Kels & Kenz Take on the Bay: Part 1!

***Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any uncontrollable stomach grumbles you may experience nor are we responsible for any cravings that may occur upon reading this post. If you are pregnant, or suspect you may be pregnant, there may be sushi triggers. Enter at your own risk, and we highly recommend bringing a sandwich***

This summer is truly one for the books! One of my greatest friends from college, Kelsey, was able to visit & prance around the city with me for a few days last week. You may recognize her from our wedding, but sadly we haven’t been together much since (she went to Uganda our last semester of college!).

I have never done sooo much in a short period of time (Nor am I sure I have ever ate so much, lol). Kels and I set out to knock off things from both of our bucket lists (This was, after all, her first time in CALIFORNIA, y’all!)

It’s so easy hanging with this chica because she is sooo go with the flow, and down with anything & when we’re together it’s just non-stop laughs mixed with great conversation. My heart is full <3 And sooooo are our stomachs. We also have the exact same taste in food, so we split everything the whole weekend which helped cut down on costs a bunch and allowed us to try a variety of nibbles! (and by nibbles I mean large meals that we are are calling snacks- deal?!).

We made the most of every second, and although she was only here for five days- it may take at LEAST four or five blog posts to recap it all. So let’s get toooo itttt!

We haven’t seen each other since the summer of 2016! She landed at around 12:20 at the Oakland Airport on Friday, July 27th. After exchanging the biggest hugs ever, we drove toward downtown SF to get a week of all time started. (wish Deej could have joined, but he had a homestand basically the whole time she was here, I took notes so I can take him back to these places though!).

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B Star, a Burmese inspired restaurant, was our first stop. People rave about this spot & swear it is a must try in SF. Their tea leaf salad has been on my foodie bucket list for a while. They also have a sister restaurant- Burma Superstar, that has a similar menu too.

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It was a tucked away little place, but the inside was so cute.

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We ordered the noodle salad, tea leaf salad, and samusa soup.

The noodle salad was light and refreshing- but nothing to write home about.

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The tea leaf salad brought a flavor that we’d never experienced. It was good, but sooo salty. Like almost too salty to enjoy for me. We ended up mixing the noodle and tea leaf and that combo was delicious; they balanced each other well.

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Now, the samusa soup was outstanding. This vegetarian soup has falafels, lentils, cabbage, potatoes, and jalapeños. This is, dare I say, the tastiest soup I have ever had. I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life. It was SO good. I am going to take DJ back just to try the soup!

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Time to see the famous Painted Ladies!! Would ya jus look at um’! Lookin’ dapper as ever, my friends.

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Everywhereeee you look, everywhere you go, there’s a heart, (there’s a heart)!!!! Ready to feel nostalgic?! You can peep these little ladies in the back of the intro here.

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LOVE HER!

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There is also a cute little park in Alamo Square if you have little ones.

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I decided since we were so close I would take Kels through Haight-Ashbury. The houses lining the walk down are a sight to witness! The level of meticulous attention & love poured into these front steps is evident. This one was reminiscent of the 16th Avenue Steps we visited about a month ago.

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Time to step back into the 60s!

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This is too funny…

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After Haight-Ashbury, we zoomed to Fishermans Wharf to be tourists doing touristy things.

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We ventured through Fisherman Grotto’s area, passed the sea lions, then into Pier 39’s hub! Kels is left-handed, so I was excited to show her the Lefty store.

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And what dooo you know? We were hungry again! Kels loves oysters, and I was trying to love oysters, so we looked up the best oysters in the area. The reviews for Sotto Mare were phenomenal, so we gave the joint a go.

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They are known for their world famous cioppino, but we still had a dinner planned, and wanted just some light, refreshing oysters. (But if you do venture here, make sure to try their cioppino! It’s now on my bucket list).

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We tried 3 East coast & 3 West coast oysters with the bloody mary mix shooters with an oyster in the bottom of the glass. So was it all up to the hype???????……

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YES!!!!!!!!

^ That was a bit dramatic , huh? Remember when we used to do that in chain mail back in the day? Okay totally digressing…

I started thinking I might be fond of oysters at Sam’s Chowder House, and these even surpassed that! The pairing with the cocktail sauce was a perfect touch too. So…. your girl officially LOVES oysters! Now I just need to get DJ on board.

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After slurpin’ down the half shell magic, we walked to Ghirardelli Square for our free samples of chocolate (yes, just go into the building and they are always handing out free samples), perused the niche boutiques, and drooled over the olive oil shop options.

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Ricky was on to something!

