More from San Francisco, last March. Yes amazingly I still have not shown all. This was my dinner, eaten at a small Belgian restaurant in North Beach, La Trappe. I have been there with my wife once before, and enjoyed the size of the massive beer book (which, large though it is, doesn’t have my two favourite bieres belges but has a lot of bloody nice ones). They aint cheap either. The food though is lovely. I am a fan of moules frites (a pot of mussels with Belgian fries, which ironically I didn’t actually eat when I lived in Belgium). On this evening, I chose the Moules Normandes, a tasty dish of mussels heavy with apples. I had the frites of course, which were nice (but not as nice as the ones I used to eat in Charleroi at 3am, drowned in mayonnaise), with two dipping sauces, mayo andalouse and roasted garlic mayo. For drink, I had a Maredsous 8, the brown one. Nice, but not my favourite Maredsous, and I didn’t finish it. Mostly I drank water. Anyway if you are in San Francisco, I can recommend it, and you’ll find it on the corner of Greenwich and Mason, right on Columbus. Oh yes, here is the map…
To round off all the pub drawings here is another panoramic I attempted last weekend at the University of Beer, on 3rd & F (Click on the image to see the bigger picture). This is one of the newer places in Davis and is a beer-geek’s dream; I have sketched it before from the far side of the bar (see image at the bottom of this post) but didn’t quite manage the two-page panorama, so I came back to sketch that far wall. As you can see, it is worth it. they have beer signs, both metal and mirrors, from all over the world (though mostly the US and Belgium). It was a very hot day and I was just not motivated for outside sketching, so I got a footy magazine (the Premier League is finally BACK! Hallebleedin’lujah!) and popped into the ‘UoB’. After about ten minutes looking through their extensive menu and studying the beer taps I opted for a Monty Python’s Holy Grail ale – I’ve never had one before, it was very nice, and made me want to put the movie on when I got home. One of the barman had an Arsenal hat on (backwards; I suggested it maybe should stay so) and we discussed the chances of our teams in this coming season (as you know, I’m Spurs all the way). I started sketching, and quickly realized there are many more details in this place than I knew; they now have loads of beertaps lining the ventilation pipes near the ceiling. To be honest it was nice to sketch some people – the three fellows to my left were sharing stories about Davis in the olden days, while further down the bar there were other conversations of varying degrees of volume; but on the whole this was a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon. One of the barstaff remembered me from the last time I sketched here (he is in fact in both sketches, so I had him sign the second one) and I spoke to him and one other about my favourite Belgian beers (Charles Quint and Fruit Defendu, if you’re ever wondering). I followed on from my Holy Grail ale with a really nice beer called Summer Solstice, by Anderson Valley, a creamy brown beer with a very caramel-like taste, and it was delicious. If Quality Street made beer, it would probably taste like this. I had their Winter Solstice beer here back in February and that too was incredible.
This week in fact is Davis Beer Week, a celebration of craft beers in Davis, and so if you’re in Davis you should pop by here, or de Vere’s or any of the other great beer spots in town. This has really become a beer-lovers town lately, and it’s not surprising – UC Davis has an excellent beer-science facility. People here really know their Chit.
I must point out – this sketch was done in a Seawhite of Brighton sketchbook I picked up in London. Smooth paper and takes a light wash, not as robust as the watercolour Moleskine but I’m looking forward to playing with it some more.
**Incidentally… you can buy a print of the University of Beer panorama above at my Society6 store (society6.com/PeteScully), just follow this link. There is free shipping worldwide until this Sunday (Aug 25).**
Little rest from the ongoing mountain of London/Barcelona sketch-posting, this is one from last week in Davis. I’m slowly checking off the beer-places in Davis, perhaps to make a sketched guide of them all, and this place is the Davis Beer Shoppe. It is an actual shop which has an incredible selection of beers from around the world, but the ‘tasting room’ bar is very popular, it’s a smallish seating area at the front of the store. I popped in on a lazy sunday afternoon and had a couple of Weihenstephaners (I went to that brewery in 2005, oldest in the world; I was interested in the word ‘Weihen-‘ at the time as I was writing an essay about it for my Germanic Philology course), and set about sketching the scene. In the top left, the Giants are on TV, as is the case in a good number of my bar sketches. This is in fact the final page of Watercolour Moleskine 12, though I haven’t yet finished posting the rest of the sketchbook so I won’t stand on ceremony, other than to say I’m taking a break from the Moleys for a bit, while I try some other sketchbooks out.
See that fellow at the bar? He’s wearing a Clint Dempsey USA shirt. Dempsey was just sold by Spurs to Seattle Sounders. Also, the USA national team currently have a twelve-game winning streak, which is mightily impressive. So as soon as I saw this guy I had to add him into the picture, as a nod of respec’.
