Valley -  BWI'm happy to have finally opened one of the bottles from our latest trip to the beautiful Napa Valley. We opened a bottle of Casa Piena Our Gang 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon by Policy Vineyards.

This wine was one of the wines we sampled at Ma(i)sonry with our friends Bob and Bren. It was a delicious blend of earthy and fruits. My favorite flavors.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Free Art and Performances in the City - Yerba Buena Night

Yerba Buena Nights - SignsA couple of Saturdays ago, Mijo and I enjoyed a night of good entertainment featuring local artists. Did I mention it was also free, as in no cover charge, no entrance fee, no tickets, nada.  

We spent the Saturday evening around Yerba Buena on a free outdoor music and performances called Yerba Buena Night. We truly enjoyed it and we will definitely watch out for this next year. Thank you Yerba Buena community!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Play in the City - 1776 The Musical

1776 - programA month ago, my good friend Dinah asked me if I'd be interested in seeing a play slash musical at the American Conservatory Theatre. I said yes without realizing that the show was a day before my business trip.

I was having second thoughts on the day of the show because I haven't packed for my trip. I went anyway but I was rewarded in the process.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin Fest in Halfmoon Bay - Pumpkin Patch, Arts and more Pumpkins

HMB Pumpkin Fest - Repetto PumpkinsThe cold air brushing my cheeks tells me that summer is definitely over. I feel a tinge of melancholy everytime summer ends. But that feeling of sadness disappears when I think about Halloween, pumpkins, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Halfmoon Bay celebrated the Halfmoon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival last weekend and it brought out the kid in us. I was suddenly reminded, Fall is not bad afterall.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Wine Tasting in Napa Valley - Honig Vineyard and Winery

Honig Vineyard and Winery - SignsAfter our third winery, Bob, Mijo, Bren and I decided to break for lunch at Tra Vigne in St. Helena. It was delicious. We did a quick tasting at Merryvale Vineyards since it is next to the restaurant.

Guess where we went after Merryvale? We went to Honig. I am glad we sampled their wines because they are good. Mijo and I will definitely go back and taste some more the next time we are in Napa Valley.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Wine Tasting in Napa Valley - MA(i)SONRY

Maisonry - DecorBob and Bren took us to Ma(i)sonry last year for the first time. Somehow. I couldn't find my pictures from our trip there last year. This is probably the reason why I never blogged it.

This year, we went back for another round of wine tasting and I made sure that I save the pictures, remember where I save them and blog my Ma(i)sonry experience. We always enjoy going there. Thanks Bob for taking us.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Wine Tasting in Napa Valley - Frog's Leap

Frogs Leap - SignThe next winery in our annual wine tasting with Bob and Bren was Frog's Leap. I couldn't remember if Bob and Bren have been in this winery but Mijo and I have not been.

This winery has one of the most relaxed settings for wine tasting. Their wines are truly flavorful, truly Napa Valley.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wine Tasting in Napa Valley - Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock - Pours Bob and Bren were back in town for their annual summer sojourn and this wouldn't be complete without their visit to Napa Valley with their best wine buddies.  That is us.

We went to Chimney Rock as our first winery in the list. I guess I can say that we all loved their wines. But there is more. It is either Mijo truly loved the wines or truly loves me because he bought a bottle of wine that maxed out our wine budget for that day. :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cocktails in the City - Hog & Rocks

Hog and Rocks - CocktailsWe went to Hog & Rocks for our Thursday cocktails. The first time I saw Hog & Rocks was when we were looking for parking around the Mission District and I used to see this place packed with people on a Friday evening. It must be the cocktails, I thought to myself.

Thankfully, Hog & Rocks was next to our 'list of cocktails to try' and we went there last Thursday. They truly have good and innovative cocktails!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Ice cream in the City - Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop

Bi-Rite Creamery - FrontIf you are familiar with the San Francisco summers, it does not get hot in the city until later in the summer through autumn when the days are clear with little or no fog.

And when it gets warm in the city, Mijo and I know the places where we can cool down. We went to Bi-Rite Creamery and Bakeshop twice last week. It is always such a nice treat to go there.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Landmark in the City - America's Cup Park at Pier 27/29

America's Cup Park - Sculpture
After learning the overview of the race of the America's Cup by checking out the America's Cup Village at the Marina Greens, I've been curious to see its other venue at the Pier 27/29.

Mijo and I did visit the America's Cup Park and learned  more about the race which made me appreciate it more. Once again, the weather did not dissapoint which     brought out the beauty of the San Francisco Bay all the more.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Festival in the City - SF Chefs 2013

SF Chef 2013 - Program Book
Mijo and I do not consider ourselves foodies, so far from it really. We are both in the tech industry, though, we do enjoy good food and drinks.  

