Monday, April 30, 2012

Sometimes the weekend lives up the hype

Over the past four months I have either traveled or recovered from traveling on my weekends here in San Francisco.

This past weekend did not follow that trend.

Needless to say, people like me don't often have weekends like the one I will recount in all its glory for your reading pleasure. It was rare for me to have such a weekend even in the best city in the world.  So I can now say, without any doubt, that after a weekend of epic proportions, San Francisco has a lot to do. Perhaps, it has more to do than New York. Or at least it is easier to do it here.

But now, for my epic weekend of epic-ness. It all started as the sun was breaking the horizon and other overly-dramatic descriptions of Saturday morning.

I woke up naturally due to the previously mentioned sun at 5:45am, got up and got ready for my 15 mile run with my chums from SFRRC at Lake Merced.

Now, for those of you who don't know San Francisco that well, or even for those of you who do, Lake Merced is no where near anything useful. It is deep in the Sunset/Cal State SF area and really far from my apartment.  Most runs with SFRRC start near Chrissy Field but this weekend CalTrans decided to blow up part of the Golden Gate Bridge, making running down there not the best idea.  So out to the hinterlands we went.

Thankfully, I only had to take a quick bus ride and then was picked up by my running chum and new tempo partner Ken for the rest of the ride to the meeting point.  Yet all of the transportation needs aside, this run was beautiful.  We circled Lake Merced and then crested a hill that took us down to the Great Highway presenting an unobstructed and non-fog soaked view of the Pacific complete with frosty white caps.

This was the view over the hill, and it was crystal clear blue. Thank Google for pic. I don't run with a camera.
The run took us through most of the Outer Sunset and around Lake Merced. This little beach community feels like a different world in comparison to the rest of San Francisco but it was fun to check it out and with one more run today, I will hit 100 miles for the month, which puts me back -- or least closer to -- on track for my goal for the year.

After Ken dropped me off at Trader Joe's, I took a shower and headed down to Little Marina Green to help umpire a Slap Cancer. Save Lives kickball tournament (I mean, where else would it be?). This was a great and ridiculous event.  There was a beer hook up from Black Star and lots of neon.  And lots of ego.  I often forget that while I was a proud member of a fraternity, I wasn't really a frat boy. This event was a throw back to college, in all of its glory.

Colson Griffith Photography via Facebook and

But the best part of the entire thing was that there were what seemed like hundreds people out having a great time working hard to raise money for cancer research. As I have mentioned briefly before, I am working a bit (and not hard enough) on the PR for this fantastic campaign. I know I have a number of readers who also believe cancer sucks and if they are so inclined I support their choice to make a donation to help us Slap Cancer.

Puppy by Colson Griffith Photography
Also this puppy was there. So that is fun.

For those keeping track, it was about 4:45pm when I left the kickball tournament so to change quickly, grab a Red Bull, and meet up with my (and soon to be our) also-new-to-the-city-also-foodies friends, Ali and Cybil, for pre-dinner, drinking, dinner and more drinks along Divisadero.

Somewhat unintentionally we ended up going all European with our dining experience. We were given a primo seat in the front, as we enjoyed Bar Crudo's Happy Hour beers and seafood chowder. This seafood chowder was mind-blowing, and for $5 a bowl during happy hour it may become a place I go after work when I am feeling sorry for myself; it cures what ails you.  At the same time this chowder was sweet, briny, and fresh.  The coarse cracked pepper accented the carefully selected, clearly fresh sea food that found its delicious end in my bowl.  We also had pan seared shishito peppers with boquerones, which were fantastic if a bit spicy.  The heat was only a problem because it took away from the chowder. 

Onward and upward to the semi-dive Page  for a few beverages and me losing a painful game of Foosball (see above re: Frat boy), as we waited for our table at Ragazza.  I love a good beer with a side car of throat -burning whiskey as much as the next blue blooded American, and this was no exception.  This was the best drink of the evening, without any doubt. We sat in the back, undisturbed and just talked about stuff.  It was fun.

With our table ready at Ragazza, we crossed the street and the three of us squished into a table for two, again in the front of the restaurant. We ordered warmed olives and a not-as-good-as-my-dad's-chopped-liver chicken liver pate to start and then we shared a local asparagus with preserved lemon, leeks, green garlic, and ricotta pizza, which lived up to the wait.  What was most impressive was the crunch of the asparagus. Also, the crust was fluffy and almost sour dough like, which makes sense considering we are in San Francisco.

Then after a drink at our go-to-Ethiopian bar, because everyone has one, I called it a night around mid-night.  And thus Saturday was over.

Sunday also was early, with a trip to grab cash money and coffee and then off to meet my sister's besty and also my chum Gold, who was nice enough to take me to Tahoe with her friends in February.  Gold, who works for a particular search/Internet company that allows its employees to rent buses for like almost no money at all, planned what became what she called "a debaucherous Sunday." So all 25 of us packed in this bus and we went off on a tour of Sonoma.

While it would have been a blast in the worst of circumstances, the weather could not have been better in wine country yesterday.

We all sat on the ground and threw stones at each other.
Three wineries and brew pub was an ambitious plan and we did said plan proud. We starting at Landmark  which is known for its Pinot and Chardonnay (one of which they tell us has been served at the White House since the 1980s.) I purchased one bottle there and it was well worth it. The tasting room and court yard was just beautiful.  We then went across the street to to VJB Cellars which was not as great but the space will be wonderful for a midday wine and lunch break when the construction is completed.

The bus then took a slight hour detour slash adventure in the wrong direction to the Third Street Brew Pub of Santa Rosa (fine for lunch and pool) and finally to Mayo Wines, where the wheels really started to come off the bus (sorry went there).  Mayo was great and provided generous tastes, as well as ample opportunity to revisit.  The guy was a bit short with us because we were well over two hours late but we ended up getting him to talk to us about his 17,000+ bottle collection and also to chill out a bit. It was fun and we took the above picture in the court yard of the tasting room.

The ride home was equally as crazy, even with at least a third of the crew passing out. I didn't even get into our fantastic and bad-ass bus driver.  We got home at about 9pm and it was time for some grub and bad TV.

But the real story here was that a hug group of people, many from very different places can come together, get on a bus, and have a grand old time.  I honestly believe we would have had a blast without the fruit of vine. 

Over all, this weekend only could have been better if Abby, my lovely wife, was with us.  This was an EPIC weekend of fun and I hope to have more when she FINALLY gets out here in LESS THAN A MONTH!

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