Galentine’s Weekend Part I: Escape to the Bay + Brunch at Kitchen Story in SF
This post is Part I of a three-part series on Sarah and Mel’s adventures in the San Francisco Bay area the weekend of February 14-17, 2014. You should definitely read Part II and Part III.
Valentine’s Day (n): A holiday dedicated to celebrating (largely) romantic love every February 14th. Valentine’s Day is thought to originate from the feast of the Christian Saint Valentine – it was later popularized with cards and such in the Victorian era, and became the full-blown extravaganza it is today with the advent of Hallmark. The holiday’s place in the calendar year is also linked to the feast of naked Roman people whipping women with goat skins, or Lupercalia.
Galentine’s Day (n): A holiday celebrated every February 13th, invented by Parks and Recreation and adopted by millions of women across America. Viewed by many observers as both a response to the over-emphasis on romantic love every February 14th and a celebration of female friendship.
Galentine’s Weekend (n): The result of Valentine’s Day 2014’s convenient proximity to President’s Day weekend, which allowed Sarah to find very reasonably-priced airfare to San Francisco, enabling her to spend a weekend celebrating female friendship in the company of Melanie, Cindy, and Delaney. Galentine’s Day is nice, but it is widely believed Galentine’s Weekends are even better.
Escape to the Bay
In mid-January, during a fit of Polar Vortex-induced cabin fever, I booked a flight to San Francisco. I would fly out Valentine’s Day, and return on President’s Day itself – a full 3-day, 2-night getaway that only required me to take one hour of precious vacation time, and at a very reasonable price (flying out on February 14 made a huge difference). It was a perfect plan. My new east coast home’s sludgy winter doldrums were trying my patience, and Native Companion* and I had already agreed that we would rather celebrate our love during the week before the 14th, since everything would be cheaper. After much nail-biting over annoying winter storm-induced flight delays on the 13th-14th, I escaped in a small flight-friendly weather window, and by 10pm PST was chowing down on a lovely homemade vegetable lasagne accompanied by prosecco, gin fizzes, and copious amounts of chocolate with my darling Galentine Mel in Palo Alto.
Did I mention she made a red velvet brownie? Ask her for the recipe. Seriously. It goes great with cookie dough ice cream.
This is where my re-immersion into California culture (and roads) really began. After a 20-minute search for parking peppered with screamed profanity at terrifying Prius-drivers, Mel and I united with the crew at Kitchen Story, a small, but impeccably cute restaurant with a horde of local devotees and an expected one-hour wait for a table.
San Franciscans, as much flak as they give DC for being too type-A and serious, take brunch very, very seriously, and Kitchen Story, as a business, realizes and caters to this. The menu was extensive, and centered around every variation of omelette, scramble, and benedict you could imagine, with a healthy burger list thrown in as well.
I ordered a coconut cream latte, and the ricotta hotcakes with a side of avocado, for the sake of trying a gourmet-sounding sweet/savory combination and getting my daily (and very necessary) dose of avocado in.
Before I even get to the food, I have to be up front: the real crown jewels on the menu of this kingdom of brunch were the specialty coffee and tea items, including the coconut cream latte (which I got), and the Thai tea latte. I’m a fancy coffee girl forced by healthy eating and financial necessity to be a black coffee-with-a-few-drops-of-stevia girl – plus, before that fateful brunch, I’d resigned myself to the idea that all fancy coffee shop menus pretty much the same. The Kitchen Story coconut cream latte proved me so, so deliciously wrong. It was light and sweet without being too heavy-handed, retaining its coffee base, yet it still packed a distinctly coconutty and creamy flavor, with sprinklings of toasted coconut on top; basically, a delightful surprise for a caffeine addi-I mean, connoisseur who thought she’d seen every overpriced espresso vehicle possible.
The ricotta hotcakes were a bit more like standard pancakes than I had expected – I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, perhaps more ricotta, and somewhat more of a crepe structure. Nevertheless, I was pleased that they, like the coconut cream latte, weren’t too heavy-handed with the sweetness. I could easily eat a bite of pancake coupled with a forkful of fresh avocado without feeling like I’d made a terrible mistake. I can’t speak for everyone else’s entree, of course, but they all did look delicious. Much photographing of brunch ensued
The atmosphere of Kitchen Story is what you’d expect of an incredibly busy and popular urban brunch spot, but somehow minus the pretentiousness. Call me hipster, but I even liked the fact that our check was given to us tucked into a dog-eared dollar-store pulp novel (unfortunately not pictured). It was pricey, as expected, and packed to the gills with flannel-wearing tech-hipsters, but it was the perfect fuel for the rest of our day.
But first, a stop at Cindy and Scott’s to play with their cats and marvel at their months-old Grumpy Cat pumpkin, circa Halloween 2013.
3499 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 525 – 4905
*My significant other is a lifelong east coaster, so I’ve decided to refer to him as Native Companion, in a nod to David Foster Wallace. To learn more about Native Companion, please read about that time he taught me to ski in Whitetail
Words by Sarah Flocken, Photography by Melanie Craxton
Follow Sarah on Twitter at @sflocken
Follow Melanie on Instagram at @mcraxton