Drink Up, it’s Time for SF Beer Week

SF Beer week is one of my favorite times of the year; it’s my birthday and I get to enjoy copious amounts of amazing beers from all across the Bay Area and beyond. Beer week is an action packed week filled with beer dinners, beer pairings, educational seminars with brewers and brewery owners, sensory seminars with hops, tap takeovers at various bars and gastropubs throughout the Bay Area, and many events at the source- at the breweries. There are hundreds of options with over 100 breweries in the greater San Francisco Bay Area and the North Bay, we have a lot to choose from.

Drink up, it’s Sf Beer Week!
(Photo courtesy of SF Beer Week media kit)

So how do you pick what to do? As a seasoned beer traveler and planner, I highly recommend you sign up for the itinerary on sfbeerweek.com first. This will allow you to look at each of the events that brewers chose to list and what the San Francisco Brewers Guild are promoting. Find something you like, you simple click, “add to my itinerary”. It’s a great way to be able to check out what you’re interested in each day.

 

Secondly, these events fill up fast so if there is a need for a reservation or to purchase tickets, do it now. There are over 100 breweries out there and even more restaurants who will be hosting dinners and tap takeovers, but there are even more beer lovers who wish to attend. Get in where you want to get in.

 

Buy your tickets for the SF Beer Week Opening Gala NOW. Friday, February 10th at 6PM is quite possibly the best beer event in Northern California and you want to be there. This event is well attended by all of the breweries and they have saved their special brews to be showcased that night, for you. Don’t let them down! Get your tickets.

 

My beer week recommendations:

 

Russian River Brewing Co. – February 3rd. Well if I didn’t mention this then you would think I didn’t know anything about beer because anyone who knows beer, knows that Russian River Brewing Company is releasing the long awaited triple IPA, Pliny the Younger. It’s released once a year for two weeks and they do it in conjunction with beer week. They will be releasing this delicious beer on February 3rd at the pub. The brewers will be bringing it to the opening gala as well, so there should be plenty of chances for you try it.

St. Florian’s Brewery 4 Year Anniversary – February 11th from 12-8PM, they’ll be serving up great eats from various food trucks and vendors, as well as pouring new beers, and there will be live music. More information to come, but this is a good one to get on your list if you find yourself in the North Bay.

Social Kitchen’s Friday Morning Beer Brunch – February 11th from 10:30AM-2:30PM. I LOVE this place, I love the atmosphere, I love the food, and I love the beer. I also really love brunch, it’s my favorite meal of the day and I feel like it does not get the chance to make an appearance as often as it should, so why not indulge on a Saturday?!

Monk’s Kettle: United Sours of America – February 11th from 11Am-11PM.

The Monk’s Kettle is a super cool beer bar and I couldn’t think of a better place to spend a little time sipping on one of craft beers latest favored beer style.

Swann’s Oyster Depot Collaboration with Woods Beer Co. – February 11th

12-5PM. Have you ever been to Swann’s? It’s AH-MAZ-ING! It’s a hole-in-the-wall little spot that you squeeze into, sit at the counter, and are served by all men who have worked there for generations. They serve fresh food daily and when they run out, it’s out. It’s so worth it, and paired with beer, well, duh.

Ale Arsenal’s Alvarado Street Tap Takeover – February 11th from 3-8PM.

Alvarado Street is putting out some incredible brews, this is surely not going to be a disappointing way to spend some time.

Almanac Beer Co.’s Stonefruit Night – February 11th from 3-11PM.

They will be hosting a series of events throughout the week, enjoy a walk down memory lane with the folks at Almanac as you taste through countless vintages of their special sours.

The Good Hop and Smog City’s Bay Invasion – February 11th from 5-11PM

I have enjoyed many Smog City beers down in the smoggy city of angels and I cannot wait to try this lineup!

WHAT’S ON DRAFT: Little Bo Pils, Hoptonic IPA, Sabre-Toothed Squirrel, Coffee Porter, My Tai Hop-T IPA with Coconut, Chip Shot Coffee Porter, Cuddlebug, Bourbon O.E., Buzz Worthy, Benny And The Bretts, The Nothing, Infinite Wishes, AND MORE!

Alpha Acid Brewing Company IPA Day – February 12th 1-6PM.

Because, well, duh. Single, double, and triple IPA’s will be flowing. Nuf said.

