Friday, March 18, 2011

Delights: Artistic, Culinary, Domestic, and Meteorological

What a week!

First, the artistic experience: Went to the de Young Museum Wednesday with Betty-Lou and Nancy to see Bouquets to Art, some 150 floral arrangements spread throughout the museum, all designed by florists and garden clubs to interpret or complement art in the museum’s collection.

The floral homage to Superman was the funniest. A crowd favorite was a small dog, made completely of plants and flowers, with drooping petals for ears. Some arrangements were inspired, even breathtaking. Some were confusing. Some, I think I could have done myself in a free afternoon. Or maybe not.

Then it was off to Bursa in West Portal for a shrimp kebob, wonderful creamy hummus and a HUGE glass of my beloved Zinfandel. What a great place! More glorious food on Thursday, when Susan called to say she was inviting the family over for corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day.

Alas – I was the only one who could make it, but what a wonderful evening! One moment of panic on the bus, where everyone – Asians, African Americans, Caucasians – was wearing green except me. I had on my blue San Francisco sweatshirt and jeans. Oops! On the other hand, I wear my face every day, and it has Irish tendencies, to be sure.

Susan had set the table with a green and white tablecloth and napkins, yellow tulips, a wee flag of Ireland, a shamrock garland and assorted St. Pat’s Day trinkets. The place looked great but the d├ęcor was quickly overshadowed by the food. Oh – the food! Mouth-watering corned beef, a colorful mixture of boiled vegetables (pass me another potato, please) and the best Irish soda bread I’ve ever had in or outside of Ireland. 

We swapped stories of our Irish heritage, toasted our native counties, and spoke of our mutual desire to go to Ireland with our children to introduce them to the culture. (Considering I can’t get anybody to go to Disneyland with me, getting to the Emerald Isle may not happen either.) Then I do believe we sang a bit of “Danny Boy.”

All this – and Susan sent me home with plenty of leftovers. In 24 hours, I have devoured my weight in Irish soda bread, toasted and smeared with butter and apricot preserves. I didn’t mean to pig out, yet my waking thought this morning was, “I must have Irish soda bread for breakfast.” It tastes like cake.

How good is this bread? It’s so good that I have asked Susan to make Irish soda bread for my birthday instead of a cake. I made my legendary tiramisu for her birthday, and for the first time in a long time, it turned out “tiramisoupy,” runny instead of custardy. Susan’s son, Michael, kindly said maybe an atmospheric difference between San Francisco and St. Louis caused it. Then he gamely spooned out a serving. I have no idea, but will give it another go.      

On the Domestic Delights scene, after much research (on line, on the phone and in the form of actual driving expeditions), I decided what cookware to buy to replace mine, which was unsuited for the radiant glass cooktop on my lovely stove, which was delivered just days before I moved into the apartment. The cookware I brought to San Francisco was deemed likely to scratch the cooktop, and the worst-case scenario had it overheating and fusing to the glass.

No, really! I talked to the people who made the stove and the people who made the cookware and I read accounts by people who had experienced just such upsetting events.

Anyway, I headed out in the car Wednesday morning, determined to buy one particular product. When I got to the store I changed my mind -- downsizing the dollars spent but still choosing lovely cookware that will not harm my stove. I left the mall through a back entrance and promptly got lost.

Looking up and down streets to get my bearings, I noticed really enthusiastic waves, waves I knew needed to see up close. My new cookware and I headed west until I reached the Great Highway, with the churning water just beyond. I parked and scrambled up the sand – it was magnificent! I waved to migrating gray whales (I couldn't see them,  but I know they saw me) and headed back to the car.

As though crashing waves weren’t enough excitement, this morning a funnel dropped from a cloud and played splish-splash just off Ocean Beach. I didn’t see it in person, but this video is fun:

Technically, a funnel cloud over water is called a waterspout, known as a “non-supercell tornado over water.” Still, I thought it was super. An hour later, tiny balls of ice pelted my wall of windows – hail! And tonight we had a thunderstorm, with great flashes of lightning and pouring rain. So many meteorological delights!