Thursday, January 31, 2013

Christmas in Cali

Five years ago in these pages I put myself on a five-year plan to move to San Francisco. It hasn’t happened (yet). And technically, I have ’til harvest season to make good on my prediction. But the truth is, I’ve been planting roots both literal and figurative here in Boston, and I find myself walking through some very exciting new doors. Soon I’ll be able to share this news with all of you, and I hope you’ll agree it’s worth sticking around to grow my next professional chapter in the other City by the Bay.

The call for change clamors loudly at the turn of a new year, and this past holiday season did not disappoint. Abandoning our hometown traditions in search of escapades out West, my family of 12 ventured out to Marin County this past December to spend Christmas in Cali with my brother and his newly engaged bride-to-be. Short sleeves replaced long underwear and California Cabs edged out my Cucumber Margaritas, as we cooked, hiked, drank and dined our way through wine country and the original City by the Bay.

In San Fran, we treated ourselves to a standing brunch at the phenom that is the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market on Saturdays. A rainbow of root vegetables, kalamata olives, dates so sweet they taste like they were dipped in brown sugar, whole walnuts, Asian pears, the freshest catch off the Pacific Coast, the crystallized sensation that is the brand spanking new Bay Blue cheese from Point Reyes Farmstead, candied bergamot rind and all forms of juicy winter citrus were ripe for the taking. From there we enjoyed beer gardens, chocolate shops and coffee stops in Hayes Valley, taste tested our way through the city from soup dumplings and egg mooncakes in Chinatown to modern Italian cuisine inside the shi-shi digs at SPQR. Family game night, muy auténtico Mexican and a tremendous hiking trail through Muir Woods rounded out our family time together.

Then Mr. Mix and I set forth on a News Year’s holiday among the vines. We started in Carneros country sipping earthy Pinot Noir, moved north through Napa toward those classic Cabernets, then followed the trail back down to the Petite Sirahs we fell so hard for in Sonoma. All that time collecting bottles of my unabashed, uncool, unfailing favorite–rich, oaky, buttered up Chardonnay. By the time we wound our way through the extraordinary vista-strewn park in Point Reyes, we were ready to swap our stemware for mugs of sudsy Lagunitas IPA and Sweetwater Hog Island Oysters. Californian foodies are so splendidly spoiled.

Watch the slideshow above for a photo guide of our town & country California Christmas vacation, and stay tuned for updates on my next big move–right here in Beantown. Eat it Up!

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