Paleo & Primal Food, Wine, Travel & Living

Posts tagged “San Francisco

Alcatraz-Themed Parc 55 Provides an Elegant Escape to San Francisco

My current (and much more glamorous than my previous) job has me working events in San Francisco every couple of months, and I have had the privilege to stay overnight on those evenings (as opposed to driving almost 90 miles home to Sacramento post-party). During the first two events, I stayed at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, and for the last two events (and the subject of this blog post) I stayed at Parc 55, which is right down the street from the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, and also a Hilton property.

I refer to Parc 55 as an Alcatraz-themed hotel, because the entire lobby is decked in memorabilia from “The Rock” such as movie posters, and items collected from the famous prison. However, this hotel is nothing like Alcatraz, and it boasts 1,024 luxurious rooms and countless amenities for all guests. There are also nods to Alcatraz on the menu of the hotel’s main restaurant, dishes such as the “Jailbird Chicken Sandwich” and the “Impossible Escape Burger.”

Location is key and serves as quite an amenity at Parc 55, because you can literally see all of San Francisco from some of its 32 floors that offer breathtaking views of the City and the Bay. The hotel is walking distance to Cable Cars, Union Square, and the Moscone Convention Center. There are many restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, or if you prefer to stay at the hotel, there are three onsite dining venues: Cable 55 Restaurant and Lounge, Kin Khao, and Barbary Coast.

Here is a photo of my room (which was located on the 32 floor). Just out that window were gorgeous views of iconic buildings and landmarks for which San Francisco is so well known.



I could have spent all day staring outside. I don’t know what it is about San Francisco and its tall buildings, but I love looking at them. Here are a few photos I took from two different rooms during my visits.

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After my work gig, I came back to my room and this lovely bottle of Chardonnay was waiting for me.  The hotel also left some chocolate covered strawberries in my room refrigerator, too. Thanks to the Parc 55 marketing team for making my stays so very pleasant.

Welcome WineStrawberries

There is no room service at Parc 55, however, it you can satisfy your hunger at one of its aforementioned restaurants. On both evenings, I visited Cable 55 on the lobby/reception level of the hotel. Below is a peek of their menu. Giant thumbs up for offering several gluten-free options! It’s always a good thing when I can’t decide what to order because everything looks so incredible!

Cable 55 Menu

The evening of my first stay, I decided on Vincent’s Burger (angus beef, thick-cut pepper bacon caramelized beer onions, Fiscalini cheddar) on a gluten-free bun with a green salad* on the side.

*I am still on my French Fry moratorium (put into place post-Las Vegas trip because I had so many French Fries there I will never need to eat them again)!

Burger Gluten Free Bun

I also enjoyed a glass (and a half) of Martin Ray Rosé of Pinot Noir with my burger. The restaurant offers a glass and a half option (this one was $17) for those who want a little more than a glass, but do not wish to buy an entire bottle. I was really tired and hungry from the work event, so this meal was really comforting and one of the better burgers I have had in a restaurant. Vegetarians, fear not, as Cable 55 now offers the Impossible Burger on their menu!

Martin Ray Rose

On the evening of my second visit to the restaurant, I chose the Cobb Salad (with romaine lettuce, chicken, bacon, hard-boiled egg, heirloom cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, avocado, and Point Reyes blue cheese) and paired it with a glass of Mionetto Avangarde Brut.

Cobb Salad

Because I had to get up early the next day and return to the office in Sacramento, I returned to my room for the night. Below is me in the lobby of Parc 55 in one of my favorite dresses! I love dressing up for work events!

Selfie

The next day, I hit gym at Parc 55, 55 Fitness, to workout before returning to Sacramento. 55 Fitness is a nice gym, and bigger than most hotels with several treadmills, bikes, elliptical machines, and also equipped with free weights and a few weight machines.

Fitness Center

Check out was a breeze at Parc 55. I checked out a few minutes before 11am, and texted a code on my valet card to signal I was ready to leave. My car was ready for me when I arrived outside. This is just another amenity of extreme convenience available to hotel guests.

Though my stays were short, it’s always a treat to visit San Francisco and take in the views. I still can’t believe I live so close to such a world-reknowned place.

I am looking forward to staying at either Parc 55 or the Hilton San Francisco Union Square on my next visit to San Francisco!

Disclosure: I was given a media rate on May 10th and May 15th at Parc 55, my review and my opinions are my own.

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It’s Time to Eat Drink SF!

