Thursday, March 25, 2010


Greetings from gorgeous Northern California! I thought I'd squeeze in some blogging since I actually have a functioning computer :)

After a short, yet ridiculously productive day, I began my long trip to Dulles Airport...via public transportation. Metro to shuttle bus to terminal - approximate travel time: 1 hr 15 minutes. Not bad considering I dozed off for a bit on the shuttle.

Changed into my elastic pants (um, so very necessary!), breezed through security and grabbed a few essentials:
(Not pictured, my giant water) For some reason I was craving dried pineapple. That never happens but I saw the bag and immediately thought 'mmm pineapple.' Impulse shopper!

Btw, that cookie - not good. I took a couple bites halfway through my flight and thought it was too dense and orangy. Blech. To make up for the cookie fail, I cozied up with Season 1 of Arrested Development (thanks, Selin!) and tried to avoid the sleeping dude next to me that kept invading my space.

Settled in and crashed pretty early since I had to pick up my rental car at 6:30am for my little day trip to St. Helena. So here's the thing. I live in DC. Land of the flat. I also don't drive (I haven't driven in a little less than a year, which is why I sold my car). WTF am I doing starting up again in San Francisco of all places?!

Even though I wrote out the directions, I got a little lost (thanks to the randomly placed exit) and found myself freaking out a bit and crawling down steep hills and not knowing whether or not I was allowed to drive on cable car tracks. I will not be driving again during this trip.

Once I got out of the city, I had a beautiful morning drive north. Despite the morning fog, the scenery made me happy and I *almost* didn't notice it was a 1.5 hr drive.

Next thing I know I'm approaching a massive stone building on my left - hello, CIA Greystone!

Check out the view!
I explored and decided to lunch at the Wine Spectator restaurant - where 2nd year culinary students spend approximately 3 weeks cooking/learning. There was a bit of a wait for a table so I opted for the bar, which had a direct view of the kitchen.

Figured I'd splurge for lunch and got a Crisp White and Ancho Chili Braised Oxtail Empanadas (pumpkin seed salsa, cumin lime crème fraiche, cilantro salad) to start. My drink (though I really wanted a glass of wine, it seemed a bit early) was crisp, tart and refreshing!
The empanadas had a great crisp shell and soft inside - great contrast.
However, the filling sort of got lost. I guess I expected a more flavorful braise? One of the CIA instructors had mentioned something about the aggressiveness of filling flavors earlier in the day and I guess it stuck. She said when it comes to fillings, you want to season them more aggressively since they will be inside of something. I had never thought of that before and these empanadas were a perfect example of what she was talking about avoiding. I still polished them off. :p I do heart anything with sauce and/or cilantro afterall.

Because one cannot live on meatpies and juice alone, I ordered the Ahi Tuna Nicoise Salad which was a great acidic contrast to the empanadas.
The server mentioned I should be careful of the olives because they had pits in them, but I didn't see any olives. I DID see some anchovy fillets though :) YUM!

My departing view from the Wine Spectator patio:
Ok, I'm off to meet with an old coworker for drinks in the Mission. More later :)


MarathonVal said...

Looks beautiful!! Have a wonderful rest of your trip :)

Anonymous said...

JEALOUS! That looks absolutely fantastic - the view, the food, the patio, the drivig.... ah...

but um, what are you doing in Cali?! WHY were you at CIA? hmm?? I'm curious....someone thinking about culinary school?? :)

Julia said...

Have you had the other flavors of Alternative Baking Company cookies? The Cranberry Orange wasn't my fave either, but I LOVE the Chocolate Chip (as in I eat about 1 a week) :)
Isn't Cali amazing!