East Bay Day

7.47am, Wednesday 12th September, Caltrain Station, 4th and King, San Francisco, CA, USA

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Morning, folks, I’m at the Caltrain station down by the San Francisco Giants home ball park, because today I get to go down to ‘The Peninsula’ south of the city, and I get to work out and about in the trade with Ken ‘King of the dot.com Roads’ Knox – the local man on the ground for our Californian distributor.

So not only will it be an extremely productive business day, but Ken is a big NFL football fan, so I will have the complete San Francisco 49ers ‘what happened in the last game of last year’s season where we should have gone to the Super Bowl, and what’s going to happen this year now game 1 is done’ story as well! Good thing too – seeing as my team – the Baltimore Ravens – did exactly the same thing last year … one dropped ball away from the Super Bowl. But after game one on Monday night, our quarterback Joe Flacco, has picked up where he left off last year and here’s the early tip: Ravens in the Super Bowl 2013! We will be going to the Ravens v Dallas Cowboys game in Baltimore Sunday October 14th to support the boys, and it will definitely make the difference!

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But back to San Francisco, and I’m incredibly early for the train, but the coffee over the road at The Creamery – part of an old factory seeing as this part of town was all industrial docks back in the day – is absolutely fabulous, so I can catch up on our day yesterday before heading off.

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OK, it all started incredibly well with the weather forecast – 85 degrees F expected and clear skies. Our first stops of the day were with the twin Wine Thieves stores – one in Lafayette and one underneath the shadow of the elegant old Claremont Hotel across in Berkeley. These are owned and run by two delightful blokes – Jim and Rod – and we’ve been on their shelves for some time. In good wine company and well informed hands, and we couldn’t ask for much better.

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Then it was over to the township of Orinda – famous for local legendary ice cream ‘Loards’ and the old art deco cinema. We stopped in for lunch at Shelbys (Californian cuisine) Cafe, which sits in the square below the old cinema sign. Shelbys is owned by front of house Carlos and chef Arno. Now the lovely floor staff – Joe and Lydia – who just quietly know the wines and menu backwards … right down to the individual seasonal ingredients … assure me that Arno has sung opera from the open kitchen and can be quite the charmer, but in all honesty, he scared me a bit.

But all went well!

20120912-104956.jpgPewsey Vale Riesling is on by the glass, and the Y Viognier looks like it might join in. With the Chinese Chicken Salad and Seafood Risotto, it’s an easy choice. And what about what I had for lunch – the ‘Oven Roasted Beets and Fig Salad’ – did I forget to mention the golf ball sized piece of goat cheese flash deep fried with just an egg shell thickness tempura casing sitting on top of all those healthy beets, figs and greens?

I think that there’s every chance of the Bush Vine Grenache making the list as well, and I would choose this the ‘Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder Stew’ from the Shelby’s Dinner Menu to go with it … why wouldn’t you! Well worth dropping in, folks, and ask Carlos about that 50 Shades of Grey Barossa Shiraz story!

Our last stop of the day was a seminar for a private group at the Fleming’s Steakhouse in Walnut Creek. I’m a big Flemings fan. I like what they’re doing with their Appetiser and ‘At The Bar Small Plate’ menus. But I’ll get to that in a bit of detail later. I have to get the train.

See ya when I’m back in the city.

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