Tag Archives: travel

The Secret Garden

“I said to myself, ‘This is really ugly. Somebody ought to build a garden here.’ So I said, ‘I’ll do it’ …and I did.” – Amir Dialameh

Amir Dialameh was hiking the trails in Griffith Park in 1971 after a major brush fire ravaged the area when he decided to start a garden.
desert garden

He obtained permission and then spent years working alone, clearing approximately 200 carbonized tree stumps with a pick and shovel carried from home.
desert garden

He could be found working in the garden nearly every day for up to eight hours at a time terracing the slopes, building stairs and adding benches.
desert garden

Amir had challenges along the way. People stole plants, demolished saplings, he was once beaten and robbed, and two major brush fires damaged the garden. But those incidents didn’t keep him away and he patiently restored the losses.desert garden

Volunteers began helping maintain Amir’s Garden in the late 70s and continue to do so after Amir’s unexpected death in 2003. Amir once said, “There are so many problems, so many pressures. All people do is complain. They need to get away from that.” Amir’s Garden is just the place people could do that; under his care, it became a five-acre oasis in the city.

desert tree
“…what you need first and foremost here is shade,” Dialameh explained in 1989. “That’s why I planted trees like the jacaranda. In ten years, this place will be covered with their branches.”

The San Francisco Treat

When I found myself wandering up and down Mission Street in San Francisco with a growling stomach, I couldn’t decide what to do. The biggest challenge that I run into when traveling alone is trying to figure out where to eat, I’m usually overwhelmed by the options. Then I saw a sign in the distance, all it said was “TEA * FOOD.” It doesn’t get easier than that, right?

Samovar Tea Lounge overlooks the Yerba Buena Gardens. They offer the encouragement to “Turn off your phone. Take a breath. Let us brew you a pot of tea and cook you a nourishing meal…” So I did. Well, not the phone part; but I spent a leisurely lunch getting sunburned while I drank tea and had my first rice bowl.

The rice bowls are served with the ingredients plated alongside a pot of green tea soup base. You add the tea to the dry ingredients in order to create the soup consistency that you desire:

rice bowl
Seasonal tea broth over rice, vegetables, wakame seaweed & shiitake mushrooms with braised tempeh (vegan)

It paired perfectly with the Nishi Sencha Tea that the server recommended:

Nishi Sencha Tea: Pacific brine, sun-warmed garden peas, silk lingerie

The next time you’re wandering the Mission District in San Francisco and need to catch your breath, definitely stop in at Samovar.