Dining Out

Dinner with Nicole, Bachelorette finale, and SF party

Posted by Lauren

I’ve been packing my weekDAYS full of fun stuff lately (which is awesome) but at the same time I’m really looking forward to some nights at home in front of the TV and catching up on extra work this week. Right now I very much feel energized for all the work projects I have on my plate, I wake up excited to start them and go to bed click clackin away on my computer.

A few weeks ago I dusted off my bicycle and pumped the tires up so I could start riding my bike to work at least once a week. So far so good!

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Last Monday was the much anticipated finale of the Bachelorette. Lucky for Sarah and me, Cindy invited us over for dinner to view the “shocking” final rose ceremony. Want to know what wasn’t shocking? How amazing our taco fiesta was! We assembled steak and fish tacos with Corona’s on the side. :)

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And that guacamole! Mmmm.

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While Creepy Nick said his goodbyes to Andi and whatshisface said “marry me” to her, we focused on something else sweet – Cin’s peach pie. Oh lawdy….. she outdid herself with this pie and FRESH whipped cream.

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Overall I was pretty pleased with Andi’s selection and I’m looking forward to stalking them on Instagram (yes, I follow Sean, Catherine, Des, and a few others – help me)

Last Wednesday night was sister date night. I met Nicole at the Town & Country shopping center in Palo Alto (same place I’ve been doing bar 3-4x / week) and we listened to the live music for a few minutes (not exaggerating). We quickly went inside to Calafia Cafe (Website) for some vegetarian friendly food.

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(Thanks for the better pic Nicole!)

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We split 1. Crimson Quinoa Salad (VG) (GF) – beet-infused golden quinoa with red currants, lemon zest, parsley, shaved roasted beets, wild arugula, basil-citrus vinaigrette and 2. Goat Cheese, Beet & California Walnut Pizza shaved roasted beets, goat cheese, garlic, topped with wild arugula salad and basil-citrus vinaigrette.

I must really like this girl because beets aren’t really my thing. Turns out, Calafia makes decent beet dishes.

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After dinner we walked around the Stanford track a few times and then wandered into campus to take pictures. Nicole really goes for it when she sees the right angle… exhibit A:

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She spent the night at Kyle/my place and we even walked over to Yogurtland for the true SCS experience. I’m loving that her new job is further north! Now I just need to convince her to be my neighbor. hmmm

And last Thursday night was also a fun one! Our company co-hosted an end of quarter celebration party for Salesforce along the Embarcadero in San Francisco. We had live music, tasty appetizers, and tons of happy AEs to congratulate on a job well done.

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Check out that Ferry Building, ooh baby what a sight.

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And then, you know, I had to pack and get ready for the epic Po5 weekend I already wrote about. Look at me, being all bloggy and stuff. :)

Will someone please force me to go run tomorrow?

-Lauren

The time Nicole graduated and we partied.

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Posted by Lauren

My little sugar cookie finished USC a semester early (which I wrote about 180+ days ago) but the whole fam had to wait until May to officially celebrate with her. During her months off, Nicole finished dancing with the Trojan Dance Force, [remotely] interned tirelessly for one of the hottest Bay Area SaaS startups, and soaked up every second with her BFF’s. Oh, and she also wrote her last blog post ever (she claims to be done with blogging, WTF??).

Anyways, my company’s conference ended May 14th and the next day I flew to LA to join my mom, David, and Nicole. Our first order of business was walking around campus to take photos at USC landmarks. Definitely smart to do this before grad day to avoid the crowds :)

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All I can remember is that we were all HUNGRY (okay maybe it was just me?) and when we went to Sugarfish downtown, they didn’t seat us for a loooong time. It’s all good because their sushi blows my socks off and is “worth the wait.” I felt bad for Nicole because they had NOTHING for vegetarians… she didn’t complain (because she’s awesome and knows I was really looking forward to it). What a sweetheart.

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After dinner we went to Syrup, a hip little cafe/dessert spot a few blocks away. Nicole and I shared a banana split, but the photo only made it to my disappearing snapchat story. :( They specialize in waffles so definitely check that out the next time your sweet tooth screams at you.

Friday – Graduation Day

Nicole kept me to a strict morning alarm – 4:50 am – so I could wake up and be at her apartment with enough time to get ready and pre-party. Yes, 4:50 AM!! Nicole and I walked over to a neighbors house for mimosas around 6 am. Time flew by and soon we were walking towards campus for the ceremony kickoff….

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I found a seat next to my dad and Lauretta and eagerly waited for Marc Benioff to give his speech (it was AWEsome!)

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We moved over to the Galen Center for the Biz School’s breakout ceremony and got to see Nicole accept her well deserved diploma :)

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Then it was all over! Time to get the party started!

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Lunch in Long Beach (Yard House) with dad, Lauretta, and step-bro Steve! We battled insane traffic to get there, but it was worth it to get everyone together and catch up, especially since Steve recently moved to Portland.

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A few hours later we sat down for dinner in Santa Monica with my mom, David, and Chase….

