A few weeks ago, I was planning a business trip to San Francisco, and I did not want to hassle with driving back to Sacramento after dark. The event I was planning and would be working in the city was a catered food and wine event at a major car dealership, and I knew I would be exhausted by the end of the evening. That’s when I decided to stay overnight in San Francisco, preferably close to the dealership.
Lucky for me, I have been and stayed in San Francisco several times and have a bit of a history and relationship with the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. I have been invited to past events, such as the opening of their 46th floor lounge, Cityscape. Cityscape is located inside tower one of the Hilton (which also happens to be the largest hotel on the West Coast).
The Cityscape has a 360-degree view of San Francisco and beyond. Through it’s 14ft floor-to-ceiling windows, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, the Transamerica Pyramid, Chinatown, AT&T Park, the Marin Headlands, Nob Hill, Oakland, and giant barges on the Bay. Now that Cityscape Lounge is open to the public, it’s at the top of my list for must-see sites in the City. Below is the video I took inside the Cityscape last year. I am using it because the Cityscape was closed (for a private event) the evening I stayed at the Hilton, and I was not able to obtain any new footage. Enjoy!
I connected with the marketing team at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, and they were able to place me in a beautiful tower room with a patio overlooking Union Square. I was happy to be back and able to check in and relax in my room before I headed to the event at the dealership that evening.
Of course the rooms inside the Hilton SF Union Square are spacious, modern, and the beds are beyond comfortable, but it was the new amenities since my last stay that were really impressive. First, there is a touch pad tablet in the rooms that is personalized to each guest. You can basically explore the entire city and find things to do during your time in San Francisco. There are recommended activities and restaurants, and you can see several menus to check out exactly what a certain restaurant offers before you make a reservation.
Not only can you become a San Francisco travel expert from your room, you can also workout at any time of day or night (with just a swipe of your hotel key) in the newly-renovated fitness center on the bottom floor of tower one. It’s a 2,800 square feet Precor®-equipped fitness area with a Cardio Theatre personal viewing system, ellipticals, treadmills, and free weights. There is also a towel and water station so you can stay fully hydrated during your workout. I really enjoyed being able to tune into Food Network and watch live time as I put in seven miles on the treadmill, and I can proudly say I didn’t miss my gym in Sacramento the slightest! Can I move in with you, Hilton San Francisco Union Square? 😉
There are refrigerators in the rooms, and you can purchase wine and snacks (like the ones below) at the lobby café/store (Herb N’ Kitchen, click for menu). I also tried the Turkey Cobb Salad for dinner that evening, and it was very satisfying.
If you are looking for more of a full service experience, you can head over to Urban Tavern which features a full menu of locally-inspired cuisine (click here for menu), and highlights 50 wines within 50 miles, Bay Area beers and indigenous spirits. I dined there during my last stay, and here are some photos of the delightful dishes Andy and I sampled!
Here’s the part where I post a bunch of pictures I took from my 44th floor room 🙂
After my workout, I enjoyed the breakfast buffet at Poached, (click here for PDF menu), located on the lobby level of the Hilton. Below is a You Tube video of items available (everything!) on the buffet. I was really impressed by the Congee bar with several toppings, as well as the availability of healthy items. (There’s also lots of pastry, cereal, bread, bagels, too, if that’s your thing.)
Things to do this season!
There are lots of activities for the whole family during the holiday season, and the Hilton San Francisco Union Square welcomes you during this festive time of year. As you can see in the photo above, Union Square is fully decked out with lights and a Christmas tree, and they have their Holiday Ice Rink open for business! There’s even a package rate that includes accommodations, 2 ice rink tickets, and a Bloomingdale’s 15% savings certificate! Follow this link for full details/to take advantage of this offer!
A Charlie Brown Christmas LIVE!
A Charlie Brown Christmas—LIVE! at Davies Symphony Hall is an experience you won’t want to miss. The performance begins with a reception in the lobby, so make sure to arrive early. The lobby will be filled with festive decorations and activities, including gigantic Christmas trees and special Peanuts décor. There will be several performances beginning this Thursday, Dec 21st and running until December 24th, 2017. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.