No matter how many times I am here I can’t help but snag a shot of the Powell & Hyde cable car (you can also see it in the full house intro video if you watch closely 😉 ).

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We found this interesting little street with books hanging from the wires too in North Beach. I had never noticed this before, and was curious behind the “why”…

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I found that it is an art installation called Language of the Birds. The books actually light up at night. There are words on the sidewalk too. It’s pretty cool to see the pictures of it at night.. you can find them here!

In the evening, we did the hour trek back to San Jose area and had a hankerin’ for some Bay Area quality sushi. There are cravings, and then there are sushi cravings. And lucky for us, there is a new place that opened recently on Santana Row called Ozumo.

I prayed it would be up to par since we were both walking in blind & I wanted to make sure Kels got some dang yummy sush while she was here (considering it is also her favorite food group).

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It looked brand spankin’ new! It had the chic, contemporary, Japanese restaurant vibes that are pretty popular in downtown SF, but I haven’t found any restaurants like it here… until now, of course!

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We decided to sit right at the sushi bar so we could watch the sushi being made. When I say this was the best dining experience we have ever had, I mean it. The service was impeccable. The atmosphere was light, warm, and fun, but not stuffy (like many of the row restaurants can be), the staff was superbly friendly and attentive, and the sushi was the greatest sushi we have ever had.

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The sushi chef gave us complimentary octopus to start our meal (yes complimentary, that was absolutely spectacular)…. we were being treated like royalty. I was like, “are they mistaking us for someone important?!” haha. Kels said that lately she has been on a streak for getting things for free, so we chalked it up to her being our good luck charm 😉

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I was craving wakame, but they didn’t have plain wakame on the menu. We decided to be adventurous and try their personal take on a seaweed salad- the Kaiso Salad. This included the red & green tosaka seaweed, wood ear mushroom, green onion, sweet chili dressing. I am thankful they didn’t have plain wakame, because it would have been a shame to miss out on this dish! It was perfection. So tasty, so flavorful, and so light.

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Then for the best part of the meal (which is saying a LOT), we had their shacho roll with tuna, salmon, scallop, crab salad, takuwan wrapped in soy paper, and lobster sauce. Umami flavors for dayyyyyyyyys.

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BEST SUSHI ROLL OF ALL TIME.

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And we also split the tremendous tuna tataki with thinly sliced seared black pepper encrusted tuna, truffle oil, ponzu, grated ginger, and micro cilantro. Heaven. Heaven straight on a plate. We ate our food soo slowly because we didn’t want it to end. Every single nibble was savored.

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We tried the cheapest red on the menu, and it was a perfect accompaniment with the meal- although a bit too generous of a pour to finish it all up.

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Happy Happy Camper with something in her teeth. (Sign of a fab meal- amiright?)

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Final touches- the bill being presented in a Thank You card <3

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Ozumo, we laud your restaurant & your food! Thank you for an unforgettable dining experience. We will be back!!

We walked around the row for about a couple hours. We even witnessed some random motorcycle show out of the blue.

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We decided we weren’t quite ready to turn in for the night. There was one other place on my bucket list to knock off and believe it or not, we decided to do dinner number two at around 10 pm…. whoops! It’s not like we were starving, but we were like, “we could eat!” know what I meaaan?

Pizza Antica is always packed out the door, but since it was very late at this point, we were able to get a seat right away.

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We split their fantastic margherita pizza. (Their bread is great too!).  I’ll be bringing DJ back to try this ‘za. He really loves a flatbread margherita. Since we were satisfied after about a piece.5 each, we had leftovers that would be perfect for nibblin’ the rest of the week.

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And finally, after eating about seven full meals in one HALF day, we called it a night. Yes, that was all one day folks. I’m not sure whether to be proud or ashamed. I’m going proud, yes definitely proud. It’s an investment in the best of memories, ya know? 😉

Questions:

Oysters- Yay or nay?

Did you watch Full House growing up?

xo <3

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Family, Friends, and Food: A Recipe for a Perfect Weekend

Wow! I have taken quite the hiatus from blogging the last couple weeks and it simply is because I have been busy making some incredible memories <3. Sometimes when such wonderful events occur I feel like I can’t get them written down fast enough. I’m afraid they will leave me if I don’t record the small details. It’s the small details that seem to sneak out of the memory the quickest, but also the small details that make each memory personal and unique. Hence, I want to make every effort to hang onto them.

