Apartment Hunting

Our apartment hunt has officially commenced. Miri and I have been spending the past few weekends looking at one and two-bedroom apartments in Alameda, an island in the San Francisco Bay adjacent to Oakland. I took Miri to Alameda for dinner the very first time he came to visit me in California in August 2012 and you can say he’s sort of fallen in love with this small but charming community ever since. The thought of leaving San Leandro to live in Alameda is more than exciting. Miri and I have been in San Leandro ever since we moved here from Austria (I returned to my hometown  in July 2015 and he emigrated in October 2015). My mom moved to Mill Valley before Miri’s arrival, but she’s allowed us to live here on our own until we both found jobs (which, happily, we have) before she retires and rents the house. It’ll be strange to not have a home-base in San Leandro, but at this point there’s not much keeping us here. My mom is in Marin, my brother is in Walnut Creek, and my dad, who lived a block away from us, passed seven years ago. I am very grateful to my mom for having given us a place to live rent-free until we were able to stand on our own two (or four?) feet,  but I will happily give it up to begin our next chapter (and join the real world) as husband and wife paying an extortionate amount to live in the Bay Area. The day documented below mostly consists of food, beginning with Sushi House in Alameda and ending with Lake Chalet, a renovated boathouse-turned-restaurant with a fantastic view of Oakland’s Lake Merritt, where we enjoyed a plentiful Easter dinner. Lake Merritt is one of my favorite places in the Bay Area. I grew up coming here a lot because Fairyland, a storybook theme park for children, is located within the park, but also because of the superior number of high-quality restaurants surrounding the Lake in contrast to San Leandro’s dismal dining choices.

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Seaweed salad, a must-have when ordering sushi.

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Vegetable maki (black mushroom, avocado, cucumber and lettuce).

 

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The Super Prawn roll, consisting of shrimp tempura, cucumber, crab meat, lettuce, green onions, Ebi, avocado, special house sauce, kiwi sauce and black Tobiko. Yum.

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The Lion King roll,  my favorite “fatty’s delight” at any American sushi restaurant.  The Lion King is your basic California roll, topped with baked salmon and the special house sauce. Drool. Side note: I’m a fake sushi fan because the only kind of sushi I really like are baked or cooked rolls, often topped with rich sauces. This is embarrassingly American, but, what can I say, it’s a texture thing.IMG_2663IMG_2667 IMG_2671

Wandering around the Crab Cove Visitor Center and the Alameda shoreline where, fingers crossed, I will soon be enjoying my daily, er every-other-daily, run.

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Lake Merritt/Downtown Oakland is just a short, 10-minute drive from Alameda.

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We started with the Organic Mixed Greens salad at Lake Chalet. It is made up of local, organic farm greens, orange segments, Asian pears, Laura Chenel goat cheese and candied pumpkin seeds, dressed lightly with Sherry vinaigrette.

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I ordered the Grand Seafood Linguini, which was superb. It is made up of Saffron pasta, Gulf shrimp, Bay scallops, mussels, clams, salmon, Monterey Bay calamari, tomatoes, and white wine.

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Miri ordered the Herb-Marinated Flatiron Steak, topped with caramelized shallots and Porcini mushroom butter, along with a side of Potato Gratin.

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My mom ordered the Key Lime Pie in a Jar for dessert, which I couldn’t resist photographing.

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Miri and I decided on the Warm White Chocolate Bread Pudding, which was so good I almost regretted sharing it. It was topped with caramelized bananas, white chocolate Ganache, whipped Chantilly, and shaved dark chocolate.

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Lastly, my cousin ordered the Gluten-Free Flourless Chocolate Cake, topped with chocolate sauce and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. It’s hard to write about a dessert you never tried, but damn does it look good.

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My favorite time of day to take pictures.

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Marin Headlands & the Golden Gate Bridge

It’s hard for me to describe the joy and excitement I felt when taking these pictures. Nothing makes me feel as alive as documenting a place, whether new or old, through the lens of my camera. I know photographs of the Golden Gate Bridge at twilight are nothing revolutionary–we’ve all seen shots of the bridge just like these on postcards and in books–but this doesn’t bother me. I love the challenge of trying to recreate iconic images myself. I don’t have a lot of fancy equipment or lenses, but I do have a good camera, a steady tripod, and an eye for recreating images that, at first, may seem out-of-reach for an amateur photographer. Honestly, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to come out here considering the fact that I’m a Bay Area native and my mom lives in Mill Valley, a 15-minute drive away from this stunning view of the most recognizable bridge in the world.

Twilight has always been my favorite time of day to shoot. I love watching the light change from sunset to the small window of time when city lights begin twinkling against cerulean blue skies before the last bit of natural light is enveloped in darkness. Of course, you can take gorgeous pictures of the bridge during the day, but isn’t the shot at twilight so much more compelling? It was also hard-earned. I made poor Miri wait in the car with me for about an hour-and-a-half until I got the lighting I wanted. This wasn’t the first time I tested his patience for a photograph. When we were in Cinque Terre in July 2014, he sat in the dirt with me at the top of a hill for three hours, all without complaining, so that I could get pictures of Vernazza at twilight. God bless his easy-going soul.

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We were worried before making the trip over that we might not be able to see the bridge due to Karl, San Francisco’s ubiquitous fog. We lucked out as only part of the bridge was covered, which I think made the scene even more atmospheric (and authentic). Taking a picture of the bridge on a clear day is like photographing Ireland on a sunny day. It happens but it’s not quite right.

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My ever-happy, ever-helpful photo assistant and model carrying the tripod for me 🙂 Man, I love him.

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Tourists gathering at one of several Golden Gate Bridge lookout points along the Marin Headlands drive.

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Beautiful Silver Bush Lupine growing along the side of the road just in time for the first day of spring.

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Franciscan Paintbrush in bloom.

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Karl rolling in.

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Look back at it.

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Sticky Monkeyflower. What a name.

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We stopped for dinner at Tamalpie, a pizzeria on Miller Avenue in Mill Valley that I appreciate for its name, a clever allusion to Mount Tamalpais, which towers over the small, affluent and outdoorsy community. I ditched all thoughts of “eating healthily” and we shared two mouthwatering pizzas (“I do it for the gram“). Miri chose the Railroad Grade pizza, topped with pepperoni, roasted peppers and onions, tomato and mozzarella. I opted for the Blithedale Canyon pizza, made up of an enticing combination of bacon, potato, mozzarella, fontina and pesto. Miri was really excited (I mean, just look at his face) about the fact that the crust was thin and crunchy, which is how pizza is prepared in Vienna, in contrast to the fat, doughy crusts you get when ordering pizza delivery in the U.S. from chains like Domino’s or Round Table. Anyway, I warned you that I’m not a food critic so I’m just going to end this post by saying the pizzas were reeeeal good. Hopefully, I get better at restaurant reviews the more we do this. Thanks for bearing with me and continuing to read until then 😉 Question for you: What kind of food would you like to see me attempt to review next?

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