In the Best City with the Best Friend- Part One

This post is going to be emotional to write because I know it will make me miss my dear friend, Rachel, more than I already do!

A little back story: We have been friends since sixth grade. The way it happened was certainly a funny series of events. First, I moved to her school that year and noticed a cute boy. I had no idea that he was dating Rachel and through the grapevine he heard that the “new girl” liked him. He broke up with Rachel to “date” me (“Going out” with someone in 6th grade means you bashfully smile at each other in the hallway and write their name on your notebook without any actual meaningful interaction). Also let’s take a moment to laugh at how many quote-on-quotes are necessary for middle school romances. Well, when I heard that I was a home-wrecker I told him I didn’t want to date anymore. Hence, my first relationship lasted a total of two days. During this time, Rachel and I shared a mutual friend. She told me that there was no way Rachel would ever like me. “Once Rachel decides she doesn’t like someone, there is no going back from that,” she said. I was determined to make a mends. And gosh darn it, look at where we are today! Thanks for letting that go, Rach ;). We have thanked that boy for helping spark such a great friendship. Fun fact: She actually just went to his wedding a few weeks ago! Look how full circle we all have come.

Fast forward to today: Rach just recently passed her Child Life Specialist exam and officially has a big girl job!!! When she called me with the exciting news we both said how badly we wished we could have sushi together to celebrate (Sushi is our spirit animal). The next day she sent me a screenshot of flight dates she could fly out here (from Ohio to California). I thought she was kidding at first- but no she booked that glorious flight! So the day after my mom left I was driving to the airport to pick up Rach so we could actually have sushi together in real life. We also said we are celebrating our “11th friendiversary” 🙂 She arrived last Monday- August 29th, and the week that followed was one of my favorites.

Monday

This was a super chill day since she came in the afternoon. We went to the grocery store to stock up on food for the week. Then I showed her around Main Street Cupertino and then walked down Stevens Creek to show her the main shops and restaurants. We stopped into the bakery I mentioned in my last post, and saw “white fungus with dates” among their items. Do you ever have one of those moments where you feel like you “dare” yourself to do something? Like you feel a strange compulsion to try it even if you truly don’t want to? Maybe for some it’s riding a roller coaster, walking on hot coals, or skydiving. I tend to get it in more of a fear-factor-food form. I bought the darn fungus, and Rach and I sat at my counter in my apartment while I tried the mysterious floating wonder. (Is this the weirdest anecdote ever, or what?!). It surprisingly was not that bad! It reminded me of one of those dole fruit cups that we use to all pack when we were in grade school. Probably will never get it again- but truly not bad. For dinner we naturally went to KULA!!! Sushi time! This would not be the last trip there for the week 😉

Tuesday

Tuesday was a blast, well I guess everyday was, but I’ve got two words for ya- SANTA CRUZ. I am getting a bit ahead of myself because first we went on a hike in Saratoga. So we will start with these two words- HIKING TIME!

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It was a perfect way to start the day. We were able to bypass the rush-hour traffic and leave a little later in the day. We kept saying how unbelievably smooth the week was with driving! We hardly had any traffic. We were a couple of beach bums and the two of us love to read so we devoured books and our packed snacks on the beach all day.

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Around four we were pretty hungry for something besides the “munchie” food we packed, but didn’t want to spend top dollar for the food on the pier. We decided to get a couple happy hour appetizers to tide us over at Stagnaro Bros. I have now ate at three places on the pier and this was by far, hands-down, no questions asked THE BEST.

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First we split the Blackened Sliced Ahi over mixed greens with a creamy wasabi dressing. We easily could have ate the whole thing, but we wanted to leave room for a place we had in mind for dinner. This “appetizer” definitely provided us yummy leftovers for lunch the next day!

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We also tried Chili Lime Prawn Tacos. These are prawns sautéed in a chili lime and cilantro sauce, topped with pickled cabbage and Mozzarella cheese. I PRAWNISE, these were delicious 😉 #prawnpun

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We would like to introduce you to our dear friend, Buffy. Buffy was our pal that sat next to us for most of the meal and he was quite the spit-fire. If another seagull even thought about sitting on his pier, he squawked them away with the ferocity of a lion. Don’t mess with Buffy, boys and girls.

