We went away for the weekend & escaped to wander around the bay area (a day each in Berkeley, Oakland & San Francisco). All of the food we had was deeeelicious.
- Berkeley = Our favorite burger place ever – Barney’s! Their spicy, curly fries with ranch are amazing & the burgers are delicious too. There are locations all over the bay, so look around. They are definitely worth it. Also, technically we had dinner in Berkeley on Saturday night at La Note Provencal. The food was great, but they were oddly busy when we got there (to the tune of an hour wait when they said 30 minutes) & oddly empty when we left (four tables only). I guess 6pm is their rush, so avoid that time. Cute ambiance & tasty food though.
- Oakland = BBQ! It’s hard to get BBQ sauce just right & Everett & Jones did! Their medium sauce was just the right blend of sweet & spicy, and their links were great!
- San Francisco = I went to this bakery today & almost died. Everything we had was perfect! And, of course, no trip to the mission district is complete without ice cream.
Possibly the best part about those meals is that they were all reasonably priced. With drinks & tax & tip, no meal exceeded $20 per person & most came in closer to $10.
We went to the bay area to celebrate my husband & I having days off together (lamentably, a rare occurence) & because we had tickets to a couple of different shows. On Friday night, we saw Flight of the Conchords, and on Saturday night, we saw She & Him. The highlight of the FotC show was definitely when they asked the entire audience to stand up & dance to “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor.” People were screaming & bouncing & dancing. It was pretty contagiously exciting, especially Bret’s ridiculous dancing. They sort of just say whatever they want, which is amusing, if disjointed. She & Him ended their show with “I Put a Spell on You,” and it was just awesome. It was perfect for Zooey’s voice. This is a poor quality video, but I highly recommend it. Ignore the people frantically screaming. She really did nail it. I loved the band-less part of that show – when it was just the two of them. Awesome.
And, if that wasn’t enough, we’re barbecuing tomorrow in honor of having another day off together! Life is great.
Pizza places are like ex-boyfriends… Eventually, they disappoint you & you break up. Our pizza place of the last two years suddenly stopped accepting any of their corporation’s coupons (for someone who rarely remembers to use coupons, I always utilize them for pizza purchases) & started going too quickly with their pizza preparation (a few jalapenos in the middle of my cheese pizza & then an underdone crust, etc.).
At least once a week, I have no time in the evening to throw something together or venture out for dinner. These nights beg for delivery (or cereal). When our pizza place hit three strikes, I decided to revisit former flames (never a good idea, right?). One was completely out of business. One no longer delivered to our area. One still had terrible / nonexistent coupons (the reason we had broken up in the first place). Sulky, I decided not to eat dinner that night (as we were out of cereal, even).
The guy turned around a few minutes later and named a pizza place I had previously ignored due to its ridiculous name: Extreme Pizza. I always felt like shouting when we’d get one of their fliers. “Hey, here’s your check stub & a new Rachael Ray magazine. Ugh, PG&E bill… OH! MY! GOSH! EXTREEEEEEEEME!!!! PIZZA!!!!!” However, a lack of other options forced me to give them a shot.
I’ll be honest, their delivery time is longer than any other pizza place I’ve tried. While the chains normally deliver in 30 minutes, I have waited 45-75 for Extreme Pizza (now tried it a couple of times). However, it’s worth it! Here’s why:
- Their coupons are awesome! Each receipt comes with a stack of coupons, but I’ve found great ones on the website as well. You can get free breadsticks with any online order & two large pizzas for the price of one on Tuesdays.
- Each person with whom I’ve interacted has been almost suspiciously cheerful. The delivery guy might be taking uppers, even. When I spoke with someone on the phone, he was fantastically polite & helpful (let me write in a coupon that the internet site wasn’t accepting for some reason – letting me get the internet order bonus & use the coupon from the receipt).
- I started off with a cheese pizza (my standby), but the delivery guy talked me into trying one of their Extreme Pizza Creations (their words, not mine) on a subsequent order. Truly, their “Ragin’ Rooster” was an amazing pizza – the best I’d had in awhile. Their description: A pizza with chicken marinated in a killer BBQ sauce, red onions, fresh cilantro, cheddar and mozzarella.
- All of the other stuff we’ve tried has been good too – cheese pizza, calzone, breadsticks.
Admittedly, the wait time is a bit longer & their signature pizzas are more expensive (around $20 for a large), but buy one / get one free on Tuesdays rocks, and my total would still actually be about the same as a pizza & breadsticks & delivery fee from another place, so I am sold.
