Friday, May 18, 2007

A Taste of San Francisco

In three days we didn't have enough time to eat at all the places that we wanted to but still we had some amazing food. After walking around and exploring the area near the hotel, the first night was at Chaya Brasserie just in the next block from the hotel. We shared an order of sushi. Then Ned had lamb chops on a bed of polenta with blue cheese. I had yellow fin tuna crusted with sesame seeds and served on lemon. Every flavor was distinct and crisp. Very satisfying although the portions were not Texas-sized. The room was sleek and contemporary with the iron girders painted the color of the Golden Gate Bridge. By the time we left the room has full but it still seemed spacious and the noise level was low enough that conversation was intimate and pleasant. The next day we headed out exploring after a quick stop for coffee. We covered China Town, North Beach and the Fisherman's Wharf areas. By the time we walked to North Beach we were ready to sit down and have something to drink, eat and rest a bit. We stopped at the San Francisco Brew Pub which is one of the older pubs in town. The beer was great and we shared a sausage sandwich. There is a old wooden bar that takes up one side of the room and down the center of the ceiling is a ancient fan contraption with palm paddles. The bartender was also our waiter and he was from Ireland and could have been from central casting. As we walked further into North Beach, I saw a lot of other restaurants that I would have liked to try including Rose Pistola whose cookbook I have. Hopefully, we'll be back again.

That evening we met Megan, daughter of one of our friends in San Miguel, and her friend Daniel Grant who I interviewed here. We had a glass of wine in the Americano Restaurant at the hotel and talked non-stop for almost two hours. What a treat it was to see them both and it was really nice to connect Daniel's face and his work. From there we walked across the street to the Boulevard Restaurant. I don't think I've ever eaten such creative, delicious and beautifully presented food in my life. We started with scallops for me and Ned had red abalone. For the main course I had lamb prepared 3 ways, sausage, lamb loin, and lamb chop. Each with an exquisite accompaniment and presented as one on a long narrow plate. Ned had a veal loin prepared two ways. And then we moved to the desserts. Again there were several preparations on each dessert plate. Nancy Oakes is an amazing chef. The decor reminded me a bit of some of the French Quarter restaurants with the mosaic floor, tulip lamps and brick vaulted ceilings. Although the restaurant was filled to capacity, we felt cozy and comfortable at our little table for two. I bought the Boulevard's beautiful cookbook. I will not be able to complete one of the recipes in Mexico because I can't get some....maybe most....of the ingredients. And if we still lived in Houston, I probably wouldn't try to serve the two or three preparations for lamb or veal or a dessert at once but I might try one method at a time. Still I think I'll get some good ideas for presentations.

On Wednesday we headed off for the Golden Gate Park. The cab driver obviously didn't know his way around the park and let us out on the wrong side of the park for the Conservatory. We spent most of the day in the Park at the Conservatory and the De Young Museum and just walking. We caught a cab back to Union Square to check out the shopping and from there walked back to our hotel on the water by the Ferry Building. We had thought that we would eat at the Slanted Door but when we called for reservations, they didn't have room for us so we decided to go to the Tadich Grill. The Tadich Grill has been around since the late 1840's and it has that wonderful feeling of permanence with dark wood and mirrors. We started with a Dungeness crab cocktail. The cocktail sauce had a great hit of horseradish and was perfect. I had one of the favorite specials....a dungeness crab casserole. Ned had fish. The food was good and reminded me of our long time Texas Gulf Coast restaurants. But another treat was the San Francisco Brown twins who are considered a San Francisco institution. One of the waiters told us that they were in their 80's. They dress exactly alike....all the time. I could see them from where we sat. They were sitting side by side and the whole time we were there they were either talking to each other or to people who stopped to talk to them. I stopped and talked to them because they were adorable in their matching yellow pillbox hats with jaunty yellow feathers. They are so animated that although they gave me permission to photograph them, one or the other of them was always in motion. Before we left on Thursday, we walked to the San Francisco of Modern Art and on the way back to the hotel had dim sum at Yang Sing. Magic little tidbits of flavor.

The trip was wonderful and the food was marvelous but we'll have to start saving up to do it again for the 60th wedding anniversary!


Anonymous said...


A nice place to visit.


Anonymous said...

Hi Billie,

I'm glad you had a nice time in San Francisco. I'm actually from there, and astonished at your good luck to run into the Brown twins. They are famous in San Francisco, but I've personally never seen them outside of photos. They are just one example of the kind of colorful eccentric folks that San Francisco takes to its heart and idolizes. Such a wonderful city!

I've admired your blog for some time, particularly your wonderful photos.

Some day we must meet, perhaps if I'm in San Miguel. I live in Boston now, but spent 3 years in Houston (studying at Rice), and now hanker to explore Mexico more. I've been near to San Miguel de Allende (Guanajuato), but have yet to make it to San Miguel. But it's a wonderful country, and I've enjoyed exploring it over the past couple of years. I'm off there again this weekend.

Anyway, keep up the wonderful blog.


Kim G

Billie said...

Thanks, Juan. And Kim, I'm glad to hear that you read the blog. We really loved San Francisco and it seemed like a very livable city, except for the cost....especially housing. You'll find my email address in the side bar so if you make it to SMA please let me know and we'll have a coffee or maybe even a 'rita.