Category Archives: San Francisco

Oh My Lemon Tartlets – Sweet Thursday

Music: Frank, AB – The Rural Alberta Advantage

All I’ve wanted to do since our San Francisco trip is eat Meyer lemons.  Since my local grocery store isn’t fancy at all, I had to settle for regular lemons.  We ate our fair share of lemon tarts in SF and I wanted to try to recreate each special moment at home.  Lo and behold the Tartine Cookbook has their special recipe for their Lemon Cream Tarts. Woo Whoo!  We ended up serving them in Southampton as part of the birthday celebration.  Here’s what I did…

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Filed under cookbooks, Dessert, Recipes, San Francisco, Sweet Thursday

San Francisco – Day 6

First Stop

Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
415 487 2600

We started the day off with a drive to the Mission. We met our friends Mika and Ryan at, the one, the only Tartine! (I’ve been waiting all week for this).  We shared a Pain au Chocolat (perfectly bittersweet chocolate too) and a Breakfast bun made of orange and honey. We enjoyed our coffees and breakfast outside in the sun before heading out to Muir Woods.  Incidentally, we also took a sweet treat with us for the road…I title the last shot “Still Life with Meyer Lemon Tart in Redwoods”.

Second Stop

In-N-Out
798 Redwood Hwy
Mill Valley, CA
(800) 786-1000

We couldn’t come to CA without a visit to this institution.  We ordered cheeseburgers, animal style of course, with fries and chocolate shakes. Did you know you can get the fries animal style too?  A very enthusiastic 12-year old boy informed me of this well after I’d ordered but plan to try it next time. Who knew fast food could be so good?…California did.

Third Stop:

Zuni Café
1658 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 552-2522

And for a real change of pace, we decided to finish our amazing trip with a couple stops.  We started the night off with oysters and martini’s at Zuni.  We were given a mix of:

  • Eld Inlet Kumamotos (WA – win!)
  • Sister’s Point (CA)
  • Pearl Point (CA)
  • Drake’s Bay (CA)
  • Hog Island Pacifics (CA)
  • Little Skookum (WA)

Forth Stop:

Flour + Water
2401 Harrison St. @ 20th St.
San Francisco, CA
415.826.7000

I’ve gotten more recommendations for this place than any other in SF, including a random “have you been to flour and water?” from a shop owner in the Haight.  Our reservations were for 10 PM and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.  But it was packed and lively and very well decorated (both in décor and with hipster doofus’). Don’t miss the bathroom’s curio cabinet (a highlight) filled with old photographs and dried coral.  We started with a glass of Montepulciano at the bar and move to our table.

We ordered a Margherita Pizza (simple enough) to split as a starter (WIN!).  These thin crust Neopolitan pizzas actually competes with NYC. For dinner, I had the fried sunchoke and potato tortellis and James had the seafood stuffed tortellini verde with prosecco, fennel and tarragon. Both were served in simple subtle butter sauces that were very good and not at all rich.  We didn’t get pictures – camera ran out of batteries – but this is certainly a place to come with friends and plan on staying a few hours enjoying good wine and food. It was the perfect finale to a wonderful culinary week.

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Filed under Appetizer, Dessert, Food Anecdotes, Pasta, Review, San Francisco, Travel Spot

San Francisco – Day 5

What a beautiful day!

First Stop

Judy’s Cafe

2268 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94123-2638
(415) 922-4588

This place is a perfect stop if you are looking for on overwhelming amount of food.  It’s another Marina brunch spot so come early.  We ordered omelets (bacon, avocado, sour cream and cheddar omelet and mushroom, spinach, onion and cheddar omelet) and homefries. The omelet was outstanding but there was no way possible one could finish it.

Second Stop:

La Taqueria

2889 Mission St
(between 24th St & 25th St)
San Francisco, CA 94110

We couldn’t come to California and not eat Mexican food.  Deeply nestled well into the Mission is this well known little burrito spot.  It definitely gets hyped up – but it’s well-deserved.  The counter staff speaks to you in Spanish so either speak it back or order confidently.  We had the pork burrito with cheese and avocado and chicken tacos.  This place has a great atmosphere and I suggest lunch with a beer here.

