Saturday, 5 September 2009

San Francisco: Day 5 - Final Day in SF & Lunch with Labradors

Tuesday 25th August was our last day in San Francisco, but with a seat booked on the redeye at 9pm we still had plenty of time to make the most of the city and by 8:30am we were checked out of the hotel, with our bags stored with the concierge. Armed with a one day MUNI pass we hopped on the #2 bus and headed for breakfast at Ella's in Laurel Heights where I inquired of the waiter the ingredients of daily scrambled eggs.

“Bacon, feta cheese and asparagus,” he told me.

He had me at bacon. I lurve me some bacon, in fact pork in general hits the spot. Sara can’t quite believe my change given I was vegetarian for 7years and takes the piss out of me for my pork fetish. We speculate that perhaps I was a strictly observant Jew in a previous life and I'm making up for the deprivation now ;-)

I managed just about half of my eggs as the dish was a total gut buster and even consuming half was pushing the capacity of my stomach so I suggested burning a few calories with a walk through The Presidio, Crissy Field and up to Golden Gate Bridge to torch a few calories.

I love it out by Crissy Field, the air smells so fresh and clean and the view of the Golden Gate Bridge is breathtaking. I took countless photos.

We’d worked up an appetite after our reasonably long walk - I didn't have my pedometer like I did in China but I'm estimating we easily covered 3 or 4 miles - and it was after 12:30pm so I didn’t feel too much of a piglet that my thoughts were already turning to plan to have lunch at Tartine Bakery in the Mission (this time taking the MUNI metro train to Church & 18th and completely avoiding the dodgy looking types at the 16th & Mission BART station), described as unmissable by our guidebook, and highly recommended by my friends Megan and Gina who have both lived in San Francisco. On the way I emailed pastry chef Megan for recommendations

“Oooh, well it’s late in the day so some of the morning pastries might be gone, but my faves are 1) almond croissants 2) morning buns 3) veg quiche 4) choc croissant. If you are in the mood for dessert the coconut or banana tarts are amazing (they have whip cream on top, in the cold case).”

Hmmm, given we planned to hit up Bi-Rite Creamery a second time for one last delicious taste of salted caramel ice-cream – don’t visit San Francisco without trying this place people it really is amazing – I decided to get something savory for lunch instead and ordered a Humboldt Fog goats cheese pressed sandwich on walnut bread and an iced tea and Sara and I sat at the communal table sipping our iced teas and awaited our sandwich orders. I really wasn’t expecting them to be quite so humungous.

Given I fully intended to squeeze in an ice cream I decided to eat one piece, a third of the total sandwich and pack the rest in a to go box, however the desserts had been recommended so highly that I couldn’t resist getting a little sweet something too, so I got a chocolate hazelnut tart to go - more transportable than a banana tart with whipped cream recommended by Megan, although that did look amazing – the tart and the other two-thirds of my sandwich should set me up nicely for the overnight flight back to NYC.

After a stop at Bi-Rite creamery for a last single cup with one scoop of salted caramel (it really is the best) and one scoop roasted banana (it’s good, but it’s no salted caramel) we took a walk around Dolores Park trying to counteract our first impressions of The Mission with some success, continuing up Church just soaking up the neighborhood until we got to Market St and hopped on the F streetcar downtown to visit the Coit Tower via the Filbert steps.

There are a lot of steps. I know, because I counted as I staggered up them. This photo was taken after 134 steps had been climbed.

You do get to admire some pretty plant life along the way - see this bit of San Francisco, Telegraph Hill, is not at all barren, so things clearly grow in the city. I am just not sure why they don't share the plant love on Russian Hill or in Outer Sunset. I feel like doing some stealth plantings the next time I am in San Francisco. Check me, I'm a regular Percy Thrower.

210 steps climbed in total and then when you get to the top there's a fricking hill.

Oops silly me we weren’t at the top at all, there were still more steps...267, 268, 269...337, 338, 339.... 401...pant.... 402.... water...403!!! Made it.

