: views from the Hill

Monday, April 19, 2004

[FOOD] Yet another exciting weekend

Spent time over the weekend moving boxes full of contents from the house that sold, contents that I can't give up yet. The boxes are cluttering the family room and need to be moved to a spare room upstairs. Finally moved the cheap OfficeMax desk that had been in that room since the soon-to-be-twenty-three-year-old left for college. Set the desk pieces outside by the side gate, under the overhang: it is going to make a lovely potting bench. [snerch] ... at least until the rains make the particle board swell and it crumbles.

With the desk out, I had space to rearrange that room's bureaus and then moved up a fourth bureau that had been in the middle of the family room with boxes stacked around it.

Moved a variety of items out of the bureaus, sorted through them for Goodwill candidates and then reshuffled the remaining back into the drawers. Next up the boxes: moved six on Saturday but what with the work on the bureau contents, the Goodwill sort, &c. decided that was as much as my back could take.

On tap for this week: continue on with the box moves and then move up the three bookcases that are also cluttering the family room area and reshelve their contents. Don't I live an exciting life?

We took one major load to the Goodwill on Saturday, and another is already in queue.

We are getting somewhere. I just hope that years and years hence I won't regret giving up some of this stuff. My problem is that I haven't really moved for almost twenty-seven years. We've acquired additional places to live and stash stuff, so the amount of stuff we have has expanded without really being noticeable or cramping our space. I've never had to really seriously go through stuff and decide "Your Conestoga wagon is only so big. The heavier you load it, the sooner the horses will die of exhaustion and if they die of exhaustion before you reach your destination, you will likely die as well. You MUST DECIDE what stays and what goes before you leave Missouri." Now that our space is shrinking, the overabundance of stuff is starting to cause problems.

Decisions. Decisions.

The twenty-fifth anniversary FUTS Spring Fling is scheduled for early June, which is later than normal, but I have all these boxes in the family room -- see? -- and the room must be clear so people can roam around. The plan is to have the house contents resettled far before it's time for the Fling, but we've built some slush time in there. If I can get everything resettled ahead of time, maybe we'll have time to do some of the painting and what-not I'd been hoping to get done. We'll see.

I can hear a voice saying, "Work on the book, missy. Finish the book. What about the book?" Is this just a huge cat-vacuuming exercise?

We finally got up to San Francisco on Sunday in time for a couple open houses and the tale end of the SinC/NC spring fest at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness Avenue.


Only went to a couple open houses because tours opened at 2PM and the spring fest started at 3PM and the two we really wanted to see were a-ways apart. We walked over to Green Street to check out 363-365 Green St and then came back for the car and drove to 1800 Gough, a full floor (well, two floors really) penthouse condominium on the "city" side of Pacific Heights.

363-365 Green St Two units (currently being used for a single family) at $1.495m is reasonably priced and the views of Coit Tower and the city are better than most.

1800 Gough at $5.5m just wasn't worth the money, even if I won the lottery. The space was great: it even had a small ballroom on the second level, but the price was way out of line for the space and the view.

We left the car on Gough, a few blocks N from 1800, and walked down to the spring fest. Introduced myself to Mark Coggins, who'd I'd exchanged e-mails about the fest a week or so ago. Heard Rhys Bowen read from a current work, Camille Minichino read from a WIP, other folks read, including Cara Black. Rhys' set was my favorite. I was sorry I'd missed the folks I had missed. Didn't win one of the raffle prizes. Stayed for a few nibbles afterwards then we walked back to where we'd parked the car. Parking is that awful in SF that it was easier to walk fifteen or so blocks down and the same back on a drizzly day than to go looking for a parking space closer to ACWPfB.

The Art Store

The walk back and forth was worth it, though: on the way back I was able to stop off in The Art Store at 1414 Van Ness and lust over their hand-made papers and 50% canvas sale and their oils and watercolors and ... but a little voice was saying, "Get the book done, missy. Don't lose focus." I decided the hand-made papers and papyrus and the blank canvases would be my reward when the thing is finally done.