Cellarmaker and the Rare Barrel Collaboration Release – February 12th from 1-8PM.

Join in on the fun at the Rare Barrel in Berkeley. These two breweries blow my mind on their own, I cannot wait to see what they’ve come up for this!

Social Kitchen’s Brett Fest – February 13th from 4-11:30PM.

6 bretty beers tasted side-by-side. Yes, please!

Here are the beers:

  1. Day Day’s Tripel Double: Belgian Tripel, brewed with rye, aged in red wine barrels for 6 months with Brettanomyces Trois Vrai. Further aged in stainless for 10 more months.
  2. Raps on Brett: Our beloved Belgian golden ale, Rapscallion, conditioned in keg with the Brettanomyces Amalgamation blend from Yeast Bay laboratories.
  3. Cloud Cover: Belgian wheat ale conditioned in keg with the Brettanomyces Amalgamation blend from Yeast Bay Laboratories.
  4. (name still TBD): Belgian dark strong aged in red wine barrels for 13 months with Brett Claussenii.
  5. The Rice is Right, Beersel Blend: Jasmine rice Belgian Tripel keg conditioned with the Brettanomyces Beersel blend from Yeast Bay Laboratories.
  6. The Rice is Right, Lochristi Blend: Jasmine rice Belgian Tripel keg conditioned with the Brettanomyces Lochristi blend from Yeast Bay Laboratories.

 

Dear Mom I love Calicraft – February 15th from 4-9PM.

This just sounds intriguing and I have not been here before, so I’m gonna check it out. Sours, IPAs and secret stuff.

Rare Barrel Jester King Tap Takeover – February 15th from 7:30-10PM.

If you have not yet tried the beers from this brewery out of Texas, then get here to try them.

Fogbelt Brewing End of Beer Week Brunch – February 19th from 10Am-2PM.

Brunch will be served until 2PM for those who need a little help with the beer week hangover. I can’t wait, they do a great job in the kitchen and have some killer beers coming out, so I will be parking myself there for the afternoon!  
So you have some official SF Beer Week events and my recommendations. There are many unofficial events going on in Sonoma County, so check back with me and I’ll keep you up to date with deets.

Myriad Gastro Pub: New to San Francisco

Chef and owner Tricia Tracey of Momo’s and Thirsty Bear Brewery, among other restaurants in her 25 year career, comes back to San Francisco from New Jersey to open her very own space: Myriad Gastro Pub. Just in time for the blowing up craft beer scene in and around San Francisco Bay Area, Tracey will feature globally inspired menu with seasonal, local ingredients. The gastropub will have snacks, small plates, and larger portions to pair with the various craft beers she will have on tap. Smaller plates for all palates ranging in price from $6-15 will include intriguing items like bone marrow with sherry demi glaze, tarragon-horseradish gremolata and crostini. YUM!! They’ll serve larger portions ranging from $14-28 each and will include dishes like roasted Halibut, Lamb, and even a Mayan pork stew. The menu will rotate based on what is available.

 

Myriad will have over 40 different wines available and creative house cocktails, but I am most excited to see what the beer selection is like.The Mission district is an ever growing area in San Francisco, home to hipsters and craft beer drinkers alike. Located in the old Nombe space, it’s also not far from my beloved AT&T Park and Cellarmaker Brewery. The concept seems hip and cool without the snobbery that some tapas places can have. I am excited to visit when they open in mid June. Stay tuned for a restaurant review of the food, service, and craft beer list!

http://www.myriadsf.com/index.html

Photo Courtesy of Myriad website.

 

Cheers!

The Commonwealth: tantalizing for both eyes + mouth

Looking for an exciting experience for both your palate and your eyes? Check out Commonwealth in San Francisco. It’s delicious, well done, the service is top notch, and it’s classy.

The chef’s tasting menu is priced well and worth it: at $75 per person for six courses. They allow you to substitute any of the courses {typically} for something off the al la cart menu too.

Each course was beautifully presented and tasted equally as amazing as it looked. I wanted to have a beer with the meal but it’s not always easy to find one beer that will or can carry you through your entire meal. This one, the Almanac Golden Gate Gose did. It was pure bliss. Nice and light for the seafood and with enough body to pair nicely with goat cheese and even the pork. Great beer AND local.

