East Bay Bites

Bites, as in a good way, as in bites of food. As I scroll through my cell phone of 10,000+ photos on my phone, I am seeing majority of the photos are of food. I have enough to share some bites in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay Area. I hope this post helps put the East Bay on the map, entices San Francisco residents to make the trip across the Bay Bridge worthwhile and maybe to California in general. Enjoy!

THE CUPCAKE SHOPPE
Located in Downtown Hayward, my first experience with this shop located next to The Turf Club and Domino’s Pizza, was for mini cupcakes to be brought to a party. I was in awe by what they had and sadly I didn’t get to enjoy any of the mini cupcakes. Recently, my roommate has brought me cupcakes from there on two occasions. I tagged her in an Instagram post and she surprised me with limited edition Chicken and Waffles cupcakes. I have been craving fried chicken since my trip to the South in August 2018.

Another time, my roommate bought two cupcakes in addition to a set she was going to bring to her staff. One was made with champagne and the other one was a margarita cupcake. I preferred the pink champagne. What girl wouldn’t?

HAWAIIAN POKE
This is the spot for my roommate and I when we want poke. I have also signed up for their rewards program so I get free drinks and discounts when I come in. Today, I got a lilikoi drink for free. I don’t mind the text message offerings as they’re not sent very often. Located in San Leandro next to a 24 Hour Fitness, you order at the counter, customize your bowl and be on your way. I have had their bowls several times but recently ordered their sushiritto and it was something you can customize in terms of their sauces, not its contents. It was also strange that they added avocado to the sushiritto but told Kim and other guests that they had no avocado for their bowls. That’s a strange. But, the bowl is still very good and is quite filling.

SONS OF LIBERTY ALEHOUSE
SOLA has made an appearance on my blog quite a few times. It is one of my favorite places to go for a beer and to sit outside. My roommate and I have been several times, have brought Bevo, met other locals and enjoyed their beer. On our most recent trip, I enjoyed a flight of beer, we shared the pretzel balls, Kim had the fish tacos and I had the chicken fried sandwich. Keyword: fried chicken. Sadly, I didn’t keep the photo of the sandwich but the beer options are great and the pretzel balls and sauce were hard, but good. They are only available on the weekends so we were finally able to try them. Come to watch the Warriors game or visit for fundraising event, such as one they had for Nobody’s Perfekt Dogs.

TELEFERIC BARCELONA
In Walnut Creek, this is a great spot to go on a nice day. Sit inside or on the deck and see all that happens downtown. Order delicious cocktails, Spanish wine or tapas. On our way back from Napa, we avoided the rush hour traffic and stopped here to take a break. Brussel sprouts, a kale salad and cocktails were a must. If you’re like my buddy, Stan, you can request your cocktail without all the fluff. Be sure to check out their happy hour menu as well.

SLOW HAND BBQ
In Martinez and after a 10K run on Mare Island, beer and BBQ is needed. With my running buddy and BBQ caterer, Nelly, we were ready to eat. I had a platter of ribs and the many sides including pimento cheese and crostinis, cole slaw and mac n cheese of course! If you ran before lunch, you will definitely be replenishing all the calories you’ve burned and more. Sit inside, watch TV or dine out to their patio. Apparently there is another location you can get your hands sticky at in Pleasant Hill, the next city over.

Related posts:
Puesto! Cousin Time.
Pizza, Beer & More in the East Bay

OBB Weekly – 7-16-19

Flight at Sons of Liberty Alehouse (SOLA)- San Leandro, CA

This weekly post was to get blog posts up and summarize changes over the week. They can be planned changes or they can spring up at any moment. This past week has been full of these modifications and all for the better. Another week has passed and I appreciate all the unknowns it has brought.

