A Travellerspoint blog

Food Glorious Food

I could eat!

Food. Beautiful satisfying delicious food. Comfort food. Gourmet food. Fresh food. Not so healthy food. Whatever the choice, it's all delicious.

So far this trip, we haven't done a lot of dining out. We've made some memorable meals at home, which have been just as satisfying. We've been getting up pretty late (by my standards) and not actually getting out of the house till after 10:30 or 11 a.m. There's been pastries and coffee at La Boulangerie de San Francisco.... I had a very memorable mushroom and bacon croissant and a humungous bowl of latte there. The cafe itself isn't overly decadent but it certainly has the San Francisco style about it. Wooden chairs and tables, a busy vibe and a magnificent display case of all things sweet and savoury. A pastry-aholics dream! The prices are incredibly reasonable. The aforementioned croissant and bowl of coffee was around $7.00 all up. They also had a great range of baguettes filled with all kinds of lovely stuff. I sampled a prosciutto, edam, fig and rocket baguette. It was a mini baguette measuring about 7cm long and quite narrow. The size was perfect. Cost $4.50. There are all kinds of pastries, choux puffs, tarts, pies and scones, soups and grilled sandwiches. In fact, the perfect place to stop by for a quick meal. Lots of shared tables and the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. Nothing was too much trouble for them. No sign of the slightly offhand approach some Aussie establishments have. That's one thing I'm particularly impressed with. The service everywhere over here is exemplary. These people get paid pretty much a meagre salary but you can tell they truly appreciate being employed by their attitude towards their job. It says such a lot! (Slacko Australians take note!)

Continuing on with the theme of bakeries, we decided to go to Tartine. Tartine is quite famous in San Francisco. It's located in the Mission at the corner of 18th and Guerrero. This place is an institution. It's very small and seating is at a premium. We waited in line in the chilly morning air for about 30 minutes or so before we could even get in the door. The aromas keep you going when you think you might give up and leave. The cabinet displays an eye-popping array of savoury and sweet cakes, pastries, muffins etc. It's always packed. The service is fast and efficient and genuinely enthusiastic. Three of us ordered ham and cheese croissants, croque monsieur, banana cream pie and berry and seasonal fruit brioche bread pudding. We couldn't manage the banana cream pie so we brought it home with us to have later. The croissants were so buttery and flaky. The croque monsieur was very tasty but I have to say not quite as good as last time I was here. The brioche pudding was literally to die for. The ultimate comfort food. Unfortunately we couldn't get a table to sit at so we stood at the bar which runs along the window where you can see all the people waiting in line to get in the place. And they could see us...chomping down on all the things they could only dream about at that stage. Some comical banter between us and them ensued. Oh and the coffee was GREAT. Well worth the wait to get in. We've driven by many times and there is always a big queue half way down the street to get in. There's a couple of cookbooks that are well worth having. 'Tartine' and 'Tartine Bread'.
The banana cream pie recipe is in there along with the Brioche Bread Pudding. Other delights are Lemon Meringue Cake, Passionfruit and Lime Bavarian and Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake. Lucy also made the flakiest, butteriest pastry for our Beef and Red Wine Pie, from the Tartine cookbook. You won't believe how much butter actually goes into it but oh my, it was the best pastry I've ever tasted!












A quick trip to Sausalito one day for lunch found us at "Fish". Most of the seating is outside to take advantage of the glorious summer weather but this day was bloody cold so we were lucky enough to grab a table at the counter. The kitchen is a hive of activity. Once again there was a queue out the door but it didn't take long before we were able to order. I would say from ordering to sitting down, our food arrived within ten minutes. Once again, service was great and nothing too much trouble. We ordered fish and chips. Fast, fresh and fantastic. Accompanied by a cold beer.
Our visit to Sausalito was a quick one. So many tourists it was almost uncomfortable. I always avoid the tourist traps when I come here as my main reason is to visit with Lucy and soak up the local atmosphere, so no tourist traps for me. Sausalito is a very pretty place but I don't remember it being so commercial from my days living here back in the 70's.
Fish and chips for lunch!