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Here’s a press release from my friends at Eat Drink SF, a series of food, wine, and spirits events taking place at the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason, August 26 – 28!! 🙂

(SAN FRANCISCO) – Eat Drink SF, the premier food, wine, and spirits festival that celebrates the Bay Area’s world-class chefs and restaurants, announces full main stage programming and festival activations for both the Taco Knockdown presented by Milagro Tequila on August 25, and the four signature Grand Tasting sessions at the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason, August 26 – 28.

Presented by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, Eat Drink SF invites food and drink enthusiasts to connect directly with top local chefs and bartenders and get a taste of what makes San Francisco a top-rated food city. From Thursday to Sunday, more than 160 restaurants participate and guests will enjoy bites as well as unlimited pours of beverages from more than 70 bars, distilleries, breweries, and wineries.

In addition the comprehensive line-up of local culinary talent, Eat Drink SF is thrilled to announce new activations in the festival line-up:

All four Grand Tastings will feature San Francisco’s Buena Vista Café who will be serving their famous Irish Coffees featuring Tullamore D.E.W. to bring guests a quintessential flavor of San Francisco.

This year, Eat Drink SF has added a special Grand Tasting on Sunday, August 28, to celebrate the Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s 80th anniversary and honor the legacy restaurants in the Bay Area. The Sunday Afternoon Grand Tasting will feature Bay Area bars and restaurants that have been open for at least 20 years and that have helped shape the distinct flavor of the local culinary experience including Scoma’s, Sutro’s at the Cliff House, Tosca and Goat Hill Pizza.

Eat Drink SF has added the “Bay Bar” to all Grand Tastings, which will feature a rotating lineup of San Francisco’s beloved cocktail bars, such as Hard Water, Prizefighter, The Treasury, Whitechapel, and more. Additionally, The San Francisco Brewers Guild will be pouring local craft beers at all Grand Tastings in the “Backyard Bites” section.

In addition to the participating restaurants at the Grand Tastings, Eat Drink SF presents 23 culinary, wine, and cocktail demonstrations and panels. A sampling of Main Stage programming and talent includes:

Friday Evening Grand Tasting, August 26:
Emcee: Joel Riddell of iHeartMedia
Cocktail Demo with Selena Donovan of Maven & California Gold of Beretta Presented by Sipsmith Gin
Beer Pairing Demo by Chef Anthony Strong of Locanda Presented by Stella Artois

Saturday Afternoon Grand Tasting, August 27:
Emcee: Margo True of Sunset Magazine
Culinary Demo with Elaine Johnson of Sunset Magazine
Cocktail Demo with Alex Smith of Whitechapel Presented by Imbibe Magazine
Culinary Demo with Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s Presented by All Clad and Fine Cooking

Saturday Evening Grand Tasting, August 27:
Culinary Demo with Andrew Le of The Pig & the Lady Presented by Hawaiian Airlines
Cocktail Demo with Erik Adkins of The Slanted Door Group

Sunday Afternoon Grand Tasting, August 28:
Emcee: Liam Mayclem of KCBS Foodie Chap
History of the Tiki Drink by Martin Cate of Smuggler’s Cove
Culinary Demo with Thomas McNaughton of flour + water and Ryan Pollnow of Aaxte Presented by All-Clad

Inside the Grand Tasting, San Francisco Wine School Beverage Classroom announces the following classes:
Friday, August 26: “Wine 101: Speak Like a Geek”, “50 Shades of Gris”, and “Cabernet is King?”

Saturday, August 27 (Afternoon): “Discover Beaujolais”, “Bubbles, Bubbles, & More Bubbles”, “Chardonnay: Burgundy, Butter & Beyond”

Saturday, August 27 (Evening): “Do Points Matter?”, “Savvy Blanc: Too Cool for the Pool”, “The Dark Side of Pinot Noir”

Sunday, August 28: “ViniPortugal Class”, “Summer Through Rosé Colored Glasses”, “Que Syrah Syrah”

Guests can kick-off festival weekend with Taco Knockdown presented by Milagro Tequila at Folsom St. Foundry on Thursday, August 25. Returning after a sold-out debut in 2015, this year’s taco competition has added a “Milagro Margarita Mix Off” with local bar stars: Brandon Bigalke (Wingtip), Brian Nelson (Whitechapel), Ted Ronnie (Mosto), Oz Serafin (Trick Dog).  Reigning champs DOSA and Trick Dog will defend their titles against a new batch of fierce taco contenders: AQ, Bar San Pancho, Delfina, La Urbana, Matador, Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio, Myriad Gastropub, Palm House, Picco, and Souvla. From 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m., taco lovers will sample 12 unique tacos from participating restaurants and drink beer, wine, competing margaritas and other cocktails crafted by The Bon Vivants.

