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Friday, April 3, 2009

Shine - 1337 Mission Street

After 9 months of Mission Street bar exploration I turned a corner - 13th Street to be exact – which took me out of the Mission into SOMA… unfamiliar territory. I seldom travel to this part of the city, so in an effort to figure out where I would end up later that evening, I drove down Mission Street on my way home from work on the prowl for the next bar’s façade while trying not to rear-end the car in front of me. I soon glanced upon Le Duplex’s sign at 1525 Mission Street. With its CD encrusted doorway, its curbside appeal was promising with the exception of its windows which were covered with broad gray brush strokes. Still, it was a start, as I headed home I Yelped “Le Duplex” discovering that the last review was from June 2008—I would have to wait until later that evening to see if Le Duplex was open for business or yet another victim of the economic downturn.

Le Duplex or no Le Duplex, it was becoming pretty clear that the bars in SOMA would be more “dancey” than “divey”. After a challenging week, I was in desperate need of a good old fashioned dive bar to blow off some steam before departing for my dance club expedition. To buy some time and some space, I ventured to Glen Park Station, a great little bar in the Glen Park neighborhood. With a Big Daddy IPAs in hand, I enjoyed some NCAA Sweet 16 basketball games along with the bar’s festive Friday afternoon audience.

Upon serving up my second beer, the bartender asked me: “Are you slumming it tonight?” The question caught me completely off guard—was he talking to me? As a professional dive bar enthusiast my first inclination was to take offense but after taking a quick glance around this deceptively large bar I realized I was probably the only guy at the bar who didn’t know his name. Not only that, I was wearing a relatively nice sweater, clean jeans and had gel in my hair, which stood out among the overweight, weathered regulars sipping whiskies and Bud Lights, and the occasional white wine. It was clear that his question wasn’t intended to be a “you-don’t-belong-here-insult”; but rather, a hospitable greeting to a world weary, new patron—proof to me once again that I am an explorer in my own city.

Glen Park Station isn’t on Mission Street but is still worth noting as one of the great friendly dive bars in the city. Conveniently located next to La Corneta (a Mexican restaurant that quickly produced the burrito I would later eat) and Gialina, an excellent pizza place (I highly recommend getting the fried egg on top, it is utterly delicious!), Glen Park Station is well positioned for some post happy hour grub. If you play darts or want to learn, then Glen Park Station is also one of the few “true” dart bars in the Bay Area, according to Wolf – yes, that’s the name he gave me – who I’ve played a couple rounds of around the world with.

After my warm up in Glen Park, I headed back to Le Duplex. After inspecting the chalkboard (picture to the right) and looking at the flyers on the window, I mistook the glass door entrance to Mama Calizo's Voice Factory to be the entrance for Le Duplex and preceded to erroneously text that Le Duplex had now turned into “a weird sex show place” (you can follow me on Twitter @missionprowler). With its mission statement “to nurture the development of Queer Performers, Educators and Activists by providing them with Artist in Residence Programs and Arts programming,” it looks like I got it wrong about Mama Calizo's Voice Factory too—either way, an interesting destination, but not one that qualified for MoM.

I pushed on to find the 3rd beer of the evening Thankfully, I didn’t have to travel far. Perched over the sidewalk, a bored and lonesome bouncer settled into his stool for the night waiting for a line to form. If it weren’t for the bouncer, I would have easily missed Shine’s nondescript entrance. With a black door and a black façade, the dark building was anonymous except for its bright orange moniker which was pasted in a window above the door. With the evening still young, I was able to enter the desolate dance club free of a cover charge and with nothing more than a quick once-over.

Shine opens at 5pm on Fridays for Wii Happy Hour (5pm to 9pm) where you can play the basic games or bring your own – Heinekens are $2/bottle and Platino Margaritas are 2 for 1. Thanks to some novice attempts at Wii tennis, boxing and Guitar Hero, I know that my Wii playing is worse than my dancing—so, I wasn’t too upset about missing the happy hour, though the margaritas would have been a nice Friday night treat. Judging from the bar’s emptiness, there was little evidence that the Wii happy hour was much of a neighborhood hit. The only suggestion that it even occurred was a complaint by one of the bartenders about his sore shoulder - no doubt the result of some vigorous volleying in Wii tennis. Nonetheless, the Wii happy hour is a great concept and one that I’m sure many a Wii player will take advantage of as they seek bigger a better ways to couple cheap booze and large-screen play.

