Wednesday, October 19, 2011

California Part 1: Santa Cruz

In the last week of September, I had the privilege of visiting my oldest friend in her new home - San Francisco. Sandy and I became friends in the 5th grade, in that awkward horror that is middle school. We were each other's port in an uncertain, head-geared storm. Sandy has been a port in the storm for me ever since. But life happens, and alas, adults with jobs do not get to spend hours talking and giggling nearly as often as they should. This would be the longest stretch of time with my dear friend that I had spent since high school and I had looked forward to it for months. With the amazing trip more than 2 weeks behind me, I'm sorry it's over and yet so glad to have those memories forever.

And while I may not reveal all that we talked and giggled about during that week, I will tell you that we ate, drank and toured spectacularly. Knowing that there's nothing this girl appreciates more than a good itinerary, Sandy prepared a jam-packed one that proved to be the perfect mix of Northern California's best. Since we did so much, I'm going to break up the posts into the areas we visited, starting with our first order of business... Santa Cruz.

Since my flight arrived at a mere 10:45 and we were already south of the city, we ventured further south to Santa Cruz on the day I arrived. Surfers, hippies, more pot wafting through the air than I've smelled since college... Santa Cruz is like Disney Land for the mellow, life-loving type. It's possible I MIGHT be too uptight for Santa Cruz. But I sure enjoyed exploring it.

This family of sea lions was unperturbed by our proximity.
They went about their barking and frolicking like a bunch of reality TV stars.

After our day of frolicking, it was time to get down to the business of wine at Soif Wine Bar, followed by dinner at Gabriella Cafe. Open since 1992, Gabriella's focus is on serving only the freshest seasonal, local, organic produce and with it, hearty, flavorful entrees.


My poor photo does little justice to the rich, meaty lamb shank,
served with organic vegetables and polenta.

Dirty Girl Farm tomatoes with basil, olive oil and burata

I took away from Gabriella a full belly, a happy heart and just a taste of what the rest of my trip would bring.

Check back for more!
Part 2: San Franciso & Sausalito
Part 3: Point Reyes & Mendocino
Part 4: Napa Valley