Thursday, July 21, 2011

Alphabe Thursday - "N" Is For New Orleans - July 21, 2011

Yesterday, I said a sad farewell to Martha Meaux Genin at San Francisco International
Airport as she headed home to New Orleans.  We met in that exciting city in September
of 1962 as we began our nursing studies at Charity Hospital and we have remained
friends for nearly 50 years now.  Our two week visit passed all too quickly, in a flurry of
long hours spent catching up on life, reminiscing on "the old days", dining out all over
San Francisco and nearby cities, and just cherishing our precious time together, knowing
that we might not ever again have the opportunity to spend so many days with each
other.  Somehow, once you reach the second half of your sixties, you really do come
face to face with your mortality. 

The day Meaux arrived, we started our culinary adventures with lunch in Daly City at
a lovely, peaceful spot called the Burma Cafe.  It is decorated with my favorite animal,
elephants, and all their dishes, that I have tried, are delicious.

This was my second visit to Burma Cafe.  We had two of the dishes I'd eaten previously
 - the wonderful lamb curry and their tea leaf salad, a crunchy delight of marinated and
fermented tea leaves, lettuce, tomato, peanuts, fried onion, sesame seeds, fried broad
beans and split pea.  We also had a stir fried prawn dish that was also superb.

The second night of Meaux's stay, I took her to eat at Zingari, a wonderful Italian
restaurant at the Hotel Donatello in San Francisco and, afterwards, we got to see my
favorite piano player, Shota Osabe, and vocalist Anne O'Brien.  Both had been informed
ahead of time that my friend would be in town so Anne sang one of our nursing school
favorites, "Scotch and Soda" - I can't remember how many of those we drank during our
three years at Charity - and Shota played, "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New
Orleans", as only he can.  It was such a terrific evening!

We went up to West Sacramento for a three day visit with my middle son, Alex, and
his lovely wife, Laura, and, of course, my two granddogs.  The first day, while Alex
had classes, we met Laura's mom, Christine, at a gourmet spot called Pizza Rock, for
dinner.  That was really fun.

This pizza trio we shared was an interesting combo - the first was arugula, tomatoes,
and proscuitto, the second was a scrumptious meatball pizza and the third, a dessert
offering, had apples, brown sugar, goat cheese and a caramel glaze.  We also had a
wonderful vegetarian Neopolitan pizza.  Their menu has all sorts of unusual combos.

Here's my son, Alex, with Taffy.  All he got for dinner was pizza leftovers but the study
paid off -  he got an 87 ( B ) on his linear algebra exam!

Bucky and Taffy HATE being relegated to the rug while we eat!  They try to inch
forward but don't make it far before a stern glance sends them back.  They really are
pretty well trained dogs!

Another night, we went to dinner at Manivanh, my all time favorite restaurant
( Thai ) in San Franicsco.  It's located near San Francisco General Hospital and I don't
exaggerate when I say I've probably eaten there at least 1000 times in the past 15 years. 
The Douangpanya family, originally from Laos, who own Manivanh, are like family to me. 
I've eaten at their home, am often invited to their family gatherings and even have a dish,
"the Carmen's Special" ( I concocted it ) , named after me!

This is me with my "baby" - Jeremy will be 27 in November.  He is a Cal Poly
graduate where he was a decathlete and he constantly is trying to get me to lose a
hundred pounds and to become healthier.

Meaux is the godmother of my oldest son ( 40 ).  She was the maid of honor at my
wedding to his father and practically did all of our wedding arrangements for the event
which took place in New Orleans.  My folks lived in Georgia and Ed and I were living in
the Boston area at the time.  Guess where we honeymooned?  SAN FRANCISCO!  I've
always loved this place!

This is one of my favorites, Manivanh's duck salad and the picture below is the Carmen's Special.

This past Monday, my dear friend, Silvia Solorzano, joined me and Meaux for lunch.  We
went to San Francisco's Richmond District to India Clay Oven for their wonderful buffet. 
I should have taken more pictures there but I was too focused on the good food!

Before we headed home, Silvia took us to the most amazing place in San Francisco's
Mission District, near Mission Mental Health where she used to work.  She'd been
asking me, for years, to go see this Buddhist temple.  I was so totally suprised to see
this serene and lovely place of worship in the city's Hispanic district.  I will do a post
on it another time so I'm only going to show a picture of one of the Buddhas inside. 
The nuns and staff we so wonderful and I left there with such a sense of peace.

