Monday, February 6, 2012

Food and San Francisco

Citizens Band Restaurant
These past four days Mary and I (along with two other SCF teaching staff)  spent in San Francisco at a United States Fencing Association Coaches' Conference. Now, most people go to California's bay area to sightsee~ the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Lombard Street, Fisherman's Wharf, etc. Not us~ nope...the only parts of San Francisco we saw were situated between our apartment, the BART station and Halberstadt Fencing Club (the clinic venue). Wednesday evening found us taking a bus, the Bart and then walking for what seemed like forever (in reality about 1/2 mile) before hitting the streets in search of something to eat. Thanks to the internet, we had scoped out a few places before we left & thought we'd try Citizens' Band, a "fine diner". It was comfort-food haven for four weary travelers as we sat at the counter and enjoyed a wonderful meal of poutine, a wedge salad and a cheeseburger along with a great glass of  Bokisch Vineyards' Albarino for me and an Izze blackberry soda for Mary. Mike and Emma (our fellow travelers) indulged in mac & cheese topped with onion rings of which I would have gladly eaten a bucketful, if I would not have already been "stuffed to the gills" & having enough on my plates to take home leftovers to snack on another time.
We left the restaurant, this time in search of the local Trader Joe's. Imagine our dismay when we were told the building had lost power, so they were having to close early. Not only did it mean no shopping for grocery essentials TJ's is so popular for, it also meant we had walked a lot more than any of us felt like. We did head back towards our apartment (seeing & hearing some interesting sights which I will leave to your imagination), stopping before at Harvest Urban Market where we found all we needed plus a few extra goodies.
The SCF team at dinner in "our apt."
Taking a little detour~ I need to tell you about the kitchen in the apartment which we stayed. It was a third story flat (thankfully, we only had to carry our luggage~ including 3 hard-sided golf bags filled with fencing equipment up the stairs once) on one of the small streets in the SOMA district. We found it using AirBNB (highly recommended for anyone wanting a great non-hotel lodging experience), so we weren't sure what to expect. As it was quite old, the decor and fixtures were a mixture of vintage and IKEA. Anyway, back to the kitchen...our hosts had left a note saying we were welcome to use anything in it, including dry goods & whatever other people had left. I was skeptical until I started digging through the fridge, cupboards & freezer~ what a treasure trove of supplies to make this gourmand's heart skip a few beats! Some of the items on hand included: harissa (a middle-eastern spicy chile paste), tomato paste in a tube imported from Italy, white truffle oil, spices of all types, sea salt, not to mention a total of 2 half gallons-worth of high end ice cream (making Mike, our ice cream connoisseur, very pleased). Upon finding these delights, I thought, "Wow, who has these kind of things in their kitchen?". To which I answered back, "At home, you do, silly girl." As the above items were used throughout the weekend, I was very grateful for travelers who had come before us and left us such a cornucopia of kitchen kickshaws.
Mary's Mac & Cheese- yum!
The rest of our meals found us eating at the apartment~ I made meatloaf with green beans (drizzled with truffle oil & sea salt) and bread from Trader Joe's (we had made another trip back happily finding them open) for Thursday's dinner. Mary amazed everyone with her version of macaroni & cheese Friday for dinner along with salad, carrots & more bread from TJ's. Breakfast was fairly mundane- cereal (hot & cold), Luna bars, scrambled eggs on Sunday morning. Since we packed our lunches most days they were fairly simple~ peanut butter & strawberry jam sandwiches, carrots, pretzels (part of the apt. stash), & always bananas. We ate dried & juicy mangoes~ discussing whether they could be both dry & juicy, even if that's what the package said and also enjoyed some chocolate toffee from TJ's one day. Yesterday found Mary, Emma & I wandering up the mission district looking for Pancho Villa's, a highly recommended taqueria. Not finding it (due to not enough sleep and no hanging signboard in front like all the other shops), we found, instead, Truly Mediterranean, where we bought a falafel sandwich & two lamb shawerma sandwiches to take back to the fencing club for lunch. They were all very good & gave us fuel for the coaching exams Emma & I would be taking when we had finished.
Emma, Maitre D'Armes Peter Burchard & Mary at Halberstadt Fencing Club
It must have helped some as we both passed and are now USFCA Certified Moniteurs D'Escrime ~ translated in English - certified fencing instructors (it just sounds so good in French!). Finished with what we had come for, made one final BART ride, got to the airport, boarded the plane & headed home- filled with memories of what we learned, what we saw & what we ate...altogether good souvenirs to bring home from any trip.

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