Beach Blanket Bingo

Growing up in Kentucky, the closest body of water was the Ohio River. Our grandparents had a house boat so we would spend summer days cruising the river and flapping around in the water with tiny floaty-adorned arms. Now that I’m old enough to know what is in that water, I think its remarkable that my sister and I have only the correct number of appendages.  As we got older, we would spend summer weekends at nearby Lake Nolin with friends who were lucky enough to have families with houses and boats. The ocean was something only seen on the occasional vacation to Florida, or more often in our family, South Carolina or Georgia. For this reason, when I think of beaches, I think of a brightly painted town full of swim and surf shops where flip-flop-clad townies surf every morning before work.

Needles to say, when my friends in Napa proposed a day trip to the beach at Bodega Bay I had a very different idea of where we were going.  Imagine the shock when I hopped out of the car in my bikini and slathered in sun screen only to walk down a cliff-side staircase and onto a beach that had me wishing I had packed a blanket instead of a towel.  To surf these waters you not only need a wetsuit, but booties, gloves and a hood. And even then, the water is still brutally cold.

I have since visited Stinson Beach where I was smart enough to have worn jeans and a cardigan, a sad fact of life as a Northern Californian. Or so I thought, until  a couple of weeks ago when, as my family back home was preparing for fall, Indian Summer finally hit San Francisco.  My cat and I were splayed out on the mercifully cool hard wood floor in my studio, trying to hide in the shadows when my friend Katherine called and said “It’s hot. Do you want to go to the beach?” HELL YES. Sadie, cancel all of my appointments! I’m going out! I threw on my bikini, slathered myself with SPF and donned my cute straw fedora in anticipation of some serious sunshine. Before heading for the surf and sand, we made a pit stop for beer and sandwiches, because as we all know, a true beach day is not complete without some suds.

As we got closer to the coast, I started to worry- what if this was going to be the same thing all over again and I end up sitting in the cold sand in my cardigan drinking beer for warmth rather than as cool refreshing relief from the heat? My fears were unfounded. The beach was HOT and although the water was too cold to stay in for more than a few minutes, it was bearable enough to swim in. I had googled Baker Beach that morning before getting picked up and had read that it was known for its amazing views and its less traditional views….in other words, naked old men. We only experienced one of those that day, and lucky for us it wasn’t the nudes.  We were also treated to a visit from a large pod of dolphins that came surprisingly close to the shore. Standing in the sand, with the tide washing over my feet, flanked by two of my favorite Californians gazing out into the water at the dolphins framed by the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, it was hard to be anything but blissful and very very thankful for where life had brought me. To top it all off, we ended our day by sitting in the sand and watching the sun rapidly descend into the water. I don’t know that I’ve ever had the experience of watching a sunset from start to finish without interruption by man or mountain. It was the perfect end to the perfect day. San Francisco might not be my idea of a “beach town” as I had come to know them back East, but I’ll take it.

 

Oodles of Noodles

I am willing to make the claim that I could eat noodles every night for a week and have each of those meals originate from a different country/culture. It’s a widely know (and skinny jean-sabotaging) fact that grains are the base of most diets. Be it rice, noodles or bread, there is some kind of grainy carby love serving as the backbone of most traditional dishes.

Tonight for dinner I made myself some Italian-inspired fettuccine with a tomato-garlic sauce, shrimp and basil. Last night I ordered in Pad-Thai. The night before that, I walked a few blocks to my neighborhood Udon restaurant to get my noodle fix. As a kid, my favorite meals were served with noodles: Fettuccine Alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, lo mein and my granny’s macaroni salad. In college, my freshman year roommate introduced me to Cup Noodles, one of our favorite post-party snacks packaged conveniently in a Styrofoam cup and requiring only a short stumble to our hall water fountain’s hot water tap. Growing up in Kentucky followed by college in Central Ohio provided limited pasta options, so it wasn’t until I moved to California for culinary school that my eyes were really opened to the wide world of noodles.

My first noodle awakening happened randomly one night when my friends got hungry after a shopping trip in Santa Rosa and decided to stop for food. The boys had heard about a Pho place nearby that was supposed to be good. I had no idea what “Fuh” was but said as long as they had something “normal” to eat there I would go with. Like a fool, I ordered Chicken Teriyaki and immediately regretted my choice when the steaming bowls of noodle goodness were placed in front of the others. Pho, as it turns out, is Vietnamese comfort food and most importantly, the ultimate hangover cure, consisting of thinly sliced meat that cooks in the remarkably flavorful vegetable broth ,Thai basil, bean sprouts, hot peppers, a  cocktail of house sauces, and most importantly, noodles. One bite and I was hooked.

