Monday, August 24, 2015

San Francisco (Part Three)

Okay, guys. Here's my last batch of pictures from San Francisco. Like I said, I took way too many pictures that week, but there was just so much to see!
Wall mural in Haight-Ashbury.
The Bay Bridge

They called these little things "Go Cars". They were everywhere.
Picture of the Boardwalk down near Pier 39.

Dock in Sausalito.

An Anchor Steam beer at Top of the Mark

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

Grace Cathedral

The Financial District.

Top of the Mark, the restaurant/bar in our hotel.

View of the skyline from the Rocket Boat.
San Francisco Opera House.


Haight-Ashbury Sports Park.

Interesting view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

View of the skyline along with the ballpark.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Bar Review !

Our entrees arrived shortly thereafter: the Bavarian Grilled Cheese for me and the Bratwurst Platter, sans barbecue sauce, for my partner in crime. While my sandwich was little more than melted cheese and bratwurst on a stale bread roll, I must say I greatly enjoyed my side of “German” potato salad (the ingredients of which are still a mystery).

As some of you might remember, I was recently asked to write a monthly column on new local bars and restaurants for the Raleigh Public Record. My first article was posted this morning! Even if y'all aren't familiar with the Raleigh area, it's a humorous read if I do say so myself.

The Bar Review
by Molly Moore

When the editor of the Raleigh Public Record approached me recently about writing a monthly column on the local bar/restaurant scene, my first instinct was to turn him down. After all, the only newspaper experience I’ve had involves a Journalism 101 college course in which I fine-tuned my covert napping skills while appearing to be alert.

See the source imageHowever, I’m not one to back down from a challenge, so I decided to give it a shot. While I don’t consider myself to be a food critic or beer snob of sorts (both of which seem to be rather abundant in the Triangle), I have a great deal of faith in my own opinions. And like any other red-blooded American, I’m convinced my personal judgments are concrete.

On a recent Saturday, I decided to embark upon my first research assignment. While everyone with a pulse rushed over to the new Raleigh Beer Garden, I decided to take the road less traveled and visit Clouds Brewing, which is quickly approaching its one-year anniversary.

On its website Clouds describes the menu as being “Contemporary America with a German flair”, so I opted to break out the big guns and invite a friend of mine who was born and raised in Bavaria. After all, who better to help me tackle a menu comprised of Schnitzel, Bratwurst, and Hefeweizens than a native German?

See the source image
We arrived at Clouds around 12:30 on Saturday afternoon and were eventually greeted by one of the four staff members chit-chatting leisurely around the hostess stand. The restaurant seemed suspiciously empty, especially considering the prime lunch hour, but we assumed that might be in part to the novelty of the nearby Raleigh Beer Garden.

Once we were finally seated on the outdoor patio, it took almost fifteen minutes for our server to appear at our table. Although he was a nice enough guy, he didn’t seem to know much about the menu, like what, exactly, was in the “German” potato salad, and failed to mention the daily specials.

After giving us a quick introduction of “the Downpour”, the self-serve beer wall featuring 10 rotating taps, our server handed us a couple of wristbands to electronically keep track of our beers. Among the choices on the beer wall, most were either of the IPA variety or fruit-based brews. As I wandered over to the bar to see what types of beers were available on tap, I was a bit befuddled to see that most of the tap handles had been assembled backward.

In other words, to see the name of the beers I would have either had to lean over the bar to read them — a virtual accident waiting to happen — or would need to have memorized the general shapes of each of the 30 taps. Since the bartender was nowhere to be found, I ventured back to “the Downpour” and managed to pour myself a glass of the Foothills Dopplebock before returning to my table.

As we studied the menu, my sidekick found issue with more than a few of the “German” items available, most notably the fact that the Bratwurst was served with barbecue sauce and thus necessitating a mustard hijacking from a less deserving dish on the menu.

We started by ordering the Cranberry Brie appetizer, for which I initially had high hopes but was ultimately disappointed. The Brie tasted store-bought and bland, and the cranberry sauce contained more sugar than anything else. After one bite each of the appetizer, we quietly pushed the dish aside without another word.

See the source imagePerhaps the greatest mystery — to me, at least — is the fact that “Clouds Brewing” is not yet technically a brewery. While I have heard that the state and federal licensing requirements for breweries can be a tough undertaking, I think I would be more inclined to forgive the “brewing” moniker had it been something more generic, such as “brew-pub”.

According to the information on their website, the actual brewery is still under construction and not due to open for another couple of months. The legality of calling an establishment a “brewery” long before it begins brewing beer is out of my scope of expertise, but I can’t help but find it a little puzzling. Talk about putting the cart before the horse. Maybe I should open my own vineyard and just resell bottom-shelf bottles of wine from Harris Teeter. I’ll plant a few grape seeds in the backyard just to make everything seem legitimate.

Overall, the experience at Clouds Brewing was decent. I can appreciate the fact that they have a good variety of beers from which to choose, provided you can read backward tap handles or learn to pour your own beer from the infamous “Downpour.”

The food was somewhat hit-or-miss, although the German potato salad was definitely wunderbar, and the service was agreeable, so long as you’re not in a hurry. Although I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to revisiting this establishment at some point, I plan on having my hands full with new (and maybe not so new) bars and restaurants to size up for your reading pleasure in the near future. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

San Francisco (Part Two)

Good morning everyone! I'll continue on with my series of photos from my recent San Francisco trip.
Lombard Street
Cline Winery
Madonna Estates Winery
Sequoia Tree at Yosemite

Cline Winery
View from Yosemite -- El Capitan on the left.

Lombard Street

The oldest saloon in California.
Our hotel -- The Mark Hopkins

This pond was originally 12 feet deep before the drought began.

Sonoma Coast Chardonnay grapes.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

San Francisco (Part One)

Hello everyone! Hope everyone is doing well. I just got back from a one-week vacation in San Francisco with my parents, my brother, my aunt and uncle, and my cousin. This was my first time in the city, and I really loved it. Aside from New Orleans, I believe this place might be my favorite so far. I've got more pictures than I know what to do with, so I'll post them for you guys here over a series of posts. If you've never been to San Francisco, I highly recommend going!
View from our hotel

A cute little bar we found in Nob Hill

View from "Top of the Mark".

The Ferry Building