25 March 2008

San Francisco Part 2

The staggering amount of input I received about San Francisco was a great help to me, so I want to say thanks again to everyone. However, I wasn't able to go to them all-- most disappointingly Yasukochi Sweet Shop and Tartine Bakery (from which the chefs garnered IACP nominations as Pastry Chefs of the year). Yasukochi was on the same street as my hotel, but several kilometers away-- all the way in Japantown, which I soon discovered was a LONG ride. But I can get the Tartine cookbook when I want to-- dessert is easy ("a piece of piss" as I sometimes say). I'm sure I can reproduce them. Now, before I get to the rest of my insane musings on San Francisco, I'll start with one of my favorite places I visited:
Ferry Bulding
Ferry Building Marketplace 2
Ferry Building Marketplace
The Ferry Building Marketplace.

I didn't catch it in the morning, as I hear from my good buddy Allen (who is the genius who suggested this place, along with Todd and Diane) is the time farmers sell their goods. But I wasn't disappointed. Inside were some of the most unique shops I've seen in my life: a shop selling only mushrooms ("Now I've seen everything!" - Marge Simpson), one that sells different kinds of olive oil, Culinaire (an antique kitchenware shop), and a shop that has all the rare ingredients one could ever want. That's probably the closest I've ever gotten to a real truffle (as I'm not even sure I ate one at Cesario's). If you ever want to spend $80 for the ingredients to put together a single meal, this is the place for you, heh.
The Village Market at the Ferry Building
Multicolored Pasta at the Village Market
The Village Market, and a bag of amazing colored pasta ($20, WTF). I saw vanilla powder, Alfajores, all the grains I told my blogging friends I've never seen before (Farro, Quinoa), and insane pasta shapes. I'd say something really crass/ orgasmic/ TMI about the whole experience, but I don't want you to delete your bookmark to No Special Effects (I'm hoping you have one).
The Gardener at the Ferry Building
The Gardener-- homemade housewares, soaps, etc. Why did I not get stuff from here? Oh yeah, the money and luggage space thing.
Scharffen Berger at the Ferry Building
Scharffen Berger chocolate shop. I didn't get a 2kg block of chocolate because that would add 2kg to my luggage. For another time, I guess. My brother got a "Bitter Sweet" shirt. I wanted to get the "Extra Bitter" but I didn't because 1) it's kind of an oblique reference to most, and I hate having to explain it constantly, 2) the double-meaning doesn't work for me, and 3) I don't want to have matching shirts as my brother.
Miette display at the Ferry Building
The display at the only pastry shop within, Miette. Very cute items, nothing too fancy, very American fare. Didn't order, though.
Recchiuto at the Ferry Building
Recchiuto-- I'm not recalling very clearly but I think this is the olive oil and wine place.
Market Cafe at the Ferry Bulding
The Market Café. I didn't get anything (though my family did) as I didn't want to lose gawking time.
Golden Gate Park
We took a hop-on-hop-off tour bus ($28, good for 2 days, good value) that hit several key stops all over San Francisco. There is another company that also offers the service that doesn't go through the Golden Gate bridge, but goes through Nob Hill, Chinatown, and North Beach. Most of you are probably thinking the second company is the clear winner but we weren't aware of the difference when we boarded the bus. Oh Well. At least we get to see Golden Gate Park. Above is one of my clumsy attempts to capture it.
Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park
At the park: The COnservatory of Flowers. $5 to enter, but I was pressed for time so I didn't. My Plant Taxonomy professor would probably strangle me for that.
Aids Memorial Grove
Also at the park: The entrance to the AIDS Memorial Grove. Lovely place. I approached a sign that I thought would be a tribute to someone but it turns out it was just a sign telling dog owners to pick up after their pets. Hahaha.