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We had about an hour drive home and leisurely took our time to get ready for dinner. We walked to Arya, a Persian restaurant in Cupertino. Guys- this is truly probably my favorite I have tried since being in Cupertino. I know I always say that, but the flavors were overwhelmingly delicious. Like each bite I savored so carefully, I didn’t want it to end! The best part was we had a Groupon for it as well, so we got a great deal for a fantastic meal. We also ate outside on their quaint patio. We got to watch the most gorgeous sunset with our scrumptious array of Persian cuisine.

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I had the veggie tower for my meal. It was mushroom, spinach, eggplant, tomato, and rice in a saffron yogurt sauce. I WANT THE RECIPE. The saffron yogurt sauce was absolute perfection. I crave this meal.

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Rach ordered shrimp scampi. It came in a lemon caper sauce and easily the best shrimp scampi I have ever tried! I definitely stole a few bites.

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So you may be wondering- what about our poor Deej?! Well- you know how I love trying these different food delivery services since they usually have a deal as first users? The newest one we found is called Munchery. Munchery is different from Blue Apron and Green Chef because you do absolutely no preparation. It is almost like a restaurant on wheels. You see what is cooking in “their kitchen” online, and they deliver it to your door at the time that you clarify. So we chose DJ’s meals for the week and so they would be delivered for him right when he got home from school. The best part was there was a giant discount for being a first time user. We have held out trying it for a busy week since you only get the discount once, and this week was the perfect one to try it out! DJ loved all the meals.

Wednesday

Wednesday was deemed San Francisco day! We went into full on tourist mode and did everything. Rach has never been to SanFran so I was determined to make sure she got the full experience. First we went to the painted ladies homes. As a couple of typical 90s children, we were in absolute heaven standing in front of those homes. Currently have the song running through my head- “Everywhere you look (everywhere you go) There’s a heart (there’s a heart) a hand to hold onto!”. Okay- I’m getting far too nostalgic about this.

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We found a good parking spot and walked the pier toward one of the highlights of the entire week. Rach wanted to make sure to do a wine tasting while she was out here (because it’s basically a must if you come to wine country), and what better way to do it than on a boat that goes under the Golden Gate, close to the Bay Bridge, and around Alcatraz?! We were shocked at how little it cost for how intimate the setting was and how absolutely wonderful the experience was.

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They had all kinds of delicious cheeses, grapes, crackers, bread, and chocolate. Truly ANYTHING you could want to enhance the different tannins. Lolz, I’m pretending to wine speak. Not sure that even made sense?

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One of our favorite parts of the wine tour was the people we met. We conversed with all kinds of people from all over the US. We met a mother and daughter who were traveling cross country, a few friendly couples of all ages, and an absolutely jovial staff. It was the sweetest group of people.

After, we still agreed we had to actually go to the Golden Gate even thought we did go under it. Rachel kept saying, “It’s just water under the bridge!” cracking herself up. 😉

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Ya’ll know how I love my puns- I call the one above a “Bridge next to a bridge”.

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We did a quick jump over to Lombard Street. The famous windiest road in the world!

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Naturally we had to pop into Ghiradelli square! Our Uber driver was one of the most fascinating people we have ever met. He is traveling the world with his son and takes him out of school every year a few months before it is technically over to go to a new destination for several months. I didn’t even know that was legal?! Their next stop is Tawaiian.

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After exploring Ghiradelli square we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf and PIER 39. We just walked around, and I had to stop in to one of the candy shops to get salt water taffy. I was craving it a lemon meringue piece. Rach actually introduced me to the yummy land of lemon flavored desserts a few years back. She had a lemon bundt cake at her 18th birthday and from that point on I was (and still am) obsessed with all things lemon. My mother-in-law brought me the BEST lemon curd cake in the whole world from a local bakery in Ohio for my birthdays while I was in college! <3 Thanks again for all those, mom! Best part of my birthday fo real dough. Anyway, I digress. But the taffy was spot on.

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Rach is a lefty. This picture was essential!

