Wednesday Postcard: San Francisco’s Chinatown

Hello! This week’s postcard features the Dragon Gate in San Francisco’s Chinatown!

Photo: K. Glaser, Jr.
  • The Dragon Gate was completed in 1970
  • China donated 120 ceramic tiles depicting parts of Chinese history
  • Located on Grant Avenue and Bush Street, the arch marks the south entrance to San Francisco’s Chinatown

After our lovely lunch at Wayfare Tavern, my family and I took a stroll around nearby Chinatown.

Portsmouth Square Park with a view of the Transamerica Pyramid
“This marks the site of the first public school in California” (1848)
welcome to Portsmouth Square Park
Rack of San Francisco postcards at souvenir shop in Chinatown
one of many souvenir shops in Chinatown
Red lanterns and statue wearing face mask
spotted on Grant Avenue and Clay Street
a view of the Bay Bridge from the cable car tracks on Grant Avenue and California Street
across the street from this French bistro, you can see…
…the Dragon Gate!

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to travel freely again, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, take care!

Woman taking photograph of statue with her phone
Thanks to my dear husband for this “behind the scenes” snapshot 🙂

San Francisco’s Wayfare Tavern is for (Organic Fried Chicken) Lovers

Tyler Florence, celebrity chef and television host, recently featured one of his San Francisco restaurants, Wayfare Tavern, on the Food Network show, “The Great Food Truck Race.”

The restaurant opened in 2010, but briefly operated as a food truck at the start of the pandemic when many restaurants had to close. Their food truck service is now on hiatus, but their restaurant has reopened!

Wayfare Tavern and the Transamerica Pyramid in the background

Chef Tyler’s Organic Fried Chicken was named one of the Best Fried Chicken in the United States by Food & Wine Magazine (2019).

The magazine even reveals the cooking technique used to achieve its special quality. (Hint: after marinating in buttermilk brine, the chicken is baked on low heat for a few hours before frying!)

Enticed by the idea of trying this special chicken on a special occasion, my husband immediately booked a lunch reservation at the Financial District restaurant to celebrate our anniversary.

Burrata Toast, Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco

For appetizers, we ordered charred country bread with burrata. The soft, creamy Italian cheese was lightly sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, served with several cubes of watermelon, cantaloupe, and pear, and topped with some fresh microgreens. My elder daughter called first dibs on the prosciutto di Parma. (By the way, she snapped all of the photos shown here. 📸)

While we waited for the Burrata Toast, we nibbled on warm popovers (our American version of Yorkshire pudding). My younger daughter and I thought they were freshly baked croissants until we tore off a piece, revealing a soft, hollow inside. The popover was especially tasty with a spread of butter!

As for beverages, I recalled Sancerre’s recent win as « Le village préféré des Français » on the France 3 program of the same name, so I decided to have a glass of the Karine Lauverjat Sancerre 2019. I thought it was light-bodied and soft. I wondered, Is this typical for this appellation? Didn’t matter – I liked it anyhow! Meanwhile, my husband enjoyed his red sangria cocktail of Tempranillo and rum with licorice-flavor from the French tarragon.

Preceded by the distinctive scent of roasted garlic and the woody aroma of rosemary, the main course arrived, at last. After removing the rosemary sprigs that were perched atop five assorted pieces of golden fried chicken, I squeezed some lemon on top and took a bite. I decided it was definitely worth the splurge: the chicken was simple, but tender and seasoned to perfection!

Organic Fried Chicken, Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco

In San Francisco, mask-wearing and social distancing are still required indoors (regardless of vaccination status), but neither rule seemed to be strictly enforced here. Despite the full house, the noise level was comfortable. At our table, we could hear each other without having to shout. We couldn’t hear others’ conversations either over the cheerful music playing softly in the background, like this tune:

🎶

With its mahogany walls giving warm British pub vibes, savory Italian cheese appetizers, lively Cuban music, and sweet French wines from the Loire Valley, Wayfare Tavern is true to its name – the atmosphere lent a feeling of journeying to distant lands!

Overall, I had an enjoyable experience – and that’s not the sauvignon blanc talking! 😉

Cheers / à votre santé !

Throwback to 2018: Bastille Day SF

[Updated July 2021]

Wishing “Joyeux 14 juillet” to our friends in France who are celebrating their Fête Nationale! 🇫🇷

In 2021, the one-day Bastille Day San Francisco event is a week-long celebration.

