Wednesday, January 22, 2014

San Francisco Day 3: Bike the Bridge, Sausalito, Buena Vista and Bi-Rite.

This day was originally supposed to start with breakfast at Mama's. After the shock of the wait time w/ dinner last time wore off, we investigated Yelp. Since 1.5-2 hour waits on weekdays appear to be somewhat normal, we bailed, because we had a 10 AM appointment to trek up extraneously steep hills on heavy rented bikes. I <3 Vacations! Maybe next time, Mama.

Had a guided bike tour over the Golden Gate Bridge down over to Sausalito.

Still feeling fresh after 5 minutes of biking!

Mental preparation to bike over that bridge. 

"I do my best thinkin on the bridge"
"I do my best posing on the bridge."

Looking straight down at a drop that will kill you. 

There were several highlights of the bike tour (it was guided on the way to Sausalito, unguided back), but maybe the best part was some British guy in our tour group who was woefully unprepared to bike, let alone take a brisk stroll.

A tweed jacket and pressed slacks with loafers? Seriously?

After the trek over the bridge we grabbed some lunch at the Napa Valley Burger Company. They have wine on tap (we didn't order any wine, but I thought that was kind of cool). And we proceeded to have a surprisingly bomb lunch. I think I though the food in Saus-town would be lame, since we were in a super touristy area and it was reminding me of... I don't know, a small town that wouldn't have good food. And maybe it is? But this place was killer.

Warm day in the bay area - so we took advantage of the outdoor seating. 

Waffle Nacho Fries ($12)
Waffle fries with shredded cheese, chopped bacon, guacamole, sour cream and jalepenos. The bacon was cut super thick, the guacamole was really good (had some black beans and corn in it), the portion was enourmous and we ate way too much of it. [Gena Love, they had cheesy tator tots but we couldn't pass these bad boys up].

Artery clogging heaven! Notice my finger on the left corner, barely able to
restrain from grabbing a waffle before the picture had been taken. 

The first of many bites I came to regret. 

Pedestrians like her made me nervous when they looked at our plate longingly...

Stinson Beach BBQ Burger ($15)
Smoked gouda, maple butter, applewood bacon, crispy onion ring, bourbon BBQ sauce. Burger was cooked well and tasted delicous. Was it better than Burgers and Brew or Broderick Burger in Sacramento? No, but it was still pretty damn good. Coulda had more sauce and the cheese could have actually been melted, but there really isn't much to complain about.

I didn't bother with the salad. 

Service at this place was stellar. Check it out next time you're in the Sausalito neighborhood. Not like you will be. But you know, if you bike the bridge and are deliriously hungry afterwards, and then decide to bike back instead of taking the wuss ferry back to SF, it's a good call.

The Saus-a-lites are a simple, humble folk, as demonstrated by these beautiful houses...

Some of which include their own private gondola.*

The bike ride back was super strenuous. You have to hike back UP the Sausalito hill which was super hard - and back over the bridge (not so hard, it's mostly flat). I immediately regretted our beautiful, long, romantic 45 minute stroll along the ocean after lunch because my legs were dying a slow, painful death on the ride back.

There was a TV commercial being shot all day - we saw it both on the way over and on the way back. Stay tuned for my cameo in "Archetypes of San Francisco: The Commercials". They had hippies, uber athletic, uber rich, pregnant mom, children, etc. all at different picnic tables.

After returning we got the standard "Wow - you biked all the way back - you're badasses!" from the staff at Blazing Saddles. Then they kept trying to push us to buy $2.50 bottles of water - wtf? No. Then the guy who took our bikes to the back said we "looked" like we had just biked back over the bridge. Wait, you mean we don't look like Brad and Angelina stepping down after all that sweating in the wind?!

After dropping off the bikes we went to the Buena Vista Cafe, because our Segway tour guide proclaimed they had "the best Irish Coffee's in SF". I'm not a huge fan of Irish Coffees, and it's not like they're hard to make or anything, but all that talk about bottled water had gotten me really thirsty (and in retrospect, 16+ mile of biking up hills and 4 trillion mg's of salt at lunch was probably catching up with us?). What better way to hydrate than with coffee and whisky!

