Postcards from San Francisco

This is possibly my fifth or sixth visit to San Francisco, I have stopped counting. I never grow tired of visiting this fast-paced city. Some of my best friends live here and no matter how many times I visit, there is always something to do and the energy and vibe of the city is infectious. Last time, I visited the city with my mom and we spent an afternoon with two alpacas at the Golden Gate Park. This time we discovered a nudist beach with a great view of the golden gate {We didn’t see any naked people, it’s too cold to shed layers let alone everything in SF}, dispensaries that sell marijuana legally {sort of like an Apple store for weed lol. Weed is legal to sell in SF today and it’s hard to imagine that people were locked away for decades for selling this herb a few years ago}, and delicious Burmese fermented tea salad amongst other things. There is always something new, weird, and happening here. SF feels like a smaller and newer NYC and it’s proximity to the Silicon Valley and its status as a tech hub is super exciting, to say the least, especially since I’m in software too. Going to a coffee shop means you never know who might sit next to you. I always catch tidbits of people’s conversations and their plans for future and it’s intriguing. {eavesdropper alert :P}

I always dream of what’d be like to live here. The city is built on seven hills, there are many wonderful and diverse neighborhoods scattered around to explore; the restaurant/coffee/bar scene is popping, there are plenty of tech companies and startups on the verge of the changing the world as we know it today, there is an ocean around the corner {I grew up next to a beach and I miss seeing the ocean on a daily basis. No need to remind me that despite that I can’t swim, the water is cold that’s not really an option :P} and there are green parks and oasis in the middle of the urban jungle to enjoy some peace and calm, should I need it, the undulating city landscape means that a walk could double up as a great workout and rest of the Californian/Mexican/West coast is a hop, skip and drive away. So much to explore and so much to do. Like I said before, some of my favorite people live here and I even have some family around so if my parents visit, they can catch up with them too. The only deal breaker is the weather; it’s perpetually windy and cool in SF. I have four “I heart SF” hoodies of different pastel colors for each time that I visited and underestimated how cold it would be. I think I’d rather take four seasons with a hot summer and a cold winter for a few months than a cool climate around the year. I mean it’s not like someone’s waiting with a “welcome here” platter, a six-figure job, and a million dollar house and begging me to move to the Bay but a girl can muse, right? 😀

We go way back

Sukanya and Chinnappa moved to SF from the Bay area to live the high-roller city life for a year and this was the last weekend in the city. They have been ushering us to visit and we decided to make a dash before they moved to the burbs. 😛 Make no mistake, the city life is not for everyone. It costs a pretty penny to live here, you gotta learn how to hustle and you spend a kidney’s worth ever time you step out of the house, so it’s been an interesting year for them. Regardless of whether I move there or not, here are a few photos of the super fun long weekend with them and Vivek and Lakshmi. Vivek, Chinnapa, Sukanya, Gree and I went to GT together and Lakshmi is Vivek’s dancing-diva wife who grew up in the Bay area. It’s always a blast when we get together. I haven’t laughed like this in a long time, my sides still hurt and I’m already plotting a reunion. *glee*.

Chinatown

The Chinatown in SF is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia as well as the oldest Chinatown in North America. It feels is like stepping into a time machine and entering a different world. The typical buildings of SF give away to the pagodas and temple architecture, the grocery stores are teeming with Chinese vegetables and other specialties, signposts and street names are in English and Mandarin; you can hear various dialects as you walk. I love walking the streets. We bought some Chinese eggplants seeds to give our friends lol.

City Lights Booksellers & Publishers

I make sure to visit a library or a bookstore everytime I’m in a new city. City Lights dates back to the 1950s and is oozing with charm. Brick and mortar bookstores are sadly diminishing and I make it a point to buy a book to support their existence. I hope to come back someday, ensconce myself in a corner and finish a book, cover to cover and discover more about the history of this store.

Baker’s Beach

We went to Baker’s beach shortly before sunset and I must say the setting of this beach is simply stunning. The beach is flanked by the Golden Gate Bridge on its right and craggy cliffs on its left. The sky was engulfed in swirls of blue and pink as the sun set and a few puppies sauntered up to us for cuddles.

Palace of the fine arts

Vivek suggested that we visit this place in the night after Baker’s bridge and I wasn’t too excited tbh. We had been walking all day and I was a little groggy given the time difference between SF and ATL. But walking into this palace took my breath away. This structure was built in 1915 during the Panama-Pacific exposition to display some work of arts and while we didn’t get time to see any of the art, the architecture itself was marvelous and regal. The palace was lit up, there were a few people scattered about and there was a street artist performing classical music. So serene and peaceful.

Sinfully good chocolate souffle cake at Tartine

I had a near-religious chocolate experience at Tartine. The chocolate-souffle cake is dense, rich and exquisite. It elevates you to a different plane with each bite. My only regret was that I didn’t eat a whole cake.

Working remote from Reveille Cafe

Monday morning, Gree and I woke up early and headed to Reveille Cafe near the Embarcardero to get our caffeine fix and work. The beautiful cafe with its tall ceilings and a tiled counter was dappled in sunlight and adorned with the perfect smattering of plants. We ordered cappuccinos, shakshuka, and an acai bowl. The coffee was excellent and sadly the shakshouka was just alright, tbh I can make a better one. Shakshouka is relatively simple to make and it’s one of my favorite weekend brunch recipes. Nonetheless, it was a productive morning and I highly recommend this place if you want to get good coffee or work remote in SF for a few hours.

Pinsas at Montesacro (a slice of Roma in SF)

I had never heard of pinsas until I went to Montesacro. Turns out Pinsas date back to the Roman empire and are the predecessors of pizza; their crust is thin, crisp and airy and the dough is made from a blend of rice, soy, and wheat flour. It is also claimed to be low-fat, low-calorie and easy to digest. I don’t know if that holds true when you wolf an entire oblong pinsa, a glass (or two) of red wine and follow it up with a cup of espresso, but I like to believe that. 😛

We ordered two Margherita pinsas, and they arrived with perfectly charred sour crusts, juicy tomato sauce topped with clouds of creamy mozzarella, a smattering of basil leaves and spicy Calabrian peppers. Perfection in every bite.

Distressed walls, mismatched metal chairs, vintage photos of Roma, old school weighing scales, the restaurant has a rustic and charming vibe. 10/10 would go back for the food, décor and the vibes.

Walking the SF golden gate bridge

It takes about an hour to walk the SF gate but honestly, it was a bad idea. When we walked, it was extremely windy and the gate was reverberating with the ongoing traffic and by the time we were done, Gree and I had a terrible headache when we reached the finish line. lol. If you plan to walk or bike the gate, go when it’s less windy or not windy at all, if that’s possible. 😛 Nonetheless, the views were phenomenal.

Dreamy flaky Kouign Amann at B Patisserie

A good Kouign Amann can cure any problem. This obscure pastry is the French croissant’s distant cousin from the region of Brittany. Flakier and denser in form, it is caramelized with a little sugar to add the perfect crunch. Oh so good. I have never had one before, but to me it seems like th pastry chefs at B Patisserie nailed it lol. Please go if you are in SF!

These are few of my favorite SF things. Have you been to SF? Would you want to live there?

 

 


Also published on Medium.