Thursday, January 22, 2009

Crazy-Busy Weekend, Phase Two

Who: VN Editorial Director Aurelia d'Andrea
What: Phase two of a hyperkinetic social weekend
When: January 15, 16 + 17
Where: (Don't call it) Frisco
Why: The usual reasons: Fun, fun, and more fun!

The Scoop: So, after mingling for an hour or more at odoriferous magazine shindig at Ferry Plaza, hoping against hope that some vegan cheese might materialize, VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland and I opted to part ways—she in the direction of South Beach's Shanghai 1930 for dinner with a friend, and I in the direction of Chutney Restaurant in the Tenderloin. Sadly, I was running just a little late, and by the time I arrived at the Jones Street eatery (just down the block from Millennium, where we'll be hosting a small fete for writer Jeffrey Masson in early March, FYI) my friends had already moseyed over to our next destination, the Exit Theatre. Drats. I really had my heart set on some of Chutney's super-tasty bhindi masala. Oh well.

James Judd, star of "7 Sins" at the Exit theatre, and little old me

At the Exit, I met up with Claudia, Deric, Jeff, and new VN writer Josephine Bellaccomo, whose friend James Judd was performing in the one-man show we were all there to see, called "7 Sins." I fell in love with this sweet little theater the second the guy at the door told me they offered secure bike parking inside, and double loved it when I saw they had a little café/bar inside offering a bunch of veg bistro-style fare. Opting to hold out for a home-cooked meal later on, I settled on a glass of wine ($4) and a bowl of pretzels (free!) and shuffled off with the gang to our seats in the little brick-walled performance space. The show was hysterical. From beginning to end, James has us squawking with laughter (OK, that may have been me alone doing the squawking). And at show's end, James was kind enough to be photographed with me. What a guy. And what a performance!

Next morning, that craving for Chutney's bhindi masala hadn't waned, so I convinced my partner in crime to cruise back to the 'Loin with me for a spot of Indian. What we didn't know, as we cycled down Golden Gate Avenue, over to Polk Street, and up Larkin, was that today was Little Saigon's very own "Tet" festival. Tet, aka Vietnamese New Year, is a festive occasion that usually involves noisy firecrackers and tasty food. Never wanting to miss a celebration, we parked our bikes, walked around a bit, and like little sailboats hovering a little too close to the Bermuda Triangle, we were sucked into Mangosteen, a Vietnamese restaurant right in the thick of it all. 

The spicy vegetarian curry at Mangosteen

We were excited about the separate vegetarian menu section, and immediately settled on vegetarian garlic noodles and a spicy curry that promised to contain taro, one of my favorite foods, and one I rarely get to eat. The noodles arrived quickly, and were, well, just OK. A tad oily for my tastes, and the veggies were just a wee bit overdone. Next up was the curry, and it looked promising: delivered by a smiling waitperson, the curry came in piping-hot clay pot with a little glass lid that gave us a tempting glimpse of its veggie-studded contents. And the taste? Delish. But where the hell was my taro? Not in this curry, that's for sure. 

Heading out, we made one last foray into the street-fair chaos, and with amazing, almost-magnetic precision, we found ourselves standing before the Supreme Master Ching Hai booth—those are the folks behind the Loving Hut restaurant chain, as well as local veg favorite, Golden Era—where they were handing out vegan—yes, vegan!—fortune cookies. Sweet! And best of all, is they weren't proselytizing any religious mumbo-jumbo. 

So, now, almost a week later, I'm still craving Chutney's bhindi masala. I think I know where I'm having dinner tonight ...

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