delicious discourse

california dreaming

Posted in Uncategorized by delicious:discourse on February 6, 2009

The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Hello there. It has been quite some time. My apologies, but I’ve been busy dreaming and adventuring. The Holidays were filled with Hawaiian sun, salty ocean air, fresh fruits, lots of fish, and the leisurely pace and passing of time on the islands. My latest adventure, or should I say our, took us up to San Francisco and Big Sur to celebrate a very special 3-0 birthday. (Not mine of course. Take another guess.)

Arriving Wednesday morning, after meeting up with two friends (B and R), checking into our Union Square hotel, and freshening up (which was hardly necessary with cool, infinitely sunny, clear as far as the eye can see, weather, which is refreshing all on its own), we headed to North Beach in search of a cozy cafe for some cappuccinos and some breakfast food. With impatient rumblings, we walked into Boulangerie. Any skepticism I may have had walking into a random cafe disappeared when they brought R’s large cappuccino in a bowl the size of my head, followed by my granola with fruit and yogurt proportioned to feed three. The homemade granola was fresh, nutty, and with big chunks of oat clusters and the yogurt was clearly Greek and so thick, creamy, and slightly sweet I contemplated painting the walls with it.

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Cappuccino & Croissant fron Boulangerie, North Beach

Granola w/fruit and yogurt from Boulangerie, North Beach

Granola w/fruit and yogurt from Boulangerie, North Beach

Later that day, Tartine Bakery in the Mission District proved the perfect restoration after a day of site-seeing (Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, the Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge). Small and packed, the place came recommended by a friend of a friend who knows his stuff after working in the Bouchon Las Vegas kitchen for a year. Deciding on hydration over caffeination, I skipped the coffee menu, which R, a connaisseur of sorts, opted for and I believe thoroughly enjoyed. The banana tea bread proved satiating with a thick and nutty crust. Matt and I shared the Jambon Royale & Gruyere pressed sandwich with Niman Ranch cured smoked ham and Dijon mustard, which arrived cut into three pieces and served with a whole, pickled carrot. Famous for their bread, the sandwich proved out of this world, with its thick crust and combination of flavors. For dessert, R, who diligently does not eat fruit of any kind, ordered a slice of the Passion Fruit Lime Bavarian cake, which is topped with coconut. The sponge of the cake was light, as was the sweetened cream frosting, all laced with the flavor of the passion fruit, and the flaked coconut adding texture. He does eat fruit after all. Needless to say, there was not a crumb left on that plate. Tartine, I will be back.

Tartine Bakery in the Mission District

Tartine Bakery in the Mission District

Jambon Royale & Gruyere, Tartine Bakery

Jambon Royale & Gruyere, Tartine Bakery

For the big birthday dinner we dined at Nopa for a casual, loud, energetic atmosphere and killer cocktails. Before I left for the trip, a wise colleague told me to stay away from the wine list, not because it wasn’t good (I am sure it is) but because they are known for their cocktails. The favorite among the several we tried was the Pirata, a brilliant concoction of tequila blanco, galliano, blackberry, creole shrub, lemon juice, and black pearl bitters. Boy, were they good:) The meal started with the warm goat cheese, pickled beets, frisee and crostini—a warm pot of goat cheese served with crostinis and pieces of beautiful pickled beets. Matt decided to celebrate achieving 30 (we are staying positive) with a grass-fed hamburger served with pickled onions and impressive french fries. However, it was evident that he was crazy with jealousy at the housemade cannelloni R and I both ordered, stuffed with sausage and cheese and smothered in a creamy tomato sauce. B swore by the Moroccan vegetable tagine she ordered accented with almonds and lemon yogurt, claiming she would eat it at least once a week if she could. Appropriately arriving with a single candle (to celebrate life instead of years), the pecan tart with “smoke and whiskey” ice cream proved comforting and intriguing. I had never had smoky ice cream before and it was oddly, with the combination of the pecan tart, like a take on a very different and much more complicated s’more.

The next day, 30 plus 1 as we were calling it, took us on a road trip to Big Sur and an inaugural sunset at Point Lobos. The following day after an 8-mile hike in the warm sunshine unusual for the time of year, we sought solace in another mesmerizing sunset and cold libations (a.k.a. painkillers) at cliffside-Nepenthe. I don’t know if it was the long day or if the bartender has major margarita talent, but the one I had went down just right and took all the aches and pains away.

Big Sur sunset from the patio at Nepenthe

Big Sur sunset from the patio at Nepenthe

Saturday sadly took us away from the big, serene beauty of Big Sur and back to the City, but not without a much needed stop at In-N-Out. My first fast-food burger proved to be a good one, maybe because I knew to order it animal style (grilled onions and special sauce), but I was more in awe as R downed two claiming he needed to stock up (they don’t have In-N-Out in Hawaii).

In need of a lite afternoon fix, at the recommendation of B’s sister who lives in the City, we took a walk up the Haight  to Coco Luxe, a hot chocolate bar. Thinking I was ordering just a regular latte, I accidentally ended up with a white-chocolate-hot chocolate with an espresso shot and I am glad I did. It provided rich warmth in the waning sunlight and its sweetness was pure and addictive. The Peanut Butter truffle was surprisingly not filled with just peanut butter, but a delectable blend of milk chocolate and peanut butter.

Truffles from Coco Luxe in the Haight

Truffles from Coco Luxe in the Haight

For our farewell-to-San Francisco meal, we drowned out sorrows at Mexico DF with good margaritas and strawberry mojitos. To accompany our drinks, we welcomed the Classico guacamole served with thick tortilla chips. Feeling adventurous, Matt and I split the Cabrito (goat) tacos made with Marin Sun Farms barbacoa-style, grass-fed goat. Never having had goat before, the flavor surprised me and I struggle to compare it to any other meat I have had. It is not sweet like lamb, gamier than beef or pork, and it has a very distinct flavor. The tacos were delicious and very unusual. Such a nice change form the Tex Mex we get around Texas.

The trip was filled with images, tastes, smells, joy, and freedom I will always remember. We did so much in four days, but there is still so much to do, discover, and inhale. I may be back in Texas, but for the time being, my dreams remain in California.

Big Sur, California (a.k.a. my current desktop background)

Big Sur, California (a.k.a. my current desktop background)

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