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March 28, 2012

Bay Area Yelpers Take A Field Trip!

Posted by Abby Schwarz

SF Field Trip

Yelpers in San Francisco, East Bay as well as the South Bay-Peninsula got schooled March 5-18 during Yelp's Field Trip, a series of workshops, classes and "how to" sessions coordinated by our local Bay Area Community Managers. These events were free and RSVP's were open for anyone on the site to attend. Yelp Elites have mentioned how much they love the hands-on portion of events, where business owners are especially present and sharing behind-the-scenes secrets of their operations, it seemed only fair to let the entire Yelp community in on what makes our favorite local businesses so special. Forget Algebra or getting changed for gym class, all of these activities were especially UFC!

San Francisco

From an excursion to House Kombucha to watch how they make their fruity fermented tea with scoby's and love, to a tour of Rickshaw Bags with founder Mark Dwight answering questions about his dedication to keeping the business local, SF yelpers found out what's up about some of the best businesses in their city. San Francisco's Urban Bazaar is all about fair trade and locally made goods and they showcased their DIY spirit with a make your own mustache workshop as well as a popular make your own succulent terrarium workshop, in which all attendees learned about the wonders of San Francisco succulents. Keeping with the artistic, DIY spirit - SCRAP, a favorite San Francisco non-profit and wonderland of scavenged stuff, gave tours of their exciting space and even provided a wealth of art materials for yelpers to make their own inspired creations in their art workshop area. Speakeasy produces cult favorite brews on the regular and yelpers were able to learn firsthand about their hands-on brewing process by touring the massive facility and even receiving a free flight of delicious Speakeasy beers. The whole place was hoppin'! SOMArts is a phenomenal event space and non-profit that seeks to make art and art classes accessible to the community with their rotating exhibits and classes. They showcased their fascinating I Am Crime: Art on the Edge of Law exhibit and curator Justin Hoover walked yelpers through the exciting exhibit with detailed background information on each bold piece.

For those yelpers looking for something a little bit more laid back Yelp Field Trip - Christoper from T-We taught two enlightening workshops about the beauty of tea. From how to make your own breakfast tea blend of tea, to a brief history and background behind all of his eclectic tea blends - yelpers walked away full of antioxidants.  Timbuk2 the San Francisco-based pioneer of the messenger bag, has been based in the Mission District in San Francisco for 23 years. Yelpers got to tour the manufacturing facility, watch how a custom bag is made from start to finish and even see a sneak preview the upcoming line, slated to launch this summer. Indie Industries - a local designer owned and produced collective featured a fun, earth friendly recycled-vintage-repurpos ed jewelry class. The stunning jewelry that resulted from the workshop - was proudly worn by the yelper artists. And San Francisco wouldn't be the green oasis it is today without the continual help of Friends of the Urban Forest. Friends of the Urban Forest's mission is to promote a larger, healthier urban forest as part of San Francisco’s green infrastructure through community planting, tree care, education, and advocacy.

Part of spreading the green love involves setting up information tree tours in Golden Gate park and a group of yelpers were able to enjoy a beautiful and informational  tour of the The Golden Gate Park Rhododendron Dell. And of course what's San Francisco without some Cressie Mae hula-hooping. Cressie Mae's workshops were unfortunately postponed due to San Francisco march rainy weather, but will definitely be rescheduled soon so yelpers can get their hoop on in Hippie Hill. 

South Bay-Peninsula

Field Trip collage
 

From ice cream making workshops to tours of NASA to sweating it out at a Zumba class, South Bay and Peninsua yelpers got treated to all sorts of fun field trips. The festivities kicked off at Barrelhouse, where attendees learned a little bit about beer, wine and spirits at "Booze 101" class. By all accounts, everyone learned a little, got to meet some new yelpy faces and found new favorite watering hole. Along those same lines, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company hosted a beer and cheese pairing class at their lovely restaurant right on the water. Chef Gaston worked with the brewers on-site to create three special appetizers that paired with beer, including a Chai Stout/chocolate truffle combo that just melted in your mouth! And Milkshake Werks owner Leslie Widemann let yelpers sample her famous ice cream and even make their own boozy flavor, the Yelp of the Irish, which quickly sold out within a week.

Although a little bit off the beaten path, Pie Ranch in Pescadero led a small group on a tour of their sustainable farm, including chickens, milking cows and a quick lesson on making your own flour from scratch. To get a firsthand glimpse on what was experienced, watch this amazing video (password: Pie) by Jorge NovoaThe International Culinary Center in Campbell provided a cooking and pastry demo by two master chefs. Of course we got to sample their final product, too :) Not to be outdone, Michi Sushi hosted sushi making classes, followed by a team buliding competetion where yelpers got hands-onwith the Abazaba roll, created by Master Chef Shin for our very own Abby S. Yum!

For those who enjoy group workouts, uforia studios in Palo Alto offered a Zumba as well as Revolutions (stationery bike) classes to a brave handful of yelpers. Knowing that hot yoga can be a little bit scary,Bikram Yoga Santa Clara taught two intro classes, explaining the benefits of yoga practice and showing that it doesn't get *that* hot inside. The overall experience must have been 5-stars, since many of the guests who signed up purchased class packages and plan on going back very soon. For a brain workout,NASA hosted tours to the Yelp community, including an insider tour of their simulator labs, Advanced Supercomputer as well as the latest info from the current Kepler mission to search for inhabitable planets. Those interested in learning about the art of glass blowing were able to tour the Watsonville retail facility of Annieglass, meet artist world-renowned artist Annie Morhauser. Plus, yelpers who attended received a complimentary wine tasting afterwards! Last but certainly not least, yelpers were invited to Cinquest Film Festival to see a screening of Touch, followed by director Q&A. 

