Sunday, August 21, 2011

Napa Day Trip

We went home to Dan's parents' house in Marin county for the weekend. Since we had nothing planned for Saturday, I suggested that we go to Napa. First stop was the Boon Fly Cafe at the Carneros Inn. We had heard of this hotel before and realized that it's owned by the Plumpjack Group (we previously stayed at their property in Tahoe). However, the Carneros Inn looked a LOT nicer than the Plumpjack at Squaw Valley. :p

The restaurant didn't take reservations for brunch, so we walked in and put our name down. The wait wasn't too bad, around 15 minutes. We ordered the World Famous Boon Fly Donuts (supposed to be their specialty), "Green Eggs and Ham", and the Ohlone Smoked Salmon Flatbread. The donuts were very small (much smaller than the pictures), but very cute and pretty good. A little chewy and not very sweet at all, the only sweet taste is from the cinnamon sugar on top. The green eggs and ham was ok--poached farm fresh eggs with honey cured sliced ham, and lemon leek cream sauce on top of crispy golden hash browns--and so was the flatbread--smoked salmon, fromage blanc, red onions, parmesan, and creme fraiche.  The food was good, but nothing too special...

Smoked salmon pizza
Green egg & ham

After lunch we went to the Carneros Inn. This place has pretty tight security; there were gates everywhere. We were trying to figure out how to go to the lobby, but apparently you have to drive in and check in with someone via the "radio/calling" box. We didn't want to go through the hassle so just walked around the outside of the property. There was a bocci ball court that we took advantage of.

We then went to Bouchon bakery. The line was out the door! Apparently this place is very popular. We got the hazelnut macaroon, pb&j macaroon, and the savory monkey bread. The macaroon was pretty big, much bigger than other macaroons. It was very light and not too sweet, crunchy on the outside and a little "bready" and soft on the inside. The hazelnut taste wasn't as strong as we preferred, but was still good. The pb&j flavor was stronger and much heavier. Both were excellent. The savory monkey bread tasted like buttery rolls of cheese croissant. Pretty good :)

Their famous macaroon

We didn't have anything planned as far as wine tasting, so haphazardly decided on Domaine Chandon. I had been here a couple years ago, and remembered it as being beautiful. Domaine Chandon is famous for their sparkling wines. The grounds were beautiful, although the building was a little old. We each had a glass of sparkling wine and walked around the grounds.

Afterwards we visited the Napa outlets and did a little bit of shopping. Overall, a very productive day in such a short amount of time. :)

Yelp Fashionably Lei'd Event

Our friend who is a Yelp Elite invited us to a free Yelp event in Palo Alto. We RSVP'd and luckily got a confirmation (apparently not everyone who RSVP'd got accepted). The event was held at the Garden Court hotel in Palo Alto, and it was a Hawaiian theme. We have never been to an event like this before, but we expected lots of good food since it was hosted by Yelp. We registered at the check in area, and there was a suggested donation to a non profit organization. We obliged to be nice...hehe. Some people who came really dressed Hawaiian, with leis and hair flower.

Our first stop was the shave ice machine. It's self serve and was a little disappointing. More like sno-cone, nothing like the real Hawaiian shave ice. I guess it's free so can't complain too much! We saw our friend and chatted a bit, and she said there was not that much food....hmm...

There was a live band playing Hawaiian music which was a nice touch. We walked around the first floor area and decided to check out the 2nd floor where there supposedly was more food. The 2nd floor was also surprisingly small, and there wasn't much food. :( We got 2 slices of mediocre pizza, a few items from the veggie platter, beef teriyaki satay, and a chocolate dipped apple. It sounds like a lot but it really wasn't.

Dan & the mediocre free food and beer
We came back down and surprisingly bumped into an old friend who lived nearby and who has been to a couple Yelp events like this. They said this time the food was not as good as usual.

We then checked out the chocolate fountain, got some coconut water, and headed outside. FINALLY we saw something that interested us, a s'mores bar! The s'mores bar was setup very nicely (compliments of Li'l Puffs)with miniature tiki torches. We tried some of the marshmallow flavors (chocolate, rasperry, passionfruit), and then made our own s'mores! I made one with chocolate + hazelnut + raspberry marshmallow. Dan had one with peanut butter + Ghirardelli chocolate + vanilla marshmallow. We roasted the marshmallows so they turned out warm and gooey. They were so good we got a 2nd serving!

