I am an accountant by day, and adventurer by night (and weekend). I'm from Berkeley California. I enjoy meeting cool people that like nice food and wine, and like to see the world in different ways.
Jamie is a great guide - she totally knows this area of San Francisco and was kind enough to share it with me and a few close friends. Her recomendations for shoes, clothes (or the lack there of), and snacks (including beer), was perfect. How I long to return to the beach one more time!
Mark is a fantastic chef! My friends and I really enjoyed the hands-on, participatory cooking lesson. This is guaranteed to be one of the best and most fun al fresco dining experiences you'll have in the city!
Awesome time in Golden Gate Park with Mark! His modified Bobby Flay seasoning hit the spot and the paella was as authentic as it gets. If you're lucky enough to get him as your personal Spanish chef you should definitely take advantage of it.
Let's get this out of the way first — the paella was absolutely delicious and I would eat it every day if I could. The chicken was cooked perfectly — sometimes it gets overcooked, you know? — all the sea beasts went down easy and so forth. Really stellar. Mark's setup was pure profesh. I wasn't sure what to expect and when he pulled out his EPIC portable paella burner + pan we were all a bit stunned. The thing is huge! Watching the paella get made was a great way part of the experience — getting all excited as the different ingreeds were added, watching the chicken brown, smelling them smells you smell so well. Then, later: there was hella paella and we ate it up like a bunch of slobberin' goblins. A++ WOULD PAELLA AGAIN.
The atmosphere at our memorial day party was lifted by the paella pans bountiful aromas. A big pan equals LOTS of food. I Was looking forward to leftovers but it was ALL gone by the next day!
Mark brought his paella to our Memorial Day party, it was phenomenal. The entire set up is unlike anything you've ever seen! A huge pan of deliciousness. I highly recommend and can't wait for my next paella experience. Yay for paella!
I asked Mark to make his paella on the beach for a party I was planning and I am SO glad I did! The paella was excellent - cooked perfectly, full of great seafood and chicken, and very authentic overall. Mark was also very entertaining and fun, and even taught my friends how to make paella if they were interested. In addition, he was very easy to get a hold of and coordinate with - he was reliable, on time, and did everything he said he was going to do. This was a huge hit with all of my guests and was a great addition to my party. I would definitely recommend Mark and his paella, and can't wait to plan another party with Mark!
Mark's paella was sooo tasty! The paella was perfectly seasoned and bursting with seafood and other meat (scallops, jumbo prawns, chicken, and chorizo, just to name a few). The occasion was a friend's birthday party, and Mark made the event a blast! He cooked for over 20 people, and we all got 2nds and 3rds. Everyone had a great time on the beach, enjoying the fabulous meal, the ocean, the bonfire...I would definitely recommend this experience!
Mark rocks. Even on a windy day in SF, he was able to make an unbelievably delicious paella, without any sand!!!! Quite an accomplishment, seriously, I don't know how he did that. He came equipped with the biggest pan I've ever seen, tons and tons of seafood (shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams) and chicken along with lots of veggies. It turned out beautiful and mmm mmm good. Mark's not only a great paella chef but knows how to keep a party going with his enthusiasm, humor, and ability to talk to anyone. If you want a guy to make great food while keeping the party going, he's your guy. Thanks, Mark, this won't be the last time you make me paella :)
I was fortunate (and smart) enough to have taken friends' recommendations and make sure Bocas del Toro was a stop during my Panama & Costa Rica excursion. Though the main island is rather small, there was absolutely no shortage of things to do on the archipelago -- from jungle and beach excursions, to great restaurants & places to go out, to sporting and underwater adventures. Really, it was something new everyday. And the Casa Bocas guys only made this plethora of options that much more enjoyable and unmatched by any other tour guide. However, even with this excess of options, time to unwind was aplenty. Bocas is the kind of place that not only invites relaxation, but it demands relaxation. I find it's the perfect balance of both worlds. I, unfortunately, never actually got to stay at the Casa Bocas "big blue house" in my two weeks there because it was being built at that time. However, I made numerous trips to the work site to see the blood, sweat, & tears these guys put into building this house, which was enough to warm the heart of a proud mother from one equinox to the next. Once you realize that on the plane to and from Bocas (to and from Panama City), you can see this beautiful creation as if it's personally greeting and/or sending you off only makes your experience that much more surreal. If you're going to Panama or Costa Rica, Bocas del Toro is a must go. And the Casa Bocas house and boys is just frosting atop the delicious cake. Make it happen. You won't be sorry.
Somehow I had the privilege to make it down to what I ended up calling "the large blue house" in Bocas for an entire month. I immediately became fond of the town. Everything was within walking distance downtown; bars, unusually good restaurants, and hostels for those of us who wanted to see some sun bleached hair, perpetual hangovers, and flip-flops of various colors. What I ended up enjoying most about the island was that although it was small it offered just about anything one would want on a vacation. You could go dancing all night if you wanted, or pay a friendly local to ferry you to a (somewhat) far-away island with almost no one on it, and enjoy a day of untouched sand without any other people. I was nervous soliciting strangers to take us to the middle of nowhere, but learned quickly that it was safe. Its their job. The Island can pretty much accommodate any mood you're in, which is great considering how accessible everything is. Lastly, the feel of the whole place is that it hasn't quite been exploited by annoying tourists (like myself) quite yet, so I felt like I was roughing it a bit, which made me seek out more adventure. We explored a vast cave that opened up on a secluded beach!- with a local guide.) The large blue house is on the water right outside of town, and we quickly became friends with the neighbors who were super friendly. The house is big, very cozy, and has that delicious caribbean breeze wafting through it at all hours. A true comfort for mellow lounging, or refuge after a long jungle hike.
There is no experience like that of Bocas del Toro. It's a true hidden gem in Central America. While tourists are starting to catch on, there is still a very raw, organic feel down there, and there is no better way to experience the authentic Bocas life than to stay at the casa Bocas and let these guys make all your activity arrangements for you. They have the in with all the locals and are adored down there. There's really no other way to "do" Panama, in my mind.