Read all of the Peninsula-South Bay reviews and check out yelper pics! 

East Bay 

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The East Bay kicked off their Field Trippin' marathon at Linden Street Brewery, where owners Adam and David kept the beer flowing all night, featuring two new brews for yelpers to sample:The Town and Deep Roots Red.  Steadfast Printing offered live screenprinting demos of exclusive neon Yelp's Field Trip koozies and t-shirts for all, while DJ Matt the Katt served up funkadelic beats all through the night. But who could forget the addictive horchata flavored Peter's Kettle Corn and spicy carnitas from Tacos JerezanosEmily J confirms "this most recent event left me in the perfect beer, steak taco, and horchata kettle corn coma. This, plus all the fabulous and friendly East Bay Yelpers, made for a great kick-off to the week!"

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On to the studious stuff, yelpers mixed their own mustard blends at Oaktown Spice Shop, whichLam N described as "like being in a witch's apothecary, with herbs and potions all around", onto a spirited lesson in cocktail history from the pro mixologist at Honor Bar, and then off to learn some fancy footwork during Salsa with Juan. "It was beautiful how many of the students went from complete novices to beginners," notes Marlyn A, "I felt pulled into the group, like family, instantly."

Sweet teeth were thorough satiated during the Sorbet to Z demo and tasting at Scream Sorbet, with flavors like Cashew Chai, Blackberry & Olive Oil, and Almond Pink Peppercorn tasted to our tum's delight. "Owner Nate expanded my knowledge, no, shattered my ignorance about this healthier alternative by giving us an insight to the intricate world of sorbet," raves Anna K. "One of the tastings we had was made of melon and beer. Ingenious!" Then there was the luscious truffle-making classes taught by Chris Blue of Chocolatier Blue, where yelpers were invited into his tiny choco-workshop to make edible glitter molds, churn caramel, and fill trays of milk chocolate. Every truffle student left with a goody bag of Chocolatier Blue signature truffles, along with their own handmade concoctions. Diana V was smitten: "After this field trip, I am thoroughly enamored with this shop. They have such a passion and commitment for what they do, and they do it well." What would the East Bay be without those glorious Fentons scoops and sundaes? Yelpers happily descended upon the old-school creamery to learn the basics of ice creaming, flavor creation and mixing up the perfect batch of whipped cream (or malted, or chocolate!), and got a sneak peek at their soon-to-open Myrtle's Lodge across the street, where antique ice cream relics are on display.

Yelpers got things percolating with a tour and tasting at Highwire Coffee's roasting facility in Emeryville, where a fresh batch of beans went from golden yellow to dark brown in 12 minutes flat, followed by a professional "cupping" with three different Highwire blends. Lam N proclaims "this was my favorite of the field trip events.  Rich, Robert, and Eric are absolutely pro at what they do." Rosenblum Cellars in Alameda treated yelpers to mid-day Zin School, where they perfected their swirled, sip, and spitting technique while honing their wine tasting vocabulary. Nearby Rock Wall Wine Company welcomed gave yelpers a bubbly welcome, complete with fruit and cheese platters, sparkling wine, and a barrel tasting in their former airplane-hanger cellar
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Out in Livermore Valley, Cedar Mountain Winery schooled yelpers in the nitty gritty of "green" winemaking, leading them around the spacious grounds (which include a 100-year old barn that once belonged to Bing Crosby!), tasting zesty Sauv Blanc straight from the barrel, and finishing with a port and chocolate tasting. Jana S took home a souvenir of Chardonnay del Sol, swooning "it's so lovely on the tongue, I'm serving it as a special dessert wine treat to some lucky guests." Newcomer to the East Bay, Nuubia Chocolat opened their doors for an enlightening look at chocolate and sustainability. Yelpers tasted through various rare cacao beans, and compared notes on chef Lionel's hand crafted truffles. Kristen K "went home with a bag of dark chocolate ganache/praline 'lollipops' that make grocery store chocolate look like dog treats. I kid you not, I'm still thinking about them 5 days later!"

We be Jammin' was no joke, thanks to INNA Jam's super exclusive peek at their almost-finished jam kitchen, lesson in artisan jam-making (ie: sourcing the best local fruit and using it quick!) and a sunny picnic of various INNA samples like Plenty Spicy Jalepeno, Hayward Kiwi, Seascape Strawberry, and Fresno Chili, spread on Acme baguettes. There was lots of edible art to be appreciated, but yelpers used more than just their mouths during Yelper's Field Trip, nurturing their neurons at one of the greenest buildings in the Bay, the David Brower Center, with a stimulating session in critical thinking and articulating the finer things, presented by Visual Thinking Strategies, followed by a special tour of HUB Bay Area's community-focused, creativity-conducive workspace. Lorrayne L's take-away? "I am now forever enlightened on the key phrases I need to know to join the thousands that flock to the Art Murmur each month; to converse and banter with these folks that enjoy staring at one piece of art for hours on end."

After two weeks of educational, tasteful and inspiring Field Trips, Esther Y sums it up with "I wish there was an actual Yelp school, I'd totally go to that and get my PhD in Yelpiness." Well then, save us a seat in the front row!

Comments

Wendy Jones

I moved from East Bay a few years ago and so miss it all. I am so happy that fellow Yelpers got out and saw a bit of the area. There were a few things missed like Joaquin Miller Park and a the Sausal Creek Nursery...but it sounds like everyone had a blast!

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