Spectacular views are your reward...oh and let's just say I'd more than earned the extra calories for my chocolate hazelnut tart from Tartine Bakery.

Actually I was slightly peckish after all the stairs – lest you think all I did all day was eat, I feel the need to point out that by now it was some 3hours post ice-cream - so I decided to eat a second third of my Humboldt Fog goat cheese sandwich in the pleasant surroundings of the grassy area by the Coit Tower. I’d taken all but two bites when next thing I see is a golden retriever bounding rapidly towards me, my sandwich clearly foremost on his mind, quickly followed by a black lab. Labradors are such greedy buggers; our chocolate lab used to be just the same. There was no way the retriever was going to let me eat my sandwich, so the 3 of us shared it. Those dogs had expensive tastes; that sandwich cost me $10.75!!!

After about 10minutes the owner ambled laughing at the fuss his dogs were making of us. “Did you feed them?” he asked, “oh that probably wasn’t the best idea,” he frowned.

“I didn’t have much of an option” I smiled in response while thinking “Um…how about keeping them on a leash then, or, y’know, try keeping an eye on the pair of them." Honestly.

We rounded off our San Francisco trip with one for the road at The Hidden Vine, a lovely little wine bar tucked away in the back of the Fitzgerald hotel where I had a very pleasant Naumann Vineyards Chardonnay from Santa Cruz, a family owned vineyard that only makes 500 cases of wine a year, so our bartender informed us.

Our flight landed in NYC at 5am on Wednesday morning, where we were greeted by the fetid stench of an overly humid NYC summer and I was glad to have taken a great big lungful of Pacific ocean air while I was by the bay on Tuesday. Stopping by the ladies bathroom en route to baggage claim I jumped when I spotted the cockroach on the floor of the next cubicle. Ugh!!!

I arrived back at my apartment around 6.30am after some pretty maniacal driving through the streets of Queens by my cabbie who was in some sort of en route altercation with a man who I can only assume was named Jimmy judging by the name stenciled on the side of the ‘hoisting and scaffolding' truck he was driving. I’m not sure what happened, but I at one point I looked up from my Blackberry to see a white truck being driven very close to us on the left and the driver leaning over and shouting something at my driver through the passenger side window. Jimmy then cut in front of us while simultaneously giving my driver the finger and sped off into Long Island City while we took the bridge. Phew. My driver then had the cheek to try and get me to go to an ATM machine and get cash instead of swiping my credit card. I should cocoa. I didn’t need that after an overnight flight and a death ride through Queens thank you very much. The calm I had felt by the ocean in San Francisco had thoroughly dissipated. Grrrrr!!!!

So home sweet home??? Hmmm, I have to ponder about that a little more this year.


Amel's Realm said...

WOAH...that sandwich is HUUUUGGEEEE!!! LOVE the pics. :-D

Amel's Realm said...

Btw, is that iced lemon tea?

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Amel,

The sandwich was shockingly huge, I wasn't expecting it. It's a good job the labradors helped me out ;-)

The drink was just a regular unsweetened iced tea with lemon.

Fish x

Kitty said...

ah, what a nice day of walking around?

I have to wonder about the people who lead a life of luxury - do they enjoy the days of walking around as much as we commoners do? I think not!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Kitty,

I completely agree, I think they probably take things for granted. Mind you, I wouldn't mind giving it a try just to see if that really is the case ;-)


Thats a beautifull place,remaind me of my city


Thats a beautifull place,remaind me of my city

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Advent,

Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like you live in a beautiful city :-)

spandrel studios said...

Bravo, for taking the full set of steps to the Coit Tower! That more than makes up for the yummy cheese panini and the hazelnut tart (which looked sublime, by the way).

Am taking notes on your cafe and bakery exploits for my next trip to SF. Great photos, too, Fish!

fishwithoutbicycle said...

Hi Spandrel, the hazelnut tart was pretty good, although I only managed half of it. I definitely recommend you try both Tartine Bakery and Bi-Rite creamery the next time you are in SF :-)