Anyway, the morning of my birthday, we left the apartment about 50 minutes late, me already stressing out about ruining all the timing of Dan's elaborate plan. Seriously, all the way into the city I was worrying about it, and Dan was totally fine, of course. I felt better when we got to our first stop for brunch and we got seated after only a couple of minutes.
Brunch: Buckwheat crepes and French cider at Ti Couz (#88)
This is an amazing creperie in the heart of the Mission, that serves all sorts of sweet and savory crepes. I was a little hesitant to get a savory crepe, because most of the crepe places I've been, they use the same crepe recipe for both types of crepe, which really confuses my mouth. Eating eggs and whatever else rolled up in a thin, sweet pancake is weird - I don't like sweet and savory all at one time. Happily, their menu talked about the different types of crepes they make, so we ordered one of each - sausage, tomato, cheese (savory) and pear, chocolate nibs, and brown sugar (sweet). Also, they make AMAZING cocktails. The bloody marys the bartender was making were epic, and I had a Ti Couz cocktail which included blackberry puree, champagne and vodka. If you come visit us, we will probably bring you here.
After we left, we walked maybe five blocks until we hit our next stop, which was a bakery that has sort of a cult following in SF, and I'd actually been wanting to try it for awhile, so Dan already was doing really well.
Morning snack: Morning Bun at Tartine Bakery (#8)
The place was completely packed, which was to be expected for a Sunday at brunch time. Before we left that morning, Dan had told me that at one of the places, he was probably going to have to limit me to just a couple of choices and this was the place. I have no willpower in bakeries. I want to try everything! But, this time, knowing we would be eating more, I refrained from getting the bread pudding, or the croissants, or the everything else and settled for what we came for...and a couple of macaroons (they're little!) The morning buns are incredibly soft and flaky without tasting like straight butter, even though I know they use plenty, and then they top them with an orange flavored glaze. Droooool.
We walked a block over to Dolores Park to eat our pastry and generally people watch. It was a beautiful day and there was lots of SF "uniqueness" to watch. Afterwards, we hopped on bus and went North to...a bar. Confusion.
Pre-dinner cocktail: A Fernet at R Bar (#71)
I think the first time I read this on the list, I assumed it was a mixed drink. Wrong. It's actually just a shot of a type of liquor, fernet, which I had never heard of. And you probably haven't either, but it's an Italian liquor that for some reason, is super popular in SF. This particular bar, which is just your average non-descript bar, apparently pours about 25% of SF's total consumption of it! It tastes...completely different from everything else I've ever had. And I fail at words to describe it really, but a few days later, I saw this Boston Globe article on Fernet, which is a good quick read. The bartender told us a lot about it, and served it to us with a ginger ale chaser, and told us to just throw the first shot back to see if we liked it. Tasty! We each had two and then headed on, almost ready for dinner. This picture below isn't of the booze, because we didn't take one, but just of some of the bottles the bar goes through every month.
We walked another few blocks, and ended up outside what looked like a small, family run Thai restaurant. Dan told me he planned to order an item here to go, and then we could take it near where we would be eating dinner and eat it as an appetizer. Good planning.
Appetizer: Papaya salad with salty crab from Sai Jai Thai (#27)
Ok, when he told me what he was ordering, I was psyched. I love love love papaya salad, and I love crab. How could this possibly go wrong? Knowing that I like spicy, but simply can't usually handle it, Dan even ordered it medium spicy so I could enjoy it. And this is where things went wrong. We took the salad down to the waterfront, opened it up and...my eyes watered from smelling it. I had one bite, basically started crying from the spice and couldn't eat anymore. Dan had maybe 3 bites, and then had to go beg for water from a nearby restaurant, who totally turned him down. Seriously, I tasted spice anytime I coughed for the next half hour. We think we may try again, after telling them NO spice because I bet it is really good. (We did bring it home and Dan tried again a couple of days later...he got through half and then drank all the milk we had and 4 glasses of water)
So, Dan told me then that we had to get to our dinner reservation at 5:30, but that we had to hurry through because we had to be somewhere else at 7. I was starting to worry about getting way too full...but I shouldn't have worried.
Dinner: Shaking Beef from the Slanted Door (#7)
This restaurant is in the Ferry Building, right on the water by the Bay Bridge. It has been on my list of restaurants to try for a long time, and is currently one of the "places to go" in SF. Dan apparently had to call a few times and talk them into giving us a reservation, since they were all booked up, but he managed and we got one for right when they opened for dinner. We had a few different dishes but the highlights were the ones in the picture below - squash rice cakes and shaking beef. The squash was pureed, combined with rice, fried, covered with fresh coconut. Could have had them for dessert. The shaking beef was a beef and vegetables dish, in lime sauce with rice. Yummo.
So, because we had gotten there early, we were out of the restaurant in plenty of time, and we started walking a few blocks to wherever we had to be at 7 PM. Like I said, I was thinking we were off to eat still more, but I was wrong.
Dessert: "The Bathing Ritual"
Dan had found this awhile before my birthday and shown it to me, but I never thought we'd actually go do it. Basically, the spa is on the top floor of a hotel, and they have huge tubs that are outdoors on a balcony. There is plenty of cover, if you choose to undress to get in, but when you're in the tub, you can see the sky above you. The tubs are Infinity tubs, so you can completely fill them, and water just spills over the side, and refill on their own (like Infinity pools). oh. my. gawd. They are amazing. See picture in previous post.
Happy Birthday to me.