Pho eventually became a staple in my weekly diet.  Claiming that he had found the best Pho spot in the Bay Area, my friend Bobby drove me the 45 minutes to Fairfield for an $8 lunch. And despite how silly I knew it was to drive so far for what is essentially fast food, I went back with him almost every weekend. The full bellied satisfaction you have after eating a bowl of Pho is reminiscent of chicken noodle soup on a cold day as a kid, and just as addictive.

There is an art to eating Pho. How much basil do I add? Is it a pepper day? Do I want Sriracha and the house chili paste? Hoisin? Soy Sauce? Fish sauce? It took me a long time to master the proportions. Bobby has his down to a science, filling his little sauce dish before he even orders- the same amounts each time to ensure the perfect blend. Like the white girl I am, I unceremoniously squirt things straight into the bowl, stirring and hoping I don’t accidentally burn my face off. Alas, most meals end with a bright red face, runny nose and broth-splattered shirt. But I keep coming back for more.

Since moving to San Francisco, I have so many more options for international cuisine at my fingertips- especially noodles; With Japantown, Chinatown, and Little Italy all within walking (or busing) distance, how do you choose? Yelp. As controversial as it is, it remains one of the easiest ways to discover new food, among other things. The newest addition to my noodle repertoire is a mere three-block stroll from my front door, and was discovered thanks to a tandem Google/Yelp search. Kaka Udon is a tiny and cute restaurant that serves the expected Teriyakis and sushi, but the staple of the eatery is, as its name states, udon.

Unlike the thinner rice noodles in Pho, Udon are fresh thick egg noodles that, at least at Kaka Udon, are handmade in house. Garnished with only the basics –tofu, oyster mushrooms, and nori- most of the flavor is derived from the broth. Really? …that’s it? Noodles and broth? How good can that really be? This was my initial reaction. As a blue blooded American eater, I wanted more stuff in my bowl. Where are all the “goodies?” Shouldn’t it have at least two kinds of meat and a vegetable or something? As it turns out, you can order udon with meat or veggies if you want, and it’s really good that way, but its also really, really good if you leave it alone. Once I got over the initial shock of the simplicity of the dish, I understood why it is the way it is. Suddenly I was wishing I had worn baggier pants, cursing my stomach for being so small, and wondering if it would be completely ridiculous to call a cab because I didn’t want to slosh the three blocks home.

Our delicious spread at Kaka Udon

I found myself craving it again the next night for dinner, and the next… Udon has bypassed Pho and become my new zombie master. I try to distract myself with other noodles- pad thai, chow mein, linguini- but nothing is the same. Nothing is good enough. It’s all about the udon, baby. That is, until I find another noodle. I still have a lot of eating to do.

I’m on a boat!

There is an irony to blogging – when all you do is sit at home and blog, you run out of interesting things to write about, but once you get out of the house and adventure, you run out of time to sit at home and blog. Such is my dilemma. I go through bouts of hermit-like behavior, followed by 5 day social binges. During the down time I think to myself, ‘Now would be a great time to write, but what could I possibly write about?’. Conversely, when I’m out and about, I think, ‘This will be great to blog about! When can I squeeze in time to write?’. Plus, now I’m faced with what exactly I should choose to write about out of all of the fun things that I’ve been doing…

I seem to be spending a lot of time at the Ferry Building lately. I can hear the groans already- another post about the damn Ferry Building? Get some new material!– but rest assured, that’s not where I’m going with this. Last week, I finally decided to get off my couch and take a mini vacation to Napa to get some Vitamin D and see friends. Having lost my ZipCard, I decided it was about time I took my first ferry ride. Of course, this meant yet another trip to the Ferry Building, but that part of the story ends there. If you’ve never taken the ferry from San Francisco to Vallejo or vise versa, you are missing out. Not only is it cheap ($13 one way), but also enjoyable. It’s not just another dirty vessel carting commuters and tourists back and forth, but a really fun boat trip through the bay.  First and foremost, it’s surprisingly clean and comfortable. There is plenty of leg room no matter where you are, the seats have enough room between them, and there’s even a tray table and free Wi-Fi if you want to set up shop and do work or facebook stalk.