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My favs: 

Dungeness crab crepe. Brilliant.

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Lobster and mushroom {Cioppino like} soup

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Asian pear salad with mixed bitter greens and soft goat cheese

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Celery sorbet {weird but oddly delightful}

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I highly recommend this for a nice date night. It’s right on Mission so easy to get to and easy to get a taxi from too.

Cheers!

Giants bus ride adventure

At my job I get to put together so many amazing events and incorporate some really fun things. Usually it’s the typical food and wine paired meals or something cool in the vineyards but this time we did a bus ride for 40 people to the San Francisco Giants game where they were playing against the L.A. Dodgers. Not too shabby. We had a great group of 40, some met at us at the stadium, we had delicious wines and refreshing beers on the bus there. We all were decked out in Giants orange for #OrangeFriday and we came well equipped with #HunterPenceSigns. It was a BLAST!

It’s really a spectacular thing to be able to have a great experience in the tasting room with members and then have one outside of everyone element at a place everyone loves. Our members love hanging with us as much as we love hanging with them because at Trione we are real. #Winning.

 

AND it was great to #BEATLA 9-0.

 

http://jessposhepny.com/2014/09/giants-bus-ride-adventure/

 

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Giants Bus with Trione + Tristan_09 12 14_1286_edited-1

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Trione Giants Adventure

 

Giants Bus with Trione + Tristan_09 12 14_1324_edited-1

 

http://jessposhepny.com/2014/09/giants-bus-ride-adventure/

See San Francisco like a local

A Perfect Day in the City

From sunrise to sunset there are so many options in lovely San Francisco but where to go when you only have a day or so and you don’t even know where to start? I have compiled a list of my very favorite places to stop in, check out, dine, grab a quick one, browse, and relax. Why should my list matter? Well, I have traveled all over for food, wine, and craft beer. I have relied solely on the “Local’s suggestion”. When it comes to the best dish on the menu, can’t miss sunset spots, new hot wine bars, you name it, I went because a local told me to and in 10 years, I have never been let down. So from this local to you, here are my sweet spots.

 

All You Knead.

There are many breakfast spots to chose from and it can be a really tough call because breakfast is the most important meal of the day. From the Mission to Geary to Inner Richmond, there are several fantastic places to eat but my very favorite, one place I will wait for hours for is on Haight Street: All You Knead. Serving the fluffiest omelettes made up of suggested ingredients or built-your-own and served alongside country potatoes {add katsup + sour cream please!}.

 

Crossroads Trading Company.

Weather you are a shopper or not, this place will suit you because all of the clothes are separated by colors making it very easy to find what you might be looking for or didn’t even know you wanted. An awesome shop located both on Fillmore and Haight with a wide variety of clothing and accessories that won’t break your bank.

City Lights Bookstore.

I could spend hours in this shop. It’s incredible. Old, very San Francisco, crammed with shelves and bookcases filled to the brim with classics of all kinds.

 

Vesuvio.

Next to City Lights is a classy old dive bar like place {in the greatest sense of that term}. on the famous street: Columbus Avenue. It’s dark and roomy with a narrow staircase up to a second floor where people can hang out uninterrupted and sip on a classic manhattan or dark and stormy like a City native. It’s priced right, they have a full bar, and a great beer list. It’s my very favorite bar in the city, it feels like San Francisco in there.

 

Pacific Cafe.

Way out in Outer Richmond district is this quaint little cafe that is known for their big dishes of fresh seafood. From lobster to oysters to abalone, there is something here for every seafood lover. It’s not your typical restaurant. There is always a wait and since sometimes it can be a drag waiting for a table, they greet their guests with a lovely glass of white wine. Brilliant and delicious. I highly recommend the abalone. It’s not too often you’ll see this delicacy on a menu and they cook it just right: thin, breaded, and melt in your mouth.

 

Swan Oyster Depot.

This place needs no introduction. It’s over on Polk street and when walking down, it’s not easy to miss because there is a line down the street, sometimes for blocks. Swan is family run and a San Francisco staple. A long, narrow bar like those you may run into on the east coast. Run by men, they cook and plate up large dishes of insanely fresh fish daily. Shrimp louie, freshly shucked oysters, clam chowder are all my favorites paired with a glass of chablis. These dishes are all best shared because they are so large and it’s nice to try a few things. Swan is such an old school San Francisco place,they have been doing things the same way for many years. The staff is not super chatty but they are thorough and fast. They do like to get people in and out as much as possible because their capacity is limited (this you’ll see right away, there are no “seats in the back”).