To end Meaux's visit, we drove to Palo Alto where she lived as a young RN.  We tried to
find her apartment, without success, but we drove to El Camino Hospital in Mountain
View where she was a pediatric RN.  Afterwards, we went back to Palo Alto for lunch at
Staits Singapore Restaurant, one of my favorite spots.  I had a ginger drop martini ( I've
since perfected their recipe and, on special occasion, make a batch of them ) and we had
a fabulous meal. 

 Entrance to Straits

All Straits restaurants have a Buddha, placed prominently.  I suppose Chris Yeo must be
Buddhist.  He certainly shows his love for the world in the fine dishes he prepares.

Tuesday night, we stayed home and planned our next get together.  Hopefully, there will
be another one.  I am still hoping to make that six month visit to India in mid-October but,
as soon as I can after I return home, I'll head to New Orleans to see Meaux.  We can't let
too much time pass between visits.  Life is too short, especially for those of us over sixty!

I am participating in Jenny Matlock's wonderful Alphabe Thursday ( though Thursday is
drawing to a close ).


  1. oh, it sounds like you and your friends had lovely visits. two weeks! such a long vacation! i've only vacationed that long with relatives once -- three of my cousins and i joined a tour of germany, france and spain last summer (a lot of the participants were members of the track team with which my youngest cousin ran).

    one of my favorite meals on this trip was flammenkuche -- a pizza that looks a whole lot like the pizza served in the photos above, only it's a LOT flatter. it was SO GOOD. yum! if memory serves, we ate this in paris, and it was one of the few things i liked about the place.

  2. This is what life is all, friends, love, laughter, memories and good food.

    A wonderful, yummy post!

    Thanks for sharing and visiting my blog.

  3. that food looks yummy. My stomach is growling just reading your post

  4. oh goodness sounds like a great time...i love NO...the food...ahhh...and great friends are always a plus...smiles..

  5. Sounds like you had a fabulous time! What a nice "report" on your trip. The food sounds wonderful!

  6. A wondeful post about family, friends, and of course food!

    Carmen, I'm intrigued by that gorgeous flower at the top of your blog. What is it?

    Thanks for your visit! I hope that you will return soon!

    Happy weekend,

  7. Time well spent. Loved those lively snaps. 2 weeks of vacation - I need one very soon.

  8. I wish and hope for you to have more wonderful loving time like this Carmen! 60 is the new 30, so go on, enjoy your life.

    Your food photos are delicious looking, and the dogs are adorable!

  9. a veritabel feast for heart and soul, eyes and taste buds! it is wonderful to have such friends and family to feast with. thank you for sharing with us, Carmen!

  10. What a nice time you had ! I met a very old friend yesterday, she came to visit us ! I know her for 50 years ! I was 18 when I first met her. That's wonderful when friendships last so long ! she also is the godmother of my son and I of hers.

  11. Thanks so much for letting me know!

    When I had taught science, I showed the kids all kinds of cones – from California’s sequoias to New Jersey’s pines that only opened after a fire – called serontinous cones. That makes sense for the poppy if it grows in those same areas. The burnt debris provides nutrients for the seedling.

    I love learning something new every day!

  12. what fun you had with your friend...i loved seeing all the food...the pizza looked fabulous....

    happy to see you at farmhouse, my friend
    and to answer your question "did teddy get to go?" not this time. he thinks their house is one big giant wee wee pad ! :-)

    happy friday
    sending love,
    kary and teddy

  13. All that lovely food! Just scrumptious.

    Your baby looks great!

    Hope you don't miss your friend too much.Sounded like you had a wonderful rime while she was with you.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  14. wonderful beautiful post

  15. you guys sure had a delicious time!!

  16. What a wonderful time you had! I loved the pictures of the food too and your son is very handsome. I'm so thrilled you had such a great visit. I know it must have lifted your spirits. Thanks for checking on me. I'm in the blog doldrums at the moment. We've been having a heat wave and with no a/c, it's been difficult. Thanks again so much for being my friend.

