July 20, 2009

One of the fine views from the Top of the Mark

Had a Fab-u-lous Time in the San Francisco Bay Area. Firstly we ate in a lot of fun restaurants, and secondly I celebrated my birthday 3 times (not something one should be doing at my age!) On the first night we had a banquet for the project at Piatti in Danville (this is a great Italian chain, we have one in Denver, also.) The food was heavily drenched in garlic which is always a great beginning.

The next night Esperando and I celebrated my actual birthdate with my brother and his wife at another Italian restaurant, a bit more homey and local—Forli—in Alamo. My brother and I ate the Sole Meunierre. It was wonderful. When the wait staff discovered it was my birthday they also brought me an au gratis tiramisu, and then the owner brought four aperitif glasses and 10 Italian liqueurs to the table, inviting us to indulge ourselves from his larder. He didn’t know what a bunch of drinkers he was serving for we tasted everything, all in the spirit of good fun. The best part was when they sang “happy birthday, dear bella,” and brought a candelabra to the table in lieu of birthday candles.

Then on Friday we drove into San Francisco and took the youngest child along to North Beach, first having a bottle of champagne and snack at the Top of the Mark in the Mark Hopkins Hotel on Nob Hill, then moving on to North Beach to The Museum Bar, a historic Beatnik bar, just block east of Broadway on Columbus at 12 Adler Street. Esperando and I always go there if we can. Then we moved on back a couple of blocks into North Beach to eat at Mona Lisa, a vibrant eclectic Italian restaurant with an extensive menu. Esperando ate an entire bowl of roasted garlic (at least three heads of garlic) by himself. We had planned to continue on to the Buena Vista Café for a nightcap Irish coffee, but my clock started winding down, so we returned to the Mark Hopkins where we were staying, gave the daughter money for her cab back home, and expired on the bed. The next morning Esperando was seriously smelly from garlic.

When I booked the room at The Mark, some of the reviewers on Trip Advisor were not so happy with it. We had a fine time and felt we had real value for our money. We had a package both nights that included free breakfast, and a really great one it was: Eggs Benedict, dim sum, corn beef hash, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, excellent pastries, hot cereal, waffles, smoked salmon, etc. all for free. On Saturday the meal was in the Top of the Mark (excellent views), on Sunday it was superceded by the fancy brunch so the same great breakfast was served downstairs instead. The service couldn’t have been more pleasant, and what a joy each morning to look out our window at the views of the City on to Grace Cathedral and the Pacific Union Club.

We drove over to Marin County the next morning and spent sometime enjoying our grandchildren, then drove back to the City to ready ourselves for our next party—the private Esperando & La Dueña de la Casa affair. San Francisco is such a happening place, after a brief nap we had a few hours to kill so we walked through the ferry building to admire all the food stalls and further down the pier, the Mexican tall ship Cuauhtemoc which was to set sail the following morning. They were having quite a celebration on the pier with costumed Aztec dancers performing to a drum beat. Then back to the room to get ready for dinner. Initially we planned dinner at Fournou’s Ovens, just a block away from our hotel—I even made reservations earlier in the day! But when we got there it turned out they had been closed for two months!! So on we ventured to our next planned stop, The Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel. It was a lot of fun—great Polynesian food, rain showers in the room every 30 minutes, a live band and dancing.

The next day we had a great BBQ compleat with children, grandchildren, nieces and my brother and his wife at their home. The 100F weather made their pool a great cool retreat and my brother kindly provided some wonderful Rosenblum zinfandels—my favorite wine. This morning it was back on the airplane early to Denver where Sweet Pickle told me how much he had missed me.
View of a "polar bear' basking in the sun, one of the hardy swimmers that meet each week to face off the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay at Aquatic Park.

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