"Then let's look on the bright side: we're having an adventure. . . and most people live and die without being as lucky as we are"
-- The Princess Bride

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oh My God YELP Events!! (A.K.A Guest post by Kris)

I am going to start this off by saying one thing, everyone should go to any Yelp event they are invited to.

Jessica and I went to a Yelp Tasting Event on Sunday and had an amazing time.  There were so many Yelpers and so many different things to taste.  There was the Cupcake Winery and distillery with their delicious red velvet red wine and their amazing chocolate vodka.  There were also numerous other distilleries around sampling mostly tequilas.  There were also a variety of breweries, most of which served beers I have already tried and enjoyed.  The people pouring our "tastes" of these things were not skimping on their pours.  We were getting full cups of beer to taste.

The alcohol was all great, but the food blew it all away!  I don't know which of the foods we tried was my favorite.  There were amazing tamales and mini-burgers, and more bbq than I could try.  Everyones favorite place of the night though had to be the bakeries.  My favorite was the bacon cupcake from Vanilla Bean Gourmet Cupcakes.  Jessica's favorite (after the bacon cupcake of course) was Fat Bottom Bakery's toasted coconut cupcake, I didn't get to try them though.  Entertainingly, the woman who owned Vanilla Bean said that she didn't actually like cupcakes and opened the store solely so she could share the bacon cupcakes with the world because she loved them so much!

But Yelp did not stop at food and drinks!  There were also activity booths for attendees to visit.  After a parkour demonstration, people could try out what they saw on some hefty mats without hurting themselves.  There were tea dancers and live music from local bands.  There was also a booth where you could dress up and take a "band" picture.  And lastly, a burlesque show with some interaction between the onstage woman and the crowd.

I think my favorite part of the night was the Homefry's area.  They put on game nights all over the Bay Area by offering games and other multi-person fun such as giant jenga, original NES games, giant connect four, and giant chess.  I played an epic game of jenga where the tower eventually got taller than me and it could barely be touched without swaying a few inches either way.

All in all it was an amazing night and I definitely sugest going to any Yelp event you get invited to because they are awesome.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Everyone has a Happy Place

Mine just happens to be Rivoli's restaurant on Solano.  At least once a year for as long as I can remember we have gone to Rivoli's.  Usually, it is in the wonderful company of Walter and Lydia on New Years Eve.  But tonight, Kris and I ventured there in the hopes of recreating some of my best memories with a smaller party.  I was worried that without our "in" the service would be merely mediocre, and I was so so so happy to be proven wrong.  I might even say that tonight was one of my favorite meals there.

I (being of stupid, yet sound mind and body) looked at the menu today while at work, and was so immediately taken with one of the options that it was not even a choice as to where we would be eating dinner tonight.  Around noon I made a reservation, and it was 8 long hours of waiting later that Kris and I began our delicious trip down Rue de Rivoli.  As is customary at restaurants, we were seated... duh... then our server came out to help us get started and when he asked if we had any questions our only response was "yes, we know exactly what we want to eat, but no idea how to pair that with wine!"  He responded in turn by sending out Peter, an incredible sommelier with a love of wines comparable to my love of coats and gelato combined!

Peter seemed to take a liking to us and not only offered us 8 different amazing sounding options to go with our meal, but decided that given our interests, we would be perfect to help try out a new wine that wasn't even on the wine menu yet!

We chose the mushroom fritters with house aioli, fresh gnochhi with peaches and brown butter sauce, chicken two ways, and pot roast with mushroom au jus and polenta.  Peter helped us every step of the way, pointing out different flavors and complexities of the wines while incorporating fun stories about the people who made them! From our conversations, he appears to know everyone in the wine world, down to the newborn twins of the daughter of the guy who created Gallo wines (she married a Frenchman and created Turning Leaf! Incroyable!!)

Peter not only helped us find this perfect wine for our meal, he also made sure it was the one we wanted by bringing out a different wine from Lodi, California.  An oakier, fruity wine that was delicious with the fritters!

The food as usual was amazing.  Kris' chicken two ways would have knocked my socks off if I had been wearing any, and my pot roast was one of the most divine mouthgasms of my life.  Needless to say, they took gnocchi to a whole new level and instead of the generic chewy nubbins you receive most places I enjoyed a fluffy pillow of potato-pleasure (I later learned they were ricotta gnocchi)!

We must have done something right because when the time for dessert came we ordered a gelato (strawberry and raspberry) and asked if they still served the Vin Santo with Biscotti... sadly, the answer was no, but they did us one better and gave us a double order of Madeira dessert wine with biscotti like cookies, and threw in a mini hot fudge sundae (they must have overheard us talking about the first time Kris came and tried to eat a full one by himself.)  Side note, the picture above is after we ate two and a half of the cookies, we can't be blamed though as they were delicious and had pistachios in them.

