San Francisco

comforts1.jpg I keep trying to figure out why the Chinese Chicken Salad served at ‘Comforts Cafe’ is so uniquely spectacular.  Well, first: as we’ve all infused, everything is location, location, location.  And this chicken salad lives in a fabulous spot in a dreamy, mythic redwood-filled community. ‘Comforts’  is a very aptly-named, truly comfortable, small but open hang-in, hang-out,  take-out restaurant on a small main street in the small northern California town of San Anselmo. It boasts daily, wonderfully creative specials including a brilliantly, non-greasily sautéed Chicken Okasan, innovative egg breakfast dishes with fresh local seafood and Sonoma jack cheese and veggies.

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sanfran.jpg It’s so darn good to get awaaaay.  I’m bored with the predictable patterns of my home life: my constant computer, my cooking, my own backyard.  My brain craves novelty, my tongue new tastes, my eyes new vistas, but my complacency wants it all to come easy--so good to have work in the Bay Area of Northern California.

How auspicious that American made my Alaska Airlines flight disappear so I was forced to discover Virgin America—a mishap that reminded me of how much I used to LOVE to fly.  The moment I went to the ticket window, where the desks are invitingly low, the ticket sellers sympathetic, and the platform weighing your checked (free) bag at ground level so you don’t have to heave it high, I felt soothed.  And once I boarded the plane, the lighting massaged my eyeballs and felt far more flattering than the overhead glare of most terrorist scaring flights. Thinking I look good as I parade in a pinkish purplish glow past the first class flyers always puts me in better spirits sitting in coach.

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Scream SorbetIf you've never been to San Francisco you need to know our Summer starts NOW. Yes, in September. Not only is it pretty and warm and sunny but Summer produce--tomatoes, corn, pepper, and peaches are all ripe and delicious at the moment. It's easy to roll your eyes at our "sustainable, local, organic" mantra, but while you're here, be sure to try some of these bites of Summer.

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sanfranciscocablecars.jpg The trouble with San Francisco is that there are way too many fabulous places to eat. Regardless of how much over-eating a person chooses to do, enjoying more than 3 meals a day may be the digestive limit. Just two days in which to eat in the city by the bay upped the ante for my family. Our weekend in San Francisco was to visit with our adult children. What a difference from those early years when only a small selection of beige foods would cross the little lips of our youngest. Now he’s 6’5”, so that early limited palate clearly didn’t stunt the kid’s growth. He and I plotted for months about where to eat, and at first we thought we’d go to one of the recent James Beard award winners, but all were booked four months in advance. How frustrating. But the depth of eating possibilities in the city and beyond left no time for sulking. Rock, paper, scissors, and plans were made.

On this perfect Saturday, we started the day at Tartine, the fabled bakery. A long line of hungry eaters surrounds Tartine every morning and evening, so we planned our arrival at the opening bell. Long lines in that neighborhood are pretty common because there’s such an abundance of good eating in so many places. If you are in the Castro/Mission area of San Francisco, just cruise the streets and jump into a line spinning out of one or another of the local food joints, and you’ll be well-fed.

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joescableexerior.jpg Joe’s Cable Car Restaurant in San Francisco is where “Joe Grinds His Own Fresh Chuck Daily”. A large sign on the outside of the restaurant declares this in bold type. Joe’s has been around since 1965. It is a charming place on Mission Street just south of highway 280. You can’t miss it driving down Mission. Windows are loaded with neon signs of the Golden Gate Bridge, a cable car and other San Francisco landmarks. Joe obviously likes signs. There must be 30 signs in the parking lot warning you not to park without permission.

Entering the restaurant one is struck by its cleanliness and nostalgia. Christmas lights with little Santas are still strung neatly from the ceiling. Fake flowers adorn the room, but somehow they work because they haven’t become a dusty relic, but are clean and new looking. The floor shines bright. One of three energetic waitresses greets and escorts a diner to a seat.

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