San Francisco and Berkeley: Oy Vey!
On Thursday night, I went to see Eastern-European folk-punk band Golem at an event called "Vodka Latka: Festival of Rights." Before Golem and an a capella band played, an assortment of social justice activists gathered onstage to light a menorah and dedicate each candle to a different cause (the event was cosponsored by California's wonderful Progressive Jewish Alliance). Golem played a rousing set in front of "every Jew in San Francisco," as one girl said on her cell phone. Their punked up klezmer was danceable and outrageously fun, and I'm ecstatic that I get them to see them again in less than a week. All hell broke loose when they played the hora, which got half the people in attendance to dance around the room while Golem's "Hanukkah Horas," singer, fiddler, and drummer showed off underwear with Hebrew lettering.
On Friday and Saturday, I attended shows for a punk rock Hanukkah tour featuring Yidcore, Jewdriver, Zydepunks, and Jericho's Echo. I went out to California to cover this tour for a newspaper, and I'll refrain from talking about it here until the article comes out later this month (I'll certainly post the article when it comes out). In the meantime, I'm posting a picture of Yidcore from the tour's opening night.
When I went to San Francisco's and Berkeley's legendary vegetarian restaurants, I often told servers that I wanted to make the most of the experience because I might never be back in the area. In retrospect, they were so wonderful that I have a feeling I'll be back. Millennium, an upscale all-vegan restaurant that publishes a cookbook called The Artful Vegan, served up quite possibly the best meal I've ever had. Golden Era (where I had the opportunity to meet up with Veggie Jews founder Pete Cohon), Herbivore, and Cha Ya were all wonderful in their own right. I walked away from the experience motivated to be more adventurous in my cooking, because vegan dishes can be absolute masterpieces and there's no reason not to try making some semi-masterpieces in my own kitchen.