TRAVEL

Stopped mid-step as I was walking out of the room, “I’m what?” I was planning travel for a coworker and was told I should attend as well. They went back and forth whether or not I would go over the last two weeks. Now it’s confirmed. Majority of those going will be gone for 10 days to Lawrenceburg, Indiana and Englewood, Ohio with us staying across the river from Lawrenceburg in Kentucky. There are three states I haven’t been in! This is definitely an opportunity I am okay with. I look forward to exploring what I can and we might even go to Lexington, Kentucky. Can you say whiskey?!?! Stay tuned on social media for updates.

Whiskey cocktail at ME Cab0 – Cabo San Lucas, Mexico – June 2019

EVENT PLANNING

This past week, Stella & Dot held its annual sales conference called Hoopla. I have been to two of these conferences, one in San Francisco and the other in Las Vegas. Announced via social media, a new incentive for a 6-day trip to Lake Como, Italy for two is available! I have yet to earn one of these trips. I would love to! With that said, I am looking for trunk show hostesses to earn free jewelry. This trunk show can be in person or via online. All you need to start earning rewards is to have at least $300 in sales and four unique orders. Adding Stylists to my team doing this as well will also help me get to Lake Como. The best time to sign up is now!

Please sign up HERE.

Please shop at Kim’s 3-Day Trunk Show Fundraiser where a percentage of net sales goes her fundraising goal.

FOOD

It’s been an interesting journey in trying to save money and stop spending as much as I normally do on food. I love to eat! Lately, it has been eating salads for lunch, meal prepping chicken and having cereal and other cheap processed or frozen foods just to save money. The cost of going out to lunch or dinner could be at least $20. With going grocery shopping, I can eat a meal for a quarter of the cost. This week, that changed.

I was able to enjoy pork adobo sliders and popcorn and cocktails from The Treasury SF, French cuisine at the new One65 restaurant at Union Square San Francisco and a sweetheart of a cutie brought me sweets. Did I mention cocktails too from Bar 587? It’s been a nice change.

Duck breast from One65

MOTIVATION

With traveling, I have to keep with my gym efforts. I am no where near my 2019 body fat percentage goal and I need to make some progress. In addition to being a 24 Hour Fitness member, I am now a Planet Fitness member as well. For $22/month, I have access to all their gyms nationwide, extra amenities like massage chairs and tanning (not needed for this Filipina) and bringing a guest for free. While in Ohio and Indiana these next couple of weeks, there wasn’t a 24 Hour Fitness located within a reasonable distance. If there was, I would have extended my current membership instead of just one location. Work out clothes are packed and I have recruited a coworker to go with me while we’re out and about. It does cost me more but I couldn’t just run all week long. It would be really bad on my knees, although I still need to train for my RunDisney half marathon in Paris in a couple of months. I hope this motivates you to keep moving while on your travels.

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OBB Weekly – 7-2-19

The lobby at the Palazzo Hotel – Las Vegas, Nevada

This will have to be a quick one because this One Busy Bee is, well, busy. I have Vegas this weekend, fun events scheduled there, eating at one famous chef’s restaurant and am motivated to take a break and enjoy myself. Working seven days a week and trying to build a business on top of that has taken a toll a bit. And yet, I’m here for another OBB Weekly. Enjoy!

TRAVEL

In preparation of my week-long trip to London next month, I had to spend some money. Wanting to save on luggage fees and attempt to be a minimalist, I made my first Kelty backpack purchase. After research online and visiting Outdoor World Sporting Goods while I was in Santa Cruz to touch and feel the product, I purchased the Kelty 44. It had several compartments, way to collapse it and condense your possessions. I am looking forward to testing it out in this weekend’s quick trip to Las Vegas, even though Southwest Airlines is awesome with their two free bags policy. I successfully traveled very light on a recent trip to Seattle, Washington. I know it can be done.

Enjoyed these vouchers thanks to Southwest on my way to Walt Disney World – January 2019

Are you a light traveler?
What are your tips?