“Bastille Week SF” runs from July 11 through July 17, 2021 and participants are encouraged to take part in their “Bastille Photo Week” contest for a chance to win prizes.

They want participants to visit French businesses, take photos there, and then share the photos on social media.

It’s a clever way to support and discover local French businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Throwback to Bastille Day SF 2018

In 2018, I joined the Bastille Day SF volunteer social media team. My job was to update the event’s Facebook page (@14juilletsf).

Photo credit: Bastille Day SF (dot) org

Here are some photos I took at Bastille Day SF 2018 at Embarcadero Plaza:

img_7696

img_7687

the line for crêpes was endless

Pétanque

Slideshow: Exhibitors, Performers, and Vendors

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[Originally published July 2018]

What are some of your favorite French or French-inspired shops, restaurants, and service providers? Tell me in the comments below. I’d love to check them out!

Wednesday Postcard: Sea Otter in Monterey Bay

a sea otter in Monterey Bay

Hello! This week’s carte postale features a sea otter swimming in Monterey Bay! In 2015, my family and I got to watch sea otters swim and play at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

In a previous Wednesday Postcard post featuring Cannery Row in Monterey, I had mentioned that I’d love to visit the central coast city again once it’s been deemed safe to travel. The State of California officially reopened on June 15, 2021, so my family and I decided to visit Monterey last Saturday!

Driving south along Highway 1 (California State Route 1), you know you’re getting closer to Monterey when you start to see sand dunes in the aptly-named town of Sand City.

Sand City | June 26, 2021

Face masks are still required here.

Monterey | June 26, 2021

My younger daughter was more than happy to pilot the paddleboat we rented at El Estero Lake.

Monterey | June 26, 2021

In the middle of the lake, there’s a tiny island where pretty birds like to hang out.

Monterey | June 26, 2021

Dennis the Menace Playground includes an actual locomotive. Until 2012, children were allowed to play in it.

This low-rise building was built in 1843 to become the first French Consulate in Mexican Alta California. Today, it’s the Monterey Visitors Center.

Monterey | June 26, 2021

Although the pieces were small (and pricey), I couldn’t resist trying the rose-flavored Turkish delight and the traditional honey and pistachio baklava by Troya, a small shop on Cannery Row.

A serene scene in Monterey Bay…

sailboat in Monterey Bay
Monterey | June 26, 2021

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, take care!

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to travel freely again, of course!)

If you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Wednesday Postcard: Montmartre in Paris

©️1997 The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features a Montmartre staircase photographed in 1924 by French artist, Eugène Atget (1857-1927). The original photograph was created using a printing process called albumen, which was invented by French inventor, Louis Blanquart-Evrard.

I bought the postcard during my visit to the Getty Center in Los Angeles in 1998. I recall having to board a tram for a short, but scenic ride up the hill to get to the entrance of the museum.

The black and white image on this postcard inspired me to explore the Montmartre area “next time” since I’d had limited time during my first visit to Paris.

When I finally returned to Paris, I spent nearly an entire day in Montmartre. It was my mission to climb the famous staircase shown on my postcard! But when I got there, I learned that there were actually several steep staircases in the area!

As I’d imagined, the staircases afforded incredible views, like the Parisian rooftops with their distinctive chimney pots, or flues made of clay!

Since I had a Navigo Découverte transit pass (which gave me unlimited rides on the Paris métro, as well as the funicular), I walked down the stairs and took the Montmartre funicular back up a few times just for fun!

Funiculaire de Montmartre (2018)

Come to think of it, it was like riding the tram up to the Getty Center!

Postcard: Detail of travertine in the Getty Center Courtyard | Photo by A. Vertikoff

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to travel freely again, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, take care!

Wednesday Postcard: The Exploratorium in San Francisco

©️1983 The Exploratorium

Hello! This week’s postcard features “Words and Colors” from the Illusions and Other Surprises Postcard Exhibit at The Exploratorium, San Francisco’s Museum of Science, Art, and Human Perception.

Instructions:

“Read this card aloud — but rather than reading the words, say the color of ink that was used to write each word. It’s not easy; the written words have a surprisingly strong influence over the actual color. The Exploratorium’s Language exhibits let you explore some of the patterns of meaning you make with words, sounds, and symbols.”

San Francisco (2017)

I enjoy visiting museums and I’m glad to see many of them gradually reopening after being closed since the pandemic began.

