Friday, May 28, 2010

At the star wash (at the star wash, yeah)!

Launderettes (that's 'laundromats' to my American counterparts) have always seemed incredibly depressing to me, filled with miserable people, disillusioned with their (dirty clothes-filled) lives.

Having always lived in places fitted with washing machines, I have never had to use a launderette - until now that is. Fortunately, my current abode is situated right next door to Star Wash, so I didn't have to air my dirty laundry, as it were, across town. Instead, I set out to spare myself from having to wear the same undies two days running, whilst my mind conjured up images of bad news being revealed to a nation of soap-lovers....and Dot Cotton.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I set foot in the haus of detergent, and found that, actually, it wasn't misery-inducing, and was in fact, pretty quirky, and a nice quiet spot to sit down and read a book!

Now, to be fair, my aversion is kind of deep-rooted by the mental image of deserted rooms, painted in hideous, muted browns and oranges, lit by fluorescent, flickering bulbs. Star Wash is anything but...

A plethora of movie stars array the walls, whilst cosmic stars scatter the ceiling. Star Wash, your collages could keep me amused for hours...or well, they could keep me amused for the duration of my delicates cycle.

Whilst my threads were in the tumble dryer I noticed that they also do alterations at this place, so I popped home to pick up a dress I bought in Thrift Town a couple of days ago and showed the lady to see if she could take it in for me. She can, and she will! All for a fraction of the price that other places have quoted me too! Now to see if her sewing skillz can cut the mustard...

Well for now it's time for me to enjoy (clean) knickers and Netflicks, because this post has given me the urge to revisit the John Waters movie Pecker, which I would highly recommend, if you haven't seen it already.

Febreeze, you can stay firmly on the shelf, I'm not afraid of launderettes anymore...especially this launderette...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sunday Funday!

Despite a tickle in my throat, and the threat of a cold looming over me, Sunday was fun times!

Members of Team Brunch (sans one) decided to grace Dottie's True Blue Cafe with our presence, and so after an hour of waiting in line, we were seated, and this is what I have to report:

After much deliberation, I went for the omelette with smoked whisky fennel sausage, mushrooms and spinach, with corn bread and jalapeño jelly and home fries.

This was the gruyère and caramelised onion tart with eggs, biscuits and fruit.

And finally, the banana and chocolate chip french toast, which, in my opinion, was the most delicious.

Dottie's is a fun little place, with a relaxed vibe, and quirky little details that can be noticed when you look closely - such as lamps made out of tea and coffee pots, with the lightbulbs fitted into cups and saucers. I also like the collection of various salt & pepper shakers, with each table having a different kind.

Unfortunately, the wait is pretty long, no matter when you come here, due to both the small size of the place, and also it's popularity (there are 1000+ reviews on Yelp) but it's definitely worth checking out, for the grilled cornbread with jalapeño jelly alone.

I gotta say, my meal was good, but cornbread aside, it was nothing spectacular, and I was far more excited about the dish that I chose last time (black bean cake with salsa and sour cream, eggs and cornbread). That said, I thought the french toast was delicious. A point to consider though, restauranteurs - is french toast or pancakes, alone, an adequate meal? I feel like there needs to be a little somethin' somethin' extra going on there....perhaps a side bowl of fruit or eggs should be included with these choices? Just a thought.

And so, with our tummies full, we bid farewell to Dottie's...

Now, I am starting to feel like I'm part groupie/part stalker of the ever-smiling Dimestore Dandy, but well, frankly, it's not my fault that he plays so many shows, in so many bands!

Armed with a delicious, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (I love the fact that Club Deluxe has a fruit press), I was taught a couple of chords on the ukelele before the show began. There is a uke in the living room of my new sublet, so I think I am going to have to practise...

We were treated to an afternoon of music, banter and sing-alongs and it was a jolly good time indeed! What could put you in a better mood, than a room full of people singing 'You Are My Sunshine'?

