It began with one of my Irish Breakfast Tea-induced manic states, leading to a split second decision to bypass the Black Friday insanity and head to San Francisco for a family food adventure. On Friday morning, I lured my groggy family into our Camry with the bait of a delicious adventure ahead, and some bananas to keep them sated until we arrived at our secret destination.
The sun was shining, no fog was in sight, and the Camry breezed across the bridge traffic-free. While the masses were fighting over mittens in the malls, we reminisced about our Thanksgiving meal in Sonoma the night before and how special it was. The food was exceptional and everyone seemed to be in good cheer as we squeezed around my sister Niki’s farmhouse table.
We arrived at 23rd and Geary and I parked the car. I could tell that Mateo was beginning to register our destination as Ton Kiang Restaurant — a Hakka style Chinese restaurant featuring some of the best dim sum to be had in San Francisco. We walked through the front doors and as I was eyeing a tray of golden-hued baked pork buns, I heard Caleb say, “Hey, Kevin’s here!” Kevin, my brother, who I had just seen the night before at Thanksgiving, was sitting at a large table with my sister-in-law Rebecca and their good friends. This was one of those cool psychic meet-ups that you can never plan for.
Before long, we were feasting on baked and steamed pork buns, ginger glazed foil wrapped chicken, shrimp dumplings, jook (rice porridge), and an assortment of other delightful dumplings. Our stomachs were now bursting at the seams and we had sampled much of what the restaurant had to offer…it was time to move on to the next adventure. Ocean Beach!
On this beautiful summer day in mid-November, we practically had the beach to ourselves. Mateo and I showed the kiddos where we met for the first time, which was right at the wall overlooking the ocean. We then walked to the water and plopped down lazily on the sand, where we made lame attempts at sand castle construction.
I then led the family on a this is where Momma grew up tour of the Richmond District, as Mateo rolled his eyes internally in the passenger seat (having received this tour one too many times). As we passed the elementary school I attended, I asked Caleb what he thought and he remarked “This isn’t a childhood I would want to grown up in.” He sees a very different San Francisco than the one Mateo and I experienced – one filled with dirty streets, cigarette smoke, graffiti, and impatient drivers quick to lay on the horn.
Before heading back to Mayberry, I pulled up in front of Cinderella Bakery on Balboa. This was a Russian restaurant from my childhood that specialized in delicious borscht, pilmeni soups, and piroshiki fried and baked. Clearly time has gone by because it is now a hip looking café, which thankfully still serves some of my favorite treats. Caleb and I bought a beef and cheese piroshki, frozen pilmeni (Russian dumplings to be cooked in chicken broth at a later date), and hamentaschen. As we drove home, I turned to Mateo and said “Ya know, pirshoshkis are basically just deep-fried beef donuts!” and we both laughed hard at the thought.
This was a Black Friday diversion worth remembering and just the type of family hijacking I enjoy orchestrating!
…Stay tuned as we cook up our pilmeni soup!