On my way back home from Aspen, I ended up with an unscheduled 18 hour layover in San Francisco. I'm happy with any time I get to spend in the Bay Area, so it was welcome. Most especially since between the snow storm I had just come from and the ice storm that had covered pretty much the rest of the country had left California blissfully alone.
I credit those few hours in SF for planting the seed in my head that I absolutely needed to get the hell out of dodge and that convinced me to go for tomorrow's trip to Barcelona. I'm so sick of being cold. Four days in the 60's without the spectre of another cold snap and any moment will be like heaven.
The best part was that we scored seats at the counter, watching all the action in the kitchen. The food was great, but for me, the more entertaining part was watching (and shooting) the staff as they worked.
Check out some of the highlights after the jump.
While in San Francisco, I always try to swing by Boccalone in the Ferry Building. A couple years back, Chris Cosentino, the offal-loving chef of Incanto, opened up this Italian charcuterie shop selling all sorts of interesting salumi including 'fennel-orange' and this, nduja.
Pronounced, end-oo-ya, this spicy sausage evoked a bit of mystery last year when the NY Times wrote up a piece about it calling it "The Lady Gaga of pork products." So, yeah, that's a little stupid, but I had to taste it anyway.
Take a look under the wraps after the jump.
Unfortunately, I didn't end up finding time during my trip to San Francisco to do a butchery shoot with Ryan Farr as I'd hoped to do after meeting him at Cochon 555 in the spring. I did manage to catch up with him briefly at his stand at the Thursday Farmers Market at the Ferry Building.
I spoke to him for a bit while he was setting up and he gave me a quick taste of the day's special. It was all i could do to walk around and wait for them to start serving to get a full serving for myself.
Check it out after the jump.
You may have noticed by now that my drinking habits tend toward the beer and wine. I typically steer clear of cocktails, but when my waiter at Incanto recommended Heaven's Dog in San Francisco's SOMA Grand hotel as a great cocktail bar, I wasn't going to walk in and ask for their wine list.
Instead, I asked the bartender to come up with a concoction friendly to someone who liked the bubbles of beer or a sparkling and wasn't so into a strong liquor flavor.
He came up with the French 75, a classic drink he said was mentioned in Casablanca.
The drink mixes cognac, simple syrup and lemon juice in crushed ice, strains it in chilled champagne glass, then gets topped off with champagne. The citrus cut through the liquor flavor, although by the end the pucker was a little intense. Even so, I'd definitely order it again if I walked into a cocktail bar and wanted something refreshing that wasn't going to knock me down.
This is probably my 10th or 11th trip to San Francisco in the last eight years. I like it here, I feel like I have a good lay of the land and know a fair number of great places to eat and drink. The only problem is that since I'm almost always here for work geekery, my free time is limited and so I often end up returning to the same old favorite places and neighborhoods and don't get quite so much time to explore.
I usually ask around for recommendations, but this year I've got a theme. asked a few bartender friends for recommendations for both bars and restaurants to visit while in the area.
The list is extensive and if I get to a fraction of these places in the next four days, I'll be lucky. Similarly, if I added links and whatnot to every place listed, this post would never go up. Google's your friend folks, sorry.
After the jump, the bartenders and their recs. As a bonus, I also got a list of recommendations from the waiter at Incanto, where I had dinner Sunday night (more on that to come).
Well, I'm taking a cab, but I loved those old commercials when I was a kid.
After this wonderfully full and celebratory week, I didn't think I could top it in New York, so I'm off to San Francisco to celebrate some more.
Actually, I'm going for a conference and will be surrounded by geekdom all day, but a trip to SF is always a good excuse to catch up with friends, photograph, explore and eat great food.
Stay tuned for updates from out west.
Friday night I got an email from FoodBuzz telling me that I'd won a pair of tickets to Cochon 555, two days away. I was elated. At the event, chefs from some of the best restaurants in town had their way with five 125 pound pigs and handed out the results to attendees.
Yet, I only ate a couple small plates. Why? Because I'm a meat nerd and butchery awaited. Instead of grazing all evening, I spent a couple hours in the corner watching Ryan Farr, San Francisco's butcher king take apart a whole pig of his own.
Farr went muscle by muscle to show us cuts and techniques that I can't wait to try at home.
He frenched a loin rack like one would a lamb roast. I think I'd have to see that several more times to even contemplate doing something like that.
