San Francisco, Apple Picking and Californian Cuisine

It has been five weeks of ups and downs, adjusting to living in a new country and I’m finding it a little exhausting.  About 2 weeks ago I was ready to hop on a plane and return to Australia but I remembered the wisdom of friends who have relocated overseas before and they prepared me saying it is a bit of an emotional roller coaster.  I was definitely struggling but knew it would pass and now I’m feeling a little more in control.  Just a little.  It makes it just a little harder as a mum (sorry … a ‘mom’), trying to get kids settled as so much is not in your control but they are adjusting really well.

The three big kids finally started school and have brilliant teachers which is a load off my mind and Elliott started preschool which is a huge milestone and he is loving it.  Poor Matilda fell off the monkey bars on day two at school and fractured her arm so we were thrown in the deep end of the pool with the US medical system.  Thank goodness for Google and their health insurance benefits for employees.

Doing the grocery shopping is taking a little less time now I’m more familiar with products I like and where to find them.  But I still find I’m in the car way too much driving up and down the main street to get to the various shops and then to and from school and preschool. Thankfully I now feel very comfortable with driving and don’t need to keep chanting ‘tighty righty’ or ‘lefty loosey’ every time I approach a turn.  But I do keep turning on my windscreen wipers instead of the indicator!

We have started our search for our more permanent residence over here and it appeals to me to find somewhere which requires less driving.  I have found a simply beautiful area not too far from where we currently are but it means the kids would have to change schools again.  Decisions. Decisions.

We have enjoyed a few trips to San Francisco and we all love the city and the fog in the bay.  Heath Ceramics was one of the places I was keen to visit and it was such a huge space full of beautifully crafted bowls, plates, platters, vases etc.  My souvenir of the day was a small sugar bowl but I’m keen to return for a vase I had my eye on.  Heath Ceramics makes gorgeous tiles which make me want to build brand new all over again!

There has been more success on the search for a good cup of coffee.  It has cheered me up to no end to find a few places which make coffee I enjoy.  Simple pleasures.  There is a Blue Bottle Coffee bar in the Heath Ceramics showroom which just made this little pocket of San Fran a one stop shop!

A few weekends ago we all headed out for pancakes at Plow in San Francisco.  The area reminded me of Surry Hills in Sydney and the line up outside reminded me of breakfast at Bills.  I had my first American bottomless coffee here.  My coffee cup just kept getting topped up and I don’t know how much caffeine I consumed but it put a skip in my step!

We are living in the south bay area which I think is ideal as we jump on the big highways (or are they freeways?) and head north to the big smoke or we can drive south to beautiful country side.  This last weekend we drove south into Santa Cruz County and took the kids apple picking.

Biting into a fresh apple straight from the tree was everything I had imagined it to be.  The apples were so sweet and crunchy and we could have bought more than our $6 worth if we had remembered to stop at the ATM on the way.  Thankfully the pie shop took credit so we bought apple slushies for the kids and a big apple pie to take home for dessert.

Cooking wise I have been mostly making our family favourites.  Joel is being spoilt at Google with a huge variety of delicious food for breakfast, lunch etc and comes home not wanting to eat much (and yes it feels like he has betrayed me) so my focus has been cooking food the kids love.  Hopefully the familiar food gives them some comfort when everything else around them is a little different.  But my cookbook collection has started growing here thanks to Amazon and their speedy delivery to my door so I’m keen to slowly start experimenting. Friday night pizzas continue and we have added Taco Tuesday to our weekly menu because I can’t resist all the tortillas, avocados and limes here.

Out of the five weeks we have been here though the absoloute highlight was dining at Alice Water’s Chez Panisse.  It has gone straight to number one on my favourite restaurant list.  All I had to do was walk in the door on a foggy evening in Berkeley and I was sold.  It could not have been a more perfect evening.  We went upstairs to the cafe and it was bustling.  The lighting was low and the walk past the wood-fired oven with the copper pans and chefs carefully arranging salads on plates was a feast for the eyes.

The food was everything I imagined – simple, thoughtful and delicious.  This place alone makes me think moving here was the right thing to do.  I think California and all the beautiful California cuisine is simply gorgeous.  Despite the ups and downs of relocating I think I could make this place home – well for now.