A Christmas Carol
Over at the American Conservatory Theatre, you can enjoy a performance of A Christmas Carol. Performances run Wednesday, Dec 21st-Sunday Dec. 24th at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, 415 Geary Street. For more information, click here.
A New Year’s Event with Seth McFarlane and the San Francisco Symphony
Sunday, December 31st, at 8:00pm, Davies Symphony Hall
Celebrate in timeless style with Academy and Grammy Award-nominated singer, songwriter, actor, producer, and director Seth MacFarlane, who brings a winning combination of rich crooning and cool pizazz that would do Frank and Dino proud. Watch him light up the stage with the San Francisco Symphony in a dazzling concert of finger-snapping jazz standards and holiday favorites conducted by Edwin Outwater. For tickets click here.
Another amenity I found impressive is the valet parking service. As you are checking out, you can text the code (ten minutes before you are ready to leave) on your valet ticket to the valet number (see above) and they will fetch your vehicle for you so you don’t have to wait for it.
Cityscape Lounge is open seven days a week from 5pm-Midnight. You can find the Hilton San Francisco Union Square on Facebook here, and follow them on Twitter here. Tag them on social media with #hiltonfunionsq. Much thanks to the marketing team at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square for your hospitality. I’ll be back soon!
*I was given a one night stay, breakfast, and parking in exchange for this informative blog post.
I feel slightly guilty about not writing anything for this website since November. To be honest, there wasn’t much to write about over the holidays, and pitches in my inbox have not been very interesting or have not been a good fit. So I decided to come back with something very personal which I would enjoy writing about and definitely love reading many times over the years. Please indulge me as I recall the most perfect weekend of my life (so far), March 17-20th, 2017, our trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, where Andy and I got married.
We flew out on St. Patrick’s Day (Friday) on Southwest Airlines directly to Las Vegas from Sacramento, which is probably one of the easiest and shortest flights in existence. I ran 10 miles that morning (it was weigh-in day) and I was doing everything I could do look good for the ceremony (planned for Sunday), so I didn’t have the free cocktail offered to us on the plane (it was only about 3:30 when we took off, and a little early for me anyway).
Thanks to a late(r) check-in, we didn’t get to sit together––Andy was sitting directly in front of me––and I was sandwiched in between two guys in their twenties, passing the time by doing a crossword puzzle (which is one of my go-to things to do to occupy myself on an airplane). People are so weird with their window/aisle seat obsessions. I was admittedly overly annoyed with having to sit between two “bros” and not be able to sit beside Andy. It’s just that I love our time together and know that it’s finite. I already don’t spend enough time with him because we both work so much. I love the person he is while we are on vacation. Andy really likes to have fun when it’s time to have fun. I love that about him. I love sitting beside him and looking over at his profile and his face and I love holding his hand. I love it that he kind of ribs me about stuff. But, I love that he makes me laugh sometimes when I least expect it.
Anyway, I just sat there in my seat and prayed that the flight would be done soon and that my wedding dress (which I had checked in the larger of the two suitcases we checked) would arrive with me along with my designer dress I rented and all of my cosmetics and skincare products. See, it takes a lot to make me look like a girl…I mean, Industrial Light and Magic would shudder at the job. I was on the verge of hiring a team for hair and makeup for this trip, but ultimately I decided I had enough faith in my own skills.
We landed soon, and I was reunited with Andy. We were able to find our luggage right away and get the rental car fairly quickly. Our trip to Las Vegas was a package deal with flight, hotel and rental car all rolled into one cost. I think it was around $1500. I tell you that only because I want to look back ten years from now and laugh/cry about how affordable this trip was.
Our hotel reservation was for the SLS Hotel and Casino, mainly because we wanted to see a show at the same hotel on the next evening. And not just any show, but Saturday Night Live alumni Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz. We figured it would be so great to have dinner at our hotel, then walk across the casino into the nightclub to see two of our favorite comedians, and then be able to walk back to the elevator to head up to our room. We stayed on the 19th floor, room #311933.
