And just like that – we opened our eyes and were in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Well, not exactly… it actually took nearly 11 hours of traveling and included two flights through four time zones. But this morning after a great night’s sleep, that is a distant memory. We have woken up in the northernmost city in North America and are ready to start our adventure.
“I said to myself, ‘This is really ugly. Somebody ought to build a garden here.’ So I said, ‘I’ll do it’ …and I did.” – Amir Dialameh
Amir Dialameh was hiking the trails in Griffith Park in 1971 after a major brush fire ravaged the area when he decided to start a garden.
He obtained permission and then spent years working alone, clearing approximately 200 carbonized tree stumps with a pick and shovel carried from home.
He could be found working in the garden nearly every day for up to eight hours at a time terracing the slopes, building stairs and adding benches.
Amir had challenges along the way. People stole plants, demolished saplings, he was once beaten and robbed, and two major brush fires damaged the garden. But those incidents didn’t keep him away and he patiently restored the losses.
Volunteers began helping maintain Amir’s Garden in the late 70s and continue to do so after Amir’s unexpected death in 2003. Amir once said, “There are so many problems, so many pressures. All people do is complain. They need to get away from that.” Amir’s Garden is just the place people could do that; under his care, it became a five-acre oasis in the city.
When I found myself wandering up and down Mission Street in San Francisco with a growling stomach, I couldn’t decide what to do. The biggest challenge that I run into when traveling alone is trying to figure out where to eat, I’m usually overwhelmed by the options. Then I saw a sign in the distance, all it said was “TEA * FOOD.” It doesn’t get easier than that, right?
Samovar Tea Lounge overlooks the Yerba Buena Gardens. They offer the encouragement to “Turn off your phone. Take a breath. Let us brew you a pot of tea and cook you a nourishing meal…” So I did. Well, not the phone part; but I spent a leisurely lunch getting sunburned while I drank tea and had my first rice bowl.
The rice bowls are served with the ingredients plated alongside a pot of green tea soup base. You add the tea to the dry ingredients in order to create the soup consistency that you desire:
It paired perfectly with the Nishi Sencha Tea that the server recommended:
The next time you’re wandering the Mission District in San Francisco and need to catch your breath, definitely stop in at Samovar.
The first time I came to LA was with my dad and he surprised me by pulling a giant bag of candy out of his suitcase when we got to the hotel. The only thing better than that, is coming to see California Girl. She is the perfect reminder that everything is better when you do it with a friend.
Every weekend with California Girl involves at least one visit to a fabric store, and Michael Levine’s is the mother of them all:
All of that creative inspiration made us hungry, so we hit up the most appropriate place for two hungry girls to eat, The Homegirl Café.
We saw a little local wildlife:
And then needed some dessert. I scream, you scream, we all scream for raw, vegan ice cream? We did and sampled some Kind Kreme, it was delicious.
Eventually we made it back to the California Girl B&B where I was served tea and biscuits (actually a tasty homemade gluten-free muffin) while she pretended to work for a little bit:
And before long, we tucked in for a little television and dinner. I like to think that I changed California Girl’s life by introducing her to ONCE UPON A TIME.
All in all, the perfect Date Night (for One): Girlfriends Edition.