From 1969 to 2012, the Exploratorium was located at the Palace of Fine Arts. In April 2013, it opened its doors at its new location: Fisherman’s Wharf at Piers 15 and 17.

The Exploratorium is a popular school field trip destination, too! I went as an elementary school student, and in recent years, my daughters have gone there with their classes. I was even a chaperone for one of their field trips to the interactive museum.

There are hundreds of educational, entertaining, and hands-on exhibits at the Exploratorium. My favorites include:

  • Sip of Conflict (video)

Over the years, I have accumulated hundreds of postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from my local antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to do so, of course!)

And if you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there – I’d love to hear from you.

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay well!

Hate is a Virus. Mind Your Microaggressions

Hate is a virus

To say the worldwide health crisis is taking its toll on our collective mental health is a gross understatement!

But the added stress doesn’t give anyone the right to take out their anger and frustration on others.

Stop Asian Hate

It has taken me a long time to speak out and condemn the recent increase in violence, racially-motivated attacks, and discrimination against Asian Americans because, frankly, it hurts. As an American of Filipino descent, it hits too close to home.

The crimes are not only racist, they are ageist and misogynistic.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, where I live, there has been a surge in hate crimes against Asian people, many of whom are elderly, as well.

And, although it hasn’t officially been called a hate crime, the mass shootings at three spas/massage parlors on March 16, 2021 in Atlanta — where six of the eight people killed were Asian women — brought widespread attention to the increase in violent attacks against the Asian community.

It doesn’t help when you hear defense attorneys for suspected attackers claim that their clients have mental illness or did not know the race of their victim(s) or did not intend to kill! All of these statements only serve to minimize and undermine the severity of the crimes. We need to call it what it is: Asian hate.

Like many people, I was shocked to see the disturbing images on TV and social media, but I’m not surprised. There’s a long history of bigotry against Asians in the United States.

In my post where I share the results of my DNA test, I talk about the word “Oriental” that was used to describe people of Asian descent.

from my birth certificate issued in San Francisco (1973)

Although the word basically refers to something “from the East” (relative to Europe), it historically had pejorative, offensive, and derogatory connotations when used to describe people.

The term was replaced with “Asian American” in 2016 (yes, only five years ago!) when a bill was signed to eliminate the term “Oriental” from federal law.

Microaggressions

Many acts of hate and discrimination are often violent and physical, but not always. Most of the time, acts of hate and discrimination aren’t obvious or dramatic. In fact, these daily occurrences rarely make the nightly news.

The term, microaggression was coined in 1970 by Harvard professor, Chester M. Pierce, MD. Subtle and often unintentional, microaggressions communicate negative bias against marginalized groups.

For example, mispronouncing or misspelling someone’s name is a microaggression. It may not seem like a big deal, but doing so sends the message that you don’t respect the person enough to learn the correct pronunciation or spelling.

Growing up, my maiden name was butchered so often that I grew accustomed to knowing they meant me whenever they called out, “Darleeeene,” extending the vowel as a way to stall while figuring out how to say my maiden name. Before they could mangle its pronunciation, I’d let them off the hook by saying my own name to save us both the embarrassment. I’ve also endured getting teased for having a name that “sounds like a disease.”

Simply put, microaggressions are low-key acts of exclusion. They make you feel like you don’t belong.

my kindergarten picture

The first time I felt like I didn’t belong was in elementary school when I was placed in English as a Second Language (ESL) class separate from my friends. It was only after my college-educated and English-speaking parents told the school administrators that English was the primary language spoken at home that I was put back in the non-ESL class. At the time, I was happy just to be back with my friends! I can only guess why the school put me in ESL class.

Sometimes microaggressions make you feel special, but not in a good way. Instead, you feel like “other.”

While I was browsing eyeglass display stands for a new pair of frames, an optometrist suggested I try on a particular pair because it had a wider bridge. He said it was “Asian fit” then blurted out, “Oh, we don’t say that anymore.” (Was that comment supposed to be… an apology?!) The incident made me switch to wearing contact lenses.

How I wish I had been quicker to react and asked a simple question like, “What makes you say that?”

How I wish I could tell you that these things really didn’t happen. But I’d be lying because I experienced them all. I still do sometimes. I’ve also witnessed similar (and worse) things happen to other people.