When I was walking along the quiet path of the park, a random cyclist smiled and said "Hi." I was taken aback as nobody does this in the Philippines, regardless of the (I admit, superficial) boasting about our hospitality. That is just shockingly friendly to me, but I was able to hide my amazement and return the smile. Now, some other things I don't see at home:
1. So many pets and good owners. There are lots of stray dogs here instead. And nobody here pressures you to pick up their poop (not that our streets are littered with them). I saw a pet barber shop, pet hotel, and most puzzlingly of all, a pet bakery. WTF indeed. I hope they are baking treats for pets and not pets as treats.
2. Gay couples holding hands. Actually I think public displays of affection as a whole are more prevalent in the States. There's this girl I saw who would agree with me, but she can't speak because her boyfriend's probably still Frenching her.
3. Homeless people with signs talking about their situation. Some of the few incredibly sad ones I saw was a man who had cancer and was abandoned, and a woman who had AIDS and had children to feed. Now, I have no idea if any of it was true. Beggars here? MOSTLY CHILDREN.
4. People jogging everywhere, even downtown, in the middle of the day. The only person who does that here is me.
5. Electronic assisted mobility devices. Manila is just not a great place for the disabled. Each sidewalk I saw in the States had an incline on both sides of a corner. Very considerate design all around.
6. Blond eyelashes and blond beards. I'm starting to think they have magical powers.

Anyway. Back to the trip. Here are a few more sights around San Francisco:
Sentinel Building
The Sentinel Building-- oxidized copper gives it a characteristic color.
La Chiffonniere by Dubuffet at the Embarcadero Plaza
Vaillancourt Fountain
Jean Dubuffet's "La Chiffonniere" at the Embarcadero Plaza near the Ferry Building (that's my cousin Kyle hiding under it), and a few meters away, the Vaillancourt Fountain.
Keith Haring sculpture at Moscone Center
Keith Haring's sculpture at the Moscone center. I planned on paying a visit to the Yerba Buena ice skating rink to stock up on goods but it was closed.
Union Square
Union Square
Maiden Lane at Union Square
Maiden Lane in Union Square, where my favorite Sur La Table is located.
Inside St. Patrick's Church
Inside St. Patrick's Church, where we heard mass.

We went to Stanford, and I was really blown away by the beauty of the campus. I'm sure many of you will say that it doesn't even come close to your campus, but believe me, the University of the Philippines is not well taken care of. At least it has trees. Grr.
Hoover Tower in Stanford
Hoover Tower through the trees. (Eat your heart out, Graeme. Oh, who am I kidding, my pictures still suck compared to yours.)
Bench in Stanford
A bench! I don't even think we have a spot this pretty where I studied.
Cantor Museum Lobby
Makishi in Cantor Museum in Stanford
Modern art in Cantor Museum in Stanford
Students in the Cantor Museum at Stanford
Thinker(s) in Cantor
Inside the Cantor Center for Arts. You can see their current exhibition of Makishi (African mask art), British photography (not pictured), and the ever-present sculptures of Rodin. There's two "Thinkers" in the picture. Can you spot them both? By the way, you don't see students lounging in our museums either, which I think is a shame.
Belden Lane at Night
Finally, on our last night in the States, we ate at Plouf. Here you can see Belden Lane where it's located, where several restaurants are lined up offering a different country's Cuisine each. We ate with my dad's first cousins and their families. I got to meet my adorable cousins Kyle (6) and Brittany (11). I managed to tie with Kyle on my first try at Wii Bowling. He was pretty shocked (come on, he's 6), but we had a lot of fun.
Plouf Potato Wrapped Scallops
Along with communal mussels, I had this phenomenal plate of potato-wrapped scallops one a bed of fennel and cucumber. It is definitely something to attempt at home.
Plouf Rack of Lamb (special)
My brother had the special-- a rack of lamb.
Plouf Chocolate Fondue
Kyle wanted me to take a picture of his chocolate fondue.
Plouf Passionfruit vacherin with Grand Marnier Jelly
For dessert, I had a Passionfruit Vacherin (I mispronounced it, because I am an idiot) with Grand Marnier Jelly. It's my first Vacherin despite the fact that I have two dessert cookbooks with several recipes, because I didn't find meringue with cream inside too appealing. Wrong. This particular dessert was extremely delicious (don't mind the stray raspberry-- my brother dumped the berry on his creme brulee on my dessert) and I will definitely start making my own vacherins at home (which is great, because you don't see it a lot on the blogosphere either).

That's a condensed version of my San Francisco experience. I wasn't able to write about my awesome shopping experience at Bristol Farms (a grocery at the basement of Westfield), my several false alarms thinking I saw my one of my blog friends (seriously, Allen, how many bespectacled ash-blond men could there be in SF? Answer: several-- also thought I might see Marvin, or Todd and Diane), my failed search for a banh mi, etc. But that's why there's always a next time if you make an opportunity.

Next update: VEGAS, baby!

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