Monday, September 11, 2006

Field Trip Week: San Francisco Treat, Part 1

I was going to title this post "Homotown USA," but then I realized that I've seen more homosexuals on a Saturday afternoon at the East Palo Alto IKEA than my personal assistant Geoffrey and I did in San Francisco on Friday. But, that's mainly the fault of our itinerary: we went nowhere near the Castro, staying mainly in the FiDi, SoMa, and NoBe (wow, that's annoying).

Even without homos, it was still a perfect day in San Francisco. Well, except for the weather, which was cold, windy and drizzly. I thought we were going to be on the sunny side of the city (at least in the afternoon), but the fog never lifted. It was actually pretty miserable. I had planned for cool weather, but hadn't realized that I would need a hat and gloves. Oh well.

The drive from San Francisco from Santa Cruz was even pleasurable, thanks to I-280, sometimes called "the most beautiful freeway in the world." It is a lovely freeway, winding beneath the slopes of the Santa Cruz mountains, avoiding the urban/suburban sprawl just a few miles to the East, and flirting with the San Andreas Fault. However, as a connaisseur of interstates, I would suggest several other stretches that are more scenic:

  • I-70 between Denver and Vail: a spectacular ascent into the Rockies.
  • I-80 between SLC and Wendover: the Wasatch range, the Great Salt Lake, and the Bonneville Salt Flats.
  • I-64/77 between Charleston and Beckley, West Virginia: a high-speed curvefest along a winding creekbed
But I digress...

We started our San Francisco adventure with a retro lunch at swinging supper club Bix. It's located in this hard-to-find alley in an upscale furniture/antiques neighborhood near the Transamerica Pyramid. I felt like I was in a speakeasy, but with much better alcohol (did you know that Prohibition booze was yucky? It's true.) My lunch:
  • the Bix Strawberry Rickey (Skyy 90, strawberry puree, sweet & sour, and soda): so fresh and crisp! I could have had three.
  • roasted tomato soup with a basil-ricotta crouton: competent and hearty-perfect for fighting the chill weather.
  • shallot crusted albacore tuna with butter beans, gypsy peppers, and lemon-smoked paprika sauce: divine! The sauce just made everything melt in your mouth.
  • chocolate brioche bread pudding: topped with a fist-size dollop of thick-whipped cream, this was rich, hot, and smooth. Another great course for a cold and dreary day.
The service and atmosphere were almost pitch-perfect (right down to the white-coated waiters), with one troubling exception: the restaurant's location in the FiDi (Financial District) means that, at lunch, it's filled with businesspeople and lawyers. Yuck. The high-powered commercial real estate go-getter at the next table kept talking about how she was going to make a "shitload of money." I hadn't realized how well I've managed to structure my life to avoid these kind of people on a regular basis.

After lunch, we made a pilgrimage to the greatest bookstore on the planet: City Lights. I love this place! It was founded by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti! They published Allen Ginsburg's Howl (someday, ask Uncle Fosco to tell you the story of how he played a reading of Howl on the radio and got into serious obscenity toruble...). And how can you not love their new banners? (pic below)I kinda bought a bunch of books, including a collection of essays on Howl, selections from Paul Valery, and the book that started it all: Pictures of the Gone World.

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