Also, cold pizza for lunch makes my day!
So, I have never been a big fan of tomatoes. I love marinara sauce, tomato-based soups (even tomato soup itself), salsa (not pico de gallo though), etc. I just don’t particularly like tomatoes. Because of this hangup, I have always shied away from bruschetta (being as pretty much every type of bruschetta involves chunks of tomato on types of bread).
However, on a whim a bit ago, I ordered the bruschetta appetizer to share with him when we tried a new restaurant (Appetez off Roseburg next to the Virginia corridor). Not expecting much, I was thrilled when a sampler arrived – 3 flavors, 2 of each – perfect for sharing! There was a traditional one that was delicious & fresh without being overly tomato-y… and I actually liked it! The cheese & garlic & onion one that I expected to like the most was actually my least favorite. I was very into the heaps of fresh toppings on the other two. However, saving the best for last, I absolutely adored the clam bruschetta. I am a big fan of seafood in general, but it seemed to really pop – juicy & flavorful.
We’ve been back since & tried another appetizer (or, as this restaurant deems them – Appetez-er), and it was good (spinach-artichoke dip) but not as memorably flavorful as the bruschetta. My stalwart dinner companion has been enraptured by both of his entrees (veal parmesan & a spicy pasta), but mine were just good (calamari steak [the non-pistachio one as they’re still not serving pistachios] & stuffed salmon). Both the desserts we tried were excellent (tiramisu & a warm apple ‘n’ pear compote), and we’ll return again.
However, inexplicably, the bruschetta was what won my heart.
Note: Although this restaurant has been in business for over a decade, the last time I had been inside was when my high school boyfriend worked as a dishwasher in its former life as Deja Vu Cafe. Because of those late night forays, I have an interestingly thorough knowledge of the layout & location of supplies. Not really relevant, but it made me smile when I walked in.
Although I am the queen of anticipation (spend more time thinking about vacations than I spend on them, have a tendency to spend an embarrassing length of time mentally decorating prospective houses, etc.), I went out on a date with my guy tonight without a lot of planning. Granted, I did spend an hour a week or two ago pulling out all of the interesting Central Valley things in my area, so we chose from there, but ended up at The State for a pleasing little gem of a movie which put me in a lovely mood (The State, actually, not the movie).
There’s something especially satisfying about viewing movies at The State. I am unsure if it’s the somewhat luxe atmosphere (recently remodeled, serves alcohol, meant to be an experience – not an in-and-out place like most movie theatres) or the patrons (with an exception or two [notably the packed showing of Home Alone where people were extremely obnoxious], they tend to be people who are genuinely mellow & interested in the movie), but whatever it is, it works. I remembered to pick up some fliers for upcoming events & was pleased to see that The Film Society (a project by my former political science teacher who I liked enough to aide for during the duration of my stay at our local junior college) was playing two of my mother’s and my favorite movies this fall – To Kill a Mockingbird (the one book’s cinematic translation of which I can say I fully approve) & Laura (which comes up in conversation with my mother with startling frequency). Additionally, the 75th anniversary of the theatre is coming up (mid-May, I believe) with a gala worth attending & a tribute film which includes a short cameo by my grandparents-in-law (the realtors).
We had decided to try a new restaurant & actually went to THREE closed restaurants (unsure why so many restaurants that were in business were closed around 9pm on a Friday?!) before settling on Ciao Bella on H Street (no twig garnishes unlike its central coast now-closed name-twin). My chicken parmigiana was acceptable, but his veal piccata was delicious in a way that absolutely blew me away. The pasta (oil & garlic) was good enough for me to actually bother eating some (I rarely like pasta) & the calamari was decent. The waitress was delightful & the atmosphere mellow. While I would shy away from breaded food in the future (calamari was his choice & chicken parmigiana a suggestion from the waitress), I will go back for that amazing picatta (probably delicious on salmon or chicken as well – both choices).
Although we happened to miss out on Montell Jordan (of “This Is How We Do It” fame) at a downtown venue ($40 for tickets? Really?), I couldn’t have planned a more satisfying evening – extra fantastic because I didn’t plan it – it took me by surprise.
Note: I pulled up Jordan’s song on my iPhone & we sang it loudly on our way home creating a much cheaper & possibly more satisfying concert (the years likely have not been kind to a 90’s once-was). I am almost ashamed by how many of the words we both remembered.