Some people leave their hearts in San Francisco.
I’m pretty sure I left my appetite.
I’ve had macarons in Paris, wafels and frites in Brussels, more pork than you think humanely possible in Cologne, and Tarte flambee in Luxembourg. It was all delicious, but none of it is living up to the cuisine that I experience while in San Francisco.
We were there for 9 days of gastronomic madness. Usually all the eating and drinking that occurs on vacation is offset by all the walking that is done. Don’t get me wrong, we walked this city, but the eating and drinking took over. I took a little San Francisco back to NY with me and I don’t mean the souvenirs we purchased :-).
We kicked things off right, with a culinary tour of the Ferry Building hosted by Edible Excursions. The 2 hour tour took us all over the building, plus in and out of the farmer’s market, tasting samples from Frog Hollow Farm, Cowgirl Creamery, Acme Bread, Boccalone Salumeria, Recchiuti Confections, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Miette Patisserie and Mijita Cocina Mexicana. Everything was better than the last item tasted, and there wasn’t a space left in my stomach by the end.
This is also where I discovered my new favorite fruit pluot from Frog Hollow Farm. Pluots are a plum/apricot hybrid and I’m thrilled that I can get them in NY thanks to Fresh Direct. I won’t even tell you how many I’ve been eating since we got back.
My little weight gain attributed to fact that I basically had ice cream every day.
I originally, only had one ice cream place to visit on my list, Bi-Rite Creamery, but then I read my issue of Bon Appetit on the place and it just had to go and mention The Ice Cream Bar, an old fashion soda shop. Off we went to try some basil ice cream, enjoyed the best blueberry ice cream ever sandwiched between two soft chocolate chip cookies. Our friend who was with us, went ahead, took the plunge and ordered a mushroom phosphate.
Bi-Rite Creamery was everything it lived up to be, and I highly recommend going during the week when it first opens as we did. No line and no ice cream flavors were sold out. Salted caramel was a must to try, we also had the balsamic strawberry, malted vanilla with peanut brittle and milk chocolate pieces and *I think* it was the ricanelas. Seriously, there was a lot of ice cream on this trip, and it was a couple of weeks ago, I knew I should have written this down!
The friend that joined us at The Ice Cream Bar insisted that we head over to Humphry Slocombe. Off we went! Malted dulce de leche & cinnamon praline were our flavors on the cone, but I also sampled the browned butter. Oh my god, butter in ice cream and it was amazing!
If there was anything I talked about prior to our trip, it was the the Chinese food I couldn’t wait to eat once in town. We experienced, new and old takes on Chinese food with dim sum at Hang Ah Tea Room – pillowy bbq pork buns, and perfect dumplings were a cheap but filling lunch.
Perfect timing landed us seats at Mission Chinese with no wait! While I don’t have the palate for extremely spicy foods, I managed to find a number of dishes to suite myself without completely burning out my taste buds! If you can go, all I have to say is order the General Tso’s veal if it is still on the menu. A giant bone in veal cheap is served to you, with spicy, sticky General Tso’s sauce covered with chopped up jalapeno peppers. The veal is so tender it just falls apart as soon as you start to cut into it and serve.
No trip to the west coast is complete without making it over to Berkeley for dinner at Chez Panisse. This was just the refreshing, simple, cleansing dinner we needed. A simple green salad with croquettes of goat cheese, tomato and roasted garlic soup with fresh basil and for our entrees green pasta with chicken ragu and grilled squid with roasted potatoes.
For a little entertainment with your chow. Every Sunday evening at Thirsty Bear Brewing Company there is flamenco music and dancing to go along with your tapas and house brews. I highly recommend the pork belly and vegetable risotto.
Speaking of brews, the west coast serves up some of the countries best beer. They grow the best hops, and since ingredients are local and fresh – there are hop varieties that just can’t be shipped cross country. Besides Thirsty Bear, we visited 21st Amendments, Speakeasy and Anchor Brewing Company. The last 3 we can get near us, but there are always varieties that aren’t distributed and kept solely for west coasters.
By far, the Anchor Brewing tour was the best beer tour I’ve ever experienced. You walked into the building and smelled the malt from the beer brewing throughout. Not only did we learn the history of the brewery but we were given the opportunity to taste each beer on tap that day! This tour books up fast and far in advance, so if you have plans to go, I highly suggest booking ahead and be sure to eat a big lunch prior – you will leave with a nice buzz.
Stay tuned my culinary tour of the Bay area isn’t finished yet. Serena Bartlett, our tour guide from Edible Excursions, also the author behind Grass Routes Travel was kind enough to show us around Oakland. Wait to see what is in store!