Continuing my 'number 1 fan' duties, I headed over to my local Mission bar, Amnesia in the evening, where the Royal Deuces were playing a show.

Not only was it a super fun night, with great music and banter, but I also had lots of great dances (I love the speed of the floor in this venue) and...the TAMALE LADY showed up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Words cannot express the happiness I feel when the Tamale Lady appears at night, like a beacon of hope, saving the world, one delicious tamale at a time.

I ♥ Tamale Lady SF.

The Royal Deuces even succumbed to the lure of the corn-leaf, making a purchase mid-song, before singing an impromptu ditty about the woman of legend and her chicken tamales. This was highly amusing to me!

As usual, they played a played a super dooper set of fun and catchy, danceable songs, which kept me on my toes all night.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Funemployed feast!

The unemployed joined forces again to take advantage of having a free morning, by making brunch.

I went across the bridge to Oakland this time, and the location was simply beautiful! It has been a particularly gorgeous day today, and everything in the surrounding area looked so green and fresh and summery.

Delicious brunchiness consisted of: homemade breakfast pizza, maple syrup covered bacon, sausages, shrimp dumplings, latkes & crème fraiche, and a fruit platter with maple whipped cream - all washed down with peach nectar and orange juice! Delicious!






Today I faced some fierce competition in the 'inappropriate conversation' stakes, with chit-chat venturing into sex dungeon and unicorn porn territory, to name but a few topics. I will be sure to refresh my memory by browsing the Channel 4 documentary back catalogue, as there will always be a trump card in there somewhere...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On the move.

Today I moved into my new sublet at 17th and Dolores. What a great location! I am loving my new place - the room is all wooden and makes me feel like I am living in a cabin. It is so cozy and looks out onto the garden. I also have tonnes of drawer space and wardrobe space (I guess the person who usually lives here took all of his stuff with him...) so hooray for not having to live out of a suitcase!

Although this is exciting news, it is kind of overshadowed by two things at the moment. Firstly, I have had a headache all day and it is simply, not going away. Secondly, I have discovered this amazing cheese:

That's right, your eyes are not deceiving you - cheddar cheese with oat granola, raisins and apples. Go.And.Buy.Some.Now.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Make mine a Monkeypod.

The perfect weekend was rounded off with a perfect Sunday, starting with a delicious brunch at Zazie. I am loving my new Sunday Brunch Crew (go team brunch!), and the combination of great company, plus a mango mimosa and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and cream cheese made for a happy Mel.

What made for an even happier Mel was receiving flowers...what a lucky girl I am!

A late afternoon trip across the bridge transformed Team Brunch into Team Tiki at Forbidden Island in Alameda. A luau was in full swing upon arrival, with live music, djs, fire dancers, limbo and hawaiian bbq.

Can I just say, wowzer, coconut shrimp may be my new crush. Hawaiian bbq chicken ain't half bad either. YumYumYumYum.

Now, this bar has an extensive selection of cocktails, and you get all manner of crazy items poking out of them, such as tiki stirrers and back scratchers. The bar tenders are quick and efficient with their cocktail making techniques and the drinks pack a punch. I tried two cocktails, I cannot remember what the first one was called, but it was made with tequila and cilantro - it pales in comparison to what was to follow....the Monkeypod. This drink was almost too tasty. It consists of light rum, dark rum, coconut, lime and tamarind, and despite my suspicions that it may be too sweet, it was perfect. Again, Yum.Yum.Yum.Yum.

I popped outside to watch some fire dancing, which was ok, but not particularly captivating to me, so instead I went inside and did a bit of dancing myself. Sans fire, but equally hot...

Having imbibed a couple of cocktails, it was time to lead the conversation down some interesting paths. Did I mention Fat Girls and Feeders? Of course I did. Luckily, before we could dwell on it for too long, they cracked out the limbo bar, and although I didn't join in, it gave me great pleasure to watch others and see how low they could go.

