I spent the weekend in San Francisco with my good friend Rachel, and the only reason I didn’t chain myself to the Golden Gate bridge and refuse to leave was because I knew Mr. T and the dogs were waiting for me back in SD. What a freaking AWESOME city, y’all!!!

Friday night found us enjoying some amazing Indian food. You gotta love a city where every restaurant has a whole page devoted to vegetarian entrees. Dahl, Channa, Sag Paneer… I was in heaven. We then headed over to the Castro and a hip little bar called Lime, where I was told they serve the most delicious fish tacos in the city. For me, fish tacos are best served from a roadside cart in Baja, so I took their word for it. They did make a mean appletini, though…

What still gets to me is how much my alcohol tolerance has waned in six years. At 25, I could drink grown men under the table and still make it to the 6am spinning class at the gym. Now, three glasses of red wine and an appletini, and my body’s begging for mercy. Old age sucks. 😉

And speaking of booze, Saturday morning we drove to Calistoga, where we rented bikes and took a cycling tour of the vineyards. The bike shop encouraged the practice of “spit n’cycle” but seriously, people, who can resist taking a few clandestine sips of a $55 wine??? We figured we’d burn off the alcohol cycling from winery to winery. Then, Rachel crashed into a wall while admiring her front tire. ‘Nuff said.

We headed downtown on Sunday to cure our hangover with a dose of spiritual cleansing. I nabbed us some tickets to see/hear the Dalai Lama speak on “Creating Positive Change”. The thing about the Dalai Lama is, I always expect him to say something so devastatingly profound that I’m certain I won’t be able to grasp it. To me, Buddhism is so complicated and ethereal, totally out of my realm. I was therefore impressed with the simpleness of his words and the humility of his spirit. I’m preparing another post with the topics of his talk, but let’s just say that sometimes the most basic concepts can have the most earth-shaking effects.

To keep with the Asian theme, Rachel and I headed down to Chinatown after the presentation.  She took me to taste teas, and if you’ve never done this, it is an experience NOT to be missed!!  You sit at a bar and a wacky Chinese guy prepares and pours different kinds of teas into thimble-sized cups.  He explains what each tea is as you taste it, and when you’ve drunk so much tea that you swear you’ll never take a sip again as long as you live, you’re encouraged to buy the ones you liked best.  We tasted Siberian rose tea (liquid roses, people), black lychee tea (naturally sweet!), jasmine pearl (a great way to drink white tea without the nasty white tea taste), and this amazing black tea that’s buried for six years inside a mandarin rind!  They also served us an assortment of green teas and a milk oolong tea that tasted like buttah.  No, I’m not doing my best impression of a Saturday Night Live skit.  The damn thing tasted like butter!

So while you’re tasting teas, the Chinese pourers strike up conversations with the clients.  Rachel and I chatted along with them, but a couple next to us remained strangely quiet.  The Chinese “bartender” asked them: “Why you not talking?” and the lady replied: “I’m stoned, man.”

Only in San Francisco.

After tasting over 10 different kinds of teas and spending a small fortune, we headed down to House of Nanking for dinner.  If you’ve never gone, it’s a must-see next time you’re in the city.  It’s a no-frills restaurant that’s packed to the gills!  They have the angriest waiters in the world, surpassed only by the angriest chef in the world.  They sit you elbow to elbow with the couple next to you and throw a couple of hand-written menus on the table.  The waiter barks: “You want tea, beer, soda,” and if you hesitate for more than a second, he’ll leave and not come back for 30 minutes.

We ordered tea (because of course we’re gluttons for punishment) and the waiter came back to take our “order” a few minutes later.  Here’s the gist of the conversation:

Rachel: We want two hot and sour soups.

Waiter: One enough for two!

Rachel: Oh, ok… And we want the mu shu vegetables and we’re trying to decide if we want a fish or a shellfish entree.

Waiter: What you want?  Fish or shellfish?  You want fish, I bring you fish.

With that, he grabbed our menus and left.  “Uh, what are we getting,” I asked Rachel.  “Who knows,” she replied.  “Some sort of fish.”

At least we got to pick two out of three items.  A german couple next to us was told: “I bring you chicken, fish, and tofu, OK?”  The waiter left before they could even agree.  They just blinked at eachother and took nervous sips from their Tsing Taos.

We needn’t have worried, because we got the most amazing Chinese food I’ve ever tasted, which was a fitting end to a most delicious weekend in San Francisco.