So, whether you’ve been on the receiving end or you’ve unintentionally committed a microaggression, the good news is that we can heal, we can learn, and we can change!

Hate comes from fear of the unknown. We can overcome ignorance with education. There are hundreds of books and articles on how to be anti-racist.

A couple of resources I turn to again and again are tools compiled by UC Santa Cruz:

Recognizing Microaggressions and the Messages They Send

Interrupting Microaggressions

I encourage you to read these resources and share them with everyone you know. Let’s have the difficult conversations!

I’ll be doing the same as I always strive to keep learning.

Together we can stop the hate. ❤️

March 5 is National Absinthe Day

[This post is not sponsored.]

Happy National Absinthe Day!

National Absinthe Day is celebrated on March 5 each year to commemorate the date the absinthe ban was lifted in the United States in 2007.

StGeorge_AbsintheFrappe_ElliottClarkAbsinthe Frappé photo credit: Elliott Clark/Apartment Bartender

What is absinthe?

Absinthe is a potent distilled spirit made with green anise, fennel, and wormwood. It’s also called the Green Fairy, or la fée verte, due to its emerald hue that is derived from the chlorophyll of the aromatic herbs that are added after the distillation process.

It is believed to have originated in the late 18th century when a French doctor in Switzerland created it as an elixir and cure for malaria.

Due to the toxic chemical compound called thujone found in wormwood, many people believed that drinking large quantities of the spirit caused hallucinations! Absinthe was considered to be such a dangerous psychoactive drug that it was eventually banned in many countries, including the United States in 1912.

During the ban, an anise-flavored liqueur called pastis gained popularity as a substitute for absinthe. The difference between pastis and absinthe? Pastis is produced without wormwood and sugar is added to it, making pastis a liqueur, not a spirit.

“This one time, at workcamp…”

I had my first taste of pastis in France during some free time at my workcamp (the commonly used term for international volunteer projects like the one I participated in.)

After watching a marionette show, my group and I went out for drinks. I can still recall the strong licorice flavor of the pastis. Not sure I loved it, but I must admit, I did enjoy how it made me feel: sans souci (carefree)!

Over the years, I’ve often wondered: Would I have a similar experience with absinthe?*

What better time for me to find out than on the occasion of National Absinthe Day!

American-made Absinthe

When pandemic-related travel restrictions are lifted, I’d love the chance to sip absinthe in France or Switzerland! But until then, I’m happy to stay put and get some American-made absinthe that happens to be locally produced (but widely available!)

St. George Spirits master distiller Lance Winters and head distiller/blender Dave Smith
photo credit: Andria Lo

St. George Spirits, located in Alameda, California (about 10 miles/ 16 km east of San Francisco) has been making single malt whiskey, gin, rum, brandy, vodka, and liqueurs since the distillery was founded in 1982 by Jörg Rupf, who retired in 2010.

Fun Fact: Their St. George Absinthe Verte was the first legal American absinthe released after the U.S. ban was lifted in 2007!

St. George Absinthe Verte (200ml)
photo credit: Jason Tinacci

Due to its high alcohol content, absinthe is usually sweetened and diluted with ice cold water before it’s served. But according to St. George Spirits, their St. George Absinthe Verte is one you can “savor over ice — no sugar needed.”

St. George Spirits master distiller Lance Winters
photo credit: Laurel Dailey

St. George Spirits master distiller, Lance Winters joined Sarah of Chateau Sonoma for cocktail hour on Instagram Live on March 5, 2021. ICYMI, check it out: Instagram Live @chateausonoma

St. George Spirits stills
photo credit: Ben Krantz

Thanks to Ellie Winters, St. George Spirits communications director, for permission to use the photos shown in this post.

*Updated March 8, 2021

I finally tried absinthe! I diluted one ounce of absinthe with about a half-ounce of ice water. It developed a nice cloudy louche, indicating a strong presence of star anise, which I could smell as I gently swirled my glass. I can confirm: no hallucinations (not that I was expecting any), but I did get a cool numbing sensation on my tongue with each sip.🥃

Have you had absinthe? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!

Wednesday Postcard: NYE 2021 in San Francisco

a mural along Highway 101

After being indoors for most of 2020, I just had to get out and go somewhere beyond the mailbox or the grocery store! I also wanted to do something special to ring in the new year since fireworks were cancelled. So, to feed two birds with one scone, my family and I decided to go to San Francisco!

