Two-Year Roommate Anniversary

In quarantine, my roommate and I couldn’t really celebrate our roommate anniversary. Last year, we celebrated it by going to Napa. We visit often and we quite a bit together. This year, we celebrated with the help of Destination Wedding Photographer, Vanja Melnik, from Serbia. You might remember her from the interview I posted about HERE. Vanja had some unique photos I haven’t seen before. This is my favorite shot from the day, and all in the comfort of our own home.

She had posted photos of Factime stills with her taking pictures of her camera in the upper right hand corner during the session. For our session, the connection was quite terrible so screen shots were taken. I had an idea of the set up and I really enjoy our balcony on a nice day. As sports fans, I wanted my roommate and I to dress up in our jerseys and have a casual day enjoying wine. Props would be all of our swag, glassware or cups and even flags. I think it turned out really well. She likes hockey, and the San Jose Sharks. I like football and the San Francisco 49ers.

We took shots in different areas of the house. Vanja directed us on how to look, where to stand, how to angle ourselves or the camera, etc. Encouraging words of what looked good also helped to relax. We were originally scheduled for 30 minutes but in my experience, when photographers are on a roll, they don’t mind the clock too much. Unless their Wedding Coordinator (ahem!) is looking for them to give them a quick reminder.

Eventually the shoot turned silly. It is expected when Kim and I get together. Good times, Kim.

And thank you, Vanja! I hope to one day work with you on a destination wedding, hopefully in Santorini, Greece! That would be a dream come true!

Vanja Melnik, Destination Wedding Photographer – Serbia
Bernadette Manzano, Event Planner & Coordinator – United State

For My Little Slugger

If you are looking for the perfect gift for the baseball fan in your life, consider a personalized Louisville Slugger baseball bat. The idea came to me during my long-term stay in Louisville. Many days with rain, snow, wind and chill was worth it just to get the video and photos from my best friend of my nephew opening up his gift.

Nate has played in a few seasons of baseball and it was about to start up again but due to the coronavirus, the season has been cancelled. I look forward to watching him play when I get back to the Bay Area and we can live our lives as normal. The kids are growing up so fast!

The museum offered kid and adult size bats. Since this was a bat for display, I got him one for adults. I am sure he has grown another inch or two since I have been home. I just love his reaction.

I am so happy he loved his gift. I watched the video of him opening it while at The Met in New York City. On the opposite of the country, I am glad I can still make him smile.

Get a personalized bat of your own with your favorite baseball team’s logo and a name. If you need assistance with planning a trip to Louisville and Bourbon County, please do not hesitate to reach out. See my other blog post on the museum.

Let’s go, Giants!

Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum

Louisville and Kentucky is commonly associated with whiskey and bourbon. For sports lovers, it is where Major League Baseball bats are made. Family-owned since the late 1800s, Hillerich & Bradsby have been making bats for professional athletes and fans. The museum has 35-minute tours often starting at $16. Tour the front of the museum while you wait for your tour. Take as many photos as you would like in this area as photography and videos are not allowed inside the factory.

See all things baseball with statues, historic photos and a display of bats used by your favorite players. You also have the opportunity to hold and pose with actual Louisville Sluggers used during games. The listing of available bats said Willie McCovey’s bat was available but when it was my turn to step up to the plate, his bat was retired from the exhibit due to wear and tear. In its place was Puerto Rico’s own, Orlando Cepeda’s, bat. As a Bay Area native in Louisville, I didn’t complain.

Every baseball fan knows Babe Ruth. A bat and signed documents are on display including one that states “All of my records have been made with Louisville Sluggers.” You can even see the dents in the bat!

During the tour, you will learn about the forests where the trees are grown for the bats, how they’re selected, processed and made. They are carved via a machine, sanded, polished, engraved, painted, stamped and packaged. Right now, they are making bats for the upcoming spring season.

The tour will end with an opportunity to ask questions. You will also be given a mini bat. You can explore the gift shop or hit the batting cages. I decided to take a photo on top of the limestone glove that was carved by a member of the Hillerich family.

This is a must stop for baseball fans. I have specially ordered gifts for my nephew who is currently playing baseball and a gift for my Cugino, who works closely with the San Francisco Giants. Get custom made gifts on-site if you are willing to throw it in your luggage. And I just discovered that they will have event space available soon. Smart move.

