bonny_kate: (Default)
Sunday of the road trip we went into San Francisco. It was great fun. We saw lot's of guys (and some gals) in military uniform for Fleet week, tried on piles of different hats, watched some of the air show, and paid an exorbitant amount for parking.

I had never been in San Francisco before for Fleet Week, and I don't think I'd ever heard of it before. There are, as I learned, two objectives if you are in San Francisco for Fleet Week. First, you must see the air show. It was really cool, with the various planes in various formations making shapes, suddenly pulling up, going into controlled spins, and so on. We even saw the Blue Angels, which I'm sure my uncle, who is very much into planes, will be very interested to know. But the second objective is to take pictures with as many guys in uniform, preferably good looking, as you can. Liz and Irene got the most pictures, but Maggie and Nikki and I had a few, including one with several obliging guys. Actually, all the guys that we asked were nice enough to let us take pictures, although some of them looked a little dubious about the whole thing. We also snagged a picture with a guy who looked exactly like Captain Jack Sparrow, or at least, I couldn't tell the difference.

We mostly wandered around Pier 39, which was quite fun, and tried on many different hats at the Krazy Kaps store (although I have no idea why they felt it necessary to change the 'c's to 'k's). My favorite hat, which I almost bought, was a nifty little cream fedora. It had a darker brown band, and what made it particularly spiffy and quirky was the addition of a printed feather on the side. It was, however, a bit expensive, and when I went back later they didn't have it in my size, so I think it was not meant to be, oh fedora.

We ate lunch at Bubba Gumps, which is, for anyone who doesn't know, mostly a shrimp place. I am not a shrimp person, neither, apparently, is Liz, nor Nikki, and Maggie was not in the mood for shrimp, so the only person who had shrimp was Irene. I think I can say that we were all disappointed, I know that I was, not because it was horrible, for it wasn't, but because it really wasn't that good. The service was alright, although they put too much ice in Liz's drink to begin with, and the food was alright, but it just wasn't that exciting. I suspect that I was mentally comparing it to that little Italian restaurant, and found it sadly lacking. But it did give us a nice view of the ocean.

Of course, we left late, and got home later (Irene the latest of us all, because she had an additional couple hours to drive), but it was quite worth it.
bonny_kate: (Default)
Friday night, after driving back from the Renaissance Faire, we decided to find a restaurant for dinner (seeing that Ren Faire prices are always high). By the time we got back to Maggie's apartment it was about eight thirty, and after we changed out of our costumes and into something a little less conspicuous, and with Maggie's roommate Nikki, we left to find a restaurant. Now, we had decided that we didn't want a chain restaurant, but we wanted to find something better. Maggie and Nikki had no idea where we could find the sort of restaurant we wanted. Liz suggested Italian, which we agreed sounded good. But finding a little restaurant near San Francisco at nine on a Friday that is open and doesn't look sketchy is a bit of an undertaking.

We drove around and saw a few restaurants, some chains, and various Asian restaurants, none of them looking particularly interesting. The first bit of the adventure was a disappointment. But the point of an adventure is to take the risk that you may end up at some place like Denny's, or at some sketchy little restaurant that you walk out of, or that the food tastes horrible, all of which make for a great story, if not the experience that you want. So we end up driving down some main street, and I think at that point we are officially in San Francisco. Liz saw a Walgreen and said that we were approaching civilization, and indeed we were. We saw lot's of Mexican food. We saw St. Mary's Irish Pub. We saw more Mexican food, with some other interesting combination that I can't remember (I fully expect Irene to remind me what the combination was). But we aren't in the mood to try St Mary's Irish Pub, and no one is particularly enthused about Mexican food. We considered going back and eating at some chain. But suddenly I saw a sign for an Italian Restaurant, and even more importantly, Liz saw that there was an empty parking space in front of it. We had no idea of it would be any good, we had no idea if it was even open, but Liz said that it was a sign. There was the Italian restaurant, and there was the empty parking space. But this is San Francisco, and we had already passed the restaurant, and Irene had to somehow turn around. There were many one way streets. There were many street intersections that forbid u-turns. Of course, by time we reached the Italian Restaurant, the parking space was gone.

