Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cali Day 2: Work + Food Paradise

      Today was the big day: our meeting with our client. I woke up early and had a (really crappy) breakfast in the Radisson restaurant. After meeting for a couple of hours with Ryan and Dave to review our agenda and content for our meeting, it was lunchtime, and we didn't know anywhere in Brisbane. So I asked the woman at the desk, and she mentioned a nearby strip mall with a restaurant run by the former chef of the Radisson. Yeah... based on breakfast, think we'll skip that! But then she mentioned a Thai restaurant in the same strip mall, and suddenly we were in business!
   When we got to the strip mall, it didn't look super-promising. A little hole-in-the-wallish, which is usually either outstanding or horrible: no middle ground. Fortunately, looks can be deceiving. House of Thai served up the very best Pad Thai I've ever eaten in my life. Hands down. Dave and Ryan were happy too. Yay! Love traveling with people who are adventurous eaters!

Photo: Van N (Foursquare)
After that treat, we headed over to the HQ...
The company's HQ looked a bit like a ship
   The architecture of the building was interesting: it kind of looked like a huge ship. From what I could gather from waiting in the lobby and watching people come and go, it seemed that everyone that worked there is young, hip, and attractive. Present company included, of course!
   We had a great meeting and I'm so glad to have met our partners in person. Although I have to say, the incredible view of the Bay from the 5th floor was slightly distracting, and we were all a little green with envy:
This is the view from their windows: the SF Bay!
As opposed to the view from our windows...
   After the meeting we headed toward the wharf area to find dinner. I whipped out my ginormous list of recommendations (I have the best friends ever, FYI) and we scanned it. Too many good options. Ryan mentioned that Greek food sounded good, and I just so happened to have one place on the list: Kokkari, in the Financial district. Done.
   We walked in and talked to the receptionist, who asked if we had a reservation. Unfortunately not. Then she said, "Well, you're in luck—I just had a cancellation. You can have that table if you're sure you can finish eating within two hours, before the next reservation." We were pretty sure that was do-able.
   Just walking through the restaurant I knew it was going to be incredible, and it didn't disappoint: impeccable service, fun, friendly atmosphere, and an absolutely outstanding menu. So many delicious-sounding small plates that it seemed impossible to choose. So we each chose 2-3. The selections included grilled lamb ribs, zucchini cakes with homemade pickles, fresh hummus, grilled octopus, feta-stuffed calamari (not the fried kind), assorted olives, spiced lamb meatballs, giant fava beans... and of course some cold Anchor Steams. WOW. Let's just say that I considered eating here again over the next two days, though I didn't make it. But this is most definitely a place to which I'll return. As soon as possible.

How do you say "smorgasboard" in Greek?
    Following dinner, we were absolutely stuffed, and we decided to walk around the wharf area, checking out the Cinco de Mayo festivities and the souvenir shops. Past Boudin, which makes fantastic sourdough loaves in the shape of alligators, teddy bears, and crabs. Past a gorgeous old clock tower, streetcars and cable cars full of tourists, and countless seafood restaurants promising fresh halibut, salmon and dungeness crab. (Which almost tempted me to Second Dinner.)
At Boudin they turn bread into bears, crabs, alligators & more!
   We walked and walked and walked. Ryan was clearly leading us somewhere. But where???
This shot reminds me of something... Hmm...
   And then we saw it: a beacon in the dark San Francisco sky. The sign that everything was going to be alright: we were about to undo any benefits we had just gained from walking all the way over here! Ryan frolicked up the hill like a giddy schoolboy. I didn't know Ryan well before the trip, but I instantly took a liking to him.
Ryan & his bowl of chocolatey hot fudge bliss.
All this bliss for only $1!
Dave and his Dave-sized peanut butter hot fudge sundae
I only eat desserts larger than myself. It's a strict rule.
   Coincidentally we passed this sign on the way back to the car that happened to capture the moment perfectly!
   Alas, the clock was striking, and Dave and Ryan had to return home to their families early in the morning, so they dropped me back at the hotel in Brisbane and said good-bye. It would have been fun to hang out some more, but I still had plenty of tricks up my own sleeves...