Once again woke up early as still adjusting to time zone and with Daylight Savings tomorrow will be “off” even more. Hung out around the apartment and ate my cocktail grapefruit, then got it together to go meet Mary Ann (MAB to those who know and love her!) for the San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival.
Another gorgeous day here, so I opted to walk up Van Ness to the Civic Center. MAB called right as I was arriving to let me know she’d be late. I decided to use the opportunity to find an ATM, grab some coffee, and wander a bit in my new city. Wound up seeing a bunch of people coming out of one coffee shop looking happy and when I got up there, discovered that Philz Coffee is one of *the* local chains to know. The woman in back of me in line gave me a couple good tips and suggested I talked to the barista to get some tips. Being rather toasty out, I ended up with an iced Mint Mojito coffee to give me a refreshing pick me up. You can’t beat a coffee drink garnished with real, fresh mint. Delish!
After a bit of delay, MAB and I finally connected outside the Civic Center Muni stop. She looked adorable in her cute green dress and I rocked the traditional “God Made the Irish #1” shirt and Ireland football jacket. We headed over to impressive Civic Center Plaza and in true St. Pat’s fashion, found the bar area. Alas, unlike Wisconsin, the drinkers are confined to a bar “area” — no open intoxicants here. We had a great time people watching though (including seeing some kids get busted for bringing in a whole bottle of Jameson), as we sipped on our Sierra Nevada Stouts (I had to avoid the urge to get a Leinie’s, which was also available).
Finishing our beers, we headed over to watch the parade. We managed to finagle a decent spot and I have to say, the parade was impressive. And loooooong. We only watched part before the sun and hunger began to take its toll, but it went on quite awhile after. I did tear up at one point though, when the firefighter’s union marched by, followed by their truck with a banner saying that they support Wisconsin workers. I actually choked back some serious sobs after cheering for the vehicle. Thanks to twitter I also found out about a solidarity rally here on Tuesday that I may try to make it to.
Though the festival was packed with your standard fest fare (they even had chocolate covered bacon), I was pleased to find some local places represented (pointed out by MAB). I wound up with beef stew in a bread bowl (it’s my first St. Pat’s that I have consumed red meat since 1994) from a place called Napper Tandy. The stew was delicious, though the bread a little tough. MAB got a veggie burger and made the wise decision to not add the mayo that had been sitting out in the sun. There may be a County Mayo, but I doubt she wanted to pay a visit to County Salmonella. (wah wah)
Neither of us had anything planned until 4 p.m. when I had an apartment viewing, so we decided to walk from downtown to Noe Valley where the place was. Mary Ann directed us through Hayes Valley, which is a neighborhood on my list, but which I’d not been too. I definitely think I’m leaning toward a more chill neighborhood place than the “center of the action.” We’ll see.
The walk was definitely epic, and we took a breather about halfway, popping into a coffee shop, Morning Due Café, to use the restroom and for me to grab coffee and MAB some soup. Coffee was alright, but I needed the pick me up, especially when I realized my face got FRIED in the sun. No wonder I started dragging. After the brief respite, we continued up the Church Street hill by Delores Park and landed in Noe Valley. It was great for MAB to revisit her old hood and for me to see the familiar places I’d visited for many years when she lived over there.
We had just enough time for a quick stroll before I split for the viewing, so we grabbed a pastry at La Boulange Bakery for a snack. I asked for a recommendation, and when we arrived at “light and simple,” the clerk steered me toward the Raisin Custard Swirl, which danced on my tastebuds with every bite, fulfilled my sweet tooth, but didn’t weigh me down. Highly recommend. I then popped into Whole Foods to stock up on some toiletry items (full-sized shampoo–yay) and Just for Fun and Scribbledoodles to grab a small notebook for apartment hunting.
I left MAB to shop while I swung just a couple blocks up Noe to check out my first apartment viewing. The place was okay, the roommate cool, but I definitely want to check out a little bit more before committing. I’ve got showings scheduled tomorrow and Monday, so hopefully something will work out. Need an April 1 or sooner pad, so not panicking yet.
Met up back up with MAB at Ambiance where she was buying another cute green dress. I can’t shop until I get settled, so I lived vicariously through her. We then walked back toward The Mission, as I needed to drop off my Whole Foods bag at the apartment and Mary Ann had arranged for us to meet up with her friend Ken at The Phoenix. While running my errand I had a quick apartment call (don’t think that one going to work) and then Marley called to let us know she was in The Mission and that we should meet her at Heart for a glass of wine. I tracked Mary Ann down on Valencia and she had connected with Ken, who not 5 hours prior returned from a five-month trip through South America, and more recently 40 hours of multimodal travel. I was impressed the guy was standing, nevermind trekking out to meet a bunch of strangers. The three of us met up with Marley, her boyfriend Dan, and Dan’s mom at Heart. I ordered a glass the 2005 Tarantas Crianza Tempernillo/Cabernet, not sure if I wanted to invest in a better cup. The wine was just okay (it’s apparently won awards, but I didn’t taste anything overwhelming), but I appreciated the ambiance of the place, with beverages served in mason jars and a really fantastic art series on the walls (Melissa Hutton’s Heartland). We passed the hour chatting about travels and terrible movies before our group split up for the evening.
Having heard her rave about it for *years,* I suggested MAB and I go to Dosa, which turned out to be on her mind too. By some miracle a table for two opened up and so we breezed on in without a reservation.
What happened next was a full on theater performance on my tastebuds.
First came the roti, which unlike any I’ve had before, managed to be simultaneously firm, yet buttery.
Then, at MAB’s recommendation, out came the Dahi Vada — a lentil cake with yogurt sauce, that was beautiful in presentation and divine in taste.
Next, my main course of a Spring Dosa, with just the right amount of kick to awaken senses all over my tongue, but so as not to overpower the dining experience.
Finally, after describing the dessert Ritu’s sister made for us when I was in India, Mary Ann and I were delighted to find a version of halwa on the menu. This was a Payasam & Carrot Halwa, and while tasty, not as good as Shikha’s and not as memorable as the rest of the meal.
Staying true to my path of discovery of “brews of the bay,” I tried Victory Brewing’s Prima Pils to wash everything down. The beer served a utilitarian purpose here though as it was needed to placate some of the spiciness versus complement the meal.
We called it an early night, which was fine by me as I’m still in the adjustment phase. But as Mary Ann pointed out, it’s so great to be able to spend an epic day with a friend and not tire of each other’s company. I’m so grateful to have known her for over half my life and still find room for laughs and wonderful conversation. I’m definitely looking forward to being in the same city for the first time since high school.