This did not deter us, because we had seen the sign (of the empty parking space), and had decided that we would try this restaurant. We found parking in a side street. Strangely, the parking spot in front of the restaurant was mysteriously empty by time we reached it. Amazingly, the restaurant was open.

We walked in, and the first thing I saw was a beautiful chandelier in the entry; a small entry, but quite beautiful as the chandelier reflected in the mirror. The restaurant was small, perhaps not more than twenty tables. Each table was covered in a beautiful white tablecloth, with a red rose in a vase at the center, and the flickering candles on the tables lit the restaurant. The walls were covered with pictures of Italian opera singers, and Italian opera was playing quietly in the background. It was beautiful. Our first thought, which I know we shared, was that this would almost certainly be too expensive for our budgets. Fortunately, we were wrong.

The food was amazing. The bread was little loaves, thinly sliced. I ate an entire loaf, I think. I don't know how to describe it, because it didn't taste particularly like anything, such as garlic, or cheese, or spices, but was just a very excellent bread. It wasn't light, but it was particularly heavy, but it was fantastic and very hot. I had the tortellini, in a white sauce, which was wonderful. It was all wonderful, and more so because we had stumbled across it. We split the tiramisu, which was amazing. Irene had thought she had tasted tiramisu before, but realized that she hadn't, because this was really tiramisu, not just cheap imitations.

It was one of those stories that is difficult to tell, not because of the adventure of finding the restaurant, but because of the restaurant itself. The elegance of the restaurant, the taste of the food, was such a strange contrast. It was serendipitous that was found the one Italian restaurant in the midst of all those Mexican restaurants, and that it was so good.

It was a grand adventure.
bonny_kate: (kaylee)
"It began quite simply," said Kate, sitting back in the tan armchair. "I wanted to visit Maggie in San Francisco, and we thought we wanted to go to a Ren Faire. Then Irene decided to come, and Liz was planning on going to San Francisco that weekend anyway."

So begins the -

The Girl-Who-Went-To-The-Ren-Faire's Tale

Well, Friday we (being Liz, Irene and myself) drove up to San Francisco. Then we all crashed on Maggie floor. Now, she has a studio apartment that she shares with her roommate, Nikki, and so there isn't much room. Since the two of them are only there for a few months for a program that they're in, we really were all on the floor. I'm still not sure how the heating in the apartment works, except that you have to flip a switch in the bathroom, thereby turning that room into a sauna and the rest of the apartment into something comfortable.

We (having now added Maggie to our number) were planning to leave on Saturday by nine or so, and even managed to leave about then, but by time we got breakfast, gas, and Irene got cash it was later (of course). You can't rush these things. Interestingly enough, nobody at McDonald's really stared at three girls in pirate Renaissance garb. Who would've thought. Then we drove south an hour and a half or so to the Ren Faire. Now, the directions to the Ren Faire were remarkably vague, and really only included an address. So we get off the freeway, Irene is driving at this point, and drive along this road. Which sort of splits. Which turns into sort of a freeway, the kind with occasional left turn bays and very occasional off ramps. We eventually see a giant sign with a picture of a giant pie on it, and at the top it says "Casa de Fruta" and across the bottom it says "Renaissance Faire" with the date. Note a smidge of directions that we saw at all. Liz is fascinated by the giant pie sign. We drive past the Case de Fruta, looking frantically for signs, and as we drive past I see a sign for Renaissance Faire parking. This is quite exciting, because we found it, and crazy because now we have to turn around and go back. We find the exit, and guided by two or so pitiful, small signs, find the parking and manage to find the park entrance. Hurrah!

