Apparently, the time called for it the weekend of our anniversary, since we decided on random last minute to book a super swanky hotel and head to San Francisco to see a band we really liked play--for free, mind you--at a bicyclist festival called Tour De Fat, sponsored by a brewery we really enjoy.
So, we jumped in the car last minute, drove through a torrential rainstorm, and ended up at one of our favorite places in Haight-Ashbury, Cha Cha Cha's, which serves excellent tapas and sangria of the gods,. I'm also partial to this place, because when my husband and I were just "friends," and I was so in love with him it was sick, he took me to this restaurant when we had gone to SF to see another concert. We spent an hour or so talking, like we always did and still do, about anything and everything. Whenever we are in San Francisco, we like to go there, for the memories as well as the wonderful food.
It had been raining up until this point, and hubs and I were happy to be in a dry location where we could thaw off and dry out. We feasted on plantains and black beans, pulled pork empanada, and fried calamari, all while sharing a pitcher of the most delicious sangria I have ever had--and I have tried my share.
When we had finished replenishing ourselves, we headed to Golden Gate Park for the festival. The ground was muddy and sodden, and my hair--which I had painstakingly done that morning--was lying like a dead dog on top of my head, so up it went into a ponytail while I resigned myself to the fact that my nice black slacks were not going to survive the excursion without being splattered with mud.
We grabbed some beers, nabbed a wet patch of grass, and watched the festivities, which included storytelling, a dance competition--won by a dude dressed like a giant hot dog--and the band we had come to see, Beats Antique. Also fitting considering Beats Antique is a band my husband shared with me when we first started dating, and we even danced to once or twice. So far, this random anniversary trip was ending up rather spontaneously romantic, especially since San Francisco was where we had taken our honeymoon.
After the show, some beer, and my husband getting hit on by a gay man, we headed to our hotel in Union Square, Villa de Florence, or something like that. I was excited because the hotel restaurant was somewhere I had been when I was a child and I kind of wanted to recreate a memory. However, the original memory was rather bittersweet, so I suppose you could say I wanted to make a new, better memory. I had tried to do this once before, and it had been completely blown by the company I was with, so I was looking forward to making a great memory with my husband. That was pretty much the sole reason he had booked the hotel...
But unfortunately, the hotel was overpriced for what we got, the staff--with the exception of one or two--were rude and snobbish, and the other guests were pretentious and looked at the two of us like we were scum on their shoes. Seriously? I didn't think that actually happened like it did in Pretty Woman, but it really does. Which made no sense to me. We had changed our muddy clothes and were dressed nice, and we obviously had the money to stay there so...what gives?
We didn't get any better treatment at Kuleto's restaurant, the place where I wanted to make my "new memory." The staff was super pretentious there and didn't even wait on us after telling us we had to sit at the bar. After getting really aggravated, I told my husband we were leaving because I was not going to be treated that way, and I realized that maybe the memory I was trying to recreate was never supposed to be good in the first place, and maybe my childish sentimentality had candy-coated parts of it. I realized that maybe, in the naivety of youth, I had thought a person I was with was so much more than she really was. I know that sounds cryptic, but for the sake of not writing a memoir, let's just suffice it to say I had an epiphany.
And I was ecstatic to be with my present company--my best friend and the best man I have ever known.
We had made a reservation at a restaurant called Absinthe--another old favorite of ours-- but they had been booked until ten. I was not going to wait that long to eat, so we spotted a place across the street, an Italian restaurant that I unfortunately forget the name of now, and decided to give it a shot.
Score one for intuition.
This place was amazing. I had white snapper on a bed of polenta and veggies and hubs had wild boar. The food was fantastic, the wine was amazing, and I'm pretty sure the owner was our server. Hubs was getting a kick out of speaking rudimentary Italian with him, which, let's be honest, was kind of a turn-on, and he gave us free dessert upon finding out it was our anniversary. This place gets five stars in my book.
But while we were satisfied, we were also stuffed, and we still had to go across the street to Absinthe, where we had decided to get drinks and dessert. We had already had a sufficient amount of both, but this place was also special to us, as hubs had taken me there on the same trip he had shown me Cha Cha Cha's. I remember talking with him there, laughing, and thinking to myself that if I could spend the rest of my life doing just that with him, I would be the happiest woman in the world. It seemed so far from my reality at that point, yet here we were. We couldn't not go to Absinthe.
Several drinks, several hours, and two more desserts later found us down on Hyde Street Pier in the middle of the night, freezing, stuffed beyond comprehension, and hanging out on the beach with a set of homeless hippies and a couple of tweakers. After that little excursion, we headed back to the hotel before we ended up on the beach to see the sunrise.
Although, that probably would have been better than the weird dude underneath our hotel window on the street shouting for four hours when we DID wake up.
Feeling a little lethargic from our insanity the night before, we were moving slow the next day, but managed to make it to another one of favorite restaurants, House of Nanking in Chinatown. Best Chinese ever. Hands down.
After eating there and getting slightly re-energized, we headed to Ocean Beach where we spent a lazy afternoon sunning ourselves, playing in the sand, looking for shells, and snuggling. We decided on dinner at the Cliff House, where we had clams in garlic broth, Frutti de Mare--TO DIE FOR--and spinach ricotta pine nut ravioli. This is only the second time I have been to Cliff House, but every time I go there, I am never disappointed. This restaurant is also upscale, but unlike Kuleto's, the staff is always exceptionally friendly, the service is wonderful, and the food and wine sell itself.
But we'll be back. We always are.
It is, after all, our favorite. :)