EVENT PLANNING

Remember Sisqo? He sang on The Thong Song and is the lead singer of the band Dru Hill. Well, we will be attending a pool party in Las Vegas as the Flamingo Pool where he will be making an appearance. Dru Hill is also touring. I had no idea. The bathing suit will be packed and we’ll have a good time this holiday weekend. Another stop at Tao Beach during the day will also take place. DJ Justin Incredible will spinning. Vegas always has something going on.

Which is your favorite pool in Las Vegas?
Which has the best pool parties?

FOOD

On this trip to Vegas, we only have time for one dinner reservation, and it will be at Giada’s for brunch. Giada De Laurantiis is a celebrity chef with nine award-winning cookbooks, TV shows, traveler and even children’s book author. Not only do I love Italy and italian food, I love visiting restaurants by famous chefs. Not only is she beautifully stunning at 48, (may I please look amazing as her when I’m that age!), she seems like a great person. She gives back to the community by highlighting a product in her store and donates a portion to its sales for the month to a particular non-profit. This month, a set of measuring spoons benefits Save Place for Youth. Shop HERE. Stay tuned here and on WereHungryToo on Instagram for photos.

So many talented chefs – Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival – Maui, October 2018

Which celebrity chef do you most admire?
Do you make purchases based on it benefiting a non-profit?

MOTIVATION

Sadly, my hits have dropped and I feel June has been crazy busy. I haven’t been promoting my posts as much but moreso creating content and using the photos and videos I have on my phone. I need to get those numbers back up. Since February, it has been a roller coaster in terms of statistics. A good month, then a not-so-good month. With 20 new posts in June, I definitely had something to talk about. Apparently I didn’t do that enough. It is now July and I need to step it up.

Thank you to those that have visited and continue to support me. I like seeing the numbers and appreciate it!

Are you a Blogger?
What are your struggles?

Cruising & the Environment

With the recent disappointing news of Carnival being slapped with a $20 million fine for continuing to pollute our oceans, you think about how your desires to travel are impacting the environment. Small changes can help. Cruise lines have stopped putting plastic straws in their beverages, encourages guests to reuse water bottles, recycles, donates linens to be reused, creates educational programs for children aboard about water conservation, etc. and have created or partnered with non-profit organizations to give back. (Green Cruising – Cruise Critic 11/14/18)

Royal Caribbean is starting to build the world’s next largest cruise ship stating it will have the latest technology. What does that even mean? I am hoping that means it aims to NOT get slapped with a fine of its own. Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages is ‘developing clean energy technology.’ He is also partnering with a Swedish startup to convert the heat from the engines into electricity. Follow Virgin Voyages and support the leader in cruise lines making a statement in reducing its carbon footprint, even if the price tag starts at $1,400 per person.

I am a Princess Certified Travel Agent and hope the cruise line market will continue to make improvements. I have been on three cruises with my first one being aboard the Reflection by Celebrity Cruises. I have enjoyed cruising since 2012 and feel it’s my job to be aware of what travel partners are doing to save the planet.

Cisco, my new Puerto Rican friend from Brooklyn, New York in Dunedin, New Zealand via the Golden Princess.

Making a difference starts with you. I will make an effort to propose itineraries with travel partners that help preserve the same world we are all trying to see. Small changes in your lifestyle will also help. I recycle, compost, use reusable bottles and support wildlife and forests and parks. See Lonely Planet’s article on How To Go Green When You Travel for some great tips.

Baby turtles were protected from predators in order for them to have a better chance at survival. Then were released into the waters of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Came via the Oosterdam by Holland America – Jan. 2017
The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony gives the smallest penguins a place to call home and be safe. Dunedin, New Zealand.
Tauranga port, New Zealand
Tauranga port, New Zealand

How will you do plan on saving the planet at home?
At work?
And when you travel?