Really though, the coolest part was what Farr did with the head. He deboned it, removing the skull, then he stuffed the face with shoulder meat. After that, he sewed it all up with butchers' twine and a needle. See the slideshow after the jump for a blow by blow.
I think I've found my next butchering challenge. Seriously, I've been all about cheeks and such for ages, it's time to graduate up to a whole head.
Talking to Farr about the classes he teaches back in San Francisco, I found out that unlike the classes here in New York, his classes are completely hands-on.
Before the session, I introduced myself and told him about my Butchery project. He was into the idea and told me I'd be welcome to come in to photograph a class the next time I'm in San Francisco. I'm hoping to be there over the summer at some point, so keep your fingers crossed.
Most of the New York scene mentioned in the story were things I've been following and planning on posting about, but it was interesting to read about what's going on in San Francisco in particular. I'll have to make a point of seeking out such things the next time I'm in the area.
I'm also interested in reading Julie Powell's upcoming book about her time at Fleisher's, the Meat Mecca of the east. And I may finally have to finish reading Heat just so I can read more about Dario Cecchini, who I've mentioned here before.
In any case, if you have any interest in all this meat talk, the story is worth the read just for tips on others doing this butchery thing. Enjoy!
This is a tenuous link to the butchery thread, but I wanted an excuse to use this photo. Nate Appleman, one of the faces of the Butchery trend on the west coast received the Rising Star Chef at last week's 2009 James Beard Awards. I've been a fan of Appleman ever since taking his class at Astor and trying his food at A16.
I have to say, I was concerned when the words Food Court came up as a suggestion for dinner. I was in SOMA with a couple former colleagues and a few friends from high school who have since become SF expats. I had declined to make any suggestions, in the hopes that the locals among us would come up with some awesome place I had never heard of.
Turns out they did.
The Food Court at Westfield Mall on Market Street is the antithesis of everything those two words have meant together before.
As a part of a high-end revamp of this mall, which included adding "the largest Bloomingdale's west of Manhattan" as the flagship tenant, the basement level was filled with the best fast food I've ever seen. Offerings include a Tri-tip steak shop, Korean Barbecue, a gelateria and an outpost of The Slanted Door, the incredible Asian restaurant in the Ferry building. Called "Out the Door," the space reminds me most of Republic in New York. It's much more casual and inexpensive than the original.
I wasn't in SF long enough after to properly survey the rest of the food, beyond a nicely done burger at Bistro Burger, but I know where I'll be going between sessions the next time I'm tethered to Moscone for a week.
Westfield San Francisco Centre, 865 Market St.
(415) 512 6776
I went to Yoshi's for the first time last year for my birthday, hours after we got into San Francisco from Atlanta. We had an incredible meal there and then saw Ahmad Jamal perform live there in the attached Jazz club. At the time, the had opened fairly recently in as an attempt to revitalize the historic music district on the Fillmore.
Despite great food and the big Jazz line-up they seem to pull in, apparently it's not making a lot of money. Eater SF has reported more than a few times on it's empty dining rooms, 'deathwatch' specials and government subsidies (as part of the revitalization plan). I, for one, have managed to stop in at least once on each of my 3 visits to San Francisco in the last year. I don't know when I'll be there next, but I hope it's still up and running when I do.
In the Haight, I found a shop called Upper Playground that specializes in Street Art-influenced clothing. I picked up the shirt here, designed by Sam Flores, a local artist. I also bought a T-shirt with his version of the Morton Salt Girl and both of his books published by the gallery associated with Upper Playground.
At the end of my Lazy Saturday in SF, before heading to the airport, Will and I grabbed dinner in the Upper Haight at Magnolia a brew/gastropub. I had stopped in once before with TOJ and Guyvera, but didn't eat. This time, we passed through relatively quickly, so I don't have extensive notes, but I had to point out to of the small plates I tried while there.
The idea of honey coated duck wings still fascinates me. Of all the things I see done with duck these days, the wings seem the most neglected. I've been thinking of ways to cook duck and home and this has certainly pushed me forward.
The other, below, is the quail scotch egg, which includes two food items that capture my imagination whenever I hear about them: The quail egg and the scotch egg.
Whenever I see quail eggs in an asian supermarket, I start to think of things that would be cool to try with them. The tiny eggs always seem like a great way to do . . . something, but I never really think of what.
