23 March 2008

San Francisco, and Let's Hear It for the Buys

(several links are to Google Maps-- my new favorite tool ever!)

Mark (or Manggy as some of you may call him) isn't back yet. Instead, it is I, Spankmaster, who comes to you from San Francisco bearing good tidings. Over the next few posts on this blog we'll give you a little insight on the weird wonderfulness that is the States. It was my first time, and doubtful it'll be the last. I'll also soon talk about the little things about the States that fascinated me, mostly because they don't exist in the Philippines. One of my favorite things, though? Here's a beautiful paddle I got at Kitchen Collection for a mere $10-- a wonderful deal considering I can't find one in Manila. I foresee lots of good times for this paddle: you know, pizza parties and such.
Pizza Paddle

Here's a short inventory of stuff I bought in the States:
Floral Plate
Here is a lovely floral dinner plate from Bloomingdale's in Las Vegas (probably available in all branches, though). It costs $12-- already on sale but much more expensive than a plate would be in the Philippines. But I fell in love with the pattern so I couldn't let it pass me by.
This is a trivet from Harry and David, a gourmet/ candy shop, for $6. I'm a massive fan of these Victorian patterns, so here it is.
To Die For Shirt
The only piece of clothing I bought in the States-- a "To Die For" shirt bought at Alpha Cult for $25. There are actually many great shirt designs to be seen everywhere, but I was trying to save money and I found I could actually take or leave a lot of the designs, except this one. Any other very good designs (probably from Juicy Couture or Ben Sherman, which is available in the Philippines anyway) would have been too expensive.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art souvenirs
Here's a few items to keep or to give away to friends. All of them are from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Gift Shop. There are lots of great designs, even for the kitchen (more on this later), but they're all quite expensive. Something for the employed, I guess.
CDs/AV-related stuff I Bought in the States
These are all the Audio/Video-related stuff I bought, at Borders (DVD of Eternal Sunshine and Legend of Chin CD), Rasputin Music (the Fall and Winter EPs of Jon Foreman), and the Apple Store (in Las Vegas). I received the free Borders Rewards Card on the second day of my trip and I think I wore it out. I think I saved a total of $13 or more in the process.
Books and Periodicals I Bought in the States
Here are the books I bought-- HOW Magazine's April 2008 issue (which is the International Design Annual), A Carpenters Anthology Songbook ($20), and Indulge ($40) by Claire Clark, pastry chef at the French Laundry. I've actually spied the contents of the French Laundry and 3 Star Chef (Gordon Ramsay) cookbooks back in the Philippines, but even if they presented awesome challenges (and BEAUTIFUL plates), I wanted to devote more of my time and money to desserts. After all, I can't buy truffles here in Manila, and it seems that Ramsay puts them in everything.
Food Items
Here's almost all the food-related items I bought. From Sur La Table: A square ravioli stamp and wavy pastry cutter (kind of redundant items, oops), icing comb/smoother, and a single springerlie plaque. Also got whole Coriander, Saffron threads, Grade B organic maple syrup from Trader Joe's (had to hide it in the fridge as the cap broke when it fell during unpacking), and Farro from the Ferry Building Marketplace (more on that place next time). Also not shown: a Cuisinart automatic ice cream maker from Costco (CIM-60PC, probably identical to the ICE-30BC model), for $50. W00t!

