Monday, April 22, 2013

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go


Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:12 a.m. was the 107th anniversary of the great Earthquake and Fire that destroyed a large part of San Francisco.

Each year, to remember that moment, and to celebrate San Francisco's rebirth, people gather at Lotta's Fountain at the corner of Market Street at Kearny Street. Geary Street starts at this spot and 3rd Street is across Market.

After the Earthquake and Fire, Lotta's Fountain became a meeting place for the survivors; it was one of the few landmarks left standing. 

As is the case each year, the fountain was repainted, adorned with a commemorative ribbon and flower wreath...totally spiffed up and ready to celebrate, but this year the celebration took a different more than one way.

First of all, there was a possible bomb scare (suspicious package that turned out to be a suitcase filled with clothes) which caused several blocks in this area be blocked off.

So, all those who attended were escorted by a tour guide, dressed in 19th century garb as Emperor Norton, a few blocks west to Union Square.  By the way, Emperor Norton was an eccentric man who sometime in the mid-19th century declared himself Emperor of the United States and Mexico. He lived much of his later life in San Francisco. 

The other "unusual" happening was that this year was the first year that no one who survived the Earthquake and Fire attended the celebration. was 107 years ago, after all. There are at least 3 known survivors in the Bay Area, but none of them were able to attend. One of them did make the parade the day before.

I just happened to be walking by Lotta's Fountain on Friday, April 19, and had to pause to pay tribute.

And so it and people go on, in spite of it all.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Restaurant Week in Walnut Creek: April 15 – 21, 2013

This week is Restaurant Week in Walnut Creek. Over two dozen restaurants are featuring special 3-Course meals (some doing lunch, some doing dinner, some doing both meals).  Prices are generally $10 to $20 for lunch and $30 to $40 for dinner. Price depends on the restaurant.

I often participate in Restaurant Month in San Francisco, liking the opportunity to try out restaurants I'm not familiar with. It's a fun way to visit with a friend or two, while enjoying a special meal.

The special menu is just one of each restaurant's offerings. In most cases, the restaurant also offers its full regular menu.

Starr, Mary Ann, and I got together today to lunch at Sasa, one of my Walnut Creek favorites. Neither of them had been to Sasa and I'm always happy to eat there.

Sasa's Restaurant Week Menu seemed like a very lot of food for one person, even hearty eaters like the three of us.

But, we still were curious to try this special menu.

What we wound up doing was ordering for the three of us, one Restaurant Week lunch menu and then choosing three Small Plates from the "To Share of Not" Omakase Lunch selections. At lunch, selections from this part of the menu are $6 for one plate, $11 for two plates, and $15 for three. This is how I usually order at Sasa when I meet someone here for lunch...we sometimes add one or two other items from their varied Japanese fusion menu, but, often, are satisfied with just the three small plates.

So, our three Omakase selections were Spicy Tuna Roll, Chicken Teriyaki Skewers, and Mixed Tempura.

Featured on the Restaurant Week Lunch were Two Shoyu Braised Short Rib Sliders, the Chef's Special Maki Sushi, Tempura Shrimp & Asparagus Fritters, Spinach Goma-Ae, and a Salad of Greens.

Included with the Omakase selections and the special lunch is Miso Soup.

Every dish at Sasa is as beautiful visually as it is tasty.

Sasa offers a very tempting dessert menu, but we could barely finish the selection of small plates that we shared.

In fact, Mary Ann took home the last piece of Maki Sushi for a snack later in the day.

By the way, Omakase is a Japanese phrase that means "I'll leave it to you" and traditionally means that you will allow the chef to serve you whatever is his/her whim. Here, the choices are up to you, but Sasa's chef changes the small plate menu regularly, at his whim and at the whim of the fresh fish and produce that he selects for each day.

Many of the participating Restaurant Week restaurants have their special menus on the Walnut Creek Restaurant Week  web site. Some really good deals include $10 lunches at Salvatore and at Havana and $20 lunches and/or dinners at Le Cheval and PF Chang's. Take a look; you have through Sunday to take advantage and maybe find a new special restaurant in Walnut Creek.

Bon Appetit!