The last morning circles back to the first.
This time, deeper into the mission, along 24th.
Coffee: Philz. No espresso in sight, just really good pour-over. I’m recommended the Philharmonic, a medium roast with cardamom and fresh mint.
Coffee + cardamom is a definite yes. Coffee + mint, I’m less sure, but it grows on me. The space is filled with chairs in assorted colours and shapes and even more assorted people.
Coffee needs doughnuts.
Dynamo is a walk further east. Four flavours: two for Julia‘s flatmates (Spiced chocolate, and coconut), two for me now – lemon sichuan pepper, and saffron chocolate. Some special balance between fluffy and melty. Doughnuts in a sunny garden is a happy day.
To round out the complete breakfast trifecta: ice cream.
Humphry Slocombe, notorious for its frontier expeditions into flavour.
Some tastes of the day:
– cucumber ice milk
– salt and pepper
– ‘secret breakfast’ (bourbon and cornflakes)
– chocolate and smoked sea salt
– red hot banana
– cantaloupe and cayenne
I settle on a scoop of secret breakfast, in a cup.
I am eating breakfast, after all. Whipped, with full flavour but light texture. The salt and pepper is also excellent.
Across the way is Balmy st., an alley renowned for its public art.
Back up Valencia to Paxton Gate, a nature/steampunk/special interest store (that doesn’t even really do it justice).
They sell oodles of air plants (Tillandsia sp.), these amazing dessert plants with no roots, no need for soil or watering. They absorb all their water and nutrients from the air.
Last stop for the morning: Tartine. A take-out picnic for the last meal.
Finally, the frangipane tart.
Waiting for the sandwich.
Bennet picks me up at Julia’s. While I get my bags, he opens the rear hatch and a can of blue spray paint rolls out and jets all over his bumper and wheels. We clean with hilarity.
What to do with last few hours? SFMoma was a plan, but (it turns out) is closed on Wednesdays.
That’s fine. We go to City Lights.
We browse. He buys me Invisible Cities. I buy him Under the Jaguar Sun. It is a Calvino day.
Books need coffee so we walk to Blue Bottle. And then to Sightglass.
A huge space, with lustrous concrete floors, lots of wood and glass and light.
Thick crema. Smells like dry grass and chamomile. Tastes like charred asparagus and carrots, beets and dirt, green elderberry. Marvellous.
They even have a wall of air plants at the door.
To Yerba Buena park for lunch.
That Tartine grilled sandwich: Pecorino and almond with lemon, olive oil, sage. Incredible, immediate flavours. The real star of the show, supporting everyone and lending gravity, is the bread.
We break the tart with our hands and eat it in rough chunks; all of it.
Bennet, gentleman, drives me to the airport.
The last views.
The spines of the Bay.
I’ll be back. But until then, I’m ready for the North.