The finished good!
I thought that the marshmallow tasting made the event worthwhile. Otherwise, we probably wouldn't come to another free Yelp event. :p

Afterwards, we walked around downtown Palo Alto and checked out the Borders store that was going out of business. Surprisingly we found some pretty good deals.  5 books for around $25!

Good deal from Borders - 5 books for $25

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Michael Buble Concert

Michael Buble is one of my favorite artists. We missed him when he had a concert in San Jose a couple years ago, so when Dan heard that he was coming back, we snatched up tickets right away. We had been so looking forward to this day, and he definitely did not disappoint.

We started with dinner at La Fondue, which is obviously a fondue restaurant. :) Originally we were going to grab dinner at Arcadia Steakhouse, one of our favorite restaurants in San Jose. But we decided to switch it up last minute, since we had not been to La Fondue. We had a pretty good experience at Rok Bistro a couple of weeks ago. La Fondue is located in Saratoga, and valet parking costed $8. Thankfully we found public parking 1 block away for free!

Restaurant entrance
La Fondue bar area

We were seated in a very dark room, which we later realized was the "couples" room, since the tables were all tables for 2. When we went to the bathroom, we passed other areas for families and larger groups, which had better lighting. Our dining room was very dark where we could hardly read the menu. We're guessing they are trying to make the ambiance romantic.
We ordered a la carte and chose the following:
  • 4 Cheese (Ementhaler, Gruyere, Fontina Surchoix, Champagne)
  • Teriyaki Sirloin entree - Grilled
  • Danger Mix Chocolate Fondue
The first entree was the 4 Cheese fondue. The cheese fondue came with bread and vegetables to dip. The server mixed the cheese and champagne on the table so it was cool to see. The cheese however, was a little disappointing. There wasn't a whole lot of flavor and the champagne taste was a little too strong. We realized that we prefer a sharper cheese for fondue (like cheddar).

4 Cheese Fondue
Dan enjoying his cheese fondue

For the entree, we shared the Teriyaki Sirloin, which came with mixed vegetables and six different types of sauce: chimichurri, wasabi teriyaki, garlic butter, bbq, regular teriyaki, and mango chutney. My favorite sauce was the mango chutney, and Dan liked the wasabi teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki Sirloin with 6 different dips
Sirloin on the grill

The sirloin was pretty good, and they gave a large portion. We were definitely full, and it was more than enough to share! As we mentioned before, our dining room was very dark, so it was hard to know whether the meat was cooked or not so we just guessed. :p

Even though we were full, there's always room for dessert. We ordered the Danger Mix dark chocolate, with English toffee bits. Dessert was definitely fun to eat and deliciously rich and heavy. Dan really enjoyed the dark chocolate mix!

Danger Mix Dark Chocolate
Yummy dessert companions

Overall we thought the restaurant was alright. It's probably on par with Melting Pot, and we surprisingly preferred the Rok Bistro in Sunnyvale. Dinner took almost 2 hours and we headed directly to the HP Pavilion for the highly anticipated Michael Buble concert!

HP Pavilion - Michael Buble concert

We sat in section 102, row 11, which were pretty good seats....well, good enough for what we were willing to pay. :p The opening act was Naturally 7, an interesting, no instrumental background accompaniment music - a capella band, and they were awesome. We were both very impressed with their crisp, amazing performance. It totally sounded like they were playig actual instruments in the band although it was all human voice.

Us with the stage behind

Michael Buble came on stage around 9 PM. He was such a great performer and had a great sense of humor. He poked fun at the audience, at himself, and at his band members. He seemed to be a very genuine performer who really appreciates his fans and enjoys what he does, and obviously very good at what he does.

Michael Buble

In the middle of the concert, he started walking toward the middle section of the floor, and started performing right there. We secretly wished we had one of the middle floor seating so we can see him closer!

His performance in the center floor stage

The performance ended around 11 PM and he earned his standing ovation. We both had such a great time and would definitely come again to his next concert. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

San Jose Giants vs. Bakersfield Blaze

Dan had talked about checking out a San Jose Giants baseball game, which is the minor league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, his all time favorite sport team ever! By chance, we saw free tickets at our local Trader Joe's grocery store for a Monday game. We picked up the free tickets and ended up going tonight. Coincidentally, Barry Zito (one of the SF Giants starting pitchers) was on assignment with the San Jose Giants and he started that game.

San Jose Giants stadium
Zito is playing!

The stadium was a LOT smaller (of course). It looked like a high school baseball field. We saw a lot more kids in this stadium. Since the stadium was really small, there really wasn't a bad seat. Since we had General Admission cheap seats, we got the bleachers/unassigned seats down the right field or left field foul lines. Even then, we thought they were pretty good seats. This was probably the closest ever we'd get to see a major league pitcher pitch. :)

There he is!