I think of the scotch egg like many consider the turducken: blissfully excessive. A boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, then breaded and deep fried. What's there not to love?
Usually, it's just about everything. The fried breading isn't particularly crisp, the yolks are overdone and everything in between is pretty mediocre.
In this case, the yolks were fine, the breading was good, but the sausage, a homemade Italian, was not quite what I wanted here. All of it was good on it's own, but didn't quite come together the way I wanted it to...
What was great was the beer, including the Bluebird Bitter, mentioned in the '100 things to eat' list I mentioned last week.
Really, Magnolia demands multiple visits, which I just haven't been able to dedicate in my few visits. I don't know when my next visit to SF will be, but this I hope to pencil in some quality time at Magnolia to really taste what they have to offer.
It's a pretty impressive list. I've got 11 down:
3. Carnitas taco at La Taqueria
14. Beef brisket at Memphis Minnie's
15. Oysters on the half shell at Swan Oyster Depot
21. Pizza margherita at Pizzeria Delfina
23. Beer sausage with sauerkraut and grilled onions at Rosamunde Sausage
24. Blue Bell Bitter from the cask at Magnolia Pub, above.
29. Spaetzle at Suppenküche
35. Salted-caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery (well a taste)
51. Maccaronara with ricotta salata at A16
I first checked out Bar Bambino over the summer when I had an afternoon to hang out on my own. I visited again on my lazy Saturday and enjoyed the panini sandwich above. It was made with a house-made Italian sausage, a sweet and spicy pepper relish and provolone cheese. The sausage had an interesting flavor to it that reminded me of Chinese five spice, so cinnamon among other seasonings.
On my first visit, I had more of a chance to sit and linger over more snacks, including a meat plate and the awesome bowl of meatballs below. When I get home, I want to get my meat grinder up and running again and try out my own version of San Francisco's 'Meatball Mondays.'
I didn't sit inside either visit, but I found the vibe there to be great for wiling away an afternoon over wine and tasty snacks. Bar Bambino is definitely a place I'll return to.
2931 16th Street, San Francisco, CA
Between Mission and South Van Ness
As mentioned, I altered my usual Saturday in San Francisco routine this time around. But I still made it out to the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building that I love so much. In fact, I managed to get there before the hordes that usually run me off.
Instead of my usual Oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co., I had a plate of Chilaquiles at the recommendation of the TOJ, whose guidance has been a great help in the past. He messaged me as soon as he found out I was going there.
The exchange went something like this:
Clay is up earlier than he should, but is going to get up and go to the farmer's market.
ToJ at 10:59am January 10
be sure to get the chiliquiles at primavera and a cappucino at blue bottle!
Clay at 11:02am January 10
TOJ, I heard the chilaquiles at Mijita is pretty good too. Any opinion?
ToJ at 11:03am January 10
Mijita is good, but if primavera has the red (rather than the green) sauce, go with primavera. Out. Of. Control.
Out of Control indeed.
Here's an overview of what we have here: Scrambled eggs, topped with the aforementioned red salsa, black refried beans with crumbly Mexican cheese on top, and salsa crusted tortilla chips with crema fresca and avocado chunks. It's really an amazing thing.
When I was in San Francisco with Guy, he had an order of Chilaquiles and commented on how amazingly light it seemed despite the contents. I declared that the lightness is an illusion created by the fluffy eggs, the cool crema and the light texture of the avocado. In reality, it's a pretty heavy meal, as demonstrated by the nap I took immediately after returning to my room.
On my first trip to SF, I took the above photo the first time I went to San Francisco in 2002. It was when I first started shooting graffiti and I was pretty excited to see this Bob Marley quote.
On my last night in San Francisco, I passed the same spot in a cab, but the piece was different:
I don't know what happened, but I'm glad it's still there in some form or another.
You have to love the airline industry's ability to try to put a positive spin on their money-grubbing ways.
Apparently Delta has given up on the 'higher ground' of not charging for all checked luggage. But they still want you to know that some options are free - like not checking a bag at all.
What's hilarious is the implication that if they wanted to, they could apply a fee for not checking bags. It reminds me of a recent Onion article about American Airlines charging non-passengers a fee for not flying with them.
Who's to say they aren't already thinking up a way to do either.
This isn't exactly what I found when I got home this morning, but it might as well be. While I was enjoying my great San Francisco day, walking around without a coat and sitting outside drinking wine, the Northeast got a dumping of snow and ice.