Inside a barren dance floor was surrounded by comfortable looking leather couches drenched in low, reddish lighting. Being one of only a couple patrons in the bar I was happy to encounter a classic John Cusack movie “Better Off Dead” which was showing on a large TV over the bar and was also being projected on the dance floor’s back wall. Showcasing high school awkwardness; the desperation to “fit in”; and the struggle to create an identity in an uncertain world, “Better Off Dead” is the perfect metaphor for Mission on Mission. With every bar I enter I am the new kid in school—and with every dance club I enter I am the new kid in school making his debut at the homecoming dance. Recognizing that I fully suck at dancing, and therefore clubbing, I embraced my night’s destiny knowing that I soon be forced to convulse to the beat. I take dancing to a whole new level.

About half way through my first beer a gaggle of women came strolling in. Obviously on a girl’s night out, these ladies were “mature” but ready to dance. Reluctant to be the first dance crew on the floor, the women stood in place bopping their generous hips side-to-side before making their way to the photo booth at the rear of the bar. While this may sound like a cool little feature, let me warn all of you extroverted, drunken clubbers—the pictures taken in the booth are uploaded to Shine’s Flickr site for the world to see. So, if you don’t want your wasted, red-faced and watery-eyed mug showing up on the internet, take your photos early in the evening.

For the first time ever on Mission on Mission, I was joined by a buddy, Alex, who strolled in at 10pm ready to get his first sample of the magic that is Mission on Mission and to kick the night into overdrive. After catching up over a few beers we noticed that the place had filled with a diverse cast of offbeat characters. Among them a 6’4” long haired, nerdish looking guy; a tank top wearing tattooed chick; and the rave girl complete with lip ring and a white fedora. Then, of course there was Alex and me, the seemingly gay couple, at the end of the bar chatting like a couple of girls as we watched the flood of gyrating bodies on the dance floor.

Most people were dancing solo, so we decided—in full comfort of our heterosexuality—to hit the dance floor. Navigated our way through the dance floor, we carved out a space in the sea (more, like pond) of sweaty, swaying bodies. Completely without any hint of rhythm, we spastically shook our hips while attempting to steer clear of the smallish girl in tall boots and a short skirt, who was dancing in a cardio-kickboxing kind of style—punching at a nonexistent attacker and then forcefully thrashing her head to and fro. The tiniest misstep could have landed either of us into her firing range, where she could have easily have taken one of us out with a head butt or a swift punch to the melon. The strange but friendly crowd was rounded out by a 50ish man in a black tank top who had eyes for Alex and who slowly but surely danced his way into Alex’s personal space.

As the night wore on, the crowd grew younger and then, at around 1:15am it started to thin out. After swigging the dregs of our brews, Alex and I decided to call it a night. Sweaty and tired, we stumbled onto the street looking for a ride home. Lucky for us, we found a limo in search of his last fare before calling it a night—the perfect cap to our “romantic” evening.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cha Cha Cha – 2327 Mission Street

With brick walls and long rounded counter leading to the kitchen, Cha Cha Cha has an excellent canteen layout with plenty of swivel stools and a few TVs to keep its patrons occupied while they wait at the bar. Dining tables line the restaurant’s walls with a separate dining room found at the rear of the building packing in locals and visitors searching for a good meal. Old black and white photographs adorn the walls adding to the festive vibe inside Cha Cha Cha.

While the bar caters to couples - in for a drink - and singles - waiting on their friends - the restaurant is an excellent choice for large groups looking to enjoy a couple jugs of sangria while sharing a wide selection of tapas for dining. Its back room was crowded as were the many booths with diners spilling into the aisles making the narrow passageway tight.

As I sipped on a Pacifico and watched the guy next to me constantly check his phone and turn his head towards the door obviously waiting on his date, it occurred to me why I wasn’t a big fan of tapas restaurants. It was because of the “Tapas Effect”. In the past, Cha Cha Cha had always been one of those places where I’ve gone in a group for a birthday celebration or to get the group of friends together to catch up which always leads to... the Tapas Effect.

