My unlikely weakness: department store perfume counters. But not just any department store, this was Barney's. I walked out with an associate's business card and a sample vial from a bottle labeled "Baudelaire," chiming in at a whopping $195. I can really play the game.
An eight dollar cab ride west to the Marina/Cow Hollow/Pacific Heights districts was well worth the money spent. I twiddled away the morning hours, wandering the streets and looking at the well-appointed homes, the beautiful people with their beautiful children and beautiful dogs. I happened by this alluring little courtyard belonging to what I think was an Episcopal church.
The artist, Lucienne Bloch, was Diego Rivera's pigment grinder and assistant muralist. I only know this after looking up her name. I was moved by this mural, showing different stages of Mother Mary's life, and spent quite some time there in the quiet courtyard, with the birds and the trickling fountain under an overcast but hopeful sky. I especially loved the fact that at the base of Jesus' cross, she painted a tiny crop of lilies of the valley (not pictured). More than anything, I loved having stumbled upon it. I have a renewed faith in happenstance.
Had a delightful lunch at A16. A staggeringly creamy and luxurious burrata with zippy olive oil and sea salt was followed by a small bowl of house made cavatelli with rock cod, tomatoes, green olives and fresh basil, all topped off with crunchy, buttery breadcrumbs. Heavenly day, it blew my mind with its perfect simplicity and flawless execution. Lunch was made more enjoyable in the company of a delightful bartender named Jonathan and another solo diner at the bar, name of Robert Davis whom I had noticed because of his resonant, quiet voice and his cool glasses. We discussed food and cooking and culinary adventures, I asked if he was from the Bay Area and he said he lives here part of the year. His home base the other part of the year is in Seaside, Florida. He developed the place.
I may have embarrassed myself with my exclamation, but this man is royalty. Trying to get at the very base of who he was, exactly, I asked "so are you, like, the King of Seaside?" He laughed and answered, "More like the Duke." We continued talking about art, accents, the oil spill, Italy, restaurants, the like. He had the summer squash zuppa and the meatballs which he swears by. He got out his iPhone and helped me figure out which bus(ses) to take to the Legion of Honor, then i just had to have my picture made with him. He was kindly obliging, then we were walking in the same direction so I followed him into the butcher shop where I wanted to buy half of the cases' contents. What a nice development in the middle of just another day in San Francisco.
After a couple of jarring bus rides I made it to the Palace of the Legion of Honor. Saw truly beautiful art. Rodin....
Then took a load off and wrapped this day with a bowl of mussels and a glass of Absinthe at the similarly named brasserie in the Hayes Valley neighborhood. I could get used to this.