Recently in San Francisco category

Smitten Ice Cream

strawberry ice cream with white balsamic vinegar

Whenever I land in San Francisco, I invariably arrive with a number of places to visit that I want to tick off my list. As I’ve learned from previous experience, it’s just not possible to go everywhere – especially when you have to wait up to 45 minutes for a bus to come, making a round-trip to an ice cream shop a full afternoon event.

I was joking that I need to move back to San Francisco just to see – and eat – everything that I want to see and eat. And adding on to that are the places that everyone kindly recommends that I visit as well. But no matter how many places I do manage to get to, invariably a number of messages come in, beginning with “Oh, but you should have gone to…”

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Chez Panisse Anniversary Weekend

olives

Well, the anniversary fête for Chez Panisse finally came to an end and I was more than glad that I came for the weekend of events. From the moment I had my first sip of Bandol rosé on Friday afternoon to the big final blow-out event for the hundreds of people who’d worked in the restaurant and café on Sunday, hoo-boy, the weekend marked a milestone in my life. And although Alice Waters swore there wouldn’t be another anniversary celebration like this, I’ve learned never to count out this fiercely determined woman.

heirloom tomatochez panisse glass
chez panisse 40plum tart

One of the main things I learned at the restaurant, and from Alice, was that less is more. I’m as guilty as the next person of saying this, but when I hear people say they didn’t like a restaurant because they left and were still hungry, I’m glad that I no longer feel the need to qualify a restaurant based on how distended by stomach feels. Yes, we eat the feed ourselves, but I’m not so sure the hype about extreme eating and so forth have had all that many positive effects on society and our health. During breakfast with a friend at a local café, I was amazed at the amount of food on the plate that was presented to me. (Although I did somehow manage to eat it all, as well as the heaping plate of carnitas I had the day before. So I should keep my mouth shut, in more ways than one.)

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Camino Restaurant

marinated lamb leg

When I started working at Chez Panisse way back in 1983, from the moment we opened the doors at 5pm for dinner, the place was packed. I worked in the café upstairs, which opened because the restaurant downstairs had become a little more formal than anticipated and since the original idea for Chez Panisse was to be a casual dining spot, they opened a café with a no-reservations policy.

At the time, Chez Panisse was garnering a lot of publicity across America and everyone wanted to eat there. So a line formed outside of people waiting for that moment, at 5pm, when the host would go downstairs and open the front door to let everybody in.

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Fish & Farm

I don’t know why, but on my recent trip to San Francisco, I was having a really hard time remembering the name of the restaurant called Fish & Farm. Maybe it was the jet-lag, or all the chocolate and cookies that were coming at me from all angles.

chocolate-covered florentines

But I kept calling the restaurant Farm & Fish.

Or Fish Farm. Or Farm and Fowl.

Aside from having a hard time trying to find a listing for a restaurant about fish farming, because of the offbeat name, I thought the Fish Farm was somewhere in the outer Mission, one of the fringe neighborhoods of San Francisco. Not right downtown, in the gentle theater district.

tater tots

When we pulled up to the restaurant, I was surprised at how slender it was. (What was I expecting? A farm? A hydroponic tank?) But then I was glad, because it’s small size gave them the luxury of spending more time on the food for each guest.

tattoage

Doubly-inked chef Chad Newton sources as much of the food as possible as close to the restaurant as he can.

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Four More from San Francisco

burritto

If it seems to you like all that I’ve been doing since I arrived back in San Francisco has been eating, you’re right. San Francisco really is the best food city in the world, and as I walk around, (…er…I’m in California..) I mean, as I drove around, and visit my favorite restaurants and markets, I often wonder if I could move back here.

castillito

I’ve been loving all the food and great restaurants: the quality of ingredients, many locally-grown with pride, and the attention to quality, continues to astound. I keep walking by piles of colorful heirloom tomatoes or flats of juicy-ripe figs, and although I’ve seen all those things when I lived here before, I’m still completely in awe of the bounty of the Bay Area.

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Nopalito & Contigo

Last week, when I spoke at the Blogher Food conference, positioned on stage between Ree and Elise, I was sure during the moments when I was going on and on, everyone was biding their time, waiting for me to shut my trap, so they could get back to listening to the other two.

carnitas

Then I made an announcement that seemed to grab a bit of attention: I said that there were about forty-one blog posts started on my computer, which seemed to get quite the reaction from more than a few of the couple of hundred bloggers in the room. A good portion of those posts will never see the light of anyone else’s computer screen. But inspiration strikes me at odd times, and I’ll just start hammering away when I think of something to write about. I’m certain I’ll get back to it a day or two later, only to never get back to it at all. And now, my desktop is littered with half-written posts and other illiterate detritus.

carnitas at Nopalito

When I did a reading in Paris a few months back, someone asked me a good question about what are some of the things I’d miss about Paris if I moved away. Which actually made the to the finish line and became a post.

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Nopa: The Burger That Knocks It Out of the Ballpark

The search ended abruptly Friday night at Nopa.

nopa burger

It’s one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco, and my pal Matt and I decided to have a boy’s night out while the planets were aligned and we were both in town at the same time. Even before I saw a menu, I knew I wanted the burger and after a plate of incredibly tasty Padrón peppers (which, if you haven’t tried, you should hop on a plane to try right now—and that’s coming from someone that dislikes peppers, almost across-the-board) and a couple of Sidecars (Matt’s with rum, mine with Armagnac), my burger finally landed. And ho-boy, what a beauty*.

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Burger #1

The one thing I crave almost every day is a good burger. Oddly, I rarely ate burgers when I lived in the states. But for some reason nowadays, I just can’t get enough. Go figure.

sf burger

So we went to Serpentine, whose burger was exalted in the virtual world, as well as in print. For some reason, as soon as we sat down, I was craving a cocktail. I haven’t had a cocktail in ages since aside from Mojitos, Parisians don’t drink mixed drinks.

(I once made Cosmopolitans for my friends and they barely got halfway through the first one without becoming close to falling-down drunk. And when you live in a rooftop apartment, having inebriated people milling around your place—or worse, stepping out on the roof for a smoke, is not really a good thing.)

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