Fog Harbor, San Francisco, the Prius & Four Seasons

Nancy-Jenna-Baker-BeachTo start off our girls week long trip with my friend visiting from Canada a few weeks ago, I took her out to San Francisco on one of her first days in California. Our first stop was to Baker Beach, making sure we went earlier in the morning. Tidbit for newcomers to this beach.

Baker-Beach-and-PriusArrive early in the morning or when it’s cold out. Baker Beach is a nude beach is primarily full of older grey-haired men who love to photo-bomb pictures, but lucky for us it was both early enough in the morning and a windy chilly day — therefore no sign of nudity. Ha!


Jenna-on-Baker-BeachJenna is more civilized than I am ;)

Nancy-in-PriusMy car is currently on the fritz lately so I received a 2015 Prius Five to test out and review for a whole week and I made sure it lined up with my friends visit. Isn’t that insane? To be given a car to review. Now that’s what I’m talking about. So glad we had the Prius, not only did it save us tons in gas, it had built in navigation and was a breeze to drive. Once we had a glance at the Golden Gate bridge from the beach, we took our photos and scurried off back into the car. I’m tellin’ ya, being on that beach in California, was like being on a Newfoundland beach during a chilly autumn day. We were froze!

Pier-39-SFAt this point it was creeping up on lunch time and we decided to venture off into the right direction and grab some lunch at the Fog Harbor Fish House on Pier 39 with views of the San Francisco Bay.

Fog-Harbor-Fish-House-Pier3Although I’m from Newfoundland – I’ve never been to a seafood restaurant before.

Fog-Harbor-Fish-HouseSo taking that into consideration I had a glance at the lunch menu and made sure to order things that weren’t chicken. Tough for an ol’ routine gal like myself, but I did it.

Fog-Harbor-entranceFog Harbor Fish House pride themselves in offering the freshest sustainable seafood in San Francisco.

Fog-Harbor-menuThey have a few menu specialities:

• 100% Sustainable Seafood
• Live Lobster
• Cioppino
• Crab
• Steaks
• Daily Fresh Fish Specials
• In-House Baked Bread Made Fresh Daily


Sitting-at-Fog-HarborIt’s located on the second level of PIER 39, and every table offers spectacular San Francisco Bay views looking out over Alcatraz, the PIER 39 Sea Lions and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Fog-Harbor-startersWe were pretty hungry by the time we got there considering we skipped breakfast. So we ordered some app’s to start. Crispy lemon calamari for Jenna, crispy bay scallops for me. IJenna really enjoyed her calamari and I tried a bit of it too. But I’m not the hugest fan even though Jenna mentioned it was done perfectly (ie: not rubbery) but I still couldn’t get past the texture, and seeing the dangly legs. Guess I’m not cut out for that kinda stuff. Visuals like that kinda give me the creeps.

Fog-Harbor-lunchLunch was absolutely delicious. I hadn’t tried swordfish before, and I was questioning my friend who seems to be the connoisseur of many foods — she mentioned the fish tastes like a moist pork chop. That’s all I needed to hear. The swordfish had a mild flavour to it, so I’m pretty sure many people would enjoy eating it. We didn’t have room for dessert after the pile of food and virgin drinks I had — I was driving.

So our next destination was finding our hotel for the evening.Four-Seasons-Rooftop

Nancys-suitcaseFour Seasons San Francisco was a feat in itself to find. Although it’s in a great location, I had both the car GPS and my BlackBerry GPS going at the same time trying to find it. Considering San Francisco is known for its one-way streets and no left turns basically anywhere in the downtown vicinity, it was difficult to find the hotel. We drove past it twice not noticing it at all as it looked like an office building. Third time was a charm, and no 3 strikes you’re out over here, we found it, and parked the vehicle for the night.

As we were checking into the elegant Four Seasons, a couple of gift bags were waiting for us at the front desk, with a few San Francisco souvenirs and a gift card to the Westfield San Francisco Centre! Definitely hit up that massive mall and checked out the super-cool circular escalators while doing a bit of shopping. Nordstrom-SFI picked up a new concealer from Bloomingdales with my gift card :) I’m so thankful I googled the heck out of the area we were staying in and as luck would have it, the shopping centre was a simple 5 minute walk down the same street as our hotel was on. No one got lost! Whewf. Hey, it’s a huge feat when you’re in a new-to-you city, am I right?

Four-Seasons-trioOur room was really beautiful, and spacious. What caught me off guard in the best way possible, was the snacks, champagne bubbly champagne and this huge framed poster of “spiffykerms” hanging out at the Golden Gate. A wonderful personal touch that I wasn’t expecting — but it brought out the giggles in us!