I guess it's just as well that I get used to winter weather now. In a week I'll be off to Aspen, where I'll be padding up in my thermals every day.
My last day in San Francisco is usually a challenge for me. Every time there are dozens of things I would like to do, but only a couple hours left before I have to head to the airport. I run this way and that trying to eek out every last moment out of the trip and finally end up tense and tired wishing I had more time.
This time, with a full day until my late night flight, I actually took it easy and managed to have a great, leisurely day while still making it to the Farmers market, The Mission and The Haight. The weather was gorgeous all day, with temperatures in the mid-60's, vastly better than 30 degrees and snowing at home. I sat outside and drank wine while reading about photography at Bar Bambino, above and had a few more good meals before heading to the airport.
I'm at the airport now, waiting to board my flight and hoping against hope that the warm weather comes with me.
The other night, we checked out 111 Minna, an art gallery and bar a couple blocks away from the convention center. It's an awesome concept that I would love to find in New York. I always mean to go to more art galleries, particularly the openings of graffiti artists I've been following, but somehow never manage to go. Worse, a gallery has opened up in Bed-Stuy, mere blocks from my house that I have yet to walk into much less photograph.
In any case, 111 Minna is a gallery by day and a bar/club on the weekends and some nights during the week. I went on Wednesday night for a DJ night they have on Wednesdays and got a look at some of the pieces going up for an exhibition that opened last night.
See the photos of the work here.
Last year, Rick Bayless opened a "Wolfgang Puck"-style high end fast food outlet in the food court of the Macy's Union Square here in San Francisco. When I heard about it, I was very excited. I had a great meal at Frontera Grill in Chicago a few years back and Bayless' cookbooks and TV show are great. I really love the depth he gives to Mexican food, which is so often done poorly.
As I mentioned in my Bayless sighting post last year, it was at Frontera Grill that I first had Queso Fundido. I love it. It's molten, fondue-like chihuahua cheese that can be used as a dip or a topping or eaten straight.
That's what I was hoping for when I saw the Queso Fundido Huarache as one of the items available at Frontera Fresco.
This is what I got:
The huarache is a flatbread topped with the melted cheese, a black bean paste and chicken chorizo (!). Also on the hurache were a mixture of lettuce and baby spinach and a crumbly feta cheese.
I wasn't so impressed, which was a disappointment.
First, I have to say that I'm opposed to the idea of chicken chorizo more than I was offended by the taste. It was fine. It had the right seasoning, but it was chicken and tasted like it. Chicken sausages have their place, but this isn't one of them. Also, the flatbread was also a little to starchy.
I think my expectations were higher than they should have been given that it was Bayless' entry into a market that really knows Mexican food. I respect the menu for offering food that you aren't going to find at Taco Bell or even Chipotle. There aren't many fast food places where I can get huaraches - in New York. In San Francisco, on the other hand, there's a lot more Mexican food, and it's probably better than this.
All of two weeks ago, I discovered that I was returning to San Francisco for work. I'm heading out today and as usual, looking forward to a week out west.
Of course, I've already started thinking about which restaurants I want to hit while I'm there. While I'll clearly be partaking in many tacos, the trend this time around skews heavily Italian.
There's also Little Star Pizza on Valencia, where I shared the deep dish pizza above.
Though Toronado doesn't serve food, every table has a menu on it and empty serving baskets pile up at the end of the bar. The popular choice of snack at the bar are the sausages at Rosamunde, right next door.
I had the beer sausage, which was fantastic, but I could have tried out everything on the menu. It all looked so good. I'm glad I made it out at least once this trip.
I've raved about various parts about San Francisco and how I wish I had certain aspects of the Bay Area readily available where I live. Eventually I was bound to run into a few things that didn't make any sense. And here it is. The most ass-backward thing I saw while in SF was the Muni Passport.
It's a 3 day pass that allows the bearer to get on the buses, street cars and trolleys around the city. It's obviously something that you'd want to carry around. But it's huge. Instead of being a wallet sized swipe or proxy card, like everywhere else in the world, this pass looks more like a lottery scratch ticket that should be tossed out after losing your money than something you would put in your wallet. In fact, there's no way this thing would fit in anyone's wallet. I've put it next to a standard sized Metrocard here for scale. It's very silly.