Normally, we’d take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) or the ferry into The City because finding parking there can be challenging. But this time, we decided to go by car to limit exposure.

Since we hadn’t crossed the Bay Bridge in almost a year, we were surprised to learn that there were no toll collectors. You either use FasTrak (the Bay Area’s electronic-toll taking system) or they snap a pic of your vehicle’s license plate and send you a bill.

How efficient! There was no usual backup on the approach to the Bay Bridge either. Not sure if it was due to it being New Year’s Eve or because of no-stopping at the toll booth! Either way, it was much appreciated. I figure we saved at least 10 minutes of driving.

Here are some of the places we visited (or drove by while I took pictures from the passenger side):

Haight-Ashbury District

In the summer of 1967 (“Summer of Love”), thousands of young people gathered in the Haight-Ashbury District of San Francisco. Because they believed in peace, love, psychedelic drugs, nature, communal living, and rock ‘n roll, they were called “hippies” or “flower children” (scornfully or affectionately, depending on whom you asked!) 🌼

For 43 years, the district was also home to the Haight-Ashbury T-Shirts store. Sadly, it suffered financially due to the pandemic and had to close on December 31, 2020.

On the last day, everything was 50% off: vintage-looking (reproduced) shirts with popular ’60s bands on them, minor league baseball shirts, and tie-dye shirts. Some postcards were even complimentary. Right on! ☮️

Which brings me to… This week’s postcard featuring (you guessed it): the Haight-Ashbury District in San Francisco!

Images: A. McKinney/K. Glaser, Jr.

On the left are images from one of the annual Haight-Ashbury Street Fairs. On the right is a sidewalk memorial for Jerry Garcia (1942-1995) of the American rock band, Grateful Dead. In the late ’60s, members of the band lived on 710 Ashbury Street.

“We will get by. We will survive.” – from Touch of Grey by Grateful Dead 🎶

Now that’s the right attitude going into the new year!

San Francisco – December 31, 2020

Quelle heure est-il ? It’s always 4:20 here 🙂

San Francisco – December 31, 2020

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Piedmont Boutique

Piedmont Boutique is not only a costume shop, it’s an institution. After nine years in the Castro, they moved to Haight-Ashbury in 1981. You can’t miss it: the fabulous gams that dangle provocatively from the window above the shop is an attraction in itself:

San Francisco – December 31, 2020

San Francisco – December 31, 2020

San Francisco – December 31, 2020

Just an idea: if they painted the soles red, they’d look just like Louboutins!

Cliff House

San Francisco – December 31, 2020

In 1864, Mark Twain was quoted as saying, “If one tires of the drudgeries and scenes of the city, and would breathe the fresh air of the sea, let him take the cars and omnibuses, or, better still, a buggy and pleasant steed, and, ere, the sea breeze sets in, glide out to the Cliff House…”

In 1879, two years after his presidential term ended, Ulysses S. Grant visited Cliff House and reportedly used a telephone there for the first time.

San Francisco – December 31, 2020

The structure shown here is not the original Cliff House restaurant from 1863. It was destroyed by fire, rebuilt, destroyed again, and rebuilt again in the same location. This Cliff House was built in 2003.

Unfortunately, the owners of Cliff House and the National Park Service weren’t able to reach a contract agreement before the end of 2020. As a result, the landmark restaurant had to close its doors.

On December 31, 2020, the public was invited to watch the removal of the letters spelling out “Cliff House.” By the time we drove by, though, all we could see was the sign’s frame.

San Francisco – December 31, 2020

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church is the largest German church in California. It was dedicated in 1895 and cost $56,000 to build.

The name on the cornerstone, St. Markus Kirche, reflects the congregation’s German heritage.

San Francisco – December 31, 2020

We’re still under stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic, so we headed home well ahead of curfew.

Enjoy this 8-second video of the drive back to the East Bay from San Francisco:

My related posts about San Francisco

If you enjoyed this San Francisco postcard, check out my postcards from Alcatraz or City Lights Booksellers & Publishers or The Presidio.

Did you know that dozens of music videos were filmed in San Francisco? I was in one, too (check it out, just don’t blink!)

My “only-in-San Francisco” favorites include the annual Bay to Breakers foot race; the Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District; a new rooftop park by Salesforce; a laundromat-café; Grace Cathedral’s solidarity concert after the Notre-Dame fire; and the Blue House that inspired a French song!

