Last Bites of SF

P1130304 As 2009 came to a start, our trip to the US came to an end.  Wednesday morning, Jenn and Kevin and the girls drove us up to the airport for our flight back to San Francisco. 

The girls had been moody all morning, their usual reaction when we are leaving them.  Emily wasn’t willing to get out of the van when we reached the airport, right. 

Seems mighty stubborn to me, especially since her sister was willing to get out of the van and join us on the curb of the terminal for one final photo, below.  But then, Emily is a “cut off your nose to spite your face” kind of person.

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The three and a half hour flight back to the West Coast was smooth.  There was a heavy layer of fog over the bay and we actually didn’t pull out of the fog until we were crossing the runway threshold, something that appeared to be near the limits of acceptable landing visibility.

For these final two days in SF, we rented a car.  With the New Year’s holiday, we knew that parking enforcement wouldn’t be much of an issue and as we had some engagements in the East Bay, having a car would be very helpful.

Wednesday evening, New Year’s Eve, I surprised Tawn with tickets to see The Phantom of the Opera, which is showing right now at the Orpheum Theatre.  I have seen this show three times before but Tawn never has, so it was a nice treat.  John Cudia made for a very effective Phantom but overall the show’s production was just okay.  I think the audio system at the Orpheum is not very good, more like listening to an AM radio than is okay for such expensive tickets.

Still, it was fun and we spent the evening together, which is what is really important.

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We preceded the show with an early dinner at Little Star Pizza.  With two locations in SF, we walked to the Valencia and 15th street branch.  They do deep-dish Chicago style pizza, along the lines of what Zachary’s in Berkeley provides.  My one complain with Zachary’s is that their crust isn’t very good.  Sure enough, Little Star has this problem solved with a buttery, cornmeal-laden crust that is much more substantive and tender than Zachary’s. 

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Click on a thumbnail for a larger version.  From L to R: Caprese salad with tomatoes and wonderful fresh mozzarella cheese; a deconstructed garlic bread with bread, butter and a roasted bulb of garlic – spread it yourself; a “small” pie, half with the Little Star special (spinach, onions, feta/ricotta/mozzarella cheese) and half with the Classic (mushrooms, sausage, peppers and onion).   Heavenly.

New Year’s Day we awoke relatively early since we were just climbing into bed when the fireworks went off the night before.  We walked down to Tartine for one more taste of their lovely pastries.  Below, a view into their kitchen with Guererro Street reflected. 

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Above, the best croissant I’ve tasted outside of Paris with a bowl of latte.

The Mission District is a fascinating neighborhood with lots of little gems like Tartine.  Another gem, just down 18th Street from Tartine, is the Bi-Rite grocery store.  Lovingly maintained, it has a retro feel but a very contemporary selection of foodstuffs.

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Above, Tawn ponders the selection of fresh fruits and veggies.

We walked back through the Castro and then back down Market Street to Anita’s in order to get some exercise.  There was a pretty side street with leaves that looked autumnal, strewn in the gutters and on the cars.

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Speaking of cars, we rented a Toyota Prius hybrid, the first time I’ve ever driven one.  What a weird and wonderful vehicle!  No ignition switch; just a on/off button.  I spend the drive watching the efficiency display, moderating my speed and trying to keep the efficiency as high as possible.  So far we have driven 120 miles and have a 44.3 miles per gallon average.  The needle on the gas gauge has barely moved.

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After Tartine we drove over to the East Bay, stopping in a my aunt and uncle’s house for a New Year’s brunch.  Everyone was there, including my cousins Alex and Bill who had flown up from Long Beach the night before.  Below, my cousin Patrick holds Logan, the son of family friends and a frequent topic of Alex’s blog.

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After a visit to Bruce and Howie’s in San Ramon, we returned to the city to face the most difficult task: packing.  The last item we purchased on our list was a new comforter at Macy’s.  There was a sale and we paid a nice, low price, but getting a comforter into our suitcase is proving to be a challenge.  One that has not been solved eight hours before our plane departs.

We enjoyed some mid-afternoon bottles of champagne with Anita, Lilian and Tanya, then set out for Cha Cha Cha, the “all-powerful” Cuban tapas restaurant that is always on our to eat at list.  The Mission District location was busy but the wait wasn’t too long, a wait shortened by a pitcher of sangria.

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From the left: Tawn, Anita, Tanya, Lilian and me.

We ordered all of the usuals.  From upper left, clockwise: fried calamari, fried new potatoes with garlic-chili aioli, chicken paillard, sauteed mushrooms, fried plantains with black bean sauce, warm spinach salad.

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We had a wonderful time and once we returned home, were too exhausted to do any further packing.  Which is why, as soon as I finish this paragraph, I’m going to return to tackling the comforter problem.  We leave this afternoon.

29 thoughts on “Last Bites of SF

  1. I am so glad you had such a beautiful holiday with your family. I hope your flight back is uneventful and all the demonstrations in the big mango are a thing of the past. really! Hope you were able to get the comforter in… could you have just wrapped it in a heavy plastic wrap and ‘ luggaged ‘ it?
    love and hugs.

  2. Emily didn’t want to see you guys off, cos when I was a kid my uncle visited  me from the Philippines several times and  whenever he needed to go back I had the same reaction…..  and I think most of the older ‘Young’ kids are the same….

  3. It was wonderful to see you two for the holidays. So glad you could make it.Looking forward to seeing you again in August. Hugs to you both.

  4. I try to drive my hybrid efficiently too. It’s kind of fun but I feel bad for the folks behind me sometimes. I’ve become a very humble and slow driver since I bought one. And gosh, I wish I was in the bay area right now. The fog was pretty thick down here too. I could barely see one-car length ahead of me on friday. I’m glad it didn’t affect your flight though. My friend had to do a touch-and-go (they were landing, then went right back up due to the fog…terrible). And the food looks delish! I am refraining from consuming many of my favorite dishes now. I’m trying to work out religiously now am following a new diet. Ugh. I just want to be less obese…

  5. You just touched on 3 of the most divine things in the world:1). Caprese salad, with olives.2). roasted garlic bulb to spread on bread.3). a perfect croissant.I can just die and go to heaven. I’m sure you did too!

  6. @ElusiveWords – Seems like maybe it was just a bit more on the busy side than the balanced, but we’ll keep that in mind for our next visit.  Each time we travel, we learn a bit more about how to better enjoy our travels.

  7. @kenpcho – “Less obese…”?  For some reason, I’m hard pressed to believe that you are obese to begin with.  In either case, I always think touch and go’s are fun because they are perfectly safe but the other passengers get all freaked out.

  8. Hahaha. You’re the only person I know that enjoys touch-and-go’s. I think they’re pretty frightening and upsetting. I almost want to grab a parachute and just jump off before they go back up. And hahaha, the beauty of xanga is that I can control the pictures I show of myself. :o) God-bless Photoshop. But I’ll post an untouched photo once I get back into the shape I want to be in. :o) Let’s hope that’ll be soon. Haha. Only then will I post a true before and after photo to show my personal success!

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