Rustic Canyon

1119 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA
WebsiteYelp

First order of business, order wine.

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Second order of business: make silly faces

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The food was delicious, intriguing, and totally unique. Rustic Canyon was distinguished in Los Angeles Magazine’s issue of “L.A.’s 75 Best Restaurants” (and that mag was conveniently in our hotel room the night before when I was researching where to go!). Their head chef Jeremy Fox hails from Napa’s veg-friendly Ubuntu and focuses on California-French style. AKA the style you can’t go wrong with..

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beets and berries – avocado, rancho gordo red quinoa, pistachio “soil”

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ansonmills stone ground grits – ramps & morels, egg yolk, coleman’s pea shoots (PHENOMENAL)

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grilled zucerman’s asparagus – whipped goat cheese with nettles, mushroom streusel (WHIPPED GOAT CHEESE MY LAWD)

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clam & mussel pozole verde – ranch gordo hominy, scallion, radish, tortilla

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grilled marin sun farms lamb heart – windrose farms puntarelle, bagna cauda, crispy ‘kokuho rose’ rice, parmesean (LAMB HEART!)

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seared scallops – carrot puree, nasturtium, vadouvan, pine nut raisin relish (PERFECT SCALLOPS)

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king troll salmon piccata – bianco di maggio onions, fiddlehead ferns, capers, meyer lemon

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mom, david, me… (BTW – super tired at this point + wishing I could have changed/showered because the graduation ceremony was HOT HOT HOT and I was sweaty)

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chocolate hazelnut tart with candided hazelnuts

Each dish was phenomenal – I couldn’t recommend Rustic Canyon enough. GO!

After dinner, I was dropped off at my friend Andrew’s house, where Clay and Johnny were already posted up. They were matching :) We drank some wine, went to downtown Santa Monica, ate late night pizza, and then fell asleep (finally! sleeep!)

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The following day, I was in Pasadena at Lucky Baldwin’s eating tasty pasties with my mom and David. MMM MMM…. Nicole and I drove those two love birds to the airport (after a pit stop at Sugar Fix cupcakery for cupcakes and ice cream to-go!) Then we went back to Pasadena for another night out with the guys. All that survived from that entire day was this photo below. It shall remain captionless so you can capture the true essence :)

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The amazing weekend capped off with a roadtrip home with my bestie (Nicole, duh!) and all of her belongings. She’s baaaaaack and here to stay! Now, who’s going to get her to start blogging with me??

-Lauren

Weekend in Occidental

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Posted by Lauren

Saturday morning, and I’ve been sucked into the ABC Family Harry Potter marathon. Sounds about right.

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I began my day with an awesome 9 am Bar class (great thigh set today!) and as soon as I’ve posted this I’ll try to squeeze in a quick run before my friend Sam’s BBQ.

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Friday night I had the best, casual treadmill run while watching 2.5 episodes of Brooklyn Nine Nine. If only it was always that easy to lose track of time.

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After the run, Kyle and I walked downtown to pick up food (me=frozen yogurt) and stopped at RedBox to pick up American Hustle.

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I’m so happy all the oscar nominated flicks are out! AH was so good, especially loved the scene of Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper at the disco. We are now calling our microwave a “science oven”.

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Let’s talk about last weekend’s road trip to Tomales Bay / Bodega Bay / Occidental. We left around 9am and drove 1 hr 45 mins north to the cute coastal town of Marshall. We parked near The Marshall Store and ordered 6 BBQ oysters and a cup of chowder to compliment the leftover pizza we brought along from home.

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The views were great and the oysters were HUUUGE.

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We got back in the car and drove another hour north to Kortum Trail north of Bodega Bay.

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Again, spectacular views!!!

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After ~6 miles of walking/hiking, we drove inland to Occidental. We passed through the town of Bodega and saw the church in Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. Kinda cool!

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We stayed at an amazing AirBnB “Redwood Retreat in Wine Country” for $90/night. “Nesetled in a redwood forest… the room is steps away from an outside hot tub, deck, and creek… free wi-fi and no television or cell service… birds, foxes and rabbits also share the property… driveway is 1/3 of a mile long” Need I say more?

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We hung out at the AirBnB, read for a little bit, and then got ready for dinner in Occidental.

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Bistro Des Copains

3782 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental
WebsiteYelp

This cozy cottage serves French fare with fresh foods found in the local farmers markets. It’s highly rated on Yelp and really only one of 2 dinner options in town. Kyle treated me to a very nice 6-year anniversary dinner!

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Crème Brulée aux Champignons Mushroom – crème brulée in mushroom broth

A savory creme brulee sounded pretty unique, and we love all things mushroom, so we gave this starter a go. The best spoonfuls had some of the crispy top, part of the gooey middle, and a coating of the mushroom broth. We soaked up all of the tasty mushroom broth with the basket of bread.

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Lapin à la Moutarde – Braised Cloverdale rabbit, braised greens, butter noodles, mustard sauce

OMG. This dish! We literally licked the plate clean. Kyle (who has never been a fan of mustard) loved it as much as I did, despite the Moutarde :) The rabbit and butter noodles just melted in your mouth. LOVED IT.

