Sunday, November 20, 2011

there's a marching band. in a bar.

Thanks to Katy for posting last week! You made everything sound so cool (which is true).

I'm already to post number eleven and can't help thinking about the many more ahead. I'm in shock that it's already Thanksgiving - this time last year I was starting to prep for marathon training (good luck to all who will be running Boston this year!). I'm pretty excited to be going home to Seattle this year for the holiday; the last time I spent it at home was seven years ago when I was a senior in high school. I think I've told that to every person who will listen, like I should win a prize or something. But yes, I'm excited.

This week/weekend consisted of visitor(s) #4 - Paul and Paige. So great to see some more familiar faces and former neighbors (close enough) from Cambridge. Paige unfortunately is here for work, but has the evenings free to we'll get to see each other a few times. I played tourist again this weekend and also showed off some of the places that I've discovered. I'm unusually tired tonight, possibly because of all of the walking I made Paul do this weekend (sorry!) so I'm going to make use of some bullets this time around.

On Friday, I met up with Paul and Paige for a quick cup of coffee to say hi and catch up before they went to dinner. Then I went out to Schroeder's with for drinks with Maddy, a German beer bar in the financial district. Turns out the Cal Berkeley marching band was also setting their sights on Schroeder's and played many tunes. They took a break to eat meatballs and drink, coke for the underage. It was a trip though seeing a marching band in a bar - too bad Cal lost to Sanford the next day.

The next morning, Paul and I set our sites on the Castro and the Mission. Our only stop in the Castro was to get a macaroon from Hot Cookie (among a few other treats). Probably the best macaroon I've ever had; we decided against the penis shaped ones, but I'm sure they were just as good. Here are some hightlights from the Mission:
  • 826 Valencia: the flagship writing center of the nonprofit 826. All of the 826 writing centers have stores with different themes and Valencia's theme is pirates - it. was. awesome.
  • Next door to 826 was Paxton Gate, a taxidermy shop. Lots of bones of animals, animal heads, animals in jars, bugs pinned to boards - it was a seven year old boys dream come true. I also thought it was cool. 
  • Mission Cheese: a fairly new place with amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. I had a mushroom one. Yum. 
  • Elbo Room: on a recommendation of Paige's friend, we checked this place out. She totally hit the nail on the head. I played Iron Man pinball and we took pictures in the photo booth. Drinks were strong, the music was loud. Good times had by all. 
  • Monk's Kettle: I'd been dying to go back here since Maddy took me during my visit in May. It has a great beer list and more beer glassware than I've ever seen. I had Death and Taxes and we drew pictures on the chalk board in front of us. Fitting.
  • So the burrito's are better on the west coast. Fact. We went to El Toro and in the seven minutes (guesstimate) it took me to eat the monster burrito, it took another 25 for me to regret my decision of finished said burrito. 

Today we wandered a bit in Haight, which was my first visit and jaunt along Haight street. As you'd imagine there is a smoke shop every six or so stores and murals all over the place. We walked by Haight/Ashbury and saw the clock permanently set at 4:20. Stood in front of a house where a five piece band was playing on a stoop; it felt like New Orleans. Then headed into Magnolia Pub and Brewery for a drink - the food smelled amazing though. I'm looking forward to heading back there at some point to go to Amoeba Music and spend hours looking at music I won't buy.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and safe travels!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

there's a wig on the sidewalk. welcome to san francisco.

Visitor #3. This week was AWEsome. My co-worker, I mean friend, visited and we had five packed days of work, activities, food/beer consuming, etc. I asked her to do a guest post to give me a break this week, but in reality I'm going to be hovering over her as she types to make sure she captured everything. Take it away Katy...

I feel it is my responsibility to impart on future visitors some lessons learned when visiting Dana:

1: Be prepared to eat your way through San Francisco.  You may enjoy the delicacies of San Francisco's finest food trucks at Off the Grid, or the amazingness of Nook (fervent followers of the blog already know about Nook). Regardless, it's going to be good.  Some favorites: a mac and cheese spring roll with cheese fondue dipping sauce, a salted caramel hot chocolate at Ghiradelli Square, an aptly named "kitchen sink" cookie that contained, among other things, potato chips, pretzels, and butterscotch chips - and spatzel in one of the best German beer bars (outside of Germany), Leopold's.