Over the years, I have accumulated over two hundred postcards from around the world, which I’ve either purchased from antique shops or received from thoughtful jet-setting family and friends who know I collect them. When I travel, I also like to send myself a carte postale just for fun!

I hope these postcards will make you want to revisit a favorite vacation spot or to embark on a journey to the destination of your dreams (when it’s safe to do so, of course!)

If you’ve been to the destination featured, tell me about your experience there!

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, take care! ✌🏽+❤️

Petit Pot: Organic French Pudding Made in California

Updated: January 18, 2021

[Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Thanks to Petit Pot for giving me samples of Mint Chocolate and Pumpkin Spice pudding. There are no affiliate links in this post.]

Image: Petit Pot

J’adore Petit Pot!

J’adore Petit Pot! I first saw the cute jars of pots de crème at my local grocery store a couple of years ago. As a Francophile, I was charmed by its logo: a blue jar wearing a striped shirt, an orange beret, and a smile. He even has a name: Il s’appelle Louis!

Petit Pot (say “peh-tee-poh”) creates their sweet and velvety French-style custards and rice pudding (riz au lait) desserts using local ingredients! They’re located in Emeryville, California, which is about 10 miles/ 17 km east of San Francisco.

Of the eight flavors they currently offer, my favorite is Dark Chocolate. The desserts are thick, creamy, and just the right size to satisfy a sweet tooth craving (each jar is 3.5 oz/ 100 g).

You can enjoy them as is or put a little whipped cream on top for some added flair!

I love to add fresh raspberries:

Chocolate pudding on spoon with a raspberry

I’ve saved many Petit Pot jars since 2018 and I’m thinking of creative ways to reuse them which I’ll share in a future blog post.

Special Holiday Flavors: Mint Chocolate & Pumpkin Spice

Petit Pot offered two seasonal flavors in 2020: Mint Chocolate and Pumpkin Spice. (Note: As of 01/18/2021, both holiday flavors are out of stock. Petit Pot may bring them back, so stay tuned!)

They are made with organic ingredients, including: whole milk, heavy cream, egg yolks, and cane sugar.

The Pumpkin Spice flavor is made with organic pumpkin purée. Although I could taste more cinnamon than pumpkin, I like its smooth texture; it’s like eating a pumpkin pie.

I love chocolate in general so I expected to like the Mint Chocolate flavor and I was right! It tastes like their Dark Chocolate flavor, but with just the right amount of mint, like after dinner mints. The Mint Chocolate flavor is made with organic ingredients: unsweetened chocolate, natural vanilla extract, and peppermint oil.

To learn about all of Petit Pot’s delicious desserts that use USDA organic, gluten-free, peanut-free, and locally-sourced ingredients, as well as helpful information about their sustainable packaging, shipping schedules, other special offers, and more, visit Petit Pot today!

Have you had Petit Pot desserts? Which flavor is your favorite?

Holiday Lights: A Drive Along Christmas Tree Lane in Alameda

Christmas Tree Lane – December 12, 2020

Every December, thousands of visitors from around the Bay Area come to Thompson Avenue in Alameda, California (10 miles/16 km east of San Francisco) to walk and admire the festive decorations and twinkling lights. It’s not the largest holiday lights display, but it’s a favorite among locals who’ve been coming to “Christmas Tree Lane” since 1938!

Of course, due to the pandemic, it’s different this year. Visitors are advised to forgo the stroll around and encouraged to drive by instead.

Unlike previous years, there are no sidewalk vendors selling hot chocolate to warm your hands and tummy. But one advantage to driving by is that you get to stay warm inside your vehicle!

Christmas Tree Lane – December 12, 2020

In addition to Christmas tree displays, there are parols (Filipino star-shaped lanterns) and farolito/luminaria (paper bag lantern commonly used in Hispanic culture and the southwestern United States). There’s a menorah for Hanukkah, too.

Also spotted: signs for social distancing, Black Lives Matter, and Biden-Harris on a few front lawns. Sign(s) of the times, indeed.

Menorah for Hanukkah

Parol

Farolito/Luminaria

Participation in the winter tradition is optional for residents who live on Christmas Tree Lane.

Seeing that most homes have some sort of decoration, even as simple as a string of lights on their windows or front steps, I get the impression that no one wants to be the Grinch on the block!

The local electric company chips in, too. They sponsor the cost of the lights in the median (where there’s a mailbox for letters to Santa!)