For a full list of participating restaurants, visit each of the event pages at www.eatdrink-sf.com. VIP and General Admission tickets for the Grand Tastings are available for purchase at www.eatdrink-sf.com. General Admission tickets are $109 but will increase to $119 on July 25 and VIP tickets are $199 – $209. A limited number of tickets for Taco Knockdown presented by Milagro Tequila are still available for $85. For more information, visit www.eatdrink-sf.com or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Eat Drink SF benefits the GGRA Scholarship Foundation and CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture). GGRA’s scholastic-based scholarship program has given more than $500,000 in the past 14 years alone and was established to encourage and provide assistance for students who wish to further their education in pursuit of careers in the hospitality industry.

Platinum Sponsors include Hawaiian Airlines, Morningstar Farms, PG&E, S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Mineral Water, Stella Artois, Taiwan Tourism Bureau, The Glenlivet, Woodford Reserve, Fine Cooking, iHeartMedia, Imbibe Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, SF Travel, Sunset, Tasting Table, Wine Spectator, DPEM Event Marketing, Noise 13, and San Francisco Wine School. For a complete list, please visit http://eatdrink-sf.com/sponsors.

To purchase tickets to any of the events, please go here.

About Eat Drink SF
Eat Drink SF, (aka SF Chefs), was founded by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association in 2009 to celebrate the Bay Area’s world-class restaurant community. Each year, more than 160 restaurants participate in Eat Drink SF’s events that include Taco Knockdown and its signature Grand Tasting sessions. With more than 8,500 attendees, Eat Drink SF provides an opportunity for top area chefs to connect directly with enthusiastic food lovers. Guests enjoy bites and beverages from more than 70 bars, distilleries, breweries, and wineries. EDSF 2016 takes place August 25 – 28 at Festival Pavilion in Fort Mason Center (San Francisco).

About Golden Gate Restaurant Association
This year, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association is celebrating its 80th anniversary. Founded by restaurateurs in 1936 to give San Francisco restaurants a collective voice, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) has evolved to be the Bay Area culinary community’s representative and trusted partner. GGRA supports and celebrates its members through year-round educational programming, professional development, and annual events including SF Restaurant Week, Eat Drink SF and its Industry Conference. The member community includes restaurants of all sizes and profiles.

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70-Year-Old Tonga Room to Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a Luau!

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Back in September, Andy and I attended the 70th birthday party of the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar, a legendary tiki bar located in the basement of the Fairmont Hotel. Walking into the room is like stepping back in time to the post-war days of exotic cocktails, food and all things Polynesian. A time when South Pacific food and culture were all the rage, along with the clothing styles to match. Originally, the room housed the hotel’s indoor swimming pool. The pool and its original tiles have been saved, but it’s now equipped with a floating stage for bands to play live music. Every thirty minutes, a thunderstorm erupts, and rain falls into the pool.

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The 70th birthday party featured an incredible buffet, cocktails and live music by the Island Groove band. It was surreal to be in San Francisco on a work night surrounded by so many fun people dressed in their best festive tiki attire, laughing and dancing without a care.

The Tonga Room is a true relic, surviving a threat of closure, and thriving to become what it is today. In 2013, the menu was redone and the drink recipes were given an update to match the more traditional style. It was an incredible experience to be part of the celebration.

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If you have never been to the Tonga Room, please put it on your list of travel destinations in 2016 or make arrangements NOW to celebrate with them on New Year’s Eve (details below)!!

Get a real taste of what the Tonga Room looks like and all the fun we had at the party. More photos from the 70th birthday celebration can be found by clicking HERE.

Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar New Years Eve Luau
Ring in 2016 in a tropical paradise! Tonga Room offers a decadent Luau buffet package featuring a sumptuous buffet, party favors, Mai Tai or Champagne toast at midnight & dancing to The Island Groove band from 7:00pm until 12:30am.

