Superbowl 50

It’s that time of year -the Sunday spent celebrating football, watching the year’s most anticipated commercials, and binging on junk food and beer is upon us. The regular NFL season and playoffs are over, and this year the Broncos and the Panthers will duke it out for the championship.

This year the big game is being held in the Bay Area, because we have established that Superbowls and weird weather phenomena follow me wherever I go (the Superbowl was held in New York/New Jersey two years ago). Superbowl City is set up literally across the street from my work and the energy has been much higher than usual in the area in the past week. The music from free concerts has streamed into my office during lunch and in the early evening and the area has been more packed than usual with tourists and security alike. Our office building lobby decorated with balloons in the teams’ colors this week and has been passing out football shaped chocolate. I even ducked out to watch a bit of the Puppy Bowl playoffs at Gott’s.

Amongst my friends and on Facebook I’ve heard mixed views on SF playing host to the big game. Some are excited to have the activities and general energy that comes along with this type of event. Others are pissed that the city is spending $5 million in connection with hosting, as opposed to tackling a different problem, like homelessness.

While I agree that our beloved city has many problems, I disagree that we shouldn’t have hosted the Superbowl. Has the influx of people been annoying at times? Sure. Are there other ways that the money could have been spent? Yes. But the $5 million sum doesn’t take into account all the revenue that the event brings in the form of tourism and spending at local business. That revenue is anticipated to be in the tens of millions, so one can consider the $5 million sum an investment. Even if that revenue doesn’t go directly to taxpayers, injecting the local economy with this cash flow benefits us all.

It’s also hard to put a price on the experience of attending or hosting an event like this. San Francisco spends a lot of money hosting various events throughout the year – Bay to Breakers, the annual Pride parade, Outside Lands. Most of us agree that these events and the spirit that accompanies them helps make SF the unique place that it is. Hosting the Superbowl is an excuse for locals to come together and celebrate, and for outsiders to come spend some time in our awesome home. Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate football, celebrate food and drink, and celebrate watching the game with great company.

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Thai tasting menu

One of my favorite friends from New York recently came to visit me here in my new digs. Fortunately, her view on vacations is similar to mine – plan a few activities, but keep the rest of your schedule open for impromptu adventures and actual rest. The only things we put on the itinerary for the long weekend were a daytrip to Carmel-by-the-Sea, a class at my favorite yoga studio, and two dinner reservations in the city. One of them was at Kin Khao, which came highly recommended to me by my foodie friends.

Kin Khao was wonderful. My friend and I decided to go for the tasting menu, because how often is a Thai-inspired tasting menu an option? We weren’t disappointed. A parade of seven savory courses and a dessert course left us very full and very happy. The flavors were spicy and bright and each course was clearly linked to Thai cuisine but took a unique spin on it. For example, we had beef cheek coconut curry and chili jam clams. Our favorites were the mushroom hor mok terrine, which was a curry mousse in a jar, and nam tok beans tossed in Thai ingredients like cilantro, mint, lime, and chili. It was one of the most creative tasting menus I had ever experienced. As a bonus, it paired beatifully with my Thai beer (Hinano Tahiti Lager) and cost only $55.

The downsides? I found the decor to be lackluster. Perhaps I don’t understand the modern feel, but the restaurant is housed in an awkward space in the Parc 55 lobby and I got the impression that the space used to be a gift shop or something similar. It felt like not much was done to convert it into an eating area – it was somewhat plain. But even though I didn’t care for the decor itself, I still found the ambiance to be warm and friendly.