San Bruno Avenue Festival and the SF Greek Festival (or, why is Mark so wired?)

[Mostly written after the fact but back-dated appropriately.]

Today I went to two festivals in San Francisco.

The first was the San Bruno Avenue Festival, down in the south-east corner of the city in the Portola district. It was a cute small-scale festival that served as a nice excuse to see a neighborhood I'd normally never have a reason to visit. The people and the neighborhood were predominately asian, but the neighborhood had two distinctive features. One, it had a surprising number of donut shops. Two, it had a surprising number of BBQ joints; I spotted five in the five-or-so blocks of the festival, consisting of one southern BBQ, one Hawaiian BBQ, and three "hong-kong style" BBQ joints. I grabbed lunch at the southern one, Johnson's BBQ, because it was supposedly decent (and it was). I wrote a longer review of the restaurant -very Barber-Shop-the-movie-esque- and distributed it to the appropriate people -- if you want a copy, just ask.

There are three things I spotted worth photographing, though I won't bother uploading the photographs:
* The street fair had a very sad looking petting zoo. Fenced off in the middle of the street, it included two bales of hay and a few chickens and a rooster.
* The New City Bakery. It had a sign: the top said "Grand Opening;" below that it said "Open Daily 7:00am - 8:00pm." Grand opening daily! Hah. (Reminded me of the Thai restaurant in Palo Alto that was perpetually having a "Grand Opening.")
* The police had a booth for recruiting and information and a talking police car on display. The police car was a two door and looked like it was from the 1980s. The car gave advice aloud about safety and security when the door is open. Now we know what police cars do when they survive to a ripe old age and retire.

One band that performed at the fair was actually fairly good: The Skin Divers. They played a wide variety of re-interpretations of songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, including some I didn't recognize that they may have written themselves in the same style. I really enjoyed how they added instruments like a saxophone and a tambourine (though one that was shaken, not hit) and how they speed up the tempo quite a bit. Maybe I'll try to catch them when they perform in Berkeley next month.

After the street fair ended, I still had lots of reading to finish so I delayed attending the Greek Festival (which I wanted to arrive at around dinner time). Instead, I found a nice place and read in the sun (and sometimes in my car when it got too windy and uncomfortable) and got quite a lot done. It's so easy to read when there are no distractions (especially computers) around.

The second festival was the SF Greek Food Festival, in a church in the Mission district. The people attending were a relatively ordinary crowd, lacking the surplus of Mission district hipsters I'd expected. The festival itself was on a slightly smaller scale than the last Greek Festival I attended: while it did have dancing, the dance floor was smaller and there were fewer people doing it (especially compared to the large young crowd that arrived in the evening at the last festival); there were a smaller selection of booths; there were no other plays/performances besides the music. Yet the most important feature was there in the same glorious scope: the food!

The menu was nearly identical to that of past Greek festivals. Instead of going with the items I knew were good, I decided to branch out and try items I hadn't yet tried. First was the grilled lamb chops. These were disappointing: too charbroiled for my taste (though my dad would've liked them) and with no distinctive greek flavor. Second was fried potato wedges which, while fine, had no distinctive greek flavor either. Third was Ouzo, a greek hard alcohol that one sips. To me, it tasted quite sweet but not sweet like southern comfort or italian sodas, rather with a different kind of sweetness that I couldn't put my finger upon. According to the web, most Ouzo tastes of licorice: that could be the flavor I was sensing. (I haven't eaten licorice in years so I don't remember what it tastes like.)

Digression: I got a really good short story idea while sitting at the Greek festival and reading. (Yes, I had a lot of reading to do...)

Happily, I did eat one really good item at the festival: loukoumades. And this finally brings us to the title of the post: Why is Mark so wired? I discussed these (without trying them) in the previous Greek festival post and the Chronicle article to which it links. Loukoumades are roughly honey coated donut holes. They're so goooood! I negotiated and only got a half-order but still I really felt the sugar intake as I was eating them. I'm so glad I didn't eat more. That must've been more sugar than I've eaten in one sitting in a long time. I jogged to my car to get rid of energy, played high energy music in the car and waved my hands all around, and exercised when I returned home. That's how wired I was. And the loukoumades were why. You have to try them given the opportunity.

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