San Francisco Trip Report January 2013, Part III

For lunch, we went to the Crab House at Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf. Oh, this place was amazing. I have been craving crab ever since we ate there.


I had the clams cioppiono, delicious.

My friend S. had something for herself, I no longer remember, but I do know she liked it. AND we shared a 1/2 order of the Killer Crab in their roasted garlic sauce. Amazing.



Then we went and looked at the sea lions at the Wharf. And then we went shopping at the Boudin Bakery gift shop . . . which is when fate brought us together . . .

Me and the . . .

Crab hat

Crab hat!

Of course, I purchased it immediately, and it accompanied us wherever we went.

Ghiradelli chocolate (some chocolate purchases were also made, of course.)

Crab hat

On the trolley. The same TERRIBLE busker was there singing again. I warned S. but this is something you have to hear to believe.


At Lombardi Street.


At Chinatown.


We were in Chinatown because we had a dinner recommendation from another friend to eat at the House of Nanking. It is a small, kind of hole-in-the-wall place, but has a lot of character and really good food.

We had the fried calamari:

Calamari House of Nanking

This calamari was different than any I ever had before, it was not heavily breaded and it was in pretty big pieces. Good, though!

And then the steamed dumplings:


They were also delicious, but we have never had dumplings as good as the ones at the conveyer-belt sushi place in Spokane….

And then I had the Garlic Ginger Poached Scallops, and S. had something else too, or maybe we were just happy with all of this….apparently I didn’t do as good a job this trip getting pictures of everyone else’s food! Lots of nice greens with these, you can hardly see the scallops.


At the end of a long day, we were very glad to go back to the hotel and crash. Here is all the “loot.”


I like to get edible souvenirs, if you hadn’t noticed. All of those jelly beans, and the ghiradelli chocolate, were wonderful. S. and I did have to traipse all over Chinatown to find that crab magnet again, I greatly appreciate her patience there. I should have purchased it the first time I saw it. The dragon magnet also is springy and bouncy. The cinnamon bread and jalapeno cheddar roll from the Boudin bakery were also great. And I do believe I bought a peanut butter cookie there also, but it was already gone. This trip may have led to a small obsession with peanut butter cookies for a while. And of course the CRAB HAT, best souvenir ever!

S. left the next morning, and I hung around so that my brother-in-law could come get me and I could get to see my newest nephew!

baby nephew

My brother-in-law N. took this picture, and it pretty much sums up how I feel about the nieces and nephews. Awwwwwww.

2013 San Francisco Trip Report Part 2

A few more pictures from the Alcatraz garden tour. Again, very interesting, if you have any interest in plants, I would recommend it. Also just a good way to get more inside stories of life on “The Rock.”

More fuschia, so jealous.

Fuschia, Alcatraz Garden Tour

Fuschia, Alcatraz Garden Tour

This is an artichoke plant

Alcatraz Gardens Tour Artichoke

Alcatraz Gardens Tour Artichoke

.It is a large, very attractive (I think) plant – so I put it on my mental list and I have purchased one for my yard this year. It will probably not go in the garden per se, I don’t think that spot is sunny enough. I think I will try it in the flower bed on the south side of the house. We will see how it works. As of today, it is still alive, at least.

Poppies! Poppies! Oh, I do love poppies.

Oriental poppy Alcatraz Island Garden tour

Oriental poppy Alcatraz Island Garden tour

The light was shining through this one so beautifully.

Poppy Alcatraz Garden Tour

If I could capture that in a quilt of a painting, I would be happy. I have had poppies in some of my flower beds but they haven’t survived. I need to get some transplanted from my Grandmother’s poppy bed up at the ranch in SD – those are some healthy, spreading poppies. They are the traditional orange-red ones. Very hardy. But I also like the more delicate oriental ones, and I purchased some the other day, to try in a few different places around the yard. We will see if I find a place where they will thrive.

More amazing ground cover and succulents. Alcatraz was very green for being a rocky island, but most of this consisted of plants that had been brought in over the years.

Garden Tour Alcatraz

Garden Tour Alcatraz

The inside of the jail was, well, a jail. It was interesting, but I preferred the gardens! I managed to resist buying a tin cup and/or an Alcatraz Women’s Club cookbook….

And this seagull was there to tell us good bye!

Seagull, Alcatraz

Next up, more shopping and eating.

San Francisco Trip Report 2013 – Part One

Oy! This weekend – some sewing, lunch in Boulder with a dear friend that I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, Front Range Gardens nursery (peonies on sale!) an attempt at the perfect recipe for Sesame Chicken (FAIL), weeding in the garden and flower beds and planting the two new peonies, then on Sunday: Hoarding estate sale (scary!), Paulino Gardens nursery (Crowded!) and grocery store – then nap! Turkey breast in the oven for dinner, and then planting of some of the flowers I purchased. So, this isn’t a very long entry because I didn’t have much time to write. I am tired just reading about it again!

