A Very Monday Day

October 6, 2014

A very Monday day. We have no plans. The friend we were going to meet is not feeling well, so we are on our own. We decided to go to Embarcadero and start looking at the Port of San Francisco. Start with the Ferry Building, built in the late 1890’s and a survivor of both the 1906 and the 1989 earthquakes. It looks so-o-o-o different down here. The last time I visited this part of town was before the Loma Prieta quake and the 2-story Embarcadero Freeway still stood and cut the harbor off from the rest of the city. The freeway is gone and now a wide open space with street-level traffic greets a person rising out of the Muni station.

Inside the building is an array of high end food markets and eateries. Local, organic, sustainable foods, cosmetics, clothing and a great independent bookstore called “Book Passage.” We bought local cheeses, olives and breads for a picnic on Tuesday, and then discovered Hog Island Oysters. The restaurant was just set to open, had lovely outside seating and a long line. We found ourselves seated outdoors at a communal table with a view of the Bay Bridge, Treasure Island and the boat traffic on the harbor. Intimate view of the ferries coming and going 100 yards away.

While we waited for our oysters, I noticed a fire boat parading its way towards the bridge, great fountains of water spraying from its nozzles. THAT is cool. Let’s take some pictures. But then the real picture came into view: an aircraft carrier with a lot of its crew on deck being escorted by the fireboat (and another fireboat) into dock for fleet week which begins in a few days. I looked up the carrier: the Bonhomme Richard, named after John Paul Jones’ ship, which was named after Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard. Amazing huge ship flowing under the Bay Bridge.

Hog Island Oysters is an oyster, mussel and clam farming operation in Marin County. They are big time engaged in sustainable ocean farming and growing delicious bi-valves as part of that. You can visit their operation in Tomales Bay with a reservation and read all about them on line at www.hogislandoysters.com . We ordered their Pacific oysters. These critters have a deep shell, so each oyster comes in its own little bowl, filled with oyster juice and our added lemon and vinaigrette. A wonderful taste of the ocean. The man sitting next to us contemplated each of his oysters with a bemused reverence. (The couple had just come from a weekend at Esalen.) Sublime eating to be sure.

After food, we walked along the piers and wharves and decided a plan of action. We would take a ferry to Sausalito – we like ferries – and then walk back across the Golden Gate Bridge, catching a bus back home at the toll gate on the south side of the bridge.

Lovely ferry ride. Nice breeze, exquisite views of San Francisco, Alcatraz, Treasure Island, the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands and many of the islands in the north bay. We also had a surprising view of the cantilever span of the Bay Bridge which is being replaced by a suspension span. What a bizarre view of the single suspension tower in front of the broken cantilever span. I didn’t bring a camera so no picture of that.

On arrival in Sausalito, we waffled around trying to figure out what to do. The Golden Gate had been swathed in fog for part of our crossing and I was worried about being too cold up there in the air. So we waffled for longer than we should have, failed to take a bus part of the way, as we should have, and finally took off on the 5-plus mile walk to the toll gate. It is a wonderful, mildly challenging walk up from sea-level in Sausalito to the bridge approach almost at the top of the headlands. There are great views of the bridge around every turn. There is an overlook of the bay in all directions just before the path begins across the span. Today, walkers are directed to the east side of the bridge and cyclists to the west, so we have no worries of being run over by a bicycle.

The walk is stunning, windy, cold, bright, and incredibly noisy. The car noise is probably 100 db. My ears were ringing for some time after we finished the journey. But I feel like accomplished something really significant and important in my life. I felt so alive when I reached the end of the path and the bus (and the toilet).

We had dinner at a BBQ place on Divisadero Street that we’ve seen every day as we have gone back and forth on the bus. It was worth the cab ride towards downtown for some of the best brisket and pulled chicken ever. The chicken was amazingly flavorful and so pristinely cooked that it melted in the mouth like butter or soft cheese. The brisket was black and pink and juicy and smoky and yummy. Fritz had ribs that were the same juicy black and pink of the brisket. The place had truly excellent sides, even better than Dinosaur’s. We each had posole, spicy and lovingly dressed with fresh cabbage, radishes and lime. My mayonnaisey cole slaw had lots of nice carrots and celery seeds. Delicious. Our last day in SF turned out to be a culinary masterpiece all around.

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