Once you’re settled in and the boat has made it’s way out of the “No Wake” zone, you can hit up the snack bar, stocked with breakfast pastries and coffee for the early-risers and chips and soda for the afternoon crowd. Oh- and did I mention they sell booze? That’s right- you too can drink some crisp Santana champ while sporting your nautical themed Pashmina Afghan. And on nice days you can even sit up top on the back deck, hair whipping in the wind, arms spread wide like Jack and Rose. (You can sit there on not-nice days too, but why would you want to?)

The view is pretty great too. Sure, when you initially pull out of the port in Vallejo, it’s not exactly picturesque-a lot of industrial buildings and ugly apartment complexes- but once you get on the road (so to speak) the scenery is pretty gorgeous. It gets better the closer you are to the city- green hills, sailboats and the occasional “cliff”-side mansion. The view you really don’t want to miss is that of the city as you pass Alcatraz. The panorama before you of the Piers spread across the edge of the city, with a backdrop of hills covered in colorful buildings, dotted with skyscrapers and high rises is breathtaking. I don’t know that the honeymoon can ever be over with a sight like that every time you come back to the city.  I think I’ll be leaving town more often, just so I can come back again.

Keep Calm and Ferry On

I’ve been given a homework assignment: Between now and next Tuesday write two blogs about food. And frankly, I have no excuse not to do it. After finding myself recently (and hopefully very temporarily) unemployed I’ve been doing one of two things- staying home in sweats and watching a disgusting amount of TV while eating take-out or spending lots of money (that I don’t have) adventuring around the city eating and drinking with friends. Either way, I’m eating.

Today was a productive day; an early doctor’s appointment got me out of bed at an hour that I otherwise would have ignored entirely. Having woken up late and hungry, I joined the masses at Whole Foods for my caffeine fix and a blueberry scone. I have to admit, if there was somewhere else within a block of my house to get coffee when I’m running late, I would go there in a heartbeat. Unfortunately all I have is the Steep Brew at WF. In my opinion, their coffee beans are over roasted and a little harsh. The scone was pretty good, but if you really want a scone that will make you abandon your diet and surrender to your fat pants, Batter Bakery on Polk is where it’s at.  Paula Dean, the Queen of Butter, would be tickled at the amount of glorious fat packed into those bad boys. Somehow, they manage to be flaky, creamy and crumbly all at the same time; and packed with fresh fruit to boot.

Lunch was a tame turkey sandwich at home while I waited for the clock to signal that it was time for me to go get my hair cut. Three hours and one fabulous new ‘do later, I was starving. I had two choices, go home and eat pita chips and hummus or call my friend Michelle to see if she was interested in cocktails and noshing. Obviously, I chose option two. We decided on the Ferry Plaza Building, and true to my word, I made sure we went somewhere that I had previously been unaware of- Hog Island Oyster Company! To be fair, I’ve actually been to the Hog Island in Tomales Bay, but I had not been to eat at their spot in the Ferry Building- or the one in the Oxbow Market in Napa for that matter.

I’ll pretty much eat anything that comes out of the ocean, so I like oysters, but being from Kentucky means I’m not exactly well-versed in oyster flavor profiles. I decided to try the 6-oyster sampling so I could do a little compare/contrast. With the help of Michelle’s serving expertise I was able to determine that I prefer Pacific Ocean oysters to Atlantic but that I also really like Kumamotos (from Japan) and a certain oyster from Long Island called a Naked Cowboy.  (I mean really, how could you not like something named after MTV’s favorite Times Square personality?) Paired with some epi bread generously schmeared with butter, a lovely frisee and beet salad topped with lemon cucumbers, daikon and a zinfandel vinaigrette and a glass of Domain Carneros Brut Rose, how could I go wrong?

I could have easily stopped there, belly full of oysters and bubbles, but we’re hardcore foodies so we soldiered on.  Next stop, the Wine Merchant for some vino, cheese and of course, more bread. Man may not live on bread alone, but add some cheese and a nice glass of wine and I think he’ll get along just fine.

If you’re shopping through the Ferry Building for picnic stuffs to enjoy in the park across the street or maybe on a bench along the pier, the Wine Merchant is a must. I can’t say for sure that it’s the only place that sells bottles in the building, but its certainly the best selection. On the whole, the Ferry Building is a wealthy picnic aficionado’s utopia; under one roof you can go to Frog Hollow for fruit, Cowgirl Creamery for cheese, Boccalone for meats, Acme Bread Co. for, well, bread, Miette for pastries or Ciao Bella for gelato, and the Village Market for produce. Sounds pretty perfect to me.

