So, you need a quick little get-away and have decided that San Francisco and coastal California is the perfect destination. Let me entice you to save a Sunday to explore Alameda Island, in the San Francisco Bay. First off, you’ll want to drive and plan your trip for the first weekend of the month, because that’s when the Alameda Flea Market takes place. My friend, Mary Kay, lives in Alameda and this past trip up North I had a little more time to explore this little gem of an area…after my obligatory wandering day in SF.
Alameda Island is conveniently located right next to Oakland airport (in case you did want to fly up) and it has changed so much since I first started visiting years ago. It is also just one stop on the BART to SF….so you can stay in SF, but plan on all day Sunday in Alameda.
Start your day with beignets and breakfast at Cafe Jolie…as pictured above. It’s an adorable little corner cafe with outdoor seating and it was yummy! You’ll need the sustenance for all that walking your going to do. By now it’s probably time to head over to the Flea Market and spend hours and hours scouring the wares. If you go at 9am or later it’s only $5….but if you want to be an early bird, it’s $15 at 6am or $10 at 7:30am.
You might be ready to go by 1:00 and hungry for lunch (although there is food at the fair.) One of my favorite places to go, and a must every time I visit, is the restaurant Burma Superstar. The rainbow salad and the tea leaf salad are AMAZING…among other fabulous dishes! I’ve been known to stop at Burma on the way to the airport so I can have it for dinner back home. In fact, I loved the rainbow salad so much that I searched for the recipe online and found a reasonable facsimile, which I’ll share tomorrow….stay tuned!
Next you could explore Alameda’s rejuvenated downtown…or head over to the The Naval Air Station (NAS). The NAS took up much of the island back in the day, but closed in 1997, when many other military bases closed across the country. The Presidio in San Francisco and the Marine Corps Air Station, close to where I live, are two others that closed and all have been slow to re-purpose themselves due to the soil contamination, but it’s finally happening at all three. In Alameda you can stop and take a tour of the USS Hornet Museum, a decommissioned aircraft carrier, that looks really cool! (I didn’t take the tour, but maybe next time?)
So, you got up early, went for breakfast, walked for hours, indulged at Burma Superstar, walked some more around that aircraft carrier and you deserve to sit and take in a the beautiful view of the bay and San Francisco beyond, at Rockwall Wine Company. When we were there one of the people at a neighboring table said, “this is the best kept secret around!” You have the choice of wine-tasting or just get a glass…or bottle to share. Go sit out on the outdoor deck and enjoy the view! The weather the day we were there was gorgeous! You can also have a bite to eat…the fries looked pretty amazing, but we had bigger dinner plans.
By the way, the winery gets it’s name from the “rock wall” that was built around Alameda back in the military days to protect it from enemy subs and other possible under water attacks. Of course, the chardonnay was my favorite, but their reds are pretty good too. Mary Kay & Laura are members so we got free tastings and discounted bottles…not a bad way to start the evening.
Now…how to end our day in Alameda? How about an amazing Italian dinner with an accompanying cooking show and demonstration. The chef at Trabocco is from Italy and he and his wife have had an interesting journey before settling in Alameda.
Okay, so it’s not really a demonstration or cooking show, but when we arrived, without a reservation, our options were sitting outside or at the chef’s counter overlooking the kitchen. If you have the opportunity, always take the latter option! We were treated to an open kitchen show that was so much fun to watch! MK & Laura are regulars so they let Giuseppe know that it was my first time here and he immediately came from around the kitchen counter and hugged me, welcoming me to his restaurant. What a great way to start your dinner experience.
I had an amazing pizza…made even better because it was Monday…and Giuseppe continued to ask how we were doing and watching him interact with all the diners was so awesome. He came over to us at the end of the meal, we hugged, and I told him how special this meal had been. He said it’s like having a whole house full of friends every night….and you could see and feel that passion as he and his wife welcomed everyone into their restaurant.
You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!