What is your team?
Would Louisville be on your list of places to stop now if it wasn’t already?

OBB Weekly – 2-4-20

The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Happy Travel Tuesday! One month down in 2020 and there’s a lot of time to make things happen this year. Who has travel plans? Will you be attending any weddings? What upcoming restaurant opening are you looking forward to? And what motivates you? Whatever you have planned, I hope these weekly posts inspire you!

TRAVEL

January had me exploring my own state of California. You can find new, great things to explore in your backyard. Yes, many people save for an extravagant and long vacation. A less expensive and maybe a 2-3 hour drive to a new but close location can serve the same purpose: getting out of town!

Niner Wine Estates in Paso Robles. Perfect for this Faithful.

Paso Robles was a New Year’s Eve getaway with the roommate. Then, I was lucky enough to crash her room at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay. What a treat that was! Heaven knows I can’t afford that room on my own. Perhaps one day, I’ll be able to not blink when hitting that reservation button. If you have an opportunity like this, take it! My roommate was barely in the room as she was busy with her company meetings. I made my office in the hotel room.

What are spots near you that you love or would love to go to?

The dream. The goal. – The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

EVENT PLANNING

Well, congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs. They beat my San Francisco 49ers 31-20 on Super Bowl Sunday this past weekend. I honestly can remember the last time I watched the Super Bowl. The planning and event production of the half time show is always impressive in such a short time period. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira put on quite a performance. I have always been a fan of JLo and am listening to her songs now while drafting this.

Having a love for live music, the ballet and other performing arts, I have always considered learning and understanding what goes into the production of a performance like this. Perhaps one day.

Have you had experience with this large of an event?
What was it like?
Did/do you love it?

#WEREHUNGRYTOO

As much I love trying a new restaurant and a creative cocktail, I am also enjoying cooking. My friend gave me a cookbook from The Slanted Door quite a few years ago when I helped open my restaurant in San Francisco. I made my first meal: Shaking Beef with coconut rice! And it was amazing. A Bordeaux wine definitely added to it.

I enjoyed the sauce so much, I made my Meatless Monday dinner with cabbage and a stuffed pepper. “Well, this is a way for me to eat cabbage!” says the roommate.

Do you participate in Meatless Mondays?
What is your favorite meal to make for MMs?
Is there a cookbook you swear by?

MOTIVATION

As mentioned, I am on the stationary bike drafting this post. JLo’s performance may have played a part in getting up early this morning and getting a workout in before another busy day. She’s 50 and looks amazing. Talk about goals! Thanks for the motivation, JLo.

I did finally have an improved weigh-in on Saturday. Weigh-in usually takes place on Sundays but I didn’t know where I was going to be and I was happy to report I haven’t been this light in four months. I still have a lot of work to do and to keep it off but it will take some time.

My dear friend, Brittany, invited me download the FitOn app. When this One Busy Bee just can’t make it to the gym, it’s nice to have workouts at my fingertips. They have challenges like completing 10 workouts in one month. I need to get started. I am pretty bummed that bodybuilding.com aren’t running their 250K Challenges. They really helped me go after it. And it was fun to do it with friends.

Gym ready wearing my Myrtle Beach tank

Good luck on your February fitness goals!

How are your 2020 resolutions going?
If you have a fitness goal, what is it?

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A 49er Faithful Far, Far Away

I am usually wearing San Francisco 49er gear when I travel. I am a Faithful, born and raised a 49er fan. I scream at the television just like my Lolo used to and I remember watching football games by myself when my mother and sister were not interested in watching. Now traveling, I proudly wear my Niner gear. They are currently having a successful season and it has been a rough few years. Nonetheless, the Faithful and Niner Gang live on. Fingers crossed we will make it to the Super Bowl!

In all honesty, this is a photo dump post as I watch the Niners play the Packers.

Paris, France – September 2019
Home in Hayward, California
SFO, San Francisco, California – November 2019
Greenfield, Indiana – November 2019
Jewelry & top by Stella & Dot
Greenfield, Indiana – November 2019
Jewelry by Stella & Dot
Louisville, Kentucky – November 2019

GO NINERS!!! Looks like I need different Niner gear, doesn’t it?

