Archive for the ‘San Francisco ’09’ Category

SF goodly bits

April 20, 2009 - 8:54 pm Comments Off on SF goodly bits

Check out the gallery for even more goodly bits!

Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Heaven

April 18, 2009 - 10:30 am Comments Off on Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market Heaven

Getting up the next morning was indeed rough. But this morning we were off to the famous Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market! I couldn’t believe I was going to visit the famous outdoor market along the water in SF! All those TV shows I’ve seen! Could it really be the foodie dream that everyone says it is?

Answer: YES!

The place is a sprawling mecca of the freshest produce from organic wild strawberries to habanero olive oil to fresh pork shanks. Everywhere you turned there were things of beauty – sparkling organic honey, rows of pickled organic vegetables, super crispy fresh and green swiss chard. You wanted to touch, taste, smell, look at everything.

Saturday Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market!

But we were pressed for time. We had to leave for Marie’s wedding in just a few hours.

So we browsed the aisle and flowed through the crowd using our eyes, ears, and of course nose. We ended up following our nose the most. And I am so glad we did.

Our first taste was at a Mexican stand smelling of fresh masa tortillas cooking on the griddle. We were so hypnotized by the sight and smell we accidentally bypassed a huge line (sorry people in line!). Buttery mushrooms, chipotle sauce and melty cheese on a folded homemade corn tortilla. Corn flavor burst with every bite. One of the best tamales either of us ever had – stuffed with shredded pork in a super savory mole sauce. You could taste so many layers of flavors in that incredible mole. Carne asada taco with fresh chopped onions, cilantro, and their homemade red salsa. People were spooning up that salsa by the bucket it seemed, including us. And who could forget the homemade pickled vegetables – hunks of zucchini, carrots, jalapenos, and potatoes. The only thing that could compete with this perfect accoutrement to all the savory warmth in our mouths was the freshly prepared pineapple limeade we shared. Beautiful lime green and ultra-refreshing.

Fresh flavors abound!


We enjoyed this bounty of flavors sitting along the water among a sea of smiles, including ours. What could be better than this?

I know…more food!

There was no way we were done yet! And we knew just where to go by the people walking past us holding a beautiful combination of pink, white, some green, and golden bread. Lox!

Just a booth down, with another line was a stand selling combinations of 4 different combinations of cured and smoked salmon with different garnishes on SF sourdough. Looked like a perfect contrast to the warm flavors lingering on our tongues. Something fresh, zesty, and (thankfully) snack-size.

We decided on their cured wild salmon, cream cheese, thinly sliced red onion, capers, and Meyer lemon combo. Beautiful. It tasted like sunlight in our mouths.


I could have spent hours more outside slowly browsing each booth, but Jordan reminded me I was there to see Marie and go to her wedding. We had to hussle. “Okay, okay,” I said with a characteristic pout.

But we did have time to make two more stops. We went inside the Ferry Plaza where there were even more food stores to browse.

Jordan got his final oyster fix. Imagine getting freshly shucked individual oysters. The perfect snack. Jordan had two Bluepoints and was beaming.

You gotta love a man who's got a passion for oysters!

Then we had to stop at the store called “Boccolone. Tasty Salted Pig Parts.” How could we pass that up? We ordered a “cone” which included several super thinly sliced pieces of Mortadella with pistachios, Salame, and a Prosciutto Cotto in a paper cone. Gotta love the blessed pig.

Who doesn't heart "tasty salty pig parts"?

We passed so much more – caviar, fruits, artisan bread, cheese – but it was time. Jordan said, “It’s time, Jeanne. It’s time.” Ah well. In any case, something tells me we may follow our noses back here one day. And hopefully someday soon!

Thai SF-style, Paradise Lounge, followed by cheesesteak and burger with no souls

April 18, 2009 - 9:00 am No Comments

After feeling energized from our disco nap, we decided on Thai food for dinner. I found a place called Basil Thai in SoMa. Unlike the ubiquitous Thai restaurants in Chicago that range from super casual to Arun’s, a lot of the Thai places in SF seemed more on the “trendy” side. It could be that Chicago for whatever reason (and to my liking) has a disproportionate amount of Thai restaurants per block than any other city I know of. In any case, Jordan and I enjoyed the scene  at Basil Thai. The decor reminded me of Le Colonial. We shared a silky and super spicy Angus beef and eggplant green curry (odd combo right?), and I had a tamarind “sweet and sour” prawns dish with chopped onions.