Details:
Tonga Room New Year’s Eve Luau: 6:00pm-close
Cover Charge: $30 per person
1st Seating 6:30pm ~ Dinner Buffet:
$89 per adult, $49 for children under 12

2nd Seating 9:00pm ~ Dinner Buffet & midnight toast:
$119 per adult, $59 children under 12

Tonga Room New Year’s Eve Buffet Menu:
• Raw Kushi Oysters with Rice Wine Mignonette & Wasabi Tobikko
• Chilled Crab Claws with Chinese Mustard Dipping Sauce
• Poisson Cru, Sweet & Hot Peppers, Lime Juice, Coconut Shell
• Chilled Soba Noodle Salad with Ponzu Dressing
• Tropical Green Salad: Toasted Macadamia Nuts, Shredded Carrots, Pickled Peppers, Hearts of Palm, Shaved Cucumber, Crispy Wonton Strips, Sesame Soy Vinaigrette, Rice Wine Vinaigrette, Miso Vinaigrette
• Kona Baby Back Ribs
• Assorted Steamed Dumplings
• Red Lentil Soup
• Chow Mein Noodles, Bok Choy, Oyster Mushrooms, Cabbage, Carrots
Mongolian Beef Stir Fry
• Lu Pulu Taro leaf wrapped Corned Beef with braised Cabbage& Coconut Milk
• Huli Huli Chicken
• Vegetarian Tonga Hot Pot
• Whole Roasted 3-day Hoisin-Brined Berkshire Pig:
• Kalua Pork & Tropical Fruit Stuffing, Sweet Molasses Glaze & Apricot- Star Anise Compote
• Mashed Sweet Potatoes
• Wok Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Black Garlic, Sesame Oil
• Chef Attended Sushi Rolling Station: Tuna, Salmon, Amber Jack & Hamachi with all the accompaniments

Dessert Station: Coconut Clafouti, Petite Pineapple Rum Cake, White Chocolate Matcha Mousse, Assorted Mochi

Note: Tonga Room will be closed for private events January 13 & 23.

To make arrangements at the Fairmont Hotel and for a glimpse of everything going on this holiday season, you can click here! You can find Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar on Facebook here and on Twitter here. For more information call (415) 772-5278.


Cochon Heritage BBQ Sizzles into San Francisco’s Magnolia Brewery at Dogpatch 9/13/15!

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Cochon555’s Heritage BBQ announces the chef lineup and official venue for their second annual friendly competition promoting heritage breed pigs and global grilling cultures. The culinary competition challenges five chefs to cook one whole, family farm-raised, heritage pig for a group of 20 notable judges. Chefs have seven days to prepare one whole pig and present a “Judge’s Plate” consisting of 6 dishes scored on utilization, global influences, cooking techniques and overall flavor. The winner in San Francisco will be crowned the “BBQ King or Queen” and takes home over $3,000 in prizes. In addition to sampling the competitor’s dishes, the all-inclusive ticket includes “BBQ Traditions”, a tasting inside the event where 10 notable chefs prepare one dish from their favorite BBQ culture in non-competitive spirit. If you love global flavors and star-studded culinary events, this educational event is like a top chef classroom including grilling-styles like Hibachi, Korean BBQ, Asador, Braai from Africa, Char Siu, Caja China, Churrasco, Barbacoa, as well as regional American BBQ styles from Texas to Kansas City.

Magnolia Brewery at Dogpatch will be the Official Host and Exclusive Brewery of Heritage BBQ, this year’s competing chefs include Dennis Lee of Smokestack / Namu Gaji, Geoff Davis of The Dock, Michael Rafidi of RN74, Nicolai Lipscomb of The Battery, and John Madriaga of Spruce. Each chef will be given a 180-pound heritage breed pig to create six dishes for a crowd of pork-loving enthusiasts. A group of respected judges including Dave McLean of Magnolia Brewery, David Bazirgan of Dirty Habit, and Richie Nakano of Hapa Ramen will be led by Brady Lowe in selecting the winner. Non-competing chefs cooking BBQ Traditions include Jason Wittek of Stem, Jeffrey Weiss of jeninni kitchen and Joshua Schwartz of Del Dotto.

As North America’s only “World’s Fair of Global BBQ”, guests will have the chance to pair spectacular wines, brews, cider and spirits with globally inspired BBQ dishes. The tour motivates grilling communities worldwide to support responsibly raised animals from local farmers. Participation of chefs, partners, consumers and media help create motivation for the BBQ restaurants to support the hyper-local movement and give us something we can sink our teeth into, honest food from real farmers.

