Well we skipped the flowers but we had such a brilliant time in San Francisco. The city was gorgeous - hilly and near the water and full of good shops, great food and variety! I was there for the American Diabetes Association meeting (huge conference!) and Jo managed to join me from Friday to Sunday.
Our hotel (Hotel Triton) was pretty nuts but great! It had a 'pop culture' theme so the walls were covered in murals, the furniture had touches of Dali and our bed was part zebra and part Alice in Wonderland. However, under the brightly coloured exterior it was a pretty good pick and located right at the gates of China Town and on the edge of the shopping district - perfect!
A wobbly shot of the lobby. They offered 'wine tastings' every evening which were fab since the 'tasting' consisted of a full glass or 3!
The hotel was also attached to a gorgeous French restaurant called Café de la Presse which I wish we had discovered on the first day, but made up for lost time in the end. They made a very good macchiato and an excellent chocolate croissant. I spend my last few hours in San Fran treating myself to lunch there (including a glass of wine - gasp!) The soupe de jour (asparagus) was a little insipid but the 'Assiette de Charcuterie' I had to follow more than made up for it (roughly assorted cold meats). Both the paté and the rillette were gorgeous and made me want to try everything else the menu had to offer. Next time gadget...
While we were in town we did lots of walking, through China Town (which was a really good one!) and through the shopping districts (also a welcome relief after the same old shopping circuit in San Antone) and out around the edges of town, visiting the San Fran MOMA gift store (they were prepping for a big Frida Kahlo exhibit so we figured no point actually going in). Really pretty city to walk around. Lots of diversity, a surprising number of homeless people but in general it all felt very safe if even a little overly cuddly! There were rainbow flags everywhere (I had no idea they originated in San Fran until today) and a fair amount of enthusiasm for the same-sex marriage bill that was just about to come into effect (it became official on June 16).
While I was attending the conference Jo managed to see not only the dragon parade through China Town (why did I have the camera??) but also a bunch of naked people on bikes protesting oil dependency! (Google 'world naked bike ride' if you're interested - it is huge)
A couple of other notable meals. Friends of ours were also attending the conference so one night we walked through China Town and stepped out into Little Italy in search of Capp's Corner, a family style Italian place. The walk was satisfying enough (so much to see) but the food was also very good! We had minestrone soup (cooked to perfection - no soggy pasta to be seen) and a beet and chickpea salad to share (ala family style), which was followed by wonderful home-cooking style Italian mains.
I also had the pleasure of dining with a co-worker of mine at The Slanted Door - a much raved about Vietnamese restaurant in the ferry building (one part of the waterfront near the bay bridge). We didn't have a reservation so getting a seat was impossible, but we were able to eat at the bar (which restricted our menu choices to anything up to and including salads, still leaving a lot to pick from!) Having similar tastes we decided to split an order of mixed oysters (all sweet, salty and delish), a plate of the sardines (below) and some fried sweet potato cups filled with sweet coconut milk and sesame that I can't seem to find on the menu! All very good. I'd love to go back there someday and order off the full menu.
Citrus and olive oil cured local sardines with shaved fennel, pickled red onion and pink grapefruit - these were soo good and just so pretty too!
We also hooked up with my friend Kaos (one of my best World of Warcraft friends) who lives in San Fran. He gave us a driving tour and a bit of local perspective, and it was great to spend our first night in a new city kicking back at a friend's place an eating wonderful pizza (from Little Star Pizza by the way, and like everything else we ate it was gorgeous!) Kaos and I also had dinner at a restaurant called Foreign Cinema, a neat place where we sat outside watching old movies projected onto the courtyard wall, listening along using old drive-through speaker sets that you could place on the table and eating gourmet food! The film was Parallax View which confused the heck out of us (especially given that we were under the impression it was an entirely different film!) The food was great and again we decided to just split and share everything, which included baked cheese with crudites, steamed mussels (yes, I do love them that much), a caesar salad pepped up with slightly bitter tangerines and the most surprisingly good fried chicken I've ever eaten (it had a sweet paprika glaze inside the crispy fried skin!) The menu seems to change often (it has already changed since I was there) which is another good sign, and there were so many other dishes I'd like to take a stab at! No pics this time, I was too busy eating :D
As you can probably tell, we had a great time and hopefully we'll make it back again before we leave. Definitely worth a second (or third) visit and so much more to do and see.