I had been into the Wine Merchant before a couple of times to peruse the wine selection, so nicely categorized by type and country that even my obsessive compulsions for organization are put at ease, but I had never sat down to have a glass of wine. They offer a number of wines that you can enjoy by the taste, glass, caraffe or bottle and a nice selection of cheese and charcuterie pairings. There are also two flights you can try with a custom cheese pairing if you so choose. We opted to pretend we were on vacation in Italy; a glass of Il Mosnel Franciacorta for Michelle, 2010 Coefner Vin d’ Seigneurs Mayolet for me, and burratta with epi (yes, again) to share. Michelle’s Italianate champs was a deliciously sophisticated contrast to the flirty pink bubbles we had been sipping with our oysters earlier. I opted for the Mayolet instead of the Sangiovese that had previously caught my eye because I had never tried this particular varietal and felt up for a challenge. Our server told me it was something he turned to as an alternative to Pinot Noir when he was in the mood for a light-bodied, spicy red.  It was incredibly light, but maintained a nice amount of body, had the aroma of sediment (in a good way) and tasted like ripe plums with toasted spices. In other (less wine-snobby) words, it was delicious. Paired with a bite of olive oil drenched burrata, it was even better.

Luckily, Michelle had somewhere to be, forcing our glorious gluttonous afternoon to come to an end.  My waistline and wardrobe are safe for another day. But it probably wouldn’t hurt to start looking into gym memberships…

I’ll take that with a side of perspective, please

I constantly have to remind myself that I’ve only been living in San Francisco for three months and that allowing myself to be in any kind of rut this early on is completely unacceptable. Sure, I’ve wandered into most of the neighborhoods in town- Pacific Heights, the Marina, North Beach, Union Square, the Financial District, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Ferry Building, the Mission, the Castro, Inner and Outer Sunset, Golden Gate Park… but its not like I’ve really explored them all in depth. Walking down Chestnut Street one time does not mean that you’ve seen all that the Marina has to offer. That’s like taking a stroll down Bardstown Road in Louisville and saying you’ve experienced the Highlands.

That said, I’ve been to the Ferry Plaza building a couple of times and always like it there, even if it is crowded with tourists who lack any sense of personal space. I thought I knew what the building had to offer; the standard tourist spiel- an indoor farmer’s market along the pier full of shops and eateries. And yes, that’s what it is, but it wasn’t until I met up with an old friend from Louisville for lunch this past week that I took the blinders off and saw the Ferry building in all of its glory. We met up at lunchtime to grab a bite and catch up and guided by Kurt’s craving for some seafood ended up at the Fish Market sitting on stools and gossiping about mutual friends while we nibbled on our fried oyster po’boys. We shared the small L-shaped counter with a family, another set of friends, and a couple of corporate-types escaping from the sea of Subway sandwich shops in the nearby Financial District.

It being my weekend and a gorgeous day, I decided to join my friend for a walk along the piers; not to mention, 30 minutes is not nearly enough time to catch up on a year’s worth of gossip and life. We left the Ferry building through the back where I discovered there were restaurants I had no idea existed- with outdoor seating and an amazing view of the bay no less. I stood there gazing out onto the water kicking myself for not having been more observant in the past, thinking to myself ‘We could have eaten out here you idiot! This is a mistake I assure you I will not be making again.

As we strolled North towards Fisherman’s Wharf, with the bay breeze blowing my curly hair into knots, Kurt kept commenting how beautiful it was here and how lucky I am to live here. I looked out onto the water, Angel Island and Alcatraz floating before me, and realized that I really was lucky to be living here. We stopped into a restaurant that was advertising waterfront seating for a glass of wine and ended up sitting out back at a small table with bar stools, our backs against the side of the building looking into the u-shaped dock formed by the surrounding buildings and out onto the bay with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, obscured by a little bit of fog. The water lapped up against the sides of the pier building as sea gulls floated along, taking a break from tourist-tormenting. The perfect backdrop for discussing life and our scary and as yet undetermined futures. Having older friends is a nice source of retrospective advice as well as a reassuring reminder that no one really ever has their lives figured out completely.

