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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Café Chronicles

WHY is it so HARD to post on my BLOG? I do so many cool things! In this wonderful city! Things I want to share! Yeesh. 

As you read this post, I think you should listen to this boppy song. Magdalena, by Brandon "I had no idea the lead singer of the Killers was so hot" Flowers. Please ignore the Mormonization & focus instead on the nice things he says about San Francisco.

Anyway. Back to stuff I do.

Today we're going to talk about Coffee shops.

Don't be too impressed by the classic literature. Somebody left the Sunday paper on the seat next to me so I just sat there reading the comics. Plus...I'm not feeling that book so far. It's not as risqué as "Lady Chatterly's Lover." I just read this scene where a man tries to sexily describe pollination to a lady, and it just kind of fell flat, you know?

The coffee shop thing happens quite often. It's one of my favorite activities. The more astute among you may recognize That Sandwich! Interestingly enough (actually I'm fairly certain that this is interesting to NO ONE BUT ME), the steak florentine sandwich at the Grove on Chestnut St. is far superior to the steak florentine sandwich at the Grove on Fillmore St. The meat is better. The sandwich you see above is from the Grove on Fillmore. In certain light, the steak had an oddly greenish cast. I made the executive decision not to pay attention to the color of the meat and instead focus on cartoons & eat it anyway. I'm proud to be an American. Next!

This completely charming quiche & tomato basil soup combo is from an Italian café on Sacramento St., somewhere in Laurel Heights. I was just wandering around and happened upon this place -- it was legit. The owner was SPEAKING ITALIAN. Flashbacks to the Summer of 2006 (during which, come to think about it, I sat in quite a few a coffee shops in Florence reading "A Room with a View," fulfilling many a study abroad cliché)  Anyway here's the sign:

There are so many great coffee shops and cafés in this city. And now that we're going there, the coffee itself is just beyond belief. Being here has made me realize that Starbucks coffee tastes like the bottom of a trash can. People get reeeeal fancy with their coffee here. At Four Barrel they toast the beans right in the shop.

Mole People

The coffee at Four Barrel is SO GOOD - no sugar necessary at all. It's so smooth! So complex! The after-notes are simply divine. I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, but believe me it's delicious. Just ask this line of customers:

You can't see it but there are a bunch of taxidermied boar heads on the wall on the left.

All right, I've had just about enough of Monday and I have to go to sleep. Guten nacht! (Or as my iPhone likes to say, "Gutenberg Nacho!")

Ritual Coffee on Valencia St. loves you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Season of Sin

It happened.

Was that all? Oh no. That wasn't all.

And you know what else happened?

Many animals were harmed in the making of this post. Cows, pigs. Probably a chicken. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Simple Summer Salad

Hello Fun People.

Google sure has changed a lot in the past few days. Everything looks different! Discuss.

After you've worked up an appetite from discussing Google, you can make this salad.

Simple Summer Salad
or: the Lazy Lady's Dinner Solution
OR: I don't feel like cooking so I'll just throw this in a bowl

1 can of italian white beans 
      (or, if you're like me, "fagioooli biaaanchi!" said in a ludicrous Italian accent)
2 delicious ripe tomatoes, diced & seeds removed 
      (or 3! or none. It depends how much you like tomatoes.)
1 can of tuna packed in oil
      The oil part is important here. It adds a lot of flavor, and you
      won't need to add oil later for dressing!
1 red pepper, diced
      This added a very important, fresh little zing to the salad. I 
      highly recommend. If you don't like peppers, you could try
      diced red onion. 
      I didn’t have any of this in my salad, but I wish I did! It would
      have taken it to another level.
some chopped cilantro
some basil

Put everything in a bowl, mix. Ideally you’ll use the fork you plan to eat with.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hoonah, Hoonah!

You know, for a girl who has virtually no friends in a new city, life sure is busy. I want you all to conjure in your minds the image of a sophisticated, cosmopolitan young professional. She goes places! She sees things! She wears cute outfits! And of course she never stays home on her patootskie watching "The Bachelorette" on Hulu. (Ashley, if you're reading this --  Girl, you need to stop sabotaging yourself and GET OVER Bentley already. I have very strong opinions on the matter, and if you wish to discuss it further, facebook me.) 

I kid, I kid - I do plenty of stuff. I've finally identified my yoga studio (woo!), and last weekend I visited two important NorCal landmarks: the deYoung museum, and Napa. It's true everybody - Cab is king.

Anyway.....back to Alaska! I want to tell you a bit about the first destination that we visited on our crusie: Hoonah. Y'all. I'm gonna give it to you straight. Hoonah is GORGEOUS.

One of the things that struck me about Hoonah was that all the locals I encountered seemed to really love it. There was a real sense of pride. When Hoonah finally agreed to allow cruise ships, they made one rule: No Ridiculous Internationally-Owned Jewelry Stores. They wanted visitors to experience what Hoonah is really like. The shops are owned and operated by Hoonah residents, and the jewelry is handmade by a local artisan.

It really did seem like a nice place to live. Towards the end of the day, Mumsy and I took a tram ride through the forest. We heard charming stories about a man who lost a bet and jumped into the ocean in January, and a young girl who narrowly avoided getting mauled by a bear. At one point, we disembarked the tram to stretch our legs. We gazed to our left at the serene picturesque water:

And to our right at the lush, verdant forest:

Oh, you didn't want to see a blurry picture of a weird tree? Sorry seems I took only two "lush forest" pictures, both of which were from the moving tram.
Kind of a cool effect though, no? Like shrooms minus the shrooms.