Late yesterday afternoon we went to the movies so opted for a takeout pizza for dinner. Pizzeria Delfina was the choice. With a couple of glasses of
Scribe (winery) Reisling. Perfect. This is true artisan pizza at its best. Not an excess of soggy, heavy topping and certainly not like bloody Domino's with a hot dog stuffed crust! I couldn't imagine anything worse! This was light and crispy tender. Not too filling but very satisfying. The flavour said it all. Top quality ingredients don't need to be disguised under bucket loads of cheese and oily crap. Once again, Australian pizzerias, take note! (Except for Mr. McGee's Spaghetti House at Sippy Downs - Rick does a FABulous pizza).
Pizza from Pizza Delfina 20151230_194730




I have to say, no one does breakfast quite like the Aussies. The only place I could find a fresh and healthy breakfast was when we prepared it ourselves at home. Unless of course you like waffles, pancakes and all manner of greasy things which are quite easily found. No disrespect intended, my USA friends, but I don't know how you can start the day eating so many carbs and fat. Don't get me wrong, I love a good bacon and egg breakfast but the addition of all the other stuff is just too much for me. When Lucy's dad visited us for a week, we had a great breakfast on Christmas Day. Aussie style.
Scrambled eggs, sourdough toast, pancetta, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes,
with avocado and a squeeze of lemon juice to finish.

I have another two weeks here. I'm looking forward to a trip to Napa soon. Lots of good food and wine to try!

Posted by SFforChristmas 07:49 Comments (0)

The Beach

Ocean Beach ain't got nothing on Aussie beaches

One very vast difference between SF and home is the beach.

It was a quiet day at the beach because it was so bloody cold. You can see by the photos that we were all rugged up but we felt like getting some nice fresh air for awhile so a walk along the beach it was. The first thing you notice is the colour of the sand. Brown, black and grey. It's hardly like the sand we know on our beautiful Queensland beaches. With absolutely no disrespect intended, it was like walking on dirt. The scenery is still lovely but being so cold and bleak, really made it a weird experience. The cloud formations were fantastic. The surf was small but there were a few diehards out there surfing in full wetsuits. It would have been very cold in the water and probably even colder coming out of the water.
Dirty sand

A cold and grey day

Great cloud formations

We walked for a couple of kilometres but our feet were getting cold just from the temperture of the cold sand so we turned around and headed back towards the car. The area surrounding the beach is called Outer Sunset. It's a quiet little place with not terribly grand buildings. More like little houses in rows all attached together. It felt kind of sleepy on the day we were there as it was so quiet. There are a few interesting shops and cafes around. We walked a reasonable way up and around and grabbed a coffee at this place.
A tiny hole in the wall with great coffee.

There was an interesting shop almost next door called "The General Store". It's full of all kinds of artisan items mostly made locally, along with books and clothing. Out the back is the most amazing little sitting area. It was almost like something out of the old west. Very interesting things to look at. We sat in the sun for a little while and absorbed the atmosphere. It was like being in another world entirely.





A nice quiet morning spent discovering new things.
It had a distinctive feel about the place, a bit hard to describe, and not really like anything we would come across near our Aussie beaches.

Posted by SFforChristmas 15:47 Comments (0)

The Week that Was

The days are flying by. The weather in San Francisco has been a mixed bag of rain, sunshine, clouds, wind, chilly and downright cold. This Queensland girl is enjoying the cooler weather but looking forward to some serious beach time when I return in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday evening was a fun night. We entertained a friend of Lucy's for her birthday along with other guests. Have to say the meal was a huge success. Fresh seared salmon with lemon and dill risotto and fresh asparagus. Lucy made a fabulous birthday cake. Mira was suitable delighted and impressed.

My first Saturday here when Lucy was finally on vacation, we decided to go down to the Ferry Building to the markets. There were not the usual crowds there but it was busy enough. I love these markets. So full of good produce. We bought a beautiful fresh wreath for the front door. A slab of home-made pancetta was purchased for our Christmas morning breakfast. Long queues of people lining up for coffee, food and other goodies. I've said before these guys love to line up for things. It astounds me that they are prepared to wait so long to purchase something. I guess they're used to it!

Saturday night saw us entertaining friends of Lucy's for dinner. A very lively conversation around the dinner table ensued with lots of laughter. It's good to see these young people so passionate about life.

