Well, how do I say this? This summer has been, at the very least, a whirlwind of a ride. It seems like just a few days ago that I was commenting on how excited I was for it to be here and now we are just a few days from Labor Day. The days are growing steadily shorter, the weather perhaps slightly cooler and already I have requested my vacation time for Christmas.
The last few months feel like they were booked solid, between birthday celebrations for friends, family, and myself, getaways to New York City and San Francisco, and general weekend excursions to wineries, the countryside, and the like. With that said, I’ve spent the summer keeping the refrigerator stocked only with essentials like eggs, cheese, greens, and butter knowing full well that the prevalence of eating out would cause most of my groceries to go bad. My cooking day haves been put on the back burner, so to speak, but I have a feeling they will return shortly now that things are settling down a bit.
In the meantime I have recently returned from what could probably be described as a gorging journey through San Francisco and Napa/Sonoma with my three wonderful friends from high school. I was left to the task of preparing the eating itinerary for the trip (oh what burden!) But, at the end, I think we all agreed that the combination my pre-planned food trips plus spontaneous restaurant visits on nearby Divisadero St., made for the most delicious vacation we could have asked for. Here’s some of the highlights form the trip:
Though we arrived on a Friday morning before the restaurant was even open, we still waited in line for 90 minutes for a table. It was well worth the it though. We all had breakfast cocktails and split the coffee cake and blueberry crumb cake.
Mama's has, without a doubt, mastered the perfect breakfast, perfectly cooked omelets, potato hash, and sourdough baguettes for topping with your eggs or with the fresh raspberry preserves on every table
The Buena Vista Cafe
Home of the original Irish coffee in San Francisco. A relaxed atmosphere where locals sitting next to you at the bar start up friendly conversation the moment you sit down. The bartenders expertly create the coffees within seconds before you eyes: Two sugar cubes, coffee, whiskey, cream, done.
Go for the chicken but take advantage of everything else it has to offer as well. We began with some delicious cocktails while we waited for our table. For dinner we started with Zuni's bread and the Caesar salad. We split the ricotta gnocchi with goat butter and the lamb sausage with couscous and greek yogurt. And then we got a bottle of the Zuni Cafe Pinot Noir to pair the main course, the chicken. Oh god, the chicken. Its indescribably wonderful, a whole wood-fired oven roasted chicken with juicy savory meat and crispy salty skin sitting atop a grilled bread salad. The crunchy bread, slightly charred from the wood oven and combined with pine nuts, currants, and arugula, soaks up all of the chicken juices and the vinaigrette, becoming the perfect state in-between crispy and soggy. It is the kind of dish that is so simple yet amazing you wonder why all food cant be like that.
This is the place to go for the best damn coldbrew and toast made from Josey Baker's marvelous bread. Not a place for those looking for gluten-free options or a light breakfast. The menu offers a few toast selections, simple but carefully crafted. We chose walnut bread with butter and syrup, cinnamon toast, and rye with cream cheese, sea salt, and cracked pepper. The toast is 2-inches thick, a toothsome crust and spongy inside filled with that wonderful San Franciscan sourdough flavor. The pastries were nice too so don't skip on those.
Napa and Sonoma Wineries
We took a tour of wine country with Green Dream Tours and could not have been happier with our tour guide and the experience as a whole. We left highly educated, astounded by the views, and of course a little tipsy so all-in-all it was wonderful. The three wineries we visited were Larson Family Winery, Nicholson Ranch, and Hagafen Cellars. All were friendly, highly accommodating (especially with our tastings having been mere hours the enormous earthquake) and the wines were delicious, as expected.
Beautiful and delicious pastries. We went a little early so we did not have the chance to try the lunch sandwiches but we basically filled our table with as many pastry options as it could fit. The bread pudding, croque monsieur and croissants were suburb!
Not Pictured but highly recommended:
-Bi-Rite Creamery for ice cream and also a good place for artisanal chocolates
-Ragazza on Divisadero for Pizza (the Bianca, with cream onions, garlic, preserved lemon, provolone and arugula was great)
-The Little Chihuahua for classic mexican
-Magnolias Gastropub for beers and Scotch eggs.