A Culinary Tour of San Francisco

02 April 2008 · 9 comments

As those of you who read Get Rich Slowly already know, Kris and I recently returned from a long weekend in San Francisco. It surprises me a little that my first-ever business trip was made for blogging, but it’s true. A startup company flew me and several other personal finance bloggers to the city to participate in a workshop about financial software. They hope to develop the next big web-based personal finance tool.

But that’s boring. That’s not why you all come to foldedspace. You all come here to read about our adventures. And we had adventures!

We flew down to San Francisco on Thursday, leaving the Portland airport around lunchtime. While we waited to board the plane, I was annoyed by a family with two young girls. The oldest girl — about five — was a chatterbox. The youngest — about two — kept running down the boarding ramp. Her father would let her stray away, and then only run after her when she started down the ramp. (Or, alternately, begin pressing buttons on a control panel.) Why wasn’t he minding her more closely? It was obvious to everyone that she was just going to go down the ramp again every time she strayed away. But the father watched her go, and every time had to run after her when she started down the ramp. Then, on the plane, the family was seated a few rows in front of us. They were noisy, but fortunately I’d brought my noise-canceling headphones. (Yes, I know this rant is going to get me into trouble.)

When we arrived in San Francisco, we spent the afternoon wandering around Union Square. The weather was lovely, so we sat in the sun for a while. In the evening, we met up with Cap and Jim, two other personal finance bloggers, for dinner at Café Claude. Though Kris was seated uncomfortably close to the table next to us, I had a good time meeting my colleagues. Plus, I was amazed at the tasty ahi tuna in green peppercorn sauce. Very tasty.

On Friday, I spend eight hours meeting and talking with my “imaginary friends”. You can read more about that experience here. In the evening, our hosts took us to a fabulous dinner at Kokkari, a Greek restaurant in the financial district. Wow! The menu was fixed, but that was okay, because we were provided with serving after serving of delicious food: olives, bread, lamb, beef, potatoes and more. The “charcoal-grilled, dry-aged rib-eye with braised greens and potatoes” was out-of-this-world.

On Saturday, we drove to Berkeley for my birthday lunch. Kris took me to the world-famous Chez Panisse, where we were seated by Alice Waters herself. This meal, too, was amazing, if somewhat understated. The restaurant was crowded (to be expected), but the service was top-notch. My pork leg and pork belly with asparagus were very tasty.

On our drive home from Berkeley, we were rear-ended by an unlicensed and uninsured driver. Since I hadn’t taken out the rental company’s insurance policy, this has turned into a big hassle. I’ve spent about three hours processing the claim so far, and there’s a lot more work to do. (You can read more about the accident here.)

On Saturday evening, we met Andrew and Joann for dinner at a restaurant just behind our hotel. Le Colonial is a posh French Vietnamese place with prices to match. Though the food couldn’t compare with Kokkari or Chez Panisse, it was still excellent. I had a delicious curried salmon. After dinner, we walked u-p to Top of the Mark for dessert. Somehow we managed to muscle our way to the front of the line and get immediate seating. We enjoyed a panoramic view of San Francisco while enjoying our sweets.

On Sunday, Kris and I walked down to the Asian Art Museum and spent several hours browsing the exhibits. In the evening, we joined Ramit at A Taste of the Himalayas for good food and good conversation. Ramit is one of the most inspirational fellows I’ve ever met. I’m pleased to call him a friend.

Because of our wrecked rental car, we felt like we needed to allow ourselves extra time at the airport, so we got up at 4am. Turns out the return process was totally blasé. It makes me worry.

As we were sitting at the gate waiting for our plane to arrive, I was startled by a two-year old girl who was attempting to run down the boarding ramp. “No way,” I thought. Yes way. The same family that had bugged me on our flight down to San Francisco was there for the return, too!

“Did you enjoy the trip?” Kris asked when we got home. “Was it worthwhile?”

Yes. Absolutely, yes. I met some of my colleagues, spent time with friends, and ate my way across San Francisco. All with Kris at my side. What could be better?

1 Susan Kishner April 2, 2008 at 11:02

Nice writing style. I will come back to read more posts from you.

Susan Kishner

2 jim April 2, 2008 at 11:05

Sounds like you had a great remainder of the trip! (if you ignore the traffic incident)

3 Paul J. April 2, 2008 at 13:02

It’s great to know that Alice still works and seats folks at the restaurant. She probably doesn’t “need” to anymore but she must enjoy it.

jealous about the foodie trip

4 Amanda April 2, 2008 at 13:23

(Yes, I know this rant is going to get me into trouble.)

Not with me. :-D

5 Mom April 2, 2008 at 14:45

I guess I can be thankful for just having to deal with delays due to snowstorms in Salt Lake City when I flew in January. I don’t think I would have been happy with the uncontrolled toddler and preschooler if it had been me, either.

6 Amy Jo April 2, 2008 at 14:59

Oh JD, it sounds like you had a great time despite the accident! I too am jealous. I could use a good meal. Up for Geno’s with a baby in tow? He he he.

7 Alan B. April 2, 2008 at 16:14

Which reminds me: you and Kris are invited to the second annual mofo brunch. Mark your calendar for Mother’s Day.

8 Karl Staib - Your Work Happiness Matters April 2, 2008 at 18:24

I hear that San Fran is beautiful. I also heard that they don’t like it when you call it San Fran. An Eddie Izzard joke that made the San Franciscians hiss at him. Anywho…Your blog make me want to take my wife on a weekend get away. Nikki would love the Asian Art Museum. Maybe this summer when it’s all hot in Austin.

9 Paul J. April 3, 2008 at 07:30

J.D.,

Not sure you wrote anything that is controversial. I don’t think anyone can condone ill behaved kids. Your comments weren’t anti-children just anti-poor parenting.

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