The Porch is where we ended up for a post-CIM brunch. DD and I were able to leave our car at the Hyatt since we had already paid the $17 day-fee - our day lasted until 4pm. Carlos had kindly researched places on Yelp when I mentioned that I was in the mood for Fried Chicken after my marathon.
So we walked a couple of blocks. I felt fine, the legs a little achy, my body a little sore. Finally we saw the rectangular, low-slung building, gleaming white in the sun, with a true-to-its name porch for al fresco dining.
Yes, that photo above is a Punchbowl, full of Bloody Mary goodness, served ever-so-quaintly in little glass cups, so you can sip your drink genteely as you ponder whether to order the shrimp-and-grits or chicken and waffles. Tart and a bit spicy, the Bloody Marys hit the spot. I think the mix was, on the whole, a tad lighter on the alcohol, which was just fine by me.
Running through the park and down along the Great Highway brings us to the end of the N Judah line by design. We're usually too lazy to run back uphill through Golden Gate Park and would rather take MUNI back home. What's great about this area is that in the recent few years a number of quaint little cafes and restaurants have sprung up - Outerlands most distinctively, Trouble Coffee, and, from the owners of the venerable Java Beach Cafe - Beachside Coffe Bar & Kitchen.
My long run one beautiful January Sunday was for 13 miles. Usual course through the park, down Great Highway, but this time with the addition of a loop around Lake Merced and back up the Highway. I remember not feeling good that day. It might have been psychological. I managed to run part of a DSE 10k course and kept getting passed up by too many folks bent on their speedy 10k pace... DD was also not with me, having run his first really intense trail - Steep Ravine - with Owen on Saturday. Though miles 5-7 is when I usually hit my stride and begin to feel comfortable, I was tired and felt sluggish. At around mile 9 (I was looping Lake Merced by then), I needed to stop completely. I took a GU and drank some water and pretty soon got going again. Eventually I made it to 13.01m and headed home on MUNI.
San Francisco's proximity to the Napa Valley is another one of the zillion reasons as to why we love living in the SF Bay Area. However, DD did not choose his first marathon to run exclusively because it was in Napa. He chose it based on a friend's recommendation that it was a fast, downhill course, excellent for beginner marathoners - and it fell pretty much on a date ideal for his goal of completing a marathon before he turned the big 3-0.
Part of the training plan involved running part of the course before the Big Day (March 4th), so DD chose the weekend of his 18-miler, which also conveniently fell on the MLK Day holiday, to head up. For those of you curious about a marathon (or half) training plan, DD and I generally run at least 2 short runs during the work week (3-5 miles each), and make sure to never skip a long run on the weekends. Long runs start at 3 miles and increase by a mile or so a week. If you are marathoning, once you get up into the teens, you can drop down every other week until you reach 20 miles. After DD reaches his 20 miles, he starts a gradual 3-week taper period where weekly mileage gradually decreases to leave him in strong, tip-top shape for the main event.
Osaka has a central wholesale fish market much like Tsukiji in Tokyo, with its own 4:15am Tuna auction. Had we known that Tsukiji would be so restricted (we should have known and watched for this after the earthquake), we would have made more of an effort to make it to Osaka's version, which seems more welcoming to tourists.
But the real reason we journeyed to the Central Fish Market was in order to visit a tiny sushi-ya that's been around for over a hundred years (est. in 1907) we had read about from Chubby Hubby, and really, how could one go wrong having sushi for breakfast right on the grounds of a fish market?
One of my favourite restaurants in town, I’ve been going to Blue Plate since it opened in 1999 and began serving its wonderful, hearty neo-American fare with plays on old classics like Meatloaf and Fried Chicken. Today, it can still pack in a crowd, so that last-minute reservations on a Friday night yielded only a 9:15 opening, but we were able to get seated around 9 or so by arriving around 8:45 and waiting for a couple of the counter seats.
flour+water had been popular right out of the gate, spurred by a buzz going even before it opened - with Chef Thomas McNaughton boasting a resume listing La Folie, Quince and Gary Danko; a number of stages at Michelin-starred establishments in Europe, including an artisinal pasta apprenticeship: "...basically Tom and a bunch of old ladies with rolling pins..." according to David White, one of the partners at f+w.
DD and I have been jonesing to go back to flour+water but trying to get a decent online reservation in advance lately has been quite difficult. On 98% of my attempts, I've usually encountered nothing earlier before 10pm. Once in a while, if I looked out far enough, I’d spot a listing for 9:15 or 9:30pm. For a Tuesday or Wednesday. Sheesh! They opened in May of 2009, and 2 months thereafter garnered 3 stars from The Chronicle’s Michael Bauer. Accolades followed from the other local food press, and soon there was even a blurb in the New York Times. The restaurant purportedly holds back 1/2 of their seats for walk-ins, but we've been hesitant to try this tactic, not being from the immediate neighbourhood.
Saison’s website proclaims that there is no dress code, and urges folks to “come as you are.” While the food is elevated, there’s a nice dichotomy between the white-tablecloth cuisine and the service and warmth of the staff. We had finally made it - after a couple of years and one pop-up when Chef Skenes was away.
How to describe Saison with words of praise that have already been said in a style far better than mine? DD and I had a wonderful meal here, full of beautiful and delicious moments. Sometimes, it might be better to just let the food speak for itself.
Along with a plethora Japanese restaurants, we also have a good number of Indian/ Pakistani eateries in my neighborhood. Curry Village’s arrival last year was the latest entry to the Inner Sunset, with stalwarts Naan ‘n Curry and Masala Indian Cuisine holding down in their location for many years. Masala Dosa replaced the Pakistani Tasty Curry on 9th that we never managed to visit; we had tried Curry Village once and found their dishes too sweet; Naan n’ Curry fell out of our favour in recent years.
But Masala Dosa seems like a great addition to our neighborhood, and our lunch there indicated that we’d be returning to it as our Indian place of choice in the future.
Sushi Kazu has got to be one of the more underrated sushi-yas in the tightly packed and well-curated commercial area that is the best part of my neighborhood in the Inner Sunset. Restaurants and shoppes are thickest between 6th and 10th on Irving, and in that radius there are no less than five sushi restaurants, and further down on Irving and 15th, there are exactly three Japanese restaurants (not necessarily sushi, though) located within one block.
My cousin's wedding was a whirlwind. We didn't have much time to visit - only about 3 days all told, and it was a veritable nonstop stream of family activities and Chinese Banquets from the time we arrived on a Friday afternoon. On Sunday morning we were able to sneak away to Vancouver, short SkyTrain ride away from the Richmond Landsdowne station. A neighbour of ours had recommended Twisted Fork, describing it as a "feast of a brunch," and other online reviews indicated that we might have a nice, tasty time. We exited the Yaletown station, and walked a couple of short blocks to Granville. We anticipated a wait, having reached the restaurant around 11:30 or so.