Daily Archive: December 12, 2011

Gracias Madre + Swank Holiday Party

Posted by Lauren

On Saturday, after the Walnut Creek Half Marathon + cleaning out my car, I got ready for a hot date in the city. Kyle and I drove to San Francisco and headed straight towards…

(click for source)

Gracias Madre

2211 Mission Street, San Francisco, 94110

Gracias Madre is a vegan restaurant in the colorful Mission neighborhood. They focus on organic ingredients, seasonal dishes, and extremely fresh produce (from their Be Love Farm in Pleasants Valley). All tortillas are handmade from non-GMO varieties of heirloom corn, pressed fresh for all to see.

Just past the patio area, you enter a dimly lit restaurant, with large wood tables. The long bar leads you back towards the hostess’ stand and open kitchen. The 30-minute wait gave us ample time to scope out the prep table + review the menu… deciding what to order is always a challenge for me, so it was nice to sneak a peak at all the dishes.

While we waited, we each enjoyed a salty-rimmed house margarita ($7) – fresh lime, agave, and soju. Other drink options include wine, horchata, mexican hot chocolate, sangria, and of course cervezas.

Within no time we were directed to our seats. At the other end of our communal table, three friends finalized their bill and ordered a decadent piece of chocolate cake (it comes with cacao-cinnamon sauce and toasted coconut ice cream – sounds/looked amazing!)

We decided to split two entradas, even though the gorditas + quesadilla antojitos sounded great too!!

Tacos ($12) – Three corn tortillas topped with your choice of seasonal vegetables and cashew cheese, served with beans

Our 3 Picks:

  • Honjos – sauteed mushrooms with garlic **MY FAVORITE… mmm garlic!
  • Platanos – grilled plantains **Surprising; tasted different than anticipated
  • Coliflores – cauliflower florets **Under-seasoned, I would skip next time

Enchiladas con Mole ($13.5) – Spicy mole enchiladas topped with mushrooms and cashew cheese, served with sautéed greens and beans

The sautéed greens of the day were rainbow chard. They left a little to be desired. The pumpkin seeds on top were a nice touch. “Spicy”… “mole”… hmm, not so much – but still delicious! While the cashew cheese didn’t resonate with my “cheesy” taste-buds, it succeeded as a nutty crema (if that makes sense) with the ‘shrooms. The true stars: fresh corn tortillas and the black beans! Wow. From a girl who started eating beans somewhat recently, Gracias Madre’s were addictive….

I would have forced Kyle to stop at Humphry Slocombe after dinner, but we had places to BE!

Company Party :) at AT&T Park (aka home of the San Francisco Giants!!)

Blue carpet entrance…..

Fun stops on every switchback up the ramp: caramel corn vendor, a bar with the signature blue drink, a photo-op in front of giant backdrop. There were also fun signs along the way linking the Giants stadium to our site (i.e. 0.02% of members could fit in the ballpark)

Once inside, we signed up for a ballpark tour. 10 minutes later we were taking the employee elevators down to the field level area. Our guide led us inside the visiting team’s locker room…..

And then out to the dugout & field….

Played around with the telephones…..

After a stop in the press box, Kyle and I rejoined the party.

The entire club level transformed into multiple lounge areas with funky lighting and white futons. A karaoke room on the McCovey Cove side and a live band on the Bay Bridge side kept my coworkers entertained for hours.

From point to point you could sample all types of food, including mini corndogs, blue cotton candy, cheesecake poppers (!!! I had so many !!!), grilled mango, chinese chicken salad, garlic fries, etc etc. Along with the open bar, there were many fun photo moments:

Gotta love photo booths!

And iPhone shots…

You could even take a picture with the World Series trophy! (yo, Krish, I stole this from your facebook… hope that’s ok!!)

This was my first swanky holiday party and I kinda wish I was more awake to truly enjoy it. After the 5 am wakeup call, I was low low low on energy. Plus, the fake eyelashes I wore totally didn’t help. I need to build up those eyelash wearing muscles lol. And I should probably get better at wearing heels while I’m at it!

Question: What holiday event are you looking forward to the most?!


Walnut Creek Half Marathon, 2011

Posted by Lauren

Remember these half marathon recaps?

I promise I would I have blogged about the Davis Stampede (on Super Bowl Sunday) and the Oakland Festival in March, but Sugar Coated Sisters didn’t exist!

Well, Saturday morning I woke up for my 10th half marathon related to the 2011 Northern California Half Marathon Series:

northern california half marathon series 2011 progress

There were some good moments and some bad moments.