By the way, they got pretty low...

Breakfast of champions...

It's a good thing I walk and dance a lot, because otherwise....

Country Breakfast at St. Francis Fountain...

Blueberry pancakes with banana at Breakfast at Tiffany's...

New York Scramble at Zazie...

Ginger pancakes with poached pear and lemon curd at Zazie...

Holy dough balls!

Bacon, maple, apple doughnut you say? Bacon and Doughnut? YES PLEASE.

My suspicions have been confirmed, bacon does make everything taste better, including doughnuts. All the rave reviews of Dynamo Donut & Coffee are true!

So being the foodie that I am, I thought it was about time I checked out out exactly how dynamic these gourmet balls of dough were. Initially, I only planned to try the famous bacon one, but in the end, I got lured into buying a selection of flavours, including: passionfruit & chocolate, blueberry cornmeal and chocolate, almond & rosemary. They were all scrumptious (just to be clear, I did not eat all of these doughnuts on my own, although I sampled them all...) but my favourites were definitely the bacon, maple, apple and the passionfruit. Well worth a visit indeed.

On a doughnut kick, I continued my foray into the world of deep fried doughy deliciousness with a visit to Krispy Kreme. After all, a visit to Krispy Kreme is mandatory, following a meal at In n Out...right?

It makes the most sense to buy a box of a dozen doughnuts, and if it makes you feel a little gluttonous, you can ease the guilt by getting a few original glazed, which can be inhaled in a matter of seconds, due to the fact that they are mostly air. With this reasoning, not only are you avoiding the consumption of any calories, but I think you may actually be getting into the negative calorie zone...

Get down to the nitty gritty.

It's official - Thursdays are the new Fridays. Well, at least last Thursday was...

Start your Thursday night with a few cheap beverages at Tailor Made: The Mod Happy Hour! at Make Out Room where you can get your buzz on from 6pm and listen to Northern Soul, Ska, Britpop (did I really hear Kula Shaker? Yes, yes I did!) and other amazing musical wonders.

But now, let's get The Real Nitty Gritty. Holy guacamole, Beauty Bar, you pulled it out of the bag with this night, really you did. Djs Brown Amy, Carnita and Cat Fancy kept the (rather large, and by large, I don't mean fat) crowd happy with an awesome selection of hot soul jams, 60s girl groups, funk and northern soul stompers. From The Shirelles, to Arthur Conley, I was a happy bunny and danced myself into a sweaty mess. I. Loved. Every. Minute.

So, if you like sweet soul music, I would definitely recommend this night, because it is seriously FUN! I am still marvelling at what a great night it was, despite it being soooo crowded, and in spite of the greyhound consumption that took place on my part. I just hope this becomes a regular club night at BB...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Savannah So-So...

Any day that includes this in it, is not half bad:

It has to be said that the bread pudding at Tartine is rather yummy. It is not as good as my mum's bread & butter pudding, but then not many people can compete with my mummy's cooking, because...well, because she is my mum.

So to counteract the buttery, creamy deliciousness of Tartine's baked goods, I needed to take to the dance floor last night. For a change, I thought I'd try out Savannah Jazz Club. It was 'so-so'. Well, actually, there were a lot more negative points than positive, unfortunately...

To begin with, I thought that $10 was a rather steep cover charge for a night out dancing in a small bar. Fair enough, there is a live band and it is a pretty nice bar, but considering there are so many fun dance nights, both with and without live bands, that are free, it seemed a bit extortionate, especially given that the music was not particularly exciting.

Don't.Get.Me.Started.On.The.Food. Oh my goodness. Do the kitchen at SJC not realise that this is San Francisco ie. Foodie City? How they can have the nerve to serve up such substandard food (at expensive prices) is beyond me. Upon arrival of the 'New Orleans Creole Swing' (Creole rice with New Orleans cajun sauce, sausage, chicken, and shrimp ) priced at $15.95, I had no other option but to tell the staff how disgusting it was and send it back. At least I didn't encounter any arguments to my disapproval. But really, wow. I find it despicable that anywhere could send food like this out to a customer. Tut, tut, Savannah, do I need to call Gordon Ramsey?

