Event Round-Up: Sept. 15

It’s that time again, folks! School is back in full swing, and we’re on a holiday drought until Halloween. But that doesn’t mean the well of fun activities in the Bay Area has completely dried up. That’s one of the best parts about living here – there is always something to do!

Here are five fun events around the Bay Area for the next month or so to tide you over:

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Exploratorium After Dark (San Francisco – every Thursday)

The Exploratorium is a super interesting, cool museum no matter the time of day. But make it adults-only, serve drinks, cut the lights, and give us a mind-bending cache of exhibits to wander through from 6-10 pm every Thursday? Sold! Don’t miss it!

National Public Lands Day (All Parks – Sept. 22)

It’s one of the best days of the year for outdoor enthusiasts. All National Park Service sites that normally charge an admission fee will have free entrance for the day. If the one excuse for not exploring this beautiful place we live has been a desire to not pay the fees, well, now’s your chance.

Autumn Beer Tasting with Anchor Brewing (San Francisco – Sept. 26)

Anchor Brewing is one of the better local breweries to come out of the Bay Area, and now you have the chance to taste autumn beers right as the season turns. It’s only 20 bucks, 90 minutes of your time, and you get generous helpings of newly released beers from the head honcho brewer at Anchor!

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Movies Under the Stars: The Jungle Book (Civic Park – Sept. 28)

There’s nothing better than laying out under the stars and catching an outdoor movie with the family. On Sept. 28th, the Movies Under the Stars series in Walnut Creek comes to a close with The Jungle Book, playing at 7 p.m. on that night. There is a little music for about an hour beforehand too, if you want to come out early!

Grease Sing-A-Long at Sundown Cinema (San Francisco – Sept. 28)

Well, sorry Walnut Creek. San Francisco took your outdoor movie idea for this date and went all-in. You can go to the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater in San Francisco and watch Grease on the big screen outside for free! Food trucks and vendors will be there early, and the best part about this is you get to sing along to the catchy tunes of this movie classic!

Best tours in San Francisco

Just because we live in the Bay Area and are “locals” of San Francisco doesn’t mean we can’t still play tourist when we hit The City! In fact, it’s one of the more fun things you can do when you cross the Bay Bridge. I love just wandering around and finding new nooks and crannies of the city I had never noticed before.

As with any major city, San Francisco has its fair share of awesome tours, and these are five I have researched that I think you should take a chance on next time you visit! From art, to history, to food, you’ll get the real, full, behind-the-scenes experience of San Francisco with any of these. If you go, let me know how it went!

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1. Precita Eyes Mural Tour

On the third Saturday of every month, founder and director or the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, Susan Cervantes, leads guided mural walks through the Mission. It’s $20, but it takes you through an array from over 200 alley murals in the hippest neighborhood in San Francisco. You can get more info here.

2. San Francisco Urban Hike

Now, I hate to do this, but I think you can self-lead a tour rather than spend $49 on having it guided. This “urban hike,” which has gained in popularity given San Francisco’s plethora of lush areas, is something you can certainly research and do yourself. If you’d rather go with a guide, check out this link!

3. San Francisco Love Tour

If nothing else, San Francisco is known for its role in the Summer of Love. Former hippies and music lovers should be excited to pony up $48 for this radical tour, which takes participants through iconic neighborhoods from the 60’s, and hit main attractions like Golden Gate Park. You’ll see the homes of Hendrix and Joplin, and do it all from an old-school VW van!

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4. Teas, Temples and Beatniks Tour

Okay, you can’t beat a tour that combines two of the coolest neighborhoods in a city full of cool neighborhoods: Chinatown and North Beach. You get to try local food, get your fortune read, taste the famous fortune cookies, and venture into North Beach to see the old hangouts of legends like Jack Kerouac. Check it out here.

5. City Guides

You’ve probably at least heard of this tour. City Guides is a full-blown non-profit with more than 200 volunteers leading 50 walking tours all around San Francisco. Local history buffs share their knowledge and whisk you around the beautiful city. And the best part for those who want to pinch pennies – City Guides is all donation-based, and technically admission is free!

