Towse: views from the hill

October 29, 2010

Embarcadero Center

Remember, folks. These are only those we can see from our aerie.

His nibs tells me that while driving back into our bucolic ville (from work) today, he could see a fine collection of other buildings (not visible from our aerie) that are turning orange.

October 27, 2010

Giants vs. Rangers, Game 1 of the World Series 2010. 4:57p.m. PDT

And the town paints itself orange. City Hall. [no photo] Coit Tower. Treasure Island’s Admin building. The Ferry Building.

October 25, 2010

And the Giants win. On to the World Series.

Filed under: life,sports — Tags: , , , — Towse @ 5:17 pm

Saturday night we were at the annual fundraiser for the Salesian Boys and Girls Club, which is on Filbert, next to Saints Peter and Paul. The fundraiser is actually in the basement of Saints Peter and Paul.

Deal is, you buy a raffle ticket for a chunk of change when you get the party invite in the mail. On the evening of, the raffle ticket gets two of you into the fundraiser where you have congenial companions, open bar before dinner and throughout, buffet dinner (with shrimp, raw oysters, multiple salads, pastas, the whole works, including guys carving roast beef). Followed by the need-not-be-present-to-win raffle and then live music. All for a good cause — making sure the Club has enough funds to serve all the kids who attend, who pay a membership fee of only $10/year.

Saturday night was rainy. The Giants were in the playoffs. The turnout for all that was robust. Must’ve been the Disco theme!

We were there, of course, primarily because the guy who runs the Club is married to someone I know from grade school days. We were seated at the Scoma table w/ Ms Scoma and another person we’d met at previous SBGC fundraisers, others. Then we were moved over to the Gumina table, where my grade school friend held sway. Then we moved back to the Scoma table because the Gumina table was overbooked and two more people showed up, wanting to sit there. Two of the Copp godchildren, with their spouses, showed up late and joined us at the Scoma table. Finding parking had been a problem. It’s all family and friends, interesting people, and we land wherever we land.

The raffle was over (twenty prizes, ranging from tickets for Beach Blanket Babylon and dinner beforehand to an all-expenses-paid African safari or $15K cash).

We didn’t win. :-(

Live music. Disco theme, did I mention? The attention of the crowd, though, was on the ballpark, over the hill and down the Embarcadero. The score, which had been 2-0 Phillies earlier in the evening, was now tied at 2-2. Sure there were dancers on the floor, but there was a growing crowd clustered around the TV that someone had found and set up at the back of the hall.

Eighth inning. Cheers erupted as Juan Uribe hit a home run, putting the Giants ahead 3-2.

The band tried to lure back their crowd by playing a song that Tony Bennett sings on occasion. Didn’t work. Ninth inning. Giants don’t score. Bottom of the ninth. Brian Wilson pitching. One out. Two. The dance floor was practically empty as the inning progressed. The band finally just stopped playing. They’d lost their audience with the score 3-2, bottom of the ninth, two outs, two Phillies on base. Could the Giants’ Wilson make that third out and clinch the game?

He could!

And the crowd cheered. And the band began playing again as their audience drifted back to the dance floor.

October 21, 2010

Café des Amis

Filed under: restaurants — Tags: , — Towse @ 1:06 pm

Had a meeting in PacHeights this past Tuesday evening. The meeting was over by 8:30p. We headed a few blocks down to Union and west to see what sort of place Café des Amis was. The restaurant, which opened last July, is a French brasserie at Buchanan and Union, in the old Prego Italian space.

Having no reservations, and the restaurant being partly-packed with a disparate group of people that included “investors,” those who talk to investors, suits, what might’ve been bean counters, and people with their shirttails out (all the same group, I might add) we had to wait all of five minutes or so for one of the parties who was not a part of the motley crew to vacate a table.

(I’d hate to think what the total dinner cost for the motley crew was. They were at different tables/booths on different levels and there were plenty of them, eating and imbibing. … Definitely not a south-of-Market startup crowd. …)

The food was delish. The wine was reasonably priced with bottle costs ranging from the twenties up to over two hundred, if that’s the way you roll. We chose a French wine from Languedoc. The bread was chewy and tasty, a bit sour with a proper crust. Served with sweet butter.

We split a special, a plate of pasta with uni cream sauce and sizable chunks of fresh uni. The light was dim. The uni was the same color as the sauce and, hence, the same color as the pasta. Every once in a bit, you’d bite into what you thought would be pasta and oooooh. myyyyy. uni. If you aren’t a huge uni fan, this dish would not be for you. For those of us who are, heaven.

The lighting was dim, did I mention? Our attentive and charming waiter had a handy-dandy mini light to lend us so we could read the menu easily while we were deciding on our order. Thank heavens for people who realize that clients who are too old to ever be mistaken for hipsters can’t see well in dim light.

The plat du jour (it being Tuesday) was crispy frog legs. We opted instead for some menu items. His nibs had Blanquette de Veau — slow-cooked veal breast, crispy sweetbreads, carrots and maitakes. Reasonable. Not something I’d wow for. The veal was tasty, but I like my sweetbreads in larger portions and not crispy-fried, which interferes with the taste and experience for me. For the kind of sweetbreads I like, check out the non-crispy sweetbreads (when they’re on the menu) at Isa on Steiner and/or the lemon-caper sweetbreads at Sam’s Grill (Bush and Belden Place).

I had Hanger Steak Frites with béarnaise and a watercress salad. The frites arrived accompanied by small bins of catsup and aioli. The aioli was rich and garlicky, luscious. I used it for both the steak and the frites. I used the béarnaise for both as well. The steak came cooked medium rare, as ordered, and divvied into ~2″ square chunks. Tasty. Perfectly cooked, and so much of it, I had the restaurant bag up the last few pieces for me to have with breakfast on Wednesday.

For dessert we shared a house-specialty: 24-layer crêpe cake with sliced figs and orange chamomile syrup. The crêpes are stacked and separated by a rich whipped vanilla cream sauce. I should be able to make something similar at home. Should I try? or should I just go back to Café des Amis whenever I get the yen? Maybe better to visit whenever I’d hanker for this rich dessert rather than learn how to make it.

Happy evening. Good food. Definitely repeatable. Staff was great, attentive. Our whole-hearted stamp of approval on the restaurant. May it flourish (but not so much that we can’t pop in unexpectedly on a Tuesday night and get a table promptly). Plus the walk over and back came to four miles total — not enough to burn off even the dessert, but every little bit helps.

October 19, 2010

Bouchercon SF 2010

Filed under: life,writing — Tags: , — Towse @ 3:59 pm

Here’s where I’ve been.

October 6, 2010

Busy day on the Bay

Filed under: photographs,ships — Tags: , , — Towse @ 4:42 pm

Busy day in front of our perch. Traffic jam on the Bay: the usual ferries and sailboats plus the Rocket Boat and container ships AND the ISLAND PRINCESS docked this morning at P27. The USS MAKIN ISLAND (LHD8) came in to P30/32 with a fireboat splashing a welcoming spray. The ISLAND PRINCESS and the NORWEGIAN STAR (P35)  have now gone with the tides. More US Navy and Canadian Navy ships expected in port soon for Fleet Week.

October 5, 2010

Waning crescent moon. The Bay before dawn. 5:30 a.m.

Filed under: photographs — Tags: , , , — Towse @ 1:58 pm

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