The dance floor was crowded, and unfortunately there was not much floor-craft being practised. It was also very hot, with only a couple of fans, which didn't seem to be doing much to help with the air flow.

Now, I can appreciate that my review is starting to sound quite negative, but it really wasn't so awful, and I had many enjoyable dances, it's just that these are all little factors which contribute to my feelings about whether to return or not.

When the band had finished and the dance floor had pretty much cleared, a little later in the evening, I was enjoying tripping the light fantastic, when a couple interrupted my dance because they wanted to 'practise a routine' in the corner being occupied by me and my lead. Now, apart from the fact that it was rude to interrupt us mid-dance, the rest of the dance floor was EMPTY, so why they needed us to move, rather than just practise in a different corner, I don't know. Maybe it was because there was a fan near to where we were. Maybe it's because they don't realise that it is a public dance event that we have all paid money to attend, rather than a dance studio where they can practise their silly little dance. Either way, it was a dick move.

So, all in all, if you want to check this place out on a Wednesday night, I would recommend going with someone you enjoy dancing with (as I did), eat before you go, and wear something light and airy. In fact, if you decide to go, I would recommend going to Le Colonial instead.

This is how I spend my days...

There's nothing quite like having a girlie afternoon with a good friend...

Sipping delicious margaritas (that are served up in glasses, literally the size of my head)...

Getting pedicures (and soaking our tootsies in rose petal filled water) whilst eating chocolate cake and gossiping!

I would definitely recommend checking out Rosy Heels if you want a bit of pampering. This SOMA salon, located on 7th and Harrison is a little oasis of calm, with reasonable prices, great service and free tea and cake. The decor is pretty, with bright colours and comfy chairs, and they play relaxing music, so you can sit back in an ultra comfortable environment as you flick through a magazine. As if this wasn't enough, they also put a warm scented cushion thingy around your shoulders, which feels really cozy. So cozy, in fact, that my friend and I almost fell asleep...

I have been here a few times, and I have to say it's my nail salon of choice. I have never tried any of the other services that they offer, such as facials or waxing, but for a good mani/pedi and nail polish that will last a long time without chipping, this is most certainly the place to treat those tootsies.

Fresh fluffy pillows of perfection!

Brunch brunch brunch! Nom nom nom! A visit to Just For You cafe in the Dogpatch (ruff, ruff!) neighbourhood on Sunday morning set me up for the perfect day. What more could you want, apart from a) amazing bluebottle coffee whilst you wait for your table, b) great company, c) lovely weather? Oh, that's right....BEIGNETS!

This Southern-style brunch joint has a guaranteed looooooong wait on the weekends, but it's worth it for the beignets and cornbread alone. Seriously - the tagline 'fresh, fluffy pillows of perfection' aint lying! Admittedly, not the most healthy start to the day, but oh so delicious.

So following a breakfast feast of eggs, chicken apple sausage, home fries, cornbread and beignets, a walk was in order. We walked from: Dogpatch to Potrero Hill to the Mission to Hayes Valley to the Haight. It was the perfect day for it and made me feel a little less guilty about my decadent brekkie....oh who am I kidding? I had no regrets or guilt associated to my breakfast, I just like to walk.

I really enjoy taking in the different neighbourhoods in San Francisco, as they are so unique, and all have their own quirky elements. Along the way, a giant metal sculpture scraped the sky in Hayes Valley. The Amazonian looking figure, with her head flung back to emphasise her long flowing hair (made of chains) was so striking! Apparently it was created for Burning Man, but to be honest the first thing I thought when I saw it was: BEYONCE! The sculpture was set in a pose where she was pointing to her finger, à la 'If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it!' Needless to say, this song was stuck in my head for the duration of the walk.