I read mention of Zeitgeist several times on the interweb while I was researching for the trip, but forgot I had been here before until a couple days before I headed out. On a visit a few years back, a friend who lived out there took us there. Being slightly off the beaten path, I never managed to run into it again.
Apparently, it's quite the popular hangout spot, pulling all types of local crowds into its divey environs and its gigantic backyard under the freeway.
On my last night, Guy and I passed through and finally encountered the Tamale Lady, a local legend I read about but never encountered. All was right with the world.
I snapped this shot on my first night, while I wandered the town trying to avoid jetlag by staying up until a decent hour. I was playing with some overexposure, leaving an effect similar to how I was feeling at the time. The photo was also posted on Eater SF while I was out there.
Neither here nor there, I saw Rick Bayless at the Farmers Market last week in San Francisco. I am forever grateful to Bayless for introducing me to Queso Fundido, which I first experienced at a visit to his restaurant in Chicago.
Cheesy wonderfullness in the extreme.
Elbo Room. The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.
Despite the tone of the photo, the vibe at this bar on a Thursday night was lively and fun. I hung out here for a round as I was waiting to meet up with ToJ to pick Guy up from the airport. I had passed it before but never went in. I'd go back with a group of friends.
I had my share of tacos while in San Francisco. These are from La Taqueria and there were among the best I had the whole time.
If you look closely, you'll notice that the inner tortilla layers are crisp, having been hard cooked on the griddle. The effect is brilliant, offering both the soft chewiness of the soft shell and the firm crunch of a hard shelled taco.
Seen here are a carnitas taco and a lengua taco, my favorites. My attraction to crispy shredded pork is obvious. I don't think I need to elaborate. Lengua on the other hand is one o those things that people have some trouble with.
I won't deny that my initial attraction to eating tongue was the competitive foodie instinct that leads many of us to eat random ridiculous things to prove our intestinal fortitude (sometimes literally). But beyond that, the texture, which is almost creamy in its tenderness is amazing.
Below is an up close and personal perspective.
Upper Haight, San Francisco. 2008.
I saved the best for last. Guy, ToJ and I were waiting for a seat at Magnolia in the Upper Haight. While we waited, this woman, who was clearly high on something, yelled, threatened, strutted and flailed about. She was screaming til hoarse at this guy who did little more than follow her as she paced and harangued.
We had to feel pretty bad for this guy. During all this, his dog apparently in heat, hopped up on hind legs and repeatedly humped his leg.
Now that's a pretty bad day.
I always want to go to Toronado when I go to San Francisco, but its location on Haight near Fillmore, is seemingly the most inconvenient place to get to from Downtown.
Ask any beer fan who has been to the Bay Area and Toronado will be mentioned in the first few breaths. It's a beer bar in a city of bars with great beer selections.
It's got about 40 taps, but numbers aren't the point. A lot of places go around these days cheering about how many taps they have but use half of them up with mass market swill. The selection here is curated. Obviously, there is a wide selection of local craft beers. More importantly, they often stock low production batches that often can't be found anywhere. On my first visit, they had a keg of Siera Nevada's bottle brew of their Pale Ale. I don't think I had ever noticed the difference between the tap and bottle versions of Sierra until then. Additionally, Toronado stocks more European beers than most West Coast bars I've seen.
After the jump, a sampling of the draft list - all I could fit in one shot.
547 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
This vision of loveliness was served up at Taqueria Cancun. ToJ, Guy and I headed there right after picking Guy up from sfo.
I had never considered getting Nachos at a Taqueria, largely because I only ever associate the dish with the terrible "casual dining" establishments where I tend to encounter them. These were nothing like that.
The immediate shock is the lack of hot orange cheez whiz on top. Instead there was thick, gooey cheese on top. Craziness. The dollops of crema fresca and slices of avocado added cool and soft to the crisp texture of the tortillas.
Clarion Alley, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008
Clarion Alley, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.
I came across some great, huge wall sized graffiti all around San Francisco. They were striking to me, coming from New York, where it's harder to find those giant works. I got a bunch of shots of those, particularly with interesting Wildstyle pieces. I'll be posting those eventually, but I thought I'd spend this week posting the smaller, uncommon work: Stencils, Paste-Ups, stickers and so on.
To start off is this cool paste up that I found on my return to Clarion Alley.
