san francisco – day 3

another early morning arrived for brian and me.  he wanted to get a good start so that he could leave work at a more reasonable hour for some friday fun, so we whisked out into the already windy day and took the truck over to 24th and folsom for brian’s favorite cup of coffee at philz.  he said this spot was his daily hangout once upon a time, so if it’s good enough for him, it’ll work for me, too!

when we walked into philz, i was instantly reminded of the east side jittery joe’s back in athens.  it’s artsy and eclectic, and i loved every ounce of it.

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it’s quite the menu they’ve got here, so i trusted brian to do the ordering for us both.  he got us each a small philtered soul, a lighter medium blend of hazelnut and chocolate.  um, yes, that sounds amazing!  we took our cups to-go and had our first sips out on the sidewalk.  although a little on the sweeter side, the coffee was flavorful, a lovely treat to wake us up at just a quarter past the seven o’clock hour.

gah, he's just the coolest!

gah, he’s just the coolest!

we then headed east on 24th to find dynamo donut shop.  my friend mike had heard good things about it, so i felt it was my personal duty to see if the fun was warranted.  this little place is actually a walk-up counter serving up homemade donuts and coffee.

i was in the mood for something chocoately, so i gladly let the cashier recommend the chocolate rose.  brian went for a saltier selection with the maple glazed bacon apple.  she popped them into a to-go bag for us so that brian and i could enjoy them in a nearby park.  we plopped ourselves on top of the artful sea serpent because that seemed the most obvious thing to do.

we decided that sharing the donuts was the perfect thing to do.  brian bit into the chocolate rose first, and his face said it all:  he really didn’t care for it.  whoops!  i took a taste to see if i agreed but found i felt differently.  i actually quite liked its bittersweet flavor and cakey texture.  brian did come around to admit after a few more tries that it wasn’t so bad after all.

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even though i was a fan of the chocolate rose, i might say the maple glazed bacon apple that brian picked out was pretty awesome.  the glaze was just the right thickness to coat the donut but not take away from the subtle and sweet syrupy-apple flavor.  oh, and let’s be honest, no breakfast is complete without bacon, right?  ah, yes, how american of me!

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it was about that hour for brian to head out to work, so he dropped me off back at cafe st. jorge.  i just couldn’t stay away!  i snuggled into the booth with a sesame bagel and organic cream cheese and wrote the morning away.  all of philz coffee went straight to my head and got me uber focused.  i knocked out a whole day and a half of san fran fun in a short couple of hours.  booyah!

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considering i had completely worn myself out thursday, i was all kinds of ready for a nap.  a nap at 10 a.m.?  yes, don’t judge me, please!  i just needed a little shuteye so that i could take on the day.

around one o’clock i finally headed out to find one of america’s most iconic landmarks, the golden gate bridge.  okay, i knew where it was.  it was more a matter of figuring out how public transportation could get me there.  brian hadn’t exactly sung any praises about the subway and rail systems in the city, so you can bet i had google maps pulled up on my smartphone the entire trip.

after a speedy bart ride to the civic center station, i climbed the stairs to street level and found myself at the bustling intersection of charles j. brenham place and market.  i was instructed to take the 10 bus all the way to the bridge.  sounds easy enough, right?  well, i thought so, too, but there seemed to be about seven or eight different railcar and bus stops in the area.  seriously, i kid you not.  so, as a result, i aimlessly wandered from stop to stop, squinting through the sun at the signs to try and figure out where the heck i needed to be.  at last i found where i would be picked up, so i tried to blend in like a local.  i’m sure it wasn’t successful at all, but whatever.

a short 30-minute commute later, all we passengers clamored onto the sidewalk near the west end of the golden gate bridge.  i was grateful for solid ground and fresh air, but those feelings didn’t last long.  i started my walk along the bridge (i had come so far, how could i not step foot on it at this point?!), trying to dodge small children and cyclists while at the same time feebly attempting to keep my cool.  i wouldn’t say i have a fear of heights, but i certainly do get weak knees when i think about falling from a great height.  related yet different, and considering how windy it was that afternoon, i think my slight anxiety was warranted.  i held my phone with a white-knuckled death grip to snap some pictures and then kept a good pace as i returned to land.

