Newbie here! Just wanted to say first of all that I LOVE this board, and (when I have time, which is rare) thoroughly enjoy searching through it. As a little intro to myself... I'm 22 and just graduated from NYU, but I'm from the Chicagoland area (Highland Park, to be exact), and have evolved a newly discovered passion for cooking, food and the food industry--a wannabe foodie of sorts, I suppose... I love it for the same reason I love to travel-- seeing whats new out there (farmers markets, ethnic stores, restaurants, products, etc), the gastronomy/culture/history behind it all, trying and creating new flavors and ingredients and seeing what goes together, etc. I'm into that whole Slow Foods scene, but I'm sure I don't need to explain much seeing that this is, afterall Chowhound, and we are talking about SF here.. point being, I want to go into the food industry in some way, and am now exploring my options because they are so ridiculously overwhelming and vast...
Which brings me to the fact that I'm going to an open house with my parents to check out the associates degree program at the CIA at St. Helena, which is on Thursday, June 28th from around 9am-1pm-ish. I have been to SF Bay area and Napa once before for a week, but was with my boyfriend of the time, and so obviously did not have the same amount of money to spend as I do now. This is partially a culinary adventure for me, part birthday present, part exploration, and part trying to convince my parents to move here and see why I'm so obsessed with it. So we leave on Sunday 5 pm flight, and I really really need help here with some suggestions, food and otherwise. I love most foods, but have a particular affinity for the Cal cuisine, Contemp/New American, globally influenced foods and combining foods in ways you cannot create yourself, I LOVE seafood and raw bars, Japanese food, Mediterranean influenced food (my parents are Israeli so I love Med fare, and all things Med influenced...African, Morroccan, French, Vietnamese, you name it) Things I know I want to do/reservations I have already made (but subject to change upon suggestion) are:
1. Gary Danko's on Thursday, 8 pm... I adore exploring different cheeses, and have heard they have one of the best cheese plates, but have heard both positive and negative reviews.
2. Kaygetsu on Saturday, 7:30 pm. I really love the kaiseki concept, and have been dying to try it. I also love Japanese food and seafood, especially raw seafood, and I love the simplicity and elegance of something like this. I think I am also going to Koi Palace for dim sum (parents have never had dim sum) in Daly City for brunch.
3. Staying in St. Helena Wednesday night
Things I want to do:
1. In St.Helena, I obviously want to explore Napa Valley and go to at least once winery. How long do you all think I need there? We are arriving Wednesday night at the SF airport at about 6 pm.
2. Show my parents Chinatown, Japantown (those stores are an overwhelming delight), Muir Woods, North Beach, probably Fisherman's Wharf, which I have seen. I could definitely skip Haight/Asbury bc I stayed there and would rather devote time to other things. I also have never been to SoMa and around there, so I want to explore SoMa for sure, and anything else suggested.
3. Farmer's Market/ethnic markets/stores
4. Chez Panisse possibly?
1. Would we have time to still see Monteray or Carmel or surrounding areas at all? Should I just stick to SF?
2. Will we have enough time at Napa Valley? I only did Thursday reservation for Gary Danko's because it was the only spot available, if it's inconvenient and there are other suggestions let me know.
3. We love to walk (though we will have a car that we'll rent), and love doing little tastings of stuff on the way (for example, North Beach bakeries, etc). Best areas for good walking to see people, culture, shopping (book stores, clothes, anything else...)?
4. Where should we dine on Wed. night? Somewhere in San Fran when we get in or somewhere in Napa around St. Helena so we can go there and go to our accomodations after?
5. Definitely want to go to Muir Woods, but not make it an all day event... when should we stick Muir Woods in there? California is unbelievably beautiful and I want to make sure to incorporate some of that as well, but I suppose that's what Napa is there for too.
6. General info, advice, or help about an itinerary that incorprates these elements is much appreciated...
Wow, that was one of the longest posts I've ever written, I apologize. As you can see, I'm a bit overwhelming and want to ensure a great trip, but need help! I'm putting much faith in my fellow foodie's and relying on you guys :) Thanks soo much and looking forward to a response!