A break from the London posting, here is a bar panorama I did at the weekend. This is Little Prague, a bar attached to a Czech restaurant on G Street in Davis which as regular listeners may recall I have sketched many times, though not for quite a while now. On Saturday, after a lazy day of not leaving the house, I lazily left the house and ambled downtown to the comic shop, Bizarro World (I bought “Infinity Gauntlet”, in which an all powerful but rather barmy Thanos takes on like every superhero in the universe – which is a lot of fun, if a little light on actual plot). Then time for a beer and some sketching. I chose Little Prague, because despite my many sketches of that bar I have never done the big two-pager, with the lamps on either side of the bar. The beer’s different from the last time, nicer, and I had the Staropramen Granat. It wasn’t busy – this is summer in Davis, the quiet months in a college town. This took me around three hours; three beers to be precise. Drink slow, sketch really fast – there is a ton of detail! Click on the image to see a larger version. And see if you can spot the ‘pete’.
So that is the 180 degree panorama done! I have to move onto the 360 degree ones soon, right? That may take a few more beers…
After my talk last Friday, I signed my name in some books at the bookstore and then popped across the street to a local pizzeria/bar, Uncle Vito’s, for a couple of cold pints. It’s been a long time since I was last in there (and I sketched it then too). They have a fantastic mural outside, and I don’t know if ‘Uncle Vito’ is a Godfather reference, because as you know Vito had no nephews/nieces, only children and godchildren. Either way, I always call this place ‘DeVito’s’ by mistake. I remember back when this place used to be a Chinese eatery called Wok’n’Roll. They do good beer here, but I didn’t get food. Last time I did, I got the garlic fries, and it was like getting a mountain, there were just so many. Tasty, but far too many for me alone! It is funny, having sketched almost all of the Davis bar areas now, how different they all are. This one has a mirror sloped enough so you can see more of the bar behind it. It also has a leg-shaped lamp-shade. Some of the locals in the bar commented enthusiastically on my sketch, and took photos of it in progress, which is always nice. Part of my talk that evening had been how I am more comfortable with people watching and commenting while I sketch, much less shy about it. I can also hear all the other sounds going on around me, the sports on the TV, the sounds from the kitchen, the laughter of people enjoying their weekend; I did overhear one frat-boy student type at the bar to my right, who I didn’t speak to, say something to his girlfriend about people with red hair looking like Tintin, (“what’s with that?” he exasperated) – perhaps he did not see the red-haired person sat right next to him? There I am, by the way, reflected in the mirror there (and no, that is not Bud Light in my pint glass).
Cascade Brewing Barrel House in SE Portland. On the Saturday evening in Portland I was cream-crackered after a day of sketching, and stayed in my hotel watching the San Francisco Giants storing their way through Game Three of the World Series. It was relaxing, I wrote a couple of postcards and finished off some sketches. I popped down to the hotel lobby to access something called the internet, and watched an inning or so at the hotel bar over a beer, listening to large-haired ladies talking in sour tones about their colleagues, while a baseball-capped business-man offered idle chat about the political attack ads being the same here as they are ‘back home’, and all of them being lies, lies and more lies. Occasionally, groups of costumed people wafted by and disappeared into the halloween partying night. Well, fun though that was, lying in bed watching the baseball was significantly better.
When the baseball was over, however, I was feeling nice and relaxed, and considered staying in and watching a Thor cartoon on my iPod. However apparently Portland is a really fun and interesting place with exceptionally good beers, and so I popped out to the streetcar stop and headed south. I had a Map full of Things to Do, courtesy of my Portland sketching friend Kalina who had prior to my trip put together an extensive list of things I might like to do on a Google Map, for which I am eternally grateful. One place I thought I’d head to was Cascade, a small independent brewery which has an excellent reputation for craft beer, particularly its sours. I wasn’t sure I fancied a sour, having not really liked the one I’d had from Russian River that time all that much, and opted for a Dunkel Weizen, followed by a Belgian Amber. It wasn’t super busy, but those present were of course all extremely beer-knowledgable and more than happy to impart their wisdom (as was everyone in Portland). When I was done, they recommended another nearby place, the Green Dragon (which was also on my To Go To list) and so I headed on over, and was massively impressed by the selection, though also intimidated, and clearly needed help. Fortunately the excellent staff there showed me the way, and gave me (to use their word) a good “beer-ducation” (cheers Nick et al!). Portland is like the University of Craft Beer, a great place for beer-ducation.
Here is a beer for the hot weather (and, while today has finally cooled off a little, we here in Davis have had a very long hot summer). Great White is brewed by Lost Coast Brewery in Eureka (I always read that as ‘Lost Coats’, with images of standing around by those coat places in nightclubs), and is very refreshing and tasty on a hot evening. In the pub, the beer pump is shaped like a shark. This is sketched in my ‘beer’ book, a brown paper sketchbook I’ve had for a while.