Not the craziest food for the trip, but warmed me up and the romantic lighting didn’t hurt either.

Without any real plans for going out, we realized that a place Jordan had looked into for nightlife was just a few blocks down from us. Paradise Lounge turned out to be a nice mix of lounge and tech house tunes. After partying, it was time to head back but while looking for a cab we came upon an afterhours burger joint. We thought “What’s a San Francisco yellow place (Chicago translation for hot dog joint) like?”

So of course, we had to go in.

Jordan ordered a spicy Cheesesteak and me a cheeseburger. Sounds good, right?

Long story short, listening to some drunk party poseurs at the other table was more interesting than the food.

Ah well, can’t win them all…

At least Jordan got a silly picture out of it. Check his Facebook if you’re curious…

Disco Nap!

April 17, 2009 - 3:30 pm No Comments

Constant and continuous activity


sensory overload


pigging out


2 hour time difference


soft sun-dappled hotel bed 


snuggly partner


4 hour disco nap!

Haight-Ashbury redux: Games, Comix, and the elusive In-and-Out

April 17, 2009 - 2:00 pm Comments Off on Haight-Ashbury redux: Games, Comix, and the elusive In-and-Out

After not being able to make it in time to the Fogerty Winery for Marie’s get-together, Jordan and I were in limbo so we decided to hit Haight again to check out Gamescape, a game store around there. We also hit up a comic book store just a few doors down as well.

Gamescape turned out to be a really cool place that didn’t have much gameplay space, but a wide inventory of all kinds of board games, DnD, trading cards, dice, etc. All the loots you’d want.

One of the dudes there was eating out of a white cardboard box stuffed with cheeseburgers. The best way I can describe the way he was eating his really awesome looking double cheeseburger is, “He was in the zone.” The dude just stood there on the customer side of the glass counter, chewing and swallowing, and chewing and swallowing, for a long time. In was only in conversations we heard from other dudes later that the burgers were from In-and-Out!

So of course…

Where was this In-and-Out? In my brilliance, I thought for sure I saw an In-and-Out on Haight somewhere. Didn’t we pass by it while we were walking around the other day? It was decided. Jordan and I would try to find it but we’d be smart and check our iPhones first. The only address that turned up was in Fisherman’s Wharf.


No, there was on Haight. I know it! Right?

Perhaps  because I was so enthralled by the idea of having this snack be just around the corner, and since Jordan was an In-and-Out virgin (…uh…that’s what she said), I thought “Oh, the site must not be updated with the Haight location.”

This just shows how powerful the craving for In-and-Out can be. I fooled myself into believing that the official site didn’t have all their own locations on it.

Anyway, long story short. I was wrong. I’d seen the sign for In-and-Out when we were walking around the Wharf NOT the Haight!

Yeah we gave the city of SF a lot of free cash in the form of meter quarters that day as we stopped and looked, stopped and looked. And still no In-and-Out.

Don’t worry Jordan. Some day, some day…

Exploring Chinatown and discovering a hidden gem

April 17, 2009 - 1:00 pm Comments Off on Exploring Chinatown and discovering a hidden gem

After being in the markets of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and even Chinatown Chicago, the sights, sounds and smells of SF Chinatown were familiar to me. But it’s always fun walking in the thick of Chinese culture, and parts of Chinatown here came closest to Hong Kong for me. The familiar smell of dried scallops, black mushrooms, and anchovies as you pass the various medicinal shops… Older Chinese men and women looking for the best deals on bok choy… Always seeming to be walking against the flow of human traffic…

But I will say that seeing the vast blue of the Pacific peek out between rows of buildings at the end of  every street was pure SF.

Another unexpected gift was a gem we came upon during our walk – a small peaceful park in the middle of Chinatown. It was right across from St. Mary’s Cathedral and seemed to have been placed at the most perfect spot where the sun met the sidewalk. After walking up a short stair, Jordan and I settled on a warm park bench. After the hustle and sensory overload of just a few minutes prior, sitting there was better than laying on any beach in the Caribbean.

And even better when you’re with the one you love.