Yesterday I saw this piece again for the first time in 6 years. It's a huge wall piece of Atari characters. It's also what I remember as being the first graffiti wall that really caught my interest. Growing up in New York, I've seen graffiti all my life. But seeing this on my first (grown-up) trip to San Francisco, it was the first time I really noticed it.
On all my trips out here since then, I haven't managed to see it again, but this time, I made a point of seeking it out. It's more or less the same as the first time, with some patched up points here. It's a longevity that I generally think of as unusual for graffiti, an aft form that is typically transient. I'm glad it's still there.
Again, it's not so surprising, given all my pining for the Bay Area that I decided to head back there next month. Last night I booked my ticket.
I'm hoping to finally catch up with friends who live there that I never manage to see during my usual trips. Guyvera will also be joining me and we'll hang out with his people as well. So, we'll be with a bunch of locals who know where to go and what to do.
Next, I need to see if I can find a place to stay with a kitchen, so that I can do something with the goodies I hope to get at some of those farmers markets I love so much.
But first, LA. I fly out Sunday morning. More to come...
This is pretty self-evident, given all my complaining about how little I got to see San Francisco last month. Guy lived there for a few years and would be into going back for a couple days as well. I think I'd want to stay some place with a kitchen and really take advantage of the farmers market for once. Also, the tacos would be plentiful.
I'd have to make several expeditions into the various graffiti havens and explore some of the neighborhoods I haven't seen. There are also a bunch of college friends who live out there that I didn't have time to see at all last month.
While there, I'd also like to see more of Oakland, I got a few recommendations for places out there to visit last month, but there was no time to go.
18th Street and Valencia, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.
"A white mouse pokes its head out of the sewer grate and gives him an inquisitive glance. He swears the mouse winks before it scurries up 18th
a. Intrigued, he follows the mouse.
b. Dismissive, he shrugs it off"
I was a huge fan of the "choose your own adventure" books as a kid. Sadly, I didn't take the adventure, so I'll never know where it would have led. . .
Clarion Alley, The Mission. 2008.
It was nice to see this Swoon out in San Francisco. It's a copy of the same piece that was splashed on Rivington a while back. I haven't seen much in the way of new work from her in a long time. I'll take what I can get.
Since I wrote this, Gothamist posted about her return to the city. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her new stuff.
A couple of weeks before heading to San Francisco, I polled Guyvera and The Tower of Justice aka ToJ for some recommendations. As we have discussed foodblogging together in the past, I have no compunction against reposting his email. Enjoy!
SF: The Tower has Spoken
La Taqueria is the gold standard in SF. Be sure to get two carnitas tacos, with cheese and avocado, crispy style. This last request--crispy style--is key because what it means is they overfry the inside tortilla, providing a nice juxtaposition in textures with the softer, outer tortilla.
To be honest, I know less about Taqueria San Jose and Taqueria Cancun, although if memory serves, Taqueria Cancun has a decent burrito. For a GREAT burrito, go to Taqueria San Francisco, which is on 24th (or maybe 25th) about 5 blocks east of Mission St. They have great carnitas burritos.
Beyond tacos, there are a couple of other latin american joints you should try. If you like Pupusas, then Panchitas on 16th and Valencia is solid. This has been my good old reliable spot. More recently, I got hip to El Zocalo which is more towards the Outer Mission, I think on Mission and 30th. Conveniently enough, El Zocalo is within walking distance to Mitchell's Ice Cream, where the Ube (Filipino purple yam) ice cream is a must try. At both pupuserias, I order the pupusa plate with pupusa revueltas (filled with pork, cheese, and beans).
You might also consider Mi Lindo Yucatan, on Valencia and 15th (I think). Guy and I went there one time a long time ago, but they have delightful chicken and pork dishes. If memory serves, they have a black bean chicken and/or pork, and one wrapped and steamed in banana leaves. They also serve fresh tortillas in a little bin instead of tortilla chips which is novel.
Other places to eat in the Mission area (but which are not necessarily within the "Taco" genre or penumbra of foods) include Little Star Pizza. You're a New Yorker, and so you have the right to be skeptical of any claims to fame about pizza elsewhere, but this place is pretty tasty. It blends the Chicago deep dish style with California ingredient consciousness. They use a cornmeal crust which is interesting. I usually like to get sausage, mushroom, and ricotta cheese--they put dollops of ricotta cheese on the pie, which brown during the baking process.
