Wine, Jelly Beans and concerts

Monday, March 31, 2008

Ugh. I've been terrible at keeping this thing updated. Sadly, I think that my infrequent posting will continue through April. Is it really nearly April? When did that happen?
Anyway, the month looks pretty insane. I have, in quick succession: an audition recording to make, a concert of a really awful song cycle that I can't make myself practice and a concert of wonderful yummy music that I really like. The last one overlaps with Orthodox Easter, so my parents are all mad at me that I can't be at every single Holy Week service and stuff. I didn't plan on that, regardless of the concert schedule, but whatever....

This last week has been fairly eventful. By which I mean that I only went to work once last week, and otherwise goofed off and had fun. I know. Shocking.

Boyfriend was on spring break, and despite still spending a lot of time in his lab, we took a couple days to do stuff. First, we went to the Jelly Belly factory. If you're in the area, you absolutely must take the tour. It's free, and so, so, so fun! You learn about the actual manufacturing process, which is interesting (especially for industrial/electrical engineers like Boyfriend) and the history and stuff. Then you learn all about Ronald Reagan and his obsession with Jelly Bellies, which I really didn't care about, but hey, you get to see huge mosaics made of candy! Anyway, it was great fun. At the end, of course they expect you to hit the gift shop, which is hardly a bad thing. You can get 2 pound bags of the reject jelly beans called "Belly Flops" that you otherwise couldn't buy. So fun. Did I mention that?? Here are some photos:

Yes, despite being an engineer, Boyfriend managed to put his hat on upside-down.....hehe......
The new flavor is wild blackberry, which I cannot recommend more highly. If you're somewhere where you can acquire individual flavors, you really must try blackberry.

At the end of the week, my excuse for not working was that a friend from grad school was in town with his wife. I hadn't seen them in a couple of years, and so I was really excited to get to do the tour guide thing and see them. I make an excellent tour guide, by the way, because of my freakish ability to memorize events and dates. My history geek-itude means that I remember when important buildings were built and why, and what happened where, etc. We met up with another friend from grad school, a German guy who has moved here and married an American woman, and did a walking tour of Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, then went downtown to the opera house, Davies hall and the new Conservatory building. We then ate at Mel's Drive-in. I had to go after that, but they did the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausolito, Pier 39 and Fisherman's wharf.....does that sound like an insane amount for one day?? Cuz it is. A ton.

Friday, we added Boyfriend to the group and went up to Napa to go wine tasting. I'd never done that before, since it's a very yuppie thing to do, and I'm anything but a yuppie. We went to two big, well known wineries, and two little tiny ones. The big ones were a more tourist-catered experience. The tastings are in the gift shop area, where they're trying to sell you wine club memberships, fancy glasswear, fancy cooking stuff......blah. I didn't care for that, but for the Brits to get to see the origin of wines they actually have in England was interesting, I suppose. The other two offered a much better time. The people talking to us actually had a role in the making of the wines and could explain things in a human way (instead of a wine-snob way) and weren't trying to sell everything (including their souls). Of course, with all that wine, we needed a big lunch, and it turns out that the only half-way affordable place to eat in St. Helena, California is a totally excellent little tacqueria.

So, I'm still just as stupid about wine, but now I know a couple of winery names that I like, and a slightly better idea of what types of wine I can go for.

With such a luxurious week behind me, it was quite a shock to have to wake up early and go to work today, but such is life. I must now make up for all those days that I wasn't working!


I read a really fun book a couple of weeks ago. It was called Mistress of the Art of Death, by Ariana Franklin. It's totally anachronistic, and basically the cross between Law & Order and The Canterbury tales, but it was a really fun read.

Also unrelated to anything that I've said here, you know St. Mary's Cathedral in SF? The one affectionately (or not) referred to as Our Lady of Maytag for its resemblance to the agitator in a washing machine? Well, did you know about its wonderful shadows? Check it out:


Maggie Jochild said...

