June 23, 2013

San Francisco weekend, day three — Muir Woods, Marin farmers market, Sausalito, Gracias Madre


We awoke early on Sunday morning because we had a goal to get to the Muir Woods parking lot before it filled up. Although we arrived before the typical fill-up hour, the lot was packed, and we had to seek parking a short hike away. Lucky for us we found what looked like the last space in an small lot down the hilly road.

Spending Father's Day morning at Muir Woods.

Muir Woods, in case you don't know, is an ancient redwood forest in which many of the trees are more than 600 years old — the oldest trees exceed 1000 years of age. Most ancient coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) have been cut, but the redwoods in Muir Woods are protected, and have never been logged.

The trees are BIG.

Coast redwoods are nature's tallest living things, the tallest ones in Muir Woods reaching heights of more than 250 feet and diameters of 14 feet. Redwoods are fascinating trees with the ability to withstand fire and the capability of reproducing from both burls or seeds. We saw a new tree sprouting from a decomposing log.

The trails in Muir Woods are paved, easy to navigate, and crowded, but if you follow them onto the unpaved hiking trails of Mt. Tamalpais State Park, the crowds melt away and you can continue on longer hikes.


I was still favoring an injured toe which made my hiking boots uncomfortable to wear, so we stuck to the lower, somewhat level park trails, but there are elevated more challenging trails in the park that I would have liked to hike. We hiked for several miles through the gorgeous forest before heading to our next destination — the Marin farmers market.

Photo from tofu yu

Our purpose at the market was to find something to eat for lunch before going to Sausalito. We perused the market offerings, munching samples and marveling at all the vegan and gluten-free options. We found a Mariposa bakery stand again, and purchased another baguette, and then we came to the Tofu Yu stand. Whoa. They were selling all manner of magical tofu and yuba dishes made with their own tofu. After a couple of samples, I grabbed a package of unbelievably tasty spicy veggie wraps made with yuba — a little salty but so good. I love yuba. I tried to share equally but it was really hard, and I ate three wraps.

Photo from tofu yu

My husband also picked up a package of quinoa sushi which he liked but I didn't — too much seaweed. I love nori and I used to enjoy most sea vegetables, but ever since my dinner at Prasad in Portland, I've been put off by all sea veggies except nori.

In addition to the lunch, we bought a bag of toasted lentil snacks to bring home to Miss E, and some dates for us. I love the Marin farmers market — actually I love every farmers market I've been to in California. There is a mesmerizing variety of fresh fruits and vegetables unlike any I've seen in other places.


We all wanted to see the city of Sausalito, but the big motivation for visiting was the Heath Pottery outlet store. Jordan and Alison are interested in acquiring some dishes, and wanted to see if they could find better prices at the outlet. There were some beautiful pieces there but very expensive, which tends to be the case with premium, lead-free dishes made in the U.S. No purchases were made ... yet.


We wandered around downtown Sausalito enjoying the fabulous weather and gorgeous scenery, and wondered what it would be like to live in a place so filled with tourists.


I don't know. What do you think? Do you live in a tourist-filled vacation destination in a gorgeous seaside town?

We had been planning a walk on a beach but it was getting late and Jordan and Alison still needed to get their laundry done before dinner, so we headed back to San Francisco, where the weather was a lot cooler and the wind more brisk — a rude reminder that not every place in Northern California enjoys the same amount of sunny warmth.


Back at the Airbnb, I had to photograph the pocket garden just down the street from our building. There was so much charm tucked into a small space that it made me smile every time I passed by.


Our last meal together in San Francisco was at one of my favorite places — Gracias Madre. Initially, my son had vetoed Gracias Madre, but by Sunday night he'd changed his mind and agreed we should go. I'm so glad we did. I ordered tacos filled with a choice of seasonal vegetables, and my choices were roasted poblano chilies and leeks, sautéed kale with garlic and toasted cumin, and sautéed snap peas with garlic and chili flakes. The tacos were topped with cashew cheese and served with black beans — excellent. I was sure I'd be taking some home for breakfast, but nope, I ate the whole thing, and enjoyed every delicious bite. (My husband snapped the photo with his phone because I was too lazy to bring my camera along.) Because I didn't photograph the food — it's so dark in the restaurant — I can't remember what else was on the table except for a bowl of posole. I do remember that everyone at the table was very happy with their selections.


Here's Ken in our lovely Airbnb kitchen filling the kettle for a cup of tea before we left for the airport Monday morning. I don't think I'd want to actually live in the apartment, but it made a great vacation rental — more charm and space than a hotel room at much less cost.


