Monday, February 26, 2007

Winter, San Francisco Style!

For those of you who haven’t yet heard, a few weeks ago Pearl and I went snowboarding for the first time, or as us boarders say, we “rode the mountain.”

Pia flew in to join us for the trip and she, Pearl and I awoke at 4am so we could be at Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe before the start of our 10am beginner's lesson. With the sun still hours from rising, we made our way through the city streets to pick up Suzanne and Lily and then jumped on Route 80 and headed east to Tahoe. We were making great time when (adventure alert!) an hour outside of the city our rented minivan started making funny noises. Strangely enough, when we picked up the van the previous evening, it only had a total of 7 miles on the odometer. Luckily, we had enough momentum to roll off the exit in Roseville and come to a stop at the closest gas station where Pearl spent the next three hours of the phone with the rental agency. Suzanne kept the rest of us entertained by playing guitar and singing songs.

Finally, after hours of waiting, a truck arrived with another minivan in tow. The replacement was not as new, nor as nice, but it worked and that was good enough for us.

We arrived at Alpine well after our lesson was to begin, but this turned out to be fortuitous. Lily's friend, Gray, who had worked at Alpine the previous winter, met us as we were finishing lunch and offered to give us a private lesson. For the next 3 hours we rode the mountain, fell a lot, developed a few bruises, got soaking wet, and had a great time. None of us were expert riders by any means, but we all looked good in our boarding outfits and let's face it, that's what is most important anyway.

Lake Tahoe in general - and Alpine in particular - is beautiful. It was snowing when we arrived, the first snow we'd seen since our move. It's funny how when you don't need to do the shoveling snow seems almost magical, like something out of Narnia. And like much of California, Alpine is green conscious (from the website): “Environmentalism does not begin by adopting a set of trendy “go-green BMP's”; it’s more of a mindset that starts with self, manifesting into choices, actions, and life practices. Most guests and employees have actively chosen Alpine Meadows as their home mountain because of the resort’s environmental standards and high regard for the mountains. Alpine Meadows does as much as it does not. Alpine Meadows works with Colorado-based Renewable Choice Energy. The resort purchases 100% renewable energy. Using this amount of wind energy is equivalent to not driving a car 1,822,061 miles. That’s three and a half round-trip tickets to the moon!”

When we'd had enough, we set out to find our hotel which was a beautiful place overlooking a mad-made beach on the lake. Being cold and wet, we upgraded to a room with a fireplace where we bathed, showered, stretched and rested.

That evening, we dined at Gar Woods Restaurant, a sumptuous meal of fresh fish and fancified side dishes.

When we returned to the hotel, Suzanne picked up her guitar again and sang us to sleep.

The next day we all awoke in pools of our own sweat. The fire which stayed lit through the night to dry our clothes also warmed the room to roughly the same temperature as the summer.

We took breakfast at The Old Post Office and then returned to the mountain. This time we almost made it in time for our lesson (thinking that the lesson was at 10:30 we strolled in 15 minutes "early" only to find that the lesson had begun at 10). Still, one of Gray's friends recognized us and snuck us into one of the lessons already underway. We all progressed steadily throughout the day, learning how to control our speed, how to change directions and how to come to a full stop without the use of our faces.

Toward the end of the lesson, our instructor, Josh, announced that we were all going to take the lift to the top of the hill and ride down to end the day. The next few minutes were somewhat of a blur: I remember standing in line, then a chair attacked Pia and knocked her to the ground, then all of a sudden I was level with the tops of the trees I'd spent much of the morning narrowly avoiding. I was more than a bit frightened when I realized that nothing held me to the chair as I was rocking in the wind 40 feet above the skiers and snowboarders below.

After what seemed like an hour, I made my graceless exit, head first, off the chair at the top of the bunny hill. Pearl executed her dismount with ease and then rode down the mountain in full control ending our lesson and the whole experience on a high note. That afternoon, wet, tired, bruised and happy, we made our way home. Along the way we made our plans to return again as soon as our collective schedules would allow.

Best of all, we now finally have an answer for all our friends and family when they ask us if we'll miss the seasons during our stay in SF: It's 70 degrees and sunny in mid-February, but if we want snow, winter is only 3 hours to the east.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

San Francisco Soul Food

To celebrate the end of Lily’s apartment search, Chris and I took her to experience her first raw restaurant. She chose Alive! Restaurant (“Alive is 100% L.O.V.E: Living, Organic, Vegan, Enjoyment!”), which specializes in Raw/Living Vegan Cuisine. All of their dishes are free of wheat, grains, animal products, dairy, and honey, cooked under 115 degrees F. Check out their site at

We started our meal with organic teas, sharing an order of Sunny Scallion Pate and an order of Vegetable Wrap. For the main course, each of us tried a different “noodle” dish (their specialty!): Chris ordered the Fettuccini Alfredo, Lily ordered the Sweet Sesame Ginger Noodles, Suzanne ordered the Asian Almond Noodles, and I ordered the Korean Vegetable Noodles. All of their pasta and noodles are made from zucchini. Each dish was so divine and each had a unique flavor so distinct from the others. We could really taste the freshness and flavor of each ingredient. To end the delicious experience, we shared the Black Forest Mousse cake, made of raw organic macadamia nut crust, cherries, cacao mouse, and coconut crème. While it didn’t exactly taste like the Black Forest cakes we are used to, it was so rich and decadent that between the four of us, we were unable to eat it all. It certainly felt like the perfect way to end our meal.

Funny aside: midway through the entrée we fell into conversation with the two women sitting next to us at Alive! Dina and Marta had just returned from a 5-week intensive course on raw cooking at Living Light Culinary Art Institute (, and we enjoyed listening to them critique and dissect each flavor in their dishes. They even asked us if they could finish off the last of our Black Forest Mousse cake, which we gladly shared with them. Lily thought it was so hilarious (“You would never share your food with a complete stranger on the East Coast”). She is quickly learning the cultural differences of the two coasts.

We learned that Dina and Marta are part of a group in Austin, Texas that encourages healthy-living. Dina Knight – who, it must be noted has lost over 60 pounds since converting to an all-raw diet and who looks fantastic – is part-owner and chef at Living Health, a service group “dedicated to providing coaching, education and support for those interested in improving their state of health through diet, lifestyle changes and natural therapies.” (

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. We can’t wait to try the other raw restaurants in the Bay area. Dina and Marta suggested that we try Café Gratitude next. Anyone want to join us?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

SF Green Festival Addendum

As a follow up to our “It’s Easy Being Green” blog dated November 17, 2006, we wanted to report that only 4% of all the waste generated during the San Francisco Green Festival made it into the landfill. Everything else was either composted or recycled. Go SF!!!


Green Festival San Francisco – November 2006
Overall Greening and Waste Recovery Numbers
Matthew J Dufon, Greening manager

Congratulations, San Francisco Green Festival!Thanks to the amazing efforts of hundreds of greening volunteers under the leadership of Greening Manager Matt Dufon, the San Francisco Green Festival achieved an impressive 96% resource recovery rate. What an incredible feat! Only 4% of all the waste generated during this 3-day event with 35,000 people found its way to the local landfill. Another great example of what's working in our communities.

Total Landfill Waste: 930 lbs.
Total Compost Recovered: 9716 lbs. (4 ¾ Tons)
Total Corrugated Cardboard: 3900 lbs.
Total Recycling Recovered: 6613 lbs.
Total Electronics Recycling Recovery: 65 lbs
Total Weight of Waste Recovered: 21,224 lbs.
Percentage of Overall Landfill Diversion: 96.33%