Third Stop

Andalu

3198 16th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-3363
(415) 621-2211

Happy Birthday Ashley! We celebrated for a second night in a row with some old (and new!) friends. This place has wonderful cocktails and very good small plates.  I was so distracted by the company and celebration that I barely ate (and also forgot to take pictures). What I did eat was great and the short ribs really stood out.  We shared the following between 9 people and we were fully content:

  • Ahi Tartar Tacos with Chili and Lime, Mango Salsa

  • Trio of Tartares: Ahi Tuna Taco, Wasabi Hamachi, Salmon Poke
  • Curly Polenta Fries, Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette

  • Halibut Paillard with Cilantro, Ginger, Soy, and Hot Grapeseed Oil
  • Coca-Cola Braised Short-ribs with White Bean Salad

  • Duck Dumplings with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
  • Butternut Squash Raviolis with Sage and Butter Sauce

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San Francisco – Day 4

A little overcast today but to be expected.

First stop:

The Pork Store Cafe

1451 Haight St
(between Ashbury St & Masonic Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94117

(415) 864-6981

There really is no place on earth like The Haight, even at 9 AM on a Friday.  I’m never surprised by what and who I find lurking around there. What I am always surprised by is how much I love The Pork Store.  For a place where your elbows stick to the tables, it sure has a lot of history and some serious breakfast eats.  James had the Huevos Rancheros and I had the Piggy Special with 2 eggs, 2 pancakes and bacon. And don’t forget the biscuits.

Second Stop:

Naan N’ Chutney

525 Haight Street

San Francisco, CA 94117-3445

(415) 255-1625

This place is a prime example of why you should not judge a book by its cover.  I used to live on Fillmore and Page and there are MANY Indian restaurants in this neighborhood, including one of the best rated in the city (Indian Oven).  I’ve tried them all and found that Naan n’ Chutney was, by far, my favorite.   Not to mention the least expensive! We ordered the lunch portion of Chicken Tikka Masala and Daal with Naan.

Third Stop:

Café du Soliel

200 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94102

(415) 934-8637

I owe this place a lot. I spent most of my time here as I wrote my MA thesis…so it was only fair, for the memory’s sake to at least stop in for a cup of coffee. I mention it because they actually have tremendous open-faced sandwiches.  You can settle in and, for just the charge of an overpriced super-caffeinated cup of coffee, spend the whole afternoon.  It also has some outdoor seating and always seems to be sunny in this little corner…unlike the rest of this particularly chilly neighborhood. Gotta love micro-climates! Also, that’s a picture of our Mustang in front of my old apartment…in case you were wondering.

Forth Stop:

Chez Panisse

1517 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 548-5049

Chez Panisse is Alice Waters’ masterpiece. This was the night of Alice (after the meal we went to see “Alice in Wonderland”).  This is a wonderland of experiences (see what I did there?)…it never disappoints, even for the simplest of dishes.  This was a particularly special night as we were celebrating my friend Ashley’s birthday.  Her boyfriend Alex has an exceptional knowledge of wine (it is also his job) and I was surprised to discover you can bring your own bottles (for a corkage fee). Without fear of hyperbole, this was the best meal yet.  The service was exceptional.  The food was unfussy but standout, highlighting pairings and preparations. The key idea being slow food here.  We shared a bunch of appetizers and then our own dinners.

We started with a bottle of Bollinger RD Champagne from 1985.  The color was extraordinary, although you can’t tell from the pictures; a golden honey color that I’ve not seen on a champagne before. After the first course he opened a bottle of 1980 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac (Bordeaux).  I’m not sure we’ve ever drank anything that old or ever will again.  It was quite an experience and I had to share because we felt so fancy.  Not to mention some probably the best wine I’ve ever tasted.

