The best of my San Francisco trip
I didn’t want to do this. I know it would just EAT up time that I should be using to do other things. But I can’t shake this gnawing feeling away…that SF deserves a post on its own. Darn it!
Well, what can I say? I love San Francisco for many reasons: efficient public transportation, friendly people, beautiful city when it’s not raining like crazy, and ummm……….oh who am I kidding?! I love the city because of the food! San Francisco holds some of the best tasting food I’ve had the pleasure of trying. From an authentic bowl of preserve egg jok, to the freshest seafood, to the ultimate egg custard tart, to the abundance of talented bakers! This year’s trip to the bay city had some hits and misses. I went with my two best friends (‘M’ and ‘L’) the day right after my last final. So here were the food highlights of my trip:
My first sundae at Ghiradelli – the Cookie Sundae with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and topped with whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. The best part of this? The chocolate chip cookie underneath the ice cream because it was warm and it contrasted with the cold ice cream so wonderfully. There was too much chocolate at the bottom and I would’ve been happy with less. We chose this through the consent between ‘M’ and myself, but had I chosen my own, I would have gotten the Dark chocolate raspberry sundae because I think the dark chocolate would have been much better than your typical (but Ghiradelli) chocolate sauce.
The Golden Gate Bakery in Chinatown is THE place to go to for your Chinese baked treats. If you’ve heard of it, then you know what I say is true: no one does an egg custard tart better than them. People line up, pack into the tiny space, and phone in way ahead of time for their custard tarts. The shell is perfectly flaky and has a flavor on its own. The filling is wonderfully balanced – not too sweet, not too “eggy,” and has the perfect texture – just firm enough so it’s not runny, but soft enough so you know you’re eating a custard. However, I am sad to say that this year, I was not able to get my hands on even ONE! When I went in, the women behind the counter told me that it would be approximately half an hour to 45 minutes because they were baking them and there were orders already for them. And I saw at least 5 of those pink boxes, folded and ready to be filled with these delectable treats. I sighed and accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to get to have my favorite treat, so I bought 2 of the coconut tarts that I had seen in the window as I walked in.
I’m sorry the picture isn’t good, but I took this picture that night at the inn and it was just horrible lighting that my little camera could do nothing to improve. As you can see, there’s only 1 tart in the bag. I ate one after my dinner that day and I was surprised by this tart. I wasn’t expecting much, but was fully taken back at the quality of it. The coconut was not super sticky nor overly sweetened. You could taste the coconut flavor and it washed over me and sweeping me into bliss. The shell was like a flaky cookie? I’m not sure how I would describe the shell, but I know this is how I want my tart shells to be like. Excellent!
Dim sum in Chinatown was not that good, there are a few points that are worth mentioning. First, the hom sui gok (top left) was fresh out of the fryer so it was absolutely, positively DELICIOUS. Had it been sitting out for a bit…then I’m not sure. The woo gok (bottom right) had a curry filling inside and this was the first time I had ever seen that. It’s usually just a savory meat filling inside with the taro around it, but this place made their filling with curry. And the bean curd skin wrap (bottom left) was the 2nd favorite of mine because of their use of curry flavoring for the sauce they braised it in. Maybe this restaurant really likes using curry as their flavoring for everything. But once again…the curry sauce wasn’t traditional, yet it was mighty tasty.
We ventured into Japantown the same day (our theme was around the world?). And for dinner, I had a sushi roll.
Inside: shrimp tempura and cucumber. Outside: salmon, tuna, fresh crab, and tobiko. My favorite part of this roll would have to be the fresh crab meat on the top. The roll as a whole I thought was mediocre and thus, I was severely disappointed. The last time I had a sushi roll in J-town, I had the pleasure of enoying the freshest fish and the tastiest blending of flavors in a roll. We should have gone back to that restaurant.
Another disappointing meal…I don’t know why I was having such bad luck with my meals this time around in SF. This was from DELICA rf1 in the Ferry Building Marketplace. A Japanese deli that gets points for their nice design of the storefront, but the food?….They failed. Going clockwise from the greens with little beans in it: Hajiki salad, spinach salad, fried shrimp cake, chicken meatball, and chicken-tofu patty. The best tasting items? The hajiki salad – nice crunch and flavor – and the shrimp cake probably because it was fried.
Now onto the BEST meal of my entire weekend in SF. So good that even now I still crave for these items and sadly, I’ve yet to fulfill that urge. If there was only one place I INSISTED on going to in San Francisco, it was Tartine. On our last day in the bay area, we ventured out to SoMa’s neighborhood and I am glad we went (so were ‘M’ and ‘L’).
The. Best. Breakfast. The fragipane (almond) crossiant was….there are no words to describe how good this was. The crossiant was flaky, buttery, and baked thoroughly with a slight singe. In my opinion, the singe actually enhanced the flavor and nuttiness of the almonds! The whole thing was baked, cutted in half, then a good slathering of fragipane (almond paste) on both halves, and finally sprinkle sliced almonds inside before putting this masterpiece back together again. Finished off with a light dusting of powdered sugar. Add a cup of fresh, good coffee….*muah* Magnifico!
Most places aren’t as generous with the fragipane as Tartine, which is sad. But I’ve gotten some good recommendations for the Westgate Deli in Downtown San Diego so I will be going later this week. Hopefully, I will find an almond crossiant that is close if not up to par with Tartine’s.
Along with my crossiant, I got the Buttermilk Current Scone
It had just come out of the kitchen and I could not resist! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of my scone that I took to-go, but here is the whole tray of them on display! Man, Tartine has set the standard really high for scones and crossiants that San Diego will have a hard time matching. The scone was a little hard on the outside, but soft and somewhat dense on the inside. They sprinkled coarse sugar on top that added a nice crunch to the scone every time you took a bite. Also, the currants are dispersed pretty evenly throughout the scone and added a little sweet sharpness.
And finally, my last item that I purchased was the fragipane tart topped with blueberries (I think).
I was not expecting a flaky, pastry crust when I got this tart. I was actually expecting and wanting a sugar dough tart. So when I ate this the next day, it reminded me of my amazing crossiant the morning before. However, it wasn’t the same. This tart was still good, but I would probably get the crossiant instead of this if I want my fragipane fix. I do want to try the coconut cream pie instead! Next time Tartine…next time.
Tartine is amazing. I envy San Francisco because they have a bakery like this at their fingertips. Heck, I envy San Francisco for all their food offerings. That is why I now insist on trying everything in San Diego because I know it has its gems too. It is my desire for good food that I will seek out San Diego’s must eats!