November 23, 2011

Gobble! Gobble!


Warm wishes for happy and safe holiday!

My apologies for lack of posts lately. I've taken on new responsibilities at work so I've been busy learning the ropes. Amy and Nicky have been in town for the past week, and my dad arrived a couple days ago. Tomorrow will be the first time since 1997 my family has shared a holiday together. I'll be cooking a feast. The chaos continues with Black Friday shopping, and then, my dad, Mike, Amy and I are driving up to the Bay Area. We'll enjoy the sights in San Francisco on Saturday, and Sunday, we'll be in Oakland to see the Raiders vs. Bears. Fun times ahead...

November 21, 2011

"Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay"

Saturday, we packed and checked out. Then, we headed over to Chinatown for yummy peking duck at R & G Lounge. We didn't order eggrolls, but they appeared and we couldn't turn them away.

The duck was so good. I'm not sure a word was spoke while we feasted. We saw salt and pepper crab coming out of the kitchen like hotcakes, next time we'll have to try that.

We weren't hungry in the least bit, but Good Luck Cafe was practically next door. We walked by and they had sandwiches on dutch crunch and that's all it took to sway Frank. He told them it was our first time and asked for a recommendation. They suggested turkey with bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato. Sold!

It was a tasty sandwich, just a shame I wasn't a more hungry. If I were, I think I would've enjoyed it more. We walked off some calories - oh, wait, they don't exist on vacation - and found ourselves at the Ferry Building. They were having a large farmer's market. There were all sorts of tents and vendors behind the building. We thought we'd ferry over to wherever was convenient, but no times worked out for us. We wanted to squeeze in one more meal before heading home and the ferry would put a wrench in those plans. Instead, we walked to the end of the pier and took in the sights. The Bay bridge just had its 75th anniversary.

We found a bench on the otherside of the pier. We took a seat and soaked up the rays. The people watching was the cheapest source of entertainment - the whole trip, really. After soaking up the warm sun we went to the Embarcadero in search of coffee and restroom, along the way we found ladies selling churros. One won't hurt.

At the Embarcadero we liked the open walkways that connect the buildings, they offer a good vantage point to watch the world go by... so, that's just what we did.

Enough time had passed that we could eat again. We set off for Penang Garden. We ate there last year and thoroughly enjoyed the hot & spicy crab. We attempted to get another, but they weren't able to get any at the market. They tried to sell us the lobster, but it's not the same. We left, and went back to North Beach.

Sotto Mare it was! We loved this restaurant, too, last visit. We got a table outside and ordered the red snapper and cioppino. It was perfect. It made us really not want to leave.

Whenever you gotta rock a bib, you know you are in for a treat and we were not disappointed.

We strolled around and when we were near Saints Peter and Paul church, the church bells rang for a wedding. What a beautiful place to be wed. Frank had us catch a bus up Telegraph hill. It was the golden hour so he thought I'd like the photo opps. Surely, I did.

We had time to spare before the airport so we decided to grab beers at La Trappe. Only those plans were foiled because they weren't open yet. We went to La Rocca's Corner further down, we've been there before. After enjoying a Widmer and Stella, we caught the bus right outside the door to the Bart Station on Powell. We collected our bags and our time in San Francisco was up. We rode to the airport, Southwest welcomed us aboard another light flight so we were encouraged to stretch out. There was a big group celebrating a birthday in Vegas for 12 hours. They were all decked out in 80's wear. I'd like to see what they looked like when they boarded their return flight. Just over an hour later, we were gazing at the glow of the neon reflecting from the strip. We might not have wanted to leave San Francisco, but it was still good to be home.

Frank tossed ten bucks into Wheel of Fortune. Shockingly, we cashed out for $85. That nearly paid our airfare. You have to love it! We claimed our car from the economy lot and headed home. Our last vacation of 2011 was over. No trips are planned. We must rectify that soon.

November 17, 2011

"When the lights go down in the city"

Friday, it was rainy, and a bit cool. We could only take the F Streetcar as far as the Ferry Building because of a Veteran's Day Parade.

We wandered around the Financial District to kill time before meeting a friend at Chez Fayala. Taking notice of Occupy San Francisco.

Frank wanted a coffee, it was the first time we had to work to find a coffee shop. Usually, we pass several, this time we had to walk a block. 11:30 rolled around, we walked over to Chez Fayala and Mary met us a few minutes later. Frank got some goodies from the salad bar. Mary and I ordered sandwiches, spicy chicken for her and roasted veggie for me.

