11 x 5 = 55

by Jenn (eating bender) on November 5, 2010

Glad to hear many of you love or would love to go to Vegas! It certainly is one of those places that, like it or hate it, you should probably visit at least once just so you can say you did. 😉

First things first: I made a Wedding Page. I can’t wait to populate it with more links!

Secondly, before I get to the food, I have a very special announcement.


Fun facts about my mom’s birthday:

  • She was born on November 5, 1955. If you do the math, that means 11 x 5 = 55!
  • As a result, my mom’s favorite number is 5!
  • This also means that today, November 5, 2010, is her 55th birthday!

Now for some fun facts about my mom:

  • She is THE reason our wedding turned out as beautiful as it did.
  • She has always walked the line of mother and best friend perfectly. Think Gilmore.
  • Listing her many talents would take days – e.g. awesome golfer, CPA, margarita maker… 😉
  • I love traveling with her – next year, we have plans for another girl’s weekend!
  • She is the best mentor I know – hardworking, creative and confident to boot.

I love you, Mama Bender! Hope your 55th birthday and 56th year are absolutely wonderful!


Now I’m not sure if I’ve officially announced this or not, but Bobby and I still have a honeymoon to look forward to! I won’t share all of the exact details quite yet but we are headed to San Francisco and Napa at the end of November! I’m excited to live vicariously through my Foodbuzz friends this weekend and hear all about San Fran – Bobby and I both have never been to either place on our honeymoon list.

To get us in the mood for wining and dining, I made us an Italian feast on Saturday night.

I started with three separate pans – one for the tomato sauce, one for the chicken and one for the veggies. There was also a pot of boiling water for the whole wheat shell pasta. Once the chicken was cooked and the veggies were browned, I combined those two pans into the simmering sauce pan.

Notice the kissing salt and pepper shakers? A gift from my new brother- and sister-in-law’s puppy. :)

The sauce was AMAZING! Once the pasta was al dente (my favorite), I divvied up the plates.

This was a real winner dinner if I do say so myself. Bobby seemed to enjoy it, too. Bon appetit!

Of course, you can’t have a true Italian experience without a little vino.

Polka Dot Riesling. Sweet and crisp. The coolness of the white wine was refreshing with the hot pasta.

Now I would LOVE to hear from you!

Ever been to San Francisco or Napa? What are your absolute must-sees and dos?!

Food bloggers and food blog readers always give the best tips. I will be taking notes!! :)


1 Megan November 5, 2010 at 11:40 am

You guys are going to have so much fun in Napa for your honeymoon! I’m already looking forward to living vicariously through you. :) Speaking of that, I’m also living vicariously through everyone that went to Foodbuzz this weekend. Guess we’re both stuck here in cold Chicago, huh?

2 Jenna November 5, 2010 at 11:41 am

I <3 Riesling!

Ohh, I love San Fran. Alcatraz is a must if you have time!

3 cbrady3 November 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Ugh never been but I want to so badly! I feel like I would fall in love with wine country, a la Jenna:) My parents just got back and loved their wine tour through Napa. You guys will have a blast!

4 Amanda November 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Sounds like such a blast! I was just in SanFrancisco with my boyfriend and his parents in September. Some favorites:

– the Ferry Building – has really cool shops and restaurants. We ate at Gott’s Gourmet, which is an AMAZING upscale diner that serves beer/wine and awesome food! I got the tuna burger and sweet potato fries and it was my most memorable meal!!

– We also ate at the Slanted Door, which was voted #1 restaurant in SF – it’s a really amazing Vietnamese Restaurant in the Ferry Building/on the water.

– ride cable cars!

– Have a drink at the Top of the Mark – amazing views!

– Take a ferry – either to Alcatraz or over to Sausalito (which is worth spending a day/dinner there, too)

Sounds cheesy, but we got a guidebook, which was really fun to follow recommendations

5 Jenn (eating bender) November 5, 2010 at 12:52 pm

BEST. TIPS. EVER!! Thank you, Amanda! I’m copying and pasting them all into my list right now. :) We are actually staying in Sausalito so I was really happy to hear you say that’s a must-see, too!

I think I may grab some sort of guidebook, but these are all phenomenal suggestions so we may not need it. Again…THANK YOU!

6 Jordan November 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Hi Jenn, I used to live in Napa and just moved to SF. I’ve never commented but I couldn’t pass up the chance to recommend my fave places! :)

Jarvis (super premium wines, entire winery is in a cave)
Mumm (great views, sparking wines)
Silverado (beautiful views)
Goosecross (small, family-owned)
Hall (first LEED certified winery, very eco-friendly, great wines)
Hess Collection (great mountain location, unique art collection)

Favorite restaurants in Napa: Celadon, Oxbow Market (a lot of food vendors, really casual but fun to walk around), Rutherford Grill, Brix, Tra Vigne

in SF: Wayfare Tavern (Tyler Florence’s new restaurant), SPQR (italian on Fillmore St, very cute neighborhood), Barbacco, Absinthe, Flour and Water

Let me know if you have any questions. Enjoy your trip!!

7 Jenn (eating bender) November 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Thank you for stopping by and commenting – you rock! These recommendations are all OUTSTANDING. I am feeling so much better about the trip. I’m so happy to hear that Silverado has beautiful views because that is actually where we are staying while in Napa! I can’t wait to write all these down and tell Bobby. Thank you so much for sharing, Jordan!