It is the month of August once again in the city and this meant it is time again for SF Chefs. Mijo and I went to the Grand Tasting Tent Saturday Day event and we absolutely enjoyed it!  

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Landmark in the City - America's Cup Village

America's Cup - Welcome Sign
Ever heard of America's Cup? It is a world yacht sailing competition  and San Francisco is hosting it this year. Mijo and I decided to cross town and checked out one of the three venues of this event. 

Aside from learning the concept of America's Cup, I was once again reminded of how breath takingly beautiful is the San Francisco Bay.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Wine tasting in Anderson Valley - Navarro Vineyards and Winery

Navarro Vineyards and Winery - Sign
On our way to the Mendocino coast to spend a relaxing weekend, Mijo and I discovered a Northern California appelation that we haven't been to. While we've had wines from Anderson Valley, we've never stepped inside a winery in this area.

We chose Navarro Vineyards and Winery for our first wine tasting and we totally enjoyed the experience.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Cafe in the City - Mission Pie

Mission Pie
Here's another cafe to where Mijo and I enjoy going. Mission Pie, as their name suggests, sells savory and sweet pies. I've tried a lot of their pies but one that stands out for me is their banana creme pie.

We also enjoy going to their cafe because of their good coffee and welcoming cafe scene. It truly is a neighborhood gathering place. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cheese Tasting in Sonoma - Vella Cheese Co.

Vella Cheese Company - Sign
I love it when I get to try or sample the merchandise before making the purchase. This is why I enjoy going to farmers markets to buy produce and to wineries for wines.

Recently, I've discovered cheese tasting by going to the source of the cheese - the cheese factories. While in Sonoma, Mijo and I visited the Vella Cheese Co. and absolutely enjoyed the cheeses and the experience.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lunch in Sonoma - The Girl and the Fig

The Girl and the Fig - Sign
We were not celebrating anything special that day. We thought that since we've driven that far from the city, why not go to a more popular restaurant? 

The food, the ambiance and the restaurant's location couldn't be any perfect. Mijo and I totally enjoyed this restaurant famous for its fig-centered dishes. 

Maybe I should have titled this blog The Girl, the Fig and the Filipino guy? :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Everyday Wine in the City - 2010 Monterey Pinot Noir by Castle Rock

Castle Rock 2010 Pinot Noir - Monterey County
For this week, Mijo and I sampled a store bought wine. We sampled a bottle of 2009 Monterey County Pinot Noir by Castle Rock last year and we liked it but I didn't take detailed notes. 

So when we saw the same wine but with a different vintage at the grocery store, I decided to pick up a bottle and made sure I'll pay attention to the flavors and pairings this time.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Cocktails in the City - Fifth Floor

Fifth Floor - Sign
Mijo, our friends Jim and Jose and I went to Fifth Floor for our once a month fancy cocktail hour. I've been there before for a dinner with another set of friends but it was the first time I went there for drinks. Both experiences are good but different. 

Each one of us ordered a different drink in the beginning but all of us ended up ordering a drink called Kings Cup for the second round. I guess that was the winner that night. :)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Brunch in the City - The Slanted Door

Slanted Door - Menu
I don't remember whether this brunch at The Slanted Door was planned by my good friend Dinah or was it something spontaneous? 

What I can recall though is meeting up with Dinah and Karen at the Saturday Farmer's Market in the Ferry Building and the sumptous dishes we ordered at The Slanted Door for lunch. Absolutely yummerz!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Art in the City - The Bay Lights

The Bay Lights
I don't know if you have heard of this light art installation that have been lighting up the San Francisco span of the Bay Bridge since the 5th of March 2013. 

It is called The Bay Lights and it is a sight to see from dusk till 2 a.m. Some say it is the world's largest LED light sculpture.  I say it is a mesmerizing artwork!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cheese Tasting in Sonoma - Petaluma Creamery

Petaluma Creamery - Cheeses
I truly enjoy eating cheeses and I like the fact that, at the farmers market dotting the city, I can taste the cheeses before making the purchase. 

I am happy to let you know that I've recently discovered the joys of cheese tasting by sampling artisan cheeses at their source. The first stop was at The Petaluma Creamery. Yummerz!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Festival in the City - "Uncorked!" Wine Festival at Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Wine Festival - Ghirardelli Square Wine FestivalImagine this scene. The weather gorgeous, the view of the beautiful San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz, the company of my good friend Dinah, our hands holding a wine glass, sounds of wine being poured, and happy beautiful people all around ooohing and aahhing. 

