Lunch at Anchor & Hope in San Francisco


Yesterday we were treated to a holiday lunch at the Anchor & Hope by some wonderful friends. My husband’s known this couple for almost 20 years, and has been working with his buddy for over 10. It was a true treat for us to drop the tot off at preschool and then head into the city for this special gathering, and I was looking forward to a tasty lunch (and maybe a mid-day glass of wine — total indulgence!).

Known for their tasty fish dishes, the restaurant is tucked on Minna street and has an ample seating area and a bar for patrons. We had a noon reservation, and when we got there (after struggling to find parking!) the place was packed. Before I even had a moment to look at the menu, a beautiful selection of oysters, perfectly poached shrimp, fresh clams, crab and lobster salad, and a variety of house sauces was placed on our table.



From here we sampled more delicious oysters and also sipped an amazing bottle (or two) of wine.


While watching the food come out of the kitchen it looked like the lobster roll sandwich was the thing to order, and our party ordered their share — along with the seared salmon sandwich (which I ordered).


Then it was time for coffee and dessert, which was also absolutely delicious. In fact the cup of coffee that my husband ordered (that I sipped too) was one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had ever.




But the best thing about our lunch was the amazing service. Our waiter was wonderfully attentive without being overbearing and the rest of the staff filled water glasses and removed plates like silent serving ninjas, making us feel like we were the only table in the place, which we weren’t. The place was packed, and from the smiling and approving faces seen around the restaurant, everyone else was having an awesome time too.

While checking out the dinner menu, which wasn’t much different than the lunch offerings, I had no doubt that the restaurant would be packed again in only a few hours with patrons that would continue streaming in until closing. But, I would suggest hitting Anchor & Hope for lunch — with a reservation of course. You can sit and enjoy a leisurely mid-day meal, without feeling rushed, and not bust the bank. Sandwiches run around $15 to $24, with lunch entrees over $18. And you have to order a few oysters (starting at $2 each), which are shucked perfectly and seriously tasty.

Plan on parking at the garage on Howard and 2nd (which ran us $9) and metered parking is free after 6pm and on Sundays. You’ll love the energy of the restaurant, the fantastic staff, and the sensational fish.

Echelon Vineyards: All kinds of wonderful

This week was full of ups and downs. The tot and I had a few disagreements (but what’s new, right?), a couple of things changed with my work stuff, and the cats continued being cats and waking me up the minute they saw the sun. But, there was one wonderfully, shining moment early in the week – the moment an actually somewhat-hunky guy showed up on my doorstep bearing wine – and he wasn’t my husband.

Thanks to Echelon Vineyards and the Clever Girls Collective, I had the opportunity to sample a few bottles of Echelon wine. Let me tell you up front, I wasn’t paid to write this review – just offered a few bottles to taste test and then share my honest opinion. I mean, really, twist my arm and all that stuff.

(I couldn’t wait to start sampling!)

Honestly? I pretty much like all wine. But, I do have a bit of a wine-snob husband. He worked his way through college while waiting tables at the San Ysidro Ranch and part of his job was checking out wine – and we’re talking the good stuff. He’s a bit of a snoot and is brutally honest while tasting, so I enlisted him to assist. I decided what better way to really get a full understanding of the flavors than by cooking up a special dinner for each bottle.

Let me tell you.

All kinds of wonderful.

We started out with the 2010 Echelon Vineyards Chardonnay that I paired with grilled garlic and oregano marinated boneless skinless chicken thighs over rice and fresh spinach topped with homemade tzatziki sauce. We had a sip of the Chardonnay before eating and both commented on how light and smooth it was. Neither of us had read the label, but the husband noted instantly the hints of honey, pear, and apple. It went wonderfully with our dinner, and, I’ll be honest, there wasn’t any wine left once we were finished. Echelon’s Chardonnay is a complex but light wine that I would bring to any barbecue.