On Monday night Lucy had a pottery class, which I went to also. It was fascinating to watch everyone at work. The kid is a natural. She has made some really cool stuff for a beginner. It's good that she is so passionate about it. I painted a design on one of her creations. Hopefully we will have it back from the kiln before I return to Australia. It makes me instantly want to sign up for a pottery class. I think I will sometime in the future. I want to first get a few ducks in a row when I get back. There are some crazy talented people in this world. Everywhere I've been I've really enjoyed looking at the local artwork and pottery etc. I still think the Sunshine Coast has some of the world's best potters though. Their style seems to be totally different from what I've seen here.

We bought a beautiful Christmas tree. $25 for a magnificent fresh pine tree which was great to decorate. It smells so good! You can't beat a fresh tree! We played Christmas carols while we decorated. Just me and Lucy. It was nice.

I walked uptown to have lunch at a little place called "Toast". Absolutely nothing modern about this place at all but it was simply great. I ordered a Reuben sandwich with fries with a cup of coffee. I swear it took no longer than 6 minutes from the time I ordered to receive my meal and it was great. One of the best Reuben's I've eaten.

On Tuesday we went into the city for the day just to walk around and look at the big stores and their Christmas decorations. We stopped in at the Disney store and I picked up a few things for the grandkids. Everything is so inexpensive there - I mean, ridiculously cheap - and Lucy gets a 50% discount because she works at Pixar so what we got was a real bargain. I know the kids will be very excited.

Wednesday saw us getting organised with some baking and more food shopping. Food costs have definitely increased since I was here last time. Being Winter, most fruit and vegetables are brought in from Mexico. The quality is good. We've been eating mango, which is great because I'm missing out on most of mango season in Aus. Persimmons are big here. They are SO delicious. I don't know why we don't eat more of them back home. I will definitely be searching for them locally. The avocados are huge (from Mexico) and are great quality. Dirt cheap too.

We haven't really been out to eat yet anywhere exciting. Just up to the main street of Noe Valley where we've stopped in at La Boulangerie a couple of times. They have quite good pastries and the biggest bowl of coffee I've ever seen. Literally two huge mugs of coffee in one bowl for $4.50. I am hoping we can get to Tartine pretty soon. I was blown away by what they serve last time I visited.

Christmas Eve was spent with Lucy and I running around doing last minute things. A bit of baking and wrapping a few gifts. Lucy's Dad arrived at SF Airport around 10:30 p.m. We had wine and food waiting for him. We all sat up chatting until the wee hours and finally opted for some sleep. Lucy warned us not to wake her before 8 a.m. on Christmas Day, or suffer the consequences.

Posted by SFforChristmas 17:31 Comments (0)

The First Week

Relaxing and Delicous Little Morsels

overcast 13 °C

I've been here for four days. I have to say I am completely relaxed after doing pretty much a whole lotta nothing. Each morning I've been for a walk uptown, which takes about 15 minutes. A nice walk through a lovely quiet neighbourhood up to the main street of Noe Valley where there are lot of little shops and boutiques and a great little supermarket called Whole Foods. The new IGA Marketplace stores are based loosely on this set up. They have a mind boggling array of fresh/organic food including fruit and veg and a eye-popping butchery where everything is of course, larger than life. I could definitely eat my way through the cheese department, no problem. A big variety of French cheese, the likes of which you wouldn't find in Australia...probably because of our import restrictions. The French brie (which I know we can get back home) was incredibly inexpensive. A huge slab for just over $3. There are so many others I want to try, that I had last time and still remember how delicious they were. Parmigiano Reggiano is way cheaper here than in Australia. They also sell the rinds in a tub, dirt cheap (with still a fair bit of cheese on them). I've had a lovely leisurely stroll through this market each day. Lucy is at work all this week, so it gives me a chance to just wander at my own pace. I'm definitely not a fan of American bread - the supermarket kind anyway - it tastes so sweet. Like cake! The artisan breads are great. Just as well I can buy them here because I love my bread! Then there's the supermarket etiquette. You know how we Aussies just amble along taking our time, blocking the aisles and not giving a toss about other people's needs. Well, here they are very much in tune with doing the right thing, not getting in anyone's way and they line up behind a line with a sign declaring "Line up here for Checkout 3" etc. I almost blew it the first time I went in there. I hadn't realised that people line up down the aisles where the food is....I just went straight to the checkout.....until I noticed people glaring at me. Then the penny dropped. As I've said before, these guys love lining up for things.