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We once again were pretty hungry, but we didn’t want to spend the pier prices for dinner. We decided to once again split some appetizers, but in reality they ended up being our dinner. The portions were huge- and delicious! We both love clam chowder and rumor had it that Fog Harbor Fish House had the best around. It did not disappoint! If you are ever on the pier, please do yourself a favor and get you some of it (in a bread bowl, of course).

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We also had the steamed clams. These were clams with roasted peppers, corn and chorizo butter served with garlic toast.

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Later that night we scrounged up our leftovers from the last couple days and had a late night smorgasbord. We set up our TV out on the balcony, grabbed a few blankets and watched Gabrielle Iglesias the comedian. Anyone ever seen him?! He is HILARIOUS. He is pretty clean for the most part too which is hard to come by. It was super refreshing sitting out in the late night cool air and I wondered why I don’t do that more often!

I am going to make a separate post for the rest of the week. Currently have to go set up a lamp, run to the store, and hang up some more pictures!

Wishing you a golden afternoon,

xo <3

Mack

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Serious about Sushi

Hey ya’ll. Welcome to the weekly Cali recap. Not too much has gone on this week besides making more trips to multiple stores, trying to figure out the furniture situation in our home, and, naturally, sampling new food places. I am still waiting approval to take my nursing boards, and DJ starts orientation next week. This allows us a good chunk of time to get settled before the craziness ensues. Wednesday we hit up Santana Row for lunch because we had some errands to run in the area. This is an upscale shopping area with tons of restaurants and an energetic, cutting edge feel. They feature unique stops as well as several chains (the mandatory Starbucks, LB steak, and Maggiano’s).

IMG_7543Our personal favorite is the Village California Bistro. One time we stopped there for breakfast before we moved to the area during our time of scoping out where to live. DJ ordered the most incredible crab cake benedict. I don’t remember what I ordered because I was so fixated on sneaking bites of his food when he wasn’t looking. This time around we went for “late lunch bites” around three. We both hadn’t had lunch, but didn’t want to spoil our appetite for the big dinner we had planned 😉 We sampled the lobster ceviche and shrimp louie. This meal was nothing short of FRESH. I think it was the best avocado and iceburg lettuce I have ever tasted. The ceviche was the perfect refreshing treat on a hot day with the mango and umami essence of the lobster.

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After finishing up our errands of the day and exercising, we geared up for an epic dinner experience: KULA Sushi.

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Since we have moved here, every time we pass this sushi place it is packed. ANY time of day there are at least twenty people waiting outside the restaurant to get in. Considering there are a million sushi destinations around here, we were wondering what the commotion was about. We get it now! First you walk up and put your name in their outdoor system. They give you a number and also send you a text when you are close to being called. Our wait time was eighty-two minutes. In that waiting time I assembled a lamp that I ended up returning. #productive. By the time we came back the wait was up to two hours if that tells you anything… This sushi bar, is not just any sushi bar, it is a revolving one (Yes, mom, we will go when you visit 😉 ). It has a conveyor belt that passes your table and you literally just choose whatever you want off the belt. The dishes are protected with a bubbled cover to keep the whole system sanitary and what-not. You simply press up on the dish and it pops out of the bubble when you want to try it. They have endless options of high grade “fresh, natural, and organic” sushi (per their advertisements). They have all the rolls one could desire, as well as nigiri, grilled items, side dishes, tempura, noodles, hand rolls, gunkan maki, and dessert!

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The best part is each dish is only $2.25, and generous servings for that price! If you do not see what you want passing through you press it on the screen, and it is sent through a zippy delivery system above straight to your seat. Welcome to the twenty-first century, ya’ll. Once you are done with a plate you put it in the “plate disposal” and it counts the number of plates disposed to keep track of your bill. Every five plates you dispose, a cartoon pops up on your screen and plays for you. It’s in Chinese, so I am pretty (totally) clueless what it says, but it’s entertaining nevertheless. If you manage to down 15 dishes, a little toy circles down into a slot next to the screen for you. Rumors have it that there are Hello-Kitty keychains in there, boys and girls. We were short by about three dishes (you can share a plate slot if you are paying together).

