Archive for April, 2010

Glen Park Festival

April 27, 2010

This weekend, my husband and I went to see a house for rent in Glen Park, a neighborhood in the southern part of San Francisco.  Even though we’ve lived in the city for three-and-a-half years, I haven’t been to that part of town before.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Glen Park, based on my one visit, is a quiet little part of town.  The Glen Park Festival happened to be going on the day we went to the open house, and my husband – the typical Norwegian – had us arrive early.   It was an unbelievably warm day, so we headed to the small cluster of tents that was the festival.

It was rather quaint.   Most of the vendors were artists selling jewlery and other arts and crafts.   The cafes and restaurants flanking the little festival were filled with people out and about, enjoying their neighborhood.   Not a single franchise was in sight.

Glen Park, as far removed from the city as it seemed, was a surprisingly painless BART ride from downtown.   We would have enjoyed renting a house there, but I am certain we won’t get the place we went to see.  There were literally dozens of people at the open house, all desperate to put in an application.  It was an entire house with 2 bedrooms and parking (!) for $1750!

Even if we don’t get the apartment, at least I can now say I’ve been to Glen Park.  If you have a lazy weekend afternoon, it’s a great place to go and sit in a cafe or to shop at a “Whole Foods but more authentic” market.

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2010 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

April 19, 2010

I love festivals.   There’s nothing like turning a regular old day into a giant outdoor party.   That’s why yesterday when my friend invited me to meet her at the “Japantown festival,” I was excited to go.  I looked it up online, and it turned out to be officially called the  43rd Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival.

San Francisco’s Japantown is fun to visit even when there are no festivities.  The neighborhood is really nice to walk around, and the Japanese stores have so many goodies.   It’s also really easy to get to from the Union Square area –   a straight shot down Sutter Street on the public bus (#3 Muni).   Or you can go on the #38 Muni down Geary Street.

Today was an especially fabulous day because the weather was “tee-shirt only.”  Naturally the four of us who met there all had jackets with us (locals always do), but they actually proved to be quite handy in providing shade during the demonstration by the Japanese sword club.  The seats were in the blazing sun, but there were few people complaining.  The previous Sunday had been pouring rain, so we were all glad for some sunshine.

My friend disobeyed one of the three cardinal rules of living in San Francisco though (Never leave the house without sunblock), so we limited our broiling time to about 40 minutes.  Then we headed for the shade to none other than Daiso; no trip to Japantown is complete without going there.  It is like a Japanese dollar store.  Everything there is $1.50 unless otherwise marked.  Locals love it, but if you’re a tourist, you should definitely stop by there if you want some really cute but inexpensive souvenirs like delicate little fans or beautiful little cups.

And of course no festival outing would be complete without the delicious street vendor fare.  We wandered past bonzai tree displays, cute tee-shirts and tons of shiny baubles to the bustling heart of the festival – the food vendors.   At first glance, the lines were a little disheartening, but they mostly moved fast.   Everything we tried was yummy, though I wasn’t feeling super adventurous in my food choices.  Next time I’ll have to try the Japanese popcorn, which I overheard someone say has seaweed in it.

There’s a two-hour parade that starts at City Hall, but we had to miss it because we had to leave.   But next year I definitely plan to see it.    Anyone in town that day should too.

Kika’s Treats: A bite-sized bit of heaven

April 13, 2010

Have you ever bought something just to support a cause and then realized you were in love with the product?   That’s what happened when I purchased a package of Brazilian honeycakes from Kika’s Treats.

Now, I had no idea what Brazilian honeycakes were before that fateful day at the Ferry Building Farmers market a few weeks ago.  I spotted a tent that housed products related to La Cocina, a Bay Area nonprofit that serves as an incubator for low-income food entrepreneurs.  I made a beeline over to the tent and looked at the table displaying all sorts of delicious treats. 

I beheld a neat little plastic bag filled with little dark chocolate-covered squares.  It had a bright, happy yellow label (paper sort of wrapped around the bag) with a drawing of a smiling little cook and the words “Handmade in San Francisco.”   A purchase that involved chocolate (the food of the gods) and was local?   How could I resist?  

After my purchase I got distracted by all the fruits and vegetables; but when I got home, my husband who had stayed behind, went straight for the bag of treats.  What’s this?  Chocolates?   Are they good?

He decided to open them and find out.  Luckily I am not on a diet, or I would have been so sorry he did so.  The little Brazilian honeycakes are de-li-cious!  It’s like biting into a fluffy cloud of  honey sweetness gently held together by a rich chocolate blanket that slowly dissolves in your mouth.  

Each little treat is highly satisfying, but that still did not prevent their dessimation in a few short days. 

Oh and I almost forgot the best part.  You can actually understand what all of the ingredients are – sadly rare in the landscape of food in this country.  Look at them.  Everything is natural!

Ingredients:  Semisweet Chocolate (cacao beans, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, vanilla beans), Organic Soy Milk (filtered water, organic soybeans), Unbleached Wheat Flour, Honey, Organic Unrefined Sugar, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Kosher Salt, Organic Cinnamon, Organic Cloves, Organic Nutmeg, Organic and Fair Trade Coffee Beans.

If you happen to be on a diet, I apologize to you.  Although the danger would be in that they are so delicious you would want to eat the whole bag not that they are particularly weight-inducing.  In fact, I was quite surprised when I looked at the nutrition facts that something so tasty could actually be not super  high-calorie and surprisingly low in fat (111 calories, 6% of your daily value of fat).   Living in the US, I’ve grown accustomed to eating my share of foods that result in my jaw dropping when I find out how much fat is in them. 

You can buy them on line, and it looks like they have other flavors as well.  I have yet to try those, but I’m sure they are also delicious.  The coconut shortbread wrapped in milk chocolate sounds mouth-wateringly tasty.

 http://www.kikastreats.com/about.html

Easter Surprise

April 4, 2010

A rainy Easter Sunday in San Francisco.  As I sit warm and cozy in my apartment a couple blocks from Union Square, I think of two things:  1) all of the outdoor Easter egg hunts that were planned and had to be canceled; 2) all of the poor tourists who I can bet were not counting on cold, rainy weather.

The locals will be fine.  They are used to San Francisco’s temperamental weather.  Last week, for example, on my morning walk to work, I was really unhappy about having forgotten my gloves at home; my fingers were almost numb.  Later that morning, I took my dog up to our workplace rooftop (dog-friendly office), and it was so sunny and warm out, I considered getting my laptop and just working up there for a while.   A couple of hours later, it was windy and cold; but by the time we walked home around 4, the weather was nice and warm again.

The tourists, however, are a different story.  Yesterday we saw a bunch of them sitting on the open deck of one of those buses that take people touring around the city.   It was quite cold; I’m talking beanie, gloves, scarf weather.  I commented on it aloud to my  husband, about how it was kind of strange that there were so many of them riding up there on the top deck.  Then I realized, oh it’s their holiday; they all came to San Francisco for Easter.

Most guidebooks warn about the foggy San Francisco summer days, but here is what SanFrancisco.com had to say about this time of year:

Spring in San Francisco

March-May

March, April and May are some of the most inviting months to visit San Francisco. Characteristically cloudless and mild, some of the warmest and driest days of the year occur in San Francisco’s spring months, making San Francisco’s springtime noticeably free from the spring showers that moisten other parts of the United States. (http://www.sanfrancisco.com/weather/)

Those poor bastards never stood a chance.