San Francisco – May 2015


Best new restaurant: The Progress, Lazy Bear
Restaurants: State Bird Provisions, Benu, SPQR, Quince
Bars: TrickDog, Bar Agricole
Bakers: B Patisserie, Craftsman and Wolves
Wine: a16
Swan Oyster Depot:
Breakfast @ Mama’s:
Smitten ice cream… so so ice cream at best but the beer garden next to it was perfect!
Kokkari Greek restaurant (don’t forget the lamb riblets)
Twin Peaks summit hike

Masa’s (French)
Brenda’s French soul food: breakfast = bananas foster french toast
Kappa Japanese restaurant
No. 75: Coi
Cigar bar

Main Attractions:

Presidio Park:
Batteries to Bluffs walking trail (view of GGBridge):

San Francisco CarnavalMission District, San Francisco
Festival, Saturday-Sunday, 5/23/15 – 5/24/15, Free.  Harrison St. between 16th & 24th Streets.
Parade, Sunday 5/24/14, 9:30 am, Free.  Proceeds west on 24th St. then north on Mission St.
A big, crowded Latin American/Caribbean Street festival and parade in the Mission District.

Caledonia Street Festival, Caledonia Street/Johnson Street, Sausalito
Saturday, 5/24/15, 11 am-5 pm,  Free.
A party for the people of Sausalito, very much like the old Sausalito Art Fair, featuring local art and music.  7000 people attended last year.

Sunday, May 24: The Mission and Presidio #SF

After a bit of a later start this morning (actually rolled outta bed around 9a), I decided it’s time to tackle The Mission.  Why’s everyone always talking about this area?  I had to find out.  So, I hopped the BART and headed for the Mission 16th St stop.  The area was pretty crowded…and here’s why: The Mission St. Carnaval! 

The energy and vibe were up! People lined the streets dancing, singing, eating, etc. Eventually, a gal builds up an appetite and Mission Chinese has been on my foodie radar.  I ordered the tea-smoked eel as an appetizer and the ma po tofu entree.  The app was a wonderful assortment of flavors and textures.  Perhaps the hoisin sauce was a bit overpowering, but kudos on combining a delicious flavor and texture-rich app.  The entree was massive!  Perfect amount of spice (probably a medium spice on my rating) for good heat without suffering through the tears and sweat of a super spicy dish.  Excellent flavor.  A side of steamed rice is welcomed to soften the salt load.

While waiting for my order to arrive, a gal was seated behind me and ordered the rice bowl.  I happened to overhear her conversation with the waitstaff about maybe ordering the same tea-smoked eel as I had ordered.  So, when my order arrived, I offered her a sample of mine to share.  Food, friends, and sharing all go hand in hand — this is why people congregate around food.  A familiar comfort with great company.  I find out her name is Cristina Soltesz and she does event planning.  We were conversing through lunch and before ya know it, she sees a friend of hers walking down the street.  Alex came in and ordered some food.  Then, more of her friends showed up — Sean and Emma.  And then another one of her friends (I forget his name) showed up.  In the end, 6 of us decided to roam the Mission.  Actually, it was more like Cristina and her friends being super amazing hosts and graciously showing me the sights and sounds of The Mission.

After lunch, we opted to walk and find some yummy coffee.  One of her friends suggested Four Barrel coffee.  I ordered a pour over: La Cabana from Colombia. Mild, hints of sweet,…no sugar needed.  Perhaps I am starting to understand what makes a great coffee…and it seems to be in the beans and the process.  The barista (or is it baristo for the male version?) placed a coffee filter into a cone that was atop what looked like an erlenmyer flask (yeah, flashback to chemistry, right?). He poured hot water into the filter then weighed out some coffee beans and then had then ground freshly for my one cup.  Once the grind was in the cone with moistened filter, he lightly poured some hot water over it until it started to show more packing and less liquid.  Then he poured more hot water over it and set the timer for 30 seconds.  After 30 seconds, another round of hot water.  I think that was repeated one more time and that was it.

The perfect minimalist approach to a flavorful (no additives) cup of coffee.  Hipster? Maybe.  Delicious? Yes.

After coffee, we headed down a graffiti walled alleyway.  Interesting and ever-changing according to our Mission expert, Alex.

From 6 friends walking –> to 4.  Then 3.  We packed up into Cristina’s car and headed out to check out Dolores Park.  It’s a beautiful open space but they were doing construction on it so most of it was closed off.  After that, we headed out to the Presidio area and dropped off her friend Sean.  We then headed back to her place and I met her husband and mother and father-in-law.  They’re from Italy and were a delight!  She speaks Italian as well — what can’t this gal do?  After a brief meet and greet and tour of her place, we then headed out to see Presidio National Park which looks like a gorgeous forest.

We stopped to check out Inspiration Point and then took in the atmosphere at Off the Grid in Presidio.  What a great gathering! Food trucks, open grass, music, and a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Sounds like a great way to spend a Sunday!  After that, we headed out to Baker Beach for a different shot of the GGB.

Despite the fog, it was still a beautiful scene.  A quick jaunt and history of Sutro Baths and Cliff House.

