Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Exploring San Francisco

When it comes to food in San Francisco, it's hardly the tip of the iceberg, but we managed to hit 4 eateries in 3 hours. Thank you to Kirkleton for planning an awesome outing. We started with breakfast at Chow (the Church St. location), which serves traditional and simple dishes. It was a ridiculously good deal, as I had a full meal for $8, including tax and gratuity.

I ordered eggs, sunny-side up, rye toast, and home fries. Everything was great, especially the home fries. Kirkleton had a spinach omelette with toast and home fries, while Krazo had the blueberry pancakes.

We'll start off wtih my breakfast. I can't get enough of rye toast. Chow's wasn't bad at all, but I like mine with a bit more punch from the caraway seeds.

Krazo says that she orders blueberry pancakes every time she has breakfast with me. These look delicious... probably a touch better than the ones she ordered from The Mission in North Park, where we last had breakfast.

After breakfast, we headed out to to Dolores Park, where the Mission, Castro, and Noe Valley neighborhoods meet. Lots of dogs, which I always enjoy. It was a blazing hot day, so Kirkleton suggested a stop at Bi-Rite Creamery. Using organic and local ingredients whenever possible, the creamery produces amazing ice creams. The flavors are great and accompanied by richness not found in other ice creams. The "cream flavor" is very distinct and I believe it has to do with the quality of the ingredients used.

I had a single scoop with two flavors: Salted Caramel and "Ritual" Coffee Toffee. It was incredible and perfect for the weather.

When we headed out to Dolores Park, our original intention was to stop by Tartine Bakery. Even though we had an unplanned pit stop for ice cream, I strongly believe that there can never be enough dessert, so we had ice cream and pastries by noon. Hehe.

We lucked out and managed to beat the crowds to the bakery. When we had paid for our items and walked out, the line was starting to wrap around the corner and continue down the block.

I had to have a croissant, but I couldn't pass up the delicious offerings in the case. So, I also purchased a slice of lemon meringue cake. The photo of the case has the cake on the bottom. I have to say that I wasn't blown away by the lemon meringue cake. It was good, especially for a warm spring day, but the cake was a tad dry and the filling a bit too sour. Notice "a tad" and "a bit". It's not enough to ruin the cake, but just enough to be noticeable.

On the other hand, I bowed to the greatness of the croissant. This is the closest I have ever found, in the United States, to the croissants I experienced in Paris. Yum. Buttery, flaky, light, and not with gigantic air pockets, this was perfect. Heaven.

Our last stop had been planned for nearly a month. While at work one morning, Kirkleton surprised me with a phone call saying that he was by Blue Bottle Coffee Co. and he thought of me. Awww, so sweet. In addition to serving my major vice, Blue Bottle has coffee siphons.

On our trek around SF, we saved the best for last. Braving the insane crowds in Union Square, we detoured south into SOMA and stopped by Blue Bottle. Yes, it was really warm and, yes, we stopped for a hot pot of coffee. Two hot pots, actually.

The siphon works on a very fundamental principle: vapor pressure. Anyone who has taken a first-year chemistry course has the three physical states (solid, liquid, gas) rammed down their throats. Part of "gas" is learning about vapor pressure. The coffee siphon applies it like this... the water at the bottom is boiled and when it reaches its boiling temperature, it transitions from a liquid to a gas. As more vapor builds up, it expands, ultimately pushing the liquid up the tube into the upper filter, where the coffee grounds are. After the coffee is finished brewing, the lower chamber is cooled with a washcloth. As the water vapor cools, it contracts, creating a vacuum and sucking the coffee back into the chamber.

Cool, huh?

The result is very much like coffee from a French press, smoother and without any acridity from over-extraction. We had Ethopian yirgacheffe, which was incredible, and their 100% Yemen, which was ok.

They also had this crazy contraption, making what they called Kyoto-style coffee. It literally drips water one drop at a time into the grounds, resulting in a gradual, all-day drip cold coffee. Sounds kind of gross? Yeah, it's a little gross. Our kindly barista gave us a sample and the coffee was more like syrup. It packed a huge punch, but Kirkleton and I thought it would make a great iced coffee, which is how they serve it (we think).

Fantastic day and I can't wait for my next trip to SF. So many eateries, so little time.

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Amy @DYKTMP? said...

I don't even know where to begin! I found this site through Recipe Girl who suggested I contact you about the bake sale. Look out for my email! But then when I came over here I saw you were talking about my home town... and not even my home town but my neighborhood. I live like 3 blocks away from dolores park. How great. All the places you mentioned are like my staples! But whats even better is that you live in SD too! Love it!!

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