As much as I love going on our yearly New Year's romp, I think that this was truly the first time I saw Rivoli's for what it really is.  A phenomenal restaurant with a wonderful staff, not only do they go above and beyond the call of waiterdom, they make sure that every person there feels like they are the most important people in the room.  I can't wait to go back even if next time I just drop in for the fritters and a glass of wine.

Friday, June 24, 2011

I was going to make a Taco joke, but decided against it.

The setting: Emeryville, lunchtime, on a busy street
The exact place: the best taco truck ever
Cast of characters: me and the taco dude (henceforth referred to as TD)

me: I will have 2 steak tacos and a coke please
TD: okay, 4 dollars.
me: no, I'm sorry, I must not have spoken clearly, two tacos and a coke please.
TD: yes, 4 dollars
me: are you sure you are getting this, 2 tacos, 1 coke, please.
TD: yes, 2 tacos, 1 bottle of coke, 4 dollars
me: *perform little jig, reconsider order, think about buying all the tacos*
TD: *stares a bit*
me: well thank you then!


Side note, the tacos were amazing.  Emeryville is winning me over day by day.

Here is a site that my coworker Chris sent me to, I have had a lot of trouble not snorting with glee every few seconds as I refresh the page.  I think dolphin punch and the one with the horse are my favorites.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Super Saturday

Yesterday was very very fun, and busy, and chock full of delight!

After 2 weeks of waking up every morning at 6:30am, my body was quite pleased to sleep in all the way to 9am! We decided to go to the children's museum on the Cal campus and headed out after a breakfast of cookies.  The museum (the Laurence Hall of Science?) sits atop a big hill with a great overlook of the city. On the way up the massive hill we saw a pack of goats, bunch of goats? plethora of goats? herd? who knows... and I got out to take a picture.  After accidentally shocking myself on the electric fence we headed onward to our destination.  Even before entering we knew it was going to be fun since there were statues of a giant whale and a huge strand of DNA for kids of all ages to play on.

Inside we sneakily used our UCSB ID's and got student price of $4, instead of $17, and headed back to the dinosaurs.  The exhibit was fun but the rest of the museum seriously outdid it.  EVERYTHING was interactive! you could uncover fossils, make rockets out of cups and foam, learn about gravity and forward motion with loop dee loop toys, build structures out of jenga blocks, play with the outdoor water feature and learn about tectonic plates, etc.

We finished up after 2 hours and decided to get some lunch at 900 Grayson, a place my mom and dad said was quite tasty.  The wait was half an hour but once we sat down and looked at the brunch menu all our doubt melted away... the two pomegranate mimosas didn't hurt either.  We got chicken and waffles and it was outstanding, I was tempted to get another order but realized I was so full from the first I would just end up with a stomach ache.  So we went back to the sublet and took a little nap before meeting up with Johnlyssa.

We left around 3pm and got to John's apartment around 4.  We coincidentally got there at the exact same time as Alyssa so we headed up with her and all 4 of us decided on a place for dinner.  That place was Nickies, we got fish n' chips, potato skins, garlic fries, and country fried chicken, all alongside some Guinness.  From dinner we headed to the Sundance Kabuki theater where we had tickets to see "Midnight in Paris" with Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams.

The theater had a bar where we bought a bottle of wine and took it inside with us to the balcony seats!  between every two seats there was a little table and it was definitely one of the more awesome theaters I have been to.  Hopefully we will have another opportunity to go back soon!

We were all pretty tuckered out after our long day so Kris and I bid farewell to San Francisco and our friends and headed back into Berkeley, where everything seemed a little brighter and less janky after our day of fun.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Panini Potluck

Yesterday I found out that the people at Peet's have been very pleased with me and have extended my temp job until the end of July!  I was pretty stoked to keep working at such a fun place and that feeling was only amplified when I learned that today there was to be a panini potluck. 

I added cheddar cheese and apples to the sign up sheet and today when lunch rolled around there was a huge amount of panini fixin's to choose from.  For my first sandwich, I went with cheddar, havarti, red apple slices, prosciutto and balsamic vinegar.  And for my dessert, a scrumptious nutella and banana panini that made my stomach incredibly happy.

I am learning to like working life!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"It's only a mile away, but it's a long mile"

After work today I headed over to Best Buy to pick up some replacement cheapy headphones.  I have been buying the same crappy Sony over the ear ones for about 6 years now and thought I might upgrade to something a little more advanced.  But instead I was drawn to the E-readers... After carrying around "We The Drowned" for the last month and a half, I realized that a small E-reader may have some benefits over 800 page tomes I only plan on reading once.  So I left with an impulse buy.