The all-inclusive stand up tasting event features 1,400+ pounds of heritage pig, “pop-up” culinary experiences, premium wines, artisan cheeses, sustainable seafood, hand-crafted spirits, fine cocktails, and a very impressive selection of whiskies, ryes and bourbon. The stunning lineup of sponsors behind this celebration of heritage species include Williams-Sonoma’s local butcher demo, WilsonArt’s “Perfect Manhattan Experience” featuring Eagle Rare, Buffalo Trace, Breckenridge Bourbon, Hirsch and Luxardo cherries, Magnolia Brewing Co, Common Cider, Creekstone Farms, Krave Jerky, Creminelli Fine Meats, California Olive Ranch and La Brea Bakery. A portion of the proceeds always benefit the local culinary school while building opportunities for local food producers. All tickets include endless drinks and tons of food and are limited to only 250 tickets per event.

“We’re incredibly excited to bring Heritage BBQ to San Francisco for the first time and pay tribute to global cultures by consuming local food the way BBQ was intended to be. Today’s BBQ restaurant doesn’t give us a choice to buy local, safe food with our hard-earned money and we’re on a mission to change that by hosting incredible events that honor the greatest social traditions on the planet, cooking over fire. This event returns the BBQ conversation to the original context of local meats, cooked with native spices, over fires and shared with a community. Therefore, the event will tilt the scales back towards creating long-term relationships for family farms and big protein buyers like BBQ restaurants. It’s only a matter of time until people demand better food choices when standing at the counter.” explains Brady Lowe. “We are standing right there with them, promoting honest food and a choice to buy safe food.”

Tickets for general admission start at $100, and VIP tickets for early admission are $200. To purchase tickets, visit the website here.

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Where: Magnolia Brewery – Official Host of Heritage BBQ: 2505 3rd St, San Francisco, CA 94107
When: Sunday, Sept. 13, VIP doors at 4 PM; General Admission at 5 PM

About Heritage BBQ by COCHON 555
Started in 2012 in an effort to bridge the gap between family farms and all categories of BBQ restaurants, Heritage BBQ by Cochon 555, is the first national BBQ competition dedicated to supporting a new direction for heritage breed pigs by expanding the conversation to a global economy. Created by Cochon 555 Founder Brady Lowe, Heritage BBQ engages existing BBQ restaurants in the local and sustainable food conversation taking place nationwide while simultaneously breaking ground on a new hyper-local, globally-themed, farm-supporting BBQ.

About The Cochon US Tour
The Cochon US Tour executes a variety of unique, local food events that are focused on raising enthusiasm for supporting family farms with the world’s first environmentally conscious nose-to-tail pig competition. The flagship Cochon 555 event is celebrated as the world’s first nose-to-tail pig competition in the fine-dining community. Created in response to the lack of consumer education around “heritage breed pigs”, this epic pork feast visits 20 major cities in North America annually. The US Tour also includes other live-event festivals, these focused culinary expressions include Heritage BBQ (global cultures), Heritage Fire (live-fire event), EPIC Cochon (hyper-premium), and Cochon Island (agri-tourism). The events feature top chefs preparing locally raised heritage breed proteins. Together with winemakers, brewers, distillers and craft food champions, they create authentic culinary events celebrating the good food movement. Since its launch, the tour has supported responsible family farming by sharing heritage breed pig experience with over 50,000, by donating more than $450,000 to charities and culinary schools, and buying more than $1,000,000 in food raised by local farmers. For more details about the events, visit www.cochon555.com or follow @cochon555 on Twitter.


TAPAS Tempranillo Tasting is April 26, 2015 at the Presidio, San Francisco!

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If you like wine at all (especially wines made in a Spanish style), don’t miss this event:
TAPAS is pleased to announce the most extensive tasting of domestically produced Tempranillos and other Iberian varietal wines. Join nearly 40 TAPAS member vintners for the 8th annual Grand Wine Tasting held at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco on Sunday, April 26, 2015.

Trade and consumers will be able to taste Tempranillos, Albariños, Garnachas, Verdelhos, Tourigas, and many other varieties, in a casual walk-around setting where they can chat with the growers and vintners. Explore the diversity of grapes and styles produced across the western United States.  Many TAPAS members are limited-production, family-owned wineries and will be pouring small lot wines that are not widely available. Many of the wines will also be available for sale at this event.

The year’s event will feature a Tempranillo Shootout starting at noon – watch the website for details!