One last food-related item I want to point out is the box of curry tofu nuggets we purchased at the market. I thought we got it in Marin but my son insists it came from the Ferry Building market, and he's probably right. Inside the box was a vacuum-sealed bag of smallish tofu nuggets as pictured on the box front. We carried it home in Ken's backpack along with the sauerkraut, and no one stopped us when we went through security. (I got patted down because of the nifty hidden zippered pocket in my shirt seam but no one seemed to care that we were packing large quantities of tofu and kraut.) We ate the nuggets for lunch when we arrived home on Monday, and they were spectacular. The texture was springy and chewy, kind of like I remember cheese curds, and the flavor was delicious. I wonder how they do it.

Previous posts about San Francisco:  
A weekend in San Francisco - days one and two-2013
San Francisco: day 1 highlights
-2012

San Francisco highlights: day 2 | Burma Superstar | Gracias Madre -2012

26 comments:

  1. What a fun trip! It looks like you had a great time! Gracias Madre is at the top of my list for places I most want to visit the next time we're in San Francisco. It wasn't around the last time we were in SF, and since then it's gotten non-stop praise from everyone I know who has tried it. Why didn't your son want to go there initially?

    I've only tried yuba once, but I loved it. Here I've seen it packaged dried in sheets, but I'd love to have it again already prepared for me.

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    1. My son said the food was too heavy, but I think he changed his mind after this visit. I think foods that are heavy with nuts and coconut can be hard to digest sometimes, especially if they are served (and consumed) in the same quantities as their counterparts. I focus on ordering foods that are mainly vegetables, with just light touches of cashew cream, etc.

      I used to buy dried yuba rolled into tubes to use in soups and stews. We recently found it frozen in a form similar to chewy dumplings — not quite dumplings but hard to describe. I love the chewy texture and the way it hold flavor.

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  2. I indeed live in a gorgeous seaside town frequented by tourists. Lots, and lots of tourists. It's pretty annoying at times. We have mostly one-way streets and tourists are always driving the wrong way. Our main drag is always full with them, too. But they bring lots of money and that helps our little town, so it's hard to be too mad. But yes, it can be quite annoying.

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    1. I imagine it's similar to living in a college town, always filled with zillions of students and traffic. As soon as the year ended, all the students would leave and we would have a blissfully calm city again until the next term. Only without the vacation-like atmosphere of a gorgeous seaside town!

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  3. I've seen the Tofu Yu booth at the farmer's market but haven't tried anything there yet. I'll have to give them a 2nd look, that yuba roll looks good.

    I'm not familiar with Heath Pottery, but what about Fiesta Dinnerware? It's made in the US, lead-free, comes in lots of beautiful colors and is a design classic.

    I've tried the 5-spice tofu nuggets but haven't tried the curry one. I believe it's a tofu puff - where the tofu cubes are fried and then cooked in whatever sauce/spices.

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    1. If you like chewy-salty-delicious you should take a look. They give out samples of everything so you can try before you buy. We did!

      The nugget box says the tofu is fried then braised so I guess you're right about that. I'm glad I can't get it here because it's kind of addictive.

      Our Airbnb was filled with Fiestaware, and the current version made by Homer Laughlin has been lead-free since 1986, but J & A think it's a bit too heavy.

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  4. Awesome photos and blog! Mind if I link you on my site and visit often?

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer. I hope you'll come back often. You can link to me if you'd like.

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  5. I am always so jealous of California farmers markets! Avocados and citrus??
    The bowls are gorgeous. I would have had a hard time resisting.
    The muir woods look beautiful too. Were the trails crowded? I love hiking and nature walks and stuff, but they're kind of hard for me to get to without a car. I remember a trail my family and I did in Alaska - it was one of the most wonderful.

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    1. Not just avocados and citrus, but numerous varieties of everything that we have one of. I saw avocados that I've never seen before.

      You'd have a less hard time resisting the bowls if you saw the price.

      The initial paved trail was crowded, but once we got onto the regular trails in the park, the people pretty much vanished. We did see one unfortunate woman trying to hike in high heels, but not too many other people.

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  6. I went to Gracias Madre once, and still drool thinking about it now - so good. Almost worth a plane ticket on its own to get back there!

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  7. Jealous! Oh I love San Francisco. AND Gracias Madre. Happy Food. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. San Francisco is really fun to visit, and Gracias Madre is a wonderful place to dine. :)

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  8. Oh wow--your dinner tacos look and sound mouth-watering! Yum. And the farmers markets? They sound amazing! I love my farmers market here and go every weekend, but it sounds like the CA ones would put it to shame!

