After spending Saturday traipsing all around the Winchester Mystery House and Santana Row with Mr. L's cousin and her husband we decided to just keep up the cultural experience and head up to San Francisco on Sunday for the last day of the Chihuly exhibit at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Chihulys work is gorgeous and it was fun seeing some of the different styles and themes that he's worked on all in one place. I had to laugh at myself though as several times during the exhibit I found myself thinking "wouldn't that piece of glass art make a wonderful fruit bowl" or "that platter would look great with a nice roast displayed on it". Obviously my mind was thinking about food.
After saying goodbye to the cousins, Mr. L and I decided to venture across the street to the new California Academy of Sciences. It was opening weekend and pretty crowded but since we were already there and had found parking (though I swear it was half the city away) we figured we'd give it a try. They have machines that dispense tickets (will call tickets too) out near the street which made it much quicker than standing in the regular line, so we paid our fee and went inside.
Though I admit I do miss the old Steinhart Aquarium (and for that matter the old de Young buildings), the new Academy was pretty cool. Mr. L and I walked around, saw the penguins, the albino alligator and even waited in line to see the cool four story rain forest (real live butterflies shouldn't be such a rare sight around here). We also went to the top of the building and stood outside checking out the living roof they have. We only had about three hours to explore the place before it closed so we did miss out on seeing the new planetarium.
As the building started to shut down, Mr. L and I realized we needed a cold drink before starting the long trek to the car. The new cafe which has been getting rave reviews was already closed so we decided to grab a drink from the vendor that had set up in the middle of the building. Looking like one of those places you find outside during food festivals, we weren't expecting much. A few tables set up with food and drinks for sale, some coffee tureens and what looked like a couple of large crock pots in the back. I heard someone ask for "chicken gumbo" and I saw that served over rice. Mr. L and I just wanted something cold to drink and I saw a packet of shortbread cookies to munch on so we turned down all offers of other foods they were selling. As we got closer to the register a young kid asked us if we wanted a steamed bun. Mr. L wanted to know if it was pork. Nope, the kid said, it's chicken. Mr. L passed as with him, it's pork steamed buns or no steamed buns at all. Then this nice gentleman in a white chefs jacket asked if we would like the pork meatballs since, of course, it was pork. I saw Mr. L hesitate. We had had a late lunch, we had dinner planned when we got home, we didn't NEED pork meatballs, but this nice man was saying they were very good. I saw the look in Mr. L's eyes, a look that said "I'm torn, help me wife", so of course I turned to the nice man in the white chefs coat and said "we'll take a bowl of the pork meatballs please". We then had a humorous moment when the chef tried adding up in his head the amount we owed. He had to run through the numbers several times before, with a smile, he figured it out. "Long day?" I asked? "Yes", he said with that nice smile. Then I looked at his chef whites. It said "Slanted Door". Then I bothered to look at the name. Yes, it said "Charles Phan". Wow. So we took our pork meatballs (which were served over rice and very good by the way) and sat down and realized that we just had a moment with a Chef whose restaurant I've been wanting to eat at for ages. Sometimes, it's just the little things in life that make my day.
Photo taken be me while enjoying the pork meatballs at the Academy of Science in San Francisco.