Event Round-Up: Aug. 18

Summer is winding down and the kids are headed back to school! But, that doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun. Make sure you end your summer in the right fashion by taking advantage of some of these fun, cheap, and local events coming up in the next few weeks!

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1. Best in Show Sunset Screening (Duboce Park, 8/23 @ 6 pm)

Food trucks, BYO dog, movies at sunset, in San Francisco? Is this a dream? What a great way to finish out summer with the family before sending the kiddos back to school. Maybe you’ll even run into me and my Weim Bodie out there! More info here.

2. Candytopia Pop-Up (767 Market St., 9/6 – tickets needed)

The latest “selfie-friendly pop-up,” as it’s so perfectly described here, is Candytopia! It sold out shows in Southern California and will start making its NorCal debut in early September. Make sure you get tickets as soon as possible – I went to the last one (29 Rooms) and it was unforgettable!

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TripAdvisor.com

3. Family Art Day (Shadelands Art Center, 9/8 @ 10 am)

The Shadelands Art Center is hosting a 4-hour set of art-making, dancing, music, and more for FREE. It’s open to the public and they encourage entire families to come. The theme is “Art is Magic!” so you know it will be interesting. They will have drinks available for purchase on-site.

4. Off The Grid Twilight Campfire Party (Main Post Lawn, 9/20 @ 5 pm) 

Look, if you haven’t been to an Off The Grid event yet, you’re missing out. San Francisco is the King of Off the Grid get-together’s, and this one will be no different. Join masses of people, food trucks, drink vendors, and live music for a little campfire party in the Presidio at twilight!

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5. National Public Lands Day! (National Parks, 9/22)

Do you always want to go to the local National Parks, but don’t want to pay exorbitant entrance fees? Then Sept. 22nd is the day for you. Explore hikes, lakes, and more at any of the nearby National Parks for FREE! National Public Lands Day is one of the few days of the year in which it’s free to visit any of the parks. Here are the ones in California.

Bay Area rent prices are out of control

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the top three most expensive places for renters in the entire nation are in the Bay Area. We knew it was bad, but this is a whole new level of shocking. In that article, the author writes that with San Jose’s $13.50/hour minimum wage, a person would have to have more than 3 1/2 minimum wage jobs just to afford average rent. Crazy!

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To nobody’s surprise, the San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland areas were top three in the nation, but the East Bay isn’t much better off. You’d have to earn $93,000 per year to afford average rent in the East Bay. Given the costs of pretty much everything around here rising, it’s no surprise.

In the real estate market – whether buying, selling, or renting – you have to expect to pay a premium in the Bay Area these days. That’s where people like me come in handy! We can give you expert advice and help steer you in the right direction. Remember, the most expensive direction isn’t always the correct one.

Here are a few more interesting tidbits from the article:

  • 2-bedroom apartments in the South Bay will require you to make about a $50/hour
  • In San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties, it’s closer to $60/hour
  • This is a national issue: there is no state, metro area, or county in the U.S. where workers earning minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom rental home by working 40 hours per week
  • Five years ago, about 3,000 people came to the Community Services Agency for food – it’s now over 7,000.

8 best food festivals in the Bay Area this summer

Is there anything better than a social gathering for the purpose of eating or drinking? A backyard barbecue with neighbors, a wine-tasting and walking event, food truck frenzies with friends…the list goes on, but the level of awesome remains the same.

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TimeOut.com has compiled a great list of eight unique Bay Area food festivals, and if you’re someone who enjoys these outings, you must give it a read. I’ve reformatted the list below. Let me know if you end up checking out any of these local foodie fests!

1. Lamb Jam (San Francisco)

Sip and snack on delish lamb-based dishes at this epic gastronomic event and competition that brings together 16 of SF’s most talented chefs to b-a-a-a-a-a-ttle for the title of Lamb Jam San Francisco Champion.