I had the opportunity to return to San Francisco this January for a work trip. I am lucky I get to travel with my current board president, who also enjoys taking an extra day around some of our work trips to do some sight-seeing. So we planned on staying an additional night and going to see Alcatraz, the Embarcadero, trolley cars, Chinatown, and whatever else we could fit into one day! And then I stayed a little longer on the last day to see my newest nephew, O.

We stayed at the Hampton Inn Airport – it was fine, just not at all close to downtown. I think it was a $60 cab fare to downtown, but since we were all there for a meeting, it made sense and was cheaper to have the meeting near the airport. But it looked to me from my internet research that the hotel was in a food desert, and that turned out to be pretty accurate. So I made sure we were well fed after we landed – the Yankee Pier Seafood restaurant at the San Francisco Airport. Both S. and I had the clam chowder, and then I had the “Triple Play,” which is 3 oysters, 3 prawns & dungeness crab cocktail, which was excellent.

Triple Play Yankee Pier

Triple Play Yankee Pier

S. had the shrimp tacos, which she said were good but were quite spicy.

Shrimp Tacos, Yankee Pier Seafood Restaurant

Shrimp Tacos, Yankee Pier Seafood Restaurant

Here is my room at the Hampton. It was nice and quiet, everything I needed in a hotel room, staff was very pleasant.

Hampton Inn Airport, San Francisco

Hampton Inn Airport, San Francisco

Sorry for the bad lighting, I am still figuring out how to best shoot hotel rooms….

Hampton Inn Airport, San Francisco

Hampton Inn Airport, San Francisco

Hampton Inn Airport, San Francisco

Hampton Inn Airport, San Francisco

The afternoon we arrived, I taught an optional short class on Facebook and Twitter to participants. Mostly on “What not to do on Twitter.” Everyone enjoys examples of Twitter mistakes.

That night, several of us walked to dinner (1/2 a mile or so) over a highway, but there was a walkway, to Ristorante Buon Gusto.  I didn’t have the cioppiono (shocking, I know) but had the pasta that I believe must have been their special that night, since I didn’t see it on their menu – it had spinach, artichokes, pancetta, and peas. I thought it was quite good. Also had the minestrone soup.

Ristorante Buon Guston, South San Francisco

Ristorante Buon Gusto, South San Francisco

We had box lunches from the famous Boudin Bakery in San Francisco for our lunch the next day, and the sandwiches were good, but the peanut butter cookie was excellent. The peanut butter cookie will appear again later in this trip report.

That night, some of the more adventurous of the group (instigated by myself and my Yelp investigations) walked to Ben Tre – Vietnamese Homestyle Cuisine. I knew I wanted the Bun Bo Hue. I kind of discouraged everyone who had not have Vietnamese food before from trying that as their first foray, so almost everyone else had rare steak Pho. We also had an appetizer platter. The Bun Bo Hue was great, but it did have congealed blood squares in it (some of you are flipping out right now) so I was glad that we didn’t order that for the whole table. Not every Vietnamese place in Denver makes it so authentic. No pictures, sorry, but if you are in that area, I give them two thumbs up.

S. and I got up bright and shiny the next morning and caught a taxi to the Embarcadero. We got there so early we even had to wait a little while in the chilly morning to buy our Alcatraz tickets. We were glad we weren’t wearing shorts like many of the people in the line. Brrrrrrr.

Then we walked further down the pier and did some window shopping and looking around, managing to hang around the mini-donut place until they opened! I am not going to pass up a chance at mini-donuts.

Mini donuts Pier 39 San Francisco

Mini donuts Pier 39 San Francisco

Then we took the short cruise out to Alcatraz. S. and I had decided that since the Gardens of Alcatraz tour was available the day we were there, we would take advantage of that, and we were glad we did. Not only did we get to see the lovely plantings and hear about how they had been restored by volunteers, but I think we got to hear more of the inside story of the island.

View from Alcatraz:

Ocean view from Alcatraz

Ocean view from Alcatraz

And some lovely fuschia. I have done in more fuschia than I care to tell you about. Maybe I will try it again this year. It is very fussy about its location, and I am not sure I have anywhere that will make it happy.

Fuschia Gardens of Alcatraz Tour

Fuschia Gardens of Alcatraz Tour

That is all for today! More tomorrow!


