Holy cripes! This has been a very long, yet adult kind of day. For the first time, I’ve had Bulleit bourbon and Pinnacle Cake vodka… in a very short amount of time. Those are taking a toll right now, and that’s because both are awesome.

First things first, I guess I’m not quite a bourbon expert like I once thought. I can certainly tell the difference between Woodford Reserve and Maker’s Mark but, when it comes to Bulleit, well, it simply just tastes like bourbon.

Based on the recommendation from a coworker, I decided to give Bulleit a try today. My first impression is that it’s very woody (oak) and has a lingering vanilla finish. It’s good but just kinda tastes like… well… bourbon. There isn’t anything amazingly unique about it, but it’s good and enjoyable.

As for this Pinnacle Cake vodka…. wow. It’s really sweet. The first time I had Pinnacle vodka was when those closest to me toasted and gave me a shot at a local bowling alley. It was Pinnacle’s “Whipped (cream)” vodka, and it was really unique and surprisingly awesome… must be chemicals in there, sort of like those spoken about in the book “Fast Food Nation” that makes the drink taste pretty authentic. Whatever is in it, it’s good and makes for a fun Saturday night.

Tonight I made a “Buttercream Icing” drink which, according to the Pinnacle website, consists of the following: 2 parts cake vodka, 1/2 part butterscotch schnapps, 1 part half and half (I used milk), and a dollop of whipped cream on top. Aside from the whipped cream, the three ingredients are shaken and served cold.

For a full description of drink recipes, check out:
http://www.pinnaclevodka.com/downloads/Pinnacle-Vodka-Cocktail-Catalog.pdf

Advertisements

For the first time in a long time, I got a parking ticket. It was on Christmas Eve, and I’m not thrilled about it. While the federal government had the “Sorry, we’re closed” sign hanging in the window on that day, my fair city of Los Angeles was out contributing to the betterment of society, penalizing folks who prevented the streets from being swept. Previously, I had been so good about sticking my longest finger high up in the air toward the direction of City Hall and making sure the car was in the right place at the right time. But I guess we all have a down day… a lapse here and there.

Regardless of the $73 fine left on my windshield, the street sweeping system has always made me scratch my head, due to its sometimes incredibly confusing restrictions and lack of transparency. Ahhhh, yes, lack of transparency. Gee, that’s a new description for government programs!

A couple days before Thanksgiving, I parked on the street in front of a car that didn’t have a parking permit for my neighborhood. Parking Enforcement was in the middle of issuing a ticket, so I asked the officer what days they would be enforcing that week. He said they wouldn’t be giving out tickets on Thursday or Friday. In reflection, that’s very interesting, as it’s nearly impossible to find any sort of official Parking Enforcement calendar on the city website. That kind of thing is good to know for when you plan on having friends and family visit.

On a forum regarding this very topic, one person suggested looking at the Public Library calendar, to get an idea of the holidays observed by the city of L.A. The libraries were closed on Christmas Eve, so don’t trust that advice.

Finally, the one and only thing I could find (via a Google search – not the city website) was a scan of a directive from Mayor Villaraigosa to not enforce time-restricted and neighborhood permit parking areas on the following holidays:

1. New Year’s Day
2. Martin Luther King’s Birthday
3. President’s Day
4. Memorial Day
5. Independence Day
6. Labor Day
7. Columbus Day
8. Veteran’s Day
9. Thanksgiving Day
10. Christmas Day

Here is the full text:
http://ladot.lacity.org/pdf/PDF135.pdf

Hopefully this helps. Take care out there, and let’s do our best to starve the beast!

 

As an added note, if you are interested in this topic, check out these photos and stories of Parking Enforcement violating the same rules they give citations for:

“Other Parking Citations Received by Other Victims”
http://www.slapec.org/code/other2.shtml

First and foremost, happy new year to you all. I hope it’s a good, blessed one for many of you. :p

So, kidding aside, hopefully you rang in the new year in whatever way you wanted to ring it in. As for me, I traveled….again. It’s somewhat of a common theme, in between those new years eve nights where I literally do nothing aside from having a beer and/or glass of champagne while watching TV. On the more exciting occasions, I’ve celebrated NYE in Times Square, Washington DC, Cincinnati, and now San Francisco. It was a blast (no pun intended, considering the fireworks!) Let me tell you alllll about it.

