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7 January, 2014

A Foodie Day Trip on Treasure Island

Posted in : Bars and Tasting Rooms, Tasting Rooms in San Francisco - CA, Travel, Travel Guide for San Francisco, CA, Wine on by : The Gourmez

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On the last full weekend of every month, the Treasure Island flea market takes place. It is a great excuse to check out Treasure Island for foodies, because the flea market brings a lot of food trucks with it to what is otherwise a barren land for munchies.

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But it’s never a barren land for winos, with several tasting rooms located within a mile walk of each other.

Outside the Fat Grape winery.

Outside the Fat Grape winery.

So combine the flea market experience with some afternoon wine tasting, and you have the makings of a perfect day slightly out of the city. And if you haven’t been to Treasure Island, then you must stop off at this midway point on the Bay Bridge stretch for the views alone.

Click twice for the largest pic!

Click twice for the largest pic!

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It provides the best skyline of San Francisco I’ve seen in the five months since we relocated here. For an area awash in beauty, that’s saying something. Maybe it’s just saying that I haven’t explored enough of the Bay yet, but it’s something, regardless.

You can take the bus from the city to Treasure Island, or just hope off the bridge at the Yerba Buena Island exit. Take a right off the freeway, and follow the road around until you’re on Treasure Island and you see signs for the flea market and parking. Really, though, you can park wherever. Follow the Bliss Dance sculpture to the market — you can’t miss that 40-foot-tall beauty.

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If you’re into the market by 12, there are usually changing drink specials available at the bar. No picture, but I can assure you my cantaloupe mimosa was delicious. We settled on lunch next, choosing the Hiyaaa! food truck for a bulkogi fix.

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Take your lunch over to the rocks by the water to enjoy all the views with your meal. You won’t regret it.

My friend nomming away on a sausage.

My friend nomming away on a sausage.

My sandwich was on the sweeter side for bulkogi and overloaded with toppings but that’s a much better problem than too few of them.

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I wouldn’t have minded more spice, but there was plenty of mayo for this glutton. The mango lemonade was fantastic.

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But the garlic fries were less interesting, overall.

Garlic fries on the rocks at Treasure Island.

Garlic fries on the rocks at Treasure Island.

Stroll around the flea market once your hunger is sated, and do take the time to drool over the baked goods at Dot’s Baking Pantry tent.

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I swore I would get some of their treats before we left, but alas, I never made it back that day. I did make it to the sample platter at Charlie Frank’s Pies, however.

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Oh my, that was delicious. I just had a little of the coconut rum sweet potato pie, but I still remember its bold flavor punch. My friend bought a mini-pie all for herself.

After probably an hour of perusing the flea market’s wares, we decided to move on to the wine tasting portion of the afternoon, having seen several signs for tasting rooms on the way in. Stroll rather than drive on your way to one so you can get a feel for life on the island. Maybe you’ll encounter unexplainable phenomena like we did.

Still have no idea what these were.

Still have no idea what these were.

Veering onto 13th Street about a mile from the market, we found Bodega Wine Estates.

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It’s a midsize tasting room with a wine guide happy to give us large pours and an extra glass for our $5 tasting fee on a lazy Sunday. The tasting room features wines from a few different wineries, but we didn’t like them quite enough to walk off with any. I do still remember a unique, grassy chardonnay there, but its name eludes me.

Around the corner is Fat Grape Winery, a sulfite-free purveyor housed inside the old navy brig.

Wine tasting on Treasure Island.

Click twice for the largest view!

They have a hefty list of wines to taste, and what’s more, you can taste them all for free.

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Yes, that includes every single one on that list and a few specialty options that Patrick, the winemaker and pourer mixes up spur of the moment as well. He shared in the fun with his own winemaker’s glass as we went along.

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Having such a huge range meant my opinions of the wines varied greatly from bottle to bottle. I found two I enjoyed a lot, the ’10 Merlot and the ’09 Two Gals’ Zin. The latter was a lovely blend of old and new vine zinfandel, and I’ll review the former in a separate blog in a few weeks. Ben didn’t do the Fat Grape tasting, but he thought the wines were fantastic at home, enjoying their pure, vibrant qualities that shine more brightly without the sulfites. I’d miss the earthiness of wine if I always drank sulfite-free, but it’s a refreshing, fruit-forward change once in a while.

After that tasting, meandering slowly toward the car is a must. You should promise “yes!”, when the farewell sign wishes you well as you leave the island —

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— and make sure to take in that sunset driving back across the Bay Bridge.

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This foodie had an excellent day trip on Treasure Island, and she hopes you’ll share if you do too! For all my pictures from the excursion, click here.

All photos taken 24 November 13.

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