San Francisco 12.18.16


I’m not a night owl. The early hours of the morning are for fitful sleeping. I raged at night for so many year. I poured substances into my body. Numbing or speeding, blitzed out or hopped up. Sleep was an afterthought. I felt like shit, but I functioned…mostly.

The moment I wake up, I know that I didn’t get enough sleep. I’m cant crash later on to catch up either. Once the day has started, I have to power through and I won’t feel right until the next morning.

Victor wants to go to breakfast, just the two of us. Which is great, but he also stayed in last night. We’re going with the boys to a late-morning meeting. We love to try new places, but cravings for the tried and true often pull us back. Kitchen Story is just a short walk, and the food was great yesterday. Plus, I have no energy to make the effort to find anything different.

I decide to eat light. Eggs and toast. Until Victor orders the millionaire bacon. This is like no other bacon. Easily the best bacon I’ve ever tried. The sweet-and-spicy brown sugar bacon is served with a lacquer of caramelization. It’s thick cut, and somehow remains both crisp and chewy.  The bacon is dusted with brown sugar, black pepper, and cayenne before baking….and the result is crack.

Victor gets  Marscapone-stuffed deep-fried french toast. My idea of eating light is rapidly crumbling, my will power waning. I will not only will I eat the bacon, but Victor won’t finish that French Toast. Of course the eggs come with a side of that blend of fried potatoes which I will crush. My only resistance is towards the first bite, and I only mildly resist.

Plates clean, it hits me – a terrible mix of shame and regret and my  waistline thickening, Copious amounts of caffeine don’t help.  My head swirls. The short walk to the house isn’t so short anymore, but it’s mostly downhill. I dive back into the bed. Under the covers, I calculate how much time I remain immobile . I don’t want to move…ever.

Hiding behind sunglasses and a ball cap, we meet the boys on the sidewalk out front. I feel hungover – that, I will never miss.

They’re cheerful. I hate that. I hate them for sleeping in. I hate myself for being a glutton.

We hit another 12-step meeting. This one is also much larger than I am used t . Men of every stripe,most of them inked and bearded, sit it an enormous circle. There is a bond thick bond between these men. There is a love and an acceptance that is unlike anything I have ever seen. This people share a warmth that is both primal and spiritual. Their interaction, their very presence, stirs and reinforces something deep inside of me.

Our flight is scheduled for mid-afternoon. We only have enough time to pick up our luggage and grab lunch with the boys. I know, right? Eat? Again?

I wanted two things to eat when I came to San Francisco: Peking Duck and dim sum. Brandon knows a good spot that serves dim sum, the traditionally Cantonese cuisine prepared as small bite-sized portions served in small steamer baskets. Think steamed buns and dumplings filled with savory blends of seasoned meat. I have always wanted to try a dim sum brunch, but only had potstickers. I’m a total sucker for a dumpling.

At a traditional dim sum service, a cart loaded with steamer baskets is rolled around and diner’s choose from the offerings. At M.Y. Chinese, we order off of the menu. I wouldn’t normally seek out a restaurant in a shopping mall with a big-wig chef, but Brandon’s recommendations have been flawless. I am not disappointed.

We order wave after wave of steaming dim sum: Sizzling Pan Fried Savory Pork Bao, Pork Juicy Dumplings, Shiu Mai: pork, shrimp, morel and mushroom, and Beijing Dumplings; pork and chives.

 

 

 

 

The dim sum is everything. I dunk the pinched dough into dipping sauces, pull them from broth, and slurp them from serving plates. I am oblivious to the shame of breakfast.

We also get the Singapore Chili Crab and Honey Glazed Walnut Shrimp. The shrimp are plump; sweet and savory with an added crunch from the walnuts. It might be the best dish we order.

The chili crab is something that I’ve seen on TV. Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern ate it, on a waterfront, in some fishing market in Southeast Asia. That’s pretty much every episode.

It arrives facing us, disassembled and reconstructed, in a thick spicy red broth. The scent is glorious and the flavor as bold like I’d imagined. It’s messy though. Sauce everywhere, which is fine if you’re going full-force for the crab alone, but gets difficult when you’re trying to eat several things at once.

First world problems, huh?

It’s also a lot of work to get to the meat. The Dungeoness Crabs are more like a Snow Crab than a King Crab. Little metal picks and nut crackers are proveded to help you work through the shell, but it takes some serious wrestling to get to the sweet white meat.

Tight hugs at the airport. Promises to keep in touch.

I hate goodbyes. It’s even harder when you don’t have any idea when you’ll see the each other again. I admire the “magical disappearing act” at social gathering. I have an uncle who always does this. No goodbyes, no interrupting conversations, or putting a damper on the mood. I think it’s a good policy, but not for airport goodbyes.

Victor works for Delta Airlines, so we get a great deal on travel, but we also fly standby. I plan on going to the office in the morning. There’s ice further east, which means that everything is backed up, and seats on our flight fill up with people scrambling from cancellations and delays.

The first two flights we watch pull away from the gate. My weariness sets in. We take a red-eye to NYC – 6 a.m. arrival at JFK.  I’ll have to switch to La Guardia to catch a flight home. I don’t make it to the office.


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