We both had a side of caesar salad and we all got free soup since it was our first visit. It was a tasty healthful lunch. It was great catching up with Mary. She had to get back to work so we parted ways.

We were off to the Tenderloin. It's the one neighborhood we hadn't yet visited. I was armed with a list of restaurants to try so we hopped on the bus in search of them. First stop was Saigon Sandwich. We shared roast pork banh mi. It was absolutely delicious. We both loved it. We now adopted a Vietnamese grandmother. Sandwiches were $3, too. It was such a great find.

Next, we wandered over to Morty's Deli. They recommended the pastrami rueben so we shared that. It was the weakest sandwich we had the whole trip, but it was still pretty good.

There were a couple other restaurants on my list, but we couldn't eat anymore. I need to find a way to travel with a second stomach. In fact, at our hotel, there was a Denny's (ick) I wanted to steal the diners' hunger. That stomach space could be better used in so many ways. It made me cry on the inside. But anyway, we hopped on a bus and soon we found ourselves back at the wharf.

We were going to take the Hyde line, but one of the cable cars broke down. We waited a good while, but then gave up as the rain came down harder.

We returned to the hotel for a short bit to wait out the showers. Then, we headed back to Petite Deli for another one of Young's sandwiches. We shared her chicken this time. It was near closing time so it was pretty slow and Young had time to chat with us. We learned how she got started, she's been there over 20 years making sandwiches in that tiny space. She has a real estate story to tell, just like us, but her's made ours burn a bit less. Despite everything, she's always in high spirits each and every day. She figures she'll retire in a few more years. So, we'll get to enjoy her kindness and yummy sandwiches a while longer.

We said good-bye until next time, and set off as soon as we stepped outside it started raining cats and dogs. We hurried (used loosely, I have one speed in my boot) back to the hotel. After a late siesta, we walked over to Fort Mason to check out Off The Grid food truck festival.

There is a large hill on the way, I managed up it. I felt like the little engine that could - I think I can, I think I can - but I did it without much trouble. I was winded, it was the most exercise I've had since busting my ankle in August. There was another couple walking that way, and the girl didn't want to go. Her better half pointed at me and said "she's doing it, and she's in a boot!" It made me feel good.

After the climb up the hill, I had a steep set of stairs to climb down. I managed that, too. Woohoo! My reward was tasty eats from a variety of San Francisco food trucks. Our first stop was Nom Nom. They were recently in Vegas for a fest here that we weren't able to make. We tried a deli banh mi, but we didn't like it much.

Next, we had a lamb kabob and dumplings from Happy Dumpling. The lamb was pretty chewy, but the dumplings were good.

I have no experience with Peruvian food so went I saw Sanguchon, I had to try it. We had the pan con chicharron, which was a yummy sandwich with fried yams and pork loin. We both liked it a lot!

After that, we couldn't resist a duck taco from Kung Fu Taco. It, too, was really good.

Our last stop was Onigilly for Japanese rice balls. We had unagi, grilled eel and sweet soy sauce. I would've liked it better with less soy sauce, it was too salty for my liking.

We left the festival and took the bus to North Beach. Can you tell it's our favorite neighborhood? Nah, I didn't think so. We went to La Trappe to check out their beer selection. The bar was packed like six people deep, we were told we'd have to wait for a table. After 30 minutes, we were told there was no waiting upstairs... why we sat and waited in the cellar, I never know. We were seated and given a beer book, gotta love that. I had a Belgium Blonde Ale. Frank had something similar to a Hefe. Both were great beers. We ordered fries with spicy ketchup and BBQ aioli, and potato leek soup.

The soup was bland, but the fries were good. They reminded me of a thicker cut In N Out fry. We'll return to La Trappe, but we'll stick to the beer.

Later, we found ourselves back at Thai Noodle House. I wanted to try their duck noodle soup and Frank tried the pad thai. It was the cheap beers that brought us back, however.

Both dishes were tasty, but we can get better Thai at home. The price sure is right, though. Once again, we were too full for any more stops so we went back to the hotel to rest up for another day.