2: Expect the unexpected. A bar with a deer head on the wall whose antlers become guns, you drink "death and taxes", learn salsa and/or dance under a glittery disco ball shaped like an atomic bomb? Yes, it may happen (Madrone). A woman selling goods in the Mission that gifts Dana a pair of glittery, Rocket Dog platform sneakers?  Yes, I've seen it with my own eyes (and have photographic evidence for the unbelievers). You may trek through a tunnel nearly a mile long in search of Jumpstart San Francisco's newest attraction Pam the fish or do traditional toursit-y things such as seeing the Sea Lions at Pier 39, driving across the Golden Gate bridge, or watch episodes of "I didn't know I was pregnant". A hair salon (Backstage) may become a modern art gallery when you least expect it. The free Charles Shaw wine drew us in, but we didn't regret the visit. A little live music turned out to be a great band who sounded like they belonged at the Newport Folk Festival (Dana's favorite). Pack extra shoes, rain gear, and you should be set for whatever you encounter on any given day.

3: Know that Dana will not take "no" for an answer.  While enjoying a relaxing, idyllic hike through Muir Woods, we were saddened to learn that the "Tourist Club" (A German Bar built into the hillside in the middle of the forest) was closed for a work day. Dana pounded on the door of the bar until they let us in and served us a beer*, as she had promised.

*Ok, so that didn't exactly happen, but having witnessed first hand her sassing of police officers in the aftermath of her phone's theft ("So, since you won't do anything with this information, do I need to go on a witch hunt myself?"), I have no doubt she contemplated it.  To avoid this witch hunt/door pounding wrath, just buck up and drink that 40 in a paper bag she hands you at the frat house party turned SF bar (Bullitt) or drink that giant stein that contains 10 beers from Leopold's (we just witnessed this).  Trust me.  It's in your best interest.

4. Learn your limitations: Maybe you don't enjoy bathing in champagne, in which case, Bullitt may not be for you. (Trust us). San Francisco is far too large to see it all--so start making your list of to-dos for your next trip to visit Dana. There will always be more hikes, restaurants, and more delicious yellow curry from the side of a truck to be eaten--next time.

5. And lastly, woo your hostess.  If you really want to impress Dana, take her to the Rainbow Grocery in the Mission and share your extensive knowledge of organic bulk grains and raw organic olives. "Dana!  Did you see that bin of squash? Or see how inexpensive Siggis yogurt is here?  This is Heaven!". She will impress you with her uncanny ability to guess the weight of said squash - it was unreal. Buy some Taza chocolate or salted caramels to go and recommend you hit up Cafe Meuse to enjoy live music sung into an old fashioned microphone. You'll have her eating out of the palm of your hand before the end of the night.

Places we visited and I highly recommend:
  • Squat and Gobble: a brunch lovers paradise in the Castro. You have to stand in line to order your food, which means the prices are a bit less and you have lots of time to decide. The name alone makes the place, but it's very vegetarian friendly. Awesome. 
  • Nopalito: a sustainable, mexican, organic kitchen that's a spin off of an up scale restaurant in NOPA (north of the Panhandle). So tasty. Get small plates and share - it's worth it.
  • The Plant: Any Jumpstart folk that come to visit need to get lunch here. It's so close to the office and has stellar food.
  • Cable Car Museum: steps away from Dana's Nob Hill apartment. It's not only a cool museum with an abundance of photos from the 1906 earthquake/fire, but it is fully functional and operates all of the SF cable cars in the city. We didn't ride one this time around -- it's on the list for the next visit. 

  • North Beach: Jack Early Park, Cafe Divine and the San Remo: She now just wanted to show off her knowledge of the city by taking me here. Jack Early - what a view. Cafe Divine - the pizza was epic. San Remo - a bit of Bisordi family history, as her family owned the hotel for close to half a century (there's even a picture of the Bisordi's in the lobby, including her grandfather). 
  • The Mission: Dolores Park offers the perfect greenery for frisbee, lounging, or whatever you'd like to do in a park. Valencia Street has all of the coffee shops and shopping you could ask for and probably 100 french bulldogs (seriously). And a wig on the sidewalk -- someone had a good Saturday night.
The list I have of things to do when I return is long. I'm thinking late-May for Bay to Breakers so I can witness Dana's new sparkly shoes in all their glory. Oh, and did I forget to mention that the woman gave her an 80's prom dress to match? Priceless.