The public event schedule is:

  • 12:00 Noon – 1:30 p.m.  – Tempranillo Shootout.  Tickets are $75, and include early admission to the Consumer Tasting directly afterward.
  • 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.  – Trade/Media Tasting.  Qualified members of the wine trade and media may register using the appropriate link below:
  • 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Consumer Tasting.  In conjunction with the walk-around tasting, the TAPAS Wine School (included with admission) will feature informative consumer-oriented seminars. Tickets are $55.

Tickets to the Tempranillo Shootout and Consumer Tasting are now on sale at tapas15.eventbrite.com.

TAPAS President Stuart Spencer noted, “The TAPAS Grand Tasting is a unique opportunity for you to discover, savor and celebrate this treasure chest of exotic and delightfully food-friendly wines. You will gain appreciation for what some visionary winegrowers are doing here on American soil. Don’t miss it!”

To me, this is one of the best wine tasting events of the year and a nice walk off the beaten path of common varietals. It’s fun to taste lesser known wines like Touriga Nacional (originates from Portugal) along with wines like Albariño, Garnacha, and Verdelhos which are slowly gaining domestic popularity. I walked away from the event last year with a better knowledge of wine in general and a few new favorites. I am looking forward to this year’s event and a day at the scenic Presidio in San Francisco. 🙂

About TAPAS
TAPAS, now in its eleventh year, started at the 2004 Unified Symposium, when Tempranillo winegrowers from California, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Arizona met for the first time to discuss their avocation.  Since that first visionary group pointed the way, the organization has incorporated and grown to over 100 members.  The first Grand Wine Tasting was held at Copia in Napa in 2008, and has continued annually since then, as one of many initiatives to promote Tempranillo and other varietal wine grapes native to the Iberian Peninsula and wines produced from them in North America.


The Hot Chocolate 5 and 15K Warms Up San Francisco on January 11th, 2015

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How will you be making a start to the new year? I’ll be heading to San Francisco to take part in RAM Racing’s Hot Chocolate 5K & 15K on Sunday, January 11th, 2015.

Join me and make 2015 the year you achieve your fitness and health goals!

America’s Sweetest Race, the Hot Chocolate 5K & 15K, is coming back to San Francisco on Sunday, January 11th.

Enjoy a beautiful run through Golden Gate Park with over 13,000 runners and then celebrate crossing the finish line with indulgent chocolaty treats at the unforgettable post-race party!

Known for their amazing swag bags, all participants receive the official 2014-2015 season swag bag and new for the season, all 15k finishers will receive the official Hot Chocolate Finisher Medal. In addition, runners can sign up for the “Go the Extra Mile” program to raise money for charities. Ronald McDonald House Charities are the official charity of choice for each Hot Chocolate 5K & 15K race.

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The Hot Chocolate Series is the fastest growing 5k and only 15k series in the world. The series is produced by RAM Racing, the nation’s premier race production company based in Chicago who strives to give participants an emotional, unforgettable race experience.

You can read about my Chicago experience here.

For detailed information on the race, please click here. To register for the Hot Chocolate 5K & 15K, click here. You can find them on Facebook here and follow them on twitter here.

Thanks to RAM Racing for sponsoring my race and see you in San Francisco! 🙂


Enter to Win a Race Entry to the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon on October 19th, 2014!

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Once again this year, I am partnering with Whole Foods Market Northern California, and I will be running for them in the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon. I am really excited to have been asked again (by Whole Foods), and I am even more excited that I WILL BE GIVING AWAY TWO ENTRIES to this SOLD OUT race right here on this website (SCROLL DOWN FOR INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO ENTER)!

You might be familiar with this race because of it’s scenic course through San Francisco and the only half marathon series to give it’s finishers a Tiffany necklace instead of a finisher’s medal!! Not only that, but the necklace is given to you by a firefighter dressed in a tuxedo! 🙂

Here I am following last year’s race wearing my finisher’s necklace (and shirt from the race!):

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I’ll be sharing some recipes with food provided to me by Whole Foods Market, and providing my training reports from now leading up to October 19th.

It’s been a while since I have run a half marathon (last November), so I will be putting in some hard work from now until race day. Here’s a favorite post of mine sponsored by Whole Foods from last year’s training.

Here’s this year’s course map:

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This giveaway is for a race entry only. Once you win, you will be responsible for the $180 entry fee.–The entry does not include transportation, hotel, or parking the day of the race. Keep in mind there is NO race packet pick up the day of the race, so you will need to make arrangements to attend the expo on Thursday, October 16, 12:00PM – 8:00PM, Friday, October 17, 10:00AM – 8:00PM, or Saturday, October 18, 8:00AM – 6:00PM to collect your bib number.