The Ren Faire was quite good, and larger than I expected. Since we got there about noon, instead of ten, we only managed to see both jousts and the Queen's show, but the jousting was excellent. Really, the worth of a Ren Faire is determined firstly by the jousting, second by the shops, and third and lastly by the weather. The jousting was quite good, none of this nonsense about jumping off of horses, and quite amazingly nobody died. After the Coronasburg joust where the evil knight won, and the So Cal Ren Faire where it was obviously rigged, this joust was great. The first joust we cheered for the Scottish knight, which made Maggie happy, and I think he won. The second joust we cheered for the French knight, and I really don't remember if he won. Incidentally, the real reason to go to the first joust is to find where the best seats are for the second joust, because the second joust is usually the best. So that was great, and I learned that all three of my friends are much more into horses than I, and had to pet them, and take pictures with them, and ask intelligent questions about them.

Now, I remembered my camera, got all the pictures off, and brought it with me to the Ren Faire. However, I neglected to check the charge on the batteries. So, not more than a quarter of an hour after we had got inside (cleverly taking pictures before entering the Faire, on the theory that if we didn't do it then, we never would), I realize that the battery on my camera was low; really low. So Irene and I went to fetch the spare battery from the trunk of my car (my camera is lovely, and is a Canon Digital Rebel). We got our hands stamped with "peasant", the guy at the gate blew on the stamp, which was quite strange, as he took our hand, stamped it, and then, as though he was going to kiss it, blew on it. Ren Faires are a strange thing. We retrieved the battery, and got lost trying to find Maggie and Liz, but it all worked out because we found the place for the joust. Strangely, we got lost several times at this Ren Faire. I blame it on the maps.

The Queen's Show was alright, although not that great, as I didn't think the Queen was that great this time. Her British accent sounded fake and contrived, and didn't help things. But the Sir Francis Drake was good, and the Shakespeare was decent. The bit of Pyramus and Thisbe out of Midsummer Night's Dream was alright, and amusing at times, although I was sadly disappointed in the Wall and Moon, the Lion was amusing.

There was much trying on of hats in between things, and there was one lovely hat that I quite liked, but I am afraid that I will never like a hat as much as I like my current pirate hat. It is thick black felt, rounded, with a brim that is wider in the front and narrows in the back. I added a band around it to match my bodice, turned one side up, put a few peacock feathers on the side, and an elegant button on the side that looks like an antique broach. If you think of a Renaissance riding hat or a three musketeers hat you are on the right track. I like my hat.

Liz found a hat, a red Renaissance riding hat (Etsy has some lovely examples), with a tall crown and jaunty brim. She also decided exactly what sort of costume she wants. Of course, she must have a dress to match the hat, and the hat will not go with the pirate/peasant/wench sort of look that Irene and Maggie and I have. Rather, it is an elegant, sophisticated hat, and needs to go with an Elizabethain courtier's dress. So, the flat, thick, triangle shaped bodice, with the large sleeves, that vees out from the waist to show the underskirt, all in brocade, is what she wants. But, she has never sewn on a sewing machine before, and isn't even sure she'll like sewing (Maggie has found that she doesn't have the patience for it, but Irene likes it, so it's a tossup whether Liz will like it), so I think we'll start her with something simple, like an apron or a cape. But I digress. The point is, she didn't buy the hat because she wasn't sure that she wanted to build a costume around a hat. I say that the hat is the hardest part, and it makes complete sense to build a costume around a hat. Not that I was pushing her to buy the hat, because it is expensive if you aren't sure you want to make the costume.

There were many and diverse adventures, but I think my favorite involves Irene. We were headed towards the exit, because it was nearly time for the Faire to close, and we saw the Master of Ceremonies from the jousts, in conversation. Irene, quite understandably, wanted a picture with him. Now, he was in the midst of conversing with another gentleman regarding the affections of the lady between them. So when Irene asked him, he simply took it in stride, took her hand, and began kissing the hands of both ladies. He ended by saying "this one [meaning the other lady] tastes saucy, and this one [Irene] tastes sweet."

Thus endeth the tale of the Renaissance Faire of Northern California, and beginneth the tale of Finding a Restaurant at the Ninth hour of the evening.

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Kate Saunders Britton

April 2017

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