All in all, the shopping experience so far has been really good. Hospitality is as it should be - hospitable! We Aussies could certainly take a leaf from their book when it comes to service. None of this "Are youse right?" stuff. It's "Good morning. Please let me know if I can help you in any way".

On Wednesday I was fortunate enough to go in to work with Lucy to Pixar Animation Studios. I was last there three years ago and not much has changed except for her office and position. The place is just fabulous. Whichever is the latest movie released, there are giant statues of the characters in the foyer, on posters, in paintings etc. It's really well done. At the moment The Good Dinosaur is being featured. Can't wait to see this movie for myself. They have apparently used ground breaking technology in this movie that has never been done before in any animated movie.

In the foyer is a large display case of Oscars and Golden Globes. Quite a sight to see. The studio is behind huge closed gates with a security guard, of course. Once inside, you can tell right away that everyone is well looked after. The main cafe has a fantastic array of gourmet delights with a wood-fired pizza oven, a grill, carvery, salad bar etc. The food is very inexpensive but SO good. All top quality. Nice to see a workplace doing the right thing by their employees.

You can get to see a fair bit behind the scenes if you are accompanied by an employee. Lucky me. The halls showcase an amazing range of talent showing the ideas behind currently featured movie in drawings, sketches, videos etc. from inception to completion. There are some hugely talented people working there. There was so much more to see, which I have seen before, but time didn't allow us this time.

After a fabulous lunch at Pixar, Lucy and I headed over to Emeryville (where Pixar is located) across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco. A whole street of all different kinds of shops, boutiques, cafes etc. There was one place in particular I wanted to go to called "Charming Charlie". My two older grandkids and my daughter-in-law would go crazy in there. I bought a few lovely things for myself. I have to say the quality was amazing for such a great price. Might have to go back there before I leave to head home.

After a little shopping we went back to Pixar, where Lucy had to attend a meeting for the afternoon and evening. She arranged an Uber car for me to go back to the city. Incredibly cheap and such a nice ride. $24 and no tipping necessary. I can see why people prefer to use Uber than a taxi service.

Once home, I took advantage of the afternoon and evening to myself and just relaxed watching Netflix. USA Netflix is so much better than the Australian version. This puts us to shame.

The weather has been pretty nice so far. Only one day of rain, which was much needed apparently. Today began nicely but the fog and overcast skies have rolled in. Usually by 2:30 in the afternoon there is a definite chill in the air. This apartment is bloody freezing. Being a very old building it has no insulation, therefore the cold comes right through the walls. Right now, at 3:30 in the afternoon I have four layers of clothes on. It's going to be a cold night! The temperature outside is 13C but I'm sure it's colder than that inside!

Tonight sees me babysitting a friend's one year old daughter, Georgia Lee, who is just as cute as can be. Met her the other day and an instant bond was formed. At least their apartment has heat so I'm not going to mind it one bit!

The aroma of sweet smelling melting moments is filling the kitchen so i think a cuppa is in order and a sample taste test.

I'm looking forward to one more day here alone. Lucy starts three weeks' holiday tomorrow aftenoon. We have lots to see and do and lots of entertaining to do. Bring it on!

Posted by SFforChristmas 15:41 Archived in USA Tagged chilly supermarkets baking pixar the_good_dinosaur lining_up Comments (0)

San Francisco

Day 1

Sunday was a very quiet day. It was raining and cool which made it a good day to not do too much and just relax. Lucy and I went up to Whole Foods market to get some groceries as her cupboard and fridge were quite bare. Cheese, wine, yummy stuff we headed home.

We went to meet some friends a bit later at an upscale mini market at Heath Ceramics in the Mission district. Huge and beautiful urban looking factory space which had some great stalls set up with vendors promoting and selling their wares. Really high-end, beautiful things. From jewellery and hand woven fabrics to face creams and antiques. There are some very talented people here.

Lucy's friend, Mira, came back to our place where we opened the wine and had some delicious cheese. A great soft goat cheese, cheddar, French brie and a local blue. Great, lively conversation ensued. Mira is a real sweetheart. I'm looking forward to spending lots more time with her.

Made a huge pot of chicken soup which will last us for days. Lucy's been sick for a week with laryngitis etc. and not feeling up to scratch so chicken soup is just what the doctor ordered. Teamed it with crusty ciabatta for dinner. It was as good as it looked!


Posted by SFforChristmas 15:00 Comments (0)

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