Then onto a quick drive through Golden Gate Park.  It was such a delightful tour of San Francisco. Without Cristina, I definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see so many things in the city.  She’s a real gem.  How often will you quickly connect with a stranger? We seem to be like-minded and she’s got a great head on her shoulders.  If you stumble across this, THANK YOU Cristina!!!

Saturday, May 23 in SF

Caught the early morning flight out of SD and landed in SF around 8:30am.  It was super easy to catch the BART from the SFO airport to downtown SF.  Checked my bags into the Clift Hotel so I could start walking the city!

From Union Sq I headed out to the Fillmore district and stumbled upon Japan town!  I bet both of these places  are hopping more in the evening than the early morning!  It was quite a hike and there were some dicey areas along the way.

The purpose of the walk was to head to the area where lunch was going to be.  Lunch resie @ SPQR!  It was very small but had a cute open kitchen concept.  Great staff.  Yummy chicken liver mousse. Savory beef cheeks.  Decadent tiramisu.

After this heavy lunch, I decided I again needed to do some walking so caught the Muni out to the start of the Twin Peaks hike.  It wasn’t too bad.  Nice uphill walk with beautiful views of the city.  Too bad it was still pretty foggy — I can only imagine on a clear day that the sight would be spectacular!

The people I have met in San Francisco are incredibly nice.  People were telling me how to get to places and which buses to take (yes, even after looking at Google Maps…human clarity was needed!).  It’s a very different vibe from NYC — so I do truly believe that SF is more my vibe.  West coast is the best coast!

After walking about 7 miles (thanks Strava!) back to the hotel, I was pretty tired.  Curled up for a lil nap and then started getting ready for my dinner @ Quince.  Grabbed an Uber and headed over for my 9p dining experience.

It started with a wonderful welcome by the staff (and yes, they were able to accommodate me a bit early at 8:45p).  One of my biggest pet peeves is being late to a reservation.  They greeted me with a wonderful champagne and the evening meal commenced.

They started with several amuse bouches to get the palate going.  They were all so amazingly delicious!  Alaskan uni?!  Melted away on your tongue with that sweet and briny flavor that I’ve grown to love in my uni.

First course (middle left): Golden osetra caviar panna cotta with chive, egg yolk, and shallot paired with Delamotte, Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Champagne, France NV.  The wine pairing champagne that they brought out with the caviar was so lovely! It was floral and slightly sweet on the palate and effervescent.  I need to find a bottle!

Second course (middle right): California king salmon with Zuckerman farm green asparagus, buttermild, and dill paired with Lucien Crochet, “Le chene,” Sancerre, Loire Valley, France 2013.  Terrific pairing.  Salmon rare wrapped around a large tasty asparagus.  Excellent flavors.

Bread course: rye bread with buffalo milk butter.  I kept eating the butter! It was mixed with a yogurt for extra flavor — but it was so delicious!

Third course (bottom left): White asparagus with gulf crawfish, cardoon, and chervil paired with F.X. Pichler, Gruner Veltliner Smaragd, “Urgestein Terrassen,” Wachau, Austria 2012.  This was an exquisite dish! The broth under the asparagus with so smooth and comforting — almost making this dish feel ‘meaty’.  The wine itself was amazing.  Perhaps I need to grab a bottle of this as well.

Fourth course (bottom right): Tagliolini stuffed with big island abalone, garlic scape, and scallion paired with Domaine Theulot Juillot, “Champs Martins,” Mercurey Premier Cru, Burgundy, France 2006.  Delicious plate. I thought the course paired better with the wines from the 2nd and 3rd courses.  It was a 100% pinot noir from Burgundy.

Fifth course (top left of 2nd grouping): Casoncelli stuffed with phil paine’s squab, ruby beet, and borage paired with Fattoria di Felsina, “Berardenga,”  Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy 1995. The squab had a wonderful smoked flavor that was perfectly paired with the sweet beet and mellowed by the borage.  I really enjoyed this dish. Also very nice pairing with the 1995 Chianti.

Sixth course (top right): Watson farm spring lamb with artichoke, zucchini blossom stuffed with lamb sausage, and sunflower paired with Chateau Leoville-Barton, Saint Julien, Bordeaux, France 1978.  This dish was extremely tasty.  Lamb three ways.  The cube on the left was lamb with a nice 5 spice seasoning and glaze.  The main chop was served medium rare and the flavor was overwhelming delicious.  The squash blossom was stuffed with a lamb sausage.  Lastly on the right was the cubed shoulder that was tender.  Well executed dish.

Palate cleanser (middle left): shaved ice, wild strawberries, strawberry jam and 24k gold flakes/paper.  Wonderfully light yet sweet.  The strawberries were intense with flavor.

Bday surprise dessert (middle right): a mousse of some sort that was delightful and very rich

7th course (bottom left): Valrhona guanaja mousse with goat milk gelato, grapefruit, and rosemary paired with Graham’s, “20 year tawny,” Oporto, Portugal.  The goat milk gelato was incredible!

Overall excellent restaurant with wonderful flavor and staff.  They had several people on their staff from San Diego.  A really nice touch was that they would come greet me… all 3 of them and we’d chit chat about the city and dining scene.  They also gave me some great tips for checking out the Mission for Sunday.  Headed home via Uber — that’s a good thing bc after all that wine….I just wanted to zzzzzzzzz.