Monday, November 26, 2012

San Francisco, CA, USA - Part 2

I'd actually written this post almost 2 months ago, but because we've been so busy trying to get back into our normal lives here in Sydney, finding a job, moving house, etc, etc, I haven't had time to pick the photos and post the blog. But finally, (it's never too late, right?) here you go: the last leg of our 14 months of travelling around the world. It's sad to see it end... maybe in the back of my mind that's the real reason it took me so long to finish this post! Ahahaha...

Gaffa and I at Morimoto's (check out my tan!)

Nearing the end of our world travels, Gaffa and I spent the last two weeks back in San Francisco with my Aunties, Uncles and cousins. After a 5 or so hour plane ride from Cancun back to San Francisco on United (never fly United, both times Gaffa's seat was broken) we arrived back at my Uncle P and Auntie J's place. It was fairly late, so we went straight to sleep in preparation for the next two weeks filled with lots of fun activities that everyone had organised for us! :)

The first weekend that we were back in SF was the weekend that my Uncle P and Auntie J's daughter was getting married. So the Friday, Saturday and Sunday was going to be spent with the cousins. First off was lunch with cousin T, my cousin D and his wife P from Hong Kong. Their three boys were in SF for summer school and they were over for a visit too. We had Japanese at a local restaurant, as we were going to watch the new Batman movie with cousin T afterwards. This was the first time that Gaffa had met my cousin D, and the first time I had seen him and his wife since their wedding about 10-11 years ago. The first Chinese words that my cousin D decides to teach Gaffa are... you guessed it: swear words, or more of a rather rude phrase. A phrase that is in no way useful when trying to communicate with my parents or my family. Thanks D :p It was funny though. It's hard to translate into English and even I don't know the real meaning of the phrase, I just know it's really bad....


The Batman movie was ok, but Gaffa and T enjoyed it immensely, then spent the next few hours talking about comic books and Star Wars... Yawn...Luckily for me, we were headed to Off the Grid, and my cousin S, T's wife K, and my Auntie A were joining us. During the spring, summer and fall in San Francisco, every Friday night the food trucks gather at one place for a massive food-truck-a-thon. It is a definite must-do if you are ever in SF. You get to experience all the amazing food trucks that the city has to offer, all in one place. Get there early as the seats get filled quickly. 

Mac & Cheese spring rolls
Filo inspired Nachos
Filo inspired Burritto

We walked around checking out what could potentially fill our stomachs. There was so much to choose from: Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, beer, dessert, Peruvian, Malaysian, Indian, Mexican, and other weird and wonderful food creations. First we tried something from 3 Sum Eats: mac and cheese spring rolls. Interesting... but tasty! T was waiting in line for some Filipino inspired nachos (complete with green and pink nacho chips) and a Filipino inspired burrito. So so so yummy! Gaffa also noticed the ghost chilli sauce (apparently really spicy) at the Indian food truck and had to get some, he ordered it with some de-constructed samosas. The ghost chilli ended up not being that hot.

Indian samosas
Panang Chicken burger
Pumpkin fritters

We decided to pace ourselves and opted for some beers next. By this time, the girls had arrived and we were ready for our next Off the Grid experience. My Auntie A and cousin K went off to get some Chinese, and I went with my cousin S to find something different. We chose a Panang curry burger and some pumpkin fritters from the Malaysian food truck, and a Peruvian kebab. S also bought Gaffa and I some kettle corn, which is popcorn that is both sweet and salty - so addictive! Auntie A and K returned with some meat sandwiched between rice cakes. We were so stuffed but the food was just too good to go to waste. For dessert (there's always room for dessert) we had creme brulee and some cup cakes. I think anything that you bought from any of the trucks would be good. People follow the trucks around SF during the week and crowds flock to Off the Grid every Friday, so any of them are a sure winner! The hard thing is deciding what to choose! Thanks for taking us out for the day, T! 