If you have any questions or need recommendations on the fly, feel free and call me.
The Tower has spoken (Konichiwa bitches!)
One last San Francisco post (for the moment). Above is the Google Map I put up of places of note that I've been or that were recommended to me. I believe it will update as I add to it over time, but, really I have no idea...
If you've got more recommendations that aren't here, let me know.
Among the many things that I'm currently swooning about San Francisco over is how bicycle-friendly it seems to be. I'd never have thought it. If there's any place I would naturally avoid bicycling it would be a place with as many steep hills as San Francisco. But given the few things we saw, it seems to cater to the two-wheeled very well.
First there were these signs that Tammi and I saw all around the Financial District, which I can't begin to imagine in Wall Street.
We also came across the most amazing bicycle parking inside the BART station at Mission and 16th. It looked like it could park between 50 and 100 bicycles. To top it off, there's a well along the side of the stairway going into the station designed specifically for riders to roll their bikes down.
Wherever I travel, I consider on some level whether I could live there. I think everyone does to some degree. In some cases, that consideration is as simple as "I hate this place, I could never live there." That's how I feel whenever I head up to the 'burbs in Connecticut. In the case of Paris or London or Tokyo, the question is more wistful. I would love to live there but it's so unlikely and complicated by language and policy that it's more of a dream than anything else.
But San Francisco has a pull for me that's unlike anywhere else. it's different, more realistic, more familiar.
I'm probably just feeling the afterglow from my visit to the Farmers Market this morning. And the bottles of local wine I picked up in the ferry building. Eating and drinking local, sustainable and most importantly quality products doesn't seem to be the luxury it is in New York.
The culture of the area just seems so custom-suited to my interests. I've gone on about the food already, and obviously I'd love to be right in the middle of the biggest craft brewing and wine-growing region in the country. It's also the urban center of the tech industry, which is what has brought me out there for the last several years.
Of course, the ugly is pretty inescapable as well. Junkies camp out on the streets leaving crack and weed smoke wafting through the air. I grew up in New York of the 80's, I have no glamorous visions of such things. It's ugly and dangerous. Nothing good can come of it.
In the end, the chances of me ditching Brooklyn anytime soon are slim. It is my home after all. Even so, as I fly across the country back to New York, I can't help but wish I had more time to get to know San Francisco better.
Clarion Alley is the treasure trove I discovered in The Mission the other day. It's between 17th and 18th Streets and goes from Mission to Valencia. I took more than a hundred shots of the pieces up there. A selection of them will be the Graffiti of the Day for the next week. Enjoy! ::c::
I have market envy. I love everything about the Ferry Building and its weekend farmers market. I only stumbled on the Farmers Market at the Ferry building on last day of my visit last year, I had no idea what to expect. Again, I passed through it with only a few hours left before my flight home, but this time I knew what I was looking for: Oysters.
It never occurred to me, but it seems obvious out there. Unlike New York, where the market is 99 percent produce with one or two relatively pricey stands selling meats, the sellers are much more varied. Some sell produce, of course, most even, which is great. But you've also got fresh whole chickens with the feet still on, aidell's sausages, locally made cheeses, vendors selling cooked food and of course, Oysters. I had six Sweetwater and one Kumamoto from Hogs Farms. It's amazing to me to be able to walk down to the market on a Saturday morning and slurp down a half dozen oysters while I shop for groceries. Truly amazing.
Sadly, these two delightful stacks of meat and salsa crammed onto tortillas were the only tacos I managed to eat this trip. With little time to go for variety, I stuck with more moderate ingredients. I skipped the lengua and cabeza in favor of carne asada and carnitas, both great choices.
I got these at Taqueria San Jose on Mission around 23rd Street. My next stop was to be La Taqueria a block or two up, but they had closed for the evening. Instead I walked down to Taqueria Cancun on Mission and 18th and picked up a Burrito for Tammi and I to split. Tragically, that was the entirety of my Burrito eating in San Francisco. This is very upsetting. I'm trying to figure out when I can get out here next to rectify this situation.
After a week of conference sessions, Tammi and I are beat. It's unfortunate because both of us love San Francisco but we didn't get to see much of it outside of the 'geek bubble.' Next time I've got to get some extra time of before or after the trip so I can hang out more.