Christmas Tree Lane – December 12, 2020

The holiday lights will be on each day until New Year’s Eve from 5:30 pm until 10:00 pm, which is also the county’s curfew, per the Limited Stay at Home Order.

Christmas Tree Lane – December 12, 2020

Wednesday Postcard: San Juan Bautista, California

Photo by R. Lowman

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features Mission San Juan Bautista, located about 92 miles/ 148 km south of San Francisco, California.

  • Founded in June 24, 1797, Mission San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist) is the 15th of 21 California Missions along El Camino Real
  • The mission has three naves, making San Juan Bautista the largest of all the California Missions
  • Alfred Hitchcock filmed crucial scenes of his 1958 movie, Vertigo, at Mission San Juan Bautista and its surrounding areas (The film was based on the 1954 French novel, D’entre les morts by Boileau & Narcejac)

For more information:

Gilroy Dispatch (2007)

Old Mission San Juan Bautista

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay safe!

Wednesday Postcard: Presidio of San Francisco, California

Photo: A. Taggart-Barone

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands as a backdrop to the Main Post in the heart of the Presidio of San Francisco.

The Presidio is where San Francisco began.

  • The indigenous Ohlone/Costanoan people lived in this area for thousands of years
  • In 1776, Spain established a military fort on this land
  • In 1821, Mexico won its independence from Spain and controlled the post and established a new pueblo nearby called Yerba Buena (later known as San Francisco)
  • In 1846, the Presidio became a U.S. Army post
  • In 1994, the Presidio became a national park site

For more information:

Main Post at the Presidio

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay safe. A bientôt!

If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in reading about my experience volunteering at the Presidio.

Music Monday: San Francisco

Now playing on my French song playlist:

Title: San Francisco

Songwriter: Maxime (Bruno) Le Forestier

Performed by: Maxime Le Forestier

Lyrics I like:

C’est une maison bleue

Adossée à la colline

On y vient à pied, on ne frappe pas

Ceux qui vivent là, ont jeté la clé

 

On se retrouve ensemble

Après des années de route

Et l’on vient s’asseoir, autour du repas

Tout le monde est là, à cinq heures du soir

 

Quand San Francisco s’embrume

Quand San Francisco s’allume

San Francisco, où êtes-vous?

Lizard et Luc, Psylvia, attendez-moi!

Translation:

It’s a blue house

Leaning against the hill

We go there on foot, we don’t knock

Those who live there threw away the key

 

We find ourselves together again

After years on the road

And we come to sit around the meal

Everyone is there at five in the evening

 

When San Francisco is foggy

When San Francisco lights up

San Francisco, where are you?

Lizard and Luc, Psylvia, wait for me!

🎶

In early 2020, the famous blue house was put on the market for $3.45 million: Iconic Reimagined Three Level Dolores Heights Victorian

Until next Music Monday, have a good week ahead. Stay safe!

*music & lyrics | all rights reserved*

Wednesday Postcard: Calistoga, California

Photo: V. Nelson

Bonjour! This week’s carte postale features the Castello di Amorosa, a winery built in the style of a 13th century Tuscan castle. It’s located in the Napa Valley town of Calistoga, California, which is about 77 miles/ 124 km north of San Francisco.

On September 28, 2020, the Castello di Amorosa farmhouse (pictured above to the right of the castle) sustained significant fire damage during the Glass Fire.

The farmhouse contained 120,000 bottles of wine (retail value: approximately $5 million). It will take 2-3 years to rebuild, according to owner and fourth-generation winemaker, Dario Sattui. The castle itself was not harmed. 

I bought this postcard during my family’s visit to the Napa Valley castle winery in 2015.

Terrace – Castello di Amorosa (2015)

Italian-made Ratchet press – Castello di Amorosa (2015)

Replica of a Roman bathtub – Castello di Amorosa (2015)

About Castello di Amorosa (Castle of Love)

  • The castle winery spans 121,000 square feet (three acres) with 107 rooms, four underground levels, and four above-ground levels
  • The construction took 15 years and opened to the public on April 7, 2007
  • It includes a moat, drawbridge, five towers, high defensive ramparts, courtyards and loggias, a chapel, stables, an armory, and even a torture chamber

Until the next Wednesday Postcard, stay safe. A bientôt!

Thank you to all the brave firefighters for battling the California wildfires.