Wednesday, September 21, 2011

San Francisco September 2011

I've run into far too many problems with this blogging host. I don't like to learn new things, but I have to find a new place to keep my journal. In the meantime, Here are the photos from San Francisco:
Here are the words:
I was tired from the flight, etc. on Tuesday, so was slow getting going. Basically this day was a trip to Safeway via #24 bus down Castro and the F Line Trolley to Market. Shopping was slow in a new-to-me store, but I got it done, had some sushi for lunch and headed back to DK's. I cooked up some chicken with shrimp sauce (substituted yogurt for heavy cream – good call CK), roasted new potatoes with rosemary (filched from a neighbor's substantial stand), and salad, and (at last) some country French levain. SF has such good bread. Leslie and I went on a bread quest in Dallas last week. We looked at Eatzi's and Empire Bakery, which is supposed to be Dallas' best bakery. Neither had the sort of crusty, coarse artisan loaf we were looking for. Well, I got it here. What's up when I bake better bread than Dallas' “best?”

Okay, SF, I'm here now. Caught the #24 down Castro to Haight Street. Walked along lower Haight to Buena Vista Park, then up into the park and around the hill and back down. Talked with some homeless men, then on down Haight to Golden Gate Park, where I sat for awhile with some brothers, then back along Hays Street toward Divisadero. I was a little lost, so stopped in a coffee shop (Sacred Grounds) for a double espresso and pastry and wrong or maybe just unintelligible directions. Anyway, I found myself and caught a bus to Geary and then our old favorite, 38L to the end of the line. I walked from the bus to Point Lobos above the mighty Pacific Ocean and down some trails to a small beach so I could put my foot into the water.

My first time in the Pacific was in 1965, near Camp Pendleton. (Haha, I didn't get into the water coming back from the rifle range, where the non-quals had to march in the water while the rest of us hiked along the shore.) Then into the Pacific from the Philippines and Vietnam, and much later, David and I were in SF and Palo Alto looking at unis and made it to the beach and in 2005, from the beach near Hoi An, and now, today, loving being near/at the Pacific Ocean again.

From the ocean I took the #38 to 6th Street and walked over to Clement Avenue to Good Luck Dim Sum where I had sui mai, har gow, steamed pork bun, and a chive dumpling all for $4.40. I walked back to Geary and caught, what else, the #38 toward downtown and got off just past Jones Street in the Tenderloin. I walked across the street at mid-block and almost blundered into some homeless men sprawled on the sidewalk (a different sort of homeless than in the Haight) – yikes – I cut up and then to Jones and into Shalimar where I got chicken korma, tika masala, rice, raita, and naan to go for dinner. The #38 back to Divisadero where I almost went the wrong way (what is Post Street doing here? Is the street in the wrong place or am I?). I got reoriented, fell into a conversation with a man who had hair like Frank Costanza, rode up Divisadero, which becomes Castro, up, up the hill to David's hilltop apartment. Whew – I'm exhausted.


My basic problem in SF (and elsewhere) is that I start out too early so a lot of places are closed. I took it slower this morning, lounging around the apartment, cleaning the bathroom, and getting things generally squared away. I took the bus to 24th Street and walked around some (still to early for Qiona though), then caught the #24 back up and over the hill to the Castro where I walked around some more and went to Cliff's everything store looking for something to hang a hanging basket from. The owner and I had a nice conversation about “Yankee” push screwdrivers and drills – which I discovered are very expensive now. I left empty-handed, but it was a good time.

I had this amazing inspiration that since you're not here, I can just go right on back to Shalimar – which I did, for another order of tika masala and naan. It was better there than take-out. Mmmmm.
From Shalimar I walked to the bus stop on O'Farrell. There were two men sitting there (a black guy about 50 years old with good dreads and a white guy about 60, looking pretty down and out) and as usual I said, "How y'all doin'?" The black guy nodded and the white guy didn't say anything. The black guy reached into his jeans cuff and pulled something out and was doing something in his palm and then I could see he was pinching off a piece of something kind of waxy and off-white. He gave it to the white guy who put some money in the other guy's hat that was sitting between them and then walked off. The black guy nodded to me again and I said later and he left. Meanwhile the white guy was sitting in a doorway in an alley across the street. I watched him light up and then kind of jerk back and shout "Goddam!." My guess was that he'd sucked a hot coal of crack down his throat. The bus came and I headed on.

