Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The San Francisco Treat

If you are a sarcastic, jaded, observant and diligent New Yorker like me, you'll probably hear yourself, at one time during your lifetime -- if not more often -- announcing to the world that you could never consider living anywhere else than The Big Apple.

Well, that's not exactly true; anyone who calls New York The Big Apple is most assuredly not from here.

But otherwise, it's the kind of place that locks you into its gravitational pull and holds you down and thrills you in oh so many ways.

And yet, a good chunk of New Yorkers manage to see the world beyond the five boroughs and find themselves enchanted with places near and far. Some are partial to Mexico, others enjoy the various burghs throughout the state of Florida, and many recall their time in Europe with fondness.

No one ever seems to feel this way about Pittsburgh, incidentally, but that's a non-issue.

However, I have yet to come across anyone with anything negative to say about my second-favorite city, San Francisco. And as last night's No Reservations (Tony Bourdain) subtly suggested, there is absolutely nothing about San Francisco that should or could ever be changed or replaced.

Without divulging details that are better absorbed first- or, more accurately, second-hand, I obviously have a penchant and a bias towards this incredible city of small neighborhoods and large views, of healthy organic living coupled with sin and beef-on-a-stick dressed-down culinary fare. The fact that this is Kaia's domain -- and, no matter how long she lives in New York, always will be -- is pretty much a capper on why I love it there.

I've spent far too little time in the City proper. As Tony Bourdain demonstrated, it really is a city of contradictions. Inasmuch as the city can be regarded as a granola-friendly enclave for organic, healthy living, there is as much alcohol flowing through the patrons of the myriad bars and restaurants as there is in New York, except it -- seemingly -- is done in a more creative way. That same notion applies to the food of San Francisco. New York has nothing to apologize for to any other city, but if it had a slighter younger, chip-on-its-shoulder sibling, it would be San Francisco. The food in and around the city is among the best -- and worst (in a good way) -- there is in this country, and perhaps, in this world. My experience is limited, unfortunately, but based on what I saw last night, I'm reminded that it's been far too long since I last set down at SFO to spend some time with my other half in my other city.

Without belaboring the obvious, I think the whole essence of why San Francisco is as much a contradiction as New York is evident in the various neighborhoods which comprise the city. There is Pacific Heights and there is the Mission. In New York, we have the Upper East Side and we have the South Bronx. We -- like San Francisco -- have highs and lows, the middle and the extremes, and while San Francisco's weather remains relatively even-keeled and in balance, ours fluctuates wildly. And in case you haven't heard, their geologic patterns lend themselves to occasional fluctuation from time to time.

In either case, I'm not sure how one becomes homesick for a place in which he has spent far too little time, but between last night's show and what's waiting on the other end of a six-hour run on a commercial jet, that's where I'm at.

Although I could use a little Izzy's or perhaps a visit to The House of Prime Rib, I suppose I'll settle -- happily -- for some time with my other half and admonish myself for suggesting that anything else even be included in the same sentence or with the same regard.

In either case, I would be remiss if I, like Tony, failed to convince anyone coming across this to consider a trip west and a few days in a completely compelling reason to overcome one's fear of air travel, the economic obstacles for traveling, and, most importantly, seeing the world through a kaleidoscope of lenses rather than just one or two basic colors.


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