That was the scene at the 8th Uncorked! Ghirardelli Square Wine Festival. It was like a huge wine cellar beamed from the wine country to the city.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Art exhibition in the City - The Girl With A Pearl Earring, Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis

De Young Museum - PostcardOne of the most popular paintings in the world was in the city recently. The De Young Museum just hosted a traveling art exhibition entitled Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis and at its center is The Girl With a Pearl Earring.

The exhibition just ended last week but I feel truly blessed to have seen this beauty in my lifetime. Imagine, it even traveled from Belgium to San Francisco? I love this city!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Ballet in the City - U.S. Premiere of Wheeldon's Cinderella at the San Francisco Ballet

SF Ballet Cinderella - Program bookCinderella is one of my favorite farytales so I was thrilled to learn that Program 8 of San Francisco Ballet's 2013 Season included Cinderella. I was also intrugued how this story would translate to a 2-hour ballet program because Cinderella is one of the shortest stories I've heard.

After seeing the U.S. premiere of Wheeldon's Cinderella at the San Francisco Ballet, I can now say Cinderella has also become one of my ballet favorites!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Everyday Wine in the City - Carneros Pinot Noir 2011 by Merryvale Vineyards

Merryvale Pinot Noir 2011 Carneros -  CorkBefore Mijo left for the Philippines and Thailand for a relaxing vacation, we opened a bottle of Pinot Noir from Merryvale.  What's a guy to do with an open bottle of wine? I rarely drink alone but I had to finish this wine by pairing with my dinners at home.

As expected, this bottle was delicious and pairs well with different kinds of dishes and finger foods. Merryvale is one of my favorite reds.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dinner in the City - Matterhorn Swiss Restaurant and Bar

While I was cleaning our home office table, I unearthed a 7 month old restaurant gift certificate given by one of our friends. It was for Matterhorn Swiss Restaurant on Van Ness Avenue.

We didn't have plans that evening so we decided to finally redeem the certificate. This was our first time going to a Swiss restaurant or to a fondue place. We discovered this place serves well made fondues and the restaurant is great to bring the whole family or a big group.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dinner in the City - Central Kitchen

Central Kitchen is probably one of the most creative restaurants we've dined in. Not only for the beautiful plates they put together but also because of the wonderful fresh flavors they create.

Their dinner menu is short and sweet and easy to read. Their wine list is not overwhelming at all. The dining area is hip but not noisy. Service is very friendly. This restaurant is easily one of our favorites!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Landmark in the City - AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants

It is baseball season once again and the city's baseball fans will be getting together again at the AT&T Park to cheer on their beloved team, the San Francisco Giants.

I've been to the AT&T Park many times since it opened in 2000. The park has breathtaking views and the San Francisco bay can be seen from even the cheapest seats.  I posted a 360 degree views of this beautiful ball park in the blog post. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Wine Tasting in Napa Valley - Markham Vineyards

Before driving back to the city after our overnight stay in Napa Valley a couple of weeks ago, we checked out this winery off Main St. in St. Helena called Markham Vineyards.

Going to Markham Vineyards was a random choice so I kept an open mind about the winery. Once again, without a lot of expectations, I was rewarded with great wine tasting experience. The bottles were also reasonably priced which was a bonus!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Wine Tasting in Napa Valley - Merryvale Vineyards

I first sampled wines from Merryvale Vineyards at last year's SF Chef event in the city. Mijo, Claudia and I thought their wines we sampled were all good.

Mijo and I finally made it to the Tasting cellars of Merryvale Vineyards in St. Helena in Napa Valley where we sampled their house favorites including their proprietary red blend Profile wine. This is one of my favorite wineries in Napa Valley!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Cocktails in the City - Bar 888

For our cocktail Thursday, the boys and I went to Bar 888 inside the Intercontinental Hotel on Howard St. I had been told before that this bar specializes on grappa-based drinks.  Of course, they also serve the more common types of cocktails.

I am not really a fan of grappa drank as shots but hearing about the grappa-based cocktails made me curious to try them.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lunch in Napa Valley - Bouchon Bistro

Mijo took me to Bouchon for a special lunch. Neither one of us has been here so we didn't know what to expect. I wanted my experience here to feel like opening a gift so I made it a point not to read the reviews beforehand.

Over all, we both enjoyed the bistro atmosphere. And the dishes we ordered - Beignets de Brandade, the crab and lobster crepe, bouchot mussels, bouchons dessert - were all delicious and well made!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Brunch in the City - The Cliff House Bistro

My good friends Dinah and Karen took me out for brunch at The Cliff House on Saturday. It was a cool spring Saturday morning where the sky was blue and not a fog on the horizon. It was a perfect day to be at The Cliff House.