Off to my red eye back to Boston. Thanks Maddy, Lindsay, Lindsey, David and Dana for a great trip -- see you in the spring!

Monday, November 7, 2011

outdoor adventures.

I usually post on Sunday's but if I would have attempted to post anything last night it would have been even worse writing than usual. This weekend was incredibly active, going from one thing to the next. I wouldn't have had it any different. Since I knew I was going to run a half marathon Sunday I was trying to take it easy when we went out on Friday, but alas, I was tempted by Anchor Steam. Late night pizza reminded me of Antonio's and made me a little less sad that I missed out on homecoming this year. Go UMass!

Saturday consisted of my first official brunch in SF. Unfortunately the restaurant we went to in North Beach was underwhelming, but there was a dog there and so my attention was directed at him for the morning. After brunch, we did the tourist thing and walked down to the wharf. Along the way, we stopped in at Buena Vista Cafe for a little drink since the weather is starting to change here and it was feeling a bit brisk. The underwhelming brunch also meant we were still hungry to off to Scoma's for a true Italian gem. I'd been here once before when my uncle got married about five years ago - it looks exactly the same. Wood paneled walls filled with pictures, white table cloths, a little stuffy, but so good.

I headed off to the Presidio to grab my bib for the race and walked along the water, which turns out was a part of the course. Pretty uneventful, but the place that they handed the bibs out is called Sports Basement, where you can rent bikes (Maddy and I did this when I visited in May). It's an outdoor lovers paradise in the and I had to walk out quickly before I bought anything; also very close to the Golden Gate bridge, making it the perfect place to rent bikes.

I'm not usually who eats out a lot, but I was in the mood and had a bit of coaxing so I followed along with others to this great Thai place close by called Lemongrass. The dish I had (eggplant and tofu) was incredible - possibly the best Thai food I've ever had (although I don't have much to compare it to). That night we had some rain, which we all welcomed. It just felt like back home and I didn't mind the mist at all.

Sunday I ran the SF half-marathon - in my last post I said that Tank Hill was the best view of the city, well, I take that back. Mile 7 of the half was on a look out spot in Marin County looking back at the city. It was absolutely breathtaking. I couldn't take a picture because the sun was so bright, but took others along the way. I don't know if I'd run the specific race again because there were at least four bottlenecks on the bridge because of the amount of people in the race, but it was a perfect day for a race. Nice and cool at the start, sun warmed you up around mile 5 and didn't get very hot. I took it slow and didn't push myself (mostly because I wanted to walk today). At the finish, I remembered that all participants could get a free Lagunitus, so I headed straight for the keg. I'm embarrassed to say that I bypassed the water and just went for it. Oh well.

Shot from the course.
I gave myself a break and rode the cable car for the first time - so fun! It's pretty expensive for just single rides, but I couldn't handle walking all the way back up the hill so I treated myself. Treat Yourself 2011. After a shower and some coffee,  we headed out to Ocean Beach to the Rip Curl Pro Search to catch a heat of the surfing contest. So cool! I'm looking forward to going to Hawaii for Christmas and will try to get on a surfboard (it's been 12 years, so I'm not sure how that will go).

The day was certainly not over and we had a few hours to kill with our zip car so from the ocean to the mountains we went. On the other side of the Golden Gate are some amazing cities and we headed uphill to Muir Woods. Maddy knew about this great place that sounded cool when she explained it but I didn't expect it to be so incredible. It's called the Tourist Club and it's a German bar that you have to hike down to (short hike). Only three beers were on tap, but it didn't matter. We grabbed a deck of card, parked ourselves outside on a picnic table and enjoyed the view. Next time I want to bring a full lunch and just hang out for a few hours.

Last, but certainly not least, we ate dinner in the Mission (so many neighborhoods in so little time). A couple of us were really craving some Indian food and we got a recommendation of Pakwan - it was cheap, fast and amazing. The food reminded me a bit of Punjabi Dhaba (miss it!).

Alright, that's all. If you made it this far, congrats. I was too tired tonight to filter this.

Have a great week!