Friday, October 29, 2010
Simple Pleasures: T-shirts and Salads
“This is the best salad I’ve ever had in my life,” Gail said to the server at Park Chow. It was the first salad she had in San Francisco on Day One of her recent visit, but she was plenty excited about it.
“The best salad you’ve ever had – that’s high praise,” replied the server.
“Okay,” said Gail, “It’s the best salad I’ve ever had that I can remember.”
I would like to tell you what was in that salad, but I can’t remember. Wait! Yes! Three kinds of fresh beets, some cheese, some pistachios and some greens. It was a fine salad indeed.
Gail spent the first three days of her trip to the San Francisco Bay Area in Livermore with her friend Sue. The two of them drove to San Francisco on Monday, and we all had lunch at the Indian Oven in the Lower Haight (terrific spicy Indian pickles and chicken tikka masala) followed by ice cream at Three Twins.
After Sue headed back to work, Gail and I trolled the shops in the Upper Haight. She came here to buy t-shirts, and she bought one at the first shop we entered – Positively Haight Street, where owner James Preston sells his masterfully designed tie-dye shirts and pants. After covering both sides of the four-block neighborhood that pays tribute to the Summer of Love, we headed to Park Chow in the Inner Sunset for dinner and then I dropped off Gail at her in-town abode.
Day Two started at the Sports Basement, my favorite store for discount “outdoorsy” wear. Gail found an exact replica there of my fleece vest and bought it because I have refused for three years to give her mine. The vest was on sale – as were some sandals she bought. Next we stopped at the warming hut and shop at Crissy Field, which is practically under the Golden Gate Bridge. Gail bought a t-shirt at the hut, which is part of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. The picnic grounds and hiking trail on the waterfront are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Next we were off to Sausalito. The sun was shining and the air was warm, so it was a pleasure to stroll through town, popping into interesting shops. We especially liked Out of Hand, which featured craft items by local artists. Elsewhere, Gail bought at least one t-shirt (by then, I had lost track), a sweatshirt and a tote bag. We stopped for coffee, where I sent an email to a friend to say I was thinking of a ferry trip to Sausalito with him back in 1982. “You’re sexting,” Gail shrieked. “No,” I said. “I emailed him.” We had lunch at Piccolo Teatro – a terrific BLT and another great salad, though I can’t remember what was in it.
Tuesday evening, we picked up Susan, my friend and my daughter-in-law’s mom, and the three of us went to Zuni for dinner. Judy Rodgers, a former Kirkwoodian, owns the award-winning restaurant. The room was festive, the food was great (loved the bread salad that came with the roasted chicken) and Susan and I each downed a delicious cocktail made with Prosecco and elderflower syrup. We enjoyed some nostalgic talk about the good old days in journalism, when we all were younger.
On Day Three, Gail and I took the Muni train to the famous Ferry Building. Before we got inside, we browsed the tables and booths set up by various artisans. Gail bought some lovely handmade jewelry. The Ferry Building is filled with shops, many of them food-related, and restaurants. Highlights were pistachio macaroons by Miette (“Macaroons are the new cupcakes,” says Gail), the chance to meet a $26 linen tea towel with a majestic whale design (but who needs a $26 tea towel?) and sitting outside on a bench watching the ferry come and go as we split a fancy cheese sandwich on crusty bread.
Then we caught the F trolley and went to Fisherman’s Wharf. The best part for me there was watching the sea lions jockey for position on a series of docks, growling and barking and shoving one another into the water. Gail found the sweatshirt of her dreams and also bought a purse. I considered assorted Giants t-shirts at the NFL sports shop (yes they carry baseball merchandise too) but rejected them all as too orange or too black.
That experience made me realize that the Giants shirt I really wanted was a gray one I had seen on display at Goodfellas, a head shop in the Upper Haight. The shirt has a picture of pitcher Tim Lincecum and his now-famous fine expletive. I wondered aloud if I am too old for that shirt -- and then remembered I hate wondering if I am too old for anything. Ever.
We settled in for Game One of the World Series with a pizza, beer, diet soda and fancy caramel corn from Miette, which they were pushing as peanuts and upscale crackerjacks. We fell for it, and were not disappointed. No salads were involved, as I recall, though there may have been some ice cream. The Giants won after an odd first inning.
On Thursday – Day Four of Gail’s visit – we hit spots we had missed earlier and backtracked to a few places. We started at Kara’s Cupcakes in the Marina, the breakfast of choice for people who don’t have macaroons at hand. (I liked the Fleur de Sel.) We popped in and out of neighborhood shops, including one where the proprietor spent way too long trying to convince me to sign up for her craft classes, even after I told her I have a button that reads, “I Don’t Do Crafts.”
I don’t, and I am not starting now. To make the woman feel better, Gail had a lengthy chat with her about felting, whatever that is, and bought a felt makeup case with a peace symbol on it. A sign in the window at the Marine Layer store on Chestnut says “Come in and touch our shirts,” so we did. Soft! Lovely fabric, great designs – especially the one with the person lying in a hammock strung between the two towers of the Golden Gate Bridge. But these are pricey shirts, so we left them in the store.
We did a drive-by of the Painted Ladies – a famous row of Victorian houses on Steiner Street in Alamo Square. We popped into The Other Shop, a retro resale place on Divisadero. The store called Life, where I bought my marvelous fog-colored purse, was finally open (this was our third attempt), so Gail browsed there and then I dropped her off at Mickey’s Monkey, another retro resale shop, while I drove around the block, as parking was not available. Then we drove through part of the Mission, but managed not to find Tartine, a bakery Gail had read about.
We had lunch at Zazie’s in Cole Valley, one of my favorite places. We split a sandwich of braised figs, prosciutto and goat cheese on grilled bread and a spinach salad with roasted pears, cheese crumbles and walnuts. Next we doubled back to Goodfellas, where I bought the Lincecum shirt (may I stay forever young – sing it, Joanie) and then went to my apartment to watch Game Two of the World Series. During the near-total rout (the Giants won big), we dined on empanadas. This morning I picked up Gail and drove her to the airport.
Four days of fun sightseeing, t-shirts, sweatshirts, too many sweets and more than one world-class salad. I’m exhausted!