As much as we love our wine, we did more than just cruise Sonoma County when I was in San Francisco last week.  Day two of the West Coast shenanigans found us dressed in the matching (neon blue tie-dye) “San Fran Invasion 2010” t-shirts we had made (yes, seriously), renting bicycles from (obviously) Blazing Saddles to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge.  Now, let’s be serious – we’re all relatively healthy.  None of us is overweight, and we all make it to the gym with some degree of regularity.  And yet, ten minutes into what was billed as a leisurely bike ride, all five of us were stopped at the top of the first hill, draped over our handlebars, gasping for breath.  The hills are not a myth.  After a full minute of not speaking, someone croaked out “I…ugh…I think I need…to spend more time…at the gym” and we all sucked down the contents of our water bottles in agreement.

One million hills, several hours, and 150 (literally) photos later, we made it to the bridge, where I made the questionable life choice of releasing the handlebars with both hands to take out my camera and snap some pictures while we were moving down the narrow bike path of a bridge. A bridge with cars. And other bicycles.  Bicycles occupied by far more skilled, speedy, and, in one notable case, naked (I kid you not. Elderly, naked men should not be biking in public) cyclists.  I have no defense for this behavior – sometimes the blond seeps in…but my photos are beautiful!

Anyway, after our harrowing journey, we wisely chose the ferry as our means of transportation back to civilization.  And the moment we stepped off the ferry and returned our bikes, we were universally in need of a drink.  More specifically, in observance of that day’s St. Patrick’s day parade, we needed an Irish coffee – a Buena Vista Café Irish Coffee.

Buena Vista is known for its unique take on this beverage, and it had the crowds to prove it.  Nearly every adult in the relatively small bar had an Irish coffee in front of them, all in delicate little glass cups.  For me, it was the cream that really felt unique – I’ve had my share of Irish coffee, but I’ve rarely had it topped with anything other than from-a-can whipped cream.  At Buena Vista, though, the cream wasn’t mounded on top, overflowing the cup.  It was deep, rich homemade cream, and the small dollop spread perfectly across the top of the cup, incorporating itself slowly into the coffee as I sipped.  It didn’t overpower the strength of the whiskey, and gave it just enough sweetness to make it feel truly luxurious.

And speaking of luxury, what would a trip to San Francisco be without a trek to Ghirardelli Square?  Feeling a little chilly in the early evening, we all opted out of the lengthy ice cream line…but the brownies.  The brownies called to me; and for good reason – this was, by far, the best brownie I’ve ever had in my life.  Oh my gooey chocolately goodness.  If I can find that recipe online, you had better believe I’ll be looking to make a batch of those immediately.

A week later, up in Boston to see Boyfriend, I cracked open one of the bottles of wine I purchased and handed him a few bags of Ghirardelli dark chocolate.  One sip of wine later, I was already thinking about how much I’d like to visit California again.  Because let’s be honest – the four days I spent there didn’t even scratch the surface.