Post-wine, our stroll led us into the insanity of Pier 39 and eventually Fisherman’s Wharf where the conversation became a little bit distracted due to tourist dodging and pushy crowds gathered around absurd street performers. Once we broke through the t-shirt shops and made it past the ridiculously long line for the Powell Street cable car, we found ourselves along the water on the mini-beach where I watched fireworks over the bay on the Fourth of July. Thinking that this was as far as you could go in this direction, I was ready to turn around and head into Russian Hill, but Kurt kept moving forward, finding a trail and a park that I hadn’t known existed. Our stroll took us up a steep hill into a small but gorgeous forest-area and finally out into a park that led eventually to the Marina waterfront. (Did I mention that I was wearing cheap ballet flats this whole time?) By the time we found ourselves on Chestnut Street, it was after four and Kurt had a dinner to get to. Having only hailed cabs from busy intersections at night, I didn’t think it would be a problem to grab one off of Lombard in the early evening on a weeknight. How wrong I was. Twenty minutes and three intersections later, we finally found a cab and I sent Kurt on his way. Happy and tired, I headed home to crash on the couch.

…until I got a text from my friend Katherine and her boyfriend Luke, inviting me over to have dinner.  I allowed myself to melt into the couch for 45 minutes and then pulled myself back out, grabbed wine and headed out to the bus. They live in the Inner Sunset, not exactly close to my studio in Pacific Heights, but easy enough to get to via bus according to my phone. One bus to VanNess and Market and then the 71 into the Sunset, which drops me off less than a block from their place. Easy enough! The first 71 came and it was so packed full of people that I opted to wait for the next one. Thirty minutes later, another 71 bus comes aaaaaaannnddd passes the bus stop without even pretending to stop. Really?! Cue crazy homeless man. I knew we were in for a show when he ran across the street to the bus stop, layers of clothes interestingly assembled including a girl’s jacket tied around his waist like an apron/skirt and an inflatable guitar. I turned up my headphones and avoided eye contact. This was easy enough until he found a pair of underwear on the ground and proceeded to scream about how he gets paid for sex often, interjecting every few sentences with “It’s all about the booty baby!” It was sort of funny at first, but after 15 minutes of yelling, started to get obscene and a little scary so I cautiously moved down a few yards, stationing myself between some normal-looking middle aged men. It had been another half hour at this point and it was significantly colder outside than it had been when I was out strolling earlier; my light sweater and flats weren’t exactly doing the trick.  I stared down the street willing the right bus to come. At this point I would hang off the side of it if there wasn’t enough room inside. Luckily it didn’t come to that, but when the bus finally arrived it was definitely crowded. I was relieved when I looked through the bus and noted that the crazy man had not decided to get on the bus. Moments later however, I realized that I had traded him for another; a drunk, unshowered twenty-something dangling off of the hand bar, grasping an empty milk carton and singing the wrong words to “Build Me Up Buttercup.” He seemed harmless enough until he stepped on the foot of another passenger who kicked him in return. Then he started freaking out. Yelling about how there were so many nice people in the world trying to do cool things and being shut down by mean, ignorant, bastards like this guy. Headphones up, wine concealed under my purse, please let him get off soon before they have the chance to start fighting. He finally got off in the Haight, the rest of the passengers in the back collectively breathing sighs of relief. A few more stops and I was finally to my destination, greeted with smiles and food and music. Let’s open that wine, shall we?

You can bet your bottoms I took a cab home that night.

What happened to my great city day? It went from delightful to disaster in one bus transfer. That’s life in the city I suppose; you can be in your own little utopia one moment and turn the corner to find yourself in a less desirable locale or situation without realizing it. If the whole city was Chestnut Street on a sunny day, would we even really be able to appreciate the little things? As ugly as it can be sometimes, a little bit of perspective might be just what we need to make us realize just how good we have it.  San Francisco is full of perspective, and maybe that’s why people that live here love their city so much- because they know how lucky they are to be here.

You Are *Here*

There’s something to be said for living alone. Sitting around in your underwear, hair unbrushed, embarrassing music blasting is a rather glorious feeling. That said, I’m single and I live with my cat- not such a glamorous introduction at the bar. Today, however, I am basking in the positivity of the privacy and homey comfort of my overpriced studio. Until I have to go to work that is.

Some of you may be disappointed to know that the point of this post is not to talk about the underwear dance parties that Oreo and I have on an almost daily basis, but rather my thoughts on public transportation. First, let me say that without a map (and sometimes, even with) my sense of direction is…nonexistent. It once took me three hours to get my friends and I back home to Louisville after a Ben Folds concert in Cincinnati, which is a mere hour and a half drive away. At most. With public transportation I have a little bit more luck. The opportunity to double check one’s route while waiting for the next train or bus makes things a little bit less risky. That said, I did take the right bus in the wrong direction the other day and rather than ending up in Pacific Heights, I found myself at AT&T Park. I decided a long time ago to treat these navigational errors as adventures to places that I might not have discovered otherwise.