As we paused to absorb the majestic beauty and wonder surrounding us, I was treated to one of the most hilarious, neurotic exchanges I've ever heard in my life. 

A super old lady clutching a blanket around her shoulders anxiously asked my mother, "Is the bear going to stay away??"
"Yeah, it is." my mom soothed.

"What bear?" I asked her, thinking I missed something.
Mumsy turned to me. "The one we're worried about."

Pure genius. I had to walk away because it was so funny. If this doesn't strike a chord with you, you probably didn't grow up in an environment of mild paranoia. (I would say, "consider yourself lucky," but on second thought I'm going to say "better paranoid than dead," and leave it at that.)

Anyway. Back to Hoonah! Wanna see a whale?

Did you catch that black speck at the beginning? That was the whale. Yeah, I probably won't be selling that clip to National Geographic. If whales aren't your thing, would you prefer to gaze at water gently lapping the shore?

No? Not exciting enough? How about...TAKING A TRIP DOWN THE LONGEST ZIPLINE IN THE WORLD??

You were waiting for that, weren't you? Yeaaaah I thought so. Just counting the minutes. Not to worry little's coming up. You shall see Sonja soar like an eagle over mountaintops - Nay! You shall experience it as she experienced it! But not today. I can't today. I'm emotionally drained from watching the bachelorette make questionable life choices.

Hasta la sometime later this week, muchachos!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

No you KetchiCAN'T!

(it was either that or "Do the Ketchi-can-can!" I'll leave it to you to decide whether I chose wisely.)

Let us begin our journey into the world of Sonja's Alaskan Vacation with tales of our third and final port-of-call: Ketchikan.

View of Creek Street, a very nice looking street. There's an old-timey whorehouse museum on this street.

Ahh, Ketchikan. The rainiest city in North America. Despite the fact that it's a deeply depressing place, Ketchikan has its good points: pretty views, some interesting history (blah blah prohibition mudslides Alaskan miners Scarlet be honest I paid very little attention), and PLENTY of cruise-related tourist attractions. Sadly, I have no pictures of the tourist attractions, because I only take pictures of pretty things. I should really start taking pictures of things with a mind to how I'm going to make fun of them on the internet later. 

Cruise passengers staring warily around as they disembark

someone presumably lives here

At times, walking through the "downtown" area felt strangely like walking through an Indian bazaar in a 1950s musical. "Come buy our jewelry! Free Gift if you come inside! Come inside and LOOK AT OUR JEWELRY!" Jewelry store after jewelry store (many of which are owned by Indian companies, funnily enough), Gold Rush themed traps selling the least enticing tourist crap you could ever imagine, and extreeeeeeeemely overpriced tourist food.

Philly Cheesesteak REPRESENT! Reindeer Dog, anyone?

For our excursion in Ketchikan, I somehow convinced Mumsy to sign up for a canoe trip. I don't know how I did this, but we were both very excited. We got in a little van, and drove for about 35 minutes outside the city limits.

Wait, what's that? A random tree? Or...wait a minute...are those bulletholes? Let's take a closer look.

Yes. They are. Every single street sign between Ketchikan and the pleasant little lake we visited was riddled with bulletholes. We also passed the ashy twisted remains of a bicycle that had been blown up on the side of the road. This is what happens when you get over 150" of rain every year.

Eventually we made it to the lake.

Pretty, right? No one was more ready to get in that canoe than my dear mother....

...the Angel of Death. I couldn't tell you why she decided to dress herself like the grim reaper for our tranquil lake excursion. 

Look at that excitement. Clearly she was expecting some casualties.

She gazes stoically forward, silently deciding who will live, and who will die.

These poor souls. They smile in the face of unspeakable evil, and paddle bravely on.

She Who Must Not Be Named graciously decided to spare us so that we could properly enjoy our last meal on this earth: a "real Alaskan snack!"

Don't be fooled by its apparent charm. The snack was put together by the Least Enthusiastic Twenty Year Old in the History of Employment, and consisted of smoked salmon arranged on a giant leaf that he found in the woods, a vat of some kind of chowder that he apathetically stirred in the corner, supermarket rolls, a giant tub of jelly, and a bowl of Andes mints (score! I ate 3.)

Evil bird summoned by the Angel of Death to snatch our food & remind us that our earthly pleasures were soon to vanish.

We took a brief nature walk before getting back in the canoe and paddling around. 

We banded together, a ragtag crew of overfed cruise passengers unaccustomed to sunlight and exercise, and managed to paddle ourselves all around the lake. There was an awesome Australian couple sitting right in front of us, and also this weird kid who dropped his paddle in the water at one point. I rescued it, which made me feel very heroic indeed. Probably the only reason we made it out of there alive.

All in all, it really was a fun day. It felt especially good to remind myself that we wouldn't have to stay in Ketchikan.

Coming up on the Blog! See the world through Sonja's eyes as she rides the WORLD'S LONGEST ZIPLINE - captured LIVE from her iPhone. Did she make it to the bottom? Your guess is as good as mine....