  17. A real and attractive culinary adventure indeed!

    MMMMmmmm. Starting to get hungry all of a sudden.

    Hey you migh be sixty or over, but you really know how to live and enjoy life and those around you. And I admire you for that.

    Keep enjoying---this we have is precious, so many have so little or nothing, both outside and inside themselves...

    Cheers, my friend!

    :-) Dulce

  18. Well it sure looks like ya'll had a bon ton! What a wonderful time and the food, omg, I'm drooling. You are still young, cher, and should keep on living life to the fullest! Cheers!

  19. Your family and friends are lovely, Carmen.

    And all that nifty food definitely made me hungry. I wish I could eat curry. It is one of the very few foods that does not agree with me ... AT ALL!

    It made me smile to see 'Carmen's Special'. How fun to have a dish named after you!

    I looks like a wonderful time was had by all!

    Thanks for sharing this happy post!


  20. I am sitting in a hotel room with no access to food and you have just made my mouth water. Glad you had such a great time with a good friend.

  21. criticalcrass -
    There are some advantages to being retired now -Meaux and I both had the time to be able to spend two weeks together! We certainly took advantage of it!

    Andy -
    For almost 49 years now, we've visited back and forth with each other. Meaux's always been in New Orleans but I've lived in many different places - Georgia, the Boston area, Tampa, Southern CA, and, since 1976, the San Francisco area.

    backyp -
    Looking back over this post now ( at 1AM ), I just starving. I'm almost tempted to go into San Francisco where there is a 24 hour Indian restaurant!

    Brian Miller -
    Food was one of the greatest things about the six years I lived in New Orleans..of course, it got much better the three years after I finished nursing school and had a job!! I must have eaten fifty dozen raw oysters, a hundred pounds of crawfish and at least a hundred soft shell crabs while I lived there!

    Wanderer -
    It's been pretty lonesome around here since Meaux left and I've been eating frugally, trying to take off the five pounds I've lost on my two week food binge.

    Barbara Rosenzweig -
    It was great having you visit. Maybe you'll be planting a Matilija poppy in your garden!

    ಅಶ್ವಿನಿ/ Ashwini -
    After being an RN for 45 years, I'm now retired and on vacation permanently...not really happy about it. In February 2009, in massive budget cuts to public health, I lost my forensic nursing position of 21 years with the city and county of San Francisco!

    Icy BC -
    I just love you - 60 is the new 30 - you are terrific and, if nothing else, you brought a smile to my face, dear friend!

    Gattina -
    How nice you also had a visit with a dear friend. In my poetry book, "Life's Journey" which was published last year, I have a poem called, "Forever Friends" which talks about friendships.

    m -
    It's always nice to have you visit. I'm glad you enjoyed my post about my visit with Meaux.

    My Farmhouse Kitchen -
    I wish I could get down to SLO. I'm not even coming to forensic conferences anymore since my job ended...can't afford them, sad to say.

    Maggie May -
    I definitely am feeling a bit lonely since my friend left. It's a good thing, though...I need to get back on my diet.

    sm -
    Glad you enjoyed my post. The newlyweds - now married over a year - are off to Hawaii for ten days in August! I'm going to stay at their Sacramento home with the granddogs!

    magiceye -
    Now, the dieting starts again. I gained five pounds during Meaux's visit!!

    Mountain Woman -
    I can't get used to being alone now, after having Meaux around for two weeks. I am trying to get back on the diet again since I gained five pounds. It was a great eating spree!

    Dulce -
    I am so glad I had my two weeks with Meaux. It was a cherished time and who knows when we'll be together again. I miss her!!

    Marguerite -
    What fun I had with Meaux. I know we put on a few pounds, that's for sure...just like I did when I was in New Orleans last October for our 45 year Charity reunion. I ate all my Cajun favorites, lots of raw oysters, and soft shell crab!!! This time, we did CA seafood and things Meaux doesn't get often in NO!

    Jenny -
    It was the happiest two weeks for me - a very precious time.

    I did love my two weeks with Meaux but now the treadmill beckons. I've got to get the five pounds off that I gained!

  22. Carmen --- loved your post about Martha Meaux -- hope to see you both soon at the reunion! I have fond memories of all of our adventures as roommates and classmates at CHSN --- Bonnie