Wednesday, September 26, 2007

San Francisco, Day 4

Last official day at "work" in San Fran. I took off to get some breakfast at a coffee shop - Specialty's Cafe and Bakery - around the corner from the hotel that I saw when we were looking for Indian food the night before. A great mocha and ham+egg+cheese breakfast sandwich thing.

After our last day of the press tour I went out again and picked up some cards (Spider Man) from a comics and art museum a few doors down from the hotel. I tried the balcony on one of the floors in the hotel to take a few more self-portraits and write some letters.

Lunchtime found me just taking off down Mission Street. I passed a spot between two office buildings with a slowly rotating structure and a large clump of bamboo.

I didn't see it on my way back, so I didn't get to investigate. What I did see was a huge flock of grey pigeons, with one brown one in their midst. Later on people would be hanging out at this park bench going, "What's up, pigeons?" "We're chill," reply the birds. Indeed!

I swing into Noah's Bagels, which looks like a nice New York style deli place, and have an Odwalla Superfood juice, a Reuben sandwich on marbled rye (great, and my only complaint is that I prefer my bread more toasted) and a chocolate chip cookie, which was huge and good, but can't compare to the best (my wife's).

Here is my route. A brisk 1.6 miles from my hotel to The Embarcadero and back, so I may have worked off the first sip of whipped cream from this morning's mocha!

That evening we went to Americano Restaurant & Bar, which happened to be one street away from The Embarcadero...right where I was a few hours earlier! I talked the group into walking instead of taking a cab.

I couldn't decide between two Syrahs for wine, so I took one with the appetizer and one with the meal, and I liked the first one better. Which ones were they? Data...lost. Wait, I found the wine menu, all thirteen pages! The one I liked was SYRAH, LOST CANYON STAGE GULCH VINEYARD, SONOMA COAST, 2004, at $12/glass, and the one I thought was just okay was SYRAH, D’ALESSANDRO, CORTONA, 2002, a bargain at $9/glass.

Here is there dinner menu. For appetizers we got the FRA’MANI HANDCRAFTED SALUMI, the MARIN SUN FARMS BEEF CARPACCIO, the “MARGARITA” PIZZETTA and another pizza that I can't find.

For dinner, I went out on a limb and chose the HERITAGE PORK DUO, which is described as slow roasted loin, seared belly, brussel sprouts, pickled shallots, carrot and jalepeno [sic] puree.

Yes, seared belly. The pig's belly. I guess that is the second part of the pork "duo" along with the loin. It was okay - not my favorite. The jalapeno (which was misspelled on the menu) puree was what originally intrigued me, but I'm not even sure I tasted it.

It was close to midnight by the time we got back to the hotel, and I needed some coffee. The only place around that was open was Mel's Drive-In, which was up a few blocks. I sat at the bar, had a few cups of coffee and struck up a conversation about math (pi, phi, Fibonacci), photography (rule of thirds) and philosophy with someone who happened to be from Austin (AMD) in town for a conference!

Here are a few more pics.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

San Francisco, Day 3

The third day in San Francisco, and the first day of meeting the press. It happened to be September 11, and hearing fire truck sirens in the morning made me a little nervous...especially the second and third sirens a few minutes apart, but apparently nothing newsworthy happened.

My greatest accomplishment so far...finding a free coffee bar at the hotel. They must want my business!

On our way out to lunch there happened to be another nice car waiting for someone...a Mercedes CL63 AMG. Snazzy, and starting only at $137k!

We mosey back to the Metreon where we're confounded by a Nintendo Wii mega-kiosk just steps outside the Sony Style store. I thought Sony managed the Metreon? What gives? If you read the Wiki article, Sony pulled out of Metreon management in 2006, due to low profitability. Oh, snap!

Fast forward to dinner time, and three of us decided to follow my stomach to a local Indian place. Outside the hotel we get another treat, a brand new Lamborghini Gallardo - it didn't even have its plates yet! I love this car!

On the way we happened across a Lotus Elise, which is still very nice, but I see a lot of these so the awesomeness has worn off a little bit. Don't get me wrong - I still like it, but if I had to pick a Lotus, it would probably be an Esprit.

We almost didn't find the Indian place, but after walking a few blocks in circles we finally stopped and asked a bellhop if there was an Indian place around here. He just looked at us, didn't stop taking a call on his cell phone and pointed across the street. Ah! We were (a lot) closer than we thought!

We had some sort of good appetizer and an Indian beer. Great stuff.

For the meal, we had rogan josh (awesome), chicken tikka masala (awesome), and some other chicken dish (very very good), and garlic, onion and another kind of naan (bread) (awesome). I asked them to make mine very spicy, but it didn't happen. Maybe next time.

How do you top off being stuffed with a great Indian meal and walking around in 60 degree weather? Margaritas, naturally! We found a Mexican joint a block or two from the hotel on our way back and got some "ultimate" margaritas...the ultimate being that they are large and have fresh-squeezed orange juice in them. I approved of the size but the orange juice didn't do much for me. It made it too sweet and I couldn't taste the tequila very much. I could have done just as well with a traditional one.

