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A weekend in San Francisco - days one and two

Posted Jun 19 2013 8:34pm
Ferry Building farmers market

We spent Father's Day weekend in San Francisco, visiting our son and his girlfriend. The trip had a rough start — just after we went through security at the Seattle airport, I asked my husband to hold my camera while I went to the restroom. I didn't take it back when I came out,  when we stopped to buy a magazine or when we went to the gate since he offered to carry it for me. Just as we were about to board, I asked, "do you have my camera?" I was shocked to find out that he didn't. I was quietly freaking as he ran off to retrace his steps thinking he'd left it in the men's room — a situation that was probably not going to end well. He came back empty-handed, and I refused to board the plane. The Alaska Airlines agent re-booked us on a flight one hour later and my husband ran off again to check with the distant lost and found. In my agitated mind I was already considering which camera I would buy to replace mine, but when Ken returned, he handed me my camera! With no luck at lost and found, he'd returned to the magazine store and the clerk had the camera behind the counter. Can you believe it?

Since we had been added last minute to a later flight, Ken and I weren't sitting together, and my seatmate looked and talked exactly like Alec Baldwin. There were moments when I thought all the stuff he was telling me was an act and he really was Alec Baldwin, but I'm sure the real Alec Baldwin would be in first class. Wouldn't he?

A corner of the kitchen at our Airbnb.

Once we finally got to San Francisco, we settled into our Airbnb apartment on Duboce Triangle. The apartment was old and quaint — furnished with quirky antiques, and much larger than we had imagined. The location was perfect — a two block walk to our son's apartment.

We had an early dinner reservation at Dosa , a South Indian food restaurant that we really like. Dosa isn't vegetarian or vegan but they have a separate vegan, gluten-free menu, and the food is delicious. I had a dosa stuffed with collards, peppers, spiced potatoes and caramelized onions. It came with spicy soup and two sauces into which I dipped the dosa and indulged my taste buds.

On Saturday morning we took the Muni to the Ferry Building farmers market where we wandered around gawking at gorfeous California vegetables and other stuff.

Lobster MUSHROOMS, mind you.

You can find pretty much anything you're looking for at the indoor/outdoor market, as well as things you've never heard of. And there are so many samples. When you taste an amazing apricot, it's hard not to buy a few.

Although we had a large kitchen at our disposal, we weren't cooking, so we tried to control our impuse to buy everything we saw and tasted. We did buy a chewy and delicious gluten-free vegan baguette from Mariposa Bakery. Most of their baked goods were not vegan so we were limited in what we could choose, but the bread was excellent.

Doesn't everyone long to travel on a plane with a container of fragrant sauerkraut in their backpack? You see, all the vendors give out samples, and the kraut was so good we couldn't resist. The woman who sold us the kraut said she makes it in her house in Santa Cruz.

As you can see, the lovely cauliflower curry kraut made it home safely and it didn't scare the other passengers off the plane.

We also bought apricots.

After the market, we returned to home base and climbed into Alison's car for a drive to Berkeley and Café Gratitude, for lunch. I had a fabulous bowl called I am whole with a substitution of kale for the sea vegetables. I could only finish about half but I enjoyed every bite.

My husband had I am abundant — a raw Mediterranean sampler —  that he loved. Jordan had raw sushi and Alison had soup and salad, I think. I really can't remember and the photos didn't turn out.

This was our first visit to Café Gratitude and we were all impressed with both the serene atmosphere and the food. It may sound corny, but I left the restaurant with a deep sense of calm that lasted through the day.

Carnivorous pitcher plants at UC Berkeley Botanical Garden.

Our next stop was the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden — a wonderland of beauty. It's organized by areas of the world (Asian Collection, Eastern North American Collection, Southern African Collection, etc.) as well as by special collections like Chinese medicinal herbs, old rose collection and more.

We passed through a building housing a spectacular collection of very strange cacti.

And then headed into the New World Desert, which was pretty spectacular.

There was weird and wonderful beauty wherever we wandered.

At one point, my son and I got a little sidetracked by bees, and couldn't seem to stop taking photos of them.

The bee seemed to be rolling around in the pollen — acting like it was taking a bath, or was perhaps intoxicated.

I wish I could remember what part of the world this lovely flower is from.

Or this one. We ambled around for a couple of hours, and were trying to decide which area to explore next, when a voice came booming over the loudspeaker yelling, "the gate will be closing in five minutes. If you don't leave you will be locked inside." The voice was in direct contrast with the beautiful surroundings and we were startled into seeking the most direct path to the gate — not an easy task in such a large place. You'd think they'd give us 10 minutes to find our way out.

We returned to San Francisco for a rest before heading out to a late dinner at Thai Idea, a vegetarian Thai restaurant. My husband and I shared an appetizer of fresh spring rolls, and a dish of vegetables and rice. It was pretty, but very plain — probably because I asked for it to be gluten-free. Jordan and Alison had more interesting dishes but it was too dark for good photos.

Tired but happy, we headed back to the Airbnb for a good night's sleep.
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