In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge nerd. A food-bloggin’, bento box makin’, theremin playin’, nihongo learnin’ nerd. I’m also an NPR nerd, so when I found out my favorite NPR show/podcast was doing a live show at UC Berkeley the day that I arrived in San Francisco, you know I had to be there. If you’ve never heard Radiolab, you need to go download it right away. Or at least when you’re done reading this post, that is. ^_~
When I flew into SFO I was running on about 20 minutes of sleep in a 24 hour period, so figuring out where to get some grub was not the easiest thing in the world. But first I had a bigger challenge: the BART. In Chicago we have the rickety, smelly, notoriously unreliable CTA, but the Bay Area Rapid Transit had its own set of quirks. The trains themselves have no markings denoting what color line it represents, or which way it’s headed or any of that useful stuff. It was more than once that my friend and I got on a train, just to discover we were going to the wrong way. Thankfully we always figured this out by the next stop. (Eventually I learned the trick: use the MUNI instead.)
Anyway, we had some time to kill before my friend could check into his room in Berkeley, so we searched for some grub in San Francisco. We got off the BART at the Civic Center, only because it sounded like a place where there would be a lot going on. We were wrong in our assumptions, but finally found a place we could get some warm food.
The place we ended up at was Mangosteen, a Vietnamese joint, and a welcome refuge from the rain. I just had to get the phở, not only for my personal appreciation for it after my adventure making it, but because it seemed like just the thing to warm me up. My friend got garlic noodles with beef and both dishes were delightful. Well-fed and feeling better, we braved the BART once more to head to Berkeley.
We settled in and got ready for the show. I took a bit of a nap to prepare for the adventure, although I was so excited I could hardly sleep! Before the show we grabbed some burgers at Bongo Burger. This was when I realized that all the food in California is always fresh and delicious, even at a burger chain.
Club Mallard was a really cool place. I went up to the bar and asked what I always ask when I’m thinking of having whiskey: “do you have ginger ale here?” The kind woman behind the bar informed me that not only did they have ginger ale, but ginger beer as well! I already felt I was falling in love with California as I happily ordered my drink.
By the end of the night, I’d been able to have one-on-one conversations with both Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad, the hosts of Radiolab. It was an utterly amazing way to kick off my California vacation!