Related post:
Earth Day 2017

Roommate Anniversary in Wine Country

Oh, Man, what a year. From our first trial trip to Los Angeles County with Bevo, my late Boston Terrier to down under in Melbourne, Australia and 15-days straight of each other on the Golden Princess, my roommate and I remain among the living. We haven’t killed each other yet. We actually have had a lot of laughs and she’s made many appearances on this blog, in case you haven’t noticed. On her first official day home, I walked into the house and Snap’d as I entered the door. “This is Kim! Everyone’s going to know Kim.” She waves to the camera. I’m glad she’s not camera shy. We celebrated many laughs by having more laughs in wine country that is the Napa Valley.

As a Blogger and in the food and wine, media and travel industry, I typically get the industry discount of complimentary tastings. Kim has grown accustomed to that. I have spoiled her and now she could never go wine tasting with anyone else. As I have goal of hitting as many California wineries as possible, I warned her that I was going to plan our Roommate Anniversary with visiting wineries where appointments are necessary and we may not get a discount. She OK’d the itinerary. On the schedule was Hyde, Saintsbury and Etude. All are wineries located in the Carneros region and was mentioned in my Napa Valley Wine Expert Certification course. All were wineries I have never been to.

It was a long weekend in terms of activity. A sexy male friend came over and made me dinner Friday night and we stayed up until 4 AM. Don’t you love it when a man feeds you? This foodie does! A slight hangover remained throughout Kim’s Susan G. Koman Bowl-a-Thon fundraiser in Fremont and a bit thru a Nobody’s Perfekt fundraiser at Cleophus Quealy Brewery in San Leandro. A nap afterwards turned out to be bed time to get ready for more drinking the next day.

Homemade carpaccio by J
Team Frame Supporters – guess who came up with the name?
#AdoptDontShop

We hit the road at 9 AM because it gets busy heading up to Napa thru American Canyon. Our first appointment was at 11 AM at Hyde. We arrived, drove thru the open gates to the property and the doors were locked. We waited in the car until it was closer to 11 AM. Maybe they don’t open the doors unless they have appointments. We tried the doors again when it was time. Still locked. We went back to the car to stay warm. I checked my email and realized I never send in my credit card to create the reservation. Doh! I can plan the heck out of a wedding or launch products anywhere in the country or plan a detailed travel itinerary, but when it comes to my personal life, I don’t put in the same effort. Are you the same? Oh well. Hyde will not be added to my winery log this time.

Back in the car, I thought I would wing it and run into a winery we can visit. Most we came across needed reservations. We passed Saintsbury and kept going. That was going to be stop number two. I have been to Bouchaine and ended back up at what was Liana Estates, then L.E. and now Calmere Estate Winery. I love this place. I have been there twice before. Once on a rainy birthday visit with my good friend, Nikki, and the other time via a tour I sold with my #Instafriend. Both, good times.

We walked up the barrel with a host and they asked if we had reservations. Again, reminded that I failed in making reservations! They squeezed us in with an appointment in two minutes. Technically, the space requires them and apparently it depends on the region. Oh, Carneros, why do you make it so difficult? We were given freedom to sit where we wished. I picked the love seat on the patio closest to the view and in the sun a bit. It was a bit breezy and the sun kissed our skin.

We enjoyed our time, chatted, talked things out that were on my mind, etc. Our host and I geeked over wine, beer, whisky, food and the whole industry. He ran restaurants and was burnt out. Pouring wine at a winery was a nice change of pace but like me, he also missed the rush. He asked if I would ever want to open a restaurant again. My answer remains the same, “Only if it was in Hawaii.” Of course, travel talk came about and I gave him my card.

We were having such a good time that I had to call our next winery to let them know we were going to be on our way shortly. Thankfully, they understoood. We said our goodbyes but not before we took three bottles with us. We went over to Saintsbury.

It was another outdoor tasting area under large trees and near low fences protecting gardens surrounding the circular tables equipped with menus and bread sticks. If you have the group size to sit at the 6-top closest to the vines under an orange umbrella, you’d be in luck. Friendly service, beautiful grounds and of course, non-stop conversation. We left without bottles and headed off to the next stop, Etude.

