Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Crazy-Busy Weekend

Who: VN Editorial Director Aurelia d'Andrea
What: A very social San Francisco weekend
When: January 15, 16, + 17
Where: All over SF
Why: For fun, of course!

The Scoop: Is it just me, or does your social calendar have an ebb and flow whereby some weekends are completely devoid of activity, and others are booked solid from dawn 'til dusk (and often much, much later)? Well, I experienced one of those those jam-packed spells last weekend, beginning on Thursday night at the Paul Mahder Gallery.

This sweet little art space over in the semi chi-chi section of Presidio Heights hosts regular openings for local artists, and Mr. Mahder and his guests are always as friendly as can be, the wine is forever flowing, and the art is predictably stellar. And did I mention there are nearly always veg nibbles? This evening's reception was for Russian artist Elena Zolotnitsky, whose paintings are colorful, beautiful, and just a tad too expensive for my budget. So what's a frugal art-loving girl to do? Browse and admire while munching fresh veggies and hummus and sipping sparkling wine. My favorite painting was titled "Renaissance Boy," and even if I can't afford to take him home with me, I know I can at least visit him until the end of February.
 
The veg couscous at Café Zitouna. Ahhh, memories ....

Friday night's outing was slightly more festive, beginning with dinner at Café Zitouna, on the corner of Sutter and Polk in the lovely TenderNob 'hood. I first tried this place back in May, and loved it immediately. It might have been because it was here that I broke a weeklong fast with a giant bowl of heavenly harira—a thick, chickpea-and-lentil soup served with a lemon wedge and chewy baguette—or it might have been that it reminded me of Paris, what with fellow diners chattering away in French and Arabic. Whatever it was, it's lured me back several times now, and on this night, in addition to a bowl of harira, I ordered the couscous off their veg-friendly menu. Yum! Perfectly steamed semolina was served with lightly spiced vegetables including carrot, turnip, and zucchini. When you add a dollop of the house-made harissa sauce, it's yum squared. The service is friendly, too. 

Next stop: The Bigfoot Lodge, also on Polk Street. Sound scary? Actually, it sort of was. The idea was to meet up with friends for a fun evening of socializing in a new environment—none of us had been here before—and I was stoked when I arrived and discovered that our contingent, which included VN Editor-at-Large Jennifer Pickens, had snared a cozy booth in the back, over by the faux fireplace and conveniently positioned within hopping distance to the toilettes. Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the place was packed to the gills with frat boys and sorority girls getting their Friday night drink on, and what's the fun in hanging out if you can't even hear your friends speak?

Saturday's festivities proved much mellower, but still plenty funtastic. VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland and I had been invited to a magazine party at Ferry Plaza, and while normally we wouldn't be interested in a soirée centered around cheese—we are vegan, after all—we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see how another magazine throws its party, and we were curious to see if they might have any dairy-free cheeses on offer. They didn't. But there was plenty of wine, bread, and crackers to be had, and the view over the Bay almost made it worth enduring the stinky cheese smell for an hour or two.

Colleen Holland, Aurelia d'Andrea, and Marsha Rose say "vegan cheese" for the camera

Next stop: A spot of comedy and a new dining adventure in the heart of the Tenderloin ...

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