Sunday, 30 August 2009

San Francisco: Day 2 - I could move here for the nectarines alone

We took advantage of still being on East Coast time and therefore being up with the larks on Saturday morning, our first full day in San Francisco, and after applying copious amounts of cover up and sunblock to our sunburned faces – the redness of my nose alone made me look as if I was suffering from a severe case of gin blossoms. W.C. Fields eat your heart out.

Listening to the forecast for the Bay Area we dressed prepared for 74degrees and headed for Starbucks across the street to fortify ourselves for the day ahead. Ha…74degrees my arse; it was 54 at best and pigging freezing – oh San Francisco - so post latte (me) and tea (Sara) we popped back to hotel for our lightweight coats which we clutched around us as we headed down Post St to Market St and on to the famers market at the Ferry Building.

Mmm mmm mmmmmmm, wow, all the produce all looked soooooooo good and when I tasted a slice of nectarine I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. You can eat really well in San Francisco!! We certainly did. For some stupid reason I was shy about taking photos at the Farmers’ Market – I get that way sometimes – but here’s a lovely photo of SF Farmers’ Market nectarines by Kittykatkards via Flickr. Doesn't it just make you want to eat a bit o' fruit?

After nibbling on slices of plums and nectarines I was so in the mood for fruit and yogurt for breakfast that we decided to pass on the delicious looking – and smelling – dishes being created by the food vendors on the North East corner side of the Ferry Building – 10am was far too early for rotisserie chicken no matter how good it smelled – in favour of breakfast at Market Bar instead and I was looking forward to something with market fresh nectarines or plums, but can you believe…there was no stone fruit in my seasonal fruit salad with Saint Benoit yogurt and balsamic vinegar? Strawberries, grapes, blueberries and I think blackberries, but no plums or nectarines. What’s that about? Shape up Market Bar!! It was still good, but I was a little disappointed given the stone fruits were clearly in season.

After breakfast we headed to the back of the Ferry Building to buy tickets for the 10.40am ferry ride to Sausalito, touted on the Golden Gate Ferry website as being “ranked second best in the world.” I don’t know about you, but this just made me wonder which ferry ride took first place. Well readers, I can put you out of your misery and let you know that the Sausalito ferry ride was pipped at the post for first place, as ranked by the Society of American Travel Writers, by the Star Ferry in Hong Kong. As someone who has taken both journeys I can tell you I didn’t feel at all nauseous on the 30minute ferry to Sausalito, but I was positively green around the gills on the brief – it’s like 7minutes - trip on the Star Ferry from Hong Kong to Kowloon should that help you make your choice of ferry ride.

We snapped photos of the Bay Bridge as we waited for the ferry to arrive.

The ferry ride was lovely, if a little chilly and God knows why I’d spent 20mins flipping out my hair that morning since it completely deflated after numerous sprays from the ocean as we stood on deck furiously snapping photos of the Bay Bridge and the Ferry building and resolved itself into the bob shape it would have dried into naturally without effort. Why do I bother? Sigh!!

Oooooh Sausalito. Pretty!!

I have to say I was glad I had bothered with the hair when I discovered that Sausalito was full of fit men on bicycles and in kayaks. Helloooooo boys!!! Phew!!! Suddenly I was feeling quite a bit warmer.

We wandered along the coast line and admired the beautiful houses, like this one, set into the Sausalito hillside.

Part of me wanted to walk up the hillside and look at the houses set further up, but Sara was suffering from an aversion to hills after Friday’s walk to Fisherman’s Wharf and I didn’t want to push it and wear her out on day 2 with 3 more days of our vacation left, so we looked at a few art galleries and had a leisurely lunch at Poggio instead before heading back to San Francisco on the 1:55pm ferry, followed by the BART to 16th and Mission Sts to go for dessert at much recommended Bi-Rite Creamery.

