June 19, 2013

A weekend in San Francisco - days one and two

Luminous red onions at the Ferry Building farmers market.

We spent Father's Day weekend in San Francisco, visiting our son and his girlfriend. The trip had a rough start — just after we went through security at the Seattle airport, I asked my husband to hold my camera while I went to the restroom. I didn't take it back when I came out,  when we stopped to buy a magazine or when we went to the gate, since he offered to carry it for me. Just as we were about to board, I asked, "do you have my camera?" I was shocked to find out that he didn't. I was quietly freaking as he ran off to retrace his steps thinking he'd left it in the men's room — a situation that was probably not going to end well. He came back empty-handed, and I refused to board the plane. The Alaska Airlines agent calmly and sympathetically re-booked us on a flight one hour later, and my husband ran off again to check with the distant lost and found. In my agitated mind I was already considering which camera I would buy to replace mine, but when Ken returned, he handed me my camera! With no luck at lost and found, he'd returned to the magazine store and the clerk had the camera behind the counter. Can you believe it? I get tense just thinking about it now.

Since we had been added last minute to a later flight, Ken and I weren't sitting together, and my seatmate looked and talked exactly like Alec Baldwin. There were moments when I thought all the stuff he was telling me was an act and he really was Alec Baldwin, but I'm sure the real Alec Baldwin would be in first class. Wouldn't he?

A corner of the kitchen at our Airbnb.

Once we finally got to San Francisco, we settled into our Airbnb apartment on Duboce Triangle. The apartment was old and quaint — furnished with quirky antiques, and much larger than we had imagined. The location was perfect — a two block walk to our son's apartment.


We had an early dinner reservation at Dosa, a South Indian restaurant that we really like. Dosa isn't vegetarian or vegan but they have a separate vegan, gluten-free menu, and the food is delicious. I had a dosa stuffed with collards, peppers, spiced potatoes and caramelized onions. It came with spicy soup and two sauces into which I dipped the dosa and indulged my taste buds. It was scrumptious.

On Saturday morning we took the Muni to the Ferry Building farmers market where we wandered around gawking at gorgeous California fruits, vegetables, and other stuff.

Lobster MUSHROOMS, mind you.

You can find pretty much anything you're looking for at the indoor/outdoor market, as well as things you've never heard of. And there are so many samples. When you taste an amazing apricot, it's hard not to buy a few.


Although we had a large kitchen at our disposal, we weren't cooking, so we tried to control our impuse to buy everything we saw and tasted. We did buy a chewy and delicious gluten-free vegan baguette from Mariposa Bakery. Most of their baked goods were not vegan so we were limited in what we could choose, but the bread was excellent.


Doesn't everyone long to travel on a plane with a container of fragrant sauerkraut in their backpack? You see, all the vendors give out samples, and the kraut was so good we couldn't resist. The woman who sold us the kraut said she makes it in her house in Santa Cruz.


As you can see, the lovely cauliflower curry kraut made it home safely and it didn't scare the other passengers off the plane.

We also bought apricots.


After the market, we returned to home base and climbed into Alison's car for a drive to Berkeley and Café Gratitude, for lunch. I had a fabulous bowl called I am whole with a substitution of kale for the sea vegetables. I could only finish about half but I enjoyed every bite.


My husband had I am abundant — a raw Mediterranean sampler —  that he loved. Jordan had raw sushi and Alison had soup and salad, I think. I really can't remember and the photos didn't turn out.

This was our first visit to Café Gratitude and we were all impressed with both the serene atmosphere and the food. It may sound corny, but I left the restaurant with a deep sense of calm that lasted through the day.

Carnivorous pitcher plants at UC Berkeley Botanical Garden.

Our next stop was the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden — a wonderland of beauty. It's organized by areas of the world (Asian Collection, Eastern North American Collection, Southern African Collection, etc.) as well as by special collections like Chinese medicinal herbs, old rose collection and more.


We passed through a building housing a spectacular collection of very strange cacti.


And then headed into the New World Desert, which was pretty spectacular.



There was weird and wonderful beauty wherever we wandered.


At one point, my son and I got a little sidetracked by bees, and couldn't seem to stop taking photos of them.


The bee seemed to be rolling around in the pollen — acting like it was taking a bath, or was perhaps intoxicated.


I wish I could remember what part of the world this lovely flower is from.


Or this one. We ambled around for a couple of hours, and were trying to decide which area to explore next, when a voice came booming over the loudspeaker yelling, "the gate will be closing in five minutes. If you don't leave you will be locked inside." The voice was in direct contrast with the beautiful surroundings and we were startled into seeking the most direct path to the gate — not an easy task in such a large place. You'd think they'd give us 10 minutes to find our way out.


We returned to San Francisco for a rest before heading out to a late dinner at Thai Idea, a vegetarian Thai restaurant. My husband and I shared an appetizer of fresh spring rolls, and a dish of vegetables and rice. It was pretty, but very plain — probably because I asked for it to be gluten-free. Jordan and Alison had more interesting dishes but it was too dark for good photos.

Tired but happy, we headed back to the Airbnb for a good night's sleep.

