Hello from San Francisco

I have had a great day despite being on my own in San Francisco! I’m here for a conference that begins tomorrow and although I am eagerly looking forward to meeting up with my dear San Francisco-resident friend, she had to be out of town today.

My flight was at some unfathomably early hour, so I arrived four hours too early to check into my hotel. No problem, I cheerfully dropped off my bags and hoofed it on down to JAPANTOWN! Man, I love Japantown! I bought a tsukemono recipe book (for way less than Amazon is offering it), a pickle press (that doesn’t look like that one because I finally found a more 2-person sized one at Soko Hardware; the reason I never bought one before was all the others I have found have been so huge), a bento box, a beautifully painted ceramic citrus reamer, a doo-hickey for brushing my cast iron pan with a thin film of oil (in lieu of the pastry brush I currently use, which never gets really clean and therefore makes a mess), and a beautiful scarf (the one non-food item I purchased all day). Have I mentioned my love of Japantown? Then I had a vegan soon tofu at a Korean tofu house that was really yummy. Soon tofu recipe coming to an ieatfood post near you soon! I generally don’t mind eating alone if I have a book with me, so I quite enjoyed my solo lunch. I wish I had brought my camera just to show you my delicious meal, but alas, lugging it around with all its accoutrements is kind of a pain and I knew I was going to be buying a lot of stuff, AND it was drizzling when I left the hotel, so the camera stayed behind.

After checking in at the hotel, waiting 45 minutes for a huge herd of French people to use the elevator ahead of me (they were there first) 4 at a time (the maximum capacity of said elevator) (I took the opportunity, while waiting, to practice my very rusty French (most of what I remember from my many French classes seems to involves biblioth√®ques and Barbu, so I imagine these people were wondering what’s wrong with the crazy American who wants to play cards in the library)), and then walking down to the civic center to check in at my conference, and THEN hitting up the thrift store near my hotel, I started to think about dinner. It was at this point in time that I realized my hotel is less than a block from Millennium! This would have been much more exciting if Mark were here, though. Although I don’t mind dining by myself in most circumstances, I think Millennium is a little too fancy for solo eating. It’s more the prices than shame at being alone. But then I learned that Golden Era was just a block away as well! DO I LOVE THIS CITY OR WHAT?!?

I phoned in an order of Spicy Gourmet “Chicken” for take-out, trotted on over there, picked it up, stopped next door for a big ol’ bottle of beer, and headed back to my room (congratulating myself on thinking to pack a bottle opener; I’m a genius). (The jolly man at the liquor store, seeing my take-out container and noting my beer purchase asked me if I were heading back to my apartment for a relaxing evening. I just smiled and said, “I sure am!” I love that I’m always taken for a local in this city. I tell you, the love I have for this city is completely reciprocal!)

I photographed the “chicken” for you! I really did! And then I realized that although I managed to bring a bottle opener, I completely forgot to bring a USB cord, so I can’t upload my photos! (Shows my priorities, I suppose.) I think I’ll pick one up tomorrow, though, so I’ll edit this entry and include a picture of it. It was pretty tasty, although slightly more authentic-tasting than I’m used to. Mark and I would LOVE to live near a place like this though. (Well, we sort of do, actually.)

Here’s the photo!

At first I was disappointed that my friend won’t be in the city tonight because it’s Saturday and it seems like I should be out doing something. But honestly, between getting 3 hours of sleep before my flight and just an hour or so on the plane, then walking further and up more hills than Mark probably did on his weekly hike through the woods back at home, all day long, I have to say that kicking back in my hotel room with some yummy vegan food, a nice, refreshing beer, and watching some Frontier House on DVD (because I’ve been on a big kick of re-reading all the Little House on the Prairie books lately and thought it would be a good tie-in) is actually a great way to spend my evening. AND I’ll be all perky for the conference tomorrow!

And now I have to confess something non-food oriented (those of you that tune in for food and/or cats only can sign off now). I’m still reading Infinite Jest (I mentioned in an earlier post how shocked I was that David Foster Wallace happened to commit suicide while I was in the middle of it), but it’s far too large for me to try to transport across the country and then carry around in my purse while walking many miles all day, so I had to choose a different book to travel with. I chose The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Berry because it’s the favorite to win the Man Booker Prize this year and I often (but not always) like Booker winners. So I was going to casually mention to you here that I was reading it (because you can see it in some of the pictures I took of my dinner), but when I did a quick google search to get a link for it, I accidentally found myself at the author’s website (WARNING! DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK IF YOU WANT TO TAKE ANY OF HIS BOOKS SERIOUSLY.) Apparently he believes himself to be male model or something. I don’t know; the multiple automatically-refreshing glamor shots really turned me off. Which reminds me quite strongly of the time Fortinbras forced The Corrections on me, but sternly instructed me, “do NOT under any circumstances look at the photo of Jonathon Franzen on the back cover, in fact, I PLEAD of you to cover it up with electrical tape so I never have to see it again”. (Oh, do both Fort and I labor under the strange and perverted impression that to be good an author must look like this?) I’m just going to concentrate on the fact that one week from today, I will be face-to-face (for a few seconds as I awkwardly shove this book at him to sign) with this man.

Update: Ugh. Just so you know, I happened to pause Frontier House to write this post just seconds before they murdered a chicken. I realize times were very different back then and I’m actually glad the participants are being forced to see where their sanitized chicken nuggets really come from (except factory farms are even worse than what they are experiencing), but the historian who has been teaching them how they will have to live was holding one of the chickens in her arms, saying, “in just a few moments we are going to kill these chickens…”, and it just broke my heart because the poor chicken was sitting so calmly, so friendly, so trustingly, in her arms, just as my cats sit in my arms, and then they just lopped its head off.

Well, apparently I’m not cut out for life on the frontier, that’s for sure.


  1. Mihl Said,

    September 21, 2008 @ 9:40 am

    Sounds like a great day, I hope the conference will be fun too!

    It is so sad what happened to DFW.

  2. Mark Said,

    September 21, 2008 @ 7:33 pm

    Now I see why our account balance was low. (Don’t worry I put more in)

  3. TJF Said,

    September 23, 2008 @ 10:39 am

    Ack! You must let me know where I can get vegan Korean food in SF. I grew up near there, never knew it could be found…

  4. renae Said,

    September 24, 2008 @ 12:32 pm

    TJF, I went to Doobu in Japantown (On Buchanan St). When I ordered one of the vegetarian soon tofus, she promptly asked me if I eat fish so she knew whether or not to bring me fishy banchan, and there was no egg in my meal.

  5. Dianne R. Said,

    September 27, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

    what does one do with a pickle press?

  6. renae Said,

    September 28, 2008 @ 12:00 am

    I will have a post about the pickle press soon!

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