 July 22 3–6pm at Golden Gate Club; $56–$125

2. Garlic Festival (Gilroy)

Garlic lovers from around the world flock to this small town for food, drinks, crafts, live music and cooking competitions. Be sure to try the garlic ice cream (and don’t forget to bring your toothbrush).

July 27–29 10am–7pm at Christmas Hill Park; free–$20.

3. Zucchini Festival (Hayward)

At this healthy food party, discover the versatile uses of the hearty vegetable, from cakes and cookies to snacks and main dishes. Don’t miss the massive zucchinis competing in the growing contest!

Aug 18, 19 10am–8pm at Kennedy Park; $5–$10.

4. Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival (San Francisco)

Ghirardelli pairs its world-famous cacao beans with wine, ice cream and tons of other tasty desserts at this sugary soiree. Indulge guilt-free, knowing that 100 percent of the proceeds are donated to local nonprofit Project Open Hand.

Sept 8, 9 noon–5pm at Ghirardelli Square; $26–$55.

5. Cheese Fest (San Francisco)

Cowgirl Creamery, Point Reyes Farmstead, Cypress Grove and other local makers will provide fromage nibbles at this dairy fest. Of course, cheese gets by with a little help from its friends wine and charcuterie, so expect vendors hawking those tasty delights, as well. Pop a Lactaid and get to work.

Sept 15 at Social Hall SF; $TBA.

6. Bloody Mary Festival (San Francisco)

SF’s most beloved brunch cocktail gets its own fest this season: Attendees will sample local bars’ tricked-out versions of the tomato-juice-and-vodka cocktail, then vote for the People’s Choice Award winner. Also, a panel of industry judges will pick its favorite version.

Sept 29 10:30am–6pm at SOMArts Cultural Center; $45–$55.

7. Eat Drink SF (San Francisco)

This four-day gourmet fest delights taste buds with bites from more than 30 Bay Area restaurants, plus cocktail classes, taco parties, and meet and greets with local celebrity chefs.

Aug 24 7:15–10pm; Aug 25 12:45–3:30pm, 7-:45–10:30pm; Aug 26 12:45–3:30pm at Fort Mason Center. $109–$229.

8. Eat Real Fest (Oakland)

Eat Real combines a state fair, a street-food festival, and a block party to create a celebration of good food in Oakland. Celebrate ten years of local food vendors, food entrepreneurs, artisan products, and demonstrations from the Bay Area’s top chefs and culinary experts.

Sept 14 3–10pm, Sept 15 11am–10pm, Sept 16 11am–7pm at Jack London Square; free. 

Appreciation Event: A’s vs. Giants ~ Battle of the Bay!

If you’ve been a friend, client, or colleague of mine over the years, you know how much I enjoy my clients and people who have referred me.  I try to do a couple appreciation events during the year, ranging from happy hours to full-on parties. Most recently, I threw a little appreciation event by hosting an A’s vs. Giants game!

There were about 20 people at the game, including past clients and sponsors Nancy Glad (Impeccable Interior) and Jason Bringingham (Admiral’s Choice Irrigation). As usual, I gave out some raffle prizes throughout the game, including house cleanings by Impeccable Interior, a goodie bag of peanuts, licorice, popcorn, and other baseball game treats, a bottle of wine and even a Giants panda hat! Funny enough, that prize was won by Sara, an A’s fan.

Jason also contributed $10 each for food and drink. It was an awesome time at the ballpark, we had a mix of A’s and Giants fans, with the Giants winning 5-1. It’s always nice to go out and mingle in a non-business setting with my clients and get to know them even better. As one person noted, it is creating an environment where people can connect with others!

Connecting with people and helping them through the process of buying and selling their homes is one of the reasons I love what I do. Getting to know them in a fun and personal setting builds a friendship. A few of us stayed to experience sitting on the field watching fireworks to 80’s-themed music – well worth the wait in line.  The only thing I’d change is maybe doing a Saturday game next time so we can go ahead of time and tailgate!

 

The Dead Fish in Crockett: Tastier than it sounds

Even though all the fish you eat, whether in raw or cooked form, is technically dead, the term “dead fish” conjures up images of scaly carcasses washed up on a beach. Needless to say, that’s not very appetizing. However, The Dead Fish in Crockett gives reason to love its namesake with their food and stunning atmosphere.