Jenna-with-ChampagneWe popped the bubbly, ate our snacks and enjoyed cable TV for the night.



Four-Seasons-barA short while later, we heard a knock at the door. It was housekeeping checking in on me for turn-down service. Having had this never happen to me while staying at a hotel before, I assumed it wasn’t complimentary. I was wrong! The woman was so friendly and incredibly sweet to me being a bit naive, but we received some bottle water and extra shampoo — because hello they use L’Occitane products at Four Seasons Hotel, I definitely need extra.

Four-Seasons-twin-bedThe next morning we both had our showers for the day and oh my gosh you guys, the shower head in our hotel room was unreal. Perfect amount of water pressure, but the shower head was huge and felt like rain coming down, cleansing me. Now tell me that wasn’t relaxing! I was in heaven.

This was probably the funniest part of our stay at the Four Seasons. I brought down the framed photo of spiffykerms to the front desk, asking if I was supposed to keep it or hand it back. The man at the front desk greeted us professionally and quietly asked me “Was it on the wall?“.

Oh my gosh … no! It was waiting for me in the room on the desk. Thinking back to what he said, I laughed really hard and said I would never take art from the wall and ask if I could keep it. Which in turn loosened him up and we were all in tears laughing as we were checking out of the hotel for the day. He told me he’d be impressed if I took down the art from the wall behind him which was twice the height and width of me. Muscles. Thankfully, it wasn’t as awkward as I thought it was going to be, and I got to keep the personalized frame photo.

Jenna-and-I-Four-SeasonsOnce we checked out of the hotel, we headed down to one of my favourite places for lunch, and took the coastal highway down to Carmel. That will be another blog post, so stay tuned for that!

Fog Harbor Fish House
Pier 39, San Francisco
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Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco
757 Market Street, San Francisco
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Westfield San Francisco Centre
865 Market St, San Francisco
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Baker Beach
1504 Pershing Drive, San Francisco
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Disclaimer: A big thanks to Pier 39 for providing us lunch at Fog Harbor Fish House, Westfield San Francisco Centre for the goody bags and to Four Seasons for hosting our stay. 

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Minato Japanese Restaurant

Minato-Japanese-CuisineI’ve never been to a Japanese Restaurant, so I thought it was worth a try, given the fact San Jose’s Japantown is 1 of 3 remaining historical Japantown’s in the USA. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had a peek at the menu beforehand so I knew a little bit about what to order.

Minato-hoursAs someone who hasn’t tried sushi (I’m so not ready for it yet, even after trying Ahi Tuna Poke in December), of course I’d be the person to order the few chicken dishes on a Japanese menu. Aren’t Eastern Canadians supposed to love fish? Probably. But, I’m not an adventurous eater like some.

minato-miso-soupI ended up staying in my comfort zone and getting a tasting of chicken teriyaki and salad. First came out our miso soup, where I dug out the yummy tofu with chopsticks. Because, yolo. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to drink the miso soup, but I took it up with my hands and drank most of it before our lunch arrived.

Minato is on the smaller side of restaurants, and the menu is nice and short. I admire that, because whenever I go to larger chains I feel like I have to flick through so many pages to decide on what I want to eat.

Minato-lunchThe Guy and I ordered the same thing :) I wasn’t a huge fan of the salad, not much on it to be honest! The dressing was awesome, though I have no idea what they used.

Minato-mainThis is what you see when you walk in the first set of doors before you enter the restaurant. 

MinatoTowards the middle of the restaurant when you walk in, there is an area for kids prizes after they’ve finished their meal. I’m not too sure how the kids get tickets, perhaps after so many visits they can save up and pick out a prize for themselves. This sort of thing reminds me of my childhood, where we used to pick out prizes at a fair, or at a school event. Super fun, and I’m glad Minato is doing it too. After our bellies were filled with lunch, we ended up checking into our hotel at The Fairmont San Jose. Now that is one beautiful hotel, I’ll have a review of our ginantor suite we stayed in (bigger than our old apartment), later on!

If you’re craving a bit of Japanese food when you visit San Jose, come check out Minato, it’s only a 1.5 mile walk from the downtown core in San Jose. Plus, it has a ton of rave reviews on Yelp, so many people have been enjoying it!

Have you ever been to a Japanese Restaurant? What would you normally order?

Are you a fan of sushi?

Minato Japanese Restaurant
617 North 6th Street
San Jose, CA 95112
(408) 998-9711

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Roasted red pepper and grilled chicken panini

Panini-headerI don’t do too many cooking recipes on the blog, primarily because I am so fixed in my ways with the handful I have in rotation and we’re pretty happy with it. As much as I like to be adventurous in the kitchen, it’s not me. I’m still making that lemon pepper chicken stir fry often, along with the good ol’ staples.