Pizza, Beer & More in the East Bay

It’s always good when you have great options to dine at in your own town. As a Blogger and Travel Agent, I should do a better job of highlighting some local spots in Hayward and neighboring towns. My friend runs the E’vill Eye News blog for another East Bay city called Emeryville. Do check out his blog when you have a sec! But stick with me for a second. Here are some great spots.

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery

Located downtown Hayward across the street from the theatre, it is said to be the oldest brewery in the country. This is walking distance from my house so this is usually a go to spot. Sit outside on their heated patio or inside at a table or at the bar top. Parking is available on the street, in the lot behind the building or the parking structure behind the movie theatre. I always get the sausage, apple and pesto pizza. It is delicious! For beer, get a flight of house beers or their seasonal ones. Try their Orange Blossom Cream Ale or the Pumpkin Ale or Oatmeal Stout. So many options!

Russell City Distillery

If you like Buffalo Bill’s, next door visit the Russell City Distillery tasting room. They off vodka cocktails and sells bottles of their liquors including vodka, rum and tequila. The tasting room isn’t big but they can open their rolling door to allow some outdoor space. It is dog friendly as well.

Norm’s Place

In downtown Danville, you have many options. Auburn Lounge is a relatively new bar and lounge and they are often closed for private events. Revel Kitchen & Bar is a good spot with a nice bar, tasty salads and an outdoor patio. Across the street is Norm’s. A popular bar for sporting events like the Warriors games. Have Kara pour you your usual of Jameson whiskey with one or two rocks and order the tuna appetizer. It’s basically a deep fried sushi roll. And it was tasty.

Sons of Liberty Alehouse

What we call SOLA. Isn’t it hard not to think of Jax Teller and Sons of Anarchy? This is one of my favorite spots to go to even it means I have to jump on the highway to get to San Leandro. You can make reservations via Yelp, be prepared for a busy parking lot but it’s a great spot for beer and snacks.

Come out to the East Bay and check out what we have to offer!

Related posts:
Who Knew About San Leandro?
Puesto! Cousin Time
National Beer Day 2019

Time With My Little Loves

With trips to Disneyland, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, the Bay Aquarium and more since Nate and Arya have been born, we have created a lot of memories. They know Tia Bernie is One Busy Bee but I do drive out an hour just to spend a couple of hours with them when I can. It has been a couple of months since I have seen them with traveling to Fiji and New Zealand, etc. But today, I was able to see Nate play baseball for the first time.

Nate and Arya are my best friend’s kids, so we’re going to be close. It’s been great being able to see them grow up. I made the drive to the coastal town of Pacifica from Hayward across the San Mateo Bridge. Through Highway 1 and twists and turns thru the hills, I finally made it to the school. There were two baseball games going on at the moment. I had to carefully walk thru a little mud to get to the stands, aka the rough dirt patch next to the diamond. Being there reminded me of my days as a supportive wife-to-be of a traveling umpire. It was time to make new baseball memories.

I passed an adorable little girl with a unicorn hat and a long ponytail with wavy light brown hair sitting on a red folded up blanket. I had to do a double take and make sure I didn’t scare the wrong child with some love from Tia Bernie. The sweet sound of my name from my Princess Arya and a hug around my legs is a love I will never get sick of. I said hello to her daddy, her abuelo and the scorekeeper, her mother. I finally spotted Nate in the outfield and it was great to see the guy in uniform and playing with a team.

The blanket was eventually rolled out and Arya’s shoes were kicked off after we went to the snack tent for Sour Punch straws and Gatorade. We made a picnic along that fence adjacent to the baseline to first. Arya and I talked about how school was, that there’s a mean girl but that she has many friends so she’s not phased by this one individual. She also told me that she had a dream about Bevo. She and Nate really loved Bevo. They had Boston gear as well and gave me the wristlet I use all the time and the Bevo blanket I sleep with every night. They miss him too.

I loved spending time with them and they are growing up so fast. They aren’t babies anymore and you don’t have to use a certain tone with them. They understand everything you’re saying just fine. They’re silly, social and still want to ditch watching their brother play baseball and go to the play structure. When you decline as its your first time seeing him play, they understand and go ask daddy.

Nate played well. His mom loves baseball so I’m sure he gets pointers post practice and games. All the kids rotate and play all positions, he’s not afraid of the ball, can read the pitch and take instruction. I am pretty impressed. I look forward to watching him more thru the years.

