August 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dear May!

Some years ago, on this date, my life as an only child was turned upside down… in a good way.  No, in a great way.  I became an older sister to a cute little baby who seemed to exhibit incredible sense of humor even as an infant.  She filled my days with fun and, I must admit, it felt pretty amazing to come home from school and greeted by her baby giggles.

happy baby

our afternoon walks

visiting family during the holidays
a few holidays later

Although she and I are much older now, we still have so much fun together.  We’re so different from each other (she’s the vibrant one).  But each time we’re together, we get silly and laugh endlessly.

with plastic duck bills that quack

Happy birthday to my dearest baby sister!

one of my favorite photos of us

August 21, 2011

This Little Piggy Went to the Wine Country

I love spontaneous day trips!  A recent weekend without prior commitments led us to our favorite Bay Area getaway.  We never get tired of the wine country.  We’ve been curious to try Ad Hoc for some time now so we jumped at the opportunity when we found an available timeslot for brunch.

our table

The restaurant’s interior is warm and inviting with chunky wood furniture and soft leather padded seating.  Simple, comforting, yet polished.  Much like their food.  The fixed menu started off with a Berry Sangria mixed with sparkling wine.   

brunch cocktail

Though good, it didn’t quite wow me… it got me worried.  Will Ad Hoc turn out to be an over-hyped restaurant in the Thomas Keller empire?  I remained hopeful as the next course came.  A refreshing salad with cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe and radish with a watercress dressing and topped with crème fraiche and lemon zest – sweet, slightly crunchy and tasting like summer.  It was unique and it tasted amazing.  We’re back in business!   

dishes served family style
the perfect summer salad

The main event was Steak and Eggs – tender and perfectly grilled skirt steak topped with sautéed mushrooms.  A buttery toasted brioche hid under sunny side up eggs.  It came with grits complimented with sweet blistered tomatoes.  While I enjoyed the grits, I would’ve loved a potato dish instead.  Perhaps that was too predictable?   


Dessert was a beautiful combination of peaches and caramel on a buttery crust, topped with sweet cream.

a perfect ending

The service reflected the overall feel – casual and friendly but, again, polished.  We have every intention to come back and excited to try their dinner menu. 

August 16, 2011

A Special Note of Thanks...

... to my BBF (that's Bestest Best Friend), Being Lease, for creating my new pretty banner!  It's perfect!  Just the way I envisioned - and I didn't have to describe it to her.  I had two key words and, voila!

Loafing Around

Anyone who knows me well can attest to my love for J. Crew.  Their twist on classic styles and remarkable quality make their products a step above other retailers in comparable price points.  And since I'm patient when it comes to waiting for an item to go on sale, I feel extra pleased with my purchases.  I took a sneak peek at their early fall line and giggled at the sight of loafers.  I adored them in the 80's, and when I finally had enough money saved up and bought a pair, they were on their way out of the style radar.  Will I redeem my adoration and add a pair of loafers to my fall wardrobe?

Biella loafers in Warm Sienna

Biella loafers in patent leather Bronzed Clay

August 2, 2011

One Of Our Favorite Things

We recently had the opportunity to sample a small café and wine bar near our neighborhood, thanks to a popular deal-of-the-day website.  Needless to say, it is now one of our favorites!  Noeteca is an intimate space with small tables, a couple of loungey seats, and a small bar-height table tucked in a corner (we like that spot).  They have a page-long list of California and European wines that are predominantly small production type labels and offered in half and full glass portions.   
what's left of my Austrian "Gruve"

these might have been a Pinot Noir and a Cotes du Rhone

The appetizers are substantial portions of typical wine bar fare such as cheese and salumi, and check the chalkboard for the evening’s special (we caught their angel hair pasta with meatballs – it was so delicious I forgot to take a photo).   
the Burrata Plate:  prosciutto, salami, burrata, grilled baguette, and seasoned cherry tomatoes

manchego cheese accompanied with fresh apple, fruit preserves, nuts and crusty bread

cured meat and toasty bread... mmm!

sheep's milk and goat milk cheese alongside duck & chicken liver pate

apricot poached in sauvignon blanc goes so well with sheep's milk cheese

Make sure to leave room for dessert, which we foolishly didn’t.  But to our surprise, a little sampling of sweet treats came to our table free of charge.  The staff is always friendly, incredibly knowledgeable, and the overall vibe is comfortable.  We promised ourselves to come back, even just to have dessert.
something fudgey with coconut shavings and a trio of sauces
cheers to our new casual favorite!