California Dreamin'

Recently, I treated my mom to a girl’s weekend. I had a couple of airline credits that needed to be used and the San Francisco Opera Company was set to open their season with their annual Gala Evening . . . so what better reason to pick out a ball gown and pack a couple of bags and hop on a plane to San Francisco.

After checking into the Kensington Park Hotel overlooking Union Square (and also complimentary), we sat down for a quick lunch at Puccini & Pinetti before wandering through Chinatown. Then it was dinner at Rue Saint Jacques, which in a word was . . .meh.

Back to the hotel to quickly dress for the opera. Now we have been to the opera many, many times but we soon discovered that attire for the opera in Vancouver and attire for the opera in San Francisco are two very difference experiences. Often when attending the opera in Vancouver, we have seen other attendees dressed in jeans and T-shirts. We are not clothing snobs, but we do not approve of this practice of “wearing whatever”. The Opera is still in our minds an occasion to dress up and enjoy the atmosphere; to see and be seen. At the SFO’s opening performance of Verdi’s Aida, it was top hats and tails, ball gowns and opera gloves galore. Hair, make-up, jewelry . . . all bases were covered. In retrospect, I found the atmosphere of what people were wearing more interesting than the actual opera (which was a bit of a snooze-fest after Radames blew his opening aria).

Saturday was our free day with no real plans. Well, none that couldn’t be changed with a simple phone call. We originally had a spa day booked at Teashi on Polk Street in the Russian Hill area, but we decided we wanted to continue browsing the Open Art Market on Embarcadero Square and the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building. We had brunch at Market Bar. The crepes with caramelized apples and mascarpone were extremely delicious and would require many more hours of walking to burn off the calories. Inside the Ferry Building we found a wonderful array of specialty shops, including Boccalone Salumeria - Tasty Salted Piggy Parts (perhaps the best tag line for a store). Very popular were the Salumi Cones, which are essentially a paper cone filled with freshly shaved lonza, capocollo, piana and prosciutto salami. Alas, we were still full from brunch.

We also visited Boulette’s Larder, where I was reprimanded for taking pictures of their eggs and the beautiful display of apothecary jars. They specialize in gourmet take-away meals and, apparently . . . snarky shopkeepers.

Another shop we spent a good deal of time in was Sur la Table. Dear Sur la Table . . . please come to Canada. Specifically to Vancouver.

From the Market we walked to Ghirardelli Square, which was immensely busy with the Chocolate Festival. This entailed people lining up with stamp cards at different venues for free chocolate samples. Some lines were over 3 blocks long. For chocolate. Crazy. We did not participate, needless to say.

We then stopped for a break and a dip in the ocean before boarding a cruise to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge and around Alcatraz and Angel Island. Problem was that the fog decided to roll in just as our boat left the dock. So really it was an hour and $36.00 worth of pea soup fog. No refund. (on either the fare or the time).

Dinner at McCormick & Kuleto’s was much more successful. Crab cakes, seafood linguini, sablefish and basil gnocchi left no room for dessert. And after a full day of walking it was time to head back to the hotel.

Sunday morning meant breakfast in the Oak Room in the Westin St. Francis with fresh orange juice mimosas and blueberry Grand Marnier pancakes. Yummmmm! Then a quick walk around the shops and Union Square before heading back to the hotel to check out. The concierge then gave us the bad news. Unfortunately only the limo was available to take us to the airport and would we be comfortable traveling in the limousine? Um . . .I think we would be able to manage.

And so ended our girl’s weekend of shopping, dining, opera and champagne & limousine service. Time to start planning our next trip.

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