Of course, the company and catching up with friends were the highlight of the brunch. Thank you for the treat Karen and Dinah!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Landmark in the City - The Old Mint

The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society recently hosted the 3rd Annual San Francisco History Expo. It was held at The Old Mint on 5th Street.

Mijo and I checked it out not only because we are sort of suckers for history but also we wanted to check out The Old Mint and what the interior looks like.

Let me take  you on a virtual tour of the event and show you a few sites of The Old Mint.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cafe in the City - Ritual Coffee Roasters

For our usual Thursday night-out , we decided  to go to our favorite Mission district.  After having a delicious and very savory dinner at Cafe Ethiopia, we were craving for a good cup of coffee around the same neighborhood.

Since Ritual Coffee is just two blocks away and we haven't been there for a while now, we both agreed to give the cafe a visit. Great coffee!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Wine Tasting in Livermore Valley - Concannon Vineyard

After visiting Wente Vineyards, Mijo and I went to check out the new outlet stores in the nearby Pleasanton with the hope of finding something affordable and at the same time something nice.  After a quick lunch we decided to head back to the wineries.

The next and the last winery on our list was Concannon Vineyard. Another winery with a long history in California. Can you believe this vineyard introduced America's first Petite Sirah? We totally had fun in this welcoming and laidback winery plus the wines are very good!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Wine Tasting in Livermore Valley - Wente Vineyards Estate Winery

The Livermore Valley, east of San Francisco, may not have the popularity of Napa Valley or it may lack the rustic appeal of Sonoma County but the Livermore Valley has history. The valley is definitely worth exploring and that's what Mijo and I did one weekend.

We dropped by Wente Vineyard Estate Winery, the oldest, continuously operated family-owned winery in Northern California. We enjoyed sampling the wines and learning about the history.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Artisan Chocolates in the City - Cocoa Bella

I discovered the joys of tasting artisan chocolates when Mijo and I went to Rome for the first time in 2006. I rediscovered that same joy when we went to Florence last year.  I made a mental note that I should sample the artisan chocolates made or sold in San Francisco.

That's exactly what I did and since then, I discovered several chocolatiers  and purveyors of artisan chocolates in the city. One of them is Cocoa Bella. Bellisima!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Art Exhibit in the City - China's Terracotta Warriors at the Asian Art Museum

Finally! What Mijo and I have been waiting for. Drum roll please... China's Terracotta Warriors are in town and on display at the Asian Art Museum.

The Asian Art Museum officially opened its new art exhibit called China's Terracotta Warriors, The First Emperor's Legacy. Mijo and I attended the Opening Night Party on Thursday evening so we can take a peek at these life sized ancient terracotta soldiers before the museum officially opened the exhibit to the public on February 22nd.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dinner in the City - Manzoni

For Valentine's, Mijo and I went to Manzoni once again.  I wrote once again because we went there for Valentine's last year. Aside from the fact that this is a neighborhood restaurant, we really like the food they serve there and we do enjoy dining in there. 

I've included in this blog select pictures of the four course prix fixe dinner that evening plus the other pictures I've taken before.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Train Station in the City - Forest Hill Station

Have you taken the MUNI trains in the city?  If you have, do you have a favorite train station, either underground or surface station?  I know, I know that that question is a bit weird. How can you have a favorite train station, right?

If you ask me, I'd pick the Forest Hill station. Why not? It has a cute structure, nice details on its façade and interior, it is located in a sleepy village and it has been part of a couple of movies. It is very easy to romanticize.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cocktails in the City - Tonga Room & The Hurricane Bar

If you've read a San Francisco guide book or have visited SF before, chances are you've heard about the Tonga Room at The Fairmont Hotel. 

Jim, Jose, Mijo and I went to the Tonga Room for our Thursday cocktail hour. Can you believe I've never been here before? It is themed so it is on the tacky-looking side of the scale. But did I have a great time? Absolutely!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Landmark in the City - Sunnyside Conservatory and Mini park

You've probably not seen nor heard of this San Francisco landmark located in the Sunnyside neighborhood of the city. It is called the Sunnyside Conservatory.

It is a landmark slash conservatory slash venue. I've compiled a few photos of this hidden gem and "botanic jewel" since its renovation in 2009.  

Check it out here and maybe dropby the conservatory the next time you're in the neighborhood.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Wine tasting in Sonoma - La Crema Winery

Our next wine tasting stop in our Sonoma day trip was La Crema.

If you are familiar with this label, La Crema makes good Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. While it was hard to romanticize their tasting room because it is located in downtown Healdsburg, their Pinots more than make up for it. I am a fan of Pinot Noirs and I was happy to finally taste some of their select Pinots not available in the stores.