There is a lot of great food associated with San Francisco. And rightly so. Hidden among those monstrous mountains the locals refer to as hills lie some of the city’s finest secrets. This was actually my third visit to this beautiful city by the bay and I was determined to eat as much as my gluttonous soul could hold.
I think by now you know I like food. Some people cannot walk by a jewelry store window without stopping to look at the sparklies; my friends will tell you that I can’t ever walk past a bakery without gazing longingly upon the pastries.
That goes for restaurants too. I get carried away when I see portable food like those pot pies I mentioned in Day 3. I had a couple of pies left over (thank goodness for an in-room fridge) and yes, I ate it cold. My breakfast:
I really enjoyed my spinach and feta pot pie even though it was cold. The whole wheat crust was a little on the tough side, though whether that was due to its overnight stay in the fridge or the whole wheat flour remains to be seen. It did make me wish I had a toaster oven (I swear the guy in the hotel room next to mine had one- I smelled pizza rolls one night!) because if it tasted as good hot as it did cold, I probably would have swooned. Not too salty, not too feta-y, and the spinach made me feel better about eating a pasty for breakfast.
I just realized I never gave my opinion on the curried potato pasty! It was pretty damned good but then I’m really partial to curry. Most of Peasant Pies‘ pot pie menu is vegetarian and they also offer vegan selections. I’m neither vegetarian nor vegan but it’s nice to have veggie options. It made me want to make my own curried potato pasties. Soon, my pretty. Soon.
I’d been hearing a lot of raves about Ella’s chicken hash and of course I had to taste for myself. During my brief wait for a table, I got to chatting with a woman who was visiting from Brooklyn and so we passed a few pleasant minutes discussing our reasons for coming to Ella’s Restaurant and favorite breakfast places back home.
I was a little put off by the busser who told me the kitchen was closing in ten minutes and that I needed to hurry to put my order in. I must be the only person who thinks the kitchen should close when the last customer (I was actually third to last, I think) is ready to place his/her order. Anyway, I ordered two eggs over easy with my chicken hash and thick-sliced whole wheat toast.
Tasty! Look at the gorgeous crust on that hash!
I thought this was so cute. I vastly preferred scooping my ketchup out to squeezing a bottle and spattering it all over the place.
Housemade orange marmalade. I usually dislike marmalade but was really impressed with Ella’s version. Yum!
Next stop: Bi-Rite Creamery. But first a loooong walk north to Cow Hollow to get a much-needed manicure and pedicure. I typically don’t get manicures as they never ever last more than a day thanks to all the hand washing I do. Pedicures, on the other hand, last for two weeks.
Hmm. Now it sounds like I never wash my feet.
That’s Divisidero Street (Cow Hollow is in the background) and by the time I got to this point, I was panting and glad I’d ignored my vain impulse to bring heels on this trip. Those San Francisco mountain-hills are no joke; I am pretty sure I could have bounced a quarter off my ass by the time I left SF.
I’m a big ol’ nerd so I’d already researched one of the best cheap nail places in town called City Famous Spa. While they don’t have a website, they did get rave reviews on Yelp, and who am I to argue with Yelpers? Only for my vanity would I unknowingly schlep up a 20° incline though I didn’t know just how steep this hill was until I was climbing it.
This appeared to be my day to disagree with the rest of the world; the pretty pale pink polish was a bit streaky, though Tina (the owner) was extremely meticulous about keeping it off the sides of my nails. As for my toes, I can’t get close enough to them to pronounce a verdict one way or the other. *embarrassed*
Despite the slight streakiness, I can see why City Famous gets such wonderful reviews: Tina and her crew give the kind of customer service I typically associate with the more hoity-toity salons. In fact, they are WAY more thoughtful and pleasant to interact with than the staff at the Peninsula in New York, where I once dropped $75 for a pedicure I could have gotten at my local joint for $30. Tina might not have done a superlative job on my nails but she really made up for it with enthusiasm, friendliness, and warmth, and that’s enough reason for me to go back for a pedicure the next time I’m in San Francisco.
Now if only I could remember what color I’d chosen that day. . .
After the world’s friendliest mani/pedi, I hopped on the MUNI bus that would take me to my beloved Bi-Rite Creamery. If you get their regular-sized cup or cone, you can get up to three scoops of ice cream. I’m not graceful enough to eat an ice cream cone without wearing it, so I stick with the cups. Bi-Rite Creamery is famous for their salted caramel ice cream, and rightly so, but I tell you, try their lavender-honey as well as the Earl Grey ice creams. Just do it. Get all three. They are sublime. So orgasmic, I can only write in stilted sentences. Totally worth the calories.
Now that I’d had my pre-dinner dessert, where was I going to enjoy my evening repast? Why, Cafe Claude, of course! (sorry about the pictures, it was pretty dim in there)
I sat at the bar where I could ogle the cute bartender and ordered one of the house cocktails, the Egalité:
I decided since I’d already spent oodles of money that day, I might as well go whole hog and have a four-course meal. I started with the betterave again, which you’ve already seen.
You know what’s funny? I don’t especially like liver but I just love pâté. And guess what was on their menu?? Diners have the option of choosing one pâté or a sampler of three pâtés from the following:
Pâté Campagne 6.
country style pork pate flavored with black pepper
and red wine
Rillette du Périgord 6.
pork free, shredded all-natural duck meat, duck fat seasoned & cooked confit style
Truffle Mousse 6.
a creamy all-natural petaluma poultry chicken livers, truffles and cèpes marinated in sherry
Sauterne Mousse 6.
creamy all-natural petaluma poultry chicken liver, truffles and cepes marinated in sherry
I utterly adore both truffle mousse (really, who says no to truffles?) and Sauterne mousse, so those were a given, although the menu makes it sound like it’s the same thing. Maybe it is, but who cares? It’s good! However, I’d never had duck rillettes and decided this was my chance. Plus, what’s the point of going out to eat if you only eat what you know?
The truffle mousse was creamy with a slight peppery bite that followed the earthiness of the truffles. I could have made a whole meal out of this, it was so satisfying. Ditto for the Sauterne mousse, though it was more sweet and mild. I can’t figure out why I didn’t love the rillette du Périgord though; I love duck, so why would I not like the rillette? Oh well, there’s no accounting for taste, is there? I was starting to get full and hadn’t even gotten to my main course.
I enjoyed this very much though I think it was a bit too heavy on the shiitake mushrooms- it’s got such a distinctive flavor that a little goes a long way. Otherwise it was really well done. The pasta was tender and flavorful, and it was just the right portion size: not gigantic but not puny either.
And for dessert: Café Claude’s crème brŭlée.