San Francisco Trip Report – Day 5

Links to all of the trip reports from this trip:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Since I am once again on business travel, I thought I would finish up with the FINAL day of my trip report from San Francisco from Thanksgiving 2010.

Monday:  The LAST day. We have been touring pretty hard, if we were staying any longer, we would have to take at least this afternoon off to rest. But instead we will be getting on a plane, so we better fit in some fun this morning.

The most exciting moment of the morning – April found Bruce the shark finger puppet! He was between the seat and the door in the back seat of the car. It is amazing that he didn’t fall out, he had at least seven opportunities. Just shows that he loves me and wanted to stick around even though I dropped him out of my pocket. Bruce went with us the rest of the day, riding in my sweatshirt pocket, when he wasn’t on my finger making comments.

We got on the road for Fairfield, home of the Jelly Belly factory.  I love me some  Jelly Bellies, so I was very excited to do this.  NEXT time we will do wine country, this time I wanted to see Jelly Bellies. Nick and April had done this tour before, but never on a week day, so they were interested to see if there would be actual workers in the factory.

Bruce the Shark loves Jelly Bellies almost as much as I do.

We got there and had to wait about 15 minutes for our tour. This time was spent sampling Jelly Bellies, of course, they  have a sample bar where you can try one of any kind you want. They have these NASTY flavors (Bean Boozled) that are a take off on Bertie Bott’s Every Flavored Beans, and April was just insistent that we each had to try one. I think Ken got the best end of the stick, with pencil dust, I tried centipede, Nick tried baby wipe, and April tried canned dog food, which made her dance and hop and exclaim about how bad it was and how it tasted JUST LIKE dog food smells. Well, don’t eat it then!  We had to drive the tastes out of our mouth with some normal jelly beans. Having a burp later that tasted like centipede was not very pleasant, however. Bruce was really hoping for a Human Flesh flavored Jelly Belly but no such luck.

The tour is very interesting and fun. No pictures allowed in the factory, so no documentation of that. They were making Buttered Popcorn flavored beans that day, so the factory smelled of buttered popcorn, and April hates that flavor and I love it. We got to sample the Jelly Bellies in the different stages: in the Pupa stage as I would call it, when they are just soft jelly, then with the candy coating but not polished, and then all polished of course. We got to try their new flavor for Christmas, which was Candy Cane, which tasted like, well, a Candy Cane. Like a strong mint gum drop, nothing to write home about. I tried a birthday cake one at the sample bar that was my favorite new flavor.

The tour took about 40 minutes, and at the end, you got two tiny bags of Jelly Bellies and one of Christmas candy corn. They make all kinds of candy there at the factory besides Jelly Bellies.

Bruce says why fool around with those little tiny bags of Jelly Bellies?

Then: shopping! They had showed us on the tour the sorting machine which sifts out all of the Jelly Bellies that are too big, too small, weirdly shaped, etc. (I was telling Ken earlier in the day that you could get a good deal on the malformed ones, except he thought I was saying mouth-warmed ones, and he wondered why I would want that.) So they have these “Belly Flops” in 2 pound bags in the shop, and they were on sale for 5 bags for $30. So of course I had to have 5 bags! There was some debate as to whether this purchase, along with my rock collection and olive oil, was going to put us over our weight limit for luggage.

Then back home to Richmond for one last meal together: Leftover Thanksgiving – Nick and April were bemoaning how long they were going to have to eat turkey sandwiches, so we tried to help them out with that as much as possible. We crammed everything into the suitcases and were on our merry way back to Colorado.

This is my awesome crabby sweatshirt I got at Pier 39.

No problems at security, although Kenny did get to go through the naked scanner (this was a novelty at the time), but only because the woman in front of use (again) had a million pieces of jewelry on, and she got pulled aside for the full pat down, so that put our line behind, and they were running people through the naked scanner to reduce the line. We got on the plane, and Kenny pretty much passed out and slept most of the way. Full flight again, but not as many screaming children. I finished reading the book that I didn’t like and that was mostly annoying to me, because I didn’t have anything else to read and it was really too crowded to knit.  Landed at DIA and opened up our bags and got out the heavy coats again.

Remember how I said I burned my finger with my curling iron on the morning we got up at 5:00 a.m. to leave?

Yeah, it still hurt.

Best last part of the trip: We were getting off of the shuttle bus at the extended parking lot at DIA, and this approximately 9 year old boy was looking at our largest suitcase. “That looks heavy,” he said, as we were dragging it off of the bus. “It should,” I said, “It has 10 pounds of jelly beans in it.” The look on his face: priceless. “Ten pounds of jelly beans?????!!!!”  I could tell he wished he had been on vacation with US!