I rode the bus to Stockton and walked up the street to where it starts to be two ways and caught the bus headed up the long hill into Chinatown. I got off shortly after the top of the hill and walked along the street. I stopped at one of the packed produce markets and got four baby bok choy for a quarter and about a pound of cherries @$1.59/pound. Then on to our favorite BBQ place for an order of pork and an order of duck to go. Caught the Stockton bus to Geary, back up Geary to Divisadero and on to Castro and up the hill to DK's.

Dave worked for awhile when he got home, destroyed the duck and pork, and then I read and he computed for awhile before sleep. You said one time that you always get enough walking in in SF. It's so so true.


I fixed eggs scrambled with cheese, red pepper, tomatoes, and chives + levain for breakfast. And then here we go again on the #24 bus. We stopped at Spike's Coffee for an excellent espresso and latte. Coffee on the sidewalk – to me this is San Francisco. We walked along Castro a way and went to a wonderful plant store – clearly a work of skill and love. Then caught the bus to Geary, and at 33rd Street the bus turned, which was (to us) an unexpected turn of events. We got off, walked back to Geary, and tried again, and this time got to where we wanted to go – a stop close to the cliffs and bluffs above the ocean. We walked along the trail for awhile, then off the main trail to some steps going down and then over to some bluffs. Amazing, windy, cold, foghorn blowing, Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, surf rolling in and in and in … then down to the beach with the surf breaking over the big rocks. What a place.

The next stop was Good Luck Dim Sum, where we had a major feast for $12: shrimp dumplings, pork sui mai crystal dumpling (my new favorite), fun kor, chive dumpling with shrimp, steam BBQ pork bun, fried taro, and Chinese chive dumpling. Ay Caramba! A woman and her daughter invited us to sit at their table. We ate and ate and couldn't eat it all. The woman said we should take the leftovers home (thanks for the supervision), which we were already going to do, but still, it helps to know that that's what we should do. Back to the Castro, where we got some sausages at A.G. Ferrari's and then went to Worn Out West, a place that sells used western wear. The clerk or owner was basically naked (at least above mid-thigh, so that would be basically naked). We went to a few other places and then caught the bus up the hill and here we are, seven hours later. A good day. I'm planning on fixing some putanesca like you used to get at La Dolce Vita, but, I'm not sure – that was a lot of dim sum we had! Haha, David had a few potato chips and I had some cereal and yogurt – that was our dinner.

How I wish, how I wish you were here! I love you Leslie.


Eggs with cheese, chives, red peppers, and tomatoes – and of course some country levain – for breakfast again. We took old #24 down the hill to Spike's (my new favorite place) for a double espresso for me and a latte for Dave. Matt V. came by and we had a nice time talking outside. FYI, Leslie, Spike's is right across the street from the Tibet store around the corner from the Buffalo Natural Foods store. Matt and David and I walked up Castro to Market and Matt split and David and I took the (underground) Muni to downtown. We went in a few stores (C&B, C&B2, and Williams-Sonoma) looking at household stuff. The downtown Williams-Sonoma is their flagship store, so it had everything – really a foodie's paradise. We stopped in at Rasputin Records, which like the Dallas stores, didn't have anything by Aes Dana.

David was planning on going out early (early for him is 7), so we skipped lunch and came home in mid-afternoon and I fixed the putanesca. I added the sausage from Ferrari's and we had a nice salad and levain. Good grub! A very nice day.