The bad moments built up and then this happened:

Ya…. when angry, tweet it out. Right?

Let me explain. I’ll back it up to Friday at noon:

Good: I joined the google bike brigade (left) to bike over to main campus. I filled my plate with vegetarian goodies/spring rolls/dumplings (middle). And I enjoyed lunch with my friend Katie! (right)

Bad: fought traffic to the East Bay…. Dear 880, you suck!

Good: Spent the night at my friend Sean’s house – he gave me the tour, we watched New Girl, and I ultimately fell asleep in a monkey snuggie.

Bad: 5 am wake up call. I had to get up to Walnut Creek and pick up my bib before the race start… at least that gave me plenty of time to scope out the start/finish divergence?

Good: Plenty of time to enjoy my Corazona’s Banana Walnut oatmeal square. These are 3-for-3 on providing me with energy to pull through 13.1.

Bad: Only 6 porta-pottys delivered to the race start.

Fearful of another wet-the-pants moment, I decided to stay in the porta-potty line, despite the abnormally long line. Word spread quickly that what was supposed to be an order of 20 bathrooms accidentally became a delivery of 6 bathrooms. The clock inched closer to 7 am, and the line was still this long:


I waited, the race started, and I continued to wait. The race director walked up to the 50 people still in line and let us know that the electric bib strips would stay active for 10 more minutes. 8 minutes later I was out of the bathroom, running towards the start line. I glanced up and the timer strips were nowhere to be seen. Welp, there goes an “official” time strip.

After the race, the organizers issued the following message, addressing the porta-potty mishap.

I started my Garmin where I thought the start line was and kept running. First run with my Garmin!

Bad: The police controlling traffic stopped me THREE times to let cars drive by. According to the WCHM facebook page, no one else had this problem. The third time around, I may have shouted “are you kidding me?!!” at the po-po. Whoops.

Good: Always great to have cheerleaders along the course… #winning

Bad: Out and back course. If this were Las Vegas, the out and back style wouldn’t be an issue. However, miles 1 – 4 were really boring.

Good: Hill climb up Ygnacio Valley provided pretty views of the East Bay (unpictured).

Bad: I started my Garmin too early, reaching 13.1 before the true finish.

Good: The end is near!!!!!

Neither Good Nor Bad: Weak post-race fuel – bananas, oranges, and pineapple cups (I loathe pineapple). Thank goodness for Whole Foods’ bagel booth and Peet’s Coffe’s free cups of holiday blend!

Good: I finally snagged the Nor Cal Half Marathon Series 4-race medal!

Bad: Haven’t mentioned it yet, but because I didn’t start on time, I also was unable to put the Puma sweatpants (pictured above) in the drop-off bags. That means I ran all 13 miles in my sweatpants. I also kept my old, hole-y long-sleeve on for the majority of the race to stay warm. My original plan was to toss it after warming up, but it was just too cold out! (aka 31 degrees at the start)

I was seriously under-prepared for the chilly temps. Sleeveless Nike top and shorts? Earth to Lauren, it’s December! I wish I brought my ski tights and ear warmers. Next time…….

Good: Reaching my car + sleeping bag “blanket”!!! After 2 minutes in my car I could feel my arms again!

Good: On my drive home, I passed the freeway exit for our old house. I rarely drive by that side of San Jose, but when I do, I make a point to stop at Christy Donuts for the best doughnut holes e-v-e-r.

Christy Donuts

1150 N Capital Avenue, San Jose, CA 95132

Back in the 90s, my mom/dad/sister/and I hit up this donut shop on a weekly basis. I remember visiting this donut shop after sleepovers and when we had extra time on our way to school. I usually picked the twist style donuts and my mom would order custard filled donut holes. I thought they sounded gross, but as an adult I definitely appreciate the creamy custard filling. Plus, 1 of these is 3x bigger than typical donut holes. Score! I ordered 3 for $1.10. Best buck-ten I spent all day.

Good: Two more medals to join my collection (they hang on the back of my door with scarves, aprons, reusable bags, and jackets. They jingle-jangle every time I open my door :)

Good: The Northern California Half Marathon series recognized me for completing the most half marathons throughout the year! I hung the plaque on my “collage” wall. It still needs work.

Bad/Good: I was responsible and cleaned ALL of THIS out of my car:

Question: How do you feel about “out and back” style races?

Question: Would you rather pee yourself during a race or have an unofficial start with dry pants? ;)

One more…

Question: What’s your FAVORITE style of donut?!