Monday, September 24, 2007

San Francisco, Day 2g: The end is in sight!

I know, I know - how long was this day?

We met in the hotel lobby for dinner but found some sweet cars waiting outside in the bellhop area. The silver one is a Jaguar XK, possibly an XKR (I can't remember). The black one is a Bentley Continental GT. Both awesome looking cars.

We walked a few blocks from the hotel to what amounted to a line of restaurants with outdoor seating in an alley between the inside seating/kitchen/bar and another building. Based on the concierge's recommendation, we chose Cafe Tiramisu.

Actual Italians manning an Italian restaurant? I call that a good sign. We had to wait about ten minutes for an outdoor table, so out comes the wine list. I asked the waitress to surprise me with a good red wine. She did, and it was good, but I can't remember what it was!

We're seated...appetizer time! I wrote down my food selections for the trip on an old orthodontic appointment reminder I had in my wallet, but now I can't find it, so we'll have to go by memory. I started with garlic (I think) stuffed calamari on Italian bread. Another glass of wine? Sounds good to me!

One of the marketing guys had steamed clams (I think) for an appetizer, and a mountain of them came on the plate.

For dinner I had the tuna, which was excellent, and requested to be surprised again with a wine that would complement my entree. I get a chardonnay, and even though I'm not so much a white wine fan, it made a great pair. Delicate balance, magnificent bouquet, charming interaction between the wine and the tuna...all that jibber jabber.

How could we go to a place called Cafe Tiramisu and not try their tiramisu? I know! It's great, but I don't know why I don't have any coffee with it.

We walked back to the hotel, and it was a brisk walk with a cold breeze, but felt really nice.

Friday, September 21, 2007

San Francisco, Day 2f: Cream Puffs!

One of the Marketing ladies had lived in San Francisco before, and she was raving about this place for cream puffs. This place, Beard Papa's, happened to be across the street from the Metreon, so we checked them out.

So basically they have all these pastries with some cream injectors. Word on the street is that the vanilla is their signature (and best) flavor of cream, but they also have chocolate and green tea. I chose vanilla so they stab the pastry with this big metal syringe emplacement and fill it up.

Here is before and after (actually closer to before and during):

It was good, but I don't think I'll be heading back to SF just to check out this place. I meant to go back and taste the chocolate, but forgot.

San Francisco, Day 2e

The St. Regis Hotel is very close (a block away) from the Metreon and Yerba Buena Gardens. I walked to a Japanese restaurant in the Metreon, Sanraku, and had California Rolls and Unagi (eel), one of my favorites, with miso soup.

I hung out in the YB Gardens, which is a park/plaza/gathering place and took a few more pictures. The fountain was part of an MLK memorial.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

San Francisco, Day 2d: In case of fire, or rappers...

I happened to read this sign by the elevators as I was checking out the gym.

I think I see a problem - what if I'm at the hotel attending a rap album release party and a fire breaks out?

San Francisco, Day 2c

I made it to my hotel, the St. Regis, and it was nice! At almost $500 a night, what would you expect, right?

Here is the web album with the rest of the pics, and I found the Edit Captions button this time!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

San Francisco, Day 2b

After breakfast I needed to get to my hotel, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to go via taxi or walk. Google maps said it was a little over three miles, and it was cool weather, so I figured I'd start walking. Unfortunately I also had my suitcase and backpack full of stuff. Anyway, I set off.

My start was in the upper left, and hotel destination is in the circle at the lower right. It wasn't that bad, but it started to get a little hilly. I couldn't see an open cab though! Finally I caught one unloading at Broadway, so I had walked about 1.3 miles, according to Google maps.

I noticed that the gas prices were "only" $2.99 for unleaded! That's only $0.20 - $0.25 more than Austin. I thought gas was more expensive out here. I remember when I visited San Jose for previous ELSA job gas was at least 2x the TX price.

San Francisco trip, Day 1, Day 2a

Sunday I flew out to San Francisco, CA, duh, to provide engineering support for a press tour for some of our upcoming products.

I LOVE San Francisco. The awesome weather is awesomely awesome enough, but there is a lot of stuff to do and a lot of great food.

I got a chance to see my friend Spaghetti, and I'll be seeing more of him later! When in Rome...! Wait - I mean What happens in San Francisco...uh, that doesn't work either. May the Force be with us?

I had breakfast the next day in his neck of the woods, and initially I had a hard time deciding on a place. Believe me, there were plenty of places for coffee and food. I finally ended up going to The Grove (link doesn't correspond to the same location I visited).

I ordered a mocha, which had some nice creme decoration, and huevos rancheros. The eggs were good, as was the rice, and the beans were real, but the guacamole was a little off to me, but I'm from Texas where we have the luxury of critiquing Mexican food rather than just having it. The mocha was very good in a great wide-mouthed mug. A very good balance of the grainy-bitter-sweet trifecta, closer to a Seattle's Best Mocha than Starbucks.

I chose to sit outside (see earlier reference to awesome weather) as it was roughly 9:30am and about mid 60-something degrees. Practically perfect.

Man, I really have my game face on!