Tartine

When I travel I don’t really do much sightseeing. Mostly I like to wander from restaurant to restaurant or bakery to bakery. What can I say? I like food and usually I see some sites along the way.

There is also a growing list of restaurants and bakeries that I cannot enter without losing all restraint. Tartine in San Francisco is definitely on that list. Like when I go to Flour in Boston, the moment I enter Tartine I have the overwhelming compulsion to purchase everything in sight and horde treats for later.

Obviously I told my dad that one of the big things I wanted to do while in San Francisco was go to Tartine. We ended up marching though the mission at 8:30 am on a Sunday morning and then standing in a line before the bakery opened. I’m pretty sure my dad’s internal monologue was something along the lines of “this better not suck” and “why and I in this line for a pastry”. Thankfully Tartine did not disappoint (I knew it wouldn’t!) and we were able to snag a table so we could sit down and enjoy our treats.

I did not get the chocolate hazelnut tart. Next time.

Because I have an utter lack of self control I got a sweet breakfast item, a savory breakfast item and snack for later.

Oh and this latte which was served in a bowl. I love a coffee beverage that is too big to fit into a conventional mug.

The lattes at Tartine are delicious. For me they are up there with Blue Bottle with the rich and smooth flavor. I almost tried to get another to go but I didn’t want to stand in a line which continuously snaked out the front door.

I also got a morning bun fresh out of the oven.

Sweet, orangey, gooey and delicious. I wish I’d ordered 12.

Food porn at its finest.

I made the executive decision that a mere morning bun would not sustain me on the ride to Healdsburg so I also ordered quiche.

It’s been a while because I am woefully behind on my blogging but I believe this quiche had local yellow tomatoes and bacon and some form of cheese. It was delicious. The crust was well cooked and a little less flakey than the quiche crust at Flour but good nonetheless.

Oh, and I got a chocolate chip cookie for the road. Can you blame me?

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Slanted Door

The first time I went to San Francisco my good friend Chrissy took me to Slanted Door in the Ferry Building for cocktails and appetizers. The prices on the menu were a little outside the reach of my law student budget, not to mention the restaurant was totally jammed so we were in and out pretty quickly. This time I was back with my Dad to bank roll the dinner. What we didn’t expect (and duh probably should have) is that you need to lock down your table at Slanted Door about a month in advance. Whoops. I needed to get out on a run so I put Dad in charge of figuring that one out.

When I got back he said we could probably get a table if we were there when it opened at 5:30. Yeah, it was the early bird special but it was worth it.

We got to sit outside and had this impressive view…

I was so excited to rip open the menus.

I cannot remember what I had to drink the first time I went to Slanted Door. This time the choice was easy. I ordered a French 75: dudognon reserve cognac and prosecco, lemon; on rocks.

It was so good I ordered two.

As you can tell, we wasted no time establishing that we needed appetizers and entrees and dessert. This is why I like meals out with dad, there are always multiple courses.

We quickly ordered the slanted door spring rolls with pork, mint, shrimp and peanut sauce.

So fresh and so delicious. I love the huge shrimps with the mint.

We also decided to order two entrees and share them. I interrogated the waiter about what the best food on the menu was.

The theme of the food on this trip was seafood. Dad basically had clam fest the first several days of the trip. The waiter recommended the caramelized wild gulf shrimp with garlic, yellow onion and caramel chili sauce and Dad quickly called dibs on it.

Don’t worry I made him share. It was sweet and not too spicy which is good. Totally mouth watering.

I ordered the cellophane noodles with green onion, crab and sesame. What can I say? I was feeling the need for carbs.

Again, so fresh. The ingredients here are just the best. I love the food in San Francisco. Plus, I haven’t had good cellophane noodles in a long time.

The entrees at Slanted Door seem simple but they were both so delicious. The ingredients are fresh and the blend of seasonings is perfect. Nothing was over sauced (ick) or bland.

