Friday, December 4, 2009

I Left my Heart in San Francisco

Eric and I took whirlwind trip to San Francisco over the holiday. We flew in on Thanksgiving and took a red-eye back Sunday at midnight. We're headed home for Christmas so we decided to be (just a little) selfish and spend our Thanksgiving holiday eating and relaxing in our favorite city.  I'm sure there are many wonderful places to see and visit in SFC- we wouldn't know. We go for one thing only- to eat and drink as much amazing food and wine as our stomaches will allow. Usually too much...

Our itinerary is always built around restaurant reservations. We really rack up the Open Table points on these trips. I agonize over narrowing down the list to the "can't miss" options because there are always more places we want to visit than we have time for. Here are the places that made the cut this trip:

We didn't have any specific plans for Turkey Day other than meeting up with Eric's brother Matt. Matt took us to Yoshi's, a jazz club/Japanese restaurant. Pretty decent sushi and soothing, relaxing jazz was a nice relief from a full day of traveling. Matt played at Yoshi's Sunday night for his CD pre-release party but we missed it since we had to fly out early that morning. Sounds like it went well and he sold out of CDs.

Tartine Bakery was at the top of the list as their cookbook is one of my favorites. We headed down for breakfast on Friday and went back for an afternoon snack and baked goods to take home with us on Saturday. Tartine is my kind of bakery- everything is very simple and refined but perfectly executed and tastes amazing. Eric ordered bread pudding and a croissant for breakfast and finished every bite. This from a man who never eats breakfast and isn't much for sweets. Yes, folks, it is that good! I thought the pain au chocolat I had for breakfast would be my favorite but turns out the chocolate and walnut cookie crisps were a revelation.

We had a late lunch at A-16 on Friday. They are justly known for that mozzarella burratta- it was "like buttah" (Eric didn't laugh but I hope you will :-). A-16 had been considered on previous trips but we never made it until now. We visited sister restaurant, SPQR, on our last visit and I highly reccommend it as well.

Commis for dinner on Friday was the highlight of the trip for me. They've only been open five months and have already earned their first Michelin star. The prix fixe menu and wine parings were perfect. I like nothing more than to walk in, sit down, and let a very capable chef and sommelier make all the decisions. Actually, we did have to choose from a list of three options for each of the three courses offered but it was obvious from a mere glance that there would be no wrong choice. I finished a perfect meal with a slice of apple and huckleberry pie accompanied with a quenelle of cheddar cheese ice cream. Amen!

Bar Jules for lunch on Saturday. Eric had a swordfish salad but I opted for the more brunchy option of scrambled eggs with prosciutto and toast with avocado slices as we were eating early since we had a 6:15 dinner reservation. Lunch was good but the dessert was the best. Eric and I both had the vanilla panna cotta and agreed it was amazing.

Kokkari for a (very) early dinner Saturday evening as we had to pack up and get to the airport for our red-eye flight. Anticipation was high - Eric worked for a lovely Greek family and is very familiar with the classic Greek cuisine and we've always heard rave reviews for Kokkari. The restaurant is beautiful and we were seated next to the open fire hearth which was perfect since the night was a little chilly. The food was great and plentiful. I was served a lamb shank so big that I felt like I was in a  Flinstones episode and the persimmon and pomegranate salad I had is now on the list of all time favorites. Eric had a whole, roasted sea bass that looked divine. We were so stuffed by the end of the meal that I didn't even finish my baklava and I never leave baklava.

Every time we go to SFC we always ask ourselves, "Why don't we live here?" The reasons are many and well-considered. We've seriously thought about it but since we have 3 dogs, two cars, and a boat the living situation would be very complicated. We've grown accustomed to home ownership which would be a pipe dream on our salaries with (even post-bubble) Bay Area real estate prices. Honestly, where do SFC chefs and public health workers live? I'm guessing not in Hayes Valley which is were I would want to live.

So back to Austin we went, a pretty cool city too. The food scene doesn't compare to SFC but neither do the real estate prices and we're happy to call it home. Speaking of, we hadn't been home more than a few hours on Sunday before I had polished off half the bag of chocolate and walnut cookie crisps I had brought back from Tartine.  Those little cookies are addictive. The recipe is in the bakery's cookbook and I picked up the ingredients at the store yesterday to make a batch this weekend. I'll let you know how they turn out....


  1. Oh man. I had no idea Tartine had a cookbook. That's definitely going on my to buy list.

    Interestingly enough a week after you wrote this post I was in San Francisco planning my route to Tartine. I need to post about that, too.

  2. Tartine's cookbook is one of my top favorites. You should definitely check it out.

  3. Kokkari is my favorite San Francisco restaurant, too... at least right now. Things do change. When will you be visiting our fair City again? Perhaps we can all try some new hot-spot? We're big fans of Delfina in the Mission on the same block as Tartine. The restaurant even serves Tartine bread, so you know that they know what they're doing there.

  4. @Stevie- Not sure when we'll make it back to SF but I'd love to meet up when we do. Sounds like your and Heguiberto's taste in restaurants perfectly matches ours. We haven't yet hit Delfina but it's always a contender. The problem with SF is that there are too many great places- we can never hit them all. We're so jealous of folks like ya'll who live in such an amazing food city. Austin isn't too shabby and it's improving by the day but it's no SF.