07 December, 2009

And then on Sunday

Actually to finish off Saturday, Emilia and I baked a loaf of bread. And here it is with a small proud baker.

We ate it for breakfast, after waking at 8 naturally and without the pad pad pad of small and demanding children first. Sunday afternoon we wandered off down to Dolores Park which is a few blocks north of us. (An aside: for some reason I can't get my head round the fact that the city centre is north of us and we live in the south of the city. I think it may be because I spent nearly 20 years in north London, but I'm always getting this wrong.)

Dolores Park is a sloping green space of about two blocks worth, with tennis courts, a large play area and a big statue of the Mexican Liberator Miguel Hidalgo at the top. And, no, I hadn't heard of him before either. The views of the city as it is on a north-east facing slope are wonderful.

And as far as the children are concerned, one of the park's main attractions is the nearby ice cream shop, Bi-rite Creamery. This is one I have been recommended to go to, appears in books and on food guides to the city and Tom had already been (though he had no clue about that until we got there). Apparently one of their specialities is salted caramel, so naturally I had that. It was fantastic. Really really fantastic. The other flavours chosen were a cinnamon ice cream with snickerdoodles in it which was good, a coffee toffee which was a bit grainy and not as good as Mitchell's coffee and candy cane which I think had broken up stick of rock in it, but was actually very nice indeed.

After that we popped into the Bi-rite Market across the road which is a posh food shop selling organic veg, meat and fish and everything you'd expect in a delicatessen. Very nice with very nice prices to match, the most gob-smacking of which was $99.99 a lb for Jamon Iberico. I know it's expensive but !!! That's an extreme example, as until recently it was apparently banned in the US (fools!) but a lot of European food is very very highly priced, which is as it should be considering the distances it has travelled and so on. I don't particularly have a problem with this except in one specific area: cheese. Name me one high quality American cheese. Bet you can't. And if you can, thank you, because I can't find any. I am curious to know why there isn't a strong cheese culture over here (groan!). Is there a reason that the Americans don't make different and interesting cheeses? I have a friend in New Zealand who has the same problem and misses her cheddar etc. Why no New World cheeses to match Stilton or Camembert?

Anyway moving on, we wandered towards Mission Street, past these magnificent murals (on the Women's Building).

The Mission district has a distinctly different feel about it and yet it is only a couple of blocks from the rather chi-chi Noe Valley. In fact it's hard to say where one ends and the other begins but you know they do. As we walked up Mission Street towards home, Tom and I looked at each other and said "Mare Street, Hackney". The over-riding culture of the neighbourhood (Hispanic) may be different from Hackney, but it has a familiar feel to it. Fascinating, but also dodgy (or sketchy in US English). Wouldn't particularly want to walk there at night, and you have to keep your wits about you in the day time too. But the food shopping looks amazing - live crabs and lobster, good and diverse butchers, piles of fruit and veg, Mexican specialities and so on. And I like that cars driving past are often playing Mexican music at full blast - makes a change from Hip-Hop and SF suddenly feels thoroughly foreign.

Our last shopping stop was a linen store in the Mission where we bought blankets. And we got home just before a hail shower. I know. Hail. Unusual enough for locals to emerge and gasp at it. The children at school were still talking about it this morning. It is cold right now. I am glad I packed my thermals and today I bought a winter jacket and my hat has been in use again. Not bitter UK cold yet, but there's a distinct nip in the air and there's talk (hushed awed talk) of a frost.


Doug Cutting said...

There are some good local cheeses, but they're not always a bargain. http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/ even has a shop in the ferry building. Other locals of note are Humboldt Fog from http://www.cypressgrovechevre.com/, and Rouge et Noire from http://www.marinfrenchcheese.com/.

Anne C said...

Yes, get thee to the Cowgirl Creamery! We might meet you there actually... Mt. Tam and Red Hawk are two more good ones from here.

Eliane said...

That's what I like to see! Cheese-eating Americans leaping to the defence of their dairy products. Notes duly made - taste notes to follow.