Pork 3 Ways from Range - glazed rib, braised belly and sausage served with white beans and pickled onions
Ok, now that I got everyone (myself included) thirsty with my favorite SF beverages -- it's only fitting that I dive into the food scene there too (afterall, this blog is titled foodventures!) So here are some of my favorite bites from that sunny June weekend in San Francisco.
Beet salad @ Nopalito - not on their menu since it was their special of the day (hopefully I'll be lucky enough to enjoy these again in the future), it's a simple dish made with wedges of assorted beets and citrus, with cotija cheese and a light vinaigrette. I don't order beets often because I'm always scared of the 'muddy' flavor many of them possess from being too old, improperly washed, etc., but that only makes me appreciate great beets that much more, which these were. Sweet, tart and juicy with points of saltiness from the cheese, it's a perfect way to start off a lunch with my friend.
Goat cheese & sorrel ravioli with lime butter and chives @ Range - another great starter dish, I absolutely love how bright and vibrant the ravioli and the sauce is; the lime butter's tartness is definitely palate opening, followed by the molten creaminess of the goat cheese. The Pork 3 Ways dish I had for entreé is pretty decent too and a great sampler dish, but not as memorable.
Wisconsin burger & garlic fries @ Taylor's Automatic Refresher - lacking the time to go to the actual location in Napa, we opted for this Ferry Building outpost instead. With sauteed mushrooms, melty sharp cheddar, bacon, mayo and sweet-n-smoky barbecue sauce sandwiched between sourdough bread, this Niman Ranch beef burger (which I ordered medium-well) is like Carl's Jr. Western Cheeseburger meets Jack-in-the-Box Sourdough burger -- in a very, very good-and-greasy way. Likewise for the pungent fries tossed in parsley and garlic butter AFTER being fried. With its shameless flaunting of all things carby and fatty, it's definitely no place for a dieter -- and THE place to be for delicious diner fare with a modern touch.
If my aorta hadn't threatened to close up on me, I might have tried their mahi mahi fish n chips, their chili-spiced sweet potato fries or cold mug 'o beer too and just people-watch all afternoon long (and BOY were there some eye-catching folks when I went up, since my weekender up coincided with SF Pride 2009! It made the jam-packed light rail rides similarly interesting too . . . is it flattering or scary to be hit on while riding public transportation?)
Fried pork belly nuggets w housemade honey mustard @ Magnolia Pub - it's a pub where beer pours heavy (20 oz English pints!) serving up dishes like pork belly, breaded and deep-fried to a flaky crisp w creamy interior, along with a housemade spicy honey mustard sauce. Need I say more?
Ricotta fritters @ Alembic Bar - every bit as sophisticated and eccentric as the strawberry alarm clock cocktail there, the fluffy, cheesy fritters are accompanied by white-balsamic-poached strawberries, raspberry foam, and an unexpected dusting of black pepper. Simply wonderful play of different textures and flavors, sweet-sour-spicy and simply bursting with ripe berry flavors.
Afternoon tea sandwiches @ the Fairmont Hotel's Laurel Court Lounge- while the whole afternoon tea was nice, I was particularly enamored by the quality and creativity of the tea sandwiches here, including coconut curry chicken salad on a herb roll, five-spice beeef tenderloin with apple slaw on black olive baguette and dungeness-crab-and-mango salad in a corn muffin. No stale and bleh watercress-and-cream-cheese here! And for such a delicious tea service in a classy hotel, the $36/person pricetag is totally worth it!
Spicy seafood soup @ Heaven's Dog - I was definitely skeptical of the cuisine here since the menu looked like gussied up Chinese fare with the prices to boot (scallion pancakes $7? $10 beef chow fun? what the...) but this $10 entree is large enough to serve two and is very tasty, even if not particularly spicy. Tender pieces of assorted seafood (wild shrimp, alaskan halibut, squid, scallop) swam in a light-yet-hearty-and-flavorful broth with firm, toothy wheat noodles. Comforting and definitely not anything I'd find in a typical Chinese restaurant, it was worth the extra price premium and yes, I did slurp every last drop of the soup from the bowl.
Blackcurrant scone @ Tartine Bakery - I know, I know -- with such gorgeous and tasty-looking baked goods staring back at me, all I got was a scone? Well, this was on my last day in SF and I really felt like something light after all that gluttony (not to mention having my scone interest revived with a recent Bon Appetit article.) Tartine's version was great, substantial but not brick-like, with just a kiss of sweetness and wonderfully perfumed with the lush aromas of the currants. Round it off with a cup of freshly-brewed Four Barrel coffee and I got a blissful half-hour breakfast filled with more people-watching and art-admiring (Tartine has an exhibition of paintings in the café!) But don't fret about my just-a-scone, I snagged two deeply chocolaty brownies and a dark chocolate-roasted hazelnut tart to bring back as edible souvenirs!
Mocha Mi Su @ Citizen Cake - a dessert that's well-balanced in taste (if not in calories) the chocolate genoise cake is layered with mocha and creme fraiche mousses, creating a satisfying mix of flavors and textures that's intense without being overwhelming. Each individual layer is great on its own, but it transforms into something magically wonderful when eaten together -- the closest thing I can relate it to is a lighter, more airy mocha cheesecake w a dark chocolate crust. (Oh yeah, I also got one of their ginger cookie-creme sandwiches to go, which I had later that night -- totally kick Little Debbie's out of the ball park!)
Well, there's my (not-so) few favorite bites from just four days in San Francisco . . . and that's not even counting the entire day my friend and I spent in Sonoma County! (yes another post on that to come soon.)
Again, much thanks to the folks who provided me recs for the numerous places I've visited (and then some), including Mattatouille's Matt, Fiona of Gourmet Pigs, Virginia of ThePerfectSpotSF, Lesley of TastingTableLA, Liz from Food She Thought, Kristin of Do You Like Bubbles; much appreciated suggestions from the others as well that I wasn't able to check out -- my stay was only so long this time, but I'll surely keep them on hand for my next visit.
306 Broderick St
San Francisco, CA 94117-2275
842 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110-1737
Taylor's Automatic Refresher
1 Ferry Building # 355, San Francisco
1398 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117
1725 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
Fairmont Hotel Laurel Court Lounge
950 Mason St
San Francisco, CA 94108-6000
1148 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94103
600 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110-1528
399 Grove St
San Francisco, CA 94102-4418