Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Road Trip: San Francisco



This city, in my mind, was the jewel of the trip. When we set off from Baltimore almost a month ago, this is what I was most looking forward to, even though there were many things to see first. And let me tell you, San Francisco did not disappoint! After a day and a half of exploring, walking, biking, and eating, I was dazzled.

We started off by walking briskly to the Ferry Building from our hostel in Tenderloin. (We had dreamed of riding a street car, but the line for that on a sunny Saturday afternoon wrapped around the block). There was a bustling farmers market just outside of it where we sampled chocolate almond toffee and bought two dapple dandy pluots, one for each of us. It had a crispy-creamy texture with honey-sweet flavor.


Inside the Ferry Building held store after store of gourmet foods, coffees, pastries, even a store for “tasty salted pig parts.” I was like a kid in a candy store. My first stop was the Blue Bottle Coffee Company. On the recommendation of a friend, I stood in line at this popular spot for a cup of brewed-to-order coffee. It was perfect. Strong, not to bitter, and smooth. With a splash of cream, I thoroughly enjoyed it while sitting outside and looking over the bay.


To go with my coffee, I got two French macaroons, one chocolate lavender and one hazelnut, from the famed bakery Miette. I had heard of this bakery, admired it from across the country, and snagged the opportunity to enjoy something sweet from them.


Wandering on, I stopped at Sur la Table for a new spatula. I’ve been on the hunt for a metal spatula with a thin edge to better flip over easy eggs. I had seen a review of a similar spatula in Cooks Illustrated. Why not buy one in San Francisco and carry it across the country? Made perfect sense to me.

 With the street cars still too full, Justin and I navigated the bus system to make our way up to Fisherman’s Wharf. We had fun admiring the shapes of bread at Boudin Bakery – crabs, teddy bears, and turtles. How do they get the bread to rise into such perfect animal shapes? We got a cheddar jalapeno roll to share. It had a good chew, with pickled jalapenos throughout, and a nice crusty cheddar top.
 The very best food we ate in San Francisco was unexpected. Our hungry bellies, and rave reviews, brought us to Pizzeria Delfina. After having trouble deciding on an appetizer, we asked the waiter for his opinion. “The arancini,” he said. “It’s saffron-ricotta cheese balls, breaded and fried.” As soon as I heard the word saffron, I was sold. It was incredible. The outside of the arancini was crisp and well-seasoned, while the inside was gooey indulgence. An order of the pizza napoletana followed – a thin crust topped with savory tomato sauce, anchovies, capers, and oregano. Perfect.

Breakfast the following morning was in the neighborhood of Russian Hill at the Canteen. A little hole in the wall place that we would have missed had we not heard about it previously, it held a simple charm and exquisite food. We sat at the bar and enjoyed watching the waiter buzz around and the chef prepare the orders. The French toast I settled on really wowed me. Somehow the chef managed to achieve a texture of crispy and creamy, with no rogue egg-y sections on the bread. It was served in a pool of warm blueberry sauce and topped with sweetened cream cheese.


Our stay in San Francisco held many more food delights, but these were the highlights. In between eating, Justin and I enjoyed walking up the steep hills and admiring the architecture, renting bikes and riding across the Golden Bridge and through many neighborhoods, and going back to the Ferry Building (that magical place) so I could get another cup of coffee and buy cocoa nibs at Scharfen-Berger.

I am thrilled to have been able to visit San Francisco, and I can’t wait to go back some day!














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