We checked in around 5:30 or 6:00, and huddled on where we might go to dinner. The only criteria I had was that I wanted to eat at a celebrity chef-owned restaurant (that night). We had already made plans for Saturday and Sunday night dinner destinations, so this was the only night we weren’t sure where we would end up. We decided to try Guy Fieri’s Las Vegas Kitchen and Bar at the LINQ. Aaaand cue the food and beverage pics!! 🙂
We arrived at the restaurant around 7:30-7:45, and there was probably a 30 minute wait. We really didn’t give a damn. We were both so happy to be in Las Vegas and all checked into our hotel, and to be at Guy Fieri’s restaurant.
To all the Guy Fieri haters, I don’t know what you’re mad about. Maybe you’re just extremely jealous. For me, I find Guy Fieri’s story extremely fascinating. Andy and his mother actually met him during the Tex Wasabi days in Sacramento. I saw him live at a food and wine festival and thought he was very entertaining. I am not sure what all the negativity is about. At the bar, we were actually excited to wait for a table amidst all the St. Patrick’s Day partying and shenanigans of others (which were actually entertaining to watch, as we could see a lot of people were having bachelor/bachelorette parties). While we waited for a table, I had a vodka and diet coke (came with one of those giant ice cubes I like), and Andy had a white wine blend.
We were seated fairly quickly and again, I just remember being so excited about the weekend to come (and all the food and beverages, OK, that, too)! We decided that we would order the Triple T Fries (because I am obsessed with Truffle flavored anything). The description on the menu is as follows: Julienned-cut fries tossed with black truffle & truffle infused gouda, served with a creamy white truffle dip.
For my entrée, I ordered the Italian Deli Salad (crown of prosciutto-wrapped smoked provolone, imported Italian meats and cheeses, romaine lettuce, olives and pickled Italian veggies with chicken breast added). The prosciutto was the largest piece I have ever seen and very thick. I thought I was taking the light way out by getting a salad, but I can imagine Guy himself laughing in my face at my attempt.
Andy ordered the Flat Iron Steak and Smashed Potatoes (8 oz. prime flat iron steak, seared and sliced with garlic smashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, onion straws and chimichurri sauce).
And to pair with our meal, we ordered a Red Wine Blend by Hunt and Ryde Winery, produced by Guy Fieri and named after his sons, Hunter and Ryder.
We had to call it a night fairly early because we had business to take care of the next day (workout, wedding license, tuxedo rental) before dinner and the show we had come to Las Vegas to see: Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz: Reunited, so we headed back to the SLS Hotel immediately after dinner.
The next day, we were off to the Clark County Courthouse to get our marriage license. And that’s where I will pick up with Part Two of We’re Married!
The Applewood Inn is a lavishly restored the historic Mission-Revival home built in 1922 by Ralph “Rooster” Belden for his wife Gretchen “Pet” and their son John “Bunny” Belden. It was purchased in 1985 by Jim Caron and Darryl Notter and converted into an Inn. The Applewood began its first for guests only, dinner on Thanksgiving Day 1985. Christmas and New Year’s Day dinners followed in quick succession and the inn’s reputation as a place to dine as well as stay rapidly began to take form.
This Boutique Wine Country Inn, with its now 19 rooms and suites, a fine food restaurant, and spa, is located one hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge in the heart of the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir growing region. We stayed in room sixteen: Siena and Il Terrazzo di Amore. It’s located atop the Piccola Casa, and was designed with honeymoons and lovers in mind. 🙂 It features a king size bed with a Tempur-Pedic mattress, lofted ceilings, a dual head shower for two, a gas fireplace, and a private terrace.
The terrace showcases a couple’s “love triangle” hot tub, a fire pit table, and a fountain. This suite and terrace is the perfect hideaway for a romantic wine country interlude.
Breakfast is included with every stay and is served exclusively inn guests. It is served from 7:30-10:00 am at the restaurant.
The Applewood has chosen the finest organic coffees and teas from local artisans, and upon entry for breakfast guests are welcome to serve themselves at the bar and then take a seat at any of the tables that have been set. A two course breakfast is then served your table by the breakfast team.