Etude was very close by and the wind started to pick up. There is plenty of parking and you get to the main entrance of the tasting room walking along the lawn and thru the outdoor patio. Inside, the counter is to your left and many high top tables for three or four are scattered around under high ceilings. The brightness of the room is not as nice as the natural light that we were enjoying but it was clean and modern. A private tasting room is also available in the back. By this time, we were feeling pretty good and getting silly. Michael, our pourer, was handling it all very well.

Getting hungry, we decided to make reservations at Charlie Palmer’s Steak downtown Napa. Parking was easy to find and the restaurant was pretty quiet for a Sunday night. Was it because everyone is having Game of Thrones viewing parties for the premiere? Warriors playoffs? I had a salad, an 8-ounce filet mignon and the potato gratin. My appetite has not recovered from the liquor-filled weekend. I didn’t put my steak away like I know I could. Kim even at more than I did!

Then we headed home. I relaxed to the premiere of the last season of Game of Thrones and called it a night. Kim and I are next headed off to Seattle and Las Vegas. Stay tuned for that.

Let me help you plan your wine country itinerary, along with hotels, possibly the Wine Train experience and more.

JoJo Needs a Home

I named her JoJo after my favorite bass player and from the Los Lonely Boys. She was rescued from a San Jose pound that morning. They were about to euthanize her because she reached her max amount of time there. She didn’t even have a name. 😞 She whimpers but also was an amazing cuddler. She’s also so good with kids. At the event outside The Animal House in San Francisco on Saturday, April 6th, she had two families interested in her that day but evaluations needed to be done first. Follow Wonder Dog Rescue to adopt her. Fill out an application to jump start the process.

This was my first day volunteering and it was a good to spend time with these cuties that need homes. Ever since I have lost my Bevo, something is obviously missing from my life. In his memory, I want to help dogs have just as good of a life as he did.

Though we got Bevo from a breeder because the ex wanted a pure bred and really fought to have a dog, please adopt, don’t shop.

There is also Mollie, Sassy and Windi if you’re a Boston Terrier lover like I am. Consider adopting a senior dog. They need love too.

Update: 6/7/19

Jojo’s foster now has a Facebook Page for her! Help find JoJo a forever home!

Walk to End Alzheimer’s

13.1 miles were ran, more like jogged, to fundraise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at Walt Disney World on January 12th, 2019. It was in my Lolo’s memory and for a friend, Sandra, and my #Instafriend’s father. Nine months later, I will be walking to end Alzheimer’s in Silicon Valley. I usually do some kind of fundraising at least once a year. This walk will be much less strenuous on my body but still for a good cause.

On Saturday, October 12th, I invite you to please join me for this brief, 2-mile walk in Silicon Valley. If you can’t make the event, please donate to end Alzheimer’s via this LINK. Why this walk? My day job helps residents and caregivers in long-term facilities, commonly offering memory care assistance. On this past cruise, my roommate and I had breakfast with two ladies one morning. They now travel together because they both had husbands that no longer know who they are. Imagine living decades together, through all the struggles relationships inevitably bring and the love of your life now has no recollection. It’s pretty sad. I am trying to live my best life and write about it along the way. Maybe one day, I too, won’t remember I zip lined above fields of agave plants in Mazatlan, met kangaroos in Australia, stood on top of Mt. Etna and had a lot of champagne in Champagne! Hope you join me!

#Endalz
#walk2endalz

Donate to End Alzheimer’s

Penguin Love

Never thought of myself a bird person. But those tubby, waddling black and white cuties that are called penguins are undeniably adorable. In fact, I love them even more because my late Boston Terrier, Bevo, looked like a penguin from behind when he was sitting down. I miss my guy. While booking excursions for my New Zealand cruise aboard the Golden Princess from Melbourne, Australia, the major thing I wanted to do was visit with the yellow-eyed penguins. Thankfully, I was able to see many penguins during this trip. If you love these funny guys as well, read on.

