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California | Personal Travels

April 11, 2014

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Ben and I recently traveled out to the West Coast for a long weekend of wine, food, beautiful outdoors, time spent with old friends and the making of many new memories. It was a really amazing trip – a sweet weekend together, to work & play, and a great time had in San Francisco and the Sonoma Region!

We started our trip driving up to wine country and spending our day in the highly recommended, Healdsburg, California, about 65 miles north of San Francisco. It was amazing. I would go back to this town tomorrow if my husband would let me. The sweetest, most charming, wonderful, low key town. Surrounded by beautiful, old and rich vineyards, and filled with sweet little boutiques and restaurants. Some of our highlights from the day were …

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The Shed :: an amazing place for lunch, with a full market selling everything from fresh flowers, to handmade ceramics, to unique cookbooks, to amazing coffee, to fresh olive oil. Not to mention food and wine. We picked up amazing sandwiches wrapped in butcher paper and twine for the drive to the vineyards. Absolutely do not miss this industrial spot for lunch or an afternoon coffee!
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Porter-Bass Winery :: the most stunning, organic winery that we were told to visit. We drove up an abandoned road to find a small plot of grapes growing up a hill. The owner of the house and the vineyard, Mrs. Porter-Bass herself, walked us around the property, showing us the vineyards and the olive trees, as well as the cellar (which has the most magically, intoxicating smell of wood, age and sweet wine), then finally brought us under an old tree to stand and enjoy her wines. It was just an incredible experience to look around and hear the birds, see the hills lined with vineyards and hear her story of the last 30 years on these hills, with this wine they produce. Truly a great experience and so off the beaten path of commercial vineyards, but a perfect way to start our day of wine tasting.CaliforniaTravel CLAIRE MCCORMACK PHOTOGRAPHY-8472

After winding our way back down the old river road into town, we went to the highly recommended Williamson Wines. From the moment we walked into their tasting room on the town square, I knew we’d love this place. This tasting and the experience that we were about to partake in had come so highly praised. This whole winery has been well loved for years. We sat for the next three hours with 3-4 incredibly fun, knowledgeable and wonderful guides as they taught us about their amazing wines from the Williamson family. Their story and their passion for pairing wine with food was incredible. There is too much to say about them, and I certainly will be back and we look forward to our wine arriving! If you’re in the area, the team at Williamson Wines is not to be missed. What an incredible afternoon spent with these guys!

When we finally pulled ourselves away from the team at Williamson Wines, we decided to enjoy a walk around Healdsburg before heading to dinner. A stop at the Flying Goat Coffee was wonderful. It was another highly recommended experience not to miss, this coffee shop has called Healdsburg home for over 20 years.

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We headed north about 10 minutes to the town of Geyersville and enjoyed a great dinner at Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria. What an amazing little gem of a place! Beautiful brick walls, simply decorations, charcuterie hanging from the butcher table, and wine bottles lining the restaurant and bar. Diavola practices the time honored tradition of “Cucina Povera” which consists of using the most basic locally available ingredients combined with recipes that have been proven through centuries. They take great pride in their house cured salumi and sausages as well as their authentic Italian Pizza’s, fresh from the wood burning pizza ovens. CaliforniaTravel CLAIRE MCCORMACK PHOTOGRAPHY-8427

Truly I loved my time in Healdsburg and the Sonoma region. I hated leaving the area- it would have been amazing to spend days strolling these town streets, enjoying every winery in that area. But with great memories, we headed to San Francisco!

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Our time in San Fran was spent enjoying truly great restaurants, amazing weather and good friends! We stayed in the Pac Heights neighborhood, in the middle of everything you could need! Thank you Jill & Brian for an incredible trip- every recommendation from you two, we loved! We kicked off our SF food adventure at Tartine Bakery. My dear friends at Village Baking Co. here in Dallas, rave about their food and coffee. It was certainly worth the run down there and the run back up the hill. Some of our other favorites were b.Patisserie for breakfast, Jane’s on Fillmore for coffee, The Grove for an incredible lunch- complete with an entire lodge feel to it’s decorations, and we walked down to the Marina neighborhood for dinner at this wonderful little Mediterranean spot called Terzo– with amazing tapa’s style food and great wine.

*** I should mention too that on this day, I had the great honor of photographing my dear friends- Jill and Brian- for their engagement. What a dreamy place to have an engagement photoshoot! You two- you know how dear you are to me! I cannot wait for your wedding this fall in Austin. Cheers to San Francisco and the beautiful weather we had- enjoy just one little sneak peek of their engagement photographs! Jill & Brian Engagements CLAIRE MCCORMACK PHOTOGRAPHY-8861

Back to food & travel … Saturday morning Ben and I decided to bike the city …  literally. Six hours and twenty seven miles later (don’t forget about the ridiculous San Francisco hills and the fact that we were on “city bike” in that 27 miles) we called it a day well spent. What a day it was- filled with sites, bites, scenes and memories we will cherish!CaliforniaTravel CLAIRE MCCORMACK PHOTOGRAPHY-8987

Some of my highlights :: Enjoying the Ferry Building Farmers Market (inside alone -the flowers, the ceramics, the coffee, the cheese- my mind was blown!) And then outside on the pier – the fresh vegetables, fish and food! Is there really anything better than a good farmer’s market?? And please, do yourself a huge favor and find Cap’n Mike’s Holy Smoked Salmon stand and order one of their open faced, smoked salmon toasts. Incredible. Really the whole day was incredible because we spent our day biking and eating. No apologies. From the Oakland bridge to the Golden Gate bridge, then from Sausalito to the top of the Presidio- we saw it all and ate nearly it all. In Sausalito, we stopped at the recommended Bar Bocce– a fabulous open aired bar and restaurant on the Sausalito bay overlooking the kayakers, boats and kids playing in the sand serving pizza, wine and great food- not to mention you can play bocce ball while sipping your champagne! We loved the day – the weather was 60 degrees and not a cloud in the sky! What a treat!

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And lastly, that evening, after biking and seeing the city (every bit of it) we walked down the street from our house and enjoyed a dinner at the beloved & highly praised State Bird Provisions. A dear, old friend was recently honored the position to move out to San Francisco and manage SBP, so it was a night to celebrate his work, the restaurant and the food! It was incredible- as expected and a great way to end our trip! If you’re traveling out to SF soon, do your best to book a reservation, and tell Ryan, I say hello 🙂

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Clearly, we had a wonderful time in California. It was a well loved trip, full of sweet memories and good food. If you’re going out that way anytime soon, you will not be disappointed with these selections. All came highly praised, and I’ll pass them all on as fabulous spots! Enjoy! Thanks for checking in!

xoxo. claire

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