First Course:

  • Hog Island Sweetwater oysters
  • Pizzetta with leeks, Lucques olives and fontina

  • Bellweather Farm sheep’s milk ricotta and prosciutto with grilled chicories

Intermezzo:

  • Sunchoke Pudding souffle with celery root, wild mushrooms and creme fraiche

Main Course:

  • Soul Food Farm chicken al mattone (under a brick) with butternut squash gratin, kale, cardoons and capers

  • Grilled Elliot Ranch lamb leg, loin and chop with fried shoestring potatoes, turnips and black olives

Dessert:

  • Bittersweet Chocolate pave with caramel creme

  • Kaki Farm blood orange sherbet and blood orange ice cream

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San Francisco – Day 3

Beautiful day, sunny with a chance of chill.

First Stop:

Bechellis

2346 Chestnut St
(between Divisadero St & Scott St)
San Francisco, CA 94123

The morning began with a stroll around the Marina.  We had breakfast at Bechellis. I have to imagine this place has been a coffee shop even before it’s “established” date (1977).  It’s nothing more than a greasy spoon.  We ordered the Eggs Benedict with Fries and French Toast with Bacon.  Nothing stood out…the eggs a bit over cooked and the hollandaise sauce was OK.  Basically, it did the trick.  The decor is pretty fun though, original wooden booths and U-shaped countertop.  The photographs on the walls show earlier versions of the shop still attached to the movie theater next door.

Second Stop

Heath Ceramics

400 Gate 5 Road
Sausalito, CA 94965-2807
(415) 332-3732

After breakfast we jumped into our Black Mustang convertible, threw the top down and headed over the Golden Gate for a stop in Sausalito’s Heath Ceramics. Have I mentioned my love for this place yet? 😉  As you might know, I worked here while in graduate school in SF.  We acquired many a beautiful thing because of this and it is our “china”.  The factory, founded in the mid 1940’s, is filled with a long rich history and Edith Heath was a real pioneer in her field.  She even invented the “safe” ashtray (with cigarette holders).  Known for their tiles which have decorated many a Bay area locale, with new ownership, the servingware has become a mainstay in many homes all over the country.  I can’t come to SF without stopping (and purchasing many new things) here.  You know Heath from our little top logo! Because we were too busy visiting old friends and collecting new pieces, we didn’t take many pictures. But you can always go there yourself.

Third Stop

Frog’s Leap Winery

8815 Conn Creek Rd
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 963-4704

After Sausalito, we took a nice stroll northeast to Napa.  Sigh, it was a beautiful day. We decided on a drive up the Silverado Trail and we had one location on our destination list…Frog’s Leap Winery.  My parents came here in 1998 and have been talking about the experience ever since.  However, when we drove up we were surprised (happily!).  I was always told about this tiny operation with one barn and very few employees.  We drove up to a beautiful barn, a full working farm and a gorgeous Gothic style farmhouse. We walked around back to the porch that overlooks the Napa Valley and the western mountain range beyond. The tours, given 2 times a day, are informative and unique.  We strolled around the grounds learning about their totally organic farming techniques (their chickens only eat the food they grow. And why chickens on a winery? Because they eat the bugs that the plants on the perimeter of the vines attract so they don’t have to use any pesticides) while tasting (oh who am I kidding, drinking) Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Merlot and Rutherford.

Forth Stop:

Picnic at Rutherford Hill

200 Rutherford Hill Rd
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 963-1871

Rutherford Hill is, well, up on a hill and they have picnic tables and grills for use.  After a wine tasting, we went to their grove to enjoy the lovely goods we purchased for consumption at The Ferry Building yesterday. From Cowgirl Creamery, we ate a Mt. Tam Triple Creme, Cypress Grove Cheve and a Roth’s Private reserve served with a baguette from The Chestnut Bakery, some Marshall Farm honey, picholine olives and a Boccalone sopresata.