As an alternative to the main course you may order eggs (any style) with toast and bacon. Included in your breakfast at no additional charge you may order: apple, cranberry or orange juice, espresso, cappuccino or latte, hot chocolate or mocha, or sparkling wine (Mimosas!!)
The second night of our stay (Sunday evening), we ate in the hotel’s restaurant, which has been awarded One Star by the Michelin Guide for 2011 and 2012. Sunday is local’s night and there is free corkage on All Russian River AVA Wines, as well as a $35.00 Per Person three course dinner available.
We had been wine tasting and shopping earlier in the day, and chose a bottle of Iron Horse Estate Pinot Noir (2012) to bring with us to enjoy the free corkage promotion with our dinner.
For our appetizers, we chose the Dungeness Crab: fresh crab, tomatoes, fennel, mushroom dashi stock.
And a beet salad with radish and chorizo:
For our entrées, Andy selected the Grimauld Farms Duck Breast with celeriac and chestnut puree, swiss chard cipollini onions, and a pinot-cherry jus:
And I ordered the Coffee Crusted Creekstone Ranch Ribeye: baby rocket, pommes anna, point reyes blue cheese marchand de vin:
I mentioned earlier that we had been wine tasting on Sunday, and I would like to mention some of the stops we made. Mainly because I truly enjoy the wines of the area and hope you’ll take my recommendations on where you should visit if you go!
Stop #1: Iron Horse Vineyards: Not only do they make some of the best sparkling wines I have ever tasted, they also make still wines from their all estate grown grapes: chardonnay and pinot noir. (You can find them on Facebook here and on Twitter here.)
Stop #3: Moshin Vineyards: I discovered Moshin wines at Sacramento restaurant (and my loyal advertiser) Piatti. So, when I found out Moshin had a tasting room nearby, they became the last stop in our afternoon of tasting. My favorite in their current release of red wines is the 2010 Lost Ranch Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast. (You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.)
On Monday morning before heading home, Andy and I ran the trails at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, just a quick drive (about 3 miles) from the Applewood Inn. It was so scenic. The trees were unbelievable! 🙂
Thank you to the management at Applewood Inn. We had a wonderful time and I am blessed to let my readers in on a new place to visit in wine country! You can find the Applewood Inn on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.
Dining out can be a little tricky on the Paleo diet. Standard restaurant menus are a gauntlet of gluten, sugar, and dairy laden dishes, not to mention the cheap seed oils that are used to prepare them.
The above slide show is from a restaurant at which my Paleo partner and I dined called Coyote Bar & Grill.
In the title I say, “Speak up!” because in order to stick to the principles of a gluten-free, sugar-free diet, you are often times going to find yourself in need of certain menu substitutions to make restaurant meals work best for you. And THAT IS OK! You are the customer, and you are paying for your meal. You should enjoy it and not fret about what the server or the chef will think of you if you ask for something special.
Of course, substitutions and modifications might not work so much in a chain restaurant (especially fast food) because food is not made to order), but typically most restaurants are glad to accommodate a customer with special dietary needs. Especially if they ever want to see that customer ever again.
When we dined at Coyote, we were very hungry from running in the Carlsbad 5000 5K race. Directly after the race, my boyfriend had conquered a half chicken at Pollos Maria, but it was 4 hours later, and his appetite had come back with a vengeance. And I was ready to eat, too, after running harder than I ever have in my entire life.
For our appetizer, we ordered the “Guacamole Especial”, which on the menu is listed as “homemade guac, cheese, salsa fresca, tortilla chips”. All I had to do was ask if they could substitute some sort of raw vegetable for the tortilla chips, and please leave off the cheese. They were very agreeable and the BF and I were able to enjoy a perfectly Paleo prelude to our entrees. 🙂
For my main course, I ordered the Grilled Seafood Salad: Grilled scallops, prawns, fresh fish, mixed greens, Feta cheese, tomato, baby corn & Lemon-Cilantro Vinaigrette. To make it Paleo, all I had to do was ask the server to leave off the dressing, and I picked around the cheese and the baby corn. Everything else was perfect!