The Tapas Effect is the struggle of navigating a hostile shared-food dining experience. Parceling out a jug of sangria or a pitcher of margaritas is no big deal but when you’re a vegetarian or just a picky eater then ordering tapas becomes a stressful endeavor. First, you have to balance everyone’s desired choices while strategizing on the items you can actually consume on the menu. What dish will be served first and how to get to it before someone else does. Do you double order, take your chances or just make an obvious play for the desired food early in the process? There are too many variables to deal with especially in a larger group.

I’ve learned that the best plan of attack in this situation is to sit closest to the aisle where the waiter will deliver the food. You get first dibs on all items as they’re passed to your neighbors. Now if you’re stuck in the middle, the key is to use distraction by playing the role of conscientious host handing a jug of sangria or pitcher of margaritas (a bottle of wine also works well) to occupy the hands of the intended recipient of the coveted dish so the waiter is forced to place the platter closer to you or one spot ahead in the rotation. Once the food starts making its way around the table – typically two to three tapas plates are delivered at once- pass the undesired items quickly while doubling up when appropriate on items that you can actually eat or want. The drunker your friends the better your odds at them not getting wise to your game plan.

Finally, the bill… how do you deal with the back and forth on amount owed, the friend that never pays enough and the fact that you’ve eaten about a quarter of what everyone else had. Do you split it evenly with the group even though you chose not to eat half the dishes or just try making up for it by drinking your way to an even split?

Drinking your way to an even split – an aggressive yet effective way to go - can be dicey because it can lead to being very drunk in an uncomfortably confining space, usually in a booth or the middle seat at the table, creating havoc on everyone around you as you struggle to sit in one place or become obnoxious. Your best bet here is to grab the bill and do the math for the table. You have to be careful that you planned ahead for this move and didn't drink so much that your amount too far off the mark. Over estimate the split and you'll be called out for trying to pull fast one on everyone and underestimate and you'll be paying the remaining part of the bill. Worst case scenario is being called out by someone and your response should be to plead drunkenness and simply forgetting to carry the 3. Nobody will question you and there’s a chance you get out of there paying the appropriate amount. Be wary of the light drinker, engineer or accountant at the table because they're always called on to work out the bill. Those are the times when you’re drinking your way to tapas equality.

Cha Cha Cha, (Original McCarthy’s) found between 19th & 20th Streets on Mission is a popular place for just about anyone on a night out not looking to venture far from their comfort zone, looking for decent food, plenty of alcohol and a good time. So the next time you’re asked about celebrating someone’s birthday offer up Cha Cha Cha but remember to choose your seat and company wisely or else you will be dealing with the Tapas Effect.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Specchio Ristorante Enoteca - 2331 Mission Street

After retroactive posting to Mission on Mission, I continue backtracking from Bissap Baobab to Specchio Ristorante Enoteca located between 19th and 20th Streets on Mission Street. When I left Bruno's, I expected my next destination to be Cha Cha Cha but as I strolled down the street I passed a large, plate glass window trimmed with white Christmas tree lights that framed a series of interior shelves stacked with rows of wine bottles. I was forced to stop and explore this new Mission Street addition, Specchio Ristorante.

In my many trips down Mission Street I had never noticed this spot. Upon entering I ran into a hostess stand and then took a hard left turn to a long countertop followed by a number of tall table tops. As I navigated the space, I wasn’t convinced that Specchio qualified for Mission on Mission – once again, I was in the “is it a bar? Or, is it a restaurant?” gray area that required further exploration.

As I made my way passed the bar, I was surprised to see that the space opened up to a roomy dining area with lofted ceilings and plenty of metal tables and chairs. The restaurant had a minimalist feel with clean and crisp lines, white walls and glossy floors. Penetrating the sterile ambiance, a black and white movie beamed over the kitchen in a manner already made famous by other Mission establishments like Foreign Cinema and Dalva.

Figuring that Specchio satisfied the necessary parameters for Mission on Mission— namely shelves of alcohol guarded by a long, hard drinking surface—I ordered a Stella Artois only to learn that the tap had run dry. Thankfully, Sierra Nevada was available which I decided to pair with bruschetta, crab cakes and parmesan cheese drizzled with a balsamic reduction.

The food was good but the service was spotty. As is often the case with new establishments, the wait staff was eager and enthusiastic to get me seated but they couldn’t quite get the timing right after taking my order. The busboys were diligent keeping my table clean and my water glass full, but I had to wait endlessly for a fresh beer.

