Just looking at that bowl of pierogi (Polish dumplings) makes me salivate intensely. They were so damn good, I can still taste the crispiness of the pan-fried dough and delightfully sweet and sour flavour of the fresh cream and plum preserve on the tip of my tongue. One slightly damp morning in Haye’s Valley, we found ourselves at a quaint little cafe called 20th Century , which specialised in Eastern European food.
As I was minding our tables a 30-something blonde woman came up to me to ask if we could move from our 4 seater table to the 2 seater table right next to us as she was expecting a party of two to join her. With no hesitation I was more than happy to make the switch. My small gesture seemed to delight her as she explained that people weren’t always that nice in the city (something I was surprised to hear given all the great people we had met).
She noticed my accent right away and we got to talking. I think her name was Sophie, so we’ll go with that for now. Sophie had that cool Californian ‘mom’ vibe. Her two kids went to school just down the road from the cafe and she lived with her family in the neighbourhood. Sophie was at the cafe for a business meeting as she was a real estate agent running her own agency. Sophie and her sister moved to San Fran when they were in their 20s. They rented a place in the Mission district, an area that had a special place in her heart. Her sister eventually moved in with her boyfriend, leaving the apartment to Sophie and her partner. She ended up buying the place back in the day for $250k – a bargain compared to the sky-high property prices in the city today. Realising the potentially lucrative property market in the city she adored, Sophie got into real estate. As we talked about her favourite parts of the city, Sophie recommended Ocean Beach for it’s local gems including General Store, Outerlands Cafe and Trouble Cafe and 4505 Meats for a good BBQ feed.
I would later go to Outerlands Cafe and eat the best grilled cheese sandwich of my life, followed by a memorable giant pork rib at 4505 Meats.
And for that Sophie, I thank you.
x Grandma AL