Monday, November 24, 2008

Jet setting with Salty (part II)

Okay- I took 73 photos on our second day in San Francisco so you can begin to understand why this post has been so egregiously delayed. Here are the highlights:

Just a visual taste of what dazzling desserts are on offer at Tartine Bakery in the Mission. Having heard a ton about the delicious treats these folks whip up, I asked for the cookbook last year for Christmas. Packed with photos of beautiful tarts, cookies, and cakes- I expected a Willy Wonka-style feast upon arrival. I was slightly underwhelmed by the scale of the bakery in person but I was still impressed by the perfect lemon meringues and sculptural baked goodies.

For lunch, Mr.Mr., his brother and I, and a former co-worker in town for the day, enjoyed a round of sandwiches from their lunch menu. While each was a bit on the oily side and heavy on the carbs with each hefty slice of bread- the fillings were quite good. This particular sandwich was a fresh basil spread with ham and with melted mozzarella. My favorite part by far, was the tiny pickled carrot that accompanied each plate... a perfectly tangy match for the overindulgence of cheese and meat.

This central mural adorns the facade of the Women's Building. Truly the crowning glory of a work that spans the entire building from the pavement to the roof- it shows a female at the center of a huge, colorful, flower-like form- with her pregnant belly exposing a baby in utero. the entire thing was breathtaking and I can't even begin to imagine how long it took to complete. Amazing.

If you're in the market for dead things- Paxton Gate is the place to find them. From taxidermied mice (with or without costumes), to squirrel skulls, penis bones to sea urchins- they've got it all. This place has such a curious collection of oddities that I couldn't resist. I picked up what I believe to be a sort of petrified starfish for three dollars flat and had to resist the urge to buy a collection of leaf fossils and tiny glass vials with rubber stoppers for future use [to be determined, of course]. At first a very creepy shop, Paxton Gate quickly grows on anyone with a sense of history or an appreciation for nature.

And fortunately, the ratio of dead to alive items is balanced out nicely with a collection of plants and containers in the back of the store. If I had $200-300 on me, I might have caved and bought one of their beautiful metal [mini] greenhouses. The detailing on each was very nice and I could see using them both in and outdoors.

Love thy neighbor? This type of city planning combined with residential construction is what I call, "too close for comfort." While the architecture of the city is admirable- I think I would miss the green gardens, grassy yards, and sense of privacy that a five foot buffer between buildings just can't afford.

I spotted this beautiful teal couch at X21 Modern. I think it's what most would call, Hollywood Regency or some such nonsense- but I call it gorgeous. I can just picture it in a room with lush, baroque wallpaper (like this) and a few of those round, glass, bar tables that are edged in silver with rolling feet. "Help me put on my mink stole, won't you, dear? Where's my cigarette holder?"

These over-sized, wooden letters were also on sale at X21. While the scale of our apartment couldn't bear their addition- I really like the weathered look and the shape of the font.

Ahhh- Bi-Rite. Heidi of 101 Cookbooks recommended this market as her go-to destination and I can totally see why. While diminutive in size- Bi-Rite packs a visual punch with its displays of fruits and vegetables cascading out of wooden baskets and offers a smorgasbord of samples for the wary market-goer. I was particularly impressed by the Wall of Cheese. Any shop that dedicates this much square footage to dairy products- gets my vote.

Stem is a cute little boutique on 18th that seems to have joined the ranks of floral/gift shops offering a smart variety of low to mid-priced bits as well as arrangements to order. I found these adorable clay stones with words like, "Grow," "Ponder," and "Belong" stamped into them in a turned wood basket. I think they're made by the same person who made the "Vote" rock featured on a couple of other design blogs around election day.

These tree bark wraps were also appealing (no pun intended) and made for a nice display element with the moss and wrapping paper. The entire aesthetic of Stem was very calm and woodsy-feeling. The dark hardwood floors were a great compliment to the large window front and warm grey tones on the wall.

We had to stop twice at the Bi-Rite Creamery during our five day trip. You know that's a good sign. This small companion shop to the aforementioned market offers about 16 flavors- four or so are traditional, and the rest ratchet up the creativity a bit. The first time around I gorged myself on salted caramel and malted vanilla with chocolate and peanut brittle. I was painfully full for about two hours after the fact and would highly recommend the kiddie size. The Creamery pulls out all the stops when it comes to quality ingredients and amazing flavors. Trust me- you can always go back for more. And I did- but I kept it simple and went with the malted vanilla again... this time in the kiddie size.

The last stop of the day took us over to the Double Punch gallery to see the San Francisco installation of Seattle's original Plush You! show. Double Punch is a cute little space with the top floor dedicated to a cozy gallery space and the bottom floor artfully arranged to capitalize on storage and display of collectible figurines, japanese toys and other gifts. The show's curator, Kristen Rask did a fantastic job bringing together some very talented folks to show SF how plush is done. The above preying mantis was created by Hansigurumi of Seattle, WA.

This delightful "cotton monster" was crafted by Jennifer Strunge of Baltimore, MD. Jennifer also had some pieces in the Seattle show- one of which you could actually put your whole hand into, from it's mouth down to its belly. Very impressive.

Stay tuned for Part III of my San Francisco trip. All I'm going to say is that there will be goats. Lots and lots of goats.

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