Friday, December 11, 2009
Contigo: With You
Sunday was a gray and cold day in San Francisco. By late afternoon I had done all the cleaning, writing, and on-line shopping I could do. I was going a bit stir crazy and decided a little jaunt and some fresh air was the perfect escape. It was not until I heard the door clicking behind me that I realized my keys were still inside. Just then, it started to rain.
Thankfully I was locked out with my journal, a good pen, and a box full of holiday cards. I made a few phone calls and discovered I had about five hours to kill before someone could come and rescue me. My stomach grumbled in protest. I went first to a coffee shop for tea, journal writing and Sunday New York Times reading. This did not take up nearly enough time.
Next I walked up the slick streets lined with lights, watching shoppers and shopkeepers. I stopped in front of Contigo, a small restaurant that seemed to be glowing from within. This was where I was going to have dinner.
Contigo means "with you." It is a small Spanish style tapas bar and cava cave. Unlike some hot and happening San Francisco restaurants, this place feels intimate, friendly, and neighborhoody; the kind of place you could easily find your self dining once a week.
Since I was eating alone they sat me at a the wine bar in the middle of the restaurant. They had just lined the molding with fresh greenery and the place smelled divine. When I told them I was locked out they smiled, then moaned, then poured me a large glass of rioja.
"What a perfect place to be," my waitress said -- and I agreed.
I ordered the soup -- lentil, pepper, and broccoli rab, and bread. As I ate I watched the restaurant fill up. It was early December so people were already starting to gather for holiday meals and friendly re-caps of the past year.
After a French press pot of Blue Bottle Coffee it was almost time to go home. But I was encouraged to stay. "Sit as long as you want," the waitress did. So I did, just a few minutes more, but long enough to marvel at how very unfortunate experiences can sometimes morph quickly into something beautiful.