 

California Academy of Science.

Many people have this on their list already but some may not know that every Thursday night they do the “Nightlife” from 6-10pm. It’s for the 21 and older crowd. It’s a more “adult” way to see the exhibits: with wine and cocktails! The academy is a wonderful place to explore any time but if you happen to have the opportunity to be in the city on a thursday, I highly recommend this experience.

 

Water bar.

The most spectacular view of the Bay Bridge you will find. The food is phenomenal and the best seat in the house is by the window, of course everyone wants to sit there. If you’re lucky enough to get that seat, great, otherwise, sit at the bar first. The restaurant sits under the bridge making it easy to get lost in watching the lights. Sit outdoors when the patio is open. Water bar offers the most magnificent view of the skyline.

Of course there are those spots where everyone who comes to San Francisco wishes to visit: the Boudin Bakery for a clam chowder bowl, Alliottos for the view at the Wharf, Lombard street because it is the coolest road on earth, Coit Tower,  and the top of the Mark. I recommend all of those things but when limited on time, it’s nice to be able to get away from the crowds in order to fit more in and delve into the city like a local would.

AT & T Ballpark Do’s & Don’ts

With the baseball season in full swing and having been to three games already since home opener on April 8th, I thought it would be fitting to describe a bit of ballpark etiquette {in my humble opinion of course}.

If you’ve ever been to a Giants game then you know that most anything goes. You can dress in the most insane attire, dye your hair or wear a wig, paint your face, drink your beer while walking down the street and in the parking lot, talk to strangers because they are fans as well, photo bomb other peoples photos, pull up at 10 am and crack open a brew, and leave your bottles on the ground in the lot. All of these things are acceptable because everyone wants to get on the big screen to show off their cool outfits, there is only so much time to tailgate, and there is a guy who comes around picking up the glass to make some money.

Giants Game

GIants

After a full season of many games last year, I got to thinking about all of the things that would make everyone’s time at AT&T Park more enjoyable. I figure if the Giants can train us to clap when they play a special tune   and cheer when the batter needs more love  or yell and scream “Dodger’s SUCK” even when we are not playing the Dodger’s, then we could train each other on what not to do at the ballpark. So here goes:

The Don’t ‘s

1. Don’t stand in the way of cars or continue playing catch in the parking lot when people are trying to park. Everyone is looking to have a good time, so be courteous.

2. Don’t leave trash out in the parking lot, just leave your glass {Recycling}.

3.Don’t smoke in the line to get into the park, it’s rude and gross. Children are around and someone could easily be burnt with your cherry.

4. Don’t stop in the stairwell, have your ticket out and know your section ahead of time so you do not have to stop continuously in front of people while trying to get to your seat. If you have to stop, walk to the side.

5. Don’t cut in line.

6. Don’t charge at people while walking, move with the crown and move your body to the side to be courteous when passing by in a crowd rather than hitting someones shoulders.

7. Don’t walk through the crowd and eat your fries or hot dog. You may think you can walk, look for your section, talk to your friend, AND eat, but you can’t, you’re slowing everyone down and you’re going to spill on someone else.

8. Don’t encroach in the persons space sitting next to you. Seating space is minimal, spare.

9. Don’t put your beer in front of someones feet in the bleachers or anywhere.

10. Don’t be this guy at a game: standing up and heckling at everyone else in the section especially if you are not in your home stadium….

Dodger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Don’t start unnecessary drama with anyone from the opposing team. This is a family fun activity, children are present, alcohol is involved; nobody needs it.

12. Don’t push and shove at the end of the game when leaving, we are all going to the same place. It will not get you anywhere faster.

13. Don’t get angry if someone photo bombs you. It’s funny.

Photo Bomb!

14. Don’t be annoyed if the kids and people around you are chanting and cheering for the players, it’s a baseball game, we are supposed to do that!

15. Don’t freak out when someone is sitting in your seat, just ask them to move.

16. Don’t cuss at players, even if they are Dodgers or Brian Wilson.

17. Don’t wear a Brian Wilson jersey or shirt. I know it cost you money, but he’s a trader and as a Giants fan, it’s just not right.