Here are a few of our most interesting samplings:

  • Salmon Roe: AKA Salmon Eggs. Conclusion: Not too much flavor, not offensive, probably will never order again.

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  • Tamago: Type of japanese omelette with an egg base. Conclusion: DELICIOUS. DJ was not as fond as I was, but I thought it had the sweetest, lightest taste and texture.

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  • Spider Roll: Your not-so-standard sushi roll with battered softshell crab tempura that claws out like a spider from the inside of the rice. Conclusion: We are addicted. Need.more.spider.roll.

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  • KULA roll. Conclusion: An explosion of all good things sushi in my mouth

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  • Negitoro (pink) and Masago (Capelin’s Egg). Tuna belly and fish eggs. Conclusion for Negitoro: One of the most scrumptious seaweed wrapped delectables I tried; may I have another? Conclusion for Masago: Fish eggs…

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  • Eel Hand Roll: Description: eel, avocado, rice and a special sauce wrapped in a flaky seaweed wrap. Conclusion: I have seen the light!

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For dessert we finished up with Japanese Donuts. I should have snapped a shot, but we were too eager to dig in. They serve about three of these little guys with vanilla ice cream and a carmel drizzle. DJ and I were thoroughly impressed.

Needless to say we loved Kula. So much that we made the decision to go back the next night. I justified this saying we had coupons! Well when we went to pay, I was all excited to get our 25% off, and the waitress pointed out the coupon is for another sushi place called “Kiku’s”. Guys, I was one of those obnoxious, brainless customers that looked like I was trying to scam the place. I felt so silly! Either way we got our sushi round-two and it was amazing. The second night we branched out and tried the Shrimp Tempura Udon. If you are unsure about the whole sushi, raw fish thing, this is a great option! (They also have beef options likes umami oil seared beef, wagu beef on rice, orange chicken, crispy chicken, and chicken gyoza dumplings).

DJ and I have a menu we brought home, and our goal is to try every single thing on it over the next four years. Not to brag, but definitely bragging, so far we have made quite the dent.

Wednesday night we finally got to watch our boo JoJo. We used to have viewing parties at our TOHO in Indiana. I miss those days as it was an excuse to bake all day and a respite from chaotic nursing school to spend time with our friends. We made sure to have the beef jerky and cashews for the guys and the wine with chocolate for us ladies. The cookies were a co-ed thing. Here is a pic from one of those bachelor extravaganzas:

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We still enjoy our bachelorette night, just in a simpler fashion.

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Look, I know the show is pretty trashy in and of itself, but you cannot help love this girl! She is just darlin’ I tell ya. The men, ehhh. I don’t know. DJ likes Jordan the best. I have doubted his sincerity for a while, but find myself warming up to him more and more. My favorite was either Luke or Chase, who sadly left. Now I don’t really care. Jordan is gunna win though- it’s pretty obvious. Men Tell All was hilariously ridiculous. I’ll just leave it at that. The best part of the show is just laughing together at the silliness of it all. I can’t act too cynical though, I always find myself in tears at one point or another during the season.

Thursday we were out and about running more errands so I scrounged up a Panera gift card we had for lunch. It was yum,yum,yum. You just can’t go wrong there. I tried their watermelon and feta salad. A lot of people have this habit of salting their watermelon. I think I understand why now! The salty nature of the feta complimented the juicy, light watermelon wonderfully. We also stayed inside most of the day because there was a smog warning out. Never heard of that, but hey, I’ll listen to the pros and stay inside.

Friday was filled with assembling our new dresser (yee-haw no more living out of hampers full of clothes!). Then I couponed the crap out of target (which has this great deal now, where if you buy a certain amount of a good you get a $5 giftcard). I only buy in bulk the things that we will need like toilet paper, paper towel, some cleaning supplies. I racked up about $30 in giftcards total that day, so I was pretty stoked about that!

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This morning (Saturday) Deej got up bright and early to go golfing with our Dad (his side). The apartment is coming together more and more. I cannot wait to share with ya’ll when it is done! But for now I am going to down this candy corn that I found at a Sprouts nearby. Who sells candy corn in July? They do apparently, and I am so bought in.

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Wishing you alotta those^,

xo <3

Mack