 

Rearview Mirror Reflection of Clouds

Reflections on the Past


 

So, the first stop on this roadtrip, six hours north of home, was Napa Valley. The last (and only) time I had been there, I was 17. When you’re that age, wineries aren’t very fun. Back then, I was offered a lovely tasting of water. It was a real bummer, as my father and brother lived the life of connoisseurs, analyzing the wine bouquet and notes of lovely-sounding things like chocolate and berries.

As for this recent visit, the quick stop in Napa was sort of a letdown. The area is always so hyped up, but I didn’t find it to be any more impressive than the central California/Santa Barbara-area wineries. Both areas are beautiful, and in both regions you’ll find a combo of hits and misses. Also, it’s worth noting that tastings in Napa are more expensive than the other wine regions I’ve visited. At some places, the pours are very conservative, and you might only get to taste three wines for $20. I’ve read that some Napa tastings even run about $40!

A coworker highly recommended Gott’s Roadside (formerly called Taylor’s Refresher), which is a small, three-store burger joint. On location is in Napa, another is in St. Helena (near Mondavi Winery), and the third is in San Francisco. We stopped at the St. Helena location and, despite the frigid temperature, there was a long line at the outdoor order window. It didn’t take too long to figure out why the place was so hoppin’… it was delicious! My Wisconsin Sourdough burger and onion rings seemed really fresh, and excess grease was minimal. That’s not to say I didn’t feel sick to my stomach a while later, after gorging myself… but that’s my bad.

 

From there, the next notable destination was the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. My first impression was the location was really surprising. Photos seem to give the feeling that it’s fairly isolated or perhaps situated at the forefront of a suburban neighborhood. That’s not really the case at all. Rather, the home is effectively surrounded by a business/mall complex, movie theaters, and a freeway. Except for the heavy mall traffic on a Saturday night, that discovery wasn’t off-putting or anything… just very different from what was expected.

 
Rear View of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
 

Taking the first Grand Tour of the morning was probably a wise move. The group seemed small – about 10 people – and, for the basement tour, there were four of us. The tour guide was expecting 12, so it was great to have that more-personal attention. The basement wasn’t too exciting, except for seeing how much the wood beams supporting the house wore down during the 1906 earthquake.

As for the main tour, I really enjoyed it. Imaging little ol’ Mrs. Winchester (it’s said she was 4′ 10″) wandering the corridors, forever trying to appease the spirits, was really something. The architecture is beautiful, and the monstrosity of the house is amazing, yet the mansion didn’t have that creepy factor like I always expected. It was a daytime tour, though, so maybe that had something to do with it. And maybe my previous work on Ghost Hunters has made me a little more skeptical of those types of situations. Weird, unexplainable occurrences have happened – I can attest to that – but they are so few and far between that you can’t anticipate much.

 

San Francisco was next on the agenda. I had been warned against driving in the city, due to parking being next to impossible. Maybe it was a fluke due to the holidays and such, but it worked out okay.

 
Golden Gate Bridge Wide
 

The first night, we parked a few blocks south of the marina. It was right at 7 PM, and as I was about to put coins in the meter, the light on it stopped flashing and it shut off. So did all the other meters up the street. Free parking and perfect timing! Cha-ching! So, metered parking isn’t 24/7, which can help save you some cash.

Ending up in the same neighborhood the following day, I discovered some free, 4 hour max. parking near Ghirardelli Square. We parked there, spent a couple hours biking to and across the Golden Gate Bridge, moved the car to a different parking spot, and spent a couple hours at dinner. It worked out great.

 
Night View of Golden Gate Bridge
 

As the day started to wind down and the New Years Eve festivities were starting to pick up, we headed east. We finally had to pay for garage parking, and walked to the Embarcadero. 200,000 revelers fill up that area every year for New Years Eve, so it was pretty wild. Plenty of people had apparently spent the hours leading up to midnight at the bar, so there was a lot of inebriated energy in the air.

 
San Francisco Ferry Building
 

With the giant crowd concentrated near the Ferry Building, we headed up the street and staked out a spot on Pier 3. It turned out to be perfect, as the firework display looked awesome with the Bay Bridge as the backdrop.

 
New Years Eve Fireworks over San Francisco Bay
 

Overall, it was a great, quick roadtrip but a great way to end one year and kick off a new one. Have a great year, everyone. Cheers!

 
Painted Ladies Row Houses in San Fran