Wilson Don't

18. Don’t sneeze or cough without covering your mouth while walking in the crowd, sitting at your seat, or anytime! There are enough germs floating around.

The Do’s 

1. Do move over when people are trying to get to their seat in your row. Stand up, let them by.

2. Do watch out for small children when walking in the crowds.

3. Do pick up and carry your small child if they’re tired and can barely walk.

4. Do root for your home team regardless of what section you are in!

5. Do know where you are sitting.

6. Do know the chants. Know when to sing along. Be excited. Show the love.

7. Do be prepared to move if you are sitting in someone else’s seat. We all like to move a little closer and for the most part,it’s totally acceptable especially if there is nobody sitting there, but realize that there may be and they may be back.

8. Do have your I.D. on you and be prepared to show it anytime you are buying alcohol. Two drinks per person at one time.

9. Do look down the rows of bathrooms for open stalls, most of the time more are open than you might think, you have to just pay attention.

10. Do root, root, root for the Giants!

After careful consideration and many days and nights at the ballpark, I’ve decided that many people who are new to the stadium just don’t know how to behave there. It’s up to the seasoned Giants fan to introduce a sort of etiquette. That’s my two cents for a more enjoyable baseball game experience. Go Giants!

Reminiscing about baseball season

With the recent news of my favorite player Javier Lopez being signed onto my favorite sports team for the next three years, I felt it necessary to reminisce. I first saw Javier at Spring Training when he was the only player to stop after I stood in the rain for over two hours begging each car that passed by for an autograph for my thirteen year old son. In the pouring rain, in Arizona, a police officer {with children of his own at home} felt for me so he laughed as I inched my way into the lot further, rather than arrest me, he turned his head slightly. After throwing my hand up {with new ball and sharpie in hand} for the fiftieth time, soaking wet, I was feeling like it may not be the time. In the distance I saw the big Cadillac pull forward and slow down with a long, tan arm wave me over from out of the driver window. Oh my, this was was I was waiting for! All of the waiting paid off because my cousin and I were the only ones to get an autograph that day. Javier was so kind, it was almost like he saw the look of desperation in my eyes as he waved me over. I’m not sure if I was more excited or my son for the ball with his name on it, but it was worth the wait. Since that day, Lopez has been my favorite player. That left handed hunk stole my heart when he was the only Giant to sign a ball on that one rainy day in Arizona in 2011.

Glad you’re sticking around Lopez!

 

Since then my family and I have spend many days and nights at AT & T Park and other ballparks across the country watching our favorite boys. We were there for the grand opening of the @ Cafe and have loved seeing our photos live ever since, we love to tweet to the Giants, we took our Christmas photo on the field when our youngest was the “play ball kid”, we shouted to the top of our lungs at game two and our little got a ball from Blanco. We sported orange and black, in the rain as we got drenched at game seven for the big win in 2012. We love the Giants and we are excited for another great year! Next up: Spring Training!!

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Dive into the Russian River Bar Scene

Growing up in a county where the communities within are all small and neighborly, a “dive” bar is a commonly visited place for the college kids, business folks, out-of-towners, bachelors and bachelorettes, and all of the above. Many over the years have attached a sort of stigma to the “dive” bar: it’s an unsafe place, dirty, funky, scary, and/or dodgy (myself included). Even though we all still go to these said “dive” bars, it occurred to me that we do not truly know what they are about. My husband and I took a Sunday afternoon and researched the Russian River Valley for these “dives” that were nothing shy of true gems. One of my favorite things about these bars are the music they play. There is something to be said about a bar and it’s music, so I got to thinking: if there were one song to describe each place that most or all could connect to, what would it be? On my adventure, I decided it would be fun to pair each dive bar with a song that  that would paint a picture of what each place was like.