My mom came on Friday August 26th. DJ and I picked her up from the San Francisco airport and headed straight into the city! As I mentioned in my last San Francisco post, I spent time with my dear friend, Annie, who lived with us in high school. My mom was an eager beaver to see her. Friday night we had tickets to Eat/Drink SanFran (get ready for picture overload!). It started at 7:30 pm, which is an awkward time for “dinner”, so we decided to lightly graze at the Slanted Door to tide us over. Yes, “lightly” is a subjective term. Naturally while waiting for a table we had to do a photo shoot…

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What is this “Slanted Door” you ask? It is a modern Vietnamese fusion restaurant experience that guarantees to take your taste buds on an adventure like never before. No, they did not ask me to promote them, but while I’m waiting for my nursing license to get approved maybe I could work for their marketing department? Hehe.

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First up on the menu for the evening was Vegetarian Spring Rolls. But, oh, they are not just your typical vegetarian spring rolls (which are fantastic in themselves); these are the BEST. They contain tofu, shiitake, cabbage, mint, and a peanut sauce that will blow your mind. Would you judge me if I just drank it? Right out of the bowl? Would you judge me if I told you I’m not kidding?!

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Next up on the menu was the vegetarian Banh bot loc- aka mung bean tapioca dumplings, scallion oil, and thai chile soy sauce.

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BRB, need to get a napkin for the puddle of drool I have on my laptop after thinking about them…

Next on the list was Crispy Imperial Rolls. These included gulf shrimp, pork shoulder, vermicelli noodles, and roasted peanut. The meat eaters at the table gobbled them up like it was their last supper. You use the lettuce leaves to make a wrap with the crispy rolls and noodles and then dip in the sauce. It took us a moment to figure that one out 😉

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Last, these barbecued willis ranch pork spareribs were the fan-fave. I didn’t try them, but they smelled heavenly and in the time they left the plate I could tell they were darn tasty!

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They even gave us some hot washcloths for the ribs (or was it for the beverage spill? whoopsies!) Now- that’s some service! img_9423

After this “appetizer” (aka first dinner), we decided to walk to the venue and take our time sight seeing the bay. This never gets old for me, even if it was my third weekend in a row there!

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Below is a picture from “Off the Grid”. This was taking place the same night as Eat/Drink SanFran and definitely something I will want to do in the future! It is a gathering of a bunch of food trucks from the area with music and a big carnival feel!

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The building on the right at Fort Mason is where Eat/Drink took place.

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I was so glad DJ decided to take a break from studying to have a night out for some fun. He works so hard every. single. day.

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Walking up to the doors I felt like a giddy child again. I feel like those “giddy” feelings bubble up less and less the older you grow, but when they do sneak up on ya, you know you are doing life right.

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Just a little overview about Eat/Drink SF: It is organized by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and represents the best of the Bay Area’s  cuisine. It goes on for four days at the Fort Mason pavilion (Thursday to Sunday). You pay a flat fee for one of the days (we did Friday) and then have unlimited access to over 36 food vendors and over 70 beer, wine, and spirits makers once in the building. They also have a VIP option as well. I am not sure exactly what that entails, but you do get early access to the building and more exclusive options. Here is the formal description of the whole event:

“Enjoy unlimited pours of wine, beer, and cocktails and tastes from the Bay Area’s top restaurants. Mingle with the personalities that make this a world-class dining destination. Watch cooking demonstrations and learn in classes taught by renown tastemakers”

We did not sit in any classes this time because we were too busy eating, duh. We agreed we would make this an annual thing and next time partake in one of the classes.

When you enter, you receive a glass that you keep with you throughout the entire tasting.

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Every venue has a unique set up that quickly allows the consumer to know what their cuisine is all about! There were corn hole games set up near the Straus Family Creamery Ice Cream and Super Duper Burger stand. It felt like you were at a barbecue, but then two steps over you entered an Italian oasis with Pizza Antica. It was intoxicating (no pun intended).

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The Morning Star pizza was one of my favorite flavors of the night. It was a vegan barbecue pizza and they even handed out recipe cards to make it at home. I will be making it- no doubt!

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The Glenlivet Dram Room was a hard liquor tasting room. None of us were interested in actually trying any of the liquor, but the room itself was really neat!

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Here you could sniff different scents that were used in the production of their products. I loved that!

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They certainly had some unique food to try- and you know I was all about that! For example, I have heard quail eggs are tasty but never have actually had the chance to try one. It was- all together now…- AMAZING!.

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Hehe- got to love the candids.

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The displays were truly enticing. It was exciting to be feet away from such incredible talent as well.

For example, below is Emporio Rulli with Gary Rulli. The dessert I have posted was one of the greatest desserts I have ever tried. The three of us were drowning in all good things sugar. It was a pistachio creme brulee. I am not a huge creme brulee fan, so I probably would have never ordered this on a menu. However, if when I go to Emporio Rulli, this is a MUST.

