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July 18, 2008

BlogHer '08: A Sumptuous Lunch and BlogHer Preliminaries

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Cliff_house_viewYesterday in San Francisco was action packed.  Since I was so crazy before I left home, I had no time to get the manicure/pedicure that I wanted so I made an appointment at the Westin Hotel spa.

Nothing against my local CiCi Nails, but having your nails done in a spa is the height of luxury.  The New Agey music was playing, the scented candles were glowing, the massage chair was massaging, and Wendy, my pedicure practitioner was treating my feet to a world of pampering.  Ahhhh.

Afterward, I showed off my pretty nails on the #38 city bus.  I took it all the way to the end of the line and the Cliff House.  The last time I was in San Francisco many years ago, I had lunch at the Cliff House overlooking the Seal Rocks.  It was my first trip to California, my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean and my first delightful experience seeing and hearing barking seals.

Well yesterday after I got off the bus and walked down the hill to the water, imagine my surprise when I realized the Cliff House I remembered had been replaced by a modern Frank Lloyd Wright-esque building of multiple levels.  It turns out the building was renovated and reopened in 2004.  As for the seals, the gentleman who seated me told me that about an hour before the last big earthquake, the seals left and the basically haven't been back since.

What hadn't changed was the gorgeous view of the Pacific and nearby Ocean Beach.  I had lunch at Sutros, one of the two new restaurants and it was amazing. 

LunchThe huge dining was awash in the natural light from the large windows, and you could see the ocean from nearly every table.  My waiter, Ian gave me excellent recommendations.  For my appetizer I ordered the Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, for my main course I ordered the Seared Day Boat Scallops with Truffle Mashed Potatoes and for dessert I had the Bittersweet Chocolat Fondant with Frozen Ginduja Mousse and Espresso Anglaise.

I'm not big on sushi, but the tuna carpaccio was light and delicate and served in one large, thin slice instead of the chopped fish that I had expected.  The scallops were sweet and tender and served on a layer of mashed potatoes.  Except these mashed potatoes were more the consistency of a sauce than of traditional mashed potatoes.

DessertAnd finally , dessert.  Oh my, what a dessert!  I've had fabulous chocolate desserts before, but this...this was one of the best I've ever had.  It was like the food version of my spa manicure/pedicure:  total luxury. It nourished my senses, caressed my palate and made me feel like the luckiest woman in the world to be experiencing such sensations in such a wonderful place.

Yes, I got all that from a dessert.

Other tidbits from my day:

*During part of my lunch I sat next to two businessmen who were loud talkers, each trying to one up the other with businessman war stories. It was a relief when they left because they were replaced by two very nice local women, Laura and Marie who I had a chance to chat with. After I told them I blog a lot about television and media, they shared with me that they don't own a television.  Sacrilege, I thought!  I forgave them when they said they hope to visit New York sometime soon.

*I noticed that on the city buses, even though the signs clearly say you're not supposed to board the bus in the back, a lot of people ignore that.  And I thought New Yorkers were the only ones who liked to break the rules.

*I went to the BlogHer Contributing Editor get together, meeting many of the women I've read on BlogHer for the very first time.  It was great to finally put faces and voices to the words I've read for so many months.  I was a little nervous right before leaving the safety of my room, but after kicking myself out the door, I took a deep breath and didn't look back.

*Then I hit the party circuit:  The BlogHer Newbie party, the People's Party  put together by a cool group of Mommybloggers, and the BlogHer speaker/editor reception.  It was loud and hectic and chock full of fascinating women of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors. Though somewhat overwhelming, it was gratifying to be around women who were so passionate about blogging.

*Sometime around ten o'clock, I'd had enough.  I was still on New York time and my feet were ready to come out of my shoes and my ears needed some quiet.

*Though I love the Westin and my room is incredibly comfortable with it's walk-in closet, roomy bathroom, view of Union Square and enveloping bed, one thing has made me a little nutty.  I'm on the top floor of the main building and there's an intermittent banging noise. It's a dull thud and sounds like it's coming from the ceiling, but there's nothing above the ceiling but the roof.  At first I thought it was someone working out and dropping barbells in their room but it happens all day and all night long.  Nobody works out that much.  I asked a couple of Westin staff members about it and they looked at me like I'd lost my mind.  I finally decided it's an old building noise that comes from the pipes or ghosts or something.

Either that or I really have lost my mind.  It's a toss up.


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