i cant believe vacation is already over. it came and went in a blinks time. mark and i got back late sunday night and were back at it in the office first thing monday morning - jumped right back into the swing of things.
our time in san francisco was brief, but amazing. we ate, walked up and down hills, toured museums, ate more, drank some and then ate more. s.f. is definitely a playground for foodies. best part - the city surely caters to those with alternative diets and special dietary needs. the weather held out for us and it was sunny our entire stay. it was an extremely active vacation, but restful all in the same time. for the most part we stayed in the city - we hit up golden gate park, ocean beach, union station, fisherman's wharf, the embarcadero (amazing - a must see), chinatown, japantown, the fillmore, etc. we rented a car and made our way up to beautiful sonoma and took the scenic coastal highway back to the city.
|great cheese comes from happy cows. happy cows come from california. i cant eat their cheese :(|
creme de la creme of the trip. i lived in berkeley for a brief period of time and always wanted to check this place out. no reservations? no luck. if you try to walk in the door and grab a seat for dinner you wont likely be seated. this place is a seller-outter. alice waters, a chef that i aspire to, opened chez panisse in 1971 - and has been credited with kickstarting 'california cuisine'. she believes in delivering fresh, local, organic ingredients to her customers. she also has an outstanding philanthropy- she continuously gives back to society by empowering/educating kids using food + hands on farming.
|need i say more?|
mark and i made reservations a month in advance and i'm so glad we did. we got in for first seating and were greeted by the most attentive server that we've ever come across. he knew his wines, ingredients and was extremely cautious of my food allergies. our meals were perfect. straight up perfect.
we started dinner off with hog island sweetwater oysters on the half shell served with mignonette. the oysters were so sweet and tasted fresh from the ocean. we then shared a chicory salad with fresh local beets + asparagus topped with a mustard vinaigrette. for my main course, i chose pan seared rockfish with garlic aioli, artichokes, black olives, cardoons (aka artichoke thistle) and roasted fingerling potatoes. the fish was seared to absolute perfection and the skin was ever so crispy. portions were surprisingly large - they definitely dont skimp. mark went with braised lamb in jus with baby carrots, fagiolet beans, green garlic, bread crumbs and marjoram. i've only seen his face light up so much during a meal on a few other scare occasions. sheer delight. we washed down our food with wine and beer (no beer for me) and wound up skipping on desert as we were both stuffed to the brim.
given the chance to choose my last meal - this would be it. alice waters and her chefs have created an amazing dining institution. unpretentious food - nothing to be afraid of. flavor profiles reminiscent of home cooking made the meal feel like it was cooked by a loved one. just knowing that all of chez panisse's food is sourced locally and organic when possible makes it taste that much better.
|go ask alice.|
japanese tea garden
on our second day in the city we ventured over to golden gate park, rented bicycles and toured around a bit. we landed at the japanese tea garden and ended up sitting down for tea service. we shared a cup of hojicha (pan roasted green tea) and genmaicha (green tea with brown rice) and snacked on small bites - including red bean paste mochi and hawaiian coconut mochi cake.
|japanese tea garden - golden gate park|
|red bean mochi + hawaiian mochi cake|
|hojicha + genmaicha|
before we departed boulder for s.f. we asked our favorite sushi chef - keizo-san of sushi zanmai where we would suggest we get good sushi in cali. he of course, being the cool cat that he is, suggested yoshi's. glad we took his suggestion. this place is the ultimate marriage of super fresh sushi and swanky live jazz. quite the combo. quite possibly, one of the smartest combos to date.
|amazing sushi courtesy yoshis sf|
just TWO MEASLEY blocks from our hotel sat this ultra inviting corner restaurant. everytime we walked past this place, we glanced at the menu, but for some reason we never ventured in. i have no idea why it took us so long to actually get our asses in the door. finally on our last day in the city mark and i decided to give this place a go. the interior was not unlike that of the kitchen cafe in boulder (if you are familiar with the place) even the menu and its fonts seemed very familiar. sweet woodruff was recently opened by chefs teague moriarty + matt mcnamara - both named the peoples best new chef by food + wine magazine for their first san fran restaurant - sons + daughters. they pride themselves on creating delicious tastes of pristine california produce.
|chicken salad with fingerling potatoes|
|exterior sweet woodruff.|
one may think chicken salad is a staple - and i dont blame you. we are all used to the same old, stock chicken salad with gobs of mayo and no real pronounced flavor. this chicken salad, however, was mind expanding. mark and i were both nursing a hang from our previous night out at yoshi's/japan town and were in need of something, anything to help us feel better. when i saw at chicken salad on the menu it was a done deal. i knew it would do the trick. and do it, it did. i asked for a gluten free chicken sandwich (means sans the bread + serve it on something green). the roasted chicken breast was mixed with citrus aioli, red + green grapes, fresh celery and pomegranate seeds abed crisp butter lettuce. holy hell. this stuff was great - the pomegranate seeds were such a great addition to the chicken and lended great texture to the dish. mark wound up ordering a suckling pig sandwich (served cubano style) with ghost pepper aioli, salsa verde, mustard and housemade pickles - served with a small arugula salad and a side of house pickled cauliflower and onions (that were wicked good). we both shared a side of roasted fingerlings topped with olive oil, fresh dill, egg + mustard - an awesome take on regular roasted fingers.
i'm (we're) still kicking ourselves for not getting into this place sooner. instead of stopping at the small deli right outside our hotel entrance we could have walked TWO MEASELY blocks up the street to sweet woodruff and could have been enjoying this great food during our stay. damn. hindsight.
|ocean beach sf - photo cred - shark|
simply said - i cant wait to get back to s.f. again - mark and i are already talking about what we plan on hitting the next time we head out that way.
stay tuned next week for a gluten + dairy free recipe!
xoxo - k