 

Urban dictionary defines a Dive Bar to be “ A well-worn, unglamorous bar, often serving a cheap, simple selection of drinks to a regular clientele.”  Some might say this type of bar does not appeal to the preppie, the rich kid or the successful person: only the loners or those alike. The truth is, all of us, no matter how large our bank account is or what our college degree states: we all love a good, local, fun, quirky place to go and hang or let loose and not be judged. That is what I found at each of the sixteen dive bars in the Russian River area. Many claim a dive bar cannot allow children and has to serve inedible food or none at all but the truth is, some of the diviest bars do allow kids- during the day. And the food, well I must say of all the dives I have been to, the best ones by far are those where the owner comes out with his gal (his lady or another bartender that just has what it takes to put out some good grub) and puts up a naked eight foot table with plastic forks and all of this delicious food. The famous B & B in Healdsburg (now in a new location and not to worry, nothing has changed) has homemade soups in the winter and food for all holidays. Some folks join in for the home cooked meal and camaraderie and to be around those who do not judge. It is the neighborhood bar and Boston’s  “More than a Feeling” describes it perfectly. Grab your drink and play it on the jukebox and relax.

 

During my oh so terrible research, I found myself referencing Cheers: that place we all wanted to have as our neighborhood bar because the bartenders were good looking (both male and female), the people all had stories, they knew you and there was good gossip. Much of that is true but the time of day and the day of the week one goes to a dive bar will determine their fate. I believe a true picture of a dive bar can be painted on a Sunday. The weekend is over, the bartender you see is the one who either owns the joint or has worked there so long he doesn’t need the drama of a Saturday night with all the rowdies so he gets the low key boozers, locals and those who stumble in for a hair-of-the-dog bloody something. This is also the time that stench is so prevalent: you either like it because its nostalgic and it reminds you “of that one time when you…” or you walk out and leave. I love it. Meeting Dan at the Rainbow Cattle Company was great. I pair this bar with the song, “Bette Davis Eyes” because I could see the bartender jumping up on the bar and breaking out into song as though it were a Broadway show!  Now if you cannot tell by the name, this bar is a Gay bar and the day we went was PRIDE. So the coolness of the vintage cigarette and change machines all covered in dust in the corners were overshadowed by the extreme joy of the eight guys at the bar cheering when they saw the Guerneville float on television. They were excited for many reasons but one was because they made the float! One of the coolest things about Rainbow Cattle Company, besides the excess of attractive, well mannered men that will not hit on me is the train above the bar. Donate $1 to their weekly, local charity and they turn on that train for all to cheer. Give more if you can but if you can’t, they make you feel really good for helping. A no judgement, neighborhood bar.

 

Guerneville was called “Stumptown” and is still recognized as a “Stumptown” for the ancient  Redwood trees which were logged and used to rebuild after the earthquake of 1906. A dive bar shout out would not be the same without recognizing Stumptown Brewery. While most would disagree with me, I call this a dive bar because when I hear the song, “Roadhouse Blues” by the Doors I think of  Stumptown. The 20 harleys I see out front, lined up nicely, the awesome bloody marys, river access, and the locals that sit at the bar and shoot the gossip with the cool bartender help the rustic, dive bar status.

 

I have lived in Sonoma County all of my life and it was not until recently that I spent so much time in Guerneville and Forestville. I truly fell in love with the charm of the Russian River Pub. Every inch of the redwood walls are covered with the writings of locals, people who have been coming since they opened in 1972, some who have passed on, and people like me who pass by. It is common to see the dollar bills hanging on each one of the walls at dive bars, but the writing is personal and all of those people took the time to climb high or bend down and stamp a memory permanently on a wall for all to read- much like a yearbook. In the Pub you will find great service from a blonde gal that literally is trying to do eight things at once and does it well, and, you will discover the days of the Russian River Pub’s life in the words of so many before. Neil Diamond’s, “Sweet Caroline” played as I sipped my Racer 5 and I thought, this is the perfect song for this laid back, easy going pub.

 

I was thinking I was finished with Guerneville when the Appaloosa Room (The Appy as the locals call it) was referred to me. West county  has not let me down before, so why not? I found a friend in the two men at the bar and an old school seated pacman game table. The man at the bar was disappointed that I was not more impressed with the singing breasts on the back wall, but hey, it was a Sunday afternoon…. The song “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show comes to mind because of the Risqué video-  it seems to fit well with the look of the Appy Room.