Peruvian kebab
Chinese: rice cake sandwich! 
creme brulee
delicious cupcakes

On Saturday we were spending the afternoon with my cousin MJ, her boyfriend P and the 3 boys: their names all start with S, so lets call them S1, S2 and S3.... Before we were getting picked up by MJ and P, S took Gaffa, my Auntie A and I out for breakfast at Tartine Bakery, a famous bakery in downtown San Francisco. It was one of S's favourite places to eat, so we had to try it! We got there before it opened and there was already a line down the street. Most people were getting take away, so it was easy for us to get a table inside. We enjoyed some croissants, sweet morning buns, and a quiche. Thanks for breakfast, S! 

ham & cheese croissant
chocolate croissant 
morning bun

Next up, MJ, P, Gaffa and I took the three boys on a fun kiddy day, filled with mini golf, go-karting and racing car games. First we played mini golf. Well the boys version of mini golf was to hit it once, pick it up, move it closer and try to hit it in the hole. It was cute to watch, especially S3 (the youngest), S1 and S2 had been playing golf at summer school so they knew some techniques. After quickly completing the 9 holes, we headed inside to sign up for go-karting. Only S1 and S2 were tall enough to be passengers in go-karts with P and Gaffa driving. I was going to go in a single go-kart by myself, but my expired Australian driver's licence wouldn't allow me! Lame. But I watched and took photos and videos from the sideline. Afterwards the boys enjoyed some car racing games, where Gaffa was the pedal pusher for S3, since he was too small to reach the pedals. 

S3 playing mini golf
Gaffa taking S1 for a spin in the go-karts

After the gold coins ran out, we all headed to Toys R Us, so the boys could buy a toy each. S1 and S2 picked some Lego, while S3 was Spiderman obsessed. It was time to let MJ and P rest a bit, so we headed back to MJ's place, and Gaffa and I entertained the boys by playing Wii with them. Then dinner time came around. We hopped back into the people mover, and drove to a local Korean BBQ place. All you can eat! Need I say more, we were all stuffed and smelt like BBQ afterwards. Thanks MJ & P, for a fun kiddie day!

The best cousins. EVER. @ Morimoto's
Sunday was a day out with all the cousins, a day trip to Napa Valley, California's version of the Hunter Valley. It was to celebrate Gaffa's 32nd (yes he's that old) birthday. First we enjoyed lunch at a bakery, because *ahem* someone didn't check if the restaurant was open on Sundays - hilarious! Then we went wine tasting at one cellar that looked like it had a fancy French name, but really it was just the 'French' spelling, for 'A Pair of Ducks', pretty clever though. 

wine tasting :)

Then we were booked onto a champagne tasting at Chandon. In between we roamed around the Dean and Deluca shop. That night, we had degustation dinner at Iron Chef, Morimoto's signature restaurant. AMAZING! Gaffa is going to do a separate post about his special day, so stay tuned!

degustation menu, part 1
degustation menu, part 2
On the Monday, it was Gaffa's actual birthday. So for dinner we all went out for all you can eat buffet at Kome, since Gaffa could eat there for free! Haha. S3 and Little J couldn't stop playing with Gaffa's 'muscles', they are so cute! 

Little J, Little S3 and Gaffa
Dessert :)

After a fantastic weekend, we were ready for our next week of adventures. This time with Auntie J and Uncle P: a relaxing mini holiday after their daughter's wedding. Where did they decide to take us for a relaxing mini break? Yosemite, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon! Road trip! We'll blog about this separately also :) 
When we arrived back from our 4 day trip away, we spent the weekend with the cousins again. T & K took us out for lunch first at a Thai restaurant. I chose my favourite dish, duck curry. Gaffa tried the famous Thai noodles. Then we went for bubble tea, but with a difference. At this place you could put in your own topppings, anything you wanted! 

toppings galore!

Afterwards we went to the California Academy of Science. Which is just one of the best science museums I've ever been to, IMO. I could spend hours there and still not see everything. There was a earthquake exhibition there, so we got to experience what a real earthquake feels like - which Bay Arean's feel all the time since SF sits on two plates. The massive indoor rainforest is always a treat, with beautiful butterflies flying around. The aquarium is always one of Gaffa's and my favourite sections, and we were amazed at the sea horses and weedy sea dragons moving gracefully through the water.

