City Switch: Food Edition

My grand plans to spend my birthday in Paris have been done in by, what else, reality. Since I took an extra month and a half or so to turn in my last manuscript, it's gummed up the works. My poor overworked editor has to read the thing and like it enough to give it a place on next year's publishing schedule before I'll see a check cut for that first third of my advance.

If she doesn't like it, as is her esteemed right, there won't be a check, so ha! But it's only been a week (8 days to be exact) since I emailed it over to her and I'm going to play it cool and wait at least another week (7 days to be exact) before I make the call or send an email asking for reassurance that I don't suck as a writer.

But this (my writing career) is all beside the point. What's foremost on my mind is my birthday and where I will be spending it. Paris was a grandly romantic idea full of long aimless walks and no agenda other than to just see what vacation life is there while most residents have fled for the south to crackle under the sun. I also wanted to stay a while, no four day three night trip for me, and had budgeted all of my advance toward the costs of making my fantasy birthday a reality.

Well, there is no advance (yet?) and things like airline tickets and hotel reservations usually don't turn out as happy when made last minute and in desperation. So I've nixed Paris (for this year) and instead have turned my sights toward...San Francisco!

Yes, I'll be going back to where I lived for a decade and moved away from four (?!) years ago. And that's more than dandy with me because I've found that I really enjoy visiting San Francisco. I love the city, the sights, the food and friends I took for granted when I could have enjoyed them on a daily basis. If all goes well (my editor likes my book), I'll be spending a week and my advance there and this is how I plan to do it...

I ate Aqua when I was something like six or seven months pregnant. I took the husband there for his first almost Father's Day and all I remember was having to stop a few times on the short walk from the parking lot the restaurant entrance to clutch my belly. Things, the kid, were shifting around and I'd decided to wear high heels. In the end, I had a damn good meal that was all about fish and other sea creatures. It might be just a coincidence but the kid has turned out to be a seafood fanatic.

During the dumb and heady days of the dot.com boom, I did things with my paycheck that I really regret (a pair of really uncomfortable $300 handmade French flats? Dumb), but eating at Jardiniere on a regular basis was not one of them. It became our go-to place to celebrate things like anniversaries, elopements, unnecessary salary bumps, etc.

It is a strong contender, purely based on nostalgia, to see me again chowing down on my birthday but I also really want to finally give Fleur de Lys a try. I never got around to it, always saying "Let's just go to Jardiniere." Maybe now that I'm older, I'll be able to appreciate it. (But I'm not sure I can handle three major restaurant meals in the span of four or five days that I'll be in the city. I do plan to do a lot of walking but I'm not sure it'll compensate for all that I'll eat and enjoy. Unless I walk the 400 miles home to L.A...)

When I lived across the street from Dolores Park, I had so much wonderful eating within blocks of my door step. One of my favorite places was Slanted Door either for a last minute to-go dinner or for a Sunday late, late lunch where I'd hog the Five Spice Chicken and start every meal with a Spring Roll. To this day, I measure all spring rolls against Slanted Doors and have found them all lacking to be lacking. (Really, a tight roll makes a big difference especially when it comes to dipping in the peanut sauce.) I've been to the three of Slanted Door's homes (first on Valencia St and then on the corner of Bryant(?)) and found it's current location at the Embarcadero to be a nice walk to and around, but the inside is kind of cold and way too noisy.

This is why I almost peed my pants when I found myself enjoying the height of mall food at Slanted Door's Westfield Shopping Center offshoot. Out The Door. There I can get my Spring Roll and dine in without having to rush over before they switch to the dinner menu because, really, it feels funny to ask for a table when you're only having an appetizer and glass of lemonade for a meal. That's right, the fancy mall has a kick ass food court and is reason enough to visit the city. The last time I went, I beyond enjoyed wandering in with a book and a shopping bag and ordering a Spring Roll and lemonade for lunch. (The lemonade is the perfect blend of tart and sweet that only comes from real lemons, limes and simple syrup.) I swear, it's what I ate every single day (once twice in a day). It's what I plan to do again because they still have the best damn Spring Rolls I've ever tasted.

Next week I'll go over my bunking down options. And, yes, my options range from the thrifty to the "Are you serious?"

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