Fifth Stop

The Slanted Door

1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 861-8032′

Ok, where to start.  Well, I’ve been here before and was BLOWN away on many occasions.  But I think we were here on an off night? Or is it just one of those things like how you are not supposed to meet your heroes because they will only disappoint in real life? (go with me on this). Maybe I’d been here too much and now I know it too well?  Whatever it is, it wasn’t amazing.  It was good, it was tasty but it was nothing to write home about (incidentally, I am actually writing home about this – oh the irony!). Maybe I’ll torture myself and go back again someday…I just don’t want my love for this place to be tainted by this dinner! Also, because of epic wardrobe malfunction, I forgot the camera so had to use my trusty iPhone. The best part of the night? They serve off Heath,

For apps:

  • japanese yellowtail with crispy shallots and thai basil (WIN of the NIGHT!)

  • barbecued willis ranch pork spareribs with honey-hoisin sauce (although the ribs were perfectly cooked they were smothered in too much salty sauce).

For dinner:

  • grass-fed estancia shaking beef with sausalito springs’ watercress, red onions and lime sauce (although the beef was perfect and I get the pairing with the lime sauce, it was too overwhelming to enjoy)

  • oven roasted liberty duck breast with pineapple, red pepper and shitake mushrooms (you all know how much we love duck.  This was chewy and only had the flavor of the sauce).

dessert:

  • meyer lemon meringue tart (very good).

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Filed under Breakfast, Food Anecdotes, San Francisco, Travel Spot

San Francisco – Day 2

Rain again…boo hoo…but alas, we didn’t let it ruin the day.

First Stop:

Squat and Gobble Cafe

2263 Chestnut
@ Scott & Pierce
415-441-2200

We woke up early to make our way to Squat and Gobble.   Again, this is one of these SF chains that I used to frequent in my old neighborhood (Lower Haight).  This location is a more civilized version of the one on Fillmore (which is probably the more fun of the two).  Known for it’s crepes, it’s a good stop for a quick breakfast bite.  Word of warning,  don’t drink the coffee if you aren’t used to a West Coast brew…I jittered my way around the city for hours afterward.  I had a crepe with chedder, mushrooms, onions and spinach served with crispy rosemary garlic homefries and James ate the Triple Gobble which is 2 eggs any style, two buttermilk pancakes and bacon.

Second Stop:

The Ferry Building

One Ferry Building
San Francisco, California 94111
(415) 983-8000

Dear New York,

I wish you had a Ferry Building.  I also wish you grew things The Ferry Building sells daily (see this map…click on California, then click on New York).

Love, Jess and James

This place is so wonderful and it is littered with little stalls full of great pastry, wine and mushrooms.  Yes, mushrooms.  Also, we went back in time to take the above picture. If you ever come to SF I implore you to make an afternoon of it and stop here.  The views of the bay and Bay Bridge are unparalleled and, even on a foggy day, are still pretty incredible.  We basically ate our way through the building, picking up goodies for our Napa picnic,  until we stopped at Hog Island Oyster CO. for a seafood lunch.

Cowgirl Creamery's Artisan Cheese Shop

Boccalone Salumeria

Recchiuti Confections

Far West Fungi

Third Stop

Hog Island Oyster Co.

A few years ago we drove to their farm in Marshall, CA, about an hour and a half north of SF.  We got there about 2 minutes after closing (it sure was a pretty drive though) and didn’t get to eat any of the oysters they pull out of the water for you  – but our plan is to return there on Saturday.  They have a restaurant in the Ferry Building where we ate lunch. They, like Brooklyn Plated, serve off Heath.  We ate a mix of a dozen oysters and finished it with some clam chowder and oyster stew and I listed to James tell me everything he’s been learning about Oysters from this book.

They served us:

  • Hog Island Sweetwaters (CA)
  • Hood Canals (WA)
  • Chelsea Gems (WA)
  • Otter Creeks (WA)
  • Island Creeks (MA)
  • Old Salts (VA)

After Oysters, we needed sweets. So we finished our meal with a stop at Miette.  You might remember Miette from a failed cake I made a while back. Miette provided us with a yellow cupcake with lemon buttercream frosting.  I don’t generally even like buttercream frosting but this is incredible.

