This past weekend was a great little getaway to one of my favorite cities.
We left bright and beamy before the sun rose in fact on Thursday and our flight was there before breakfast.
We took in some live comedy at the Punchline, met up with friends for drinks plus supper at the popular Hayes Valley German eatery Suppenkuche.
This world-renowned San Francisco saloon located in North Beach just across from the infamous City Lights Bookstore, was first established in 1948 and remains an historical monument to jazz, poetry, art and the good life of the Beat Generation. Vesuvio attracts a diverse clientele: artists, chess players, cab drivers, seamen and business people, European visitors, off-duty exotic dancers and bon vivants from all walks of life.
On October 17, 1955, Neal Cassady, the real life Dean Moriarty of the quintessential Beat classic On the Road, stopped at Vesuvio on the way to the now legendary Six Gallery for a poetry reading, and the place has never been the same. It became a regular hangout of Jack Kerouac and other famous Beat poets and has become ground zero for pilgrims on the Beat trail ever since.
It was here that Jack Kerouac once spent a long night in 1960 when he should have been on his way to Big Sur to meet with Henry Miller. Miller had written Kerouac that he enjoyed reading The Dharma Bums and would enjoy a visit from the emerging writer. Kerouac, however, had other plans. He continued to hoist drinks and called Miller every hour telling him that he was just a bit delayed in leaving the city. The two would never meet that night..
We got seats up in the teeny wooden upper gallery and had a round of Fernet-Branca shooters chased with ginger ale.
Then were were off to do some late night book shop next door at City Lights- ahhh- a bookstore you could live in. Elena on the last few days before her US naturalization ceremony picked up a Chekov collection from her native country.
Then we ran across the street to my favorite old world SF cafe, The Tosca Cafe
The oldest espresso machines in San Francisco, two tall chrome beauties manufactured by Victoria Arduino of Torino and dating to 1920, can be found at Tosca, a smoky cafe with dark and dusky murals of operas, Puccini and Venezia. Nighttime is the time at Tosca, since the doors open at 5 PM. Eyestrain is a definite possibility in this dimly lit space, but the smart, baby-boomer crowd doesn't seem to mind. They are more focused on ordering cappuccinos from barmen in short white waistcoats who prowl the long, backlit bar at the front of this sexy cafe. A cappuccino at Tosca means a concoction of steamed milk, brandy and chocolate, a tradition dating to Prohibition, when patrons used the code word "cappuccino" to get a spiked drink.
Then a quick nightcap next door in the alleyway at Beat favorite Spec's.
The following morning, we headed out to the Mission district to the glorious 1922 Castro Theatre for a few hours of rare Vitaphone sound shorts from the 20's at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.
I had never been to this theatre before and was dying to see it in person.
The Vitaphone shorts were terrific- only two I had seen before at Cinecon in 2006- the rest were all new to me. My favorites were Harlem Mania with the Norman Thomas Quintet, Lamb Chops with Gracie Allen & George Burns and Going Places with Shaw & Lee.
Got some great rare books up in the mezzanine on silent star Alma Rubens- who died sadly much to young due to her drug use- and one with interviews of the silent greats plus a gorgeous SF Silent Film Festival black Louise Brooks tee shirt.
We walked down the block afterwards...
and had a great lunch at Anchor Oyster Bar which has been picked as the best SF oyster bar. Its a cute little nautical cafe straight out of the 40's with jazz music and the best seafood ever.
I even managed to chip my tooth on the garlic bread but kept on eating...
Next we took the train up to the Marina to visit Brynn at the Lush shoppe on Union Street where her office is and to meet her gorgeous little baby girl Anais.
This part of town is stunning and this Lush is HUGE...
Little Anais was the very eager model for a baby skincare demo...
Here she is looking gorgeous in the sweater we got her held by her Auntie...
We rested up as that night we were headed to Noe Valley for a meal at Chef Chris Cosentino's Incanto.
This was the best dining experience of my life. The food was incredible and the service, the menu, the environment divine.
Just a few short snaps on that here as I will expound over on Bonne Bouche in more detail.
Then Mike & Elena called it a night since they had a doubles tennis match in the morning.
Matt & I went out in the Mission, walking and taking in the scene, some dancing, some imbibing of great ginger margaritas at a fun African bar and then a comedy of errors of us trying to get home on foot in the rain. No cabs were available, the buses were all nearly an hour's wait and did I mention it was cold too? haha... Matt took his shoes off for me to walk in as my heels were killing me. I didn't want him to but that was how it went down...me wearing his huge shoes and he in soaking wet socks- in the wet cold walking for blocks and blocks...wheeeee!
The following day, we headed up to Chinatown for some exploring and good eats at the yummy House of Nanking.
We later went shopping in the Market district, got some nice duds and headed back to the loft to pack up for our flight.
We will be back soon I hope.
I will leave you on a mini SF photo montage note...