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Trout dish… not listed online anymore!

I really wish the details were on their website for this dish! I loved the risotto and capers and the trout was as rich as salmon. We agreed, however, that the rabbit was the star of the show.

After dinner we walked up the street to the other restaurant downtown for some drinks…

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Barley & Hops

3688 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental
WebsiteYelp

I had wine with dinner, so I continued that trend and ordered the house wine. Kyle had a few of their beers while we listened to the live music and watched NCAA!

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Oh, and we ordered dessert of course!! Cinnamon sugar-coated pretzel filled with Ghirardelli chocolate. Warm and gooey :)

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….

We woke up ready for a big breakfast (because who isn’t??). The **only** place to get breakfast in Occidental is

Howard Station Cafe

3611 Bohemain Hwy, Occidental
WebsiteYelp

It’s the only place to go because it’s the best place to go (ok, and it’s the only thing open). They’ve been voted “Best Breakfast” for like 5 years or something and the place has a lot of old school charm with a long history tied to the railroads. We waited about 15 minutes for a table (along with half the town) and were seated quickly. Kyle chose the eggs benedict with chipotle sauce and I picked the blueberry pancakes. We split the two (both delicious) and headed back home…

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It was a terrific getaway weekend!

-Lauren

The Sea, Happy Birthday Mom!

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Posted by Lauren

Early Saturday morning I was supposed to go with my mom and David to Los Angeles. We were supposed to go to Nicole’s final dance performance. BUT, our flight was randomly and annoyingly cancelled. Weather wasn’t really an issue, and Virgin America didn’t give a reason for the cancellation. No fun.

We turned our frowns upside down with an ahmayyyyzing dinner at THE SEA by Alexander’s Steakhouse in Palo Alto to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

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Kyle filled Nicole’s shoes (he has small feet ;) and joined us at the “bay area’s premier seafood dining destination. The restaurant distinguishes itself by focusing on rich sumptuous morsels from the sea, prepared with modern technique and flair. Chef Yu Min Lin blends contemporary cuisine with Japanese sensibility and ingredients to transform The Sea’s menu into the extraordinary.

This was my first ultra chic tasting menu experience and I am HOOKED. Now I just need to win the lotto.

THE SEA by Alexander’s Steakhouse

4269 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
Website | Yelp

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Unlimited bread – I stuck with the perfect furikake / sesame seed-topped croissants. Rumor has it they import the dough from France. I believe it. The waiter promised us a bag of these to-go since it was my mom’s birthday and all. Either he forgot or he was kidding, either way I’m sad and croissant-less.

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Smoked Salmon Gruyere Amuse-Bouche – compliments of the chef :)

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Live Scallop (Wild Maine) with black truffle, celery, olive oil
To be honest, I thought to myself, nothing could get better than this. Fresh, yet earthy. I was wrong, it did get better…

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Hamachi Tataki (Kumamoto Japan) with citrus soy, fresh wasabi creme fraiche, arare
The bite size rice gave an unexpected crunch + the wasabi was heavenly with the silky hamachi

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I avoided pictures of the champagne, savennieres, vouvray sec, etc (do I even know what I’m typing? no!) but I had to snap a quick picture of this German wine. It was in a circular green bottle — never seen anything like it! (We opted for the food + wine pairing)

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Seppia (Wild Spain) with cauliflower, truffle, uni, tomato, chives
Another mermaid mac n cheese moment, this was simply divine.

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Black Cod (Wild Monterey) with bell pepper miso, lobster, trumpet mushroom, bonito
The star of the show… I really just did NOT want this dish to end. Each bit was indulgent and well balanced. MISO LOVE YOU.

Speaking of love… check out these two love birds cheers-ing to my beautiful mama’s birthday.

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Back to the food!

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Halibut…. info not on website.
In my opinion, this was dish left the most to be desired (they say that on Chopped, right?). The halibut was well done, so I relied heavily on the sauces for pizzazz.

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Tajima F1 Beef with corn, shiitake mushroom, spinach, carrot
WOWWWW this was just right. As the final dish before dessert, the tender Tajima totally won me over. Not sure about those powder thingys though.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! Thanks for inviting us along to such a special dinner!

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Wait… there’s more food :)

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Pecorino cheese with passion fruit, quince, almond, crostini
My only complaint… want more cheese!

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Chocolate PB with peanut butter, blackberry, honey ice cream
It’s like they knew I was coming! For someone who is obsessed with all things peanut butter, this was a playful, scrumptious way to end the night.

But wait, there’s more!

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Each table gets an 18-inch spool of lime cotton candy, strawberry bon bons, and pineapple cracker/cake.

How fun is that!?

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We all had an amazing time and spent over 4 hours dining at our table. This was a once in a lifetime experience (that I hope to repeat at other restaurants on special occasions :) and I will never forget it. My mom is the best mom in the whole world!

-Lauren