Wait for it…


SF Dim Sum: A foodie’s dream come true

April 17, 2009 - 11:29 am Comments Off on SF Dim Sum: A foodie’s dream come true


The Day has arrived.

What day, you ask?



Dim-sum Day, duh!

This is the day I achieve one of my foodie goals – eating dim sum hot off the cart in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

*sniff* It’s finally here.

We went to Gold Mountain (thanks LTH forum!), and too bad we only had one stomach each.

CAUTION: Reading this may induce tummy to rumble.

All right. Let’s do this!

Steamed wide rice noodle stuffed with savory pork – Slippery to pick up with your chopsticks, but a perfect marriage of a rice noodle and a dumpling. That sweet soy sauce bath it sits in really brings it together as well.

Char siu bao – The ubiquitous Chinese “hot cross buns” as I like to call them due to the open X on the top. White fluffy dumpling cloud with sticky sweet and savory shredded pork peeking out at the edges.

Mushrooms stuffed with shrimp covered in a light brown gravy – Super juicy, super fresh mushrooms. Pleasantly pliable yet crunchy texture.

Chive and shrimp glutinous dumplings- Steamed and looked like seared scallops!

Deep-fried glutinous rice covered in sesame seeds, stuffed with ground pork filling – Deep-frying the glutinous rice (maybe corn starch on the outside?) created a delicate crunch layer that contrasted with the stickiness of the rice duk (as I’ll call it in Korean since I don’t know the Chinese!).

Beef short rib and radish (or muk in Korean) soup garnished with cilantro and scallion – Surprisingly, this soup was my favorite of the entire meal! The beef was incredibly flavorful – soft and tender with the fat just melting in your mouth. The radish was soft and slightly piquant yet sweet. And the broth infused all the flavors – each able to be distinctly tasted. It just absorbed the beef and radish so completely. Letting it warm the mouth, throat, then tummy was extremely soothing.

Shrimp dumplings – Everyone’s favorite! Cute, translucent pockets chubby with shrimp.

Pork shumai – Flavorful pork and not just one but two shrimp – one on top the other on bottom. It’s like Drumsticks – chocolate on top and sweet chocolate surprise at the bottom!

“Soup” Shanghai dumplings with red vinegar – Very savory and juicy! Although frankly, not as good as in Taiwan. Thanks Eric Ko!

Stir-fried Chinese broccoli with fish sauce drizzled on top – I think it was fish sauce? But Chinese-style. Great contrast with all the starchy dumplings.

Both Jordan and I looked like we were doing the “finish me” dance by this point.

But while sitting back contented, I truly wished I had four stomachs.

Next time, I’ll pace myself a little better and wait for the BBQ duck, broiled eggplant stuffed with shrimp, deep-fried shrimp stuffed with pork, turnip cakes, deep-fried taro balls…and countless others. The carts kept coming and coming…

Now my new foodie dream is to dream of eating this dim sum all over again…


Sunny Haighty-Ashbury-y

April 16, 2009 - 7:07 pm Comments Off on Sunny Haighty-Ashbury-y

With our bellies filled to the brim with fresh seafood, we walked with contented grins on our faces to the nearest intersection.

To the cabbie: “To Haight-Ashbury, please good sir!”

Dropped off in a sunny spot on the sidewalk, we found ourselves in the middle of this famous street – an icon during the ‘60s.

I told Jordan I’d probably have been a beatnik back in those days.
He said: “I’d be the same. Yep, I’d be the same.”

Love that.

Lots of groovy all around – most stores paying homage to the past as a range of glass, ceramic, wooden, plastic, and metal bongs glitter in the glass storefronts. But my mind was on other colorful knick-knacks. Toys! Kidrobot and Giant Robot both on the same street!

To Jordan’s chagrin (given my lack of shelf space at home), I couldn’t resist the MINDstyle Mechtorians collection of six steam-punk vinyl figures. Check it!

Creepy Cool Curios

Creepy Cool Curios

Alas my inner beat stayed dormant, as my shopping spree continued. We went into the Skates on Haight skate store just to look around and in a cabinet I saw some kick-kicky ass watches from Vestal. One was made with purple acetate, others with real wood, and yet another – black hol-y stainless steel with a crimson face.