For dinner we went to a local place, for a quick bite to eat since we were not very hungry. Well this photo explains it all... for people that weren't very hungry, we sure did eat a lot! LOL. 


That night, we were going out for drinks with MJ, P, and T & K came along too. We went to a local sports bar in downtown San Francisco. Bars are different in America, you sit at a table and a waiter comes to you. I guess that's because of the tipping system in the States. We had a great night, filled with shots and cocktails. It was the first time that Gaffa and I had drank in ages. Gaffa being the 'guest', had the pleasure of drinking the shot they call, 'liquid cocaine', while the rest of us enjoyed nice sweet shots. At the end of the night we headed back to MJ's place for some more drinks and card games. Thanks for a really fun night guys! 

On Sunday we were having a final goodbye bbq at my cousin J's place. More family and more food consumption! =D Love it! Before we went to the bbq, Uncle P took us to Target so Gaffa and I could buy the little kiddies some presents. We spent a while picking toys for Little B1, her best friend and cousin, Little B2 (that was staying with her for a whole year), S1, S2, S3 and Little J. It was like being a little kid again, picking toys for everyone. 

We finally made it to the bbq! Food was out and cooking on the bbq outside - thanks to J's hubby, A. We also met J's sister M, that was over from HK with Little B2 for the year. It was great, just hanging out with all the cousins , uncles and aunties, and eating all the delicious foods they prepared. Thanks J and A for hosting the BBQ. We miss you all so much and can't thank you all enough for your hospitality and kindness while we were in SF. I can't believe what an amazing family I have! :)

@ Jelly Belly Factory
jelly bean shaped burger

Only a couple of more days in SF, and we were finally heading home. Time really does go by fast when you're having fun! The last two days were filled with factory tours to the Jelly Belly factory and the Budweiser factory. It was Gaffa's first time at the Jelly Belly factory, and we went a bit crazy and bought tonnes of Bellyflops (the retarded Jelly Bellies that didn't make the final cut, but still taste the same). We also had lunch there, with Jelly Belly shaped burgers. At the Budweiser factory tour, we were treated to free beer tasting. Gaffa got to try a new beer that was not out to the public yet but they were getting people's opinion on the taste of the beer. 

Gaffa: proud Bidweiser beer taster

For dinner that night we were treated to Japanese with a few of my Aunties, Uncles and cousins, and the three little boys. Gaffa and I had put a big packet of Jellyflops into a few small cute jars for all the kids as a small treat.  We had our own private room in the restaurant, complete with cushioned benches around a low table and we even had to take our shoes off. Dinner was delicious, I can't fault Japanese food as it's one of my favourite cusines. We even had massive bottle of sake to top off a great dinner. Thanks for a delicious dinner!

Sake, anyone??!

The day before we left, we paid a final visit to my Auntie A in Salinas. We took her to the Gilroy Factory Outlets for some shopping and lunch at In and Out Burgers. The Lululemon factory store there was quite disappointing though :( It was nice to spend some time with my Auntie before we left. 

In a suburb close to where my Auntie J and Uncle P live, there is a street called Anita Drive and another street that intersects it, called Henry Place. This is pretty cool because my parents are Henry and Anita. My Uncle P randomly passed it while visiting his friends in the neighbourhood. He took us there to show us the streets. The house on the corner is pretty nice too...

Now it was time for the final packing and saying goodbye. We spent the evening and the morning packing, rearranging, and weighing our luggage to make sure we could fit everything in. We managed to squeeze in 2 bottles of wine, a bottle of champagne and Gaffa's bottle of tequila he bought back from Mexico, plus all the small gifts we'd bought and received along the way! We are very grateful for Auntie J and Uncle P for letting us stay at their house for the whole time we were in SF, for taking care of us, and for organising everything for us. We had the best time in SF and wouldn't have changed a thing! Can't wait till the next time we get to see everyone again! :) xxx

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