April 5, 2011

Head Over Hills for San Francisco: Part 1

We’re back from our week in San Francisco and Sonoma! And we’re ready to eat only vegetables for the foreseeable future (maybe…I did sense some slight disappointment when there was no dessert after dinner tonight). We ate like a king and queen, the two of us. I have fallen in love with San Francisco. It had me at Tartine. And then at Delfina. And then at Slanted Door. And then at every other place where we had something to eat over the course of the week.

So much deliciousness, to be recapped in experiences over the course of the next week. The first installment:

How you know you married "the right guy" (aka the 40 minute line @ Tartine)

Saturday morning I was reminded that I married a good egg. We pulled up to Tartine on our way out of SF, and there was a line out the door. Far enough out the door that it equaled a 40 minute wait. It was our third visit to Tartine for breakfast in the four days we were there. I got out of the car, got in line, and started mentally compiling the list of goodies to buy, and Zach patiently waited in the car, loading up the GPS with the day’s addresses, not complaining once. Not even appearing to be put out by this. It was excessive, perhaps, both the 40 minute wait part and the three visits in four days part. But this is what I do. Anyone who has traveled with me knows this. If I find a place I love, I go back as many times as I can throughout the course of the trip. And if it’s out of the way, I still go. If it takes $12 in cab fare each way and it’s the only thing we’re venturing to that part of town for, I still go. And we did.

Over the course of our three visits, I sampled a lot: an impossibly flaky and buttery croissant, a very very rich pain au chocolat, a cappuccino, eggy bread pudding topped with roasted apples, perfectly toasted and perfectly simple toast with butter and apricot jam, a latte, a slice of asparagus quiche, a totally fantastic morning bun that was moist and faintly scented with orange, a chocolate walnut cookie, and a smoked ham open-faced sandwich. (Don’t judge, there were a few things in that list that I had only a few bites of.)

A-mazing. I'll leave it at that. I love Tartine. Their cookbooks have been added to my Amazon wish list, and they will be purchased soon, and I will get busy making morning buns and bread pudding.

The Tcho Chocolate budino @ Delfina

Generally speaking, I think it’s hard to find good desserts in restaurants. This trip was so not so. The first hint of this came at Delfina, our first real dinner in SF. A totally cool restaurant. I knew the minute we stepped in and entered its coolness that I’d like it. Food was great, service was good, vibe was good, people watching was good. The highlight was dessert—the chocolate budino. We were sure we had to split it because we were so full when we ordered it. And then we were sure we shouldn't have split it after we tasted it. The chocolate budino was a cross between a chocolate cake and a bread pudding, not quite ooey and gooey, but definitely not as sturdy as a cake. Warm, chocolately, melt-in-your mouth. And on the other side of the plate was a cocoa nib gelato (gelato sat above actual crunchy cocoa nibs). We were off to a good start for the week.

The before dessert portion was great too: a grilled calamari and white bean salad and spaghetti with plum tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and peperoncini. And wine. Obviously.

I think it’s worth mentioning that Delfina and Tartine are on the same block, right next to each other. If / when I move to SF, I will live on that block and be happy for the rest of my life.

Marathon walking and making up for it with lunch @ Slanted Door

Slanted Door was recommended to me by tons of people, but after Zach told me he “doesn’t really like Vietnamese food,” we didn’t formally schedule it in (and yes, we had a schedule, and yes, it was formal). But we ended up there on Thursday for lunch after we had walked about 5,000 miles down the Embarcadero in the lovely hot sun. We were sweaty, in workout clothes, looking very touristy. “Can we sit in here like this,” I tried to kindly ask the host. “Of course, this is San Francisco” he said back. I'm pretty sure he only half meant it and was truly judging us quietly, but we were in.

Zach likes Vietnamese food now.

Completely delicious. We had outdone ourselves with the walking (another thing I’m known for on vaca), and we just sat there quietly, not talking, shoveling food into our mouths happily, once in a while remarking on how great it was. Cold lemonade, spring rolls, green papaya salad, and 5-spice chicken with jasmine rice. I wish I could have that for lunch tomorrow and every day.

And here ends installment #1. Stay tuned for installments #2 and #3, which will include but not be limited to: what we really thought of famous Chez Panisse, true trekking to get the best of the best, and being forced out of our Minnesota comfort levels by strangers at the bar.


  1. I'm on the edge of my seat for installments #2 and #3!

  2. I'm full just looking at the photos. And jealous.

  3. That's it...my next vacation destination!