Day 4

July 14, 2009 - 4:50 pm Comments Off on Day 4

Snorkeling trip with Chocolat today!

Sailing on a catamarand with Roland the captain and Dion his first mate was incredible. Roland is definitely a character.

Snorkeling out on the reefs at the Prickly Pear. Saw 2 beautiful turtles and colorful fish. Jordan saw an octopus with a fish posse!

Lunch at the beach on Prickly Pear. Grilled meaty mahi mahi with fried potatoes green salad and curried rice. Jordan had the chicken and ribs BBQ combo. Simple super yum.

An unexpected surprise was having these small black and yellow birds – a tree full if them – eat raw sugar right out of our hands!

Back to the boat and off to Sandy Island for more snorkeling. Unbelievably gorgeous out there in the middle of the Atlantic on this small swath of white sand. Four colors of blue: royal then blue-teal then teal then pale crystal.

Schools of colorful fish everywhere. Big and small. Color changing.

It became easy to get lost in the wonders out there. But it was tough swimming to the beach in all the chop! Whew!

Day 3

July 13, 2009 - 4:29 pm Comments Off on Day 3

Shoal Bay East today after ribs at Gwens Reggae Grill.

Considered #1 beach in the whole Carribean. Another beautiful place albeit more “crowded” and by “crowded” I mean really just like dots of people really spread out over the miles of beach versus one dot of a person.

The best part about Shoal Bay East is that you can snorkel very close to shore. Coral patches every where so you can do a little casual snorkeling or just take a relaxing dip.

The water was again unbelievably crystal-y sparkly blue-green-teal-white.

Beach beach sun beach sun pizza!

Homemade pepperoni pizza with black olives at Madeiraman Reef Restaurant right on the…guess? Beach!. Crunchy chewy pizza dough + fresh mozzarella + crisp pepperoni + olives = cure for party at Smokey’s last night.

7th anniversary dinner at Koal Keel with my love. Beautiful breeze. White wooden veranda.

200 year old oven from the old days.

Anguillian lobster Caesar salad with four fat perfectly poached lobster medallions.

Tandoori shrimp spring rolls with intense deep layers of flavor that warmed the senses and the body. Tamarind dipping sauce and mango chutney.

Rice paper wrapped snapper with julienned cabbage peppers ginger and onions. Steamed vegetables. Light breezy cream sauce. Super fresh and sophisticated and very flavorful.

Crispy red snapper with sweet and spicy glaze with a leek wrapped purée of leek spices and bread crumbs. Perfectly steamed veggies.

Beautiful apple tart – flaky pastry layered with super thinly sliced apples – warm with a delicate scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Caramel sauce in an intricate pattern framed with dark chocolate.

After our tummies were filled, our driver gave us a tour of the house. We also walked down into their wine cellar. The only one like it on the island. At one point it housed 25000 bottles.

Then on to some rhum tasting. Another highlight. Made you instantly hot.

Finally back home. Another beautiful starry night in Anguilla

Day 2

July 12, 2009 - 4:19 pm Comments Off on Day 2

Beach beach pool beach pool and more beach lunch!

Smokey’s BBQ right on the beach. Definitely smokey but the jerk BBQ sauce was something special. Sweet, spiced, thick. Killer on my grilled meaty snapper. And on Jordan’s ribs too. Did I mention the coconut shrimp? The crunchy coating was almost candied but soft at the same time like eating a savory macaroon.

Talked to the owner Clyde Gumbs for an hour. He told us everything we wanted to know. Even found out he’s co-owner of Koal Keel as well. A 200 year old converted plantation house that serves locally inspired French and Asian influenced fine cuisine. Ask for the tour he said and tell them Clyde sent us.

He also said to come back in the evening because Smokeys is where it’s at on Sunday nights on the island. Live band and dancing with the locals!

So we did.

And it was hopping!

Arrival

July 11, 2009 - 10:23 pm Comments Off on Arrival

First highlight was the rush of the water underneath our bodies as the Shauna 7 sped across the choppy waters between Sint Maarten and Blowing Point Anguilla. Our bodies actually hung in the air when it hit the large waves head on. Puts an actual roller coaster to shame!

“Sorry! Forgot to mention it’s a little bumpy today.”

Ocean dip as the sun went down on our secluded beach.

Random fact: Vlade Divac is staying right next door (“Morning!”). He is a giant. Now that he’s retired tho he’s gotten a little gut.

Dinner at Straw Hat in our Frangipani resort.

