Friday, July 16, 2010

July and Juillet

The famous fog came rolling in just in time to obscure any fireworks we might have seen over San Francisco Bay on the 4th of July, but the pleasantly cool weather made me feel, for nearly the first time ever, happy not to be in sweltering Paris.

By the 14th of July, we were having our own little canicule, a mini heat wave that lasted only a couple of days, but had us celebrating France's Fête Nationale by lunching outdoors on the arbored terrace of Chez Papa in downtown San Francisco, where they were wrapping the pillars in blue, red and white crepe paper.

We haven't been into SF very often this summer but once there, we swear to ourselves we'll come more often.  It's a really nice city.  The little stretch of Market Street between 3rd and 5th Streets has some stunning building facades, including this green and cream tile beauty

and its neighbor with terra cotta details and spread-winged eagles overlooking the trolley lines and framing the windows.

Across the street is the famous Samuels Clock, now a protected historical monument,  

erected by Albert Samuels, a San Francisco jeweler, at the time of the Pan Pacific Exhibition of 1915.

So when we're not in San Francisco, where are we?  Well, often we're eating very good meals in the burgeoning little restaurant district known as Temescal, in Oakland.

Temescal is home to Doña Tomás, a real Mexican restaurant, producing delicious meals, not one of the ubiquitous and sometimes iniquitous burrito shops scattered around the Bay Area, home to Pizzaiolo, an Italian restaurant producing the best pasta and pizzas outside of Italy, and home to Bake Sale Betty, who made a little corner bakery into an institution selling fried chicken and spicy coleslaw to the hoards of hungry people lining up to eat their lunches on the ironing boards serving as tables on the sidewalk.  All this on a single block.  And across the street...well, there's more.  In fact tonight we'll be at Burma Superstar, enjoying a cuisine not easily available in Paris.

When I was in college I lived for a time around the corner from this block.  None of these places existed then, it was a little sketchy as a place to live, and you had to go to San Francisco to find a good restaurant.  I should have stuck it out a few more decades.  It's all there now.

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