I went to San Francisco yesterday. That’s right, I flew from San Diego to Oakland on the earliest flight Southwest offers, and flew home on the latest flight. I needed just half a credit more to earn a ‘free’ roundtrip ticket anywhere in the US of A, and my credits would expire tomorrow, so, San Francisco for a day it was! It was actually quite fun. Travelling is nice when you don’t have bags and hotels to worry about. I arrived at the airport about 40 minutes before my 7:10am flight this morning, walked through the empty security line, and hopped on the plane. By 9:30am I was walking around the Saturday farmer’s market at the Ferry Building.
When I arrived in Oakland, I was pleasantly surprised to see an installation of one of my favorite artists, Hung Liu. The installation is titled “Going away, coming home,” and for it Hung Liu painted the windows in one of the walkways with beautiful images of cranes flying in every which way. Along with the painted glass were two ‘ordinary’ paintings and two sketches. My favorite of the paintings is one from her a recent project, in which she paints from old photographs of a famous Chinese immigrant named Polly Bemis. Liu has such an incredibly beautiful painting style, and her portraits convey so much emotion.
After swooning over the paintings, I hopped on AirBart and took Bart to the Embarcadero. I wandered around the Ferry Building and the farmer’s market, getting strange looks from people for taking pictures of mushrooms and beans. The Saturday farmer’s market there certainly beats any of the markets we have here in San Diego. It’s fairly large and the variety of vegetables and artisan products is much wider. I bought some gorgeous honey from Marshall Farms (more on that later) and some beans from Rancho Gordo. I am on a mission to make Henning like beans. So far lentils and chickpeas have been deemed acceptable, and he did eat black eyed peas on New Years without complaint, so here’s hoping that some Good Mother Stallard beans can win him over for good. All that walking and looking at delicious food made me hungry, so I stopped for some spring rolls at Out the Door, and then caved in to my sweet tooth and got a cute chocolate cupcake with coffee buttercream from Miette, where I also picked up some madelines to bring home to Henning.
I circled the building no fewer than 3 times (I had to make sure I hadn’t missed anything!), and then walked up Market to SF MoMA. The exhibitions they had were not the best I’ve seen there, but I was happy to find that I enjoyed both of the video installations, which sounded a bit ho-hum from their descriptions. As usual, I was impressed with SF MoMA’s permanent collection. They have my favorite Pollock ever as well as some great Klee and Ruscha. Several of the spaces were undergoing cinstruction for new installations, which looked pretty interesting from what I could see.
By the time I was finished at SF MoMA, it was already 1pm, so I decided to just walk around the city a bit. I walked up Grant street, stopping in a few shops along the way, and ended up in Chinatown. Walking around Chinatown on a busy Saturday afternoon is really quite a sensory overload. The foreign scents of roasting poultry and raw fish wafted over me as I weaved my way through packs of people carrying pink plastic bags full of strange looking vegetables, all to the backdrop of the brightly colored signs and decorations. I bought a couple of strands of freshwater pearls for earrings yet to be conceived, and noticed that it was getting late, so I made my way back towards Market.
I walked down to Mission and then down towards the Embarcadero. After MoMA, I thought I didn’t have time to make it to the East Bay to eat at Chaat, so I decided to splurge and get myself a great meal at Boulevard. I arrived at about 5:30 and they had space for me at the dining counter, a great spot from which I could watch the kitchen. Just after I was seated, a woman was seated next to me. She was obviously a regular as all the chefs and waitstaff knew her by name–Jeanine. We started to chat about the food and what I was doing there; it was nice to have someone to talk to when I thought I’d be alone. I looked over the menu and decided to go with the lamb entree and save some room for dessert. The lamb was absolutely delicious. It was a combination of loin and cheek, seared medium rare and served with a couple of cute fingerling potatoes, some porcini mushrooms, a tiny roasted onion, and a mint chutney. Everything was cooked perfectly the presentation was beautiful. For dessert, I decided to go with what they called “Chocolate.” It consisted of three mini-desserts: an opera cake, a small cookie-like thing whose name I’ve already forgotten, and a bonbon of chocolate cake, ice cream, and soft Italian merengue. Each of these was delicious as well, and it was nice to have a bit of a sampler, since I was dining alone and wouldn’t be able to share desserts with someone. The bill was certainly a swift kick in my graduate student pocketbook, but we all deserve a little treat sometimes, don’t we? And besides, what are the chances that I’ll be able to go there again anytime soon?
When I left Boulevard at 6:30, I was a bit worried about making it to the airport for my 8:05 flight. I hurried over to the Bart station but the next train to Fruitvale was 12 minutes away. Still, I arrived at the airport at 7:30. I quickly reprinted my boarding pass and headed over to security. All was well until I heard the xray man say, “Miss, do you have a candle in there?” Oh no.. the honey! It certainly falls in the category of liquid, paste, or gel and I certainly had more than the allotted amount. I didn’t have a checked bag, so I couldn’t just go stick it in one, and I was travelling alone, so putting it in someone else’s checked bag wasn’t an option either. A bit of pleading got me nowhere, and not wanting to throw away one of the two purchases of the day, I was escorted out with directions to the other terminal where I would find a postal service to mail it to San Diego for me. I didn’t think I had time for that, so I went back to the empty Southwest counter and asked if they had a box that I could have to stick the honey in and check it. The man gave me quite a hard time, “They ain’t got honey where you goin’?” but was nice and found a box for me. I shoved everything else I had in there–sweater, reading material, beans–in hopes that the jar wouldn’t break. I had the honey on toast for breakfast and it was worth it.