Thursday, July 28, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

1. In an effort to help my hand/wrist/arm aches and tingles, we bought a trackball for me to try. I'm not sure it's helping, but I like it better than the regular mouse.

2. Summer is usually when there's not much to watch to TV and I enjoy television-free evenings. That is changing. This summer we've started watching:
  • Animal Kingdom (TNT)- I really enjoyed the movie so I thought I'd give the TV show a try. I've been on the fence about it but I think I've tipped onto the hooked and will keep watching side. 
  • The Night Of (HBO) - I set up the DVR to record this while we were away. We finally watched the first 3 episodes and we are hooked. 
  • BrainDead (CBS) - We're still on the fence about this one. We like it and get some laughs but...
  • Stranger Things (Netflix) - We finally hopped on the Stranger Things bandwagon last night, watching the first episode. Yup. We're hooked. 
  • Great British Baking Show (PBS) - The contestants are so calm, and lovely, and normal, not like reality show contestants here in the US. They've made some amazing things, some things I'd never heard of, like Spanische Windtorte, a dessert that  has two types of meringue, Swiss and French, designed into a circular box and filled with cream and fruit.
We finally finished The Walking Dead but we still have OITNB Season 4 and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2 to watch.

3. I haven't been reading as much as I'd like, but recently I read:
  • The Black Widow (Daniel Silva) - Still thoroughly enjoy the Gabriel Allon series.
  • Til Death Do Us Part (Amanda Quick) - Enjoyed this more than I expected for what is equal parts mystery and romance.
4. Garden Update: When we got home from vacation we had a lot of tasty green beans in the garden and this past week we got our first 2 zucchini. The cherry tomatoes are finally turning from green to red.

5. Snacking: 
  • I made SP hide the bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos in the basement. Ugh. I don't know why he bought them and then one day I couldn't help myself even though I knew the inevitable result: me covered in orange dust & feeling totally gross after chomping down.
  • We were at the mall last weekend and SP steered me to the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company. In husband-speak, saying you "just want to see" what flavors they have means you want a bag of flavored popcorn. We bought a small bag of Chocolate Caramel Popcorn.
  • We baked Raspberry-Ricotta Cake for dessert. It's tasty, but not quite as tasty as I remember. I think I may have left it in a tad too long this time.
6. Dinners this week:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Buena Vista (San Francisco)

 Many years ago, I spent 2 years in central CA acquiring a Masters degree. I loved the area in which I lived & studied. If I could afford to live there, I would. During those 2 years, I visited San Francisco several times. I loved it. It became my favorite US city (after Pittsburgh, of course). I wished I could live there. One of my favorite things: Irish Coffee at The Buena Vista. My mom introduced me to it. There is something about this particular Irish Coffee. Is it the cream? The coffee? The whiskey? The method? The misty/foggy air? Sitting at communal tables talking with strangers from all over while pretty much everyone downs Irish Coffee after Irish Coffee?

Since I left CA, I have been in search of an Irish Coffee as good as the one at The Buena Vista. SP humored me in my quest. He would smile and shake his head every time I deemed an Irish coffee unworthy. I think he thought I was a little kooky with my Irish coffee quest. In time, I, too, thought I was nuts. Maybe I was misremembering?

By luck (or was it...?!), our hotel was very, very close to The Buena Vista. After we checked in, we walked up the hill, seated ourselves at a communal table, and ordered Irish Coffees.

One sip and I knew. I wasn't misremembering. One sip and I saw I had convinced SP I was not nuts. He waited a bit, taking a few more sips before looking at me and admitting that I was right. There's just something about this Irish Coffee.