The Dead Fish is located about 25 minutes North of Walnut Creek. It is just up the coast from Martinez, and across the Bay from Vallejo. It’s worth discovering, if only for its endless view of the Carquinez Straits. That’s the first thing that catches your eye when you arrive at the restaurant: round-the-dining-room views of the water, the lit-up bridge, and the hills that accentuate both.

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walking-the-bay.com

The owners of The Dead Fish also own such Bay Area seafood hotspots as Franciscan Crab Restaurant on Fisherman’s Wharf, The Stinking Rose in North Beach, and Salito’s in Sausalito. For what it’s worth, The Dead Fish gets its name from the chef’s Nonna, who cooked for a large family, and couldn’t keep track of all the different recipes she prepared. So, when the chef (her grandson) asked what kind of fish she cooked, she told him, “It’s a dead fish!” Hilarious!

Anyway, the food itself at The Dead Fish is what you’ll come for as they are known for their Dungeness crab, which is only bought if it weighs more than two pounds (to ensure peak meatiness), and is only caught in the Pacific Ocean. They do have options for prime rib, filet mignon, and other non-seafood meals. Menus are subject to change daily, so make sure you check online before you go!

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TheDeadFish.com

I went for lunch. when the atmosphere is a little more light-hearted and not as crowded and you can fully make out the little decorations hanging from the ceiling. From all the photos I’ve seen, it is more of a dimly-lit, low-key vibe in there for dinner. Anyway, the food was good but not as incredible as the reviews said it would be. I still enjoyed my meal though! I had the asparagus with blue cheese and the single crab enchilada. Overall, I’d give The Dead Fish 3.5 Mt. Diablo’s out of 5.

Event Round-Up: July 14

Welcome back to our Event Round-Up for the next few weeks! Events do not necessarily have to take place in Walnut Creek to qualify, though I’ll try to keep it to the nearby Bay Area cities so you don’t have to travel too far. With the exception of one must-see event tomorrow in San Francisco, these should all be fun, cheap events to do over the next month or so. Hope I found you some good, off-the-beaten-path activities!

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1. 2018 FIFA World Cup Finals – Outdoor Screening (San Francisco): Sun., July 15th @ 8 a.m.

Hosted by the SF Recreation and Park Department, there will be a free public viewing of the FIFA World Cup Final on Sunday, July 15th. It will take place in front of the Civic Center Plaza, and folks can arrive at 8 a.m., though the game will start a little bit later. You’d be surprised at how big – and how soccer-lovin’ – this crowd will be!

2. Taste of the World Market (Orinda): Thurs., July 19th @ 5 p.m.

Every Thursday from 5-9 p.m., you can get “a taste of the world” at a weekly food truck event in front of the Orinda Community Center. Each week features different trucks and entertainment. We have a lot of events like this around the Bay Area, but it’s always fun to explore one in a new town to see how it stacks up!

3. Outdoor Waterfront Flicks – Star Wars (Oakland): Thurs., July 19th @ 8 p.m.

If food trucks aren’t your deal, but you want to treat the kids to a fun-filled, outdoor movie night, look no further than Jack London Square in Oakland, where they’ll be showing Star Wars: The Last Jedi at 8 p.m. It’s completely free, and all you need is a blanket to sit on, a blanket to cuddle with, and a cup of joe to keep you warm by the water!

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4. Blues & Brews Festival (Pleasanton): Fri., July 20th – Sat., July 21st @ 6 p.m.

You will need tickets to this, but how cool is a FREE blues music and beer festival just down the highway from Walnut Creek? If you show up to Pleasant Hill Park at 6 p.m. on Fri., July 20th, you can take part in the pre-party. But the real fun begins the next day at 3 p.m., where you can wander in to catch free live music, and buy tasting tickets for the beer. More ticket info can be found here.

