Thursday, August 1, 2013

San Francisco Diary: Day Two

Yesterday was jam-packed with experiences. Mark had written in his email to his family yesterday morning that we were going to let the day unfold as it will, and it unfolded beautifully.

The Castro

First up was a trip by public transit to the Castro. For those who read this who may not be aware, the Castro is ground zero for the San Francisco gay community. It was primarily to this area of the city that gay men flocked in the 70's. It was here that Harvey Milk opened his camera shop, which is now an HRC store. 

A huge pride flag marks the entrance to the Castro on a foggy overcast morning

It became somewhat discomfortingly obvious to us as we set out yesterday morning that we had not packed appropriately for this trip. We each brought only one pair of pants primarily for evening wear, and I only brought sandals. So the morning was pretty cool, but it warmed up fairly quickly.

Taking the bus, then a streetcar, was an interesting experience. Doing so brings one in much closer contact with people who live on the edges of life. While we were on the bus, we saw fare enforcement officers come on board and check people's tickets. Then, after we had transferred to a streetcar, we pulled up to one stop and saw and heard an elderly black woman literally wailing as a fare enforcement officer wrote her a citation. It was heart wrenching to watch and hear this.

One of our main purposes in going to the Castro was to look for wedding bands; we had found a jewelry store on the Internet that looked interesting. But when we arrived, it wasn't yet open, so we took a stroll up Castro Street, browsing in some of the shops there. 

In one shop, I discovered that there is a line of kitchen utensils called "JosephJoseph." I couldn't resist getting a knife (which we needed anyway in order to cut up limes for our evening G&T's). I plan to visit their website when we get home. They have some really cool, stylish and practical stuff.

I also couldn't resist getting this cookie cutter as a Christmas present (or not - I may keep it)

We also picked up some things at the HRC store (located in Harvey Milk's old camera shop) and a shirt next door, for a dog-loving friend, that says "Sleeps With Dogs," before heading back to the jewelry store where we found some bands that we really like.

Poster in the jewelry store window

Lunch at Zazie

We then set off on foot up the hill above the Castro to meet some friends for lunch. The option had been for Vietnamese in the Castro or "a French place" in Cole Valley, another San Francisco neighborhood that was downhill from where our friends are staying.

The "French place" turned out to be a tiny but award-winning French restaurant named "Zazie." (I later learned that the place is apparently named after an iconic French film Zazie in the Metro.) We had a bit of a wait, both to get a table and then to get our food, but the food was well worth it. I had seen several things on the menu that looked interesting, but as we were led through the restaurant to the patio area out back, I passed a woman eating a spinach salad that looked delicious. 

Interior of Zazie

So that's what I ordered: the Salade Marius, which featured spinach, caramelized walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, and roasted bosc pears. OMG, it was so good. I wish I had taken a picture, but it always seems a bit too touristy to take a picture of one's meal, and I keep forgetting anyway. 

I also wish I had taken a picture of my side dish - that I not altogether generously shared with Mark and our friends - a gingerbread pancake with lemon curd and roasted bosc pear. I had never heard of a gingerbread pancake; it ... was ... delicious. (The picture to the left is from the restaurant's website. Again, I wish I had taken a picture of my own pancake.) 

Zazie sells the pancake mix and the lemon curd, and it was tempting to get some. But then as I said to Mark, sometimes I would like to think that I can recapture the taste and experience of something I've eaten or drank somewhere, but it just isn't the same. The truth is that if we had bought some, it probably would have stayed in the pantry at home and never be used. So many times, I have caught myself doing this - wanting to take home an experience. But I am learning to just enjoy the experience while I am it and not think about how I can bottle it and take it home.

Mark and our friend Julia at Zazie

There was another interesting aspect of our lunch. There was a family (?) that came in at the same time we did and were seated at the table right next to us. When the woman whom I assume was the mother was brought her food, she indignantly (and loudly) proclaimed that the poached eggs with shrimp that had been brought to her were not what she ordered: she had ordered the eggs over easy

The thing is, the menu had boldly stated that there can be no substitutions because the kitchen is too small (see photo below) to accommodate anything other than what is already on the extensive menu.

The tiny kitchen at Zazzie.

When the waiter tried to explain this to the woman, she became even more loudly indignant and said she wanted to speak to the manager. She then sank into a sulk while the rest of her party ate their food. A few minutes later, the waiter came back and said that the manager was on the phone but would be out shortly. Meanwhile, he would speak to the kitchen. Later, he brought her plate back with the eggs cooked the way she had wanted them. She sulkily accepted the plate.

I surreptitiously took the two above photos after they had finished their meals. They speak volumes. The thing is, this woman provided a remarkable example of how her attitude completely ruined her lunch experience (and also affected the experience of other patrons around her). She held on to her anger and disappointment and reveled in it, rather than allowing her initial disappointment to pass through her. Her behavior was a vivid reminder that we all need to just let go of things that our egos want to cling to. The ego tells us that we are entitled to hold on to anger. It makes us feel good. But the truth is, it makes us miserable, as the above photos amply depict.

Japan Town

After leaving Zazie, Mark and I walked down to Haight Street and took public transportation back to our hotel. After a brief rest, we then walked the few blocks to Japan Town and browsed through shops, noting all the restaurants there (which will lead to some Trip Advisor research for dinner on Saturday night).

Out on the Town

Last night, we met our friends Chris and Jason for drinks, followed by dinner where we joined our other friends, Kurt and Julia, and another couple. Mark had gotten to know Chris and become somewhat of a mentor to him when Chris was working in Salt Lake and making his first steps out of the closet. We had spent some time with him a couple of years ago when we passed through the Bay Area, and it was wonderful to see him again and meet his partner, Jason. Aren't they a handsome couple?

Graffiti in the bathroom at the bar

More graffiti

It had been an amazing, wonderful day. When we headed out yesterday morning we had no expectations: we didn't know what would unfold. We didn't know what we would find in stores, including our wedding bands; we didn't know where we would have lunch; we didn't know we would make a fun trip to Japan Town; we didn't know where we would have drinks with Chris and Jason (we ended up at the third bar we went to, the others being too crowded, and the third time was a real charm); we didn't know what our dinner experience would be like. That's part of the wonder and the fun of traveling and of life.

1 comment:

  1. What a HUGE breath of diversity and oxygen. Thanks for sharing