After a bit of a later start this morning (actually rolled outta bed around 9a), I decided it’s time to tackle The Mission. Why’s everyone always talking about this area? I had to find out. So, I hopped the BART and headed for the Mission 16th St stop. The area was pretty crowded…and here’s why: The Mission St. Carnaval!
The energy and vibe were up! People lined the streets dancing, singing, eating, etc. Eventually, a gal builds up an appetite and Mission Chinese has been on my foodie radar. I ordered the tea-smoked eel as an appetizer and the ma po tofu entree. The app was a wonderful assortment of flavors and textures. Perhaps the hoisin sauce was a bit overpowering, but kudos on combining a delicious flavor and texture-rich app. The entree was massive! Perfect amount of spice (probably a medium spice on my rating) for good heat without suffering through the tears and sweat of a super spicy dish. Excellent flavor. A side of steamed rice is welcomed to soften the salt load.
While waiting for my order to arrive, a gal was seated behind me and ordered the rice bowl. I happened to overhear her conversation with the waitstaff about maybe ordering the same tea-smoked eel as I had ordered. So, when my order arrived, I offered her a sample of mine to share. Food, friends, and sharing all go hand in hand — this is why people congregate around food. A familiar comfort with great company. I find out her name is Cristina Soltesz and she does event planning. We were conversing through lunch and before ya know it, she sees a friend of hers walking down the street. Alex came in and ordered some food. Then, more of her friends showed up — Sean and Emma. And then another one of her friends (I forget his name) showed up. In the end, 6 of us decided to roam the Mission. Actually, it was more like Cristina and her friends being super amazing hosts and graciously showing me the sights and sounds of The Mission.
After lunch, we opted to walk and find some yummy coffee. One of her friends suggested Four Barrel coffee. I ordered a pour over: La Cabana from Colombia. Mild, hints of sweet,…no sugar needed. Perhaps I am starting to understand what makes a great coffee…and it seems to be in the beans and the process. The barista (or is it baristo for the male version?) placed a coffee filter into a cone that was atop what looked like an erlenmyer flask (yeah, flashback to chemistry, right?). He poured hot water into the filter then weighed out some coffee beans and then had then ground freshly for my one cup. Once the grind was in the cone with moistened filter, he lightly poured some hot water over it until it started to show more packing and less liquid. Then he poured more hot water over it and set the timer for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, another round of hot water. I think that was repeated one more time and that was it.
The perfect minimalist approach to a flavorful (no additives) cup of coffee. Hipster? Maybe. Delicious? Yes.
After coffee, we headed down a graffiti walled alleyway. Interesting and ever-changing according to our Mission expert, Alex.
From 6 friends walking –> to 4. Then 3. We packed up into Cristina’s car and headed out to check out Dolores Park. It’s a beautiful open space but they were doing construction on it so most of it was closed off. After that, we headed out to the Presidio area and dropped off her friend Sean. We then headed back to her place and I met her husband and mother and father-in-law. They’re from Italy and were a delight! She speaks Italian as well — what can’t this gal do? After a brief meet and greet and tour of her place, we then headed out to see Presidio National Park which looks like a gorgeous forest.
We stopped to check out Inspiration Point and then took in the atmosphere at Off the Grid in Presidio. What a great gathering! Food trucks, open grass, music, and a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Sounds like a great way to spend a Sunday! After that, we headed out to Baker Beach for a different shot of the GGB.
Then onto a quick drive through Golden Gate Park. It was such a delightful tour of San Francisco. Without Cristina, I definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see so many things in the city. She’s a real gem. How often will you quickly connect with a stranger? We seem to be like-minded and she’s got a great head on her shoulders. If you stumble across this, THANK YOU Cristina!!!