Sunset BBQ in Menlo Park

Since our next stop was just a few hours away on what locals call the peninsula, we opted to lounge about my wife’s cousin’s apartment for a few hours, dealing with laundry chores and regrouping a bit. After hitting Philz, a local coffee institution, we had yogurt and fresh fruit for breakfast, lounged in the back yard admiring their succulents, and generally got things in order.

We then loaded up the car and took off for a quick tour through the part of SF my wife and I had lived and worked in (prior to knowing each other, though about at the same time). We picked up some sandwiches at a local grocery store then hit the road south after checking out Coit Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, and Golden Gate Park.

Heading south, we were flanked by brown hills dotted with squat, wide trees. Twenty minutes on the freeway and we were out of the fog and in the warm, sunny area of Menlo Park.

One of the very reasons we took this trip was to spend time with our good friends who lived there, and so our children, best of friends back in New York, could reconnect. Driving through the area, we passed venture capital firms, beautiful homes, and fancy bistros.

Real estate is so expensive in the Menlo Park/Palo Alto area that few newbies, even with a decent income, can afford a single family home. Our friends opted to lease a duplex condo, mainly because the extensive outdoor space. A warm roof-deck, which I immediately took a nap on, and a cozy backyard which was the scene of a wonderful barbecue we had that evening.

As the kids ate inside in front of a movie, our hosts honored us with a delicious charcuterie of local cheese and cured meats. Some 20 year old Scotch, red wine, as a warm lantern kept the night chill away. We feasted on grilled marinated steak, the largest artichokes I’d seen in years, and ended things with a beautiful berry cake. Al fresco, all of it. I felt like we were living in a vintage Sunset magazine cover spread.

Was it health food? To my mind, it was, in the best sense — friends, stories, sharing, fine cooking, and memories that will last a lifetime.

To learn more about our thirty day adventure across America, check out our other publications WHERE DO WE FIT IN? and 30 CUPS ACROSS.

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