Upon receiving my second Sierra Nevada, it finally dawned on me what was “off” with Specchio Ristorante…there were no seats at or around the bar. Sure, there were seats for diners in the back, but there was nothing to sit on in the beautifully designed bar area. Forced to dig their elbows into the hard surface of the bar in an effort to alleviate the pain of standing upright, the stylish SOMA after work crowd sipped their pinot noirs through grimaced smiles under the bright lights and against right angles. Witnessing these uncomfortable stances, I couldn’t help but feel extra sympathy for the stilettoed women who were suffering mercilessly on the polished concrete floor. Needless to say, the surroundings made me—and everyone else—uncomfortable.

So far I have not encountered a single wine bar on Mission St. and Specchio would do well to embrace its uniqueness by creating a comfortable atmosphere for those seeking a nice glass of vino, a relaxing ambiance and a nice meal. Some candles, a few stools and a couple couches would go a long way to attract the wine crowd.

If not for the Christmas tree lights, I would have walked right by Specchio—which serves as a good reminder for me to keep my eyes open as I head off to the next location. The Mission is a street that is in constant flux – a street where old and new is constantly switching places.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bissap Baobab – 2323 Mission Street

San Francisco has many cultures, influences and characters that contribute to the city’s unique flavor – a fact that was quickly reinforced when I entered Bissap Baobab, a wonderful little Senegalese bar and restaurant on Mission Street. West Africa's Ivory Coast is brought to San Francisco with dining, drinking and dancing. The dining and drinking happens at the Mission Street location while Bissap Baobab’s sister location, Little Baobab found around the corner on 19th, turns into a dance club around 10pm. DJs spinning to an energetic and vibrant crowd help liven up the Mission Neighborhood on weekends.

The restaurant’s host - who jumped from his seat to greet patrons the minute they walked in - sat next to me at the bar as I looked over the menu considering one of the many specialty drinks before deciding on a tried and true Fat Tire draught. Fat Tire in hand, I continued to peruse the menu which contained ethnic Sengalese cuisine along with a number of homemade rum concoctions that I'm sure would get the most tolerant of drinkers buzzed after a few sips. No eats for me but judging by the steady stream of diners who came in that night, Bissap Baobab is a popular dinner spot. A few large parties waited in and around the foyer’s padded wall seating while a few scattered couples and groups bellied up to the bar in hopes of ordering a drink before being seated.

As a basketball game played on the TV in the background, I noticed the Bissap Baobab’s community consisted of two very distinct groups, a healthy assemblage of Senegalese transplants and Mission Street diners. The Senegalese wait staff (not kitchen staff who looked to be largely Latino), regularly conversed with their fellow countrymen, who dropped in for some drinks and dinner, exchanging pleasantries and hellos in their native French. The diners consisted of birthday groups, Missionites and a few couples enjoying a Friday night out.

Bissap Baobab … Bissap, the Senegalese name for the Rosell, a species of hibiscus flower and Baobab, is a tree native to mainland Africa, Australia and Madagascar some of which are reputed to be many thousands of years old though this is difficult to verify because the wood does not produce annual growth rings, is a perfect Friday night Ivory Coast-stay-cation experience, and a vivid reminder of the Mission District’s unique cultures and diversity.

Attire is casual, food decent, drinks strong – all good qualities in a Mission on Mission stop.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Ace Cafe SF – 1799 Mission Street

When playing or waiting to play pool never, ever, EVER touch another person's quarters reserving the table. And you never want to take those quarters and dump them in the corner pocket right after you've dropped the game's balls down the same pocket. That can really make a guy angry which is exactly what happened at The Ace Café- a dark, smoke filled bar on Mission Street- Friday night. The bar, modeling itself after a London motorcycle pub, erupted with angry shouts and tough guy bravado just as the last of the quarters clanked down the hole.

As he held the cue ball- last ball standing- for use as a weapon, the pocket stuffer approached table's current player, who yelled and stood ready to take a swing with pool cue in hand. The table’s light hung low providing ample glow as the two men danced around the table waiting to see who would strike first.

As things bordered on pandemonium, a 60ish man with long beard and drunken man's stagger, presumably the bouncer of this fine establishment approached the two gladiators to break up the skirmish. I use the term gladiator loosely as neither warrior was an imposing figure. One an overweight man who skirted around the table at no more than 5'7" and waved the cue ball at the face of the other combatant while his skinny white tank top wearing foe seemed to have the upper hand being younger, more aggressive and with extra reach provided by pool stick. Both men were many drinks in making the potential fight a hard one to call.

