16 January 2010

30 Days and 30 Nights (San Francisco Part 5)

Maiden Lane, San Francisco
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I know, I know. I skip out for a week and a half and come back with a travel post!!! I just spent so much time filtering through hundreds of pictures from San Francisco and editing a fraction of that and still managed to end up with material for maybe three posts, so I thought I'd get a head start on writing about that before I forget. But how can I forget about San Francisco? It's not just about the sun and the culture, but also one of the places I consider home. I called this post 30 days and 30 nights because that's exactly how much time I spent in the United States when I landed last August. Part of the time was spent in Greenville, North Carolina. Above is a picture taken on Maiden Lane (and how), where all the high-end boutiques are.

Tartine - Raspberry Tart
Why not start our short foodie tour with a thing of beauty? I know I've talked about Tartine (600 Guerrero) countless times, so it shouldn't surprise you that I went a few more times to eat breakfast. And having a delicious fresh fruit tart with raspberries at their peak? Can rarely be beaten. At least for breakfast.
Tartine - Zucchini Bread
And here is another morning (YES, I don't eat all these in one go, even though sometimes I do, urp) when I ate their zucchini bread instead. I also prepared it out of the cookbook-- a post for another time-- for my San Francisco family maybe, uh, five times. It's just that good. This one from the bakery had a hint of apricot preserves, though I'm not a fan of walnuts.
That same day I went to the Ferry Market Building, and I took a few clandestine shots of Culinaire for Duncan but the ones of actual pastry paraphernalia didn't turn out so well. Happens when you hold your camera awkwardly.
Frog Hollow Farm
Frog Hollow Farm - Popsicle
Claire went here before she left for France and was raving about the parfait she had at Frog Hollow Farm at the Ferry Market Building, but I just couldn't stomach much more, so I had to settle for a refreshing all-natural and very fruity popsicle.
Piperade - Tuna Sandwich
I've heard good things about Piperade (1015 Battery), which is owned by famous Basque chef Gerald Hirigoyen (author of Pintxos). I ordered the tuna sandwich with roasted red peppers and onion marmalade off the big plates, and it was a delight to eat. Unfortunately I'm still being stubborn about my allergy to raw seafood and my itchy esophagus was keen to remind me (sushi-lovers: there's just no way out, sorry. Even the finest restaurants have given me this reaction). The service was so attentive (well, I was the only one there) that at one point I thought that Hirigoyen himself was serving me. DUH
Slanted Door
Slanted Door - Grilled Tiger Prawns
At the Ferry Market Building I had a great lunch at Slanted Door. Now, many people have sneered at SD for not being authentic and conning people and I thought I would be one of them, but I just discovered that if the food tastes really good, I really don't care. Or maybe, I would care if they claimed to be authentic, which SD does not. I mistakenly ordered the grilled tiger prawns over rice noodles with vegetarian imperial roll, cucumber and mint ($12) thinking that it was what the other servers were carrying, but it turns out that it was the Niman Ranch shaking beef ($28), so I appreciate that I was able to economize. :) Regardless, I had a delicious lunch, so who cares, right?
Slanted Door - bar
The bar at the Slanted Door. Lone wolves like me appreciate the liberated seating :)
Minamoto Kitchoan San Francisco
Oribenishiki (Minamoto Kitchoan)
A new shop just opened on Market Street, with a giant sign that just said "Japanese Sweets". It turns out that it's the local outpost for fine Japanese sweet producer Minamoto Kitchoan (648 Market). It just so happened that I'm in a wagashi-crazy phase, so I had to go for my first one. Unfortunately what I wanted (the Usagi, or bunny-shaped yuzu confections) were not sold in singles, and I didn't want to spend $20 for 7 or so. So I ordered one Oribenishiki (red bean jam and chestnut cake), which tasted pretty darn good, considering I'm not into the sweet bean scene. Oribe-nishiki is some sort of homage to the fine woven brocades introduced to Japan in 238 A.D. ("nishiki" meaning "beautiful combinations of colors"), though I don't think it has anything to do with the ingredients; just a fancy name. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Luce wine bar
For now we'll end this with what is perhaps my first lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant (and actually, I believe, my only one). I was invited by the kind Thip to try out her desserts, so I took my aunt (and her friend) and my uncle to Luce (888 Howard, 1st floor of the Intercontinental). The menu's changed now and I forgot to download the menu. Oops! Full disclosure: the desserts were comped by Thip but the meal itself was not.
Luce - Short ribs papardelle with wild mushrooms
My order: Organic Papardelle, braised Niman Ranch short ribs, wild mushrooms. I hate using words like these to describe dishes I really like, but OMG BEST PASTA EVER. I can't get it out of my head. I've even tried sneakily hinting to Thip to have her colleague share the secret, to no avail. I'm not yet well-versed with braising and sauces, so I've been having difficulty. I've made a good pasta dish along the way in my emulation but it doesn't come close.
Luce - Catch of the Day
Luce - Grilled tenderloin
Luce - Surf and Turf tartare
Other orders: Catch of the Day, Slow Cooked Lucky Dog Ranch Beef Tenderloin "Medium Rare," Parsnip and Brussels Sprout, "Ocean And Land" surf and turf carpaccio, black olive ice cream.
Luce - Rhubarb Napoleon
My dessert (though there was a lot of passing and sharing amidst all the mmms and ooohs): Rhubarb Napoleon (mascarpone, honey caramel, basil gelato)
Luce - Chocolate Egg
Chocolate "Egg": hot coco, macaroon chocolate "bonbon" and blueberry financier. Love the pairing. Most passed-around.
Luce - Corn dessert
Corn dessert from the corn-centric tasting menu at the time.
Luce - Blueberry Financier
Blueberry financier... and... damn, I forgot what kind of sorbet. Help, Thip! (To be fair I don't even think this was on the menu! ;)

I'm glad my first Michelin star experience was a very, very good one. Luce doesn't regularly appear on San Francisco gastronomic lists (notably and disappointingly this guide, so I'm glad to have discovered this relatively hidden gem. Thanks so much for the invite, Thip! You guys rock! (psst... pasta ;)

Next San Francisco write-up: Best meal for $11 (or less) EVER. But before that, more recipes. Thanks for reading!

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