The Buena Vista serves food, too. It was 2 pm pacific time, so 5 pm for us, and all we'd eaten that day was an airplane omelet (we were upgraded to first class for the flight - whoo!). We were hungry. We had dinner reservations at 5:15pm, but to tide us over, we shared another San Francisco treat: Clam Chowder Sourdough Bread Bowl:
It's possible that there are chowders in bread bowl along the eastern coast, but I've never seen/enjoyed one, maybe I just haven't been to the right places. To me, it's a San Francisco/central CA thing. Sourdough? I've had good sourdough outside central CA, but there's something about the sourdough from the San Francisco bakeries.
The chowder is yummy, but the best thing is to scrape up bread bits with bites of chowder. Scrape and scrape and scrape until the soup is gone and you see the crust, then rip it apart and eat the crust. We couldn't finish the entire bread bowl, but the Irish Coffees & soup in a bread bowl were just what we needed to fuel us for walking along the water.
We also went for breakfast one morning. It's never too early for an Irish Coffee, especially one with 2 eggs, bacon, house potatoes, and sourdough toast.
We had many Irish Coffees at The Buena Vista during our 3 days in San Francisco. On our last day of vacation, before going to the airport, we drove back to San Francisco and went back for one last Irish Coffee. I'm still trying to figure out just what makes them so darn good. The bartenders line up lots of Irish Coffee glasses and pour in boiling water to heat them. 
When it's time, the glasses are emptied, 2 sugar cubes plunked in, hot coffee poured over top, and it's given a vigorous stir. Next comes the Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey. 
 The final touch: the cream that floats on top. 
And then, you enjoy it. And order another.

I really do think the Irish coffee at The Buena Vista is the best I've ever had. I don't even mind how crazy crowded it can get. I don't even mind how touristy it can be. Maybe I'm just a silly tourist since The Buena Vista seems to get a lot of attention. Maybe it's that this is the first Irish coffee I ever had. Maybe it's because my mom brought me here on my first trip to San Francisco. Maybe it's sitting in my favorite US city, watching the cable car turnaround, looking out at the Pacific Ocean, watching all the other tourists walk by, talking with strangers at the communal tables, everyone enjoying their Irish coffee. Maybe it's that I feel "at home" because it's a place I've been to every time I've been in San Francisco since my first visit back in 1994. Whatever it is, I'm a big fan. I think I've made SP a fan, too. And hopefully, we'll be back soon.


The Buena Vista Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Thursday Thoughts

I have been taking a break from the blog. There are a lot of reasons, but the main reason is that I've developed some sort of repetitive stress injury/tendinitis/carpal tunnel, whatever you want to call it when your hand, wrist, arm hurt, ache, tingle almost all the time. I had it last summer, too, after I spent a lot of time on the computer researching our London trip. It started up again this spring/summer when I started researching some potential home projects and vacation. It's not bad enough to justify a doctor visit, and it could just be a new symptom of my main health problem. It's just super annoying.

The best thing to do is limit time on the computer and tablet and smart phone.

It hasn't helped that in the past couple of months, I've slammed tingly, achy arm's elbow into things many times, sending pain shooting up & down my arm. 
Another reason for the blog break: I killed my computer. OK, seriously disabled it for several days while SP spent a lot of time trying to fix it. I'm embarrassed to say, I was struggling to move my monitor, and somehow, I tipped it in such a way that I snapped the HDMI cable. It is unusable. I also somehow wrecked some wires/connection inside the monitor. I now have a new cable plugged into a new spot on the monitor and everything is OK. For now. It's more technical than that, but that's the main gist.

The broken cable also resulted in some computer maintenance and wiping and updating to a new Windows version and then having to reset all my stuff and reinstall stuff and... ugh.
Another blog break reason: we had guests in town. TX family was here for a visit in early July. It was, as always, lovely to see them. We had SP's family here for a July 4 cookout. We smoked pork shoulder and made mac & cheese. Sadly, the fireworks in our town were cancelled because of rain.
And finally, we went on vacation. Surprisingly, SP had accrued enough vacation days that he was getting emails of imminent vacation accrual loss. So, to use the vacation days instead of losing them, we planned a vacation to San Francisco and Monterey, CA. It had been 13 years since my last trip to San Francisco and even longer since I graduated from grad school in Monterey. I've always raved about how amazing and lovely Monterey is and how I'd love to live there. SP always humored me, thinking I was a little crazy. I finally got to show him around San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel, Big Sur, and he, too, fell in love with the area. 

It was a fantastic vacation. I showed him my old apartment, showed him around my grad school, we ate a lot of clam chowder, dined with friends who still live in the area, walked along the coast, dined along the water, got some sunburn despite breezy and chilly temps, saw some gorgeous scenery, and escaped real life for 10 days.

Now we're home and getting back into the usual routine.

Regular blogging may or may not resume. I took photos of all our food in CA, I just need my wrists and arms to feel not sore.