I did laundry, straightened up and headed downtown to meet an internet friend for lunch. I got there early and decided to recon the place where we were going to eat. Here I went, back into the Tenderloin and there I was, lost again – due in part to the good idea of asking a mentally ill homeless woman for directions. While I was lost I visited something called “The Tenderloin National Park” - a nice little area of paths and plants (including some fairly large San Pedro cactus) between some buildings. I found the place I was looking for (Saigon Sandwich) and it looked good, so I went back to where I was supposed to meet Don.

Thanks to the miracle of cell phones we did meet. We walked up Larkin to Saigon Sandwich, got our food (I had banh mi sui mai) and squeezed into two of the three seats and enjoyed some good food, conversation, and watching the Tenderloin parade.

After lunch I headed back on (surprise) the wrong train. When I realized I was lost I got off and took the train going in the opposite direction. I sat next to the first really toadish person I've interacted with. She had her feet in the seat next to her and I asked her to please move. “What?” she said. “Move your feet. I want to sit down.” She was pissed, but moved. After a long tunnel it looked to me like I might find my way to somewhere if I got off (and I wanted to be away from this kind of gross person). An actual good move. I was on Noe and a man I asked for directions walked with me through a lovely and very upscale neighborhood – pretty Berkeleyish. And then Bam, I was on Market 2-3 blocks from the Safeway where we've shopped before. I had a list of things to get, so got the shopping done, got on the F Trolley to Castro, caught the #24 up the hill, and was home ~4p.

I fixed stuffed mushrooms (with shrimp, etc.) for dinner. Also some toast with pesto and some toast with the extra shrimp stuffing and a salad. A great dinner. And I made some spaghetti to freeze for when I leave.

I love you Leslie. I'll call as soon as I can.


A lazy day. I fixed David's lunch, got him off to work, had breakfast, drank coffee, read – sitting in this 2nd floor San Francisco apartment – and just generally lazed around. I made a Safeway run and brought the food back to David's apartment, then took off for a last visit to Shalimar (3rd time in 8 days). While I was eating I watched a man who evidently hadn't been there before. He ordered from the guy who brings the food and then dove into his iPhone, where he stayed the whole time, thus missing the show in the dining area and behind the counter. Of course the server didn't bring the sauces, so I told him where they were. I wonder how much of a tip he left.

Caught the bus up O'Farrell to Divisadero, Divisadero to Haight, and walked along Haight. I saw the same homeless crew I'd talked with a few days ago in Buena Vista Park (it was early afternoon so they were pretty drunk), but didn't speak because they were interacting with the police. I stopped in at Amoeba Records, which also didn't have anything by Aes Dana. I walked on to Golden Gate Park, saw the bros I'd spent some time with the other day, and hung out for awhile. Caught the bus in front of Amoeba and was home in no time. Made a ton of pesto and had leftovers for dinner while David went out for dinner with several of his Berkeley classmates.


Another lazy day. I drank coffee and read for a few hours, then cleaned David's apartment. Around 11 I caught the #24 the opposite direction than usual, then #48 down 24th Street to Mission. I walked waay down Mission, past a hundred bodegas, dollar stores, cafes, bars, head shops, women selling fruit, abuelas, veteranos, moms with strollers, mutterers, the whole scene. Had a long lunch at Big Mouth Burgers, eating and watching the vatos across the street pass the bottle, then a number around, playing with a pit bull, hangin'.

Back at David's I got some Jamaican chicken going in a slow cooker, then made one last Safeway run for a loaf of levain and some more chicken to add to the stew. It took exactly an hour to get there and back. Declan, one of David's housemates was home from France and Ireland and Alice, the other housemate was stuck in Ireland with passport problems. Declan opened a letter from the property manager and told me they and David were going to have to move as the person who owned the home is moving back to SF. They have two months, so it could be worse.

For dinner we had Jamaican chicken, rice, and brocolli. David's quartet is practicing at his apartment this evening and I fixed some hors d'oeuvres for them – crostinis with pesto, hummus, antipasto; and tostados with guacamole and salsa. And now I'm sitting here listening to these young musicians play. Sweet.

I'll see you later today!!!!!!!!!!!


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