Friday, March 1, 2013

San Francisco: Tourist Time

Friday was our first free day together, where he took me to Blue Bottle Coffee, a West Coast coffee chain that is very precise about their coffee -- using glass beakers, scientific thermometers. Each cup is treated like its own experiment and infused with various ingredients like berries, nuts for a more flavorful coffee.  If he had to drink coffee everyday it would have to be Blue Bottle.

View from the tower (you can barely see the Golden Gate Bridge peeking out from the horizon); Various art pieces I found interesting.
The we took a trip to the de Young Museum.  The art scene there is very different, more radical in my opinion or the artists seem to be inspired by found materials..  We were also recommended to go to the tower where you can get a nice 360-degree view of the park and everything else.. The day we went was pretty cloudy but still impressive. From there it was a short walk to the Japanese Tea Garden.

The Japanese Tea Garden is another must-see with all the sculptures, pagodas, and koi. You can even witness a tea ceremony if you make reservations.

Park Chow: Veggie Burger and Chicken BLT. Also a Blushing Dream (not pictured) to drink.
Before heading to Fisherman's Wharf for the Aquarium we stopped for lunch at Park Chow.  A very homey, tavern-like bistro with a fireplaces upstairs and downstairs. Taking another light rail train to Fisherman's Wharf for the Aquarium of the Bay, an aquarium devoted to all the animal life in the Bay.
Aquarium of the Bay: a sampling of what lives in the Bay.
Very tiny compared to say the Monterey Bay or New England Aquarium, this one did have two walk-thru tunnels and was very accessible for those without a car.  Initially we had thought about attending an after dark food truck rally but the walk was too far and we were unfamiliar with the area, so we ended up at Ghiradelli Square.  Home to the original factory, Ghiradelli now houses to various shops and at least several chocolate shops where we purchase half of our Christmas shopping.   

Cable Car souvenir tickets can be purchased at end of the line booths.
With our bags suddenly getting heavier we chose to get a cable car back ending the night with dinner at the Restaurant Collection, in Westfield Centre Mall.  We had thought about going to M.Y. China but apparently it was reservations-only, so we went to Cupola Pizzeria, an artisanal pizza place whose wait was shorter.

Cupola Pizzeria: Garlic & Bread Soup; Steamed Artichoke; Torn Pasta "Handkerchiefs"; Margherita Extra pizza.
What's pretty cool was I gave they my mobile number and they were able to text us when our table was ready. As usual, we ordered way too much food or I did. Our appetizers were a steamed artichoke and garlic bread soup. The torn pasta was the favorite out of all of the things we ordered. The restaurant appeared to be very fancy but was also very down-to-earth; I saw well-behaved children coloring on the back of placemats. With a pizza that was again amazing and still homemade tasting, and pasta that was simply delicious. Full from dinner we headed back to the hotel to start again. But not before buying the last half of our presents at Lupicia, Japanese tea shop.

Saturday morning we waited long enough and had a breakfast of tea and Beard Papa.  This was a treat as New York used to have a bunch of these around the city; now you can only find one on the Upper West Side. We were meeting up with old friends in the Mission District but since we still had time to kill we walked around the Metreon area, even going on the carousel.

Mission Chinese: A Mexican Coke the size of my head and lots of tasty things to eat.
Mission Chinese originated in San Francisco in a family restaurant, eventually opening up its own location on the Lower East Side where the line is often out the door. I consider this real Asian fusion cusine as it's taking ingredients not normally used but using Asian cooking techniques. They also make vegetarian/vegan versions of certain dishes for those who like animals as friends not food. 

Renegade Fair.
Having a bit of time on our hands before dinner we walked to the Renegade Craft Fair. Being a big crafter myself I wanted to check out the scene; also Twinkiechan was vending there and hoped for a picture opportunity.  Shockingly I saw two Lolitas there was well.

Forbidden rice; shumai; roasted portebello sliders
Mapo Tofu; Sweet and Sour Pork; Vegetarian Longevity Noodle Soup.
With reservations made on Opentable we were able to get into M.Y. China, Martin Yan's signature restaurant. It looks like it was pitched as a high end version of classic, homemade Chinese food.  There was dim sum dishes, and other typical dishes like Mapo Tofu and Sweet and Sour Pork. Also more pseudo dishes like the mushroom sliders. Despite the frustration of making reservations, it was certainly worth it if you can afford the prices ($25-30 per person). And depending on the size of your party they will have chefs come to your table to watch them make hand pulled noodles.

Our last day was spent at the Dickens Fair, an annual holiday event in the Bay area. Think Dickens-era Renaissance Fair. With bustle skirts, top hats, and Whovians, it was certianly experience. Taking place at local convention center we took the BART to a shuttle to the Fair.  Perhaps if I was in Lolita I would fit more right in, and also sans company of my husband with fellow Lolitas instead. We still had fun walking around and every inch of the place. Each section was carved out of a Dickens novel and it was hard to distinguish attendees and the actors there. There was also a reenactment of the Christmas Carol throughout the convention space. Eventually I got tired of the whole scene, and it was slowly getting more crowded as the morning became the afternoon.  By the time we were hungry the food lines were too long, so we took the train back and walked around while we still could.

Imperial Tea Court: Dim Sum Sampler.
We walked all the way to Ferry Terminal for a small meal and tea to warm up before our red-eye flight back home.

There are a few thanks in order which are to the Bay Area Lolitas who were willing to meet up and whome I got to see. Also to Google Maps for being so precise, and being able to tell me the number of stops and roughly the time to get everywhere. That is a weird thanks but it was a lifesaver.  And of course, my husband allowing me to tag along.  San Francisco is not exactly New York City, but traveling to other places certainly make me appreciate the city more. 

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