Yep, you had to know that Jo was going to establish one of these around writing nights eventually...
Tuesday nights are less exciting but more challenging for me...on those nights I go to Westfield first, have soup or salad, browse the world under glass and dome for things I might need, and then hop back on T or N lines and ride out to the Embarcadero for lessons in Crossroads. Tuesday night Meetup, it may bear repeating, is for my fiction writing--short stories. It's hard going but once I get cooking I love reading behind myself, like clearing my own path in the snow. The only thing I don't like about Tuesday Meetup is the lateness of it. I'm not back on the train and heading home until nearly 10 pm.
[This is funny--the two people around me are using tonight's session as a "Shut Up and Read." They aren't editing--they are reading other people's writing. You came out here and you're not going to write? How odd...]
But Wednesday night is like going to a carnival. The Mission is ragged, gaudy, friendly, bawdy, and full of rich food. Last week I visited a high-end Mexican restaurant wonderful in Water for Chocolate, and this week I visited Frjtz on Valencia. (I'm sort of limited on restaurants--many of them don't open until 5 or 5:30 pm.) I have been to Frjtz when they had a location on Ghirardelli Square--I would get the crispy and creamy fries and sit on the Wharf watching the ships come in and the snorkelers in the inlets, and the swirls of coffee-steam puffs of fog around the Great Red Bridge. I would dip them in the tangy Miso Mayo and vanquish them with my tongue--they were just that delicate and yet full. The only thing I didn't like about that experience is that the wait staff seemed thoroughly annoyed to see one more slightly off-kilter Midwesterner--they mistook me for a tourist, 'cause I'm too full of wonder to be a freakin' native. The service was terse and lost on me.
But here the gentleman behind the bar was all friendly. I started out thinking about a sandwich and fries, but I wanted a cafe experience tonight, something simple, screw the carbs. I ordered a small frjtz and the Miso Mayo, and a glass of cold, pale Pinot Grigio. The sauce is pretty unpretentious--they serve it in a small plastic cup with lid with a plastic cover like you would get tartar sauce in for fish and chips--but the thick wedges of creamy and crispy potatoes are served in a tall milkshake/sundae glass, lined with blue and white paper. The fries look like a bouquet. Peacefully, mindfully, I dipped each fry, ONCE, into the sauce, bit down, and chewed until the taste changed. I sipped the pinot with purpose.
Ah, the Mission.
The cafe itself is a vast and tall (rare except in older buildings) and painted cream-colored with pale metal tables and a lovely little separate booth-like room of wrought iron and murals in the back. [Now the woman across from me is leaving. Apparently we are not what she wanted. How sad.] I sat there, and checked my Google Reader--cracking up over the invention of the cakes on Cake Wrecks, and then just sat and watched the world. The fries were expensive and far from nutritious and alive with my satisfaction. Then I walked slowly up the numbered streets on Valencia, drinking in the window-shopping of bookstores, actually stopping in one.
My goal is to taste a new restaurant every week here--I love the Mission, and yet wouldn't come here if I didn't have writing group. And so far, this Meetup tourism is working out wonderfully.
[Editor's Note: It appears that, like Faulkner, I have to get a little tipsy to plunge into the page. Not drunk, though. Just tipsy. It loosens the tongue. Also it should be remembered that I have a soft place in my heart for Latino culture. Sue me. As my grandmother would say when she heard Latin singers: "Spanish eyes."]
[Now the Meetup people next to me are talking among themselves. Goodness. I guess that's the point of the Meetup, but we're kind of supposed to be writing...and I have so little time to write these days. We talk after, ladies.]
On to the next Meetup.