BF ordered the Grilled Salmon and asked for double grilled vegetables instead of the wild rice. The dinner also came with a mixed greens salad. We also ordered 4 shrimp skewers ala carte. After my salad, I could only eat one of them. I also wanted to note that instead of dressing, I often mix in guacamole into my greens. That way I avoid sugars and soy oil blends (often GMOs) that are notorious ingredients in salad dressings (even house made ones).
So, remember when you go out to eat, you’re in the driver’s seat. You can choose where to go and several details about your meal (in many cases down to how it is prepared). Don’t worry about being a pain if you ask for something that’s not exactly spelled out on the menu. Ask how things are prepared and stay away from adjectives like “breaded, fried”. Words such as “grilled, raw, steamed” are your new best friends!
Happy dining to all my Paleo friends out there!
PS: If you have any Paleo/Primal dining tips/tricks please feel free to share them below! 🙂
March 3-4, 2012: Mendocino Village Whale Festival
The 30th Annual Mendocino Whale Festival will see the area’s top chefs serve up their takes on New England clam chowder, as well as Mendocino County wineries pouring their unique vintages for tasting at historic Mendocino Village shops, galleries and inns.
March 10-11, 2012: Little River Whale Festival
During the 3rd Annual Little River Whale Festival, visitors will savor bites from the kitchens of the town’s noted chefs, sip wines from Mendocino County vintners, get their art and adventure passport stamped for the chance to win a fabulous prize, take a history or a whale watching walk, go on an artist studio tour, sit down to a fireside talk with local historians, or take advantage of a “Whale of a Sale” at various Little River inns (stay two nights, get the third free).The Festival benefits the Mendocino Area Parks Association (MAPA) and the jewel of Little River, Van Damme State Park.
March 17-18, 2012: Fort Bragg Whale Festival
The festivities are endless at the 30th Annual Fort Bragg Whale Festival, which features flavorful microbrew beer, chowder and wine tastings for adults and arts and crafts fair and “sea-life” kiddie parade for children. The Whale Run and Walk, Whale Cruises out of Noyo Harbor, Whale-Watching Excursions on Horseback and more round out the weekend of whale-tastic fun for all.
Mendocino Whale Festival Concert: An Evening of Wood and Steel – 8:00 pm, $20 in advance & $25 at the door, Crown Hall in Mendocino, 800.585.0095
Pt. Arena Crafts Show and Bazaar – 9:00 am, free, Point Arena City Hall in Point Arena. For more information call 707.785.3538
Farmers Markets – Free to the public. Visit www.mcfarm.org for city locations, dates and times.
So, if you haven’t been to the Hyatt Regency Sacramento recently, you must swing by and take a peek!
A little party was held there last night to celebrate the newly renovated lobby, lounge, Vines Restaurant, second floor meeting space, 12th floor suite and the amazing 360 degree view of the 15th floor Capitol View Room. I felt like one of the luckiest girls in the world–sipping wine at the top of the Hyatt with my sweetie, and taking in the absolute best view in town of Sacramento and the State Capitol.
The Hyatt Sacramento applied for and received a Hyatt Community Grant
which nominates and honors local non-profit organizations for funding
built around the Hyatt’s philanthropic pillars–Environmental
sustainability, education and personal advancement, economic development
and investment or health and wellness. Hyatt Sacramento is one of only
27 Hyatt properties worldwide to be recognized to receive a grant. Their
nominated non-profit organization, the Stanford Settlement Neighborhood
Center received this honor and a $15,000 check at the event. KCRA’s footage of the new space is here.
Another reason to check out the Hyatt? It’s Dine Downtown week through January 18th, and Dawson’s Restaurant is one of the participating restaurants. You can check out their menu here, and make a reservation on Open Table here.
Built in 1988, the Hyatt Regency Sacramento was considered a key pillar in the redevelopment of the central downtown business community and a vital part of the future of Sacramento’s tourism industry.