East Coast Love on the West Coast

Another month goes by and San Francisco is finally warming up - in both temperature and in my heart. 
I find the acclimation process extremely interesting. Everyone has their own way of coping with change. Some are abnormally adverse to it, avoiding it at all costs. Some thrive off it, fearing anything routine or consistent. But I'm willing to bet that the majority of us are somewhere in the middle. I suspect the most common path of acclimation is to be uncomfortable and resistant at first, but gradually grow into it. I am the exact opposite. After 28yrs of observation, I have finally found a behavioral pattern. I embrace change rather blindly, grasping at silver linings in an effort to convince myself I am one of those bold, adventurous people, until I eventually crack and explode into a torrent of tears and frustration. WHY DON'T I LOVE IT YET?! Then I toy with the idea of giving up and going home. And then when I've finally exhausted myself into a piling heap of ambivalence, guess what? I finally start to appreciate it.

It happened on a trip to Spain once. I spent the entire trip ooh and ahhing my way around museums, doing my best to soak up and revel in their joie de vivre - well, the Spanish version. With only three days left on our trip I had a meltdown. I had had it with the heat, the ham and holiness. I needed a break from change. A small taste of home and familiarity. And it came in the form of a gigantic plate of spaghetti and meatballs. Horrible spaghetti and meatballs at that, as I had no patience to look for a good Italian restaurant. I'm actually embarrassed to say that I spent the entire dinner in silence, proudly slurping my Progresso y pasta, but repairing my courage bite by bite. And as pouty, childish and uncouth it sounds, it worked. The rest of the trip was a blur of discovery and enjoyment. And guess who had tears in her eyes come boarding time? I'm not proud of it, but I have come to learn I am the ultimate boil-over-er - a highly technical term. It happened in London too.

Well, the pot hast boil-eth over here in San Francisco, but fortunately it was well timed with a bit of home coming to visit. I spent the past month searching for the perfect apartment, the perfect job, a sliver of sunshine. I was cold, lost, unemployed and homeless - well, not in the literal sense - lets keep things in perspective. But I was frustrated and exhausted, and ready to throw in the towel. But just in the nick of time, my weekend presented a melting pot of East coast family and friends in town. And they brought with them a little taste of home, in the form of Frankie Spuntino's Kitchen Companion and Cooking Manual. After a long day of hiking and biking, my brother and sister-in-law turned our kitchen into one of my favorite NYC restaurants. They recreated my favorite dish, Cavatelli with Sausage and Browned Sage Butter (though it's a real tossup between that and their famous meatballs). On the side we had Sweet and Sour Eggplant with Ricotta Salata and Mint - a distinctly different take on traditional eggplant parm - and a 'NYC meets Cali' salad of Avocado, Red Onion and Tomato. We topped it all off with many a bottle of wine from our trip up to Napa. And so I ate, drank and laughed my way back to being myself again, surrounded by the people and food I hold dear to my heart.

And that's when happened. While I was playing tour guide extraordinaire (and finally enjoying some beautiful weather), I started to discover the true beauty of San Francisco. My findings so far:

1. It's stunning.

Our new backyard - Dolores Park:
Sunset at Stinson Beach:
The Cataract Waterfalls:
2. It's verdant.

Hiking Dipsea Trail:
Alpine Dam Trail:

Honig Winery, Napa Valley:

3. It's quirky. 

The infamous fog, rolling on in:

The wonder that is a split bathroom (who would put the toilet separate from the sink?! Ew.) Or pink tile for that matter.
This weekend held one of the largest SBDM and leather subculture events, which made for some of THE BEST people watching ever. Don't ask, just Google it.
4) It has a GREAT sense of humor.

My local manicurist:
Neighborhood Italian restaurant:
And our local pub:

My 'East Coast Meets West Coast' Salad: (serves 4)
(otherwise known as Frankie Spuntino's Tomato, Avocado and Red Onion Salad
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2T. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Hass avocados
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Core the tomatoes and slice into wedges. Combine in a large bowl with the sliced onion, large pinch of sea salt, oil and vinegar. 
  2. Gently toss and divide among four bowls.
  3. Halve, pit, peel and slice the avocados and divide among the four bowls.
  4. Sprinkle the avocado with a small pinch of salt and drizzle each bowl with a little olive oil.
  5. Finish with a few grinds of black pepper just before the salad goes to the table.

Miss you already!
- The Heat