The bouncer's goal was to settle ownership of the table while the bartender wanted one of them kicked out. In his drunken stupor he seemed to be miss the point so it was up to each contender’s support group to stand up for their “boy”. Tank top had his grungy, dirty, hipster crew while the instigator was lucky enough to have a group of mellow biker bystanders, clad in motorcycle leathers, generously having his back. The bikers weren’t in troublemaker’s corner because of his pool etiquette instead because they were nice guys who didn’t want a scuffle to happen in their bar. They even proposed that he apologize by taking a few spins around the brass stripper pole. A brass stripper pole located between the bar and tables along a row of columns. One biker went so far as to take an athletic spin on the pole to demonstrate proper form which left me with a whole new respect for him and his crew.

After both men calmed down and decided to settle their differences on the pool table more trash talking ensued as they played the game. My attention turned back to the bar's great atmosphere, its patrons and most of all the neck and hand tattooed biker with long scruffy beard drinking a nice red wine. That’s right, a red wine of which the bar has a decent selection available in a nice wine rack behind the bar. I stayed with Racer 5 on tap which is rare find in the city.

In a bar filled with this much testosterone I was surprised to see a small group of women sitting at the end of the bar catching up. Nothing seemed to faze them, not the smoke, not the commotion, not the loud music playing in the back ground. For them it was just a local watering hole where you come to hang out. As the night bordered on calm and the kitchen served the last order of fish and chips a thunderous clap bellowed from the pool table which emptied the bar.

Tank top with his crew ran out the back as troublemaker and the bikers took off out the front. I’m sure they were looking for a resolution to their argument that couldn’t be settled on the pool table. A few minutes later everyone except the agitator returned to pick up where their evening had left off. I hope he was quick on his feet and made it home before getting caught.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Ace Café at 14th and Mission Street and highly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t mind a little smoke, can appreciate a diverse cast of characters and wants a great selection of beer on tap. I also hear the fish and chips are delicious.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wellcome Bar and Restaurant – 2074 Mission Street

In the brightly lit bar music played in the background at a volume that was acceptable by bar standards but not so loud that you couldn't hold a conversation. A rattling thud punctuated the ambiance before I received a quick punch in the arm by Henry sitting next to me.

I had arrived in a rush an hour earlier, when my need for a restroom overtook me and I had to race three blocks from 19th to Wellcome Bar between 16th and 17th. Deciding whether or not Wellcome Bar (the double ll is not a typo) and restaurant qualified for Mission on Mission was easy. After navigating around the handful of questionable characters lingering outside - some tweaking out, others begging for money – with the exception of a family near the front of the bar having dinner I could see that the rest of tables were empty – a solid indication that the patrons didn’t come here for the food.

Crossing the threshold to the bar felt as if I was passing through a curtain of drugs and danger as the stragglers in the entry way gave me the once over. They had to wonder where this guy in a royal blue dress shirt and slacks came from and why he was walking into Wellcome.

Wellcome was manned by two employees -- a chef doing his thing underneath a ceiling partially covered by a blue tarp and a bartender/waiter/busboy/bathroom-bouncer who was serving drinks, taking money and even took the time to interrogate me to ensure I was a paying customer before handing me the bathroom key. Although there was a menu on the wall, I figured I better stick to a $3 Budweiser draft than to venture into the food arena – I placed $5 on the bar, and practically ran to the restroom.

I eventually made my way back to the bar to enjoy my Bud and as time passed I found myself watching the basketball game, and eavesdropping on a conversation between a group of drunk middle aged guys talking about music and growing up in the city. Every so often one of the guys would dance his way towards the door arms waving and hips swinging to take a peak at the action on the street or to grab a smoke.

I spent the rest of the time hanging out with my aggressive neighbor, Henry. A self proclaimed "penny pincher," Henry had wrapped his pennies in a napkin for safekeeping before he decided to educate me on one of the bar's games.