I have to say I would recommend an alternative route to the Mission District and avoid the BART at 16th and Mission if I were you. Taking this route makes the neighborhood seem totally sketchy and we passed many a suspicious looking loiterer, panhandlers and a gaunt older woman who was sucking on a tab like her life depended on it, her cheeks concave with the effort to get the last shred of tobacco into her lungs. The experience more than coloured my initial perspective of the Mission, it was only the fact that yuppies with strollers, hipsters and working class families who strolled the streets seemingly unconcerned that stopped me from scurrying like a scaredy cat back to Union Square - admittedly I am quite the coward - and I couldn't quite reconcile the fact that so many people I knew in New York who'd lived in San Francisco had chosen to live in that neighborhood.

"Oh yeah, that area around the BART station is totally full of drug dealers and addicts" said former Mission District resident, Megan when I met her for dinner at The Redhead last night, "I used to live between the 16th & Mission and 24th & Mission BART stops and it was definitely sketchy. It has a lot of character though and it's the area of San Francisco that gets the most sun."

Ah character, is that what they're calling it these days!! I remember Megan once telling me that when she lived in that part of San Francisco she would quite often hear gunshots. Call me an uptight Upper East Sider if you will, but gunshots aren't my kind of character, no matter how sunny the neighborhood.

As it turns out if you take the J train metro to Church and 18th by Mission Delores Park - as we did a few days later - you get an entirely more positive perspective of the Mission and Bi-Rite creamery is definitely worth the trip, although it's quite the wait if you stop by on a weekend afternoon as we did and the line already snaked around the corner. How good could this ice cream be I wondered. The line was even longer than the one seen at Magnolia Bakery in the West Village - they're just cupcakes people - and I wondered, after all the hype, would I be disappointed?

Happily that was not to be the case and the taste was so worth the interminable wait - well okay, 40minutes - stood in line ahead of an annoying twenty-something girl who verbalized every thought that popped into her vapid little head.

"She's driving me crazy," I mouthed to Sara

"You too? I thought it was just me being impatient because I'm not feeling well, but I'm finding her incredibly annoying. It's like nails down a chalkboard."

I was reminded of my sister turning to me once as we drove home from a day of shopping in Leeds and I was chattering on and saying 'do you EVER shut up?' I dearly wanted to turn around and say something similar to the twenty-something, but instead tried to tune her out by focusing on which ice cream flavour I would try.

"What are you going to have" I asked Sara.

"Mint Choc Chip I think. You?"

"I'm pondering salted caramel"

"I considered that, but the salted part puts me off"

"Me too, but the Yelp reviewers say it's really good and...well how often do you see that as an ice cream flavour?"

Twenty-five minutes on line and still a good 20 people ahead of us. Seriously how long can it take to scoop ice cream? Scoop faster people; scoop faster. The impatient New Yorker in me was showing.

40 minutes on line.

Omigod salted caramel ice cream!!!

Omigod!! Omigod!! Omigod!!

It's the best ever, like cinder toffee in ice cream form, it's the best ever, although outside Bi-Rite creamery sit groups of blissed out people proffering wooden spoons to each other and saying 'here, taste this and tell me it's not the best thing you've ever tasted'

The salted caramel from Bi-Rite creamery has replaced the espresso gelato from Il Laboratorio Del Gelato on the LES as my favourite ice cream EVER!!! It's completely to die for.

I was going to have to do a few jumping jacks back at the hotel before our 7:30pm reservation at The Slanted Door if I was going to squeeze in any more food into my belly that day.

Who ate all the San Francisco pies? I did!!


Kitty said...

ha, what a day? just the wait in line alone was an adventure.

it's nice how going away can just open your eyes to the simple things like nectarines or a neighborhood walk!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty,

It was a great day, I really enjoyed it despite some annoyances. If you do end up doing your California trip I highly recommend Bi-Rite Creamery. It really is amazing ice-cream.

Have a great Labor Day weekend.

Fish :-)