Monday, June 20, 2016

long weekend

I spent three days escorting a dozen mostly out-of-town visitors around and organizing much of their time. Age cannot wither them nor custom stale their infinite variety, but age at least can slow them down a little, and everybody conked off quite early each evening, leaving me time actually to show up for a while at the Solstice party on Saturday, at which I ate exactly two shrimp but had conversations worth a lot more than that.

Back to the visitors, my first task was to point them to used book stores, for I know what they like. Last time I had them here, we started at Bell's in Palo Alto because they open at 9:30, then went on to Wessex and Feldman's in Menlo Park before lunching across the street at Su Hong. But Su Hong is no longer there (neither is Wessex), and I didn't want to take them to the rather alarming Fey, which is the only high-caliber Chinese sit-down place left in Menlo, so I fell back on my old favorite Jing Jing. But that's back in Palo Alto, a block from Bell's, and we couldn't start at Feldman's because that doesn't open until 11. So on Friday we just did Bell's and walked over to Jing Jing, where we gave up any attempt to order family-style and just had lunch special rice plates. Which fortunately are very good there (I wouldn't have wanted to do that at Su Hong).

Fortunately, our Sunday brunch was at Stacks (reserved long in advance, because it was Father's Day, not that Stacks isn't always busy on Sunday morning), which is half a block from Feldman's, and further fortunately Feldman's is open on Sunday which Bell's isn't. My guests startled and pleased the proprietors of both bookstores with the eager enthusiasm which which they relieved the shelves of philological esoterica.

For dinner on Friday we had takeout from Pizza My Heart, which I picked up from the Lytton Plaza outlet, finding that carrying 5 pizzas a block to my car was heavier than I'd imagined. Saturday morning I brought in real bagels from down the street at Izzy's in Mayfield (a strange time to have bagels, but it's when was convenient), of which the combo bagels were by far the most popular; maybe next time I should just get those. For lunch we broke from our scholarly sessions to raid the Mollie Stone's deli for sandwiches, and for dinner that evening we ventured down to Vive Sol in Mountain View for a taste of what the good Mexican restaurants around here are like. Most of the party followed my advice and ordered the ¡memorable! mole poblano, except for me because I've had it before and will have it again later so I got shrimp diabla which I really like. Vive Sol doesn't take reservations, and Yelp is full of cautionary tales of large parties that didn't get seated for two hours and then were turned away, but I thought we could avoid that, so we arrived at 5:30 and had no problem; I watched the crowds around us and concluded that, at least that evening, we could have gotten away with coming as late as 6:15.

After cleaning out Feldman's on Sunday our business was over, so after a coffee stop I took the remaining stragglers on an art tour of the Stanford campus: MemChu, the rest of the Quad, Cantor plus the land art in front and the Rodin sculpture garden around the back, the bridge over SLAC, and the New Guinea sculpture garden, which as one of my grizzled male companions put it brought out the adolescent boy in each of them. (The last people I took there were two women who examined it solemnly.) Then it was time to eat again, so for a slightly different local specialty I took them down to Pho Vi Hoa for bowls of soup. My experienced guests pronounced the pho good, which was a great relief to hear.

So that's what we did for books and food, two of the essential pleasures of life. Call this a partial report.

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