Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Trip

For me, there is nothing sweeter than stripping away the layers of parental second guessing, the debates over bowel movements, the housekeeping, the umpteenth viewing of Elmo's World and Four days in San Francisco and Napa gave us a chance to be a two-some again, to read a book uninterrupted on a plane, to relax, recharge and to gorge ourselves silly on Bermuda Triangle goat cheese. I have officially found my desert island food, if said desert island included a locally grown artisanal cheesemaker from San Francisco.

We've both been to San Francisco a number of times, so there was nothing pressing beyond eating some great meals and walking the oh-so walkable city. Ate and walk we did. Except for the cab ride we took from our hotel to Aziza the first night - the ride was worth it, if nothing for the free sex advice we got from our Brazilian driver. The mother of three and grandmother of 1 was thrilled to learn we were taking our first away-from-baby trip, and passed along this tidbit.

That she learned from her grandfather.

When she was 12.

"Never let the cold weather enter your sex life, because it will never, ever warm up again."

I take it those Brazilians know of what they speak.

Frjtz was our first meal in the city as we got in too late to catch the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building. Frjtz is a local chain that really, really needs to open a branch next door to my house. It's simple: Belgian frites and crepes. The world's 2 most perfect foods (except for the cheese that I'm going to attempt to not mention for another sentence or 2). 18 different dipping sauces for the frites. We had the kalamata olive ketchup and the tamarind ketchup. Sounds kinda gross, tastes kinda heavenly.

Miette and Frjtz

We accidentally stumbled into Miette, a shop that I'd seen online, and, in person is really and truly just a ridiculous orgy of Everything Melissa Loves. Cute wallpaper. Glass canisters. Candy everywhere you look. Doe-eyed shopgirls that look like they were nabbed from the set of Amelie. I mean, c'mon. Don't you just want to put it in your pocket and take it home?

Miette and Frjtz

And then the dinner. Aziza is a Moroccan restaurant that gives off a low-fi glam vibe not unlike Electric Lotus in Los Feliz, except with the some of the best food I've ever eaten in my entire life. I don't say this lightly. The food was so good that it would interrupt our conversation mid-sentence. My first bites of arugula salad with a shallot vinagarette, figs, and that insane goat cheese jolted me into silence. I closed my eyes and felt the cheese melt on my tongue, tasted the tang of the fig mixed with the peppery arugula, and I moaned out loud. This was salad as foreplay. I think if the Brazilians imported some of said cheese, I don't think anybody would be worrying about cold weather mucking up things in the bedroom. It's that good. 1 Cilantro martini and cippolini couscous later, the walls shimmered, everybody looked sexy and the cab couldn't get us back to the hotel too soon.

San Francisco

There were tangy lemongrass noodles at Herbivore and more macarons at Cafe du Soleil. Sexy cocktails at The Clift. Browsing the shops of Hayes Valley and the Mission, not to mention finally stepping foot into the famed 826 Valencia, Dave Eggers' non profit tutoring facility, if tutoring facilities were made to look like a pirate ship/store and had classes on making skateboarding documentaries taught by Spike Jonze.

By now the city was just messing with our heads. It's hard to remember that this is vacation, that everyday life isn't a cavalcade of fabulous restaurants and shops sans baby, without jobs or any responsibility beyond finding more deliriously good food. That didn't stop us from dreaming a way back there.

Before we knew it we were in our rented Jetta and off to Napa with a quick pitstop in Alameda to visit our friends the Martins and its world famous cutest tourist attraction, their daughter Loris.


What to say about Napa that hasn't been said? Good food. Good wine. Blah blah blah. What about our cute little house?

San Francisco

It was built in 1890 as a wedding present. The couple married in the front parlor and had their babies in the back. The patio was just irresistible. I had almost forgotten the sensation of sitting outside without slapping some body part every five seconds while killing mosquitos. Come five o clock in the backyard with a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc, it was physically impossible to hold any tension in our bodies.

San Francisco

We randomly popped into a winery in Calistoga, a gamble we took up a steep gravel road and a twisty drive through a gorgeous pine forest. We were met by the owner and his blind labrador retriever who poured us some wine and spilled a bizarrely personal story about estranged children, sharecropping, Hindus and Fox News. The wine was crap but he and the property were intoxicatingly strange.



We unwittingly had dinner at one of the Best New Restaurants in the US according to the NY Times, a restaurant/yoga studio called Ubuntu. By this point everything had been so stellar and so F-ing adorable that I was in danger of fabulous overload. But I soldiered through the Vegan devil's food cupcakes.


And then as they must, the fairytale came to a close, and we sat in miserable traffic on the way to the airport, remembering why we left California in the first place.

San Francisco

But I still miss you.

Thank you thank you THANK YOU to Grandpa John, Grandma Patti, Nana and Papa whose hard work and generosity made this trip possible. And a big, big middle finger to the phone call that woke us up on our last morning, informing us that our daughter had turned into a vampire and was biting a fellow inmate at day care. The one kid who couldn't walk.

Thanks for that.

The best of the rest:

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.


Josh Perry said...

beautiful post. what travel magazine are you going to submit it to?

Melissa said...

Submit? Shoot.

I'm starting my own :)

Chip said...

Looks like an awesome time. Love me some San Fran-- I'd love to go back. Especially now that I know enough not to put my fingers in front of the lens on my crappy point-and-shoot.