Last Saturday was national beer day, apparently, so I partook by having (and drawing) a couple from the Blue Moon Brewing Co. They make a nice wheat beer, but also make nice seasonal beers, my favourite of which is the Winter Abbey Ale, below, which is now off the shelves. Above is their Belgian style pale ale, Pale Moon, which was also very nice. I drank them and drew them (except for the bottle below which I drew later) while watching a movie on cable, “I Am Number Four”, which I think may have required more than two beers to fully appreciate the subtleties of.
Chimay Bleu, a very popular Trappist beer in Belgium. When I spent a year there I only had it the once, it wasn’t really my thing, very dark, but the Charleroi locals loved it, king of the Trappists. I like the glass, and brought my Chimay glass with me to America, it’s nice to eat ice cream or trifle out of. Anyway, my wife got me one recently so I had it tonight while watching the telly, and of course I had to draw it in the brown paper beer book.
Occasionally, I really miss London. Sure, there is a lot to be improved (for example, when I drank this bottle of London Pride I actually put it in the fridge first – tastes much better cold). When a man is tired of London, he’s usually tired of the Underground, or the council tax. And it’s just so crowded, and so many good stores have closed, and the weather is frankly shite when you most need it not to be. But I miss it, it’s home, it’s me, and of course it’s where the Olympics will be held this year, and it keeps cropping up in the media. With all this talk of London I am getting very homesick for my native city. Sure, there were horrendous scenes last summer during the riots; yeah, every headline is ‘stabbing this’ or ‘shooting that’, fine, the economy is so far down the plughole it may actually make it to the north sea, evaporate and come back as even more rain. I know, it rained every day on my last visit, and the one before that saw a blizzard of Narnian proportions. But what a place! The history is just everywhere; Burnt Oak, my home area, has a name that dates back to the Romans, sort of. It’s on the Edgware Road, the old Watling Street, built by the Romans. Of course nothing else was built there for another millennium plus a few more centuries, and then a couple more, but you know, it’s history, man. When I take a walk around the 1930s housing estates, to the 1960s era flats, and the kids playgrounds erected in the 1990s (and vandalized ten minutes later), all I can think of is, history man, we don’t get this sort of ancient history all around us in California, where everything was built like, five minutes ago, and there are no centuries-old epic highways built by road-building Latins before English speaking people arrived. (Well, there’s the Camino Real, but y’know)
Of course, I’m having a laugh, int ya. I always think it’s funny though when people in America (and the UK too) speak of London like a walk through the pages of history, when the great majority of things you will see are no older than the things you’ll likely see in the States (except for a few obvious exceptions; all the Norman churches and castles, for example, but even then they may have been heavily modified in later years). What’s older, the White House or Buckingham Palace? Tower Bridge or Brooklyn Bridge? Independence Hall or Big Ben? Oh this is an easy game to play to your advantage (“What’s older, Windsor Castle or the Mall of America?”) but the point is that while we do have a long long history Londoners are not generally immersed in it on a daily basis, any more than big city Americans. The streets and their names go back many more centuries than the architecture that occupies them, and provide great stories if you should know them, but sometimes the truly historical takes some digging. And that’s where we have the edge, in the history that goes back beyond what we can see. Many of our winding streets follow their medieval courses. Names like ‘Threadneedle Street’ and ‘Lombard Street’ tell us something about the trades or even the nationalities that lived there. London Bridge dates from the 1970s, but there has been a bridge over the Thames at that spot since Roman times (apparently prone to falling down), which being the only one was London’s Bridge. The stories of history too pervade the modern settings – it’s always great to stand in the middle of a crowded street and say, for example, here, Oliver Cromwell was hanged two years after his death in front of huge crowds, or right around here, Dick Whittington heard the Bow Bells and turned back, putting his cat in a cage to mark the spot. But even the history we know isn’t as established as people think. Londoners had not the smoggiest idea who Samuel Pepys was for two centuries, but now he’s considered one of the most well-known of historical Londoners. For many centuries, Londoners believed that their city was founded not by Romans, but by a Trojan named Brutus. Historical names remain, but their meanings slip away from us; I grew up near St.Alphage’s church, but had little idea that Alphage (or Ælfheah) was a hugely important part of Anglo-Saxon London’s self-consciousness as a city: he was the Archbishop of Canterbury who was martyred (read brutally tortured and murdered by drunken bloodthirsty Vikings) in 1012, becoming London’s first martyr-saint (very important for an aspiring medieval city) – that was exactly a thousand years ago!
I’ll be watching the Olympics in California of course, with the usual time delay, feeling sad every time they show an establishing shot of the Millennium Dome or the BT Tower and other such historical buildings. I’m sure a tear will be brought to my eye when they show the curve of the Thames or the layer of grey ozone above the Docklands, or when the US networks interview locals about what sports they’ll be watching, and then shrug in confusion when they say ‘Affle’ics’ or ‘Fuh’baw’. I miss London, I’m proud to be from the city, with all of its history. So here is London Pride, a beer I enjoyed and sketched in the brown-paper-beer-book last week.