I guess the Irish Coffee was recreated here, according to their menu. It's also on their website, so I guess it must be true.

Quenching thirst after physical activity. 

The guy behind the bar was a badass. He would make eight of these at once in about 45 seconds. Very splashy but impressive nonetheless.

The bus ride back was again entertaining. Crazy man was physically assaulting two teenage girls who walked past him - elbowing one several times on purpose when she had the audacity to sit next to him, and another who's foot he stomped on (yes, stomp) twice because she was.. standing on the bus? Details were unclear. I had a mental route mapped of how I would stomp on his foot when I exited (much to Doug's displeasure - he says I was being "confrontational" - I call it unnecessary aggression, but whatever - we're just arguing semantics here). Alas he exited a few stops before me so his foot was saved. (Is this a tragic or happy ending to the bus ride?).

Skipped dinner (hello). Ended the day by finally trying out Bi-Rite. Worth it.

Salted caramel, and some sort of vanilla brittle peanut butter scoop.

*Sausalito is obviously an incredibly wealthy town, but it really was lovely - great for a day trip.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

San Francisco Day 2: I do the most embarrassing thing ever, then have doughnuts and crab for lunch.

This happened.

That's right, bitch. It's a segway tour!

Sometimes you make sacrifices for the people you love. This was one of those times. To see Doug smiling and enjoying himself made it all worth it, of course.

Of course, the embarrassment is not worth it when he's stroking poses like this: 

I admit the Segway Tour was actually really fun - I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. Our tour guide was awesome, as most tour guides usually are. They list the specific sites we see on their website, but our guide also pointed out this gem - a house (it's the wood one in the center), made of recycled materials (the insulation is made from used jean pants) that SOLD FOR OVER 8 MILLION DOLLARS. Yes. Eight mill. No sweat. 

Q: If you had 8mil, would you buy this?

A: Fuck yeah! (Maybe helmet too tight?)

A few shots from the tour: 

Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Doug. 

Golden Gate Bridge

Wave Organ - big giant instrument

Also, we go to check out this little hidden (under bird shit) gem. 

They've actually been writing about this in the Sac Bee. The proposed restaurant to take the place of a boarded up shitty (literally) shack is just too much for the multi-million dollar homes across the street. 

Houses across the street, with their view apparently already jacked up
with an open-air gym. BTW, I'm totally jealous of this free open-air gym. Way cool. 

Oh! We also learned that the homes in the Marina Blvd district are built on a former landfill, thus, they cannot obtain earthquake insurance. No earthquake insurance... in San Francisco. I guess if you have 8 mill to buy a house you don't really care if an earthquake devastates it? Whatever. Let's watch an action shot of Doug: 

Because we knew we'd just be standing (a la Segway) for several hours, we decided to walk the three miles from the studio down to Pier 39 for the Segway shop. Snagged a coffee and we were on our way! It was a beautiful, warm walk, and it was great for sight seeing. I loved looking at the architecture (as everyone does here, I'm sure) and all the little boutiques in the multitude of neighborhoods we walked through on our way there. 

Beautiful morning. And a million wires for the Muni, which we took. $2 - what a steal!

Pretty glad we didn't' walk down that hill...

Selfie, SF style. 

We spotted an Amazon Fresh truck! Then we found free bags of food
to snack on w/ AF logos on the doorstep in front of this truck! Weird!

We also stumbled upon a parklet. I do not like parklets. First, they're usually in an area that's, like, two blocks away from a huge beautiful clean city park so they seem unnecessary, second, always in a higher-income neighborhood (so in lower income neighborhoods, where access to outdoor space would actually be in greater demand, they are absent), third, they take up valuable parking spots in a city that's horrible hard to park in, and fourth, they just seem obnoxiously hipster. 

Parklet not quite ready for the day yet. 

Lunch we decided spontaneously to try a smorgasbord of touristy Pier 39 foods. Hey, we just got off a three hour tour, a three hour tour, Segway style - so it seemed appropriate. 

