Monday, November 14, 2011

Three Perfect Days in the San Francisco Bay Area

I'd been meaning to visit San Francisco for some time. It'd been about 20 years. Now, we have a dear friend who lives in The City. With the Oregon Ducks scheduled for the Pac 12's biggest game of the season, the pull was too strong to resist a three-day weekend down south.

Friday, we walked miles around town, including past the tourist sites, which I'd wholly recommend skipping. You know the places: Chinatown stores, Fisherman's Wharf, and even the Buena Vista bar. I do not like crowds. I dislike crowds of tourists even more, although, it was fun to see comrades in Duck gear. An art / artifact gallery in the old Frank Lloyd Wright building on Maiden Lane near Union Square might have been the highlight of the day because of the interesting things inside. Breakfast at Sears is a tourist tradition and exemplifies the “old” San Francisco of dark wood, mini-tiled floors, and rich foods. There is a lot of shopping around Union Square, but we only hit a few stores. Down the road, just before the Chinatown gate, we stopped into a store full of big bright things. Inside, was a con artist trying to pass off made-in-China glass as fine Murano works of art. He was good, and I was gullible, but not quite naive enough. On the other hand, I COULD have purchased a lamp priced at $8,600 for a mere $200 . . . .

Better to spend money on an excellent Friday night dinner at La Mar, a Peruvian restaurant that features a variety of cebiches and "causas," (which are little columns of mashed potatoes topped with something special, whether it is tuna or crab or avocado, plus sauces) and other seafood.
Pisco is the Peru’s national booze, and La Mar mixes up a delicious Pisco Sour. What better way to spend an evening than to enjoy the company of people over great food and beverage? Local intelligence, thanks to Denise, is key to selecting a great restaurant.

Saturday, Denise walked us along Embarcadero to the Farmers' Market at the Ferry Building. Food vendors, outside, and restaurants, inside, offer breakfast and lunch. Even in November, there were several good-looking fresh-picked stands along with the "un-fresh" items such as devilishly sweet smoked salmon. Baked goods inside and out, plus cheeses and many other delights make a Saturday visit to the Ferry Building a hazard to one's dieting.

Then, down to The Farm to see the big football game.
Walking around the shaded grove where tailgaters had been partying for hours, we saw a very strong Oregon contingent. It seemed like almost as many fans wore Duck green as Cardinal red. In the sold out stadium, both sides nervously awaited the start of the game. Oregon's creativity, gutsy play calling, and big-play athletes on offense and defense tore the heart out of Stanford fans, who started the day with a chance to compete for a national championship, but went home knowing the Cardinal will not even win the Pac 12 conference.

Sunday lived up to its name: No fog, clear skies, and a temperature around 60 degrees. Once again, a great part of the day was a great meal with Denise: dim sum at Yank Sing, which people "in the know" tout as the best dim sum downtown. Certainly, it was the best I've had. Yank Sing is a busy place in a modern office tower. Many patrons plus many servers equals many food options, and they are all hot and fresh out of the kitchen.

Reluctantly, we pushed away from the table and rolled down to the car to continue our tour of the city, which included a quick stop for chocolate at Tcho (a local chocolate maker) before a look-see at Crissy Field (top photo), the former airstrip turned beach park with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Then, off to a quick view of the Pacific Coast before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to enjoy a stroll in Sausalito. It was truly a gorgeous day, with big views of the San Francisco Bay ornamented with many sailboats.

All in all, a great weekend: Best friends, best foods, beautiful scenery and classic college football. (I posted a few more pictures here.)

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