Day 2 in San Fran. Bums, Art, Fish (both admired and eaten)

The second day my husband was still fighting the “whitemanworkethic” and woke up yelling at his email, threatening his switchboard and cussing technology in general. I threw it all away and drug him on to the streets. We bought a City Pass that gets you into a gang of activities and on all the public transportation. There is no better way to acclimate to San Fran, then hoping on a bus and going to SF Museum of Modern Art.

At the bus stop, two fine gentlemen were arguing and smoking a blunt. The one with the black eye, stiches in his forehead and no front teeth ask my husband to weigh in on their argument. Being a professional negotiator, he couldn’t resist. Both told their sides, the one with bucked teeth that he clenched while talking never opening his mouth made his case (I know you would like me to tell you the debate, but I couldn’t understand a word they were saying). The argument ended, my husband was proclaimed “One Cool Dude” and the reward of a token was offered. That got him off any work ethic and we enjoyed the museum.

SFMOMA’s featured exhibit was The Stein Collection pieces of fine art bought by Gertrude Stein from new artists, like Picasso, Matisse and Monet back in turn of the century Paris. Where she held court for Avant-garde painters and writers in her home she shared with her brothers. The American writer, Gertrude Stein famously said you can buy art or you can buy clothes, but you couldn’t do both. So, the Steins decided to focus on artists who were their peers, artists who had not yet made their reputations. The exhibition brings together over 150 pieces that were once owned by the Steins from five different continents, public collections, private collections and from all over the world. It was wonderful and a prelude to our dinner at Chez Panisse in Berkley on Tuesday night.

After having our minds altered by the artist at SFMOMA, we hiked to China town to visit our favorite eatery there. Chef Jai’s was first found on a Pedi cab and has become a staple of ours every time we even drive by the city. It is a small bistro on Kearny run by a husband and wife and constructs the finest Chinese food. My beloved is the green bean and sweet potato dish with spices and Mandarin juices is exceptional. We also ordered the fried noodles and Generals Mao’s chicken dish. The Ashi is cold, the food hot and the service is temperamental. I do not believe Chef Jai’s wife likes her servitude at this magical diner, but she is defiantly part of the charm.

Chef Jai’s Unique Hunan and Mandarin Chinese Cuisine is located at 925 Kearny St. San Francisco, CA 94133, 415.398.1626.

Because it was sunny and 70 degrees in the city we decided to head down to Pier 39 and take a cruise on the Blue and Yellow fleet out into the bay, under the Golden Gate Bridge over to Alcatraz and back. Neither of us had done this tourist must see and we were excited to be on the water. With the cold salt water splashing on our faces we enjoyed the trip. Since we were in full tourist mode, we went to the SF Aquarium. This underwater labyrinth of tunnels where the fish swim over your head is an aquatic indulgence. We chased sharks and tried to make friends with Sheep heads.

We headed down to the Ferry Building to partake in the delightful artisan foods offered there. I was sad to see the Caviar Bar was gone, and strengthened by the Cow Girl Creamery. Gary ate about a dozen cookies from Miette, a dainty little pastry shop, inspired by the patisseries of Paris. I pressed on and we slurped a dozen oysters at Hog Island Oyster Company. It is the San Francisco oyster bar and retail outlet for the Tomales Bay oyster farm, where we had been know to eat 4 dozen in one sitting.

No trip to the Ferry Building is complete without a stop at The Slanted Door.

Slanted Door is Charles Phan’s nationally acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant that has one of the most original and tasty bars. With no reservations, we sat at the bar. The Mixologist was a surprising treat as he lectured us on a proper cocktail and bragged on his house made mixes. It was then we discovered that this was the bartender I had just done an article about for the upcoming Savor The Central Coast. He will be coming to my slice of paradise to compete in a “Mixology Smack Down”. Small World.

We started with his signature cocktail of Brazilian Queen’s Park Swizzle made with Pampero Aniversario rum, mint, lime, Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, with crushed ice. It was sweet and strong and defied any liquid libation I had ever tried. Gary had the Whiskey Cocktail with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Angostura and orange bitters, gum syrup, orange peel; served on a large hand cut ice cube so none of it melted and diluted the drink. We were pleased as punch.

Gary ordered the blackberry swirl ice cream with bergamot orange cotton candy expertly prepared by Executive Pastry Chef Chucky Dugo. The cotton candy’s presentation was phenomenal and the taste was simple and sweet. The ice cream melted in his mouth.

I ordered the Slanted Door Spring Rolls. Rice paper exterior with shrimp, pork, mint and peanut sauce interior. They were light, fresh and delicious. Then we tried the caramelized wild gulf shrimp with garlic, onions and chili sauce. With the accompanying jasmine rice, this sauce and dish defined excellence. This is the one restaurant where the casual family atmosphere melds perfectly with the superior tastes and unusual dishes.

The Slanted Door is located at 1 Ferry Building #3
San Francisco, CA 94111. Phone is 415.861.8032 and website is