 

Thinking that I had enough “Dive” and I was ready to dive into the actual river because it was 106 degrees outside, I rallied and decided to check out Forestville Club since I was so close. I sure am glad I did because Stacey the bartender was everything you could want in a real neighborhood bar: feisty, funny, and attentive. When we walked into the club, my eyes had to adjust because it was pitch black inside. I almost thought, “hmmm… maybe I was wrong for walking in” but this is just the way it is: it’s dark. Once your eyes acclimate to the lighting, you see the man at the end of the bar that comes in everyday , the funky old tables, pool tables, and the porcelain dolls hanging on the walls. It was here that I realized, a true dive bar can also be about what you hear. The laughter and banter of the employees and locals, along with the plethora of impractical knowledge you can gain (Cliff Clavin anyone?) from the obvious out-of-towners was warming. At this bar, it is all about the the people: the man at the end looking for “the one,” the flirty gal just trying to have fun, and the loving couple both striking up conversations with someone different, I thought immediately of “Your Love” by The Outfields. I’ll leave the rest to the imagination.

On a Sunday afternoon I visited a few dive bars around the Russian River area. I was surprised by how many are actually in the AVA: I counted sixteen. I do not recommend going to all of them, and there is no way I could mention all of them here, but of all those that stood out truly had that neighborhood feel (sometimes not to me but to others): the friendly, talkative bartender, the staple at the bar drinking their drink with another token in front of them for their next, the guy nobody really wants to talk to but we do anyway, and the loud girl that will do whatever it takes to get attention. In the end I discovered a place (in all of these establishments) where anyone is welcome to be themselves and the music helps create a visual and sort of comfort feeling. So go ahead and get out of your comfort zone, visit a few of these cool spots, do not be afraid of the door or lack of windows or even the ashtray covered payphone out front- you may be surprised what awesomeness you will find inside.

Be sure to “Dive” responsibly.

I <3 The SF Giants!!

Looking back at all of the photos, I realize, I am very fortunate to have been at so many great games, in great seats and with some of my favorite people!! Here are some of my favorites!

 

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Salt House

Salt house Restaurant

The atmosphere in the Salt House was warm and hip. They have this brilliant art on the wall that was actually painted on the wall- brilliant and really adds to the ambiance.

I enjoyed browsing their cocktail list. I ended up committing to the Boulevardier- woodford reserve, Campari and vermouth- delightful. This drink is right up my ally since I am a huge fan of the Maker’s Manhattan.

 

 

We began our evening of heavy eating with Fanny Bay oysters on the half shell. Simply cannot go wrong with oysters. We followed up with Foie Gras with a strawberry rhubarb sauce. We thought we may as well indulge since that tasty treat is going onto the black market soon. This particular piece was not exactly the way I prefer, it was firmer and more dense than I like. The rhubarb did add a nice component to the overall taste of the dish.

The corn chowder was amazing, every bite {after I added a good amount of salt}.

The steak was cooked very well and just to our liking, again, salt. I was surprised that we had to add salt to each dish considering we were at the Salt House…..

 

The best and worst part about this restaurant was the chef in the OPEN kitchen. They certainly were giving us quite the show, with my love in the food business and well, me loving food, we watched the open kitchen like hawks. From one of the guys licking the sauce spoon, putting it in a water container and then using it again, to eating in the open or wiping their faces and not washing their hands. It truly was a sight to see.

My guy went to use the restroom and peaked over into the kitchen to see if there really was just one container with water to rinse the serving spoons before we jumped the gun and became disgusted; there was. The cook platting and drizzling the sauces onto the plates reused the same spoon three times that we watched, after licking them clean.
I understand tasting the food because it should be sampled, BUT with a Tasting spoon that is disposed of after each use.

 

All of the staff were eating around the bar while they waited for their plates to come up. The cooks touching all of the food and preparing things that we {the paying consumer} ate, all wiped their face, nose, cleaned the sweat off their head and not once washed their hands.

One cook who seemed to be the leader {but we were unable to tell} was setting a good example just before we were about to leave by wiping his face with his sleeve. That was great, we thought, well, there is hope for this crew yet! No, that’s when he took off his bandana and wiped his entire palm all over his sweaty forehead just before going back to the stove. I was so glad we saw all of this after we ate.

When working in an OPEN kitchen, people need to remember that just because it may seem the guests are engaged in their own conversations, so satisfied with the delicious meal to think about anything else; they may still be watching. Open kitchens are open for a reason, for the show. It adds a different element to the whole eating experience. It’s not meant to make the patrons lose their meal after. While the food was good and the service was wonderful, after seeing the “show” we will not be back to the Salt House.

 

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