The next night we cracked open a bottle of the 2010 Echelon Vineyards Red Blend. We both had a bit of hesitation – the idea of a red blend had me concerned (headache in the morning), but we figured we’d have a glass and then (potentially) use the rest for cooking. While putting the finishing touches on our oven-baked vegetarian eggplant parmesan, we sampled a small glass and both couldn’t keep sipping. Once again, neither of us had read the label, but commented on the light, fruity flavor of the blend and called out the oaky-ness as well as the smoothness, which didn’t leave a dry feeling in the mouth. Once again, there wasn’t any wine left at the end of dinner….


A few nights later I made barbecue chicken breasts along with a hot lentil salad with roasted red pepper, radishes, and beets. We couldn’t wait to try the 2010 Echelon Vineyards Pinot Grigio because the other bottles had been so good. Let’s just say we’d both had a nice, big glass before we even sat down to dinner. It was so cold and fresh and the husband noted the light but super-crisp flavor with the slight fruit undertones.  I simply tasted all kinds of goodness. We both decided this was our favorite bottle of the three – by far. It also went wonderfully with our dinner. This is a perfect summer wine and lovely with anything from grilled meats to big salads


Echelon Vineyards has won its fair share of awards and I can see why. Their wines are easy to drink and not overly anything in any way. And, they are wonderfully priced ($10-$15 per bottle), making them taste even better.

Head on over to Echelon Vineyards for more information about their wines and where you can pick up a bottle. Do it – seriously, do it now. You’re entitled to a nice glass of wine!


*Once again, I wasn’t paid to write this post – just provided with some really amazingly good wine to sample. I also wasn’t asked to write a blog post about the wines, but I did because they were that good.

I’m not getting the husband anything for Christmas this year


Really, I’m not buying anything for the husband for Christmas this year.

It’s not that I’m mad at him or that he doesn’t deserve something nice or we don’t celebrate Christmas (even though he is Jewish), it’s that every year I spend hours and hours scouring around for the latest and greatest anything to get for him and always end up picking the wrong thing.

No joke.

Last year I bought him a back massager – you know the kind you plug-in and put behind you while sitting in a chair or lounging on the couch? I tossed down the cash and instantly knew it wasn’t the right thing. But, I trudged on home with it, wrapped it up, and happily presented it Christmas morning.


We all used it a couple of times, the tot enjoyed laying and sitting on it, and then it was tucked away in the closet only to be brought out a handful more times.

It’s in the closet right now.

So, for that reason, I’m not getting anything for the husband for Christmas this year.

I have ideas for free things (yeah, I know what you’re thinking…), like putting down the computer when he’s trying to tell me about his day, taking out the garbage instead of leaving it until it’s overflowing for him to do, not leaving the clean laundry in the basket for days causing all his work shirts to be super wrinkly (which I don’t iron), ironing, making sure I give him a kiss before he leaves for work and when he comes home at the end of the day, really scratching his back when he asks me to and not just reaching over and doing a half-ass job…

Basically being a better me.

I know that’s not really a gift, but it might make things a bit better around the house, which might make us both a bit happier – especially on those days when the tot is being, well, a toddler.

Maybe after Christmas I’ll treat him to a new shirt sans wrinkles (and then make sure to keep it that way)…


Monday spectacular: Fall in Marin

Rain showed up today. It’s unavoidable – welcome to fall in Marin.

The thing is we have a flat roof and it’s in need of some help. The hubs went up and did some tarring and caring and loving… But, today, when we got a bit of a sprinkle, we had a few leaks.

Nothing big.


A leaky roof is a leaky roof.

We also had our first fire of the season.

As you can see – one of our cats wasn’t fazed by any of it.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011


Sunday spectacular: Anniversary

It just so happens it was our anniversary this week. And when there’s some sort of special occasion, we jump in the car and head to one of our most-favorite-fancy-smancy-celebration restaurants.


