Happy 2014!

We spent the last day of 2013 walking from Glen Park, which is a couple of BART stops south of Union Square, to the Castro with my Cornell pals Rebecca and Bill and their daughter, Julia, who took the BART from their place in Berkeley to show us around. (Miles went off by himself on a photo-taking expedition, which was wildly successful because his tripod didn’t fall over any cliffs.)

Rebecca, Julia and Bill in front of a house with purple trim

Rebecca, Julia and Bill in front of a house with purple trim

The RBJ tour took us through funky neighborhoods with an inordinate number of purple houses (the local Sherwin-Williams store must have been having a sale), and funky neighborhoods with neat stores and cafes, and then to a beautiful park, Mission Dolores, with fantastic views of the city and the bay.

Mission Dolores Park

Mission Dolores Park

This is what happens to pets when their owners have too much time on their hands.

This is what happens to pets when their owners have too much time on their hands.

Most of the streets we walked along were deserted — maybe people were napping in advance of spending all night partying. At one point we came upon a little store, Olive This Olive That (http://www.olivethisolivethat.com/products.html), which had a sign outside advertising olive oil tasting. It was a small store and nobody was in there, and we debated whether to go in and taste olive oil, which seemed like a strange thing to do if you had no intention of buying any – which was definitely the case with us. I’ve always considered flavored oils and vinegars silly and unnecessary.

These people have been drinking olive oil and balsamic vinegar

These people have been drinking olive oil and balsamic vinegar

I have been severely misinformed, and also wrong.

Who knew there were so many flavors of olive oil? (I do, now.) Who knew they actually taste amazing? (I do, now.) The store carried a bunch of oils made from California olives and even more that were infused with all kinds of amazing flavors. I went in there thinking that flavored oils were a waste of money and left wishing I could have bought one of everything: garlic (loved it), blood orange (loved it more), Meyer lemon (too reminiscent of either cough drops, cleaning fluid, or both), basil (loved it), lime (liked it), chipotle (didn’t taste it), chile (ditto).

The balsamic vinegars were incredible: fig (loved it), cranberry walnut (over the moon about it), balsamic aged for 17 years (could imagine just drinking it), blueberry (didn’t try it, but the young woman running the store said she puts it in her yogurt with granola at breakfast and I could see where that might be awfully nice), mango (amazing), pear ginger wasabi (a mistake), chocolate marshmallow (LOVED it but didn’t discover it until I was on my way out of the store, so I think if I ever go back to that place that’s what I’ll be stocking up on ).

Needless to say, we are coming home with some oil and vinegar. I can’t wait to make some salads. I’ll even use Earthbound Farms products. So there. I’m not bitter. Hostile, but not bitter.

We hung out with Rebecca, Bill, and Julia until about 2:30, when they had to head back to Berkeley for their family-friendly new year’s eve celebration. Dave returned to the hotel right away and Elizabeth, Noah and I stopped at the ginormous Levi’s store, where none of us found a single thing that we liked (Elizabeth and moi) or that fit properly (Noah, who is apparently too tall and skinny to shop in an actual store – his size (29 waist, 34 length) is available only on line, according to the sales clerk).

Noah abandoned us after the Levi’s store, but Elizabeth and I stuck it out for another hour and a half until I could no longer walk without tipping over and I insisted on returning to the hotel, where I rolled my aching feet on a tennis ball until it was time to go out once again.

Is it me, or is this dress really weird?

Is it me, or is this dress really weird?

Union Square Christmas tree

Union Square Christmas tree

We went in a different direction for dinner tonight and wound up at a little Mexican place, where Dave, Elizabeth, and Miles had chimichangas, and Noah and I had burritos that were as big as our heads (but tasted better). Now we’re back in our room, killing time before midnight, when we’re hoping to watch the fireworks from the Embarcadero. So this is an ideal time to wrap up my last blog of 2013.

Happy New Year!

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