Last year at this time (what is supposed to be the onset of Spring, which is a bit of a tease in the northeast) I wrote a short article recapturing the foods that I had been stuck on during the changing of the seasons in the West Village. This month I find myself in a new city, on a different coast, where variety is a given and seasonal produce is omnipresent. San Francisco is a food city if ever there was one. So, in the spirit of tradition, here is the journey my taste buds have embarked upon this month.
San Francisco has wonderful fresh air, and hence, the most incredible bread. I have never been a big bread person, but the bread bakers are after my heart in this city. Acme Bread in the ferry building is my weakness; I visit at least twice a week and walk away with at least two varieties. The Edible Schoolyard Levain is the airiest whole wheat I’ve ever had; it has a very special place on my counter, in my freezer, and in my belly. I also adore the raisin loaf (toasted of course), the spelt flour with real chunks of pear only available on Thursdays, the cranberry walnut, and many others in my future which I have yet to make my way through. Working on it… working on it.
I have also discovered that San Francisco is a city of incredible, creative sweets. I swoon for the Lemon Yogurt ‘cake’ with fresh raspberries baked into the middle at Spruce. It is available mid-morning at their chic bar, just to the side of the main restaurant. The cookies are the size of my head, but I find it difficult to walk out without one. This week I tried the oatmeal currant which is loaded with interesting spices and dried things, and it is chewy and textured, and I am currently making my way through it. The ginger cookie from Blue Bottle is the perfect spicy accompaniment to a cup of one of my favorite brews, preferably at the quirky, hidden stand on Linden Alley in Hayes Valley. The unassuming chocolate chip hazelnut cookie at Four Barrel on Valencia in the Mission is pretty much the perfect three bite cookie. There is a coconut flour/grainy cookie of some sort with big chunks of dark chocolate at Seed + Salt in the Marina which is over five dollars but possibly worth it. Let’s just say I’ve had it twice. I waited in line at B.Patisserie on a Sunday; I wanted to get a flavor for it. Their tartines look divine, and I aim to try them soon. Their giant chocolate chip cookie is also on my list. I love them for their Four Barrel Coffee and the lovely atmosphere and decor. More to come, I guarantee it.
I am a sucker for Farmers Markets, and so I think I have moved to my version of mecca. San Francisco is overflowing with them, and each is warm and wonderful and each deserves a visit, even if I just got back from one and my crisper is already full. The Saturday market at the Ferry Building is my adrenaline shot for the week; it is one of the most exciting, diverse, convivial farmers markets I’ve ever been to, and while it is not quite as large as the marche in Vannes, I feel compelled to spend at least a few hours rounding its bends and inhaling lavender at the waters edge every Saturday. I love the smoked salmon stand for a light bite, but honestly, the choices are limitless. On Sunday, my neighbors and I can all be found at the charming and more neighborhood-y Fort Mason Farmer’s Market, also on the water. Here I buy all of my produce for the week (or perhaps two weeks, because it lasts that long), and big bundles of flowers made by Havier of JSM Organics. I buy flats of strawberries, bags and bags of leafy greens and herbs, seasonal vegetables, smoked salmon, bowls of citrus, and wonky-looking carrots. I buy enough food to cook an Italian feast two nights in a row, and it costs me less than two round-trip Uber-pools. If that’s not reason enough to support the farmers, I don’t know what is.
Lunch at Bar Jules is charmant. Seasonal salads at Pizzeria Delfina are light and flavorful. I loved the citrus, fennel, and arugula salad with walnuts. The hamentaschen on the dessert menu at Delfina Restaurant is unusual, but I devoured the apricot. Dinner at NOPA is worth the wait. Tacolicious lives up to its reputation, and Terzo in Cow Hollow has a dining room far more lovely than one can gage from looking in the window, and the small mediterranean plates also surpass expectations.
Farmers Market at the Ferry Building (Saturday)
Farmers Market at Fort Mason (Sunday)
Any and all Blue Bottle Stands
Four Barrel Coffee
Cheese Plus (Russian Hill Gourmet store)