One weekend, spent cleaning, running errands and preparing for the coming week is a short period of time, a blink and you miss it moment that runs buy you like an Olympic sprinter grasping at gold. The same weekend, started by boarding a two hour plane ride, spent eating new food in new places, away from worries and hassles, spent with a friend you’ve known since neither of you could even pronounce the word ‘cochon’ is a completely different story.
Those of us in Seattle are extremely lucky when it comes to a weekend away for eating–goodness knows I’ve embraced the culinary treasures of Portland and Vancouver more times than I can count, but this weekend it was a first to me. A trip to San Fran, a cultural mecca for foodies of the world. I called up this old friend and told her of my plans to eat my way through her fair city. Turns out she was herself rather fond of the grand temples of cuisine in town and took her role as tour guide very seriously. A Saturday morning stroll through Ferry Plaza and the farmers’ market there was punctuated with commentary on various vendors and advice on where to eat or drink.
And we ate well. The surroundings were impressive, the culture of food most pervasive in every day life. Whether or not it is ‘better’ than Seattle is not what was in question, but rather the whole idea of a vacation for the purpose of eating through another city. It was a palate refresher, a reminder of why we like what we do, of the different ways cuisine, restaurants and food itself can be approached. Before we criticize or compliment our own venues, it is good to remember what else is out there–both the highlights and the lowlights.
My weekend felt like a month, by the time I returned, refreshed, to my desk Monday morning. The food I brought home with me was laden with memories and each time I bite another piece of Boccalone’s Nduja (spreadable salami), I’m reminded of the fun I had there.
But, really, I know, you are all awaiting at least a little commentary, so I’ll say this–I was impressed by the availability of fresh produce on nearly every street corner. Omnivore Bookstore made me swoon and dream of my own shrine to literary deliciousness. And Humphrey Slocum had so many ice cream flavors similar to the ones I make, it was like someone had been raiding my freezer for the last year.
The number one thing I learned, though, was the value of a weekend away, of consuming the great nibbles of another place, of re-calibrating my food-o-meter. And that I need to do it again, soon!