I walked them to their van and Arya was attached to me. She clung to me and didn’t want get in the van. Christy mouthed ‘She really misses you‘ as she was not letting go. I handed all my stuff to Christy and picked up my 5.5-year-old princess. She held on and I teared up a bit. She checked on me every day in the early days of me mourning Bevo. She lost a friend too. This little girl is so full of love and I am lucky to be her Tia Bernie. We have plans to see each other again in the next couple of weeks so I promised her it won’t be too long.



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

Related posts:
HFWF18 – Spiked!
HFWF18 – Chef Rick Tramonto

HFWF18 – Keiki in the Kitchen
HFWF17 – Jennifer Ackrill of SKY Waikiki & Top of Waikiki
HFWF17 – Chef Floyd Cardoz of Paowalla
HFWF17 – Chef Chris Kajioka of Senia
HFWF17 – Hank’s Haute Dogs & Chef Henry Adaniya

Curry & BBQ

The Bay Area is crazy about the Warriors, Stephan Curry, his daughter, Riley, that would steal the show during his interviews and his beautiful wife, Ayesha. Mrs. Curry is out with a cookbook and a restaurant partnered with Chef Michael Mina. After being in the south and enjoying BBQ in Charleston, South Carolina at Poogan’s Smokehouse, I had to come back home to see how we compete. Actually, my reservation at International Smoke was made at least a month in advance as it’s a popular spot.

I made a reservation for four not knowing who would be able to make it but I know a lot of foodies and folks in the industry. I could fill my reservation no problem, and I did! I invited my roommate, my Team inTraining team made, Nelly, and our friend, Sandra, who was diagnosed with Hodgekin’s lymphoma. Nelly is also a BBQ fan and does catering for friends and Raider games on the side.
The four of us were coming from all directions – I was coming from work at the Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf, Sandra was coming the peninsula, Nelly via boat from Alameda and Kim from our house in Hayward. Regardless of how we got there, we arrived and were ready to eat and drink.
We met at the bar first and had delicious cocktail made by a tall lady named Elizabeth. Under the list of Boozy & Bougie, I had the Southern Charm  – $14 – (as I can’t stop thinking about my recent trip to the South). It was peach-spiced tea, lemon, mint and Wild Turkey Bourbon. You know I love my whiskey! Kim chose a winner with the Voice of Tansen  – $14 – with pineapple, tamarind, Suntory Whisky Toki (mmmm, Japanese whisky) and Averna Amaro. It was so good that Nelly chose that after trying all three of the ladies’ cocktails. Sandra had the Gina Jamaica – $14 – with cucumber, basil, grapefruit, Ketal One Vodka and Barsol Pisco. I don’t do vodka cocktails as I need a bit of flavor in my liquor but Sandra enjoyed it. I thought it could be a dangerous cocktail as it went down easy for me. In our cocktails, Kim and I broke in our metal straws that we purchased from Shed in Healdsburg the day before. Save a honu! The Hawaiian bartender behind the bar agreed!

We were sat at the other end of the restaurant at a table for four in the middle of the dining room. Wood was all around, simple lighting hung from the dark ceiling and the floor to ceiling windows let a lot of light in. We were greeted by Bianca, our friendly and smiley Server, and she explained the Ayesha’s Tasting Menu ($58/pp) in front of us. Unfortunately, the entire table needed to participate so I didn’t get to try it but it had a bit of everything. Kim mentioned she’s allergic to tomatoes so Bianca made sure to let her know which items she can have or modify. I asked her what her favorite items on the menu were and she mentioned the Smoked Rib Mac & Cheese, Kalua “Instant Bacon” and Wagyu Shaking Beef. We started out with the Instant Bacon and the M&C came with the rest of our food. 