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at this point, i was insanely ravenous.  i hadn’t eaten since about 9:30 a.m., and the bumpy bus ride to the bridge hadn’t worked wonders to calm my stomach.  i needed something substantial, and i wanted it fast.  where to, you ask?  well, i’d heard mention of the haight-ashbury neighborhood, and since yelp had directed me to a couple restaurants in that area, that is where i went.

i was madly craving pad thai, so i let myself into siam lotus.  the restaurant was closing in about an hour to switch over for the dinner shift, but i knew i wouldn’t be long.  that bowl of noodles was just the right amount of mild but with a little bite in the scallions.  i don’t think i set my chopsticks down once while devouring my meal.  yep, i’m hungry again just writing about it.

i was due back at the apartment soon to meet brian, so another adventurous trip through the city was up next.  it was the rush hour time of day, and though i very easily could have been a grinch around all the other passengers, i quite liked being mixed in with the locals.  it was also kind of cool taking the routes i did because i had a glimpse into daily life in many different neighborhoods.  it was an entertaining ride for sure.

i buzzed brian in around 4:30, and we caught up with each other over some modelo, leftover cheesecake, and tunes from his record player.  neither of us were really in the partying mood that night, so we planned to keep it a little more low-key.  how did we do that?  by having dinner at 6:30 p.m. at the front porch of course!

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brian had been here a couple times for brunch, and since he loved it, he was betting their dinner would be pretty good, too.  they were full inside, and we didn’t have a reservation, but the table for two on their porch would suit us fine.  plus, it’s hard to say “no” to a rocking chair, blanket, and space heater.

i’m all about starting a good meal with a good appetizer, so brian requested an order of the fried pickles with tabasco aioli.  the very thinly cut pickles were a little unexpected but welcomed.  i typically see fried pickles as spears, but the thin coins were a great idea with the deliciously light and buttery breading.  brian was very happy with his choice and loved those bites even more with a little of their mild hot sauce on top.  me?  i’d eat them any way, any day.  with the aioli, without the aioli.  very dr. seuss if you will.

i didn’t need anything too fancy to drink that night, so per the waitress’ suggestion, i had the lucky buddha lager.  i mean, doesn’t that just sound like a happy beer?  it sounded like such a good idea that brian requested one as well.  when they were served to us, i let out a little giggle.  look at these funny bottles!  it’s hard not to smile when taking a sip, and i’d almost comment that brian liked it a little too much.  all i’m going to say is that there was a lot of bottle p.d.a.  lots of rubbing and kissing of the belly and backside.  he did mention he once downed about 20 of these in a dungeon-esque chinatown basement bar, so perhaps that explains his affection…?  sure, we’ll go with that.

buddha beer!

“thirteen words are worth a thousand pictures.”

we had just finished up the pickles when our dinners were placed in front of us.  i already knew there would be no way i’d finish mine, but i knew i’d give it my best try.  the fried chicken entree was as much food as i expected it to be with the garlic mashed potatoes and gravy and ham hock collards.  i was already charmed by the chef’s abilities for the mere fact that my meal was served in a school lunch tray.  how precious!  it all tasted exactly how i wanted.  the fried breading was substantial without overpowering the juicy chicken.  the potatoes weren’t too garlicky, and i loved that the skins were in there.  at last, the greens were a welcome side seeing as how i hadn’t eaten real vegetables in a few days.  all in all, a great southern dish in a beautiful northwest city.

brian’s bowl looked rich and flavorful with its wild louisiana shrimp, garlic, shallots, and andouille sausage red eye gravy over grits.  although already practically full from our starters, brian worked through his meal like a champ.  i had a bite myself and remembered the sausage being a bit spicy but tasty.  i probably could not have eaten the whole bowl like brian, but hey, that’s why they have more than one item on the menu!

we dropped off our front porch leftovers at the apartment and headed back to dolo corner.  even though we were totally spent from the week, we wanted to stay awake until at least a respectable 10 p.m. if possible.  sam the bartender kept our pint glasses full as we took on giant jenga in the game area and battled it out in a best-of-seven connect four series.  although i won three straight with the greatest of ease, brian calculated an impressive comeback to beat me 4-3.  ah, nothing like a little cousin board game rivalry!

the pep in our step was soon spent, so we bid the bar goodnight.  i was relieved to rest my head at a reasonable hour, knowing that wine country was just a few hours away.

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