Monday, May 30, 2011

Irresistible San Francisco
I was in San Francisco last week for work, so I squeezed my taste adventures in where I could. I admit, I was completely overwhelmed by the recommendations that were flung at me prior to my visit - there is just so much there to explore. Here are a few of my most palate pleasing moments in SF:

1. Lunch at Pizzeria Delfina with an old friend. We shared two pizzas, the Amatriciana (guanciale, tomato and pecorino), and a white broccoli raab pizza with lemon, olives and a peppers. The bitterness of the the latter was a perfect foil for the richness of the former. A simple endive salad, a glass of rose and a table on the sidewalk in the sunshine made this a perfect meal.

2. Great San Francisco restaurants require a wait. So we put our names on the list at Delphina and went for an appetizer at Tartine. My friend knows me well - she suggested the passionfruit coconut cake, which was out of this world. Fluffy, tart cake (the tartness is key), passionfruit cream in between the layers, and thick shredded coconut on the outside. Magnificent.

3. Hapa Ramen (pictured below). I had breakfast at about 9 a.m. one day at the Ferry Building, but when the farmers market opened up at 10, I saw one of the fruit vendors slurping a paper bowl of ramen. I knew exactly where it came from. "How is it?" I asked him. "Amazing," he said between bites. Thus, I had my second breakfast. This ramen had a thick pork broth, asparagus, kombu squares, snap peas (all perfectly cooked), and a succulent, savory slice of pork from a local farm. So glad I opted to stuff myself with that.

4. The banh mi that I've been searching for for years. It's all about the herb/pickle to meat ratio, I'm telling you. And the two Vietnamese ladies behind the counter at Saigon Sandwich (Larkin and Eddy in the Tenderloin) have it perfectly formulated. Cha Lua, "pork special," is the way to go there (photo below).

5. Muralhas de Monção Vinho Verde at Ferry Building Wine Merchant. This wine recommendation proved to me that this place has an excellent wine selection when I was looking for something to bring to a friend's house for a casual taco dinner. Far more complex than any vinho verde I've had, this wine had good body, nice acidity as well as aromatics and an effervescence that pleased and surprised my friends who'd never tried the varietal. The best thing about this wine shop? They have a wine bar as well, so you can taste a wine that they have by the glass (like this one) before you buy the bottle. An impressive wine buying experience.

6. The parmesan shortbread with fennel and sea salt to go with my New Orleans style iced coffee at Blue Bottle Coffee at Mint Plaza.

The photo at the top is of a bacon/cheddar/egg muffin from the Tell Tale Preserve Company at the Ferry Building Farmers Market. I didn't try it, though I would have if I had any stomach room available between breakfast and the ramen. I couldn't resist a photo.

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