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Archive for February, 2011

San Francisco

No city invites the heart to come to life as San Francisco does.  Arrival in San Francisco is an experience in living. –William Saroyan

A while back I mentioned something about my trip to San Francisco.  Well I got back from that trip over a month ago now, but as cold, rainy weather stretches out before us here in NYC, I thought it would be nice to revisit the trip to keep my spirits up.

Four New Yorkers left New York with spirits wearied and worn ragged from the snow and ice that has defined this winter, however, the SF weather could not have been more compliant.  After a few days of sunshine and warmth on our skin, we left with a lightness in our beings.  Actually I’m not sure whether this change was due to the weather or the healthy doses of laughter that filled the spaces between our constant conversation.

When you see a dear friend after being apart—even if you have talked on the phone or emailed—the time during a visit seems to be measured not in minutes or hours but in laughter and chatter and hugs.  It seemed like we never stopped laughing!  Ceaselessly we went on about the sun, our surroundings, the sun, the food we ate, the coffee we drank (did I mention the sun?).  We made up for lost time and then some.

Also when visiting a dear friend, every minute is precious and so sleep is the first to go, sacrificed in the name of friendship.  Accordingly, we shook off our jet lag and tiredness and with enough caffeine it didn’t make a difference anyway.  I am so pleased to say that I had more fun than I had anticipated.  For me, the success of a vacation is measured just as much in the food I eat as it is in the sights I see.

If I want to transport myself right back to San Francisco, all I need to do is think about the nachos and burritos we ate in the Mission or the amazing latte and cookie I had in the Sunset (Heather’s neighborhood) at Double Trouble café.

I can’t think of the beach by her apartment without thinking also of Java Beach café and how much the iced coffee and bagels hit the spot.  Of course there was also the incredible brunch at Park Chow (blueberry pancakes) and the vegetable noodle soup and dumplings in Chinatown.

I’ll never think of Berkeley without thinking of the gorgeous Thai place where we had lunch, sitting in the sun on a deck over looking the busy student-filled streets.  We had Thai iced tea and pad Thai and then for dessert (!!!) stopped at a recently opened ice cream cookie sandwich place.

And of course, no visit to California is complete without a stop at In-N-Out!  This was my first time and on the advice of a friend I had a cheeseburger (yes, red meat!) animal style.  It was everything I hoped for.

But maybe the nicest food memory I have is the most simple—of making tea and toast in Heather’s kitchen every morning at breakfast.  The windows were wide open, letting in air that was heavy with moisture and an oceany smell, making the kitchen a comfortable place to enjoy toast with guava jam and Tillamook cheese and black tea sweetened with the honey Heather’s uncle makes.

Until spring comes to New York, I’ll be longing for the feelings I had when we all were walking around at dinner time most days, planning out our next meal. Picture this: Palm trees and murals and bright lights.  A hint of the ocean in the air. The certainty that good food and good drinks are just around the corner.  As the sun goes down, your skin feels sun-kissed and warm and lovely in contrast to the cooling air.  You don’t want the moment to end and so you squeeze every last bit of enjoyment you can from the sun, turning your face to the light and holding on tightly.

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