So in the midst of Skates’ close-out sale of trucks, wheels, boards, t-shirts – the ridiculous Asian girl needed the kid behind the counter to come and unlock the glass cabinet. He didn’t even know what key to use. Who the f comes in there to buy watches? Well guess what? I ended up buying the bad boy.

Jordan just shook his head and continued to as we left the store.

By then it was time for snack of course, so we decided to go to the O.G. Ben & Jerry’s. Jordan quickly decided on a scoop of luscious Cherry Garcia on a sugar cone. And for me, Coffee, Coffee, Buzz Buzz Buzz! in a mini-cup. We licked our ice cream while sitting in the sun on the porch step, and watched dogs, dread-head dudes, teenage giggling girls, and natural blondes in yoga pants walk by.

Only thing missing was a joint to share on the way home…


Nob Hill to the Seafood Swan

April 16, 2009 - 5:09 pm Comments Off on Nob Hill to the Seafood Swan

After one crab only whet our appetites for more, we set off in search of the elusive Swan Oyster Depot – a treasure that Jordan uncovered.

Alas it was a mile and a half away…

What alas? No no.

What ho avast! It would be an adventure!

The walk uphill gaining more steep with each block unveiled one of the best views yet! After scaling our first Exorcist-like movie stepway, we turned around to a full postcard panorama of the Wharf, Alcatraz, the Golden Bridge, and the Bay. Not to mention we passed right by and then behind Ghiradhelli Square. We must have killed a whole flock of geese with one stone!

Oh yeah and the houses were ridiculous of course. Who are these people?

I thought I knew bliss, until we arrived underneath the blue awning of the Swan. As we waited in line for 2 stools to open up at the 19 stool bar – elbow to elbow – we insensitively teased our anxious bellies by refusing to divert our eyes from the fresh crab, prawns, oysters, scallops, mussels, smoked salmon, and clams in the glass storefront display.

We saw icy platters of freshly shucked oysters and an amazing combination seafood salad which is really a heap of the freshest prawns, small sweet bay shrimp, generous lump crab meat (body and claws) on some crisp chopped lettuce. And Louis sauce to top it all off – a dressing of creamy mayo, relish, and who knows?

We finally sat down, cramped but very happy.

Round 1!

Dozen oysters: Blue Point and Kumamoto

Best oysters I’ve ever had. No bull.

Blues: Texture firm, juicy but not the least bit slimy. Refreshing as a light spray off an ocean break.

Kumamoto: so sweet super power flavor cute snug in their round shells

Round 2!
Crab and shrimp cocktails!
Handful of lump crab meat in a pudding glass and prawns the same in a separate.

Louis sauce and cocktail with hand ground horseradish available to add to taste.

Woo boy! Spicy sweet and meaty all in each bite!

Round 3!
Remember that combo salad explosion? Yep. We went for it. Duh!

It was all that we expected and MORE! The hearty man that had the ocean in his veins and Italian through his soul, served us up a dipping sauce that was a miraculous concoction of crab fat, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and lots of cracked black pepper. Put that on the salad with some Louis and some capers?

That’s what i’m talking about!

Add a cup of Boston-style chowder, San Fran sourdough hunk, and a wash it all down with an Anchor Steam beer.

Oh yes. That feeling in your grumbling gut? That’s envy mixed with hunger.


Dungeness crab season!

April 16, 2009 - 12:34 pm Comments Off on Dungeness crab season!

Walking through a bigger and better version of Navy Pier called Fisherman’s Wharf and we find ourselves being pulled. Pulled by an unknown force. Pulled… And then my eyes focus. TheCrabStation? A row of freezer cases and wood signs. Crab crab shrimp calamari oyster…

Oh. My. God.

Jordan finally agrees to have a snack.

We await our fresh whole Dungeness crab. The man with precise hammers cracks each delectable bit…


The set up…

3 paper boats with red checks. A wedge of lemon in each and napkins in one.

The joy…


It arrives! Cracked fresh and steaming slightly. Not too hot to the touch. Just perfectly warm inside and out.

We dig in and it’s so meaty I spend 15 minutes on just getting every juicy morsel out of half the body. The claw meat just slips right out of the shell almost as if inviting me to devour it.

Jordan is the same. We are both having our San Francisco treat Chicago- and Trais-style baby!


Gives new meaning to the phrase "stuffed crab"