Okay, I have to get this off my chest regarding salespeople in America. I am totally in love with all of them. I know things like this might annoy Graeme, but I do love that they take the time to smile, greet me and engage me in light conversation when I'm checking my items out. I think I'm making it seem like salespeople in Manila are a bunch of cold fish, but I think most are unless they are serving an obvious foreigner. JD (my salesguy at Sur La Table, Maiden Lane) gave me a student's discount even though I confessed I was just an enthusiast. He asked for an address to send the catalog to, but I said it would be a problem as I lived in an entirely different country. He was also very helpful in pointing out the springerlie equipment to me. When I returned with a solitary plaque instead of a rolling pin like I initially asked, I said it was just too expensive for me and he was like, "I KNOW, RIGHT?" Fun times. A lot of them cracked me up (one of them was hooked on the "Hot Mess, Tranny, Fierce" sketch of the last Saturday Night Live), and several were helpful as the huge pile of coins I accumulated (not to mention dimes being smaller than nickels and as small as pennies-- PAIN IN THE ASS, which I incidentally love as Spankmaster) really weighed me down.
El Camino Inn
Anyway. On to the trip. The first nights were spent at the El Camino Inn in Daly City. I'm not fastidious at all so I found the place to be quite sufficient. Good value for money, especially since there's free wireless internet that I clumsily used on my brother's PSP. Daly City is heavily inhabited by Filipinos, and that's where my uncle lives (he works for the Post Office). "TFC" stands for The Filipino Channel, which my brother thought was a funny advertising point. After a few requisite sightseeing stops (Golden Gate Bridge, Palace of Fine Arts), we were destined for Las Vegas (more on that in the future), so we really got do dig in deep after our return to San Francisco from Las Vegas and Long Beach.
Palace of Fine Arts
Here's the massive pillars at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
Pier 39
Pier 39 (Fisherman's Wharf)
Me and Walri
I Am The Walrus! Er, I'm with some walri, also at Fisherman's Wharf.
Golden Gate Bridge
Me and the Bay
The Golden Gate Bridge, me at the bridge area, and FOG!! (Yeah... It never gets cold enough in the Philippines, except in Baguio.)
Hotel 480 Room
On our return to San Francisco on March 17: Hotel 480 (a Crown Plaza company). Great location, relatively inexpensive, and high marks all around.
Me and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Shop (with pepper mills)
Me at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Also, I stole a shot of the goods from the gift shop (I was too embarrassed to ask if photography was allowed inside). You can see some (EEXpensive) German-made pepper mills I was lusting after (inset)-- $90 or more, I think.
Me in a Cable Car
Me in a cable car trying not to engage in butt-bumping action with anyone.
Painted Ladies
Victorian-inspired (LOVE) houses ("Painted Ladies") in the Castro District.
The Irish Bank line on St. Patrick's Day
A small glimpse of the long line forming outside the Irish Bank. It was St. Patrick's Day the day after our second arrival in San Francisco, so plenty of insane young people on the streets. It was my first St. Patrick's Day but I didn't do any celebrating: sorry, Corrs. Next time, when I'm better-informed and can handle a pint.
A Spontaneous Abrasion?!
Here is a picture of a fucking spontaneous abrasion that formed on my forearm. It was so cold and dry in the States that this appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Freaking biblical is what it was.

Now, on to the food!
Café Zuni
Café Zuni Pork Stew with Butternut Squash and Fennel over Soft Polenta
Our first dinner upon or return to San Francisco was at Zuni Café, at the advice of some posters at the eGullet forums. My mom got upset over the long distance we walked from Sutter to Market Street in the evening (er... homeless people...), and I can totally get behind that, but you only get to live once... Anyway. I didn't have an appetite because of the ranting and I ordered a salad. My mom had an unbelievably good fettucine and my brother had the pork stew with Butternut Squash and Fennel over soft polenta. The waitstaff's quirkiness cheered me up a little.
BJ's Turkey Cobb (half)
For $7.50 at BJ's, you can get a big plate of Caesar Salad, (great) potato wedges and half a Turkey Cobb sandwich. I still have an unwritten (till now) no-reviews policy for this blog, but I will say that during our visit the service was kind of slow.
We had pancakes for breakfast at Bellini on Powell Street. It's run by an Italian gentleman and there are lots of Italian people coming in.
Cesario's Truffle Gnocchi
My brother and I had a fancy Italian dinner at Cesario's. I thought I would finally familiarize myself with the taste of truffles by ordering a black truffle gnocchi but since I can't discern where the truffles are, it didn't help any. In any case, it did taste great and it's my first taste of gnocchi.
San Francisco Soup Company
Black Bean Chili
Because dining out with your extended Expat family can really fill you up extremely fast, I used every chance I got to order my own food to eat healthily/ exquisitely. Once I start studying in hyperdrive for the exams, I can't work out at the gym as often, so I can't gain too much weight on my trip. During one of our many trips to Westfield, I ate at the basement's food court. For $9 I had a Black Bean Chili, fruit salad, and roll from the San Francisco Soup Company. In the background you'll also see a big plate (with chap chae) from Sorabol, where I ate another time-- $9 for a HUGE plate of incredible spicy barbecue chicken with all the fixins.

Next update: San Francisco, Part 2. Disclaimer: Hi, this is Manggy. I'm actually back in Manila. Thanks for all those who commented, suggested, and wrote while I was away. I have more than 200 entries on my RSS feed aggregator, so I have a lot of your posts to catch up on, friends! They all look really good, too!

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