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15 Responses to San Francisco, Apple Picking and Californian Cuisine

  1. cath says:

    Thanks for the lovely newsy blog Nat, I’m so glad you are starting to settle into life there. Sounds lovely, (I’m sure Google has got nothin’ on your cooking) x

  2. oh wow… school pickups and drop offs etc aside, life is looking very enjoyable state-side! xxxxoooo

    Re the other school – again, remember, let ‘enjoyable life’ and ‘I deserve my sanity’ be your motto. If it will make life easier, then I say swap schools. They will make MORE friends, they will be able to keep in touch with their old friends, and kids are adaptable. Change will help them become versatile adults too. xxxooo

    • natalie says:

      Yes the kids will adjust, I do know for sure. I’ve been so impressed with how well they are settling in over here. And yes I do need to focus now on preserving my sanity and trying to find a little more time for myself.

  3. Victoria says:

    Your blog is lovely, and it’s so much fun to follow your happy (I sincerely hope) progress getting settled in California. As a native New Yorker, I’m just a little jealous. Continued good luck. You have Halloween coming up and then your first American Thanksgiving.

    • natalie says:

      Thanks Victoria! I dreamt last night that Joel decided he had had enough and wanted to go home and I got really upset. So that has to mean I’m enjoying life here for the most part! I just don’t understand Halloween one bit but Thanksgiving I am excited about.

  4. Hi,

    I am an expat Australian living in chicago since August of 1998. Born in Melbourne lived there for 6 years, moved to Hobart Tasmania and lived there for 18 years before returning to Mebourne for 13 years , then meeting the love of my life and moving to his hometown Chicago.

    Adapting to life here was relatively easy , the winters are hard – something you will not have to deal with in CA. However, I really enjoy the 4 seasons we have in the midwest. Turning right , I still hit the curb , I still struggle with coin change – so I have complete faith in the salesperson . I am only just coming to terms with imperial weights and measurements and hoping that in my lifetime this country will switch to decimal….. so much easier .

    My quest for the perfect cup of coffee is never ending and I dont think I will ever find in the midwest – it is really a west coast thing or should I say north west towards Portland. We were spoiled by the coffee culture that exists in Melbourne , and I was even more spoilt by my Italian friends who made the best coffee .

    You will enjoy great farmers markets , if you need a fix of vegemite, violet crumble bars, aero bars , fruit gums and smarties then head to a World Market store …. you should find a pretty good stash of all things Cadbury’s.

    I have two daughters ( both born here) and they call me “MUM” …. I am not letting that one go ….. I can live with other pronunciations eg, tomato …. dance …. etc etc .

    Not too sure how long you are here for , but enjoy it , the people are uber friendly and if I had a dollar for everytime they want to know where I am from and how much they like my accent …… I would be living the high life .

    Feel free to write to me if you need any help and I found your blog through pinterest and love it .

    take care

    • natalie says:

      Thanks for all the encouragment and good advice! I did go to World Market today and Levi was very happy I came home with a packet of Arnotts Choc Mint Slice biscuits! But I might need to take our a small loan if I want to keep up with our current intake of Vegemite around here. So expensive!!! It is wonderful to hear that you have settled and I might have to send questions your way from time to time. Nat

  5. SallyNZ says:

    Love your blog, and love reading about your adventures in USA!! Good luck with it all x

  6. Mandy Evans says:

    Nat, so excited you have been to Heath Ceramics already….I have been researching ceramics stores in Cal and this is top of my list! Can’t wait to shop there. Making you yoghurt and raspberry cake tonight for a birthday party tomorrow so thinking of you. Looking forward to seeing you for Thanksgiving!

    • natalie says:

      Mandy it was beautiful. You better leave the credit card at home though because I can’t see you getting lots of ceramics home safely in your suitcase! We will have to get ourselves along to Chez Panisse. I need to return as much as I can! Nat x

  7. Gillian Miller says:

    Hi Natalie

    Love reading about your adventures in the USA and the great news that you are all settling in. I had no idea a good coffee was so hard to come by! Always enjoy your blog for recipe ideas.

    Take care.

    • natalie says:

      Thanks Gillians! We are settling in and Levi is doing really well. He is loving the adventure. On the coffee – the coffees here are so super-sized but I have found a few lovely cafes which make a delicious coffee. It just took me awhile to hunt them down! I hope you and your family are all well. Nat x

  8. nicole says:

    oh wow, I have ceramics envy. What a beautiful shop! Just spotted a lovely teapot on their website. Very much enjoying your blog by the way.

    • natalie says:

      My photos don’t give credit to how gorgeous the space at Heath ceramics is. You’ll just have to go and get yourself the teapot! Nat

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