My traveling partner and roommate, Kim, and I love animals. Have you seen my post on getting free cuddles from the SF SPCA? We both miss Bevo very much and because she was good to him, I invited her to join me on this cruise. Besides my required penguin adventure excursion, we had many other animal related trips. We actually went to two zoos on this trip, saw penguins in the wild, attempted to swim with Hector dolphins and we even petted a bird while in the middle of the ocean! A friend spotted a tired bird on the promenade and comforted it while it rested.
After a non-stop flight to Melbourne, Australia from San Francisco via Qantas, we stopped at the Sea Life Aquarium. At first I wasn’t too excited about going as I could see animals at home. I wanted to see what else Melbourne had to offer but nothing was calling out to me. Behind a long line as we did not pre-pay for tickets, we eventually made it in. I have never seen that large of a crocodile before! Huge sting rays and sharks occupied the same tank. And then I saw it! A large amount of emperor penguins behind a glass. The area was much larger than what we have at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. I have never been so close to these large birds. Thru the glass, I was only a couple feet away. They were so awesome and quite big! Much bigger than Bevo. I watched them waddle towards the pool in groups for fish and saw how they swam and dove in the water. I was about to walk away but spotted a momma bird and a baby gray penguin in it’s own area. OMGoodness! Cuteness overload. How smart of Sea Life to save the best animals to the end. Of course, I had to take a photo with the HUGE stuffed penguin. That would be quite the carry on.


Missing our opportunity to explore Melbourne’s nightlife with an 11-hour nap, we had the energy to walk from the Empire Apartments on Elizabeth Street to Vincent the Dog for brunch, then to the Melbourne Zoo. There we booked an experience of meeting kangaroos. They were such cool animals. And what better mammal to visit with while in Australia. But you know what I really wanted to see, right? The penguins! We again saved it for the last. At the entrance of the area, there was a sign up sheet to promise to blow balloons and not balloons at your next outdoor event. As an Event Planner, I signed it. That’s a good idea. So much plastic ends up in our oceans that it ruins the home of many lives. Very sad.


And then I saw this guy. I have never seen a blue penguin and they’re the smallest of the species. He was alone, out of the water, speaking and waddling. So darn cute I couldn’t contain myself. See video of him soon on my YouTube channel. Penguin sightings two days in a row. Melbourne highlights, in my opinion!

We then boarded our cruise ship and had four days at sea before our first excursion. Two nights before we saw land, we received a notice at our door that our yellow-eyed penguin adventure was cancelled due to not hitting the minimum required attendees for the tour. WHAT?!? Why wouldn’t a few more of the 2,000 guests on board want to go see these cuties? I was pretty upset, even dropped to my knees at my bed and asked why. Kim found another tour available that did allow you to see penguins. We booked that immediately. OK, that made me feel better.
Finally reaching port, I fell asleep on the way to the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. We parked and probably awoke due to my excitement. We all stopped off at the toilets, then met in the gift shop. We were moved into a screening room for a short intro the colony. We passed through large photos outlining facts about the penguins, how they mate, their diet and their feathers. We were then taken outside to meet our guide. The birds are nocturnal so they were not out and about waddling around. The colony is a safe haven for them and they have little huts they come home to after being out in the water nearby. We were taken to a shed that allows you to peek in these little homes. You are asked to be quiet and not use your camera so unfortunately I have no photos of these adorable little things. Most of the huts had one penguin but there was one with two penguins in the hut. They were so cute and looked so peaceful. One thing I didn’t expect to discover was how stinky they were. I had to plug my nose as I adored them. You’ve been warned.