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The smoked salmon mousse above was one of my favorite things of the evening. It was tediously intricate the way they made them too- Each one was given the utmost attention. I have never seen an appetizer so doted over!

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One of the strangest tries of the night was foie gras ice cream. I know this is probably not vegetarian, but hey, when you are somewhere like this go big or go home. This was from Hudson Valley Foie Gras. We have tried foie gras in the past and weren’t particularly blown away. However, this foie gras ice cream was surprisingly delicious. If you like salty and sweet combos, this little treat had the pair perfected! Unfortunately, I have no picture of this little nibble!

After we walked rolled home, we slept soundly with dreams of all SanFran food. My recommendations based on the evening:

Everything was absolutely fantastic, but those are just some of our favorites.

The next day my mama and I had some homemade parfaits with dried apple chips out on the balcony. We love sitting out there in the fresh cool morning air and enjoying our hot coffee and reading our Bibles.

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We then did the big walk to the store to pick up some necessities for the day. We stopped by a chinese bakery on the way back and saw the most interesting “sweets”. Chinese dessert is not knowing for being super sweet, but they certainly are creative!

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We jump started the next part of the day with an insanity workout, and I was impressed by this tough little cookie! She killed it. I was so proud. She has been working hard over the last few months to get into shape and it is showing.

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During the day we had one task: Hang up some living room curtains. I saved this task for my mom because I honestly do not have the first clue on how to hang rods, use a drill, etc. My mom is a pro at all this and even makes her own curtains. Well we ran into a little hiccup with where the studs were in the wall. Long story short we had a very frustrating afternoon and could not figure the darn thing out. After covering up the gaping nail holes we decided we needed a break and met DJ for sushi. He studied the entire day in the library and suggested a sushi place he went to with a friend. He claimed it was the best sushi he has ever had (which says a lot considering the sushi in Bora Bora was out of this world). It lived up to the hype. Oh shoot, now I’m craving it again.

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We headed back to the house and decided that we would give the curtains one more go of it. We found a little loop behind the paneling and were able to use canvas wire to hang the pole. We did it! Despite how frustrating the project was, it felt awesome to conquer it.

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We topped off the night with a visit to Cupervino. Cupervino is located super close to our apartment and I have wanted to give it a go ever since we moved here. The atmosphere is fantastic. We decided to split a wine flight and a glass. The pours were supposed to be three-oz. flights. I am doubtful that this was accurate. These were full on glasses.

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In the morning we headed to church. Gosh, I was so ecstatic for my mom to meet all the new incredible friends of ours and experience the most authentic worship. She loved it!

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After church we went to Santana Row while DJ went to study land 🙁 He is doing so well, but never stops studying.

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We walked around the row and stopped by a cute little band of youngsters playing in the square. It was adorable! They were probably in their early teens and the girl had a beautiful voice.

For brunch we stopped at left bank . The craziest thing was it hit my mom that the last time she was in the area this was the restaurant she went to with a friend. Kind ironic considering just how many restaurants there are in the area!

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We tried the salmon hash with red onions, tomatoes, parsley, yukon gold potatoes, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauced. We paired it with a delectable goat cheese salad. It was THE quintessential brunch.

After walking around Santana Row for a while, we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous day (Oh wait- everyday is gorgeous here?!), and go for a hike. This was the Tony Look trail that opens up into Fremont Older Nature preserve.

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This was one of our favorite parts of the whole weekend. Such great conversation is sparked during hikes, and we had seven miles to just chat. It was so nice to enjoy the views and talk about life.

For dinner we whipped up some green chef meals! Green Chef is just like Blue Apron! We had two meals left from the first package (I made the first meal in my last post 😉 ). It was a blast cooking together and DJ came home just in time to enjoy the meal with us. My mom and I shared the Tuna Burger and DJ had the Steak over orzo. We left out the walnuts and walnut pesto and just used regular pesto because DJ is allergic. I probably should have looked closer at that before ordering it! There have been several times in the past where I have almost accidentally “poisoned” DJ as he calls it. Exhibit A is posted below: I packed a trailmix in his lunch that had walnuts. Big WHOOPS.

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Sadly, my momma had to say goodbye Sunday night. But we were all so thankful for the time we had. It worked out that she was taking a red-eye that Sunday so we had the whole day to enjoy!

I have about a week of additional blogging to do that I will be working on the next couple days! There is a TON of fun stuff that went down while my best friend was in town, so stay tuned!!!! I hope you all had a wonderful and restful labor day weekend.

Wishing you a wonderful week,

xo <3

Mack