TO ENTER TO WIN A RACE ENTRY FOR THE NIKE WOMEN’S HALF MARATHON ON OCTOBER 19th, 2014 at 6:30am, PLEASE DO ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:

1. Like cavegrrl.com on Facebook here.
2. Leave a comment in the comment section below and tell me why you want to run the race!
3. Like Whole Foods Sacramento on Facebook here or Whole Foods Roseville here.
4. Follow Whole Foods Northern California on twitter here.
4. Share this post on Facebook.

I will be choosing TWO winners on September 1st!
Good luck! 🙂

You can find Whole Foods on Facebook here and on twitter here. My local store is in Roseville on Facebook here.

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You can find the Run Nike Women’s Series and more information on the race on Facebook here.


Wine Wednesday: Don’t Miss TAPAS Grand Wine Tasting, April 27th, 2014

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So I am pretty sure that the wine event I am promoting today was specifically designed for me. See, Tempranillo is my favorite red varietal, and the most extensive tasting of domestically produced Tempranillos and other Iberian varietal wines, featuring nearly 40 TAPAS member vintners is about to take place at the seventh annual Grand Wine Tasting held at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco on Sunday, April 27, 2014. I’m in! 🙂

Trade and consumers will be able to taste Tempranillos, Albariños, Garnachas, Verdelhos, Tourigas, and many other varieties, in a casual walk-around setting where they can chat with the growers and vintners. Explore the diversity of grapes and styles produced across the western United States.  Many TAPAS members are limited-production, family-owned wineries and will be pouring small lot wines that are not widely available. Many of the wines will also be available for sale at this event.

This year’s event will highlight Tempranillo’s aging potential with a Kickoff Seminar comparing pairs of Aged and New Tempranillos from the same vintner.  See one of the reasons why Tempranillo is the fastest growing variety worldwide!

The event schedule is:

12:00 Noon – 1:30 p.m.  – “Aged Tempranillos”  This one-of-a-kind seminar will feature pioneer vintners pulling aged Tempranillos from their cellars to pair with their current release wines.  Compare mature and young Tempranillo wines and taste how the world’s fastest growing variety mellows with age to become civilized and refined. The session will be moderated by Stuart Spencer, owner and winemaker of St.Amant Winery and President of TAPAS.

Tickets are $95 and include early admission to the Consumer Tasting.

2:00 – 5:00 p.m. – Consumer Tasting.  In conjunction with the walk-around tasting, the TAPAS Wine School (included with admission) will feature these informative consumer-oriented seminars and guided tastings:

Garnacha/Grenache: A great European wine grape which produces world class wines.  Taste an exciting selection of Garnacha wines vinified by premier American wine producers specializing in Iberian grape varietal wines made in the USA. Vino dulce: Taste rare dessert wines crafted by top American winemakers in a variety of styles.

Tickets to the Consumer Tasting are $60.

TAPAS President Stuart Spencer noted, “The TAPAS Grand Tasting is a unique opportunity for you to discover, savor and celebrate this treasure chest of exotic and delightfully food-friendly wines. You will gain appreciation for what some visionary winegrowers are doing here on American soil. Don’t miss it!”

About TAPAS: TAPAS started at the 2004 Unified Symposium, when Tempranillo winegrowers from California, Oregon, Washington, Texas and Arizona met for the first time to discuss their avocation.  Since that first visionary group pointed the way, the organization has incorporated and grown to over 100 members.  The first Grand Wine Tasting was held at Copia in Napa in 2008, and has continued annually since then, as one of many initiatives to promote Tempranillo and other varietal wine grapes native to the Iberian Peninsula and wines produced from them in North America.

To purchase tickets, click here.

You can find TAPAS on Facebook here and follow them on Twitter here.


Gluten Free Expo in San Francisco, February 9th & 10th!


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The 1st annual San Francisco, CA Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo (www.gfafexpo.com) will be held on February 9 and 10, 2013 at the San Francisco Marriott Airport Waterfront Hotel.  Jenny McCarthy’s non-profit organization Generation Rescue is the primary sponsor for the event (www.generationrescue.org).  In addition, Dr. Peter Green from Columbia University will be the keynote speaker (www.celiacdiseasecenter.org).