Super fresh super meaty local red snapper sauteed with julienned onions, red and green peppers, and chunks of tart local tomatoes. Beautiful silky seafood sauce. Anguillian rice and pigeon peas. Definitely can taste the Creole influence.

Jordan had a Brazilian seafood stew infused with cocunut milk. Stuffed platter with Anguillian lobster, snapper, prawns, and crawfish.

Oh and a Puerto Rican Restaurant show was being filmed at the next table!

Long walk in the near dark with Jordan along the beach. Clearest night sky we’ve seen in ages. Jordan was so proud I found the North Star. “Wow you actually found it. Goid job, Jeanne”

What a day… Droopy eyes… Must be the warm breeze…

SF goodly bits

April 20, 2009 - 8:54 pm Comments Off on SF goodly bits

Check out the gallery for even more goodly bits!

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Heaven

April 18, 2009 - 10:30 am Comments Off on Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Heaven

Getting up the next morning was indeed rough. But this morning we were off to the famous Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market! I couldn’t believe I was going to visit the famous outdoor market along the water in SF! All those TV shows I’ve seen! Could it really be the foodie dream that everyone says it is?

Answer: YES!

The place is a sprawling mecca of the freshest produce from organic wild strawberries to habanero olive oil to fresh pork shanks. Everywhere you turned there were things of beauty – sparkling organic honey, rows of pickled organic vegetables, super crispy fresh and green swiss chard. You wanted to touch, taste, smell, look at everything.

Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market!

But we were pressed for time. We had to leave for Marie’s wedding in just a few hours.

So we browsed the aisle and flowed through the crowd using our eyes, ears, and of course nose. We ended up following our nose the most. And I am so glad we did.

Our first taste was at a Mexican stand smelling of fresh masa tortillas cooking on the griddle. We were so hypnotized by the sight and smell we accidentally bypassed a huge line (sorry people in line!). Buttery mushrooms, chipotle sauce and melty cheese on a folded homemade corn tortilla. Corn flavor burst with every bite. One of the best tamales either of us ever had – stuffed with shredded pork in a super savory mole sauce. You could taste so many layers of flavors in that incredible mole. Carne asada taco with fresh chopped onions, cilantro, and their homemade red salsa. People were spooning up that salsa by the bucket it seemed, including us. And who could forget the homemade pickled vegetables – hunks of zucchini, carrots, jalapenos, and potatoes. The only thing that could compete with this perfect accoutrement to all the savory warmth in our mouths was the freshly prepared pineapple limeade we shared. Beautiful lime green and ultra-refreshing.

Fresh flavors abound!

 

We enjoyed this bounty of flavors sitting along the water among a sea of smiles, including ours. What could be better than this?

I know…more food!

There was no way we were done yet! And we knew just where to go by the people walking past us holding a beautiful combination of pink, white, some green, and golden bread. Lox!

Just a booth down, with another line was a stand selling combinations of 4 different combinations of cured and smoked salmon with different garnishes on SF sourdough. Looked like a perfect contrast to the warm flavors lingering on our tongues. Something fresh, zesty, and (thankfully) snack-size.

We decided on their cured wild salmon, cream cheese, thinly sliced red onion, capers, and Meyer lemon combo. Beautiful. It tasted like sunlight in our mouths.

 Sunlight!

I could have spent hours more outside slowly browsing each booth, but Jordan reminded me I was there to see Marie and go to her wedding. We had to hussle. “Okay, okay,” I said with a characteristic pout.

But we did have time to make two more stops. We went inside the Ferry Plaza where there were even more food stores to browse.

Jordan got his final oyster fix. Imagine getting freshly shucked individual oysters. The perfect snack. Jordan had two Bluepoints and was beaming.

You gotta love a man who's got a passion for oysters!

Then we had to stop at the store called “Boccolone. Tasty Salted Pig Parts.” How could we pass that up? We ordered a “cone” which included several super thinly sliced pieces of Mortadella with pistachios, Salame, and a Prosciutto Cotto in a paper cone. Gotta love the blessed pig.

Who doesn't heart "tasty salty pig parts"?

We passed so much more – caviar, fruits, artisan bread, cheese – but it was time. Jordan said, “It’s time, Jeanne. It’s time.” Ah well. In any case, something tells me we may follow our noses back here one day. And hopefully someday soon!