Fourth Stop:

SPQR

1911 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 771-7779

We met Dan and Lexi for dinner for the second night in a row (lucky us!). I made reservations at SPQR, which I’d been wanting to try for some time.  I know it’s changed hands over the last few years and many warned that it couldn’t possibly be what it was but, in all honesty, was one of the most memorable eating experiences I’ve had this year (I know we’re only three months in).  The menu is extensive with lots of offal and other parts (be warned) and the wine list intimidating but the staff is really friendly and helpful.  It’s a cozy space but well decorated with dark woods and marble countertops.  We split four starters and desserts and each had our own meal. Also, I apologize for the moody photos…it was dark in there!

Appetizers:

  • Burrata, peperonata, watercress & aged balsamic vinegar
  • Baked ricotta, braised leeks, balsamic brown butter & almonds
  • Pork belly croccante, sundried tomato, olives & gremolata (WIN!)
  • Fried surf clams, cherry pepper salad & agrodolce

Dinner:

  • Buckwheat spaghetti, suckling pig ragu, broccoli rabe & sarvecchio cheese (James) (WIN!)
  • Rabbit & truffle cappelletti ‘en consomme’, california asparagus (Jess)
  • Jones farm rabbit, bacon, gigante beans, savoy cabbage & cranberry (Lexi)
  • Lamb shoulder, chestnuts, mushrooms, parsnip & dandelion leaves (Dan)

Dessert:

  • Goat cheese & ricotta filled crespelle with orange sauce (WIN!)
  • Milk chocolate gelato, buttermilk crumble & candied almonds
  • Brown butter torta, meyer lemon curd & sicilian pistachio
  • Selection of Italian cheeses

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Filed under Dessert, Food Anecdotes, San Francisco, Travel Spot

San Francisco – Day 1

We’re here! And so excited to be…It was a little rainy when we landed but the sun came out a few hours later (par for the course).

First Stop:

The Grove
2250 Chestnut St
(between Avila St & Scott St)
San Francisco, CA 94123

We took a little walk around the neighborhood we were staying in (The Marina – hello, thank you fancy pants) to find we were very close to some pretty great places.  I used to frequent The Grove at the Fillmore location and loved the BLT’s.  It’s a perfect SF quick stop for lunch.

We had the French Onion Soup (which perhaps was an odd choice but we were distracted by it when the waiter brought it to the next table), a BLT and a Tuna Melt (after we were told they were out of the Cubano).

Second Stop:

Betelnut

2030 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123-4121
(415) 929-8855

Later last night we met Lexi and Dan for some pre-dinner drinks and quick bites at Betelnut.  This place reminded me of a Shanghai hideaway in the 1930s. Their website explains that “for hundreds of years in the bustling cities and fragrant harbors of Asia, a favorite and familiar place to savor distinctive local dishes has been the side street beer house, or pejiu wu”.

We sat at the bar, caught up with some nice Napa Cabernet and ordered glazed pork short ribs with thai basil & garlic (win!) and Mongolian hoisin pork, hand pulled with grilled pancakes.

Third Stop:

Canteen

817 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 928-8870

We had made reservations for the 8 PM seating at Canteen a few months ago. I chose Tuesday night for the prix fixe tasting menu.  I was VERY excited about this place as I’ve been hearing about it for years. There are usually three seatings a night and the seasonal menu changes weekly. It’s very small, with only 4 tables and the countertop (has an upscale diner feel) so reservations are necessary. People rave about the brunch and maybe we should have heeded that suggestion.  Although it was very good (a solid 7 out of 10) none of us were wowed.   Maybe if we’d gone on another night with some options we would have changed our minds.  Don’t be nervous that the bathrooms are located in the youth hostel attached next door and are shared with the SF Academy of Art students dorming in the building.  The best part of the meal (besides the company and the VERY good dessert) was the bottle of Parusso Dolcetto D’Alba , Brussa IT 2008 (the horror! We ordered Italian wine in CA – but it came recommended).

The menu:

Amuse Bouche – Crab cole slaw over cocktail sauce:

Appetizer: Asparagus Salad with breadcrumbs and hollandaise

Dinner: White Seabass with braised savoy cabbage, white beans puree and bacon

Dessert: Hazelnut and Rubarb Vacherin.

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