There is no hustling allowed at Wellcome Bar – which was proclaimed on a sign hanging below the TV. That said you are allowed to play dice against the house. This isn’t the first time that I have come across a house game on Mission on Mission but in this case Wellcome Bar’s “Horse” far out strategizes Chonchola’s duels of “Heads & Tails” for the basic fact that there are more than two variables. Horse is your basic poker game where each player chooses the best five dice hand after two rolls – best “hand” wins. For each game, the house bets three juke box songs to each $1 put up by a patron.

Henry and I played a few rolls after which he landed his fist in my arm. Unimpressed by my rattle-thud, he demonstrated his rattle-smack. According to Henry, the rattle-smack is critical to Horse— more for the fact that it asserts your dice rolling prowess than for anything to do with dice. Lucky for me, Henry was so disappointed by the lack of passion in my dice rolling that he was willing to teach me on how it should be done.

Assuming you win Horse, you face yet another challenge – picking songs on the jukebox. These gentlemen are music connoisseurs and they aren’t shy about heckling song choices that don’t meet their scrupulous taste. Playing heads or tails at Canchola's and horse at Wellcome, I'm learning some fun time killers on these Friday night Mission on Mission trips.
As a thank you for my dice tutorial, I gave Henry $1 to select some “adequate” beats to take him into the evening and send me on my way.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Beauty Bar – 2299 Mission Street

As I reached for the paper towel to dry my hands I gazed at the many magazine pictures draped on the walls, mostly pictures of naked women ranging from the 1970s, 80s and early 90s. The images were a nice distraction and, for a quick moment, had a sobering effect on me. I emerged from the restroom and, after passing the photo booth DJ stand, settled, once again, onto the white leather salon chair at the bar ready to take a sip of my brightly pink "Breakfast at Tiffany's".

The drink was sugar sweet and went down with ease which should have been a warning sign to take it easy because it- in a martini glass with shot glass containing the extra pour- was heavy with Rum and Vodka. As the bartender put it, "when a girl comes in to get a pedicure and says she's out to party, I give her this because it's easy going down and gets them drunk really fast." Boy was he right; it worked like a charm even without the pedicure.

Of the many specialty drinks available – many named after beauty products and supplies – I chose Breakfast at Tiffany’s based on the above recommendation. After a few Stella head start this proved to be all I needed to get that solid buzzed feeling that puts you on cloud nine while washing your worries away.

The music was kept fresh as a rotation of folks would stand at the DJ stand and select music ranging from 90s rap to 70s funk and of course 80s dance. All in an effort to get the hips moving which was working like a charm.

As a few groups came rolling in I noticed the diversity in the people here. There were hipsters alongside tattooed punks with a few yuppies sprinkled in between. A few solo acts also came in, undoubtedly waiting for a friend but what struck me was their reluctance to talk to anyone rather choosing to kill time by texting on their phones. What better place to kill time than a bar full of people with a friendly bartender and a drink to loosen you up. I guess the phone is an easy crutch which is a shame really. What happened to making introductions, meeting new people and possibly making a new friend at your local watering hole?
A couple of other things I noticed before heading out in search of a tall glass of water in an effort to sober me up were mustaches and Southern Comfort. I've heard that the mustache has made a comeback but figured that since mainstream American was aware of it that the trend must be dying but that wasn't the case here. Looking around I figured I'd need a mustache and blazer if I hoped to fit in. Alas, my one day’s growth wasn't cutting it so I have some work to do in that department. I hadn’t seen so much SoCo ordered at a bar in quite some time and can’t remember the last time SoCo was my drink of choice or if it ever was. A continuous flow SoCo shots were ordered throughout the evening.
Beauty Bar was a great way to pick up some momentum after visiting a few bars that doubled as restaurants. This deceptively small and colorful bar offering manicures for $15 while listening to good music, drinking one of the many bar’s specialties (sitting in salon chairs with built in hair dryers making you feel like a kid at the adult table because they sit so low at the bar) and mingling with a friendly crowd make it a wonderful spot to spend your night. And if you’re in the mood to get drunk have the Breakfast at Tiffany's, it didn't take long to get me going!

I apologize...

I want to apologize to my readers for not posting the last month. It is inexcusable. I have continued the Mission on Mission journey making my regular Friday night stops at Specchio Ristorante Enoteca, Cha Cha Cha, Bissap Baobab and Beauty Bar and hope to have my thoughts and experiences up in the next few days.

Beauty Bar will be my first posting of 2009. Sorry again for the long wait.

Happy New Year.