Sunday, October 28, 2012

Test driving the Ferrari F430

For my birthday, my wife purchased for me a spot on Imagine Lifestyles test drive. I could choose to drive either a Ferrari or a Lamborghini around a race track.

Imagine Lifestyles chose Candlestick Park as the location and created a test track using red cones in the parking lot. This is not the ideal test track, like Laguna Seca in Monterey (where I did my motorcycle racing with Keith Code Superbike School) but it would have to do.

I chose to test drive a Ferrari F430 convertible on Sunday, October 28th at 10:00am.
When I arrived at Candlestick Park, there was a long line of people registering for the various cars. I decided to record my session, so I got to wear a GoPro Hero2 camera mounted on my helmet. Each car comes with an assistant, sitting on the passenger side, who explains the driving rules and gives helpful advice on how to make the car perform.

My assistant explained to me that the Ferrari real needs to have brakes applied very hard. It was helpful advice! All of the cars were automatic, although I was hoping for manual transmission.

The Ferrari was automatic and was a bit slow to come off the line. There was a delay between the time I pressed by foot on the accelerator and the response of the car. The car handled very well in turns, but the brakes had very long travel and had to be pushed all the way in as hard as possible to slow down.

It did not feel as exhilarating as racing a motorcycle around a race track. The acceleration was just not the same caliber.

I had lots of fun, but I am not too impressed wit the Ferrari F430. Maybe it was the automatic transmission, (I would have preferred a manual), but I didn't get the feeling of exhilaration I expected.

Perhaps next time, I will try the Lamborghini. They have a nice growling exhaust.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wedding Anniversary in Calistoga

For our 11th wedding anniversary, Inna made reservations at Indian Springs Resort & Spa in Calistoga, California. We stayed two nights, arriving on Friday, October 12th and returning on Sunday, October 14th.

On the first day, Friday, October 12th, we checked in at the Indian Springs Resort & Spa (after a long drive from San Jose) and went to eat dinner at Solbar Restaurant, nearby.

Solbar is a 1 star Michelin rated restaurant and it deserves its accolades.
Both food and service were superb. We enjoyed all of the dishes and can't wait to return.

On the next day, Saturday, October 13th, we rented a couple of bicycles (free at Indian Springs Resort) and biked around Calistoga. There are many wineries around and the whole area is very peaceful and beautiful.

For dinner, we made reservations at Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.The CIA trains chefs around he world, and we were hoping to taste some innovative dishes. Unfortunately, most of the food was mediocre and service was extremely slow. We would not recommend going there again.

After dinner, we returned to Indian Springs Resort & Spa and decided to go for a swim the in hot spring pool.

Even though it was fairly chilly outside, the pool, heated by geothermal hot spring water, was extremely warm (bordering on hot).

It was very relaxing to float about and look at the stars.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In the morning, we decided to go back to Solbar for breakfast. We were not disappointed!

I had the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup and Toasted Pine Nuts. These were the most delicious pancakes I have ever eaten!

Inna had Mount Washington Eggs - two poached eggs on a split buttermilk biscuit with smoked ham, slow-cooked black kale and spicy hollandaise. They were also very good.

After hanging around Calistoga, we decided to have lunch in Yountville, at Bouchon Bistro.
Bouchon is another Michelin rated restaurant. It's also very good. Surprisingly, the bread and pastries were significantly better than the ones from the Bouchon Bakery next door.

We really enjoyed our lunch at Bouchon Bistro. We hope to come back there again (but we do not recommend the Bouchon Bakery).