    Courtney

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    1. I have to say the taco fillings were more creative and delicious than the ones I usually come up with — I highly recommend the snap peas!

      The farmers markets are just crazy. It seems like everything is in season all the time, and it's all local! I was really in love with the apricots.

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  9. Drat! Your blog updates haven't been showing up on my Dashboard! I don't know why that happens sometimes, but it's annoying. I had no idea I'd fallen so far behind on your blog, and have no time this week to catch up beyond this post. Sadness. :-(

    Muir Woods and Sausalito, what a great place to enjoy Father's Day! Love the Father/Son portrait - Ken looks like a proud and happy papa! Aren't those giant Redwoods astounding? As are those wraps - I don't blame you for having a hard time sharing! Sweet photo of Alison, and the Marin Farmer's Market sounded fun. Pity that pottery outlet was still too expensive. I love that little fenced garden, and those tacos!! Man they look good. I'm glad Jordan reversed his veto too!

    I lived in a seaside/tourist destination town when I lived in Kennebunk, Maine (though it was neighboring Kennebunkport that was the real draw). I was a teenager, so I didn't mind, but boy would the little towns and beaches get clogged with people! I kind of enjoyed the infusion of folks from all over, though. I'd get asked for directions so often when I'd be riding my horse (I went for loooong rides, sometimes to the beach) that I started carrying local maps in my saddle bags to hand out! One summer day three of my friends and I bought ourselves some tshirts that said, "I live here. I am not a tourist. I don't answer questions!" which we all wore on the beach and in Kennebunkport, and of course all they did was attract lots of (mostly sarcastic) questions. :-) I always found it amusing that the business people there whose life blood was tourism were always the ones who could be most loudly heard to repeatedly say they couldn't wait for Labor Day! I wonder if that was just a Maine attitude - but I kinda doubt it.

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    1. I've missed you! Your comments are always more interesting than my posts.

      Living in a resort has it's good and bad points, I guess, but being surrounded by beauty might offset some of the negatives. Is it true that Mainers don't like outsiders much? That's what I've heard, anyway. When we were in London I needed the opposite of your shirt. Because I was walking with one child and pushing a stroller, all the tourists thought I lived there and would stop me to ask directions. I needed a shirt that said, "Tourist. I don't know where I am."

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    2. Ah thanks! And thank you for the nice compliment... but balderdash and horsefeathers, woman! :-) I just try to make my comments worthy of your fine posts.

      Yes, I'd say that's true of "Mainiacs," and even some of the other New England states, especially the old timers. You're either from there (meaning you were born and raised there and so were generations of your family) or you're "from away." One of my UNH profs told the story of a colleague of his from NJ who was pregnant, and was telling her elderly NH native that although she would never be considered a native New Hampshirite, at least her baby would by virtue of being born there. To which her neighbor crustily replied, "Just cos a cat has her kittens in the oven don't make 'em biscuits." LOL

      I must say, though, that I found Kennebunk very friendly and welcoming. We moved there back when it was a pretty insular community, I was about to start my sophomore year of HS, and we'd bought our home from a family with a very popular daughter my age (who moved to NC). I thought I would be resented and have a hard time making friends, but it was the most welcoming place I'd ever lived. And a wonderful place to be a teenager! I loved it.

      LOL about the tshirt you needed in London! Maybe your fellow tourists thought you were Mary Poppins! :-)

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  10. Sounds like you had a very nice visit with your son and Alison. The trees looked gorgeous and the food tasty!

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    1. San Francisco is a lot of fun to visit, especially when visiting high energy people who love to get up and go.

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  11. I've only visited San Fran once and, although I have extremely fond memories of Maggie Mudd, I think I otherwise did myself a severe disservice. If I ever find myself there again, I shall use your posts as my travel guide!

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    1. It's hard to see everything in a city during one visit. We were lucky to have family members with a car, as tour guides, and we didn't stay just in San Francisco. On our first visit we explored the city.

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  12. Muir Woods sounds like such an amazing place! I wish I could visit it one day.

    I live in a place filled with tourists. It's funny when you walk through the city and a tourist guide ask you if you want to hop on a tourist bus. Or maybe they wanted to hire us as guides...

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    1. I would love to visit your city some day, Mihl — and maybe I will jump on the tourist bus!

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  13. I'm extremely jealous that you got to go to Muir Woods! We'd love to go there some day (and definitely plan on it). So beautiful.

    You really had some great food finds. The tacos sound especially good.

    I lived in a pretty touristy place for about half of my childhood (Elkhart Lake) and really liked it. I was always meeting new people during the tourist months when I was a teenager & had a lot of fun with them.

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