And that year-ending thing, with graduation and the final pack-up. Three boxes of books, two suitcases, and one backpack later (and a few goodies left for Charlotte) I was ready to say goodbye to the east coast and make my way west: Victoria, via San Francisco. Or, San Francisco.
An old friend almost single-handedly saved my trip. As soon as I landed, my CS host fell through, and left me planless while I scrambled for new options. Thank the SFO powers-that-be for the free wifi.
Cassandra, a friend from high school whom I hadn’t seen since, responded to my facebook plea within minutes, connecting me with her friend Julia who lives right in the middle of the city.
I drove into town with a roof for the night. But as it turned out, I had fallen into much more. Within minutes of arriving, my bags were upstairs in a spare, graceful third floor apartment, and my newfound host was taking me through her design portfolio. I was delirious from long travel, and revelling.
I didn’t have to think on her offer to stay the week. I still marvel at my luck. Someday, I hope I can give back in kind.
First mornings call for something monumental. It is a bright sun and the day troubles itself whether to be warm or cool. We walk south to Mission-Dolores Park.
The order of the morning: pastries and ice cream.
Tartine has been first on the sf list for months. The time has come.
The Morning Bun.
A cinnamon roll of croissant dough, with lightly caramelised orange sugar.
It is a thing of glory. Fittingly my first ingested piece of the bay.
On one’s own that might be enough. But we are two and this is my very first.
The Pain au chocolat. I cannot believe the gleam.
We tear in. It is flaky, springy, and sturdy. And good chocolate, fruity and deep.
All good things come in threes:
Their croissant is legendary and rightly so. It is such stuff as dreams are made on.
The flavour is savoury and deep. Touched with salt, and egg, and a complex heady fruitiness of the ferment.
And check out those crackly corners! So many layers I cannot even bear it.
This croissant ain’t messin’ around.
We eat slowly, savouring, enjoying the rising sun on our necks and cheeks.
And for dessert, ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery, just down the block.
I am in the mood for lightness.
Crème Fraîche, Honey Lavender, and Strawberry Balsamic.
We also try their Salted Caramel (so deep and dark), Brown Sugar with Ginger Caramel Swirl, Toasted Coconut, and Brown Butter Pecan (which is insane).
Julia has to get ready for a weekend trip south, so we head home. She makes snickerdoodles for the road. I get to try one.
Out for the day, for real this time.
Four Barrel Coffee. A great vibe and a gracious host.
Cool guy drinks from a straw.
They stand the espresso cups on upturned ones to keep them warm.
At first, lemongrass, then thin vinegar. It’s good but halfway through it gets too tart for my taste.
Stop in at Voyager, where Julia works. They even sell some of her stuff.
Through the park, up and over the first of many hills.
Into Noe Valley.
Bushes of rosemary are the common sidewalk shrub. Wild cherries litter the road in some places. Everywhere, everywhere, there are nasturtiums.
Streets wind into wooded paths and back.
Manifolds of nasturtiums.
Is this a dream? The afternoon is made of sweet and sinus spice.
Up the twin peaks.
The steep east side has a thin path
with wild fennel.
The top commands a full view to the east.
Over to the other side, a reservoir in two colours.
Down and out the north slope, more woods,