The colony has evening tours where guests can sit in stands and watch them as they come in from the water. We didn’t see any traveling in but did see some seals on the rocks relaxing and scratching themselves against the rocks. Not that they weren’t also adorable, we see several sea lions in San Francisco, especially at Pier 39.
The next time I saw these adorable blue penguins were unexpected. At our first port, Akaroa, we were scheduled to swim with the smallest dolphins in the world, the Hector Dolphins. We took the tender from the ship to the dock on an overcast morning. We explored the shops and cafes along the water. Our ticket as to where to meet our group on the pier wasn’t very clear. Thankful for a Princess crew member, he escorted us to where we needed to go. Several people were waiting there and we took a seat. We were then later advised that we needed to check in in the other room. Moving back into the original room, we were introduced to the staff and given wet suits. Use of the restroom was recommended before getting into the suits. You wouldn’t want to swim in your own urine, right? Putting on the wetsuit was a first for me. Those things will make you feel like a sausage!
All suited up, notified of the dos and don’ts, we jumped on the boat. We traveled slow at first out of the dock, then picked up some speed. We hit some bumps, people squeeled with excitement with every leap and paused when we spotted something in the water. The first thing we spotted were two sets of three blue penguins! I was so excited to see them out and about in the wild. How awesome. It was definitely a penguin filled trip so far.
With the main goal to swim with Hector dolphins, we did see a few. However, they didn’t stick around the boat long enough to swim with. We left the cove entirely and went out into open water. It got really rocky and I started to get a little sick. I did my best to keep my eye on the rocks at the distance to minimize the sickness but I was not happy. We spotted more dolphins and it was great to see them but I stayed seated and let Kim try to take the photos. At one point, we did find some and decided to get in. There were about six of us that went into the water. Oh boy, the water would have been really cold without the wet suit. I was impressed. Some water snuck in thru the neckline and traveled its way down to the lady parts. It was a shock! Then it ended up at my feet. The dolphins didn’t stay to hang out but an albatross with its beautiful, long wingspan was very interested in us. We got back in the water and all I wanted to do was get back on land.

Back on land and in Wellington, we opted out of an excursion in the capital city of New Zealand. We decided to explore downtown, check out their cable car that took you to the top of the Botanical Gardens and go to the Wellington Zoo. Unfortunately, no penguins but they did have their own area. I would have been super spoiled to see even more of my favorite animal but a girl can’t have everything. Thank you, Australia and New Zealand, for the encounters.
Where have you spotted penguins in the wild?
Which are you favorite penguins?
Book your animal loving itinerary with me.

Yoga n Champagne

Not a typical combo for yogis or wine-Os but it happened. I can’t take it back. I am so far behind in posting on my travels that I need to catch up. Saved as one of the first photos in the Favorites album on my phone are these beauties. Yoga in Champagne, France.

I met my friend, Lisa, through one of the monthly Women Wednesday events I used to throw at my restaurant in San Francisco. There isn’t anything this girl doesn’t do. She’s a yoga instructor, aesthetician and sommelier. I attended an event she was working and she mentioned she and her boyfriend were going to Paris. I jokingly asked if I could crash her vacation. No joke, I did, but I brought my dear friend, Mercedes with me too, plus mi Papichulo (a nickname I call a dear Puerto Rican friend of mine).

Before I fainted on the airplane to Europe (that’s another story for another time), I thought it’d be good for Mercedes and Lisa to meet. Papichulo lived in Orlando so that we would be difficult to arrange. We had lunch at The Rotunda restaurant at the top of Neiman Marcus in San Francisco. Lisa invited us to both participate in a 30-day yoga challenge. Far from being a yogi and always down for a challenge, I accepted. As did Mercedes. We finished the challenge and holy moly my poses did not look cute whatsoever. Mercedes is always adorable so see her photos, not mine. But that is how these photos came to be. I have not progressed in my yoga practice but I do have fun taking photos in fun places, and getting my girlfriends to do it too.