After returning home Kris and I realized that the only thing that finishes off a day better than a $200 purchase is dinner at one of your favorite restaurants.  So we drove over to Corso and were lucky enough to snag a spot up at the kitchen counter! We not only got to watch the food get made for the restaurant but also had a nice chat with our cook (I learned he was not the chef, wooooooo kitchen etiquette) and we had a great time.  The best part of the meal? Probably the appetizer special of scallops with a sweet olive oil sauce on a mixture of greens and some little noodle things.  Way more appetizing than I just made it sound.

Overall, I am extremely happy to have some company and finally start exploring Berkeley, even if it is a really long mile away from us.  South Berkeley is probably not where I want to stay forever but for now it is starting to feel a little less intimidating.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The title of this post can not possibly contain the amount of rage I feel towards Verizon.

Wednesday = received replacement phone in the mail... wouldn't turn on
Thursday = take phone to Verizon, have them activate it.  Almost instantly it starts rebooting, which is the problem I needed a new phone to fix.  One lost lunch break later, I think the problem is solved.
Friday = it's not solved.  Dash to North Berkeley to the Verizon store there. Phone reboots on constant loop.  can't contact anyone.
Saturday = people can't attend a party if they don't know where it is or how to get there.
Monday = come to temp job, lose lunch because I am at Verizon for another hour. They are sending a third refurbished phone tomorrow. 

I have given up. I hate Verizon and HTC for not being able to come up with a solution to this problem.

I want to eat lunch.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Do I really have to go?

Yesterday I realized that this Temp job is pretty much exactly what I would like my job to be.  Maybe not the receptionist part... but the people and the location are amazing.  Everyday at Peet's Coffee and Tea headquarters at least 4 people offer to make me a delicious coffee beverage of some kind.  Two days ago I had Kristina's fancy jellyfish foam art on my cappuccino, yesterday an amazing little heart from Brett.  Then to top it off a man came in and said there were whoopee pie samples from one of the vendors that he brought for the staff.  FRESH DELICIOUS WHOOPEE PIES!!!

After my two weeks are up I will be sad to leave and (a) have no more income, (b) have no more nice Peet's people.

Today, the same vendor (Raison d'Etre) dropped off round two of the delectable pies and some butterscotch swirl brownies.  I stashed away a pie for tomorrow's breakfast and have decided that if I was to continue working here I would probably balloon up to 300 pounds from all the sweets and have a serious coffee addiction.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Back to Berkeley

Just got home to the sublet about an hour ago... 7 trips to the car and back with stuff later and I am contemplating dinner.  Pizza Delivery? don't meet the minimums... Walk somewhere? I have no idea what is good and it is getting dark...

Luckily I just ate a Tiramisu cupcake from Crushcakes!  Delicious!  It even had a lady finger soaked in rum and stuffed with mascarpone cheese in the center.  There are certain things I will miss about SB.

Update on the mailbox: It is not tricky, I tried it.  It works like a mailbox should.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The mailbox is really tricky?

First day in Berkeley!  Am I excited you ask? Somewhat.

Today has been very "interesting." And I stress interesting not as a positive or negative.

Alyssa and I got some coffee and then packed up my car and drove over the Bay bridge.  Freeways in Northern California, not my favorite.  We got over to the East bay and gave a call to the new housemate Aaron, this was "interesting" to say the least.  He seemed a little confused as to who I was and why I was calling, but after clearing things up a little he said the apartment would be ready in 15 minutes.

We went inside to meet him and were met by Aaron, who showed me the room (empty in an otherwise messy and full apartment) and took me on a slightly unnecessary tour of the complex.  First off, it should be known that the washer and dryer appear to be a secret hangout for villains and thieves... I am fairly sure that there are bodies in the many plywood closets down there.  Second, he took us to the mailbox which is "really tricky to open."  Why is it really tricky? You can't use the key if it is upside down.  Yea, that makes it tricky.  IT'S A KEY!! OF COURSE IT ONLY WORKS ONE WAY!  Interesting...

Alyssa and I took this as an opportunity to escape the madness and go to target.  On the way there, we got stuck between a very large 16 wheeler and a little janky Toyota with it's rear lights blacked out with tape and the longest antenna known to man.  5 minutes in we decided we needed to move or we would be stuck in this alley/chop shop/dead end forever.  Luckily, the giant truck moved out and we were able to continue to our original destination without any further interruptions.  At Target we got some towels, food, baby box of wine, ice cream, an ottoman/storage cube and a loofah!

Then back to the very "interesting" apartment where we unloaded the car and drank some wine and ate delicious Tiramisu ice cream.  After putting everything away and setting up the room a little things seem a bit less odd, and I might make it through the next 2 months without throttling Kris.  We shall see.