January 20, 2012
The Painted Ladies seen from Alamo Square. We stayed in the far left green one.
Interesting week. After four beautiful days (Fri. thru Mon.) in San Francisco, we returned Monday night to a snow-covered city. Tuesday was not too bad, but still bad enough that the ancient history class I'm taking was cancelled. Then things began to escalate, and the rest of the week turned into a snow-ice-slush-power outage-weather-wreckage. Three more days of exciting weather have closed public schools and Universities, as the slippery, ice-covered hills we call streets in Seattle, have become slick and dangerous. The heavy snow and ice has been toppling trees and branches and snapping power lines, causing roughly 300,000 people in neighboring communities to be without power, some for days. It's supposed to start warming up and melting, but the new worry then becomes flooding. So far today, Friday, no newspapers and no trash trucks, so navigating outdoors is still uncertain.
Enough about the weather; what I really want to talk about is our trip to San Francisco to visit our son and his girlfriend. Last Friday morning we boarded our Alaskan Airways flight and headed to a much sunnier and warmer climate. The first thing my husband noticed was that right there on the seat-pocket airplane menu, was a vegan, gluten-free option! This was something I'd never seen before and, although we had no need of food, it was still exciting to see the word, "vegan" on an airplane fast-food menu. Yikes.
One of at least 20 cafeterias at Google.
Our son picked us up at the airport, and we drove to the Google campus in Mountain View to join his girlfriend Alison and her uncle, as Alison's guests, for lunch. Alison works at Google, and by the look of things, Google employees are treated well. Ahem. I want to work at Google. The gorgeous campus is filled with gardens, sculpture, recreational opportunities, cafeterias. Did I mention cafeterias? There are cuisine-and diet-specific cafeterias, including a vegan one, but we went to a non-specific one. My son says, "the chef is from the south, and also spent time in SE Asia, so he cooks a lot of southern comfort food and SE asian influenced food."
There was a terrific salad bar with all sorts of fresh and interesting ingredients, including tofu and exotic olives.
My salad and roasted brussels sprouts.
There was also a hot bar where I found a large casserole of roasted brussels sprouts. Can you believe it? Later, when I went back for seconds, the sprouts had been replaced with a casserole of roasted broccolini — perfectly cooked and delicious.
My husband's pho
Also, a pho bar with everything needed to make pho, including vegan soup stock. At Google, all the foods have a list of ingredients and cooking methods displayed, so you know what you're getting.
My husband's salad
After lunch, we stopped at the smoothie shop and had smoothies. Seriously. Google provides just about any healthy food you can imagine. And by provides, I mean you don't pay for the food. You just eat it.
We took a stroll around the main campus after lunch — it was 71 degrees in Mountain View, and a gorgeous day for a walk. The campus is large, and Googlers need a way to get around, so Google provides bikes for that purpose, and they are so cool they are a theft temptation for the townies. As I eyed the bikes, I could see why.
Our host, our son, my husband on the Google campus.
After lunch, it was time to head back to San Francisco so we could check into our airbnb. We stayed in one of the Victorian Painted Ladies on Alamo Square. Our apartment was in the green building on the left — around the back on the ground level. It was old but pleasant, and the location was great.
Across the street on a high hill was Alamo Square, where you could find great views of the city. The houses are kind of a tourist attraction, and one evening when we came home we found a bus load of said tourists, having a look.
A closer look at one of the houses.
Thanks to all of you, I had a long list of restaurant possibilities in my bag, and for our first dinner, we chose Cha-Ya Vegetarian Japanese.
Taku-Sui (Gyoza And Veggies Pot)
Looking at the photos now, the food looks amazing, but at the time, we were just OK with it. We liked it, but it wasn't our favorite place by any means, and I'm not quite sure why. Maybe they were having an off night.
ha-Ya Delight (Seasoned Brown Rice)
Normally, I like simple, plain food, but for some reason, my dish wasn't quite as wonderful as I'd hoped it would be. It seemed expensive, and the vegetables were unevenly seasoned. Some were really salty, and some, flavorless. The rice was completely plain without even a simple sauce.
Sushi Combo Dinner
My son's sushi was the best dish of the night, and if I were to give Cha-Ya another go, and I probably would, that's what I would order.
Cha-Ya Nabe (Vegan Sukiyaki)
So ends our first day in San Francisco. I didn't tell you about all the walking we did as we explored Jordan and Alison's neighborhood, but I can tell you that after a day of traveling, walking and eating, we slept well.
I've been nominated for the Top 25 vegan bloggers in the Mom's circle of friends. I don't exactly fit the profile of a young mom raising kids, but hey, I AM a mom and I raised three vegan boys. Now all I need are votes, and I'd be honored to have yours. Please take a minute and vote for me. Thanks! :D