San Francisco

My friend Pam called to say she was going to be in San Francisco, so Chris and I drove up to see her. Our plan was to meet her at the airport, go somewhere for lunch, maybe go to a museum and consume as much Chinese food as we could.

Pam’s flight left New York the morning the British terrorist plot was revealed, so her luggage didn’t make it. Her trip in San Francisco started at the America Airlines lost baggage office. I was surprised that Louis Vuitton has their own category on the lost bag picture chart (Pam wasn’t using Louis Vuitton).

It was after noon and we were hungry so we went to the closest, good airport dim sum restaurant, Fook Yuen (not Fook Yu) in Millbrae. I hadn’t been there in a while and I remembered it as being kind of grungy but there was a Lamborghini parked across the street and mostly Chinese looking people inside, a good sign. The food was better than I remember or else I was really hungry (just like I remember that sandwich Jambon I had somewhere in Normandy as the best one I ever had). I always like to point out that har gau (??) would probably cost $12.50 as an appetizer in a hoity-toity restaurant.

de Young Museum Entryway
de Young Museum Entryway

After lunch, we decided to go to the de Young Museum to see The Quilts of Gee’s Bend. I took 101 to 380 to 280, so we came in on 19th Avenue and it was cloudy. It was just like home.

Chris and I had been to the newly remodeled de Young last October. The old building was my mother’s favorite museum, maybe because when she was alive, the Asian Art Museum was at the same location as the de Young.

I wasn’t sure if I liked the new design. It seemed a little monolithic – at least a monolith that got knocked over. From a distance, with the palm trees, I get an Egyptian feeling from the site.

de Young Museum gardens
de Young Museum gardens

We walked toward the entrance from the Japanese Tea Garden side so we moved to the path closest to the building so we could see the copper and the texture. The entryway seems to be designed to crush you before you cross a courtyard to enter the building.

At the little sales area near the quilt exhibit, I went to buy a post card to send to my sister. The guy in front of me said to the cashier that he wished he could take some of the quilts home. The cashier told him he could go downtown to some gallery and buy them. I settled for a post card.

de Young Museum Sculpture Garden
de Young Museum Sculpture Garden

Outside, the trees in the Sculpture Garden looked like they were experiencing autumn. We sat outside drinking our Vitamin Water and I was actually cold, like the unverified quote attributed to Mark Twain: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

We drove downtown and checked into The Royal Pacific Motor Inn. We decided to walk to Pam’s hotel at Stockton and Sutter.

Every time I walk down Grant Avenue it’s a reminder of my childhood. Near Washington Street on Grant is Fat Ming & Co, a Chinese stationary store that was one of my father’s accounts. Further down the street, Pam bought a backscratcher. I kept thinking of the New York Times real Chinatown story about how it really is on Stockton, but I thought Grant Avenue is as much Chinatown as the greengrocers and butchers on Stockton.

Fat Ming & Co., 903 Grant Avenue, San Francisco
Fat Ming & Co.

At the southeast corner of Grant and Washington was a little grocery store called the Lucky Corner, another one of my father’s accounts. My family used to go here after dinner when I was a little kid so we could get some candy for dessert and some malted milk tablets for Charlie. Once a tall black man asked me if I liked jazz and he bent over and gave me a Dizzy for President button (a quick Internets search put this sometime in 1963). We made one more stop at the Far East Cafe, because Pam remembered the enclosed private dining tables that had curtains and a doorbell to call the waiter. There was only a single row of “rooms” remaining so we proceeded toward Union Square.

At the Grand Hyatt, there was some deal making going on at registration. Since they were overbooked, they offered Pam a $99 room with a view, but no bed – there was a pull out sofa instead of her $250 room they did not have. They should ask Seinfeld what a reservation is. I told Pam it would just be like staying at someone’s house. We went up to inspect it – it was an additional room of a suite. It did have a view.

Anchor Steam Beer, Hog Island Oyster Co.
Hog Island Oyster Co.

After checking in to Pam’s hotel we walked down Stockton to the Apple store. It didn’t seem that interesting to me. I’m waiting for a Core 2 Duo 12″ Macbook Pro.

We decided to go to the Ferry Building for a drink. Besides being a ferry building, the Ferry Building is now the Ferry Building Marketplace – a destination instead of a transit point. There are all sorts of upscale, organic foody places there. We ordered some oysters, an artichoke, some crab cakes, wine and beer at some oyster bar place. All I can say is it was no Oyster Bar at Grand Central.

Ciao Bella Gelato Co at the Ferry Building
Ciao Bella Gelato Co

I shot this pixture so Robert could see the Gelato prices in San Francisco.

After appeteezers, it was on to my favorite restaurant in San Francisco, Yuet Lee. Since we had been eating all day, there wasn’t room for crab with black bean sauce.

I did remember the time Chris and I were supposed to meet Diane and Don and a bunch of people at Yuet Lee. They were over an hour and a half late, so I decided to drink beers until they arrived. Nine beers later, they arrived. After dinner, we went to a former Basque restaurant that was now a hip bar. I was clearly twice the age of the average patron. It was crowded and when a table cleared, several young women that I had been talking to at the bar sat down with me because they thought I was charming.

Yuet Lee Restaurant
Yuet Lee Restaurant

The next morning, I went shopping for Chinese food supplies. When I came back, Pam was standing in front of our motel on the phone talking to Chris. Skip’s plane was landing soon so we decided to have dim sum for breakfast and went across the street to Gold Mountain. When we sat down, we noticed that Jim Drake was missing so Pam called Jim at home in Philadelphia. I hadn’t talked to Jim for a long time and it was good to hear his voice. We had a good time when we shared our office together at ABC and mocked Fox for trying to be a sports network.

After breakfast, we dropped Pam off at her hotel. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to meet Skip, but it was good to see Pam again.