We headed off with tot in tow and hoped for the best.

Amazingly the babe was fairly well behaved and enjoyed her fabulous macaroni gratin while the hubs and I stuffed our faces.

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Sunday spectacular: Oh, what a fight

Just a couple of days ago my parents arrived for a nice, long visit. Along with spending some wonderful time together, we decided to take advantage of the free babysitting and head out for a date night. But, my husband and I had a bit of a problem.

The was a bit of a conflict for the night we had selected.


Yup. The hubs is a super baseball fan and it turned out his favorite team was playing our home team. He had already purchased the tickets, so there was no changing it. We were heading to the baseball game.

I told him he owed me a few expensive baseball game beers – and some garlic fries – and I’d be okay.

While he sat with the camera stuck in front of his face, the game went well, and then there was the fight.

Along with all the other of thousands of people, I stood, yelled, cheered, and ooohed and ahhhhed.

I had no idea what was going on.

But, it totally turned out to be a fun night.


Sunday spectacular: Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all you daddies out there! This was our first Father’s Day where the wee tot kind of understood this was a day all about Dada. So, to celebrate, we went to one of the hubs favorite places to eat, and then to his most favorite-est stores for gadgets and stuff. Needless to say, I didn’t think you would care to see how the visit to “all things TV” went…

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

How was your Father’s Day?

The black widow

black widow

Last year it was all about garden snakes at our house. The cats couldn’t get enough of bringing them into the house at all hours and then taunting and playing with them. Needless to say, I started feeling more like a snake handler than a new mama! I was happy when things started calming down, and that same snake – or family of snakes – decided it was a good idea to find someone else’s house to live under.

Or, the cats just got tired and wanted something new.

Either way, it’s been nice not man-handling a snake during the wee hours of the night while everyone else is slumbering (and the cats are licking their lips).

So, the other day when the weather had finally decided to be warm, the wee tot and I figured it was time to head outdoors and enjoy the wonders of nature. We have an indoor outdoor kind-o-room that is our safe-haven from the heat during the summer months, and as soon as the babe and I opened up the room , I noticed something lurking in the corner.

Something BIG.

I’d heard of them, thought I’d seen them in the past, but, at that very moment, I was frozen like stone.


My life turned into a total action hero movie as I moved to quickly wrap myself around the wee tot sheltering her from any black widow shooting venom or special spidey abilities. In slow-mo, we deftly twisted and turned away from the gigantic black mass and barely squeaked out the door before being violently attacked.

Well, not really.

Black widow spiders are actually quite common in warm areas of the United States. Yes, they can pack a mighty bite, but like all small things, aren’t really excited to tango with something bigger. Often, black widows prefer dark, cool spots, and won’t bother you unless you mess with their territory. They are a force to be reckoned with – and totally deserve your respect. That translates to back away from the spider and determine your choice of action.

Yeah, I would have loved to have been able to call an extermination, but I’m on a budget. I also wanted to be somewhat understanding that this is a special creature and I’d prefer NOT to kill it, but I have a small child, an unable-to-deal-with-spiders husband, and pets.

Sadly, that spider had to go.

After asking around and doing some basic research, I decided that a quick and humane death was in order. I got out the wasp/bee killer spray, gathered my favorite bug whacking implement (a flip-flop) and prepared for battle. By the time I built up my courage, that spider had hidden itself. It took me quite some determined concentration to find it lurking in a yet-to-be-encloesed gap in the drywall of that downstairs playroom (shudder).

As uniquely beautiful and special that spider was, it was truly gratifying taking care of it.

I think I’ll sleep tonight.

Manly-man chocolate covered ice cream sandwiches for Father’s Day

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

Father’s Day is fast approaching and I’m having a really hard time figuring something out for the hubs. And, I’m crafty like that. So, for me to be at a loss for something the wee tot and I can create as the perfect, “I love you Dad” treat, it’s a bit overwhelming. I looked to others for advice, even asked some daddies on twitter, but discovered dads are just like moms. When it comes to special recognition days, they want to be loved and pampered, and maybe fed some good food, too.