November 16, 2011

"Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair"

Thursday we began our day at the Ferry Building. We collected our bread: onion slab, cheese wheel, rosemary and rustic rolls, our meat: salami and mortadella platter, dipping oil from Stone House and then we were left to wait for Cowgirl Creamery to open. We gawked at all the fresh produce and meats, if only I had a place to cook!!

M'mmm... Acme bread...

and Cowgirl Creamery! Look at all that glorious cheese!

We wanted it all, but we tried to be practical and stuck to one wedge of peccorino. We took our haul back to the hotel. We dug in! It wasn't pretty, but good god it was fantastic. We stuffed ourselves silly with bread, meat and cheese. We did manage to save cheese and bread for a snack.

We wandered around the financial district, enjoying the beautiful day and trying to work up a hunger. I stopped in the Container Store because I had never been, it's a neat place. Much like Ikea, so much stuff I never knew I needed. We stopped at cigar shop and Frank bought one to his liking. Later, we rode the bus back to North Beach and walked over to Petite Deli to see our old friend Young, she's the Korean grandmother we never had. She is the sweetest lady and she turns out delicious sandwiches in her wee deli. She remembered us, she started us with a sampler of her pasta and potato salad while she worked on our turkey delight.

Young's is the only potato salad I like, lack of mayo and addition of basil makes all the difference.

We shared the turkey delight on dutch crunch. We've never ordered this sandwich before assuming it was like Capriotti's "Bobbie", but it's not. It's light, and a nice blend of sweet and savory with turkey, cheese, lettuce, avocado and cranberries. I never like cranberries in any form, but these were good. I don't know Young's secret, but she makes me love things I don't otherwise enjoy.

We stopped next door at XOX Truffles for a treat. Flavors we chose were: spicy cayenne Tequila, hazelnut and dark chocolate. Little bites of heaven.

We returned to the Wharf and went in search of a place to watch the world go by. We found an observation tower across from the Maritime Museum that suited us well. We soaked up the sun and sea breezes and simply enjoyed the day. It was the first warm and sunny day we've ever had in San Francisco.

After such long glances at Ghirardelli Square, we couldn't resist walking over to grab a dark hot fudge sundae. It hit the spot! After our snack, we resumed watching the world go by. Then, the sun hid behind the buildings and 4 o'clock neared, it was time to go back to the hotel. Frank had a conference call and there was a bed calling my name. The walking and fresh air made me sleepy.

We napped and then snacked on bread and dipping oil before heading out for Beach Blanket Babylon. We made good time to the theater so we grabbed beers at Northstar beforehand. Cute bar, just our style and $3 Stella during happy hour! We watched Chargers vs. Oakland. We left just after halftime. Seating at show is first come, first serve so we didn't want to get seated too late. We were in the third row of the rear section on the aisle. Our seats were great for $25/ea. The show is a lot of fun! I couldn't believe how current it was, they had bits about Kim Kardashian's divorce, Justin Bieber's paternity suit and Rick Perry's brain fart, which had just happened the night before. It was good fun! We were really happy we finally saw it and will likely see it again.

For dinner, we walked over to King of Thai Noodle House. Practically everything on the menu is $5, and beers are cheap too. I was drinking Singha and Frank had Tsingtao, both $3. We had Pad See Ew and egg rolls. It wasn't the best Thai I've had, but it was pretty tasty and the cheapest.

We wandered around North Beach for our next bite. We stumbled on Golden Boy Pizza. I had it on my list of places to try and Frank scoffed, but the pizzas in the window sold us.

We grabbed a seat at the bar. A sausage slice and Speakeasy brew for him and a clam, spinach and garlic slice and Red Hook ESB for me. Best Sicilian slice ever. Light dough, crisp crust... yum! The sausage was the real winner.

After noshing on the delicious slices we wandered North Beach more. We just love that neighborhood. It has such charm and the streets are lined with mom and pop shops. It is known as little Italy, but the area is really a melting pot. There are great restaurants that serve up all kinds of food. Once you add in the clubs and bars it feels a bit like home. Just far less commercial. If only it rained less and most days were sunny like this one, we'd so live in North Beach. It was then I decided I pink puffy heart North Beach. We sought out Don Pisto's for our last bite. We figured every other type of food has been great why not try Mexican. Don Pisto's is pretty swank and the eats are really good. Great salsa and chips to start! We had carnitas and tacos al pastor. Very tasty. Though, I was unable to finish. I was too full.

We had no room left to eat or drink so we walked back to the hotel to rest up for the next day.