Lisa & I, Mendocino, California – February 2018

Venice Canals, Los Angeles, California – March 2018

With Bevo – Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California – March 2018

Forestville, California – March 19, 2018

Lisa & I – Madame Tussuads, San Francisco, California – March 23, 2018

Taking a break from the segway night tour – Pier 5, San Francisco, California – May 3, 2018

Harder while balancing on a log – Yosemite, California – May 2018

First time this native has been to Mosaic Steps – San Francisco, California – July 4, 2018

Polka dots & heels & a wine glass – Grigich Hills Winery – Napa, California – August 10, 2018

Hearst Castle – San Simeon, California – August 11, 2018

Boone Hall Plantation – Mount Pleasant, South Carolina – August 2018

Teal Run benefiting ovarian cancer – Campbell, California
September 29, 2018

Yoga or Champagne?

HFWF18 – Chef Stephen Pyles

That Southern Hospitality is real! And you’ll feel it the instant your eyes meet Chef Stephen Pyles from Dallas, a fifth generation Texan. I have a love for Texas. My dog is named Bevo after the Texas Longhorns and my favorite band is from San Angelo, Texas, the Los Lonely Boys. I just returned from visiting five cities in the South. I fell in love with Charleston. And you’ll feel warm and welcomed when you sit across the table from Chef Pyles if you have the chance. I can still vividly remember his smile.

Comfortable with sitting across from this talented chef on Media Day at the Hawai’i Food and Wine Festival on Maui, we get to it. This is a man that has a weakness for travel. Inside I scream, “Me too!” Fellow Chef Wolfgang Puck also encouraged him, he says. Chef Pyles has opened 22 restaurants in five cities and has a new partnership with Delta Hotels by Marriott. His partnership with Benchmark Hospitality also has him running a culinary program. Benchmark works with a Woodside Hotel Group location, Dream Inn, in Santa Cruz, California, where I will be touring next month as well as the Menlo Grill in Menlo Park, California. I visit my Cugino aka cousin that works there every so often. I will be asking if his program has rolled out to the West Coast.

When asked if Chef would consider opening a restaurant in San Francisco, he was confident in his answer. He stated that San Francisco is a mecca, has a bit of everything but it’s so expensive. As a former San Francisco restaurant co-owner, we discussed just how expensive it is – rent, labor, insurance and more! Goodness. Unfortunately, the Founding Father of Southern Texas Cuisine will not be coming to the City by the Bay. I guess I need to plan a trip to Dallas. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Texas.

Just as Texas is big, as some chefs carry salt (and chili flakes), famous chefs tend to give back. The entire HFWF is a program of the non-profit Hawaii Ag and Culinary Alliance. Chef Pyles is in the board of Goodwill Industries and The Art Institute. Funny, as The Art Institute in San Francisco seems to own the most property here. I wonder if he could get a deal on space here with that relationship. I can wish. The lease itself and dining at his restaurant, Flora, also benefits the Arts District. It’s a win-win for sure. It was recently named one of the top 20 restaurants in Dallas by Conde Nast Traveler.

With so much success and sitting pretty on top, I asked my usual question as to if there were any women in the industry we should be on the look out for to possibly follow in his footsteps of growth and accolades. As a man that Julia Child ‘scared the hell out of’ when Chef met her in France, this Chef of the Year (2006, Esquire Magazine) says the name Misti Norris. Chef Norris was named the 2016 Chef of the Year by Eater. She left Texas to stage in New York. She returned and opened Petra and the Beast in Dallas. Lauren S. of Columbus, Ohio on Yelp says “The chef, Misti Norris, is truly creative and a master of her craft.” It’s great that women from across the nation are supporting lady chefs. We need that. And thank you, Chef Pyles for spreading the word all the way in Maui and to me here in San Francisco. This 49ers fan hopes to visit both, Flora and Petra and the Beast, on my first trip to Dallas.

Related articles:
Chef Misti Norris Returns to Dallas  — 2016 Eater Chef of the Year Dallas  — now opens Petra & the Beast – Eater –
Benchmark Partners with Acclaimed Chef Stephen Pyles to Create Ground Breaking Culinary Program

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