So random, but needed to insert a San Jose homage [here]:

I am thankful for…

MLK Library and its sheer massiveness. 




I can recall many a high school day, getting off school, driving over to the Sweet Retreat parking lot and indulging in over sized scoops and made-to-order frozen yogurt. Tonight, I found that nothing has changed.

Sweet Retreat outside.

[Gleaned from http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/FJQIs75WpOIIKBosEGGouQ?select=BDETT6715cXFTA8XCaF3Ew

The sights and smells are still the same. The mural on the back wall remains untouched: a tropical rendezvous, complete with ice cream scoop “people”. The prices are still cheap ($2.85 for a single scoop, which translates to 1 and a 1/2 massive scoops), and high school students are still the ones behind the counter.

Its mission is still the same, too. It’s not blighted by the changes that have occurred around it. It still stands as a kind of local watering hole, a place where adolescent memories fester. And when you’ve left San Jose for awhile, it’s one the few places that really confirms that you’re home.

A MINI banana split…key word: MINI.

And the ice cream? It’s pretty good. Strawberry cheesecake with real cheesecake bites, Tin Roof Sundae with salty, chocolate bits, and refreshing Coconut Pineapple, just to name a few. If you prefer the standard flavors, they’ve got those too. It also has a bona-fide frozen yogurt machine which really must be what the angels eat in heaven. Pick your fruit, and it’s blended with real frozen yogurt – resulting in a yogurt that is tangy, sweet and creamy all at the same time. A must try, I take friends to try just this all the time. Portions are large with EVERYTHING. Even the “Mini” scoops could probably satisfy an adult.

Sweet Retreat
6061 Cahalan Ave
San Jose, CA 95123
(408) 629-8139

11:00 – 10:00 Monday – Friday

A “Bitchin Bloody Mary” ($5) from Trax Bar on Haight Street, San Francisco!

Little did I know, but this bar also has a history! Read on… (gleaned from http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-24122-Budget-Living-Examiner~y2009m10d13-Paranormal-San-Francisco–Haunted-Tales-of-San-Franciscos-Haight-Street)

Right on Haight in the midst of it’s haunting energy, between Ashbury and Masonic, you can find Trax Bar, probably the only local gay watering hole on the block, dating back to 1974. It boasts a cheap Happy Hour, a kick-ass yearly Halloween party, and is in it’s own right, a sometimes quiet little watering hole.  With it’s “easy to get to, hard to leave” slogan, you can tell it’s worth a visit. The drinks come cheap and the fun never ends. Yet there seems to be other spirits in this establishment, beyond those shelved behind the bar. This bar has much more than just a good time, its haunted and is known as one of the more active places in San Francisco for paranormal activity.  


The bar itself dates back to the 1940s, when it was known as The Question Mark Cocktail Lounge. It’s gone through many transformations since then and proudly boasts as being the oldest pub on Haight street by the owner and employees.

Trax Paranormal Activity and Haunted Tales 

There have been haunting rumors surrounding Trax for quite some time. Customers and employees have reported strange sightings. An ethereal man has been seen sitting at the end of the bar, watching the patrons. The same apparition has been spotted walking through the bar, into the office, and out the door.  The topping on the cake was an old photograph discovered by workers they discovered while cleaning the pub out a while back.  They found a picture of the bar’s patrons taken during the 1940’s, showing the original pub during the one-year anniversary.

 When the owner saw the picture, he noticed something familiar about it. He had seen the man who was pointing at the camera before… inside the bar!  Is this an old bar “Regular who loved the bar so much he cant leave?  Poissibly the old owner, making sure his business is properly attended to.  
Nevertheless, Trax has earned a spot on the Haunted Haight ghost tour and has more than it’s share of visitors. Amongst the drink specials, drag queens, and sometimes loud music, you just might find yourself face to face with the mysterious supernatural drinking buddy yourself.

Driving down highway 1 from San Francisco, we have often passed this seafront dining restaurant. We finally decided to give it a try, since we had already passed the Miramar, our go-to restaurant when we are in Half Moon Bay.

Sam’s Chowder House  has won numerous awards: “Top Three Outdoor Dining Spots in the Bay Area” by San Francisco Magazine, and Sante Magazine’s Service Hospitality Award. It was also featured on NBC-TV’s The TODAY Show for Sam’s famous Lobster Rolls, selected by the Food Editor as one of the five “Best Sandwiches in America”. It is also locally recognized for its “Chowdermobile” that is available for rent for public and private events.

The architecture of Sam’s Chowder house is impressive. Assisted by tall glass windows, the dining room is flooded with natural light. Breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean are viewable from any angle, but tables near the back are methodically taller to assure that everyone can enjoy. Sam’s also has a patio, for those who want a closer look. It is a very effective use of space at such a prime location.

We were there for a quick happy hour bite. I was impressed by the menu. Diverse dishes are in abundance here: Marinated Lobster Ceviche, New Zealand Bluenose Sea Bass with piquillo peppers and Sam’s Famous Lobster Clambake for 2 –  just to name a few. In short, a seafood lover’s dream.  We ordered 2 glasses of wine and logically, a cup of the New England Clam Chowder. Bread was prompt: cold sourdough. My favorite.

A cup of the clam chowder was plenty for two. I’m glad that we didn’t order the bowl. I love homemade clam chowder – I attribute this to my childhood spent in Pismo Beach, where Splash Cafe, the local chowder house, has a permanent “wrap-around” line out the door. The chowder at Sam’s was light, filling and had plenty of clams! It was a cold day and it was the perfect comfort food.

For a quick stop-in, Sam’s Chowder House orchestrated a promising performance. I will definitely be back soon to try out dinner and check out some more of the views.

Website: http://www.samschowderhouse.com

4210 North Cabrillo Hwy, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019 / 650 – 712-0245

Monday – Thursday 11:30AM – 9:00

Friday – Saturday 11:30-9:30

Sunday 11:30 – 9:00

“I did not say that this meat was tough. I just said I didn’t see the horse that usually stands outside.”

W.C. Fields


Thea Mediterranean (http://www.thearestaurant.com/)

I firmly believe that Thea Mediterranean has the best food on Santana Row.

For most of the restaurants on the row, I truly feel that you are paying for the ambience. Food is secondary, lackluster and unmemorable.

However, every single time I go to Thea I feel like I’m truly getting the most out of my dining experience. It’s setting is mystical, with opera-like ceilings, candlelit tables and standing olive tree. The staff is on point. The dishes, which range from traditional Chicken Souvlaki to Garides (grilled prawns with zuccinni cakes and cream sauce) are not only impressive from a visual standpoint…they literally transcend the modern theory of Mediterranean Californian cuisine.

(Pictured: Roasted Lamb Shank)

The other night, I had my monthly craving for Thea. I decided to go with something more dramatic: I ordered the skirt steak, which was complimented by a delicious horseradish pesto and carmelized onions. I also opted for a side order of polenta, which I highly recommend for it balanced the dish out well.

The steak melted in my mouth. The horseradish pesto and carmelized onions added a surpise dimension. As always, every bite made me happy.

Whenever an out of town guest comes to visit, I always recommend Thea. It never fails to impress.

 “The noblest of all dogs is the hot-dog; it feeds the hand that bites it.”

– Laurence J. Peter