We tore through BOTH entrees and decided that we needed some sort of dessert. After a big dinner I wanted something light.

Poached peaches with crème fraiche.

This dessert had me a crème fraiche. It was light and delicious and summery. Perfect end to a perfect meal.

After dinner we went on a long walk to digest. I had a massive food baby after all this food. I highly recommend Slanted Door. It was one of the best meals that we had while traveling. If you can’t get in for a meal, try to check out the bar and order at least an appetizer.

Reflections on Marathon Running and Bar Examination Taking.

Graduation, May 2012. One of the happiest days of my life, which was promptly followed by two of the most intense months of my life.

A little over a month ago I spent 18 hours in a ballroom in Century City completing the California Bar Exam. The exam capped off two months of intense studying. The bar exam is a unique experience. I took a prep class to prepare and get me ready for 18 hours of testing. My law school experience helped as well. Especially after my grueling finals schedule last winter (4 exams and a 40 page paper in less than 3 weeks), I knew I could handle the studying portion of the bar exam. I blogged back in early July that I actually felt pretty good about where I was with preparing for the exam and staying positive. Obviously there were some low moments (like calling my Mom at 6 pm on a Tuesday to ask for permission to take a break. Adulthood fail.) Overall I felt good about the bar prep.

The exam itself was an intense three days. Three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon were devoted to the test. I was really intense about protecting my sanity and sticking to a routine that I was comfortable with. I don’t get my results until November so who knows how successful I actually was. Yes, that is your disclaimer to take everything I’m about to write with a small grain of salt.

Beyond the “marathon” three day exam there were many aspects of studying that tested my mental endurance. Sitting in class listening to lectures for several hours then coming home to 5-8 hours of additional homework. Writing practice essay after practice essay. Sitting though all day simulated exams. Studying day in and day out, feeling like I wasn’t making very much real progress. Waiting to see scores increase on multiple choice sections and then seeing them plummet again. Hearing and seeing social media updates from well meaning classmates berating themselves for “low” scores (I refuse to believe that they were all low. Remember, law students generally perfectionists). Going back to barbri day after day and thinking “dear god no, not more material for me to internalize”. Constant monitoring of my mood, food and caffeine intake and sleep to make sure I was OK. Oh and dealing with everyday life. I learned this summer that the bar exam does not exist in a vacuum. Life is still happening and you still have to deal with it.

Source

Wash, rinse, repeat over and over for two months. That is what preparing for the bar exam is all about.

***

By far the best thing I did to prepare for the bar (besides going to law school) was running the Chicago Marathon last fall. Hands down.

When I first got the marathon itch I knew that I wanted to complete it before the end of law school for several reasons. The main reason was that it’s easier to work a training schedule around being a student. However, it was also critical in my mind that I hit my marathon goal before embarking on the bar exam process. I knew that the bar exam was going to be the most challenging academic task of my career to date. The bar exam was my academic Everest.

The thing about running for me is that it has the power to remind me what I’m capable of, even in the midst of self doubt. Running for me is largely mind over matter. If I tell myself “you can finish this mile, race, etc”, I do. Finishing my first half marathon was a big ah-ha moment for me in that respect. I believe that most people can do anything they put their minds to and finishing half marathons, setting new personal bests, and completing the marathon is a reminder that I can do anything I want to do.

So I set out last October to run a marathon.

And I did.

***

Over the weekend while lazing around my apartment, half writing this post and half trying to decide what to put on my grocery list for this week (priorities), I decided to re-watch Spirit of the Marathon. I had watched it several times while I was training for Chicago to pump myself up but I hadn’t watched it since the race. During my re-watching several quotes from the movie rang truer than ever: “the marathon gives you an extra layer” “it reminds you that anything is possible” “when you cross the finish line, no matter how fast or how slow, it changes you forever”.

I also went back and read several blog posts that I wrote around the time of the marathon and found this from my marathon recap: I’m proud that I finished but I’m even more proud of myself for never doubting my ability to finish and staying strong. I know that I will take that into everything I do in the future.”