Boy, does that bacon make an entrance! Servers brought two orders covered in a glass dome then, when our phones were ready for that action shot, they were lifted. Smoke was released. How perfect for the International Smoke. And not to mention it was damn good too. In a soft steamed bun, bacon was covered with teriyaki, pineapple and macadamia nuts. We almost licked the 

Not being able to choose which of the three rib styles we wanted (American, Al-Pastor or Sesame Cochujang), Nelly and I decided to split a combo rack for $48. Sandra had the American style half rack of ribs, I believe. It looked like the size of our combo rack for $21. What a deal! My favorite was the American and Nelly let me take those leftovers home. We dined on a Sunday and after Meatless Monday, I had them for breakfast on Tuesday. Don’t judge me. Kim had the Hawaiian Kanpachi with garlic fried rice, a chicory salad and black bean vinaigrette. I wasn’t too crazy about her dish. Perhaps it was because I had the rare presence of delicious ribs in front of me.

The winner at the table was definitely the Smoked Rib Mac & Cheese. Kim and I even went to the Mac & Cheese Melt Off at SparkSocial SOMA (South of Market neighborhood.) That event deserves another blog post. This dish was fantastic! We ate it all! Not a bit was left. It was better than anything we had at the Melt Off. The cheese wasn’t too thick or too runny. The spiral noodles were al dente and the rib pieces were flavorful and didn’t add too much oil.

We also had the Duck Fat Fries that Sandra said I would be all over. They looked appealing on the menu but the flavor didn’t come out in the fries. It was the only thing we left on the table that didn’t make it in a to go bag. The Green Papaya Salad was good. I finished it off as the table wasn’t too crazy about it. It needed a bit more spice
to it and though the papaya had a crispiness to it, some of the crushed macadamia nuts or peanuts could have been added to add a dryness to it.

Plates were cleared, Nelly and Bernie bags were made and we looked over the dessert menu. They had creme brulee and a cheesecake, I believe, but we passed. We were happily stuffed!

The staff was incredibly friendly,they do private events and Ayesha’s book is on the display. You may eat at the bar if you do not have reservations and there is availability. Find parking on the street of use my SpotHero link for $7 off your first parking reservation. If you’re too early for your reservation, walk a block and explore the rooftop of the Salesforce Transit Center. Yet another post will be available soon. But first, some group shots. 

How does it compare it to Poogan’s in Charleston, South Carolina? I guess you’ll have to read that blog post when it’s up!
Photo by Nelly
Related posts:
Tex Wasabi’s

(Mini)Golf Addict

With my experience at the driving range and meeting Tiger Woods via the Madame Tussads. I am no Michelle Wie, nor a Hawaii native (sadly). But I’m not bad on the greens. The mini golf greens, that is…against a 12-year-old. On our recent trip out to the South with my nephew, I think I got him hooked on a sport! 
Thank goodness!
His parents aren’t into sports but Auntie is! I remember teaching him to throw a ball when I would babysit him as a kid and it never stuck at home. He preferred video games and helping their machining business. Do you, Kid, but I can’t help but be happy that he’s into a sport now. 
After an amazing meal at the Michelin star Sea Captain’sHouse in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, we walked over to Captain Hook MiniGolf. It was a Captain kind of evening. They were open late and it was warm out so we enjoyed the evening.

The course had a waterfall, skeletons, boats to climb, a cave and even surprise bursts of water from the lake. We had a really great time and we are really competitive. Sometimes I think this kid could be mine!

When we returned to North Carolina, the fun thing he wanted to do after Auntie wanted to go to Whiskey Kitchen in Downtown Raleigh and more, he wanted to go mini golfing! YES! We looked one up and it was at a driving range and quite dinky. No caves, no waterfall, no skeletons. We ended up just going back to the house.

However, after exploring Duke University in Durham, he voiced that he wanted to go mini golfing again. So we went to Frankie’s Fun Park. It was like a Scandia we went to as a kid. Frankie’s had of course, a miniature golf with three different courses, an arcade, obstacle course, batting cages, a restaurant and a bar. Auntie liked that!

It was a very hot day and I could feel the warmth on my skin and me getting a little whiny. We enjoyed our time on the course and went thru two sets of holes. Brent would probably be down for a third but I wasn’t having it. My sister killed it with multiple hole-in-ones but I won the first game. That was before the heat effected my game. I rewarded myself with a beer flight from Carolina Ale House and a dozen delicious chicken wings. More on that in a much needed posts just on the friend chicken in the south. So good.
Now back in California, it was nice to see that my nephew still wanted to play mini golf. My sister sent me a photo of them in Wilmington, North Carolina on the greens. I hope he sticks with it and wants to get better.
What were your aspirations as a kid? I wanted to be a ballerina.