“San Francisco is What It’s “”Quacked”” Up to Be”
Arrival into San Francisco was a comical cultural shock after having traveled 24 hours thanks to airline delays (avoid United Airlines at all costs!) to be told that there was no room at the hotel (Hotel California at 580 Geary Street) as they had the booking for the next day in error. When they scrambled to find a room in the totally booked hotel, the computer wouldn’t accept the reservation change as I stood at the desk exhausted and starving.
The hotel boasts of one of San Francisco’s finest restaurants, The Millennium, so while they sorted out the computer glitch, I sauntered over to the Maitre D’ only to be informed they had stopped serving a few minutes earlier — at a whopping 9:30 p.m. Do they really “roll up the sidewalks” so early? This is when Parisians are just beginning their dinner hour!
The sweet young woman succumbed to the whining. “I’ve traveled 24 hours, they don’t have a room for me and now you tell me I can’t eat,” I said pathetically. She replied with her brows slanted upward, “Don’t tell anyone. I’ll seat you at the bar,” and I promised to order something simple. The waiter was a youngish man with a modified Mohawk. He handed me a paper menu with elaborate descriptions.
Perhaps my eyes were blurry from lack of sleep or maybe my brain simply wasn’t functioning, but I wasn’t understanding the language on the printed paper. There were unrecognizable words and really, I couldn’t understand much of it. For example: “Wilted Bloomsdale Spinach and Dandelion Green Salad –green tea-miso glazed tofu, orange-ginger tamari vinaigrette, burdock-hijiki kimpura, kumquat, $10.25.” Or “Stuffed Truffled Roulade — French lentil and black chanterelle ragu, roasted chestnuts, black truffle butter, smoked pimenton cream, roasted maitake and exotic mushrooms, sautéed broccoli di Cicco with currants and pine nuts, mushroom syrup, $23.95.”
It was a lingo I wasn’t catching on to. Where were the “steack-frites” or the “poulet roti?” So I asked politely for him to ‘translate’ it for me. Could he recommend something simple like fish or chicken?
He smiled and said, “It’s vegetarian.” The prices were serious — $21 and up for an “entrée” which in U.S. terms is a “main course,” not a starter (the word DOES mean “enter,” you know). That’s when I knew I had landed in California! Only in San Francisco could a vegetarian restaurant be filled to the brim with sophisticated diners paying such heavy prices for…”roasted golden beets” and “green lentils with garlic.” After scarfing up the green lentils with lettuce leaves, he remarked how “delicious” the pot of mushy green substance was to which I replied, “yes…for…beans!”
Since then, it’s been nothing but fun. We’re eating our way through San Francisco’s Pacific Rim cuisine, diner food and nutty concoctions you’d never see the likes of in France. And meanwhile, we’re talking about Paris and France and how to live a French lifestyle with an enthusiastic group of like-minded individuals who have come to hear all we have to say on the subject at the Living and Investing in France Real Estate Conference at the Alliance Française (1345 Bush Street).
The 21st conference that John Howell and I have hosted since 2002 is now over, exhausted from two days and having celebrated with cracked dungeness crab at Alioto’s at Fisherman’s Wharf, satisfied with the results of its success. As usual, we got great reviews that keeps us coming back to do them time and time again:
“Anyone interested in buying property in France for the first time NEEDS to attend this program.”
“It was fantastic. I’m excited to have all these new resources.”
“Takes a lot of fear of buying overseas away.”
“This was a very informative experience that I will highly recommend to others. It was completely worth crossing the country for the two days!”
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris