Wednesday, May 25, 2011

San Francisco Eats

My friend and business partner, Caroline, and I drove up to San Francisco for a quick visit to San Francisco. Having both lived there at different points in our lives, the city holds many memories for each of us. The weather was full of sunshine thanks to a cool wind that blew through the city keeping the fog at bay. We walked everywhere, up and down those SF hills so as to really feel like we were in the city. This will be a rather large entry because we spent our time eating.

The day we arrived, we did a food tour through GourmetWalks, in the Hayes Valley district. The photos and details from this experience can be found through the link on the right (or here) with the entire photo album from our quick visit. The last item on the GourmetWalk was the cocktail at Smuggler's Cove.
On Sunday night we arrived at A16, in the Marina, at 9:00 for our reservation. Having walked 15 blocks in heels, we were ready to sit and enjoy our evening. As we walked through the bustling restaurant, we marveled that it was so packed on a Sunday and everyone was enjoying bottles of wine. The waitress, about to seat us at a table, asked if we would prefer the bar seating area where one watches the chefs at work. Obviously we chose to watch the show. Our female Sommelier opened and poured our wine moments before the Burrata and crostini plate arrived before us.
 I enjoyed Northern halibut and monterey squid with fennel, spring garlic and breakfast radish. Most tender calamari I have ever eaten. The fennel was fresh and delicate and all those ingredients together created the perfect bite. Wow.
 You gotta love those marble counters...
 Caroline enjoyed braised pheasant, bitter greens, spring onions, and fava beans.
Chocolate mousse/pudding dessert with salt on it...would not necessarily order this dish again. Not up to the caliber of the rest of our dishes.
 Delicious espresso.
 The definition of macchiato...
Now I take you to our Monday night restaurant experience at Incanto - 1550 Church Street, at the southwest corner of the intersection of Church and Duncan Streets in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood. The Chef there is Chris Cosentino, which some of you may have seen on a few shows on Food Network. He was there, cooking up a storm, his passion reaching his team and his dishes.
We enjoyed flutes of Prosecco and a salumi plate for aperitif. The clear white looking one is skin, cartilage and something else interesting broken down and compacted and then sliced. A bit on the odd consistency side for us. The cotto ham was our favorite.
Our waiter was calm and knowledgeable. I stated my price range and what we were eating and he came up with this wine to enjoy with our meal. He was spot on. Thanks Mark!
First course for moi, Trotters (meat from pig's feet), foie gras, strawberries & horseradish. There was also some tarragon in there. This has got to be one of the oddest flavor combos I have ever eaten...and in some strange way, it worked. Who knew?!
 Asparagus, soft boiled egg salad.
And here is the kicker I enjoyed for my entree - Spaghettini, Sardinian cured tuna heart, egg yolk & parsley. Yes, tuna heart. It's the shaved stuff on top. Talk about a flavor I do not know! It tasted minerally and was salty and, the oddest part for me to handle, tasted like iron and blood, obviously, but in a way that was just so interesting and still palatable. Add the raw egg yolk in there and this was one heck of a rich dish. Though I am not sure I would order this again, I recommend you do, just to have this unique experience of flavors.
 Caroline went for something more straight forward - Handkerchief pasta & rustic pork rag├╣. Delicious.
 Ginger ice cream and rhubarb-strawberry tartlette.
 We did a mystery dessert wine tasting as well. It was fun to try and guess, but my palate was feeling nutso at this point.
 A little coffee to wash it all down and voila, one heck of a meal!!
On our final day we went to Swan Oyster Depot. The experience of sitting at the bar is fun and watching the men at work is also enjoyable. However, I was disappointed by the oysters. They all were quite sweet and lacked that wonderful ocean flavor I crave. My tummy was rumbly our entire ride home, so this left a bad taste in my mouth about this historic spot in the city. The chowder was a bit watery and the crab cocktail was great however had way too much cocktail sauce on top.

And on a last note, you must eat at The Grove in the Marina just to enjoy the simplicity of Sol's Bagel and their huge glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice. The coffee is delicious as well and if you feel like a sweet, eat a giant cookie! Plus, the dog watching on that street is amazing.