Sunday, August 4, 2013

When chronology fails me: 96h in San Francisco

I am in the airport lounge now heading back to London and I am so exhausted after 96 hours in San Francisco it warrants a thorough run on sentence.

It was sort of a power trip (going for a very close friends wedding); but I thought I would give a bit of a rundown of my trip and then do a review of the culinary highlight I failed to comment on (due only to time and my own inability to think this blog through prior to posting: blogging is obviously a learning experience).

Anyways I got in Thursday night and took the BART into town. (San Francisco is aces because it has semi descent public transport). I was staying with friends in Height Ashbury. I am a big fan of staying with friends whenever possible. Not only because it tends to save money but also because it is more relaxed and I can have cereal for breakfast (if I feel so inclined). 

After a quick shower and a change we headed down to Chinatown and ended up at Comstock for dinner (see previous post for full review), following which we tackily headed across the street to The Roaring 20s. A low-class, adult entertainment bar, which was mostly empty with the exception of a handful of greasy looking men getting lap dances from a varied selection of dancers in the corners of the room while bored looking women were strip teasing, making sporadic use of the allotted pole on the small podium in the middle of the room. It was not very entertaining; but the point was to have a mini-bachelorette party for my friend who was getting married the next day. We sort of managed.

Friday morning I got up early and walked (yes walked) 35 minutes to the mission to attend a yoga class at laughing lotus. As per usual at laughing lotus the teacher was wonderful and we went through a delicious morning sequence of poses that really centred me following the 10h plane ride.

Laughing Lotus:

Afterwards I walked back through the Castro, up past Corona Heights and Buena Vista park. I stopped on the way at Spike's coffee and got a delicious brew (see earlier post). 

A few hours later we headed down to city hall to marry off my friend. I have never been inside city hall, but it is a very beautiful building both inside and out. The weddings take place on top of the famous city hall staircase. This gives the space a very romantic air as young (and old) couples and their friends and family swoosh through the halls. In addition the space is drizzled with commemorative statues of historic mayors of this progressive town, including the notorious Harvey Milk. A man who is as important today as he was in his time fighting for equal rights for all.

Harvey Milk:

After the ceremony we went to Alembic Bar on Height Street. It was actually a really fantastic experience and I think the best place I ate while in San Francisco. It is a Mexicali fusion and Mixology restaurant and bar. I got the duck hearts, the marrow, and a corn soup. All of the dishes were fabulously prepared, expertly presented and delectable on the pallet. I washed it down with their Nine Volt: a cocktail which included white Szechuan pepper, grapefruit juice, green tea and gin. It was clear with just a hint of citric acidity and spice. This I would say actually in a sense describes all the food I had there. The marrow; a classically greasy lovefest was presented as a simple and almost light dish; garnished as it was with capers, thyme and whole roast garlic cloves. The duck hearts came grilled on a bed of warm pineapple and the corn soup came with light goat cheese, fresh whole corns, whipped cilantro, huitlacoche and queso fresco. It was completely delicious. I highly recommend this place.

Alembic Bar (Between Alembic bar and Comstock I also rediscovered my love of grilled and cooked fruits in regular dishes!)

Saturday I went to tartine bakery for breakfast (see previous post) and then sat in dolores park overlooking downtown San Francisco in the blinding sunshine. It was a beautiful moment in great company. So often when I travel I am so busy seeing the place I forget to actually be. Sitting on top of the park I really feel like I stopped and smelled the palm trees! 

I then walked around the mission for a few hours browsing various independent shops and second hand stores. Before I left I stopped by Tacqueria for a special taco. It was soft shell (I prefer them hard...) but even so it was very very good! Beautiful salsa, fresh guacamole, not too much cheese and flavourful pork. I was very happy with this little hole in the wall cafeteria.


Today I went for a walk around the golden gate park. Before I ventured into this behemoth of a recreational facility I stopped by Flywheel Coffee Roasters and had an scrumptious coffee (these kids know their craft). 

Coffee in hand I walked to the Japanese Gardens. I was really excited to see this space and was actually very disappointed. It was really small and I thought not very original. It cost $7 to get in and in the 5minutes it took me to cross the space it felt sort of like a rip-off. The gift shop was cliche and the cafe looked like it served awful food. I left and continued past the beautiful de Young museum, designed by German architects Herzog & de Meuron. It is really a gorgeous building which edges itself out among the Californian pines. Last I visited the National AIDS memorial grove. This space felt undervisited but was, perhaps as a result, particularly peaceful and lush; contrasting nicely with the devastation the illness has caused so many and I think ultimately leaving me with a sense of hope. I stood at the bottom of the grove and thought of my own friends who live with HIV and the progress we have made in overcoming not only the infection but also the stigma it carries.

AIDS Memorial:

In the afternoon I went downtown to try and pick up a cheap milkshake maker (I failed miserably in this pursuit; but I had fun trying) 

Overall I had a beautiful trip to San Francisco that I shared with some really extraordinary people. I feel like between the yoga and the art and the progressive politics and the aids and the japanese gardens and the juice and coffee and the Asian and the Mexican and the European cuisines mixed with the most extraordinary ingredients and fantastically interchangeable weather which somehow never gets very cold it is very hard to go wrong in this city of techsters and arties. I already look forward to coming back again and thank San Francisco once more for taking such good care of me.

Alembic on Urbanspoon

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