When we got to Haight Street, we stopped in at Club Deluxe to watch a low-key, afternoon performance by the Dimestore Dandies. If you like a bit of ukelele, double bass and kazoo, then this is for you! It's a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon, and not only do you get to listen to live music performed with a beaming smile, you can also sip on a freshly squeezed grapefruit juice from the bar (which, FYI, is delicious).

Deco Ball Decadence.

After much anticipation, Saturday 8th May was finally the day of the Art Deco Preservation Ball, which is an annual fundraiser, hosted by the Art Deco Society of California.

It is a lavish affair, held at the beautiful Bimbo's 365 nightclub in North Beach. The men wear tuxedos and the women wear evening gowns, and the whole affair is very civilised and glamorous. As well as musical entertainment by Don Neely's Royal Society Jazz orchestra, there is a dancefloor, and performances by the Deco Belles.

So what to wear? Well, I definitely didn't think to pack any vintage evening dresses when planning my trip (despite the fact that I am not adverse to popping to the corner shop to buy a pint of milk in fancy attire, I was constrained by luggage limitations - and believe me, packing three months' worth of clothes into one suitcase is no mean feat...) so I was delighted when I found the perfect dress at an awesome little vintage shop, Bianca Starr, literally around the corner from where I was living.

This boutique is a little treasure trove of goodies! I was so happy with my dress, and over the weeks that I was living in my sublet right by this shop in the Mission, I have popped in to have a look around on many an occasion. The shop owner, Bianca, is an absolute sweetheart, and having built up a great rapport with her over the weeks, I really enjoy stopping by for a chat and a gossip. Go have a look!

So, back to the ball....what a spectacular evening! The dresses, the dresses, the dresses!!! The ladies all looked so beautiful and glamorous, and the men looked handsome and dashing. I really relish the opportunity to go all out and get dressed up for an event where you know that everyone will make an effort and get fancy too.

I enjoyed a couple of cosmopolitans, which I thought was the appropriate cocktail to accompany my outfit, and was amused by the bartender who spent the evening painting little watercolour pictures of the crowd in between serving up drinkies. He was great and so were his doodles! What a great hobby, and indeed, a great skill, to be able to just quickly entertain yourself by sketching and painting little postcard-sized pictures when you have a spare minute.

I thoroughly enjoyed the choreographed routine by the ultra-glam Deco Belles, who performed a dance to the song 'Puttin' On The Ritz' - what a gorgeous group of girls! I did end up with this song going 'round and 'round my head for the next few days though...

It was great to see so many friends dressed up to the nines! I am so glad to have been a part of this super fun event and would definitely love to go back again next year.

You took a white orchid, turned it blue.

So, as part of my volunteering duties for the annual Deco Ball, I went along to the flower market (on 6th & Brannan) to help choose the orchids for the table arrangements, and also the gardenias and carnations for people to adorn their suits and dresses with on the night.

Well, what a fun morning! As I have previously expressed, I love flowers, so being surrounded by so many of them was an absolute delight. It was a beautiful, sunny and warm Friday, and walking around the slightly cool flower warehouse, my eyes were awash with a rainbow of colours.

These flowers reminded me so much of a giant bunch of radishes! Mmmmmm, salad...

I would definitely recommend coming here to buy flowers, as this place is HUGE and they have pretty much every type of floral to take your fancy. So whether you want to impress someone with a fistful of picturesque posies, or you have a party to decorate, or, if you simply want to treat yourself, then this is the place.

Surrounded by plants that were preeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetty as a picture!

It brought a huge smile to my face when one of the stall owners came up to me and presented me with a beautiful red flower. What a lovely gesture! And what a lovely flower it was too.

The whole experience was made all the more amusing by the guy who was selling us the flowers that we eventually decided on. Junior was a cheeky chappie indeed. I like a bit of joviality mixed in with business, and I definitely like a side of sarcasm with my blooms...