We did manage to eat pretty well, so expect a couple posts about that. Also, I managed to get back to the graffiti treasure trove I mentioned yesterday. More on that later too.
For now, I'm off to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building to ogle produce that I can't really buy and snack on whatever is available.
Clarion Alley, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.
I finally tore myself away from the geekfest bubble for a couple of hours last night and encountered some great graffiti. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me, so I had to shoot these with my phone. In a couple hours the conference will be all done and I can go shooting. I can't wait to get at this stuff with some decent light and a real camera. I just hope my wide angle can capture it all.
Market Street, San Francisco. 2008.
These 'warnings' are posted all around the convention center downtown. On them theArtist General warns about the hazards of conformity and the need for dissent.
On Sunday, I turned 31. Like my previous birthday, much of it was spent in the air. Last year we spent most of the day flying to Japan, a trip I blogged pretty extensively.
To celebrate the big day, Tammi and I had dinner at Yoshi's on Fillmore. We had a fantastic meal there, possibly the best I've had all year. After days of delicious, heavy southern foods, we both welcomed a lighter fare.
That said, the dish that sticks with me the most was still fried: Unagi Tempura, a whole eel fillet fried in tempura batter. It was a little difficult to handle with my poor chopstick skills, but it was fantastic.
I also had some uni that had an incredibly complex flavor. I love uni. Your mileage may vary, depending on your tolerance for odd textures. I've lovingly compared it to a wad of snot in the past. it doesn't slide down your throat like an oyster, it sticks to the roof of your mouth, lingering long enough to release every bit of flavor it's got. Tammi's not fond of the stuff, but I love it.
As we shared a selection of fish from Tsukiji Fish Market, I realized that it was already Monday in Tokyo, exactly a year since we blindly wandered the aisles at Tsukiji, trying to avoid being hit by the 'careening' turrets.
After dinner we saw Ahmad Jamal and his band perform at Yoshi's Jazz club. It was a great show.
SOMA, SF. 2007.
Yes, this is in San Francisco, but not from this trip. I've barely had the camera out all week. It's been busy. Hopefully I'll find some time to do a little hunting near the end of the week.
Also, I have no idea if that says Sidem or something else entirely. I'm terrible at reading wildstyle.
San Francisco, CA. 2005.
More Copy Editors Gone Wild. ::c::
I love In n Out Burger. Amazingly, when I first tried it, in San Francisco a few years ago, I wasn't so into it. The one I had was too dry. Thankfully, I tried it again last year when I was back in LA. Then I tried it again. And again. This time around I only got my Double Double fix once, but I take what I can get.
Google now offers personalized maps without the geekery previously necessary to put one together. I've wanted to do one since Eric put together a Paris map for his trip there last year.
I've started populating the map with bars I've been to in my travels. At some point, I'll figure out how I want to connect it to the site, in the meantime, click on the screenshot above and take a look.
I stopped in at Swan in January when I was in San Francisco for Macworld. I was supposed to be going with some friends, but they weren't going to make it in time. Guyvera insisted that I go without them, just so I could check it out before they closed.
When I got there, there was a small line out the door. It reminded me of Schwartz' in Montreal, which I will post about one of these days. The Depot is a long narrow room with a counter that runs nearly all the way back.
I wasn't blown away by the chowder, which I prefer thicker. What I loved was the crab cocktail, made with big chunks of dungeness crab smothered in a sweet and tangy cocktail sauce. Their horseradish was intensely strong, a great balance to the sweetness.
Swan's is a great little hole in the wall that I definitely want to go back to next time I'm in San Francisco.
I read about Bob's in the guidebooks, but hadn't really planned on checking it out. It was listed as a good place to grab a sweet snack and some coffee after boozing it up in the Trenderloin. I only shot the photo above for a flickr group, then I walked right by it.
One of the conference after-parties ended up being on the same block and I had an opportunity to check it out as intended - drunk and snacky. It was perfect.
The doughnut was light and fluffy with a slight chewiness that reminded my snacking companion of a zeppole. My glazed wasn't overbearingly sweet like Krispy Kreme. It hit the spot.
I found this in an alley in San Francisco recommended in the San Francisco Graffiti group on Flickr.
Graffiti is one of my favorite photo subjects. I feel as though that's been neglected in the blog so far.
To rectify that, I'm introducing a new Graffiti of the Day feature. Now, I don't get into the Graffiti vs Street Art debate. It's all Graffiