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Great Addresses for Food and Eating in San Francisco

I was trying to explain to a French friend what a ‘foodie’ is, and he was looking at me like I was nuts. I guess when you live in a country that’s full of people that live to eat, the concept of people not into eating is a bit odd.

So, for lack of a better introduction, here are my ‘foodie’ addresses for places that I visited and good things that I tasted while in San Francisco:

Charles Chocolates

When someone handed me an unusually heavy sack emblazoned with the name ‘Charles Chocolates‘ on it, I wanted to run home with in and dive right in! I’ve been jealous reading reports of Chuck Siegel’s magnificent confections from other bloggers and let me tell you: Chuck’s chocolate are worth the wait.

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My hands-down favorites were the Triple Chocolate Almonds; California almonds roasted and enrobed in both milk and dark chocolate. Superb! There was a stack of tablets of chocolate in there too, flavored with caramelized rice and candied ginger that I’ve schlepped back to Paris to share.

But the most stunning were two heavy boxes, crafted entirely of chocolate, and filled with a luscious selection of Chuck’s best and more dazzling creations. One was his Tea Collection with tea-scented chocolates (think Osmanthus blossoms and charcoal-fired Oolong tea), while the other had such diverse tastes as passion fruit and salted peanut butter. They were so good, you’ll want to eat the box. Luckily you can.

Charles Chocolates
Westfield San Francisco Center
3rd Floor, Bloomingdale’s side
(888) 652-4412

panna cotta

Delfina

This is my must-stop restaurant when I come to San Francisco. The problem is, I can never get in. Luckily my good pals came to the rescue and we dined like celebrities (like Jake Gyllenhall, who was seated across the dining room, unnoticed by everyone but us. I thought Joy was going to drop her kid right then and there.)

Starting with marinated sardines, moving on to heaping bowls of pasta, then finishing with perhaps the best version of Panna Cotta I’ve ever had, it’s hard to have less than a stellar meal at Delfina.

And having charming, if distracted, company…and Jake Gyllenhall to look at, certainly doesn’t hurt either.

Delfina
3621 18th Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 552-4055

Nopa

This is my newest must-stop restaurant in San Francisco (I’m allowed a couple…aren’t I?) And by the looks of things, I’m not alone. Laurence Jossel paid his dues at some of the best dining spots in the city before opening Nopa and he’s got a winner on his hands. In a formerly dicey area (my old neighborhood), diners and chefs from other restaurants now come from all over to gather at the large table to share dinner, or to cozy up in a booth. (Warning: The noise level can be daunting. Request upstairs if you want some calm.)

How can you not love starting a meal with a frosty martini alongside perfectly-salted, hyper-crispy French fries with harissa dipping sauce ending with a bowl of sugared donut holes? Nopa makes me almost want to move back to San Francisco. If I could only persuade Laurence to open in Paris…*sigh*

Nopa
560 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 864-8643

Citizen Cake

I’m sure I’m not the only one anxiously awaiting Elizabeth Falkner’s upcoming book, Demolition Desserts. But for those of us who’ve been enjoying Elizabeth’s desserts for years, we’ve been relishing her tasty treats at Citizen Cake.

(Disclaimer: I have a major crush on Elizabeth Falkner for years.)

Continue Reading Great Addresses for Food and Eating in San Francisco…

Austin, Texas

Before I high-tail it outta Austin, I thought I’d share a few things I ate while here. The tour of ice cream shops around town will have to wait until I’m back home, but there were plenty of other things to sample….

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Austin is the hip town…or city, in Texas. I say ‘town’ because it feels more like a big town than the capital of the state. There’s lot of quirky people here; tattoos, piercings, and general goofiness seems to be the norm and celebrated by all. No complaints from me either! Of course, there’s also some mighty fine Tex-Mex food, including unending bowls of chips and salsa, which are dangerous when heaped in front of me. I can’t resist polishing off the entire basket. And if there’s a margarita (or two) involved, all bets are off on how many I’ll pound down.

(That’s baskets of the chips, not the margaritas. Those I need to limit myself to one or two of. Unless they’re really, really good. Then I can perhaps manage an extra one, just to be polite.)

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Migas, a lively scramble of eggs and crispy corn tortillas is my breakfast of choice (hmmm…crisp corn tortillas…anyone else see a trend?) I like mine sitting at the counter at Las Manitas, one of the last diner-style restaurants left in town. It seems almost all of Austin converges here for their hearty breakfasts, accompanied by endless amounts of the all-American bottomless mug of coffee, a habit I quickly reverted back to.

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3 San Francisco Ethnic Eateries

You can find good Vietnamese food in Paris, and there are a couple of nice addresses for Chinese food as well, but if there’s a good Korean bbq in the City of Light, that kalbi has yet to singe my lips.

When I come back to San Francisco, people ask me if I’m interested in trying the newest, hottest, most au courant restaurants in town. In general, I bypass those places and make a beeline for the ethnic joints when in town. And one of the best Korean bbq’s in San Francisco is located across from the Japan Center: Korea House.

Korea House

Hike upstairs into a large dining room, and slide into a booth equipped with a coal-fired grill. Seconds after you place your order, the waitress reappears with a multitude of tiny bowls filled with everything from spicy-red kimchi to cubes of quivering agar-agar jelly. I’ve learned if you have any Korean friends, it’s definitely good to invite them along, since you’re liable to get a few extra banchan that you might not normally be offered.

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Bi-Rite Creamery

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I am such an idiot. I won’t tell you who, but years back, someone with a thriving restaurant on 18th Street in San Francisco alerted me to a great business opportunity nearby. Food-related, of course. I passed, and now the area is the culinary destination in the Bay Area.

(Aside from the taqueria on Church Street across from the Afeway…)

Although I missed the proverbial boat, I’m glad to see the smart folks at Bi-Rite Creamery scooping up some excellent ice cream in that neighborhood. I sampled just about all of them, from the fruity Cherry-Almond to the most curious Soy Chocolate. There’s a seductive Salted Caramel and a Butter Pecan as well. But my absolute, hands-down favorite scoop was the Mint Chip. Flavored with organic mint oil, it’s a big dose of refreshingly cool mint with big, honkin’ chunks of housemade chocolate chards. Think the best kind of Girl Scout cookies all mashed together and piled in a cone. Yum!

There’s plenty of toppings to choose from at Bi-Rite Creamery, but where there are salty little grains of fleur de sel enrobed in dark chocolate from Michael Recchiuti, why order anything else?

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street
San Francisco, CA

(For those who can’t make it to Bi-Rite Creamery, their most popular recipes can be found in their book, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones.)

Lisbon

If anyone of you has been planning to go to Portugal, I’d say “Don’t walk…run!” to get there. Except that’s perhaps only possible if you live close by, in Spain. And in which case, you’d probably take the train.

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Here’s some various and sundry impressions and images from my trip. Apologies to any Portuguese folks for mangling their language. And thanks to the readers who offered ideas for places to go and things to eat. I would agree that Lisbon is a terrific place to spend a few days, but if you go, it’s worth either renting a car or taking the train to explore some of the beaches and small towns outside of the city.

And if you don’t learn any other word in Portuguese, the most important word in the language is churrasquiera….or ‘barbeque’.

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What I love most about Lisbon is that there’s still plenty of relics from the decades of the recent past, namely bits and pieces of art nouveau and art deco everywhere. And the tilework, which you can find all around the city is marvelous, constantly surprising and very colorful.

Equally marvelous, and edible to boot, are natas; small custard-based tartlets meant to be consumed en masse. Believe me, if I could’ve fit all three into my mouth at once I would have. No one is shy in Lisbon: you simply belly-up to the counter and order a plateful.

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Although they vary in quality from place to place in Lisbon, some of the best natas and other pastries are at Pastelaria Versailles.

Continue Reading Lisbon…

I’m Gonna Be A Lisbion

I’m heading to Lisbon soon.
Anyone got any must-do tips or casual restaurant suggestions?

If so, please leave ‘em in the comments….

Saúde!

Paris Ice Cream Shops: Les Glaciers de Paris

Here’s my address book for the most popular and some favorite places for ice cream in Paris. I update the list from time to time, and for the most up-to-date information, check out my Paris Pastry app, which lists over 300 of my favorite places in the city for ice cream, chocolate, pastries, and hot chocolate.

Raimo

In addition to these glaciers, some of the pâtisseries make their own exceptionally-good ice cream which they’ll scoop up from freezers parked on the sidewalks outside during the summer. Some of the best include Kayser, La Maison du Chocolat, and A La Mère de Famille.

Many of the places keep curious hours, some of which I’ve noted. Most don’t open until mid-morning, and one, Deliziefollie, simply closed for the winter while Berthillon closes mid-July for the summer. I’ve listed phone numbers so you can call in advance.

Passionfruit sorbet

Berthillon

Little needs to be said about Berthillion that hasn’t already been said. This most-famous of all Parisian glaciers makes what many consider the best ice cream in the world. Go see for yourself! I was a fan of their glace chocolat until I saw the light and switched to the chocolat amer sorbet, which has the deep intensity of chocolate but without the distraction of cream. Their Caramel Ice Cream is excellent, but I think the Caramel-Buerre-Salé doesn’t measure up to it. The fruit sorbets are excellent and the one made with tiny wild strawberries, fraises des bois, is worth the supplement.

Berthillon is served at many cafés in Paris, and other locations near the original also scoop it up, which is helpful when they’re closed. Beware of other storefronts nearby which some people confusing think serve glace Berthillon as well. (They’ll always display a Berthillon logo if they do.)

Berthillon
31, rue Saint-Louis-en-l’Ile (4th)
Tél: 01 43 54 31 61
Métro: Pont Marie or Sully-Morland
(Closed Mondays and Tuesdays, the second half of July and all of August.)


Amorino

Popular with tourists and locals, Amorino does quite the business, making delicate ‘flowers’ of gelato on cones. Interesting flavors include Bacio, the Italian-style ‘kiss’ of hazelnuts and chocolate and Amarena, candied sour cherries embedded in vanilla custard. Those of you who are lactose-intolerant can find digestive comfort in Amoriso which they say is made with rice and rice milk. Twelve boutiques in Paris.

Amorino
31, rue Vieille du Temple (4th)
Tél: 01 42 78 07 75
Métro: St. Paul or Hôtel de Ville

Pozzetto

More often than not, you’ll find me at Pozzetto, waiting from my scoop of sticky gelato in a cone being handed through the window to me.

Continue Reading Paris Ice Cream Shops: Les Glaciers de Paris…

Delving Deeper Into Coffee

Because I’m out of my mind, once I get something stuck in my craw, I’m not okay until I get it all figured out once and for all. I guess that’s why I’m a baker. Because I’m insane. When I got my new espresso maker, I became obsessed with that too, and I needed to figure out how to pull the best espresso out of it as I could, like they do in Italy.

So what did I do? I went to Italy.
Mais oui.

Coffee

Although I got a lot of questions answered there, new ones kept popping up when I got home. And when I posted about my trip there were some enlightening comments, especially from Greg Sherwin of CoffeeRatings.com. I clicked away, delving deeper into his site where there was much top-notch information and we began corresponding.

Continue Reading Delving Deeper Into Coffee…