While preparing for the bar exam, there were moments where I hit the mental wall. I distinctly remember one awful day in June where I cracked my crown eating sushi (HOW? This stuff only happens to me) and promptly panicked about maybe having to go to the dentist. I had a brief melted down and then put on my shoes and went out for a run as I typically do when anxiety hits. While running I thought back to how I felt running the marathon and I remembered how proud I was of myself for going into the race KNOWING I was going to finish. I had been so confident. I remember telling myself that no matter how tired I was I wanted to look strong when I saw my family and friends along the course. Through wanting to look strong, I became strong. The marathon, like the bar exam, came down to a mental game.


Not Mine.

Throughout the rest of the bar exam, I approached the preparation as if I was training for Chicago again. I even compared test preparation as if I was running the marathon course again. I walked into the full day multiple choice simulated exam with calmness and confidence. I listened to my favorite running anthems on the drive to the testing facility. Half way through the first set I went to the bathroom, splashed water on my face and said to myself: “ok you’re at mile 8. Remember mile 8? You were in Boystown. There were ROTC cadets out. There were Lady Gaga impersonators. You felt so good you clapped and cheered on their performances from the course”. I went back out there and kept working. Towards the end of that simulated exam I was mentally exhausted and just did not care anymore. Again, I took a short break to reinvigorate and said to myself: “you’re at mile 23. Brenna and Claire and about to jump in with you. It’s time to finish strong. You can do this”. Total cornball move but, you know what, it worked! I went back to the exam feeling much better and looking back, I got more right in that section of the exam than I did in any other.

On test day I drove myself to the test listening to my favorite running songs. When the exam was about to start I had adrenaline was coursing through my system like it had before the marathon began. I thought to myself “You ran a marathon. How hard can this be?” and was off.

Here’s the thing: when it comes to the bar exam, you need to put in the work. And you know what? If you worked hard enough to graduate from law school, you WILL put in the work. It’s just who you are. Putting in the work isn’t the hardest aspect of the bar exam in my mind. The hardest thing is staying positive and knowing that you are capable of passing. The best tool I had to help me stay positive, outside of my network of family and friends, was the knowledge that when I want to do something I’m generally able to do it. Like finishing a marathon.

California Love

If you did not gather from my last, teaser post I was lucky enough to spend the past week and a half exploring California. Despite living in Cali for a little over 3 years I haven’t actually spent that much time exploring my adopted home state. I’ve taken a couple trips to Palm Springs and I’ve been to San Francisco and San Diego but there was so much more of the state that I wanted to see.

My Dad flew into LA on my birthday, we rented a car and hit the road.

We went to Santa Barbara.

Cambria and Hearst Castle.

Traveled up the 1 through Big Sur.

Carmel.

San Francisco.

Healdsburg and Wine Country.

and San Los Obispo.

This trip has completely reaffirmed my love for California. I feel so lucky to live in a state with such geographic diversity and beauty. Big Sur was especially breathtaking and I really want to go back. This trip was planned over the summer so major credit goes to my mom. I basically said “I’m busy, just plan it for me” and she did a really good job. We had great hotels where we stayed with locations that were walking distance from the downtown areas.

We only had one night in Santa Barbara, Cambria, and SLO. I really liked Santa Barbara and spent plenty of time on the main shopping drag through town. Same with SLO. It was the end of the trip and I was pretty tired but we stayed at a really cute little hotel that felt super homey and I managed to get some shopping time in too.

I ate at some amazing restaurants and I documented about half of the meals I ate. I plan to do separate posts detailing those meals. I was a huge fan of the dinner I had at Slanted Door, lunch at Chez Panisse, the baked goods at Tartine (might give my beloved Flour a run for its money as my favorite bakery), and Baci and Scopa in Healdsburg. I definitely came home with a food baby. Always the sign of a good vacation!