Previous posts about San Francisco: 
San Francisco: day 1 highlights -2012 San Francisco highlights: day 2 | Burma Superstar | Gracias Madre -2012

23 comments:

  1. Beautiful botanical garden! I love to walk around them wherever I can. I might even TRY to get locked inside, ha.
    my brother just moved to SF and it'd be so great to visit him and get to Cafe Gratitude! I've heard such wonderful things.
    I'm also totally drooling over that kraut! I'm a big fan of kraut and curry both. Cauliflower must take it to another level.
    Glad you got yr camera back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The botanical garden was gorgeous — and good exercise, too, since it's kind of hilly and so big. I kind of wanted to get locked it (like they would allow that to happen) but I wasn't really prepared for a night outside. Next time I'll bring a tent and sleeping bag.

      The kraut is GOOD. It has cabbage, cauliflower and a few raisins. If you visit your brother, you have to try it.

      Delete
    2. I thought of foodfeud when I was reading about your kraut! I really only like mine on hot dogs. M, check out Yeah Dawg! They make their own kraut, etc.

      Delete
  2. Oh, man, that all looks fabulous!!! I miss those guys - and you too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Claire! Where have you been? I know I'm missing a lot but now I don't know what it is.

      I briefly believed K would be living nearby and am very disappointed that she won't.

      Delete
  3. Sounds like such a great trip. And holy moly, what incredible luck about that camera!! Glad you got it back. I visited UC Berkeley decades ago . . . remember it as being such a beautiful campus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was short but great. Some time I'd like to have a longer visit to San Francisco — so many places I want to see.

      And yes, the camera return was miraculous — I really didn't expect to see it again, and I'm so glad we chose to miss our flight and look for it.

      Delete
  4. I have always wanted to go to San Francisco. And your trip description is making me want to go even more! It all looks and sounds so wonderful. But you had to know it was going to be a great trip with a start like that--I am shocked (but thrilled) you got your camera back!

    Courtney

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. San Francisco is a beautiful city — I love the Edwardian building, the pocket gardens, the weather, scenery, etc. The cost of living is extremely high, though, and I sure wouldn't want to pay rent there!

      Delete
  5. Mariposa is the best GF bread I've had in ages. The pretzel is so good as is the little tarts with the sugar on top. Looks like a fun trip.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. The texture and taste were perfect! I tried to buy sweets, too, but everything I asked about had butter or eggs, and the line was long, so just the bread.

      Delete
  6. I'm so glad that the camera was found! I can only imagine how your heart must have stood still until it was discovered.

    That stuffed dosa looks amazing! And I would love to sample that kraut! I've checked sauerkraut into my luggage before and hoped that it wouldn't burst in the process. That would make for some very fragrant clothing! (I didn't bring it on as a carry-on because of the liquid in the jar. Yours must have been on the dry side!)

    I'm surprised this was your first trip to Cafe Gratitude! I am always pleased by the vibrancy of their meals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only way I could only console myself about the camera was by debating in my mind what I would replace it with. It was such a relief to get it back.

      I was afraid to put the kraut in luggage because it was fresh-packed and I was worried about the high heat in the baggage hold. There wasn't any liquid in it but in retrospect, I'm surprised they didn't take it at security.

      This was only our second trip to San Francisco and we didn't get to CG last time. I loved it!

      Delete
  7. What's a trip without a little excitement? ;-) Glad you recovered your camera. Oddly, I haven't been to Cafe Gratitude. I should have went when they had a spot down in Cupertino. The sauerkraut looks great, I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should have gone when they had a place in San Francisco, but I'm glad I finally got to their location in Berkeley. Hope you can find the kraut.

      Delete
  8. That botanical garden sounds wonderful; too bad the announcement was reminiscent of being in a big box store late at night. I've heard great things about Cafe Gratitude, but even better things about Gracias Madre. I'm still not over the fact that Maggie Mudd is no more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The announcement really caught us off guard, especially since there was a wedding happening that evening and many of the pathways were blocked off. We'd been having such a pleasant time in the beautiful gardens that we found the message jarring, to say the least. Both restaurants are wonderful, but sorry to say I'm not familiar with Maggie Mudd.

      Delete
  9. Me and the other half have a thing where we have to visit the botanical gardens of every place we visit - I can't believe we didn't get to San Francisco's. Alas neither did we get to Gratitude, but that looks phenomenal. I bet you were feeling the gratitude after getting your camera back - what a stroke of luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, too bad you missed the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden — so gorgeous. Next time you have to take a side trip to Berkeley to see it. And eat at Café Gratitude.

      I was startled to get the camera back. I never thought I'd see it again, but I was wrong. Think positive thoughts, right?

      Delete
  10. Beautiful photos of everything! So close to my friend, Andrea from Seattle, I can taste it! Two hours away, tut tut.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! One of these trips we'll spend more than a quick weekend (only two full days) and get to meet up with all the cool California blog friends. We could meet halfway — only one hour!

      Delete
  11. What a wonderful vacation! Ah, how I miss the opposite coast... Especially those incredible farmer's market. No matter what time of year it is, you can't go wrong with the seasonal selection. Now I know that I definitely need to put the Berkeley Botanical Garden on my hit list for the next trip- Those photos are stunning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right about the farmers markets! It always amazes me to see all the fruits and veggies that are ripe and local no matter what the season. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since so much of our food comes from California.

      The botanical garden was really special and worth a visit.

      Delete

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