We walked around the ground to check out the food scene and was pleasantly surprised with the selection. The concessions inside the stadium walkway was pretty standard, pretty sad looking actually, but all the food vendors outside looked promising. There was a pizza stand, wine stand, Gordon Biersch garlic fries, Lagunitas IPA beer, and a BBQ place. We split a pizza which was cooked to order in a wood fire oven. After a couple innings, we went for another food run. I got the churros from the churro guy which was AMAZING! It's very unassuming, but it was probably one of the best churros we've had (#1 is at Joya in Palo Alto). It was served warm and very crunchy on the outside and soft and light on the inside. Mmm... Dan got the BBQ back ribs which was also surprisingly good. We even considered that the food here was probably better than at AT&T Park. Maybe it's because we had such low expectations? But we were pleasantly surprised....

We didn't stay that long and left after the 6th inning since it was getting cold. It was definitely fun, and we would probably go back...and have another churro or two. :)

Supperclub SF Dinner

We brought a Groupon last year for dinner for 2 at Supperclub in San Francisco. I had heard about this restaurant before and was intrigued by the concept of eating on a bed. The deal was about to expire, so we booked our dinner this weekend. We did not really know quite what to expect, and boy, we had a pretty interesting experience. :)

Seating was between 7 and 7:30PM. We arrived shortly before 7 and found plenty of street parking. (yay for free, easy street parking in SF!) The area around the restaurant was a little sketchy. The first thing we saw were these hanging gold shoes outside of the restaurant. Hmm...if this was an indication of how the night would go, we were definitely in for a unique experience. There was already a line formed outside of the restaurant--apparently they were not letting people in yet. We only waited for a couple minutes and then the host let us in. As soon as we entered, there were hanging gold shoes and a bathtub filled with records and random gold stuff. Interesting...

Hanging shoes and bathtub?

The host then greeted us and assigned our seat. There did not seem to be a method on how he/she assigned seats. The host was an over the top, overly outgoing transvestite. "She" was very loud but friendly and yelled, "Love you!" to everyone who came in. :p

Check in area

After checking in with her, we were assigned our "bed". We were directed to the bar area where they served drinks with very interesting names such as One night stand, Morning breath, Tuck me in, etc. I got the "Lullaby" which had some pomegranate juice and blueberry. Dan got a normal glass of Chardonnay wine.

Our pre-dinner drinks

After hanging out in the bar area for about 30 minutes, we then proceeded to the dining room, which was a 2 story room with huge wraparound beds. We were both kind of excited to be eating on a big bed! Ours was on the first floor, bed #27, on the left side, behind the DJ table. Our seating was ok but there were a couple times where we were not able to see the performers since our view was blocked by the speakers and/or DJ. There was a couple who got assigned probably the worst seat in the house, which was the back corner seat, behind the stairs. They probably couldn't see much at all. :(

Our "bed" where we had dinner
Dinner area

There was popcorn with spicy tabasco sauce waiting for us on our mini table. The popcorn was pretty good (Dan didn't like it as much since it was soggy, but I enjoyed it quite a bit). The waiter went around to get more drink orders; we decided to stick with water. The 2nd floor customers got served food first. We patiently waited for our first course which was a fava bean soup with creme fraiche and corn bread muffin with honey butter. We really enjoyed the corn bread muffin. It was very moist and tasty! The fava bean soup was creamy and a little heavy, and had a slight curry hint which was surprising.

Fava bean soup and corn bread muffin

In between meals there were different performers. The first performer was a singer, and we both thought she was really good. Our favorite performance was probably the trapeze artist who was very flexible and strong! :)

The 2nd course was shrimp & sausage grits served in a doggie bowl. I almost lost her appetite... ha ha. It was fun eating out of the doggie bowl. We thought that this was the main course, but then it turned out the 3rd course was BBQ chicken with potatoes. By this time we were already full. During this time we saw a middle eastern type dancer and a trapeze act (she was really good!).

"Interesting" doggie plate
BBQ chicken

Dessert was butterscotch pudding (excellent) while we watched our host stripped down...sorry, no picture here! This was probably the most "interesting" performance of all...ha ha.

Yummy butterscotch pudding

Overall, the food was ok, but we had a great time and were glad we went. However, we would not recommend this place for children, anyone under 21, or "conservative" people since there were some pretty risque stuff here.