Thai SF-style, Paradise Lounge, followed by cheesesteak and burger with no souls

April 18, 2009 - 9:00 am No Comments

After feeling energized from our disco nap, we decided on Thai food for dinner. I found a place called Basil Thai in SoMa. Unlike the ubiquitous Thai restaurants in Chicago that range from super casual to Arun’s, a lot of the Thai places in SF seemed more on the “trendy” side. It could be that Chicago for whatever reason (and to my liking) has a disproportionate amount of Thai restaurants per block than any other city I know of. In any case, Jordan and I enjoyed the scene  at Basil Thai. The decor reminded me of Le Colonial. We shared a silky and super spicy Angus beef and eggplant green curry (odd combo right?), and I had a tamarind “sweet and sour” prawns dish with chopped onions.

Not the craziest food for the trip, but warmed me up and the romantic lighting didn’t hurt either.

Without any real plans for going out, we realized that a place Jordan had looked into for nightlife was just a few blocks down from us. Paradise Lounge turned out to be a nice mix of lounge and tech house tunes. After partying, it was time to head back but while looking for a cab we came upon an afterhours burger joint. We thought “What’s a San Francisco yellow place (Chicago translation for hot dog joint) like?”

So of course, we had to go in.

Jordan ordered a spicy Cheesesteak and me a cheeseburger. Sounds good, right?

Long story short, listening to some drunk party poseurs at the other table was more interesting than the food.

Ah well, can’t win them all…

At least Jordan got a silly picture out of it. Check his Facebook if you’re curious…

Disco Nap!

April 17, 2009 - 3:30 pm No Comments

Constant and continuous activity

+

sensory overload

+

pigging out

+

2 hour time difference

+

soft sun-dappled hotel bed 

+

snuggly partner

=

4 hour disco nap!

Haight-Ashbury redux: Games, Comix, and the elusive In-and-Out

April 17, 2009 - 2:00 pm Comments Off on Haight-Ashbury redux: Games, Comix, and the elusive In-and-Out

After not being able to make it in time to the Fogerty Winery for Marie’s get-together, Jordan and I were in limbo so we decided to hit Haight again to check out Gamescape, a game store around there. We also hit up a comic book store just a few doors down as well.

Gamescape turned out to be a really cool place that didn’t have much gameplay space, but a wide inventory of all kinds of board games, DnD, trading cards, dice, etc. All the loots you’d want.

One of the dudes there was eating out of a white cardboard box stuffed with cheeseburgers. The best way I can describe the way he was eating his really awesome looking double cheeseburger is, “He was in the zone.” The dude just stood there on the customer side of the glass counter, chewing and swallowing, and chewing and swallowing, for a long time. In was only in conversations we heard from other dudes later that the burgers were from In-and-Out!

So of course…

Where was this In-and-Out? In my brilliance, I thought for sure I saw an In-and-Out on Haight somewhere. Didn’t we pass by it while we were walking around the other day? It was decided. Jordan and I would try to find it but we’d be smart and check our iPhones first. The only address that turned up was in Fisherman’s Wharf.

Huh?

No, there was on Haight. I know it! Right?

Perhaps  because I was so enthralled by the idea of having this snack be just around the corner, and since Jordan was an In-and-Out virgin (…uh…that’s what she said), I thought “Oh, the site must not be updated with the Haight location.”

This just shows how powerful the craving for In-and-Out can be. I fooled myself into believing that the official site didn’t have all their own locations on it.

Anyway, long story short. I was wrong. I’d seen the sign for In-and-Out when we were walking around the Wharf NOT the Haight!

Yeah we gave the city of SF a lot of free cash in the form of meter quarters that day as we stopped and looked, stopped and looked. And still no In-and-Out.

Don’t worry Jordan. Some day, some day…

Exploring Chinatown and discovering a hidden gem

April 17, 2009 - 1:00 pm Comments Off on Exploring Chinatown and discovering a hidden gem

After being in the markets of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and even Chinatown Chicago, the sights, sounds and smells of SF Chinatown were familiar to me. But it’s always fun walking in the thick of Chinese culture, and parts of Chinatown here came closest to Hong Kong for me. The familiar smell of dried scallops, black mushrooms, and anchovies as you pass the various medicinal shops… Older Chinese men and women looking for the best deals on bok choy… Always seeming to be walking against the flow of human traffic…

But I will say that seeing the vast blue of the Pacific peek out between rows of buildings at the end of  every street was pure SF.

Another unexpected gift was a gem we came upon during our walk – a small peaceful park in the middle of Chinatown. It was right across from St. Mary’s Cathedral and seemed to have been placed at the most perfect spot where the sun met the sidewalk. After walking up a short stair, Jordan and I settled on a warm park bench. After the hustle and sensory overload of just a few minutes prior, sitting there was better than laying on any beach in the Caribbean.

And even better when you’re with the one you love.

Wait for it…

Awwwww…