Food Buzz

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Friday, August 17, 2007

City mice

All right, I've gotten my Calfornia fix. It's time to go home. This suburban living, especially here in Palo Alto, is losing its lustre. It's too rich here. Everyone's clothes are new and really, really clean. Any vestiges of the hippie culture that supposedly once thrived here are long gone. I miss scruffy. I miss eccentrics. I miss dirt and decay. Also, I don't have a driver's license so I feel somewhat marooned within an island of bike-able destinations.

This is why Jasper and I took the train into San Francisco Wednesday. More accurately, we took two trains and a few busses. Oh, it felt good to be back in the city.

Our first stop was the Mission. We broused through the curiosities at Gypsy Honeymoon on 24th and Guerrero. I left the antiques behind and picked up instead some letterpress cards and golden gift bags. Jasper really wanted some glass mannequin eyeballs, but I didn't think they'd survive the trip home. Also, he doesn't get to play with glass.

We ambled up to the Pirate Supply Store where they were just about to feed the tank of fish! Jasper found buried treasure in a barrell of sand (a plastic jewel) and bartered for it by sharing his favorite joke: "Guess what?" "What?" "Chicken butt!" (Yup, it gets funnier every time he tells it. This was #584, I believe.) The clerk there recommended a burrito place and gave me bus directions. (Apparently all the burrito business is on the 16th/17th/18th end of the neighborhood.)

We arrived at Taqueria El Toro only to find it was closed for rennovations. But the proprietor handed me a $2 cupon for his other place, Pancho Villa Taqueria, on the next block. It was what I'd hoped for, a big place with an assembly-line burrito counter, barrels of aguas fresca and a choice of eight or so salsas. I bought us a big carnitas and refried bean burrito with the works (guacamole, lettuce, cheese, tomato, hold the salsa) and a tamarind aqua fresca. Jasper chose a mandarin Jarritos soda. Was it transporting? No, but it was exactly what I wanted in a big, child-friendly space. We scored a window table and were even lucky enough to get a visit from some street mariachis.

We lumbered our well-fed selves onto a bus that took us up winding streets to Haight-Ashbury, where I bought Jasper an ice cream he took an hour to finish. We also stopped by Kid Robot, even though we have one in New York. Jasper liked seeing all the cute Japanese plastic critters -- so did I. We left the $70 toys behind and bought a little donut with eyeballs. The clerk there gave Jasper a handful of stickers.

We got back on the bus and headed up to The Ribboniere in Laurel Heights (or is it Presidio Heights). I tried not to lose my head there, but SO MANY PRETTY, PRETTY RIBBONS! Living with two guys makes me sometimes forget about my girly side. Meanwhile Jasper rearranged all of the baskets in the store (spaceships, don't you know) and then dumped an entire vial of German glass star glitter on the carpet. What to do -- scoop it all back into the vial and buy it, of course. I can't say I was terribly disappointed to be "forced" to buy glitter. I think I bought enough ribbon that the store owner didn't seem to mind the remaining constellations.

Oh Lord, I can just hear my friends e-mailing each other to say "see, her kid is totally out of control!" But not so! He was great most of the day.

Anyway, we missed kids' happy hour at Giorgio's Pizza (Wednesdays from 4-6 they get to make their own), but we went anyway since it was getting late. There were still a lot of kids there and the place is very child-friendly: old, worn tables and chairs, noisy, waxed tablecloths, they bring your child's water in a paper cup with a lid and a straw. I just love when restaurants do that.

A bus ride, a quick turn through Gap Kids, and a Bart train ride later we found ourselves waiting for the Cal Train back to Palo Alto at 9:00 p.m. How did it get so late? The next train wasn't coming until 10:30, so I had to call Lane to pick us up. He was happy to do it. He missed us.

It was a beautiful day, full sun. But it was occasionally windy. Here's Jasper telling me "I wish I had fur. I wish I was a bear."


Anonymous said...

Yay for city time!

So when do you head back to Brooklyn?

Swizzies said...

What a fun day - and I love how you write.

Two things (maybe three):

I should live to see the day when you "lumber" in any way, shape or form. Graceful, sylph-y litheness, thy name is Adriana.

Jasper is way cute (loving the bear comment), and if any of your friends have ever emailed about how out of control he is (without you being on the cc: list as well, that is ;-), gotta love the openness of SFFH, eh?) then they didn't copy me on it.

Glad you're enjoying the west coast. And glad also that you'll be fine going home. That makes it the ideal sabbatical.

Luisa Perkins said...

Oh, what a great day. You made me miss San Francisco with this vivid post.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

This post was a walk down Memory Lane for me. I love the Mission District and its sunniness!

I'm so glad you've enjoyed your time in the Bay Area. I know what you mean about the 'burbs, though. Palo Alto is lovely, but if you don't have a car, it's a pain.

By the way: do you know why the names of the streets are stamped into the street corners? After the 1906 earthquake, firemen had a hard time knowing what streets they were on because all of the street signs had fallen and been buried in rubble. The names of streets are stamped into the concrete so first responders can identify where they are in the event of the "next big one." Cool, huh?

P.S. Jasper's desire to be a bear is adorable! He's growing up to be quite a handsome little guy!

ks said...

I hope you will read this. I've been out of town for the past week and am just catching up on blog reading...I saw your comment about the zucchini pancakes and wanted to email you but I can't find your address. I'm probably too haggard from travel or something...but if you can point me to it I'd love to get in touch with you and find out what your question is/was.


Adriana Velez said...

Aw Swizzies, being a parent has made me so defensive! But you know how much work that guys is. I like to think he is rewarding in the same proportion.

JM, that's facinating about the stamped names -- thanks for that bit of history.

KS -- thanks for getting back to me. My e-mail is adriana.whatsfordinner (at) gmail. Hope you're recovering well from your travels.