January 31, 2010

San Francisco

Following my stay in Escondido I flew up to San Francisco for a couple days, nearly getting stuck in the San Diego airport because of bad weather. California was experiencing its storm of the decade precisely as I was experiencing California for the first time (poop). Fortunately, the weather provided a window for getting to San Francisco, which provided plenty of cool stuff to do that wasn't dampened by the constant rain.

Coincidentally, my dad was in the city the same dates as myself traveling on business, and I was able to crash in his hotel room for three nights. This was a huge coup for my budget and level of comfort (Hilton). The first night in town we took the courtesy shuttle back to the airport in order to access the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART). The train took us into the city, where we met my dad's old friend, Berkeley resident and rock aficionado Andy. He had a bead on a rare show by local favorite Steve Morse at a venue called Slim's.

Steve Morse Band @ Slim's

The gig was sponsored by Guitar Player Magazine, a publication that has repeatedly named Mr. Morse best overall guitarist. We bought tickets and grabbed some food and beers at a nearby, nearly empty, establishment. Arrived at Slim's a little late, as the opener was finishing, but were remarkably able to get seats near the front to the left side of the stage. It was a brilliant spot to see the show, as the guitar pedals were located right in front of us. The performance was amazing, I had for some reason expected a strummy acoustic set - quite the rocking opposite. Certainly one of the highlights of the entire trip.

Gorky @ SFMoMA

The BART brought me back into the heart of San Francisco the next day, my destination the Museum of Modern Art. I enjoyed a streetside falafel wrap for breakfast en route. SFMoMA was hosting a seventy-five year anniversary exhibit, essentially a greatest hits narrative of the museum's history. It was a great tour, and I spent plenty of time viewing the offerings on other floors - not eager to return to the rain. After dawdling in the giftshop it was time for lunch. I hooded up and explored some side streets, stumbling upon Thirsty Bear Brewing. They served Spanish tapas alongside organic beers brewed onsite. The atmosphere and lunch menu were impressive, but I found most of the sampler beers to be yeasty (think Blue Moon, which I can't stand). I settled on the nitrogen stout, which came out drafted poorly with about two inches of head. Meh. I was pretty soaked after walking around a bit more after lunch, and hopped the train back to the hotel in the late afternoon.

Thirsty Bear Brewery

The next day we switched hotels in the morning, moving from the airport Hilton to one located near Union Square in the city. My dad brought me to a fine Italian restaurant around the corner from the hotel called Kuleto's. They featured house-cured meats, and a scrumptious lunch menu including a fixed-price three course option. I chose linguine with clams and a bowl of dynamite minestrone, my dad had the taster lunch centered around a braised shortrib cannelloni and mushroom dish. We split a half-bottle of Napa Valley Syrah that had aged to an inky density. The whole meal was superb.

Clams Linguine

The final highlight of the trip took place that evening. I was able to meet up with Rob, an old friend from college who has lived in San Francisco for years, and who I hadn't seen in as long. He knew the good local spots, and we enjoyed catching up over some sinus-clearing Indian food. I had a very early flight the next morning, but we were able to get in a round of brews at an awesome little bar called The Black Horse London Pub. This was as literally a hole-in-the-wall as I have ever seen, seating/standing maybe ten people maximum. Bottled beers were served out of an ice-filled porcelain bathtub which also toted a keg of cask-conditioned IPA from a local brewer. Top notch, thanks Rob.

Marin Cask IPA

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