Blob of crab, not bad!


Trish's doughnuts. Tough decisions. 

I had to carry that damn kleen kanteen all day! So annoying.
Reducing garbage output sucks sometimes. 

Ghiradelli's - a chocolate peanut butter sundae (I think?). 

At this point I was starting to feel a little bit full... Or maybe the
crab-doughnut-ice cream combination isn't all it's cracked up to be?

We were too tired and/or too full to walk back so we took the bus. 

Doug, happy to be riding public transportation. 

Riding the bus totally sucks no matter what city you're in, but for $2 it makes a cab/Lyft/Uber seem like an 8 million dollar house! Or maybe we're just looking to spend our money on higher quality things (like sugared doughnuts and crab-meat-to-go). Only one person shoved me out of the way (literally on their way out), so I considered it a fairly normal ride. 

After a nap/rest/quiet time back at the studio, we headed back out for dinner at Nopalitos. After reading online about the ability to call "two hours ahead of time to put your name on the wait list" we decided, foolishly, that we would ignore that opportunity - it's Monday night after all! We were rewarded with a 1.5 hour estimate of wait time. Yeah... we're in San Francisco. My bad. 

So we decided to tough it out (friend's recommendation and Yelp assisted with that). Scoped out the market and deli next door, grabbed some coffee/teas, cruised up Divisidero and checked out some of the boutiques, eyed the desserts at Bi-Rite Creamery two blocks over, and got our text to return back for grub. I hate when people take pictures of their food, yet I am the biggest offender of my own annoyance. To compensate I try not to ever use the flash, so once again I've documented a meal with crappy cell phone camera in the dark. 

Panucho de Pollo al Pibil ($5.50)
Black bean stuffed tortilla, citrus-achiote chicken, cabbage, pickled red onion and salsa habanera: This was our favorite thing of the entire meal. Absolutely amazing. The worst pic of the bunch, which is too bad. This was one of those dishes where every single bite was meant to be - each component complementing the dish - when you tasted separately it was fine, but all together - delish. 

Panucho de Pollo al Pibil

Huarache con Pato Confitado y Chorizo ($9.50)
Black bean stuffed oval tortilla, duck confit, chorizo, crema, queso fresco, cilantro and salsa de serranos y tomatillos. This, too, was amazing. I'm not sure I could really distinguish between the duck and chorizo, but it was spicy and really tasty. The corn tortilla stuffed with black beans was similar to the dish above. 

Huarache con Pato Confitado y Chorizo

Carnitas 17.00
Braised pork, orange, bay leaf, milk, cinnamon, beer cabbage salad, pickled jalapeƱo and salsa de tomatillo: This dish came at the recomendation of our server. She said it was their most popular item on the menu. Unfortuantly, after the first two appetizers that blew our minds, this dish was a little disappointing. It was delicious still, but it was a little dry, the meat wasn't fatty enough for carnitas, and it was just a little underwhelming. Good, but after two home runs this one was a bit of a let down. 


The price for the food was hella good, though - $35 bucks for a nice dinner for two in SF? Done. Although I'll say the super long wait was a wake up call for us - we had plans to hit up several other smaller restaurants in SF (Mamas, Zazie's, Mission Chinese Food, etc.), but after that experience we Yelp'd around and are just not sure we're in for 1-2 hour wait times. 

So what about you? Ever ride a segway? Is a 1.5 hour wait on a Monday night ridiculous, or is it just me? Thoughts on Parklets and how stupid they are? 

Monday, January 20, 2014

San Francisco, Day 1: A great place for losers...

Day 1 of our San Francisco Vacation!... started off with the Niners losing. Sad... for Niners fans. Especially Doug, and more especially for Lloyd.

We watched the entire game (no DVR or TiVo, first time watching an NFL game WITH ALL THE COMMERCIALS, like maybe ever?) at Social Kitchen with a coworker and his crew. We managed not to discuss the upcoming September layoffs (to each other, anyway), so even though the Niner's lost I'm considering the day a win!

