North Beach Saturday with Beers, Burgers, and Bodacious Produce

This week has simply flown by. In saying this, I’m not affecting a quaint old-ladyism (well, I am, but that wasn’t my primary intent) — I feel like I went to sleep on Sunday night and woke up like,  now. I’m not complaining: more than usual, I’m all about the weekends, and this weekend in particular should be nothing short of stellar. H. and I have a brunch date, a rooftop BBQ, and [possibly] some QT at Zeitgeist on the schedule. Who can say what other diversions, boozy and decadent or totes straightlaced, might present themselves? Not I.

Sadly, this week’s inexplicable Time Mayhem caused me to get a bit behind on blogging. I woke this morning* at 5:04 — not intentionally! I was woken by a hobo singing beneath my open window — and finished a post about Molly Wizenberg’s book (a post that’s been lingering in my Drafts folder for the better part of the week). Later, I added a few last links to my Weekly News Roundup. BUT, I haven’t yet written about last Saturday’s adventures, which were sunny, beery, and set against the whining backdrop of the Blue Angels’ routine.

I woke early for an appointment with Betsy, my jawesome stylist at the Chop Shop. (Note: Those of you looking for a new salon, look no further. The Chop Shop is friendly, cute, and whimsical-without-being-annoying. Betsy has mad skills, and also, the services are very reasonably-priced.) Betsty was going to work her magic on my tired tresses, covering my nastily grown-out highlights with a warm wash of chestnut. B. and I talked books. She updated me on the weekend sailing course she just completed. Then, we really got down to business and we talked food. I told her about the scones I’d made the night prior; she shared the review of artisinal ciders her sister had just written for Sunset magazine. (“Poor us,” B. wailed. “We had to have so many dinner parties and drink so much cider.” Boo hoo, indeed!) She also shared a recipe for minestrone soup, similar to this one, that she planned to make soon. Parmesan rinds are all the rage these days; I’ll have to get my hands on one so that I can make my own minestrone. Hook met me at the salon so we could mosey directly to the Ferry Building to catch the tail end of the Farmers Market. Oh, Saturday market, how I’ve missed thee! It had been a month at least since I’d gone and I was reminded immediately that I should take precautions against such lapses in time mis-allocation. I sampled dark chocolate almond brittle, rainbow beets, and fresh walnuts. I weaved through the stalls, stopping to snuff a lush bunch of fresh basil, to photograph the gleaming pyramid of eggplants (featured above). I sampled a wedge of Early Girl tomato; the vendor told me she loved my glasses — that, in fact, she’d like to need to wear glasses so that she could have a pair like mine. Blushing, I thanked her and bought three tomatoes — the juiciest, sweetest tomatoes I’ve had all season. Just after leaving the tomato stand, Hook abruptly pulled me aside.

“Kate,” he said. “Look over there.”

“Where?” I hissed. I had no idea what was going on.

There.” He nodded toward a man in a black t-shirt with a black tattoo on the underside of his left forearm.

“Yesssssssss?” I said.

“That’s Kevin Rose,” H. said.

“Yesssssssss?” I furthered.

“Founder of Digg.”

Oh. Right. Right! I wouldn’t have recognized Mr. Rose by sight (in fact, I did not know that he was the founder of Digg until Hook told me), but I love me some celebrity sightings, and this one enlivened our already lively market day.


Hook, readying to eat an oyster (a Ferry Building tradition).


At length, we did our shopping. I bought three tomatoes, three apples (tiny, tart, and crisp), an $8.00 bag of English peas, a jar of pepper jelly (inspired by recent Comstock trips), fresh lemon thyme fettucine, and a jar of cmb sweets’ strawberry confiture. Hook considered potential new additions to his plant table, but declined to purchase any — after all, we had plans to get lunch in North Beach.

It’s sad to say, but neither Hook nor I has a favorite Italian place in North Beach. (Blashphemy!) I’ve been to several: some are good, some are pretty good, and some are below average. When my dad and Donna were visiting, we had excellent housemade gnocci at Volare. When my mom was in town, I suffered through a rubbery, greasy plate of lasagna (with a side of stale bread) at Caffe Puccini. I still hope that we’ll find our go-to North Beach place, but this hasn’t happened yet, and Hook and I found ourselves walking up and down Columbus, looking in the plate glass windows and telling each other, “No, really, you should choose where we eat.” An hour and several blocks later, we decided that La Trappe, a Belgian restaurant with an enviable selection of Trappist beers, would suit our needs just fine. The only problem we faced was that La Trappe wouldn’t open until three. But that wasn’t a problem at all. We stepped into the near-deserted front room of Sweeties, ordered beers, and claimed two tatty wingback chairs beside an open window, where we sat, sipped, and listened to the whine and drone of the Blue Angels’ routine. Our bartender, serving herself tuna salad spread generously on a romaine leaf, raved to a regular about the imported sardines she’d just bought. “Fry them in oil and put ’em on toast, and they’re to die for,” she enthused. A group of men in baseball caps took over the pool table and we watched their game for a bit, counting down the minutes until three. When the hour struck, we ambled to La Trappe.

As it would happen, La Trappe doesn’t serve food (on Saturdays) until six: only the bar opens at three. Really? I wondered. Not even frites? I had my heart set on Belgian beer, but this minor dream would go unrealized — for the moment, at least. Hook and I hit the streets once again in search of our long-belated lunch, settling for burgers and fries. Despite our setback, the day was a success; we had the sun, fresh produce, and the still-lingering memory of our Kevin Rose sighting to tide us over until the next weekend, when perhaps our beer dreams would reach fruition.


One beautiful Early Girl tomato, bruised during our North Beach jaunt.

*Friday morning, but I’ve once again gotten behind on me blogging: d’oh!



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