8 Karla November 5, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I just Tweeted you, but realized it would be good to leave a comment here too! Like I said, don’t leave Napa without visiting Castello di Amorosa! The castle grounds are so amazing, the wine to die for, and the connoisseurs super nice and accommodating. You’ll learn a lot from them and appreciate their different kinds of wine. Plus, the scenery is just amazing. There are a couple of sheep they let loose in the gardens every once in a while and it’s so cute and romantic :)

9 Jenn (eating bender) November 12, 2010 at 7:14 am

You rock, Karla! Thanks again for this amazing recommendation! :)

10 elginista November 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I LOVED San Francisco and the Napa Valley when I was there five or so years ago. My favorite winery was V Sattui – http://www.vsattui.com/ – in St. Helena. Great wine, nice laid back atmosphere and several tastings for the money. They also had a deli and picnic area, so we bought awesome gourmet lunch provisions and ate outside. It was the best day of the trip. The madeira dessert wine was phenomenal – I can almost taste it now. We saw three or four other wineries but that’s the one that sticks in my mind.

In San Francisco, Alcatraz was a lot of fun, but so was strolling the city. Despite the hills, it’s a pretty walkable space, relatively compact (unlike Chicago). I stayed by the convention center but walked the length of the city, through China Town (worth the trip!) to the Wharf (very touristy, but the sea lions rock) a couple times and always saw interesting things. The Ferry Building was great – on Saturday mornings they host a giant farmers’ market with incredible produce, gourmet cheeses, fresh bread, etc. I think they host smaller markets on other days? We ate our way through the market – it was incredible.

Have a wonderful trip! Can’t wait to hear about it! I was sitting right by you at SMC Chicago Weds night but never got the chance to introduce myself. I know Jill from a couple other events. Next time!

11 Jenn (eating bender) November 12, 2010 at 7:24 am

Just wanted to say thank you for all of these phenomenal recommendations. You totally rock – we are planning a farmer’s market trip on Saturday in San Fran and I added V Sattui to our Napa tasting “dream list.” :) It sounds wonderful! I’m so sorry we didn’t meet at SMC but yes, let’s definitely find each other at the next event. I really want to meet you in person (finally)!

12 Foodie (Fab and Delicious Food) November 5, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Happy Birthday to Mama Bender! Hope she had a good one!

Ah, Gilmore Girls! Loved that show!

The pasta looks so yummy! And I love those plates! Oh, and the kissing salt and pepper shakers – too cute for words!

13 Angela Ten Clay November 5, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Enjoy your honeymoon! Can’t wait to read all about it. That dinner looks fantastic!

14 VeggieGirl November 5, 2010 at 7:26 pm

For San Fran… go to Muir Woods, but don’t get lost like I did 😉

15 Jenn (eating bender) November 12, 2010 at 7:26 am

We are planning to explore Muir Woods! I will definitely be thinking of you while we’re there. :) And hoping we don’t get lost!

16 Erica November 5, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Happy birthday to your mama! She seems like one incredible lady!! And what a dinner. Perfect for a romantic evening. I actually grew up (well for 6 years of my childhood) just outside San Fran. I was young, but absolutely loved going into the city to see the sea lions and go to ghiradelli. You guys are going to have a blast!

17 BroccoliHut November 5, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Happy birthday, Mama Bender!
Love that Polka Dot Riesling. I’ll be honest though–I totally picked it out based on its name:)

18 Marianne November 6, 2010 at 3:15 am

Happy Birthday to your Mama!

19 CaSaundra November 6, 2010 at 7:27 am

Love that you and your mom are super close! My mom and I are as well–it’s such a treasured relationship to me!! And that pasta dish looks amazing–great job on it. The only this missing is garlic bread! :-)

20 Jenn (eating bender) November 12, 2010 at 7:25 am

I couldn’t agree more. Moms ROCK! :) Totally should have made garlic bread. Next time!!!

21 Monique November 7, 2010 at 4:17 pm

What an awesome post for your mom :) So cute!

Also, that Polka Dot wine is one of my faaaavs. It’s soo good. Speaking of wine, as a NorCal native, go to alll the wineries in Napa :) My favorite was the Coppola winery because a.) his wine is awesome and b.) you see all his movie paraphanelia around the winery. Be prepared to pay for your tastings though. Also, Napa has tons of cute little antiques stores and olive oil, jam tasting rooms too. I want to go back soon :)

22 What Kate Ate November 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I had the best clam strips in the entire world in San Francisco. But, Napa is gorgeous!

23 Jenn (eating bender) November 12, 2010 at 7:28 am

Clam strips?! Yum! Do you remember where you had them?? :)

24 Angela (the diet book junkie) November 10, 2010 at 5:21 pm

i would LOVE to see Napa (and Sonoma) one of these days! we were in Marlborbough (New Zealand) this last weekend and it was AMAZING. wine tours are my favourite way to vacation for sure!

25 elise November 13, 2010 at 3:25 pm

what a sweet post. happy bday to your mom!

26 jsutera654 November 15, 2010 at 12:26 pm

WAY too many ideas to share in a blog comment. If you want a full list of finds from our last trip there, email me anytime!! DYING to go back!!!!

27 Kate November 18, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Not sure if this is too late, but I spent a weekend in Napa with my then fiance (now husband) last fall. We stayed in Calistoga and had a fantastic dinner at JoLe. Our favorite winery was Lava Vines, a super small place up near Calistoga, where we had some amazing cabernet. We also had a great meal at Bouchon in Yountville (one of the Thomas Keller restaurants – I made him walk over and stalk French Laundry, but it was not in the budget).

In San Francisco, we loved SPQR, Tartine, and the Ferry Building farmers market. I tried to get lunch at Slanted Door, but the wait was too long, so we are saving that for an upcoming trip.

28 Rebecca March 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm

I have that same wine glass!

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