Our daughter is just over two, so she’s not well-versed in the whole gift-giving thing. But, I do want to instill the idea that sharing is caring and everything isn’t always just for her (MINE!), and when you give someone something special (NO!), they give love and appreciation (NONONONO, MINE!) in return.

My husband isn’t really a sweets kind of person, but I figured this Fathers Day, some manly-man treats were in order. With our daughter’s new-found love of chocolate (rabbit), I knew we could concoct something together that her Dada would love. And, with some other fun and festive ideas from Motherboard, I knew we could make the day a special one. Needless to say, the wee tot and I had a great time creating this very manly-man dessert, perfect to top off his Fathers Day!

Chocolate covered graham cracker ice cream sandwiches.

Yeah, you heard me right.

And they are so easy the kids can make them!

What’s needed

Ice cream – use your manly-man’s favorite

Graham crackers

Chocolate chips


Easy as pie instructions

Get out the ice cream and let it sit on the counter for a couple of minutes, which will make it easier to spread on your graham crackers. Once things are just starting to get a bit melty, you can break your graham crackers in half and start spreading.

Load that graham cracker half with about a 1/2 inch of ice cream. Now top the ice cream with another graham cracker and gently smoosh together.

Keep spreading and smooshing until you have as many ice cream sandwiches as you’d like. I made six, which was enough for us to really pig out!

Now place the ice cream sandwiches on a plate and pop in the freezer for a few hours, or even better overnight, so everything sets up and gets ready for the chocolate hot tub.

Start melting the chocolate using a double boiler – or a metal or glass bowl placed on top of a simmering saucepan of water. Things don’t have to get real hot for that chocolate to melt, so just stir the chocolate chips for about a minute until the chocolate is smooth. You can use a microwave for this step, too. I used just about an entire bag of chocolate chips to cover my six sandwiches.

Go ahead and remove the cold ice cream sandwiches from the freezer and get ready for coating! Take the bowl off the heat and place on your work surface. Ladle some of the chocolate into a measuring cup with a lipped edge and get yourself set up to pour chocolate. Position four skewers in a criss-cross position on top of the bowl and place one of the ice cream sandwiches on top.

Now slowly pour the chocolate over the sandwich trying to coat the entire thing evenly. Let the sandwich hang out for a moment before removing. You can use a knife to help smooth that chocolate over the top. Then keep pouring and coating until all your ice cream sandwiches are covered. You can re-heat the chocolate as needed.

Put those manly-man treats in the freezer to harden up for a couple of hours – or as long as you can stand it before taste testing!

Now you can wrap the sandwiches in parchment or waxed paper and serve to your favorite dad after a wonderful Father’s Day – enjoy!

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011

© Sarah Lipoff 2011


Happy Father’s Day!

Wonderfully wordless Wednesday

What more can I say than this is how the day goes while on vacation. Yeah, the weather has been a bit finicky, with warm and humid mornings breaking to sunny beach afternoons. But, we’ve been enjoying every minute of it.


Thanks to the hubs for some great pictures…

© Dean Lipoff 2011

© Dean Lipoff 2011

© Dean Lipoff 2011

© Dean Lipoff 2011

© Dean Lipoff 2011

© Dean Lipoff 2011

© Dean Lipoff 2011

© Dean Lipoff 2011

© Dean Lipoff 2011

© Dean Lipoff 2011

© Dean Lipoff 2011

Basically, we get up, we walk down the pier and look at the surfers, we walk into town and find something to eat, we head back to our place, change clothes, go to the beach or pool, maybe eat some more, go change clothes again, go to the beach or pool, head back to change clothes again, and then walk back to the pier, watch the surfers, and then walk through town and back to our place again.


Happy Wednesday!