Oh my goodness! This entry is long overdue. I lost is last year and randomly found it in the drafts folder. I wiped off the virtual dust and made it shiny for your reading pleasure. Sorry I waited so long! I hope you don’t mind the pretty Christmas trees in June.

Anise and I went on a fantastic and fun trip last December! We went to San Francisco on a Thursday with a rather extensive itinerary in mind, which includes the Ferry Building farmers and arts and crafts markets, Chinatown, Williams-Sonoma, Union Square and Japantown. Well, such an excursion as this requires a ton of time when you plan on merely parking in one spot and walking everywhere. That’s a lot of walking! I anticipated the distance but not the amount of time we spent in some of the locations, especially when we started doing numerous laps. I knew all those places would have been great to visit, but it was not quite realistic. We didn’t make it to Chinatown, but that’s okay. We knew we’d have to make a special trip to just visit Chinatown later on anyway. We still want to go back to the farmers market again, of course, and take a separate day trip to Japantown and the Japanese Tea Garden.

First, we parked over on Broadway and walked to the Ferry Building farmers market. I had never visited it before, so I was in for a big surprise. There were so many cute, interesting and tasty things there. I even ate cheese (after taking my pills) at the Cowgirl Creamery. The flavored chevre and creme fraiche were amazing and so worth it! I don’t remember which one was which, but one had cranberries mixed in, the other chives.

We ate lunch at Mijita, Cocina Mexicana. It was packed with happy people. I had the jicama salad and two cheese-less vegetarian tacos, which were very satisfyingly fabulous. I don’t remember what Anise got, but I know she liked it. Anise, do you remember what you had? Anyway, I’m so glad we had just gone to the Mariposa Baking Company and bought a 4-pack of chocolate Penguino cupcakes. They were fabulous and a perfect dessert.

We continued to walk around the Ferry Building and found the Scharffen Berger store, which has such a huge variety of chocolate to choose from. They have bars, squares, nibs and all sorts of chocolate goodies. I bought a 100% cacoa bar and an amazing chocolate marzipan lip balm made by Ganache for Lips with Scharffen Berger cacoa. I couldn’t help myself. So good! I even went to Oliver’s Market and bought another 100% bar. They are really good for baking, too, not just for eating. Sometimes I use dark chocolate medicinally to help prevent and get ride of headaches. I much prefer chocolate to ibuprofen, aspirin and acetaminophen.

The Arts and Crafts Market, which is by the Embarcadero Center and across the street from the ferry building, was also really neat. There were lots of talented artisans and craftsmen, from painters to leather workers. There were many cool things I wanted to buy but wanted also to save money for possible purchases in Japantown. At that point we had not yet made it to Williams-Sonoma, and I had two things in mind to buy there and was hoping they would have at least one of them in stock at the store.

On the way to Macy’s and Neiman Marcus to see the festive decorations, we made sure to stop by Williams-Sonoma. I had meant to visit the store for a while. There are three locations in San Francisco, and we just happened to go to the largest one. I was looking for a few things and was on a cookie cutter kick for the holidays. Ever since I saw Chelsea’s blog entry over on Lovely Indeed regarding thank-you note cookies, I knew I wanted them. I had also been eying the cute pocket pie molds since I found them while doing wedding research between autumn 2009 and autumn 2010.

was fantastic with all of it’s wreaths in the windows, which you could see from across Union Square. Chelsea over at Sac Trippers took some great pictures. Every year there’s an ice skating rink and an outdoor decorated tree covered in red and gold ornaments (about as big as my head) and lots and lots of bright white lights in Union Square. It was hard to photograph due to all of the huge overhead lights, but there was also a huge 25-foot tall Bill Graham mahogany menorah, originally built in 1975 with funding from the famous concert promoter for whom it’s named.

I insisted that we visit Neiman Marcus to see the famously gargantuan tree inside their main entry way. It’s a good thing for the store workers that the tree is fake, since there is no way they can possibly fit the huge thing through their front doors. It’s way too big, about four stories tall. We walked all the way to the Rotunda Restaurant and took pictures of the tree. It was amazing! We were almost at eye level of the huge star-shaped tree topper. It was also nice to walk around the store and see all of the festive store decorations and beautiful ornaments displayed on the smaller trees on each floor.

It was getting late and was already dark outside. We were starting to get hungry, and we had initially planned on having sushi at the Japantown Mall. I also still wanted to buy the Donabe for Mom and didn’t know if I would have another chance to come to San Francisco to pick one out before our family’s X-mas celebration, so we soldiered on. We walked up and down a few steep hills, a total of at least 5 miles, since we did some accidental loops.

When we got to Japantown, most of the business were closed, except for some of the markets and restaurants within the mall. We chose Osakaya for dinner, since we liked the look of their menu best. I also had eaten there before and knew the delicious food was decently priced. Here’s a glimpse at their dishes but not the full menu, since the sushi menu is separate. Our food was so tasty! I was so impressed with the food. (In case you’re wondering, I did not order all of this food for myself; it was for both of us. They just served everything family style.) ^_^

I was completely tickled with the fact that we only ordered appetizers for dinner. I thought it was hilarious for some reason, maybe because I was so hungry and tired. I think this was the first time I had ever seen onigiri on a menu, so of course I had to get it. As you can see there was a set of three, pickled plum, salmon and seaweed. I devoured them all. Oh my goodness! Then there was the sushi to eat. We ordered salmon maki, futomaki, a dragon roll, and some other roll, too, which I don’t remember the name to. I left the wasabi (or as I like to call it, green Play-Doh of death) and the pickled ginger to Anise; I am not a fan of those garnishes. We also had sunomono (cucumber salad) and miso soup, which we burned our mouths on. It’s a good thing we were starving. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, so we had plenty of leftovers! I was hungry again about an hour and an half after we left the restaurant, since all of the foods were so easily digested by my stomach (or maybe because my stomach enjoys sushi as much as I do. 😛 ).

I am so glad we went to all of those wonderful places. It was a very full day. When is your favorite time of year to visit SF? It’s hard to tell for me. The Macy’s hall of flowers show is pretty awesome, but the winter holiday decorations were so fantastic. Where do you like to go for sushi in San Francisco? What are your favorites to order? What events have you attended in Japantown? I really want to go to one of the Taiko performances (the dojo is performing at the Japan Day Festival on June 23) and the annual Cherry Blossom Festival (in mid April). I’m pretty sure that Japantown has its own series of Lunar New Year events, too, which would be neat to attend.