Ah, so evocative! I too was tourguide for visiting friends while I lived in the Bay Area, reeling off trivia and taking them to better known and lesser known treats. Like, the crookedest street isn't actually Lombard, it's Vermont near 101 (more turns).

And we always called it Sister Mary Maytag, but perhaps that was the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence influence.

Mel's! I had my 30th birthday lunch at Mel's! GREAT vanilla Cokes.

The murals on Balmy; the house at 150 Liberty (in the Mission) where Susan B. Anthony stayed when she was in town; the Sutro Baths (after watching Harold & Maude, of course); the seawall in the Marina District made of headstones that were once at the Chinese Cemetery where the Lincoln Park Golf Course is now (the city outlawed all cemeteries in, I think, the late 1800s, but people had to move their own family plots; so many Chinese men had come here as single immigrants and never were allowed to bring in their wives, they were buried solo and thus now their headstones are used as landfill; Dolores Park between 18th and 20th was two Jewish cemeteries, a male one and a female one, that did get moved to Colma).

The old mint and how it rode out the earthquake of '06 and the fire because there was a well in the middle courtyard and workers rushed back, locked themselves in and tossed buckets of water on the walls as the inferno swept by outside, keeping the place from going up in smoke. The fire hydrant on near Church and 20th, spray-painted gold by the fire department because it was the first hydrant that worked during that fire south of Mission, saving all the neighborhoods beyond; the row of Italianate Victorians on Guerrero between Brosnan and Market which also, freakishly, survived the fire and show that whole area looked like before the blaze.

The house opposite GGPark, near the Haight, where the Jefferson Airship painted all the interior walls black and let visitors decorate with cans of spraypaint in the foyer for general use.

And, always, the Camera Obscura/Musee Mecanique.

Thanks for bringing it all back up. So glad you still live there.

kat said...

The Mels on Van Ness or the one on Geary?
Actually I've eaten at each of them quite recently. The new addition to the menu is Oreo milkshakes (chunks of oreo in either a chocolate or a vanilla milkshake!!!)

One thing we didn't cover was the Haight. Not sure why...time, I guess...Plus my total nonenthusiasm for it...

I've heard many names for the cathedral. Growing up, I always just called it "that washing machine church."

Maggie Jochild said...

On Geary. I don't remember there being one on Van Ness. The oreo milkshake sounds AMAZING.

As does the taqueria in Napa.

I used to love breakfast at the Pork Store on Haight (if it's still there). Also the Duboce Diner. Cheeseburgers at Orphan Andy's. Clam chowder at the Mission Rock cafe. ANYTHING at Ruby's (which used to be under the Embarcadero, so I don't know if it survived the Loma Prieta).

You know, Jesse Wendel at Group News Blog and a frequent commenter at my site was a paramedic in Emeryville during the Loma Prieta. He was one of the guys who spend days/weeks pulling people from the cars on the Nimitz, flattened and not. A real hero.

kat said...

so, yeah, the taqueria was indeed great. The menu said that my chicken tacos came with lettuce and cheese. It didn't say that by "lettuce" they really meant a mix of lettuce and red cabbage with a really tangy and spicy fresh salsa mixed in. Topped with just a little cheese, so it wasn't all gooey.
Around here, these days, there's Mexican food, and then there's "California Mexican." I generally prefer the former, but this place had the fresh, bright flavors of the latter mixed in with the authenticity, and it was wonderful. I loved the color of the walls, too, but I'd never manage to describe it properly.

The Pork Store is indeed still there. I first saw it in college, though, at the height of my vegetarianism, so I've never eaten there.

My dad's business was in Emeryville for years. You wouldn't recognize that place now....

Yay for Jesse Wendel. I remember those scenes of the sanwitched freeway pretty vividly. Scary stuff...

Celeste Winant said...

St. Mary's...

heh heh heh heh

this reminds me of a lovely SFEMS concert we were at last November.

kat said...

celeste, you're dirty!!

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