I think that without the handy dandy Google maps app on my iPhone I would be completely lost in this city. Meeting a friend for dinner would be much like it is described in Pride and Prejudice and would take me a day to get to my destination and another to get home and therefore would require me to stay wherever I had gone for at least a week.  San Francisco isn’t actually that large of a city, but with all of the hills and buildings and people everywhere its easy to get distracted and very very lost. Without even realizing it, you can go from a really nice neighborhood to a really not nice area in a block.

My journey to work everyday is very convenient; I get on the bus right outside my front door, get off about 10 blocks later, walk three, and voila! Very easy, yes. Normal? Not so much. When I get on the bus I’m included in the 20% that represents non-Asian passengers. About halfway through my route the signs on buildings start to change from English to a combination of English and Chinese and eventually just Chinese. The bus safety announcements are broadcast in English, Spanish and Chinese. At this point I am part of the 5% of non-Asian passengers, and suddenly I find myself in a completely different country. There are red lanterns strung across the streets, junk shops selling golden waving cats and giant buddahs and markets selling produce that I definitely didn’t study in culinary school. How did I manage to travel all the way to Hong Kong in 2 miles? Half of the bus unloads, allowing me the luxury of sitting for the last few stops. Two blocks down and the park is full of children playing on the elaborate jungle gym designed to look like something out of Mulan, while all around the edges, on benches and sidewalks, old men are either playing chess or watching it being played. One more block and it all starts to fade, back to double translations and an Italian restaurant and Subway thrown in the mix. Another block and we’ve reached the heart of the financial district. Starbucks and Peet’s have long lines of suit-clad corporate employees waiting for their afternoon caffeine fix. Women in skirt suits and sneakers are lunching on the front steps of the federal trust building while tourists wander in search of Union Square. Now I’m in Manhattan. It won’t feel like San Francisco again until I hop the bus after work and land outside my apartment surrounded by chilly damp fog.

From the starting gate to Golden Gate

In merely 25 years, I’ve manged to do a lot of living. Even though I often chide myself for “playing it safe” so much of the time as compared to so many other people I know, I’ve actually already had a lot of great adventures. The most recent being a move to San Francisco. In many ways, it doesn’t seem that big of a deal; its the shortest move I’ve ever made, I already know some people here, I’ve already been living in California for three years now, and its not even the largest city I’ve lived in. And yet, despite all of this, I find myself exposed to things here that I never dreamed of.

 
I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky which is a funky and lively town in its own respect. I grew up going to art museums, plays and the orchestra, taking music lessons, playing sports, riding horses; the same as any good Jane Austen heroine. My neighborhood in Louisville is known for its eccentricity and eclecticism; it’s not unusual to see a homeless person sitting on a step with a stranger sharing philosophies and music recommendations, next to a local coffee shop where hipster teens and twenty-somethings mingle with the upper middle-class middle-aged while drinking lattes and admiring the featured local artist pieces.

I went to college in Ohio at a small liberal arts school where I, in true form, majored in everything and nothing at the same time. Logically, my degrees in Communication, Spanish and Studio Art led me to a career in the culinary industry as a pastry cook. I moved from the Midwest to the West Coast almost three years ago to pursue my dreams and attend culinary school in the Napa Valley where I was surrounded by amazing food and wine and nature and, well, not much else. A five month externship in Chicago and a month-long  European adventure with my family helped to tide me over while I struggled with the frustrating simplicity of life in a valley. And so, three years later, with my degree and one year as a chocolatier under my toque, I decided it was time to move on to bigger and (hopefully) better things.

So here I am- San Francisco. I traded in my car for a bus pass so I could afford to live in an insanely overpriced studio apartment with my cat, Oreo. I work in a restaurant that will look amazing on my resume, but that pays me just over minimum wage and sends me home each night an exhausted shell of a person. And even though it takes a stern talking to from the voices in my head to peel my zombie corpse off of the couch in the morning to run errands or go back to work, when I finally walk out the front door of my building and greet the city for the first time each day, I realize that I made the right choice.  As weird and stressful as life in San Francisco can be, this is home. For now.