5. Benicia Waterfront Festival (Benicia): Sat., July 28th – Sun., July 29th @ 11 a.m.

Waterfront. Live music. Craft beer and wine. Tasty food. Unique vendors. Kids zone. Cheap tickets. What more can you ask for? Take a trek out to Benicia for this cool music festival that only costs $10 for adults ($15 for a weekend pass), and is free for kids under 12! What a great way to spend a summer weekend!

6. Berkeley Kite Festival (Berkeley): Sat., July 28th – Sun., July 29th @ 10 a.m.

Not feeling Benicia? Head on over to Berkeley for the 30th Annual Berkeley Kite Festival! It’s a free, family-friendly event for two days with competitions, kite-making, kite battles (seriously!), dining options, and more. Everyone loves watching a good kite – here, you can watch hundreds!

7. Circus Bella (San Francisco, etc.): Sun., July 29th @ 2 p.m.

Though this cool event takes place in multiple locations on each Sunday in July, I’m choosing this one specifically for our timeframe. Get on over to Hunter’s Point in San Francisco to check out this free, dazzling, 60-minute outdoor circus performance!

Make sure to let us know how these events go if you decide to visit! Looking forward to hearing the reviews!

29 Rooms: The art of the selfie

Last month, I visited Refinery 29’s new exhibit at The Palace of Fine Arts, called 29 Rooms. It was so interesting, and creative, and imaginative. I absolutely loved it! What I hadn’t realized before I got there is that the exhibit was essentially about the art of the selfie, and the advent of phones and cameras.

As you can see from the pictures, this was a big, interactive art exhibit. I was so blown away by how everything was put together, and definitely feel lucky to have snagged tickets to one of the three sessions they held. Each of the – you guessed it – 29 rooms, is a collaboration between Refinery 29 and an individual or entity (Planned Parenthood, Women’s March, Anna Kendrick, Janelle Monae, and Demi Lovato to name a few).

They covered everything from “healing” art, to LGBTQIA art, to erotic art, the aforementioned Women’s March and Demi Lovato tattoos. They all gave off some kind of powerful message, and allowed us to interact with the exhibits ourselves. My favorite room was for an upcoming movie called A Simple Favor, which centers around Stephanie (Anna Kendrick), a mommy vlogger who seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Blake Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town. We all have secrets and dark sides, so in this exhibit, people could write a secret on a piece of paper and roll it into a metal screen. You then could go through and randomly pull out somebody’s secret…my favorite one was the one pictured above, but they were all very interesting.

These next two pictures were very interesting – as you stood in front of the mirror, words quickly flicked onto the screen. The only way you could figure out what the statement said was by taking a picture of the image and capturing the words. We had many phrases, but this one stood out! The bottom photo was a hanging image that changed as it turned. It became twins on both sides; also very cool!

If 29 Rooms comes around again, especially in the Bay Area, I’d highly recommend giving it a look. For all the cool, unique things to do in San Francisco, this may have topped the list!

You pa-gotta try Parada

Nestled in a quaint corner of the new-ish Pleasant Hill BART area – but technically still in Walnut Creek – lies a hidden gem of foreign cuisine. Parada, the latest brainchild of the Michelin rated Chef Carlos Altamirano, is a delicious, colorful display of Peruvian food that will definitely bring you back for seconds.

Chef Altamirano’s name may ring a bell; he has Mochica and Piqueos in San Francisco, Barranco in Lafayette, a fleet of Sanguchon food trucks, as well as La Costanera in Half Moon Bay, where he earned Michelin stars in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He trained under some of the Bay Area’s most renowned chefs, combined that background with an upbringing infused with Latin American culture and cuisine in Southern Peru, and created a food empire.

Now I know from personal experience that Peruvian cuisine, especially when cultivated by Chef Altamirano, is a can’t-miss eating opportunity.

The restaurant itself is quite small, but you wouldn’t know it when you’re in there enjoying your meal. Parada is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week, though hours vary. It’s a little bit pricey, but that’s what quality fine dining in Walnut Creek will get you these days!

If you haven’t been to Parada yet, I insist you do so. When you go, let me know how you liked it!