Friday, April 03, 2009

Miscellaneous Food: San Francisco

This past Chinese New Year, we decided to take a break from family meet-ups and steal a trip away to San Francisco. Primarily, we went to visit my old housemates in the Bay Area and to go skiing in Tahoe. I had been stressed out at work and needed to get away.

It was refreshing, relaxing, no, more, it was liberating to be back, to walk around the streets of San Francisco knowing nobody and caring less. It was wonderful to to be skiing in the refreshing cold, rushing downhill at a speed that took your breath and thoughts away.

The mountains were more beautiful than I had remembered them from before and yes, I suppose I actually do miss the California winter!

After skiing, we headed back down toward San Fran. I ate some good food, not that much becuase it was a simple holiday spent with friends. We were lucky to have J. and W. host us in and the first place I discovered was where we went to dinner our first night in the City.

I would highly recommend dinner at Frascati's in San Francisco, it the most warm and delicious Meditaranean-French food I've had in awhile. Their halibut melts in your mouth and the pasta, combining the unlikely elements of pesto and seafood, is quite masterful.

We stayed with our gracious hosts near the Golden Gate park and over the next few mornings, we would walk down to the sidewalk cafe Park Chow for some lunch sandwiches and pasta, then sit in the sun for awhile or walk into the gardens.

A walk round to the beautiful academies and giant redwoods of the park was always a good way to start the day. On other days, we ate Mexican food in the Mission, visited their favourite Mitchell's Ice Cream Parlour and paid a nostalgic trip to Swan Oyster Depot, a Nob Hill institution- this tiled bar and boasts the freshest oysters and yummiest sourdough bread I've had in my life!

The second fantastic food recommendation would be the San Francisco Ferry Terminal Farmers Market, which we visited on Saturday morning. I had been here before but never on a Farmers Market day and that is really key.

There are excellent stores inside the terminal which are permernant, like Cowgirl Creamery and my all-time crush, the Miette Bakery, with their organic cupcakes, tangy lemon cake and take-my-breath-away vintage-inspired layered cake goodness.

But the farmers market is not to be missed. Of course, it helped that the weather was so darned perfect but the stalls are a collection of the Bay Area's best producers and farms.

There were rows and rows of storea and most, like the Bluebottle coffee stall, Roti rotisserie chicken sandwiches and griddle cakes are only there on lip-smacking market days.

I wish I could show you the mountains of brussel sprouts, wild mushrooms, chunky asparagus and in-season artichokes, I swear they were so fresh they wafted butter. Of course, I couldn't control myself and bought a bottle of cider, two boxes of cupcakes, a bag of huge wild mushrooms and a loaf of Acme olive bread for the hiking.

After San Francisco, we drove along the coast to go whale-watching and hike along the Marin coastline with friends. Apart from beautiful scenary, we also had some awesome catfish & chips, served warm and crispy in the chilly coastal air. Then, it was time to south, back to the old school. It felt like going home.

The third food event was Chinese New Year dinner so I guess it's fitting that it felt like home. My celebrations here were actually a little muted but given that a bunch of old friends congregated at the house in Menlo Park to prepare dinner together, it was truly a festive and spirited reunion. I guess the way we celebrate, with friends and food, is very reminiscient of exactly how we were before. I had brought the Lo Hei ingredients and with our Mexican, Hawaiian, Malaysian friends, it was the most merry and messy Lo Hei I'd had in awhile!

Everyone was so excited, least of all M. who gamely volunteered to make Kueh Lapis Beras and refused to be swayed by our sceptical commentary. She and K. stirred, coloured and steamed the layers in a makeshift steamer and guess what, their belief totally paid off with very pretty pastel kueh!

Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 673-1101

1901 Hyde Street (Russian Hill)
San Francisco 94109
(415)928 1406
open daily for dinner

Ferry Terminal Farmers Market
1 Ferry Building at Embacadero
Wed and Sat mornings

No comments: