Ferry Building Trip II and (more) Opera in the Park

Friday (yesterday) I'd been anxiously debating if and where I should travel during this holiday weekend (likely extended with vacation time). I'd felt like going somewhere far away to see new sights.

But now, after realizing what a pleasant and relaxing day I could have right here, I'm not in such a hurry.

I hadn't originally planned about writing about today, Saturday, July 1st 2006, but now I feel like I should.

After a late start, I headed to the Ferry Building for lunch, where I've been once before. This time, I knew my way around. After wandering around the farmers' market, I grabbed my first lunch items at the Japanese deli Delica rf-1: a hijiki (a type of seaweed) and soybean salad and spicy burdock and lotus root salad. They both turned out to be good and unique, and I could taste the freshness.

I ate them on a pier while viewing the bay bridge and the bay. It was beautiful and peaceful. The air was clear. The sun was warm. A few puffy clouds cantered across the sky.

Second for lunch was a fish taco from Mijita Cocina Mexicana. This was excellent: a heavily-battered deep-fried mahi mahi served in a soft corn tortilla with cabbage and an invisible but present lime-cilantro sauce. The batter, not greasy, on the fish was good and, surprisingly, the fish had a strong enough flavor on its own that it could stand up to it. The corn tortilla was clearly freshly made and top-notch. And the sauce really did tie it all together.

Wandering the farmers' market more, I sampled and bought a golden nugget peach, then, without sampling, brought a basket of berries that looked like raspberries but were really a hybrid between them and something else. When I tried them later that afternoon I regretted not sampling them because they were simultaneously too tart and too sweet for my taste.

Still slightly hungry, I stopped by one of the Mexican booths in the far back of the market and ordered a tamale. This is probably the best tamale I've ever eaten. This may not be saying much since at some point a while ago I decided most tamales are bad and not worth eating and since then have generally avoided them, so my sample size may be small. But this was great. Presented to me already removed from the corn husks and placed on top of them, the corn meal had flavor and was moist without being mushy (a rarity) and the chicken was moist (another rarity, as tamales tend to be steamed for so long the meat often dries out) and the whole thing was doused with some tasty sweet, almost barbecue-y chile sauce. Even without the sauce, the first two factors would make this better than any tamale I can remember eating.

One reason I went to the city for lunch was to later hit the SF Opera in the park. I'd gone to and enjoyed the one in Golden Gate Park last year. Already late, I grabbed a BART and arrived two-thirds of the way through the first half. I found a nice place in the sun, took off my shoes and socks, put on some sunglasses, and lay on my back looking at the sky, zoning out and contemplating the music. Many people (photo) did the same.

Although the show was a series of selections with no narrative, I found this much more enjoyable than when I watched video projection of Madam Butterfly in the Civic Center Plaza one evening in May. While Madame Butterfly was enjoyable, I felt like I needed to sit up the whole time (which I did) so I could read the subtitles, and sitting up for so long isn't that fun. And Madame Butterfly showed in the evening, when it was dark and somewhat cold, and in Civic Center Plaza, which has a small rectangle of grass that was rather uncomfortably packed with people. Dolores Park, where I was today, is spacious.

After the concert, reading for half an hour, spotting an unusual fountain (photo), and eavesdropping on some people's conversations, I decided to head home. The long way. Since I've been thinking about moving to the city, I spent an hour and half walking from Mission to the Embarcadero (about five miles). Mostly I saw neighborhoods I now know I don't want to live in, but I jotted down a few names of apartments in nicer areas and, more importantly, picked up a number of free advertising-based looking-for-housing booklets that have already proved quite useful.

At day's end, what have I accomplished? Ate some great food. Laid in the sun. Through music, got cultured. This was a pretty perfect day, and if I can do this right here near home, I don't see any reason to travel.

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