Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Notes From The City - Spring Fling and Good Eats

Spring? No. Not here. It is the dead of winter here. Currently 28 degrees out, it is far superior to single digits.
In San Francisco where I was last week there were definite signs of spring. I enjoyed time with some family and friends and sampled some of my favorite foods and some new tastes.
 My first stop was back to my latest favorite Hai Ky Noodle House in the Tenderloin district that makes the best won ton soup - with roast duck. Sigh. And sigh again.

Spring has sprung in Japan town. It was fresh and beautiful - and a bit chilly. But the cherry blossoms were beginning to burst. They must, after all, ready themselves for the annual grand Cherry Blossom Festival next month. If you're ever in San Francisco during this time go! and experience the food, culture, music, dance, history, and extraordinary uniqueness of the Japanese culture. 

It is held in and around here. On this day we wandered, mostly indoors, by various quaint shops, restaurants, and bakeries. Japan is on my bucket list, however, in the meantime, Japan town has always provided authentic cultural flavor in a beautiful concentrated setting close to home.

A walk way inside one of the malls.

I also tried these. Taiyaki.

Taiyaki are on-the-go, light as air, flavorful pancakes with a delicious filling. Traditionally, the filling is a red bean paste, however, my palate is not that culturally sophisticated, so I got the chocolate banana filling. 

Taiyaki means sea bream - which are deep bodied fresh water fish native to Europe. These little replicas are simply delicious for dessert or breakfast or whenever.

There was also some welcome rain in the area which, for me, was wonderful, as this weather reminds me of my childhood. 

My brother was kind enough to spare me the back of his scooter and brave traffic and fleeting parking spaces in his truck to traffic around town.

Chinatown was a last minute decision on my last day there, because, I desperately needed dim sum, and it was raining, and I love Chinatown.

The annual Chinese New Year Parade was set for the next day.

The rain doesn't stop the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

I love quirky alleys with color. One of my latest dreams (because you always need to have dreams no?) is to live in a little apartment/loft/house on an alley. My dreams haven't been city or state specific enough to start working on making the dream a reality though ;)

We ate at the Four Seas restaurant which is at the top of these stairs. A big open room where cloth covered tables, delicious smells, and tasty food awaits.

A colorful peek out the fire escape from the dining room.

We had a feast starting with won ton soup. Not my favorite won ton in the world but full of tasty broth, vegetables, mushrooms, and barbecued pork.

My favorite dim sum - pork sui mai. It did not disappoint.

Cha siu Bao's. These little steamed barbecued pork buns were sweet and savory and delicious.

I also sampled crispy shrimp, which was perfect, tomato-beef chow mein, which was simple, wonderful comfort food and a true blending of cultures (it has ketchup in it), and well...

these... um don't tell my chickens I tried these. They would be aghast. And, rightly so, would never trust their safety and well being to me again. I think these must be an acquired taste that I have not acquired yet. I did try a toe. Squeemish gulp. No thank you. 

Delicious not-too-sweet lychee martinis wiped out the memory of chicken feet.

I was out and about on a few nights. This is downtown Market Street - with no cabs to be had. (The solution was to wait out rush hour by having cocktails overlooking the city ; )

The go to mall downtown. You can pretty much find what you're looking for here. Bring your wallet and your attitude. It's all good. 

On another night I was up here. I tagged along to a concert with my brother and good friend, and we were a hill and a staircase away from Alamo Square park. This is where the "painted ladies" are. The famous row of Victorian houses you always see in the brochures. No really! Not as colorful at night, but with the city lights in the background and no one else around just you and the moonlight and space to meander and twirl and sing - it's like being behind the scenes of a movie set.
Yeah, whatever. Here they are during the day.

A bit of left over Christmas spirit in the city.

If you're driving around the city at night you may also come across this second hand clothing store. Oh c'mon. It's funny!

I also met up with my sister-in-law and friends for happy hour (It was Friday!) then dinner at Wasabi Bistro. Where there were raw oysters,

Grilled oysters, and a variety of light, fresh, scrumptious sushi.

How amazingly adorable and creative is this shrimp origami! My new awesome friend made this for me out of the chopsticks paper. 

Mochi ice cream for dessert.

On concert night I also had a bit of the usual that I had been craving at The Corner Store. This decadent hamburger with onion jam

A deliciously different take on ribs

And some flavorful pork and polenta.

Oh - and my latest indulgence out there - my Manhattan milkshake. Just too good for words.

Walking around my neighborhood before the rains.

Some blossoms from the backyard and an amazing lamb soup my brother made. (Plus a beautiful table quilt that my talented sister-in-law made!)

I got a text from my brother one afternoon that said "bread, wine, and pork products 10 minutes" Well how do you pass that up. I walked down the street to his place and this is what awaited.
Yup. Pork products. Flavored pork fat to be precise. Really???

Oh yes. Proscuitto with more fat. Pork jowls. Herbed pork fat. Oh and some black truffle butter for fun. Yes, I tried it all. Fortunately there was good red wine and french bread and some good old regular shaved salami for me. My good friend, above, who loves everything pork, may look well and fashionable in his sweater and scarf...

but if he keeps eating this way, he's going to be looking like the guy in the painting back there! I don't think I'll be invited back for piggy hour anytime soon. 

But that was last week. This week it is back to winter. Which is fine with me.
 I don't usually like my white wine this chilled, but it was definitely hot tub weather last night at dusk. So still and beautiful, although our hair froze into little crunchy icicles, and it started to snow - not big white fluffy flakes, but small, wet, icy flakes. brrr. Today the sun is shining but there are still several inches of snow covering the ground. Spring is but a dream yet around here.

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