Last night, we went out to dinner early, around seven or so. We'd had no lunch, what with chores and open houses, except for a single shrimp and a couple of cookies at the SinC/NC event. The day was drizzly. I wanted to go to Piperade, but they aren't open on Sundays. His nibs wanted to go to Estia, I wanted to go to The House. The two restaurants are, literally, two doors apart, so we bargained. I know that The House is open Sundays -- good, our walk in the rain won't be for naught -- but if Estia is also open on Sunday, we'll stop at Estia because we've never eaten there before.

Estia ~ 1224 Grant Ave

Estia [no Web site that I could find]
1224 Grant Ave (just north of Columbus)
San Francisco, CA 94133-3910

Estia opened last November (2003) and friends who had been there liked the food and said they were served prodigious quantities. Sunday was a gray day, with intermittent drizzle. We'd made up our mind not to walk far for dinner and decided, finally, to head down Union, turn on Grant and walk a-ways, maybe eat at The House, or Estia, if it was open on a Sunday.

It was.

The owners decorated Estia beautifully, although I probably would've used actual photos rather than the watercolor prints of Mykonos and Santorini I could see from our table. The walls are a warm cream with a contrasting carved molding about a foot from the ceiling. A dark warm blue paint covers the remainder of the walls and the ceiling. Small lights hidden behind the top of the molding, take the blue from very light near the molding to a dark royal blue.

The ceiling of the bar area in the back corner is painted white to break the space away from the rest of the restaurant. Greek taverna music plays in the background. The setting put his nibs in a reminiscent mood. He said he'd like to return to Greece again, maybe this time skipping the more touristy places and instead hanging out, eating and soaking up the sun on Hydra or some other small island.

Our service was excellent. Our server told us what she thought were the best items on the menu and helped us select a Greek red to accompany dinner. We told her that although we'd been to Greece a couple times, we didn't know the wines at all -- we usually just drank whatever red came to the table. We wound up with a Goumenissa Boutari (2000 - a blend of Xynomavro and Negoska) to accompany the meal -- a perfect choice.

We took some of her food item suggestions, skipped others. She came by frequently to check on the dinner's progress and whether we were enjoying the plates. She was friendly, pouring wine, talking about the foods we'd chosen. She seemed to enjoy showing off their food and wines.

We started with fried calamari served with a lemon wedge and thick garlicky sauce. Yummy. We also had the grilled octupus. Yummier. Both small plates were substantial and we were starting to fill up before the dinner entrees arrived. Dinner entrees were moussaka topped with grated cheese and lamb fricassee with an avoglemono sauce, served over rice with vegetables.

I preferred the lamb to the moussaka. Both entrees were HUGE servings. His nibs, who also preferred the lamb, said the moussaka was the best he'd ever had. We wound up packing half of each entree home so we could leave room for dessert -- and have something to eat for dinner the next day.

Our desserts were rice pudding and, of course, baklava. I had a Greek coffee as well. Our server offered the coffee in the traditional Greek variants: bitter, semi-sweet or sweet. I chose semi-sweet. A Greek coffee contraption in the bar puts out dark, thick coffee that goes well with dessert. Finely ground coffee and water (and whatever sweetener you've chosen) are mixed in a briki, a small copper pot with a long handle, and set to "cook" until done. When done, the briki contents are swirled, poured into a demitasse cup and served. Caution: You'll wind up with a thick coffee sediment as you finish your cup. The sludge isn't meant to be drunk.

The baklava was not too intense -- as it sometimes can be -- and was served with a bit of sour cherry sauce, a perfect complement. The rice pudding was served piping hot with a large dollop of rose petal jam in the bottom of the dish. The result was amazing, one of the most memorable rice puddings in a long history of rice puddings.

Dinner tab was $103 before tip. I liked the dinner, liked the food, service was terrific, but I had no immediate desire to come back for a further taste in the menu (there are thousands of restaurants in the city, do you want to go back or go on?), but looks like we will be returning soon. His nibs was taken with the food and the echoes of sunny days in Greece.

Or it might've been that rice pudding.

We wandered back home, uphill as always, and sat on the deck watching the lights on the Bay Bridge and across the Bay to Berkeley and Oakland, drinking cognac and talking about what we wanted to be when we grew up.

This morning it took us a while to say good-bye to the boats on the Bay and head back to Dale again, but the delay was balanced by the improvement in traffic: one hour garage door to garage door. Zip zip zip.

Back to my boxes of stuff and exciting life.