We love San Francisco. There’s always something to do. In fact, there is often so much to do that you have to choose among a number of attractive options. The option: squeeze them all into a weekend. It’s a lot of work, but this weekend, we managed to do it:
We spend the morning at the Asian Art Museum for its special Xian Terracotta Warriors Exhibit. While we have been to Xian and saw another warrior exhibit in New York, we couldn’t pass up another chance to see these incredible creations and reacquaint ourselves with the history of China’s Qin Dynasty.
Then, after meeting friends for Dim Sum, we drove to the DeYoung Museum, for its annual Bouquet to the Arts exhibit, where local floral designers create their own interpretations of DeYoung masterworks. Then home to prepare a roasted Dungeness crab dinner for some east coast visitors who hadn’t experienced the taste of the West coast crustacean.
After a morning reprieve, we headed to Fort Mason for the annual Rhone Rangers tasting of California vintners’ expressions of Rhone varietals–always a fun way to explore Rousanne, Marsanne, Syrah, Grenache, Petite Syrah and other less common varietals. Although we enjoyed a number of the wines, two wineries stood out for offering three or more memorable expressions: Qupe (especially with its very reasonably priced Maxtap Red Blend and two different Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard Syrahs) and Tablas Creek (with three Rhone blends, Patelin de Tablas, Cotes de Tablas and Esprit de Beaucastel, and a Mouvedre).
Then into the car for a drive to Petaluma, arriving just in time for the California Artisan Cheese Festival‘s Grand Tasting, where more than 20 local chefs create tastes of innovative dishes that are designed around cheese. Among the most interesting were Cork’s Restaurant’s orecchiette and smoked salmon with Cypress Grove Psychedelic goat cheese and Olive &Vine’s mac and cheese with Martin French triple creme Brie. The two dishes that got our votes in the “Best in Cheese Competition, however, were from The Lodge at Sonoma, with their Cowgirl Wagon Wheel braised short rib, followed by desert, a Creme Fraiche mini ice cream cone with red wine reduction drizzle. The cheese dishes were accompanied by wines from about a dozen wineries.one particular discovery was the small, Black Kite winery’s Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot.
And we even finished the tasting in enough time to watch Syracuse beat Cal in the NCAA Tournament and advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
There isn’t such thing as too much of a good time, much less a good cheese. So we spent the night in Petaluma to ensure that we would be in time for Sunday’s Cheese Marketplace, where roughly 50 creameries tasted and sold (at discounts) hundreds of different cheeses. We certainly enjoyed the tasting, and bought a couple of our favorite cheeses (Redwood Hill Cameo and Willapa Hills Two-Faced Blue) and one of six amazingly delicious types of cheese strudel (The Strudel Guy’s vanilla bean strudel). In general, however, there were fewer purveyors than in previous years and, in our view, an over representation of mediocre goat cheeses. Although it was still worthwhile, we’re not sure we will go to the Marketplace next year. The Grand Tasting, however, is. Different story. We do plan to return to that.