Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mosley's Cafe

     The Bay Area is full of great cafes and gourmet roasts for the coffee enthusiast. There's literally something for everyone in terms of price, flavor, variety, and atmosphere, and Mosley's Café in Alameda has an atmosphere unlike any other.
     The tiny and new open-air café is located at the back of the Grand Marina Harbor Master's building, so it is literally over the water of the Oakland-Alameda estuary with unrestricted views of the water, downtown Oakland skyline and Coast Guard Island. You order at an outdoor counter and can sit at a two-seat table or at a bar facing the water.
     My sister and I enjoyed our morning coffee while watching rowing teams and sail boats pass. A few loons were fishing nearby, and two sea lions even poked their heads up to say hi. The cushioned stools at the bar were comfy, the staff was super friendly, and the coffee and pastries were delish. I had an almond croissant, and my sister had a cinnamon morning bun, but beyond a good variety of pastries, the menu includes a variety of crepes, gluten-free goodies, and sandwiches. The café doesn't serve espresso drinks, but the pour over coffee is rich and yummy. You can also choose from a large variety of teas, and they have hot coco, Italian soda, and juice.
     What also makes Mosley's special is that it's local, and it's small. According to their website, Cristin Barnes-Shea started the café because there was nowhere close for residents and visitors of Grand Marina to get coffee and breakfast. Barnes-Shea writes that it took two years of permit work to get the café on its feet, and I'm sure glad she didn't give up. Mosley's passes on the local love by serving Semifreddi's pastries and Oakland's Blue Bicycle coffee.
     If you want to visit the café, you can find free parking at Grand Marina. You can also boat there! The address is 2099 Grand Street. Mosley's is open from 7 am to 2 pm daily. If you need your morning cup but you're sick of the overcrowded, corporate sameness of chain stores, then Mosley's Café is your Bay Area Miss-Me-Not.



Saturday, October 17, 2015

45th Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival

     Judging from the early crowds at Saturday's HMB Art & Pumpkin Festival, I think the word is out that Half Moon Bay has the best annual festival in the Bay Area. And no wonder. From the moment you see those first pumpkin patches peeking out from the trees on the drive to Half Moon Bay, the experience is like stepping into an enchanted story where all your autumn dreams come true. There are over 200 vendors, many of which sell pumpkin-themed items (don't forget to grab a famous blown-glass pumpkin!). And you can enjoy pumpkin-flavored everything (the ice cream is delish!), watch Farmer Mike carving elaborate pumpkin masterpieces, watch street performances, set your kids loose in the family and kids area, and pick out pumpkins afterwards at one of the many pumpkin patches.
     You can read my previous post on the pumpkin festival here, which includes tips on how best to experience the festival, but here's a recap of this year's visit. In the five years I've enjoyed the pumpkin festival, I think this year was the busiest. In my previous post I advised festival goers to start out early to beat the traffic, but even early birds experienced traffic this year. I arrived in Half Moon Bay at 7:20 and had to wait in line to get a parking spot. Groups of people were already walking down main to the heart of the festival, which didn't start until 9 a.m. By 10:30 a.m., the walkways beside the vendors were so packed it was hard to move around. By the time I left at around noon, most parking lots were full. So getting there early, painful as it might be, is a must if you want a pumpkin hangover and not a traffic migraine.
     I also advised in my previous post to park on the lot on Highway 92 closest to Main Street for a quick getaway. However, this year I parked on Main street a longer walk away. This saved me about $10 in parking, and it was still an easy getaway. The highway is a parking lot later in the day with people trying to get into the festival, so keep this in mind when choosing parking. I wouldn't choose a lot that would require you to pass through incoming traffic to leave.
     I also provided photos of all the delicious pumpkin things you can drink and eat at the festival in my previous post, but this year I tried a couple new things. The pumpkin harvest ale I chose had a smooth finish, but I wasn't too fond of the flavor. The pumpkin chili, however, far exceeded my expectations. I definitely could have enjoyed another bowl.
     One exciting new feature of the festival that I didn't mention in my previous post is the activities a charming shop called Oddyssea offers in their Oddyssea Outside space. Last year, my sister made a mason jar terrarium in this carnival-type area that provides a nice break from the flow of the crowd. This year, people could make steam punkins, pearl necklaces, sand art, and mine for treasure. To participate you just buy doubloons from a stand and trade them to do your activity of choice.
     This year my sister and I also enjoyed a street performance by Orion Griffiths, who starred in Pippin. Griffiths' personality and humor drew us in, but his physical prowess and acrobatic performance amazed us. While balancing on multiple levels of boards, cups, and a tube, Griffiths juggled three pins and performed a handstand. You can follow Griffiths on Twitter (@Orion_Griffiths), and there's also a few videos on Youtube that show his amazing skill (like this one of him performing at Pier 39 in SF).
     I've posted photos from this year's event so you can get a sense of the fun. If you love pumpkins, fall, Halloween, or festivals, Half Moon Bay combines all of them into my favorite Bay Area event. Treat yourself to this Bay Area Miss-Me-Not.

Start your day right with the Pancake Breakfast (7 a.m. to 11 a.m.). Great way to kill time after arriving early and make your tummy happy.

Pumpkin pancakes from the Pumpkin Breakfast. YUM.

Don't forget the freebies! This bag was handed out at the Safeway booth.

Oddyssea Outside
Should we make steam punkins or sand art?!

That sand art is lookin' mighty fine.
Mason jar terrarium from last year.

Official gear? Check!

Pumpkin Harvest Ale

Pumpkin Chili

Orion Griffiths drawing a crowd.

Baby chicks from one of the local feed stores. Don't forget the extra shopping the charming little businesses on Main offer!

Giant bubbles, small bubbles...Half Moon Bay's got 'em.

And now...the pumpkins.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Park Street's 22nd Annual Classic Car Show

     This year's classic car show in Alameda did not disappoint, and I actually enjoyed it more (if that's possible) because the early morning was overcast and wonderfully cool so I could actually see the cars and not just sun glare, and I didn't have to go running for shade every so often. As I said in my first post on this show, which you can check out here, this is one of the best car shows I've seen (and I've been to a lot with a car-enthusiast father). Not only is the selection of cars great in terms of models and years, but the cozy atmosphere of the Park Street and downtown Alameda area can't be beat.
     Since I already gave tips on how best to enjoy this show in my first post, I'm just going to describe my experience at this year's celebration of real cars and real craftsmanship. The show tends to be heavy on the Mustang side, which is perfectly fine for me because Mustangs are my all time favorite. At this year's show, I saw my favorite 1965 Mustang as well as a variety of '66, '67, and '68 Mustangs. There were fastbacks and convertibles and beefed up racers. One had cream-colored leather seats with embossed mustangs galloping across. Green, red, black, blue, and even one with racing stripes. Sigh.
     I also hoped to find at least one Chevy Nova (my second favorite classic car), and I found two! For the Chevy lover, there was a large variety of Chevelles, Malibus, Camaros, and even a Corvair I took pictures of for my dad. There were a couple trucks, a couple ancients, a couple new, and even a VW van. I was also impressed by a Plymouth Roadrunner, which I believe was a 1968.
     Many of the owners are happy to chat with anyone interested in their cars, and a couple cars were for sale. I had my eye on a black Mustang with a cobra head gear shift. Dreamers will dream. I also enjoyed watching all the people wander up to a car in silent awe, glassy eyed. I've posted several photos below for your enjoyment. If you couldn't make it to this year's classic car show, worry not. It happens every October, it's always a good show, and it's FREE. Mark those calendars because this is definitely a Bay Area Miss-Me-Not.