After a day of walking up and down hills, good food, great friends, and free-flowing drinks, I’m happily exhausted. I love how that’s the way things are on visits to San Francisco.
When Jan had a bachelor party to attend in the city and suggested I drive up with him and spend time with our friend Lucy, I quickly agreed.
After arriving at Lucy’s in Haight Ashbury, our first stop, before we could do anything else, was to get Jan some serious food. We walked to Rosamunde’s Sausage Grill, where Jan ordered the nuernberger bratwurst (savory pork). We waited in the small restaurant, which had a handful of barstools lining the counters at the front windows.
Two sausages were grilled and served with sauerkraut and peppers on a toasted French roll. This was the kind of gourmet hot dog Jan had been dreaming of. But we had to get back in time to head off for the picnic Lucy planned, so we tested the to-go qualities of the bun as we walked back to get the rest of the picnic ready. Jan might have had mustard all over his face, but he could now carve the chicken Lucy had roasted earlier without dying of hunger.
While Jan headed off to meet the boys at AT&T Park for a Giants game, Lucy and I caught the bus and headed toward the Presidio.
We met friends at the top of the Lyon steps at Lyon and Broadway, enjoying a beautiful view on a sunny day. Then we walked into the adjacent Presidio in search of a good picnic spot. Our map hadn’t told us of all the construction projects going on where picnic tables had been listed, but we finally found a table hidden away between rows of converted army housing.
Lucy was a picnic pro, and I was so impressed that she brought tablecloths, real plates, and silverware. I thought that was what had made Lucy’s backpack so heavy on our walk through the Presidio, at least until Lucy pulled out the 32 oz. bottle of Tapatio we’d gotten for her during our last visit! (See An open mind, and mouth, for oysters).
We feasted on roast chicken, sausages from Rosamunde’s, guacamole, cheese, pickles, dried fruits and several bottles of Pinot Noir. Though I’m not usually a gazpacho fan, Lucy’s gazpacho topped with avocado was excellent. I thought it would have also made the most delicious bloody mary.
But we stuck to red wine, and continued stuffing ourselves on tasty two-bite brownies and chewy peanut butter cookies from Whole Foods. We rolled ourselves to the bus stop and up the last hill back to Lucy’s place.
After resting our feet and several cups of tea at Lucy’s, it was time to continue work burning off our picnic. We met up with Jan on his way back from the bachelor party and all headed to the Castro.
The Mix bar on 18th street provided the atmosphere we needed. And it was conveniently located across from Nizario’s pizza, where Jan sampled a combination slice on our way into the bar and the California (chicken, pesto, spinach, and feta) on the way out.
In the morning, Lucy had prepared us a real Midwestern breakfast. (She’d asked me the day before if I preferred cereal and granola for a lighter option, and I heartily declined, saying I liked to use the vacation excuse whenever I could.)
We had breakfast sausage, Canadian bacon, and bacon served on the meat platter. There were also pancakes, strawberries, blackberries, and Greek yogurt. Then there was fresh walnut bread and butter. And Lucy even heated the maple syrup on the stove and put it in a mini-pitcher, the perfect combination of West meets Midwest!
We headed to Flora Grubb Gardens for some backyard inspiration, and Lucy enjoyed a beautiful cup of coffee as I took in garden ideas to duplicate at home (though I won’t be copying the car-as-planter idea).
After saying goodbye to our gracious host, Jan and I headed across the Bay Bridge. We already had our lunch in mind: meatballs at IKEA in Emeryville. It’s become the tradition that we’ll brave Saturday IKEA crowds for, even though we realize the meatballs aren’t the best. But, we did get to stock up on a staple in our household: Lingonberry preserves.
Finally it was time to head home, for some much-needed rest after our two-day vacation.