Two chefs in the family and one of them isn’t me. I leave it up to my Mom and Brother, who can take out everything in your pantry and fridge, whip something up in no time and have it taste like something from a restaurant. My Dad and I like to cook some boiled eggs and call it a day. My trick is when I taste my family’s home-cooking, I adopt their recipes to bring back to my kitchen and call it a day. Then friends come over thinking I’m the awesome cook. I do let them in on who actually came up with it though.

When Lori was here visiting, she noticed the abundance of sandwiches I consumed. Each time we went to a restaurant, I picked out the sandwich on the menu. I never noticed that I did it, but it all makes sense now — because they are SO good. And I can be really picky about my them too, you know they’re not all made equally.

Paninis are particularly my favourite. So that’s what I’m showing you guys today on my new Cuisinart Griddler that I got off I mean, you technically don’t need me to tell you how to make a panini since it’s pretty straight forward. That’s the great thing about sandwiches, you can add whatever you want!

CuisinArt-GriddlerAfter heating up the grill side of the plate, I waited until the grill reached its temperature before putting the chicken on. Always want those grill marks on chicken, perfection. They ended up taking about 13 minutes to cook since they were pretty thick to start with.

roasted-tomatoesLet the chicken cool and turn our attention to the cherry tomatoes (with salt and pepper on top) which I baked at 350º for 15 minutes to really give them some more flavour.

Trader-Joes-ciabattaI picked up some freshly baked ciabatta buns from Trader Joes since I spotted them there earlier last week and had it in mind to make this meal for the weekend, because when I went there last time to do my regular grocery shop I noticed they were sold out. So yesterday morning I headed into the store around 9am and they were stocked with plenty. I picked up two not really knowing how big they’d be once I removed them from the bags. Nothing to complain about, I love a nice hearty piece of bread.

mayo-spreadSlicing the cibatta buns in half, and add on some chipotle mayo. Oh, and be generous. I can’t stand a dry sandwich. We could get fancy over here and add some pepper jack cheese to give it a nice punch, but I had some colby jack in the fridge. Now don’t skimp on the cheese either, we want it to ooze goodness. Unless of course you’re dairy free. Then I feel really bad for you. I’ll have an extra piece for you.

making-paninisGo to town with whatever toppings you like on your sandwich. Spose we have to add some greenery to it too, we had spinach. I picked up some dill pickles and roasted red peppers also from Trader Joe’s — I hadn’t tried them before, they sounded like they’d pair well with everything else to go on the panini.

Panini-in-cuisinartFold’er up and add a drizzle of olive oil on top and pop it into the medium heated grill. Our old faithful grill/panini press kicked the bucket a while ago, it was a high end brand and I was sad to see it go. But they all get old and need to be replaced eventually. It was my Moms and she handed it down to me, plus the plates weren’t removable and not super easy to clean. The Cuisinart Griddler is a little lower end and the top handle feels a bit flimsier than what I’m used to. However it has many more options since it’s so much newer. You can use it as a grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle or half grill/half griddler. And the best part about the whole thing is that the plates can be removed and put in the dish washer!

CuisinArt-PaniniMy panini skills may need a bit more work. I pressed on it a little too firmly and a bunch of my overstuffed ingredients tried sneaking out. It may not be pretty, but it sure tasted amazing.

holding-paniniI give myself a pat on the back for this creation. If you’re really hungry you can add a side but we thought this was enough for us. I’d either have a sliced up honey crisp apple, a side salad or maybe some sweet potato fries. All the carbs. Don’t judge me. That’s what exercise is for.

Angle-of-CuisinArtThe only thing that bothers me about the panini aspect of the cuisinart griddler, is that the top has a fixed angle as you can see from the side view. Where as my other grill/panini had allowed for a flexible top plate and squished it flat rather than angled, making a more even flat panini. I rotated the sandwiches half way through so they wouldn’t be flat on one side and puffy on the other.

behind-the-scenesOh and a little sneak of the mess behind the scenes of the blogging world. Keepin’ things real.

What are some of your favourite foods?
Mine are: asparagus, carrots, potatoes, chicken, popcorn, candy, sandwiches and pizza. Ha!!!!

What are some foods you hate?
My husband and I both cannot eat or touch anything with onions on/in it.

What do you like on sandwiches/paninis?

Disclaimer: O.Co aka Overstock kindly sent me the Cuisinart Griddler for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

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