The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo was started by Jen Cafferty of gfreelife.com in 2008. Jen’s team is excited to include San Francisco as part of their “road show” in 2013. More than 2,500 people are anticipated to attend the Bay Area’s first sizeable gluten-free event in years!

The following gluten-free experts will be at the expo:

Silvana Nardone (www.silvanaskitchen.com), founding editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine

Cybele Pascal (www.cybelepascal.com), who has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show

Kyra Bussanich of Crave Bake Shop (www.cravebakeshop.com), who won two episodes of Cupcake Wars on the Food Network

Kathy Smart of Live the Smart Way (livethesmartway.com), who has appeared on the Dr. Oz show and will be the face of GlutenFreeFind.com

Brandy Wendler, Mrs. Alaska 2011 (brandywendler.blogspot.com)

Amy Fothergill (www.amythefamilychef.com), who is a chef in San Francisco

The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo is the largest and fastest growing gluten-free consumer event in the United States. Their growth continues in 2013 as the GFAF Expo expands its event locations as well as their focused demographic.

The Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo will bring the nation’s leading chefs, best-selling cookbook authors, and highly regarded nutrition and health experts to help people learn how to prepare healthy, tasty meals and baked goods without gluten and some of the most common allergens. With over 100 vendors, attendees can sample products before buying them at the store.

“Living on a restricted diet doesn’t have to mean living without the joy of cooking, baking and eating foods that look and taste great,” said Jen Cafferty, mother of two and founder of the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo. “There is nothing like this in the area – a place where individuals, parents, and others can spend from a few hours to a full day sampling hundreds of products, and discovering that special dietary needs and cookies that taste like cardboard are not synonymous.”

I can’t wait to connect with other gluten-free people as well as gluten free product manufacturers, and bring some of their products to this website!

Open to the general public, the event features themed cooking sessions that will enlighten both beginners and more experienced home chefs, as well as a vendor fair, where attendees will meet and sample among more than 100 gluten-free companies under one roof. All of the vendors are 100 percent gluten-free and many also will showcase products free of the top eight allergens: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat.

The Expo will include a dedicated area featuring nut-free products. The Expo is not just for those who are gluten sensitive and have food allergies. It is a great resource for those who have celiac disease, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, food intolerances, anti-inflammatory diseases and those who are autistic. The Expo is a perfect platform for athletes and those who are health-conscious. Offerings will include raw foods, supplements, health foods, protein bars and shakes, and detox options.

A variety of experts will give presentations on topics including:

-Pie Crust 101

-The Science Behind Gluten-Free Baking

-Safely Eat Out & Travel Gluten & Allergen-Free

A detailed schedule can be found at http://www.gfafexpo.com/san-francisco/classes

The Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo Vendor Fair will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10, 2013 at the San Francisco Marriott Airport Waterfront Hotel. The cost to attend the Vendor Fair is $20 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 – 12. Early admission tickets (9 a.m.) are available for an additional fee online. General tickets are available online or at the door. The ticket price also includes an allergen-free arts and crafts area for kids, as well as staged presentations related to gluten-free living and cooking.

To purchase tickets or obtain additional information, including vendors, presenters’ bios and the full schedule of classes and stage presentations for each day, visit www.gfafexpo.com.

There are 45 million people with food allergies and intolerances. More than 18 million Americans are on a gluten-free diet. Over 3 million Americans have celiac disease. Celiac disease is two times more common than Type 1 Diabetes and seven times more common than Multiple Sclerosis. About 1 in every 133 people has celiac disease – a condition in which the body cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and commercially available oats. More than 300 symptoms ranging from digestive issues to depression are linked to celiac disease, and more than 95 percent of people who have it are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. A gluten-free diet is essential for those with celiac disease, which many sufferers erroneously believe or have been told by medical professionals is irritable bowel syndrome or lactose intolerance. In addition, many families with autistic children are reporting a reduction in their children’s symptoms with a gluten-free diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an average of 1 in 110 U.S. children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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About the Expo:

The Gluten and Allergen-Free Expo is the premier gluten and allergen free event in the United States. The GFAF Expo serves over 20,000 people with celiac disease, gluten sensitivities, auto-immune/anti-inflammatory diseases and autism as well as athletes and the health conscious community each year.

As founder of the Gluten & Allergen-Free Expo and President of Gluten Free Classes, Jen Cafferty is a nationally recognized expert on cooking and living gluten & allergen-free. She considers it her personal mission to help others who follow a restricted diet learn delicious, nutritious and convenient ways to live a happy and healthy life.