The drive from SoCal to NorCal can be a long one. But the drive through Central Valley is beautiful and puts the fragrance from all of the agriculture and trucks make recipes in your mind. The recipes I imagine the most are either marinara sauce or salsa. I always seem to be following or next to tomato, onion, and garlic trucks. In our case, it was a dark, lonely drive through the night as we reached Berkeley, CA a little after midnight.
- Travel tip: It is much more cost-effective to stay in Berkeley versus San Francisco. The hotel rates are much less. You can drive, pay the toll, and pay for parking, which is still much cheaper than the cost to house your vehicle at the hotel in the city per night. You can also take the BART which will take you under the bay and connect to street cars and buses in the city. Bridge tolls are part of the FasTrak system. The center lanes are for the transponders and can get you into the city much quicker.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Berkeley Marina is off the beaten path and a very quiet hotel. It sits right on the marina. The fog gave the morning a soft light to wake up to. Our room faced the courtyard where beautiful purple flowers bloomed. This hotel is also dog-friendly and many guests walk their dogs in the morning along the marina. After breakfast, we decided just to hang out for the day and recover from the long drive the night before.
In the early evening, we drove across the Bay Bridge to Golden Gate Park to visit the de Young Museum. The museum was once the Fine Arts Building for the California Midwinter International Exposition in 1894. This old structure closed to the public on December 31, 2000 and the new de Young Museum opened on October 15, 2005. The exterior almost looks like a futuristic ship (aquatic and/or space craft like) and includes a Tower Observation Floor that looks over Golden State Park with views of the California Academy of Sciences, the Music Concourse (area between the California Academy of Sciences and the de Young Museum), and the quintessential housing that San Francisco is known for. As we looked at the area around us, the fog started to roll in. It’s an eerie feeling and makes me think of that 1980 movie “The Fog”. It also brought back memories my first time in San Francisco when I was just in grade school. We were sightseeing from the bus and saw the fog rolling down the hill. It moved so organically–like it was alive. Just in time for Halloween! The “Modernism from the National Gallery of Art: The Robert & Jane Meyerhoff Collection” just went off exhibit but it was wonderful to see these pieces of art, especially with my graphic design background. They even had some pieces from Andy Warhol. Friday Nights at the de Young includes a different event every week from live music, dance, theatre performances, film screenings, panel discussions, lectures, artist demonstrations, hands-on art activities, and exhibition tours.
All of the walking around the museum made us very hungry. When in San Francisco, go with seafood. On a referral from my boss, Scoma’s was the place to go. Situated in the wharf area, Scoma’s is tucked away from the street, almost secluded. They process the seafood on premises – cleaning, filleting, etc. You can watch them through a picture-glass window right next to the restaurant. The interior design is nautically themed, yet classic. A long bar is near the entrance where you can have a libation while waiting for your table. The dining room is beautiful with glass on both sides of the restaurant. While there’s not much to see at night, we did watch seagulls perch on the wooden wharf beams outside watching us eat our dinner. I love clam chowder and it is usually one of my staples that I use to test the level of the food. This has to be the best clam chowder I’ve ever had! It’s creamy, buttery, and chocked full of clams. It was held and served at the perfect temperature so the cream didn’t break. I worked with clam chowder for 9 years at Disneyland and you really had to watch the holding temperature. Once the cream breaks, the soup loses its creamy texture (almost like curdled milk) and needs to be discarded. The fresh cracked black pepper on top sealed the deal. Scoma’s, you had me at “clam chowder”! I decided to try something off of their daily special menu, Lobster Raviolis topped with lobster tail and salmon fillet. It was pretty good. The salmon needed a little more seasoning, but had a nice buttery flavor and soft texture. The lobster tail was tender and perfectly cooked. The raviolis were okay. I would have liked more herbs like tarragon, rosemary, and/or oregano to punch up the sauce as it was a little heavy. My mom ordered the Dungeness Crab. As it was summer, it was out of season so it was “fresh frozen”. She was a little disappointed that she couldn’t have the insides (miso or mustard of the crab) as they are cleaned out when prepped. Our server assured us that if we came back during Dungeness crab season that we could order it with the “miso” intact. She enjoyed every bit of it as it came out steaming hot and ate it to make our ohana proud, bib and all. Our meal ended with roses. A man proposed to his future bride that night. They were leaving on a flight back to China and couldn’t take them. The staff gave us a couple to take back to our hotel room. They were beautiful!
- Travel tip: Scoma’s offers free valet parking.
As we drove back over the Bay Bridge with the fragrance of roses permeating in the Camaro, we yearned for our soft bed and pillows and prepared our minds for another day in San Francisco.
For more information:
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Berkeley Marina
200 Marina Blvd
Berkeley, CA 94710
de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr (inside Golden Gate Park)
San Francisco, CA 94118
Pier 47 on Al Scoma Way
San Francisco, CA 94113