Social Kitchen is good. Strong drinks, good/ and unique beers, delicious food. Brussels sprout chips, vegan chili, fried chicken all were/looked good. Little something for everyone.

Leading up to the shit loss was a good day, though! Homemade sourdough pancakes at home, Sacramento Farmers Market to stock up on produce for the week, and a nice drive to San Francisco. 

We are in a state of emergency here in California, a drought just declared by Governor Brown. Which I'm choosing to ignore, because it means that NorCal is 70 degrees in JANUARY! Awesome, very beautiful day. Also awesomely polluted in San Francisco, too - the haze driving in was unpleasant. But that's OK - while stuck on the 101 waiting to exit we got to stare at this mural, pretending pollution didn't exist and that there was a place for all our storage needs should we ever need it: 

We are staying in the Haight - Ashbury area, I think? but definitely the Panhandle District, of SF. 

A local business at the corner of Haight and Ashbury! Just kidding, it's a Ben & Jerry's. Unspecial, but not unloved. 

I'm getting mixed reviews that this is a "great, centrally located neighborhood" vs. "you're staying in the fucking ghettto". I've deiced to go with the former, and realized that people who gave input similar to the latter have probably never been to "the ghetto" or a "low income neighborhood" or any of the "other" words we use to describe neighborhoods we don't live in (Detroit? Oakland? South Natomas? they all probably look like the ghetto from the windows of the Google Bus). Anyway our studio is super cute! You can see pictures and details here - it's the yellow house on the left. Loving it!

Of course, the risk with any VRBO or AirBNB rental is that they're owner-run and sometimes things don't go smoothly. Like when you walk in to a dirty apartment you're renting for the next four days: 

A pile of dirty dish towels on the counter. Charming!

Wet towels hanging on the bathroom door. Kitschy!

An unmade bed with dirty sheets. Classic San Francisco hospitality!

Owners called, complaint filed via email and voicemail and over the phone. We'll see how generous "Dr. L" is in making up for us having to go grab clean sheets and towels from the laundry room. She's a doctor so I'm sure she understands the importance of sanitation. I'm assured that there was, indeed, a mix up, they are very sorry, and their housekeeper will be arriving tomorrow. In the mean time, I washed the comforter in scalding hot water and had dreams of a potential freebie night because of the mix-up in cleaning schedules. To Be Continued...

Anyway we ended up snagging a coffee (nonfat latte for me) and a sugar bomb (caramel coffee shake espresso concoction for Doug) at a coffee shop on Haight street before the game. 

Just a few sips in and already getting an eye twitch!

Coffee comes complete with a Lyft advertisement on the paper cup holder. 

If there's one things San Franciscan's like, it's having people from Sacramento bring their OWN hometown paper in to the local coffee shops.

On our way to Social Kitchen for the game we took a walk though Panhandle Park. It was beautiful, and had lots of ghetto San Francisco-esque moments: about a hundred people throwing the football in anticipation of the game, a set of young people cornholing, a separate group of young people gathered... in protest? in boredom? and your standard homeless friends. Doug and I made the brave decision to use the public restroom and independently determined someone was reading the paper in the adjacent stall. Whether it was the SF Chronicle or the Sacramento Bee, I'm not sure...

Panhandle Park - really pretty. Beauty heightened by presence of handsome husband. 

We also got to check out the original Niner stadium on the walk over - Kezar Stadium. (I think we secretly hoped stopping by would be good luck...)

[Oh, special shout-out to Suzanne M, thanks for the wine! We decided to save a gift from one of our favorite former San Franciscans for our SF trip. It was excellent! We def have plans to check out Carvalho Winery as a result.]

Thanks Suzanne!

So what about you? Still reeling from the Niner loss? Slept in any dirty apartments lately? Think that a neighborhood where homes are selling for 1.7 million dollars constitutes a "bad area"? Have you been to Bi-Rite Creamery yet? Because it's right around the corner and we couldn't make it there last night before it closed and it sounds awesome.