November 30, 2008

Giving Thanks

I'm grateful for so many things in my life, not least of which is the opportunity to spend 5 glorious days with the boyfriend and his family in northern California for the Thanksgiving holiday. Last Tuesday we caught a plane to San Francisco and we made a last-minute decision to upgrade to first class. It was very swish: there was loads of leg room, the flight attendant was extra attentive, and we had bits of cheese and mushrooms as a little on-flight treat.

Upon our arrival, we hopped in a car and drove to North Beach, San Francisco's Italian district. Not only does the neighborhood boast a myriad of cozy Italian bistros, but it is also home to City Lights, one of the best independent bookshops on the planet, and a mecca for all Beat enthusiasts. The shop has three levels, is well-stocked, and the sales people are super helpful (I had inquired after a book of which at the time I could not for the life of me remember the title nor the author, and when I offered the briefest of descriptions, the salesperson instantly knew exactly what book I was talking about!). Since it's flat out impossible for me to walk inside the shop without buying anything, I quite happily gave in to temptation and purchased three books: The Haunted House by Charles Dickens (each chapter is written by a different author; Wilkie Collins and Elizabeth Gaskell are contributors, so it should be a fun read indeed!), Night and Day by Virginia Woolf and Mrs. Woolf and the Servants by Allison Light (the book I had trouble remembering, which came highly recommended by the fabulous Mary-Laure!).

After the book spree, we drove about an hour north of the city to the tiny farm town of Petaluma. It was a pretty idyllic location to spend Thanksgiving. Golden leaves impart a pop of color to an otherwise gray Petaluma street.

The guys went out mushroom hunting and brought back these beauties.

While the ladies stayed indoors, lit a fire, and sipped spicy Xocolatl hot chocolate.

Good to the last delectable drop.

On Thanksgiving day, we shared an exquisitely prepared meal in the barn in the backyard, where we feasted on pumpkin soup, roasted turkey, and sweet potatoes with marshmallow (though the combination sounds quite bizarre, the dish is mouth-wateringly delicious). Our lovely and gracious hosts are real foodies, which I loved because eating is one of my favorite things to do! Everything was absolutely incredible. This shot was taken during the day.

And this is the night-time shot complete with roasted pig, of which I did not partake.

All good things must come to an end. Sniff, sniff. We decided to drive back to Los Angeles, taking in the Richmond bridge, golden-drenched central coast vineyards, and a Cheshire cat Santa Barbara moon along the way.


JaneGS said...


I found your blog because I have a google alert set up for "Elizabeth Gaskell." Thanks for the tip on "The Haunted House." Sounds like an intriguing book.

Beautiful pictures of your Thanksgiving feast. Nice blog!

Joanna said...

Hi Jane. Thank you for viewing my blog and for your kind words! I'm glad my post turned you on to 'The Haunted House'. I haven't read any Gaskell myself, but I think this book should be a great place to start. I can't wait to dive in!

Mary-Laure said...

How terrific!

Dickens, with Faulkner and Tolstoy, is my favorite novelist so I MUST get the "Haunted House"...
I'm thrilled that you're going to read the book about Woolf and that you mentioned me... Thanks!

Oh and you look gorgeous on that top picture! Ah, first class.. the bliss..

Tartar Sauce said...

Jojo - your writing is beautiful and tell the hosts of your Thanksgiving meal that their table looked like a dream! Minus the pig of course... :)

stacy said...

This post makes me miss San Francisco. I used to love walking through North Beach at night and then going into City Lights, buying a book and walking over to Cafe Prague. Aww.

Joanna said...

Mary-Laure: I can't wait to compare book notes! I've just been thinking that I really should read more Dickens. I remember being so impressed with David Copperfield when I read it in high school. And I have War and Peace on my list of books to tackle in 2009. And you're so sweet about the picture. Glad you couldn't see just how tired I really was that morning!

Stacy: Another SF lover! What part of SF did you live in?

Tartar Sauce: Fancy meeting you in blogosphere, my dear! Will posting comments on each other's blogs be our new mode of communication, I wonder?

Jennifer Ramos said...

WOW such a lovely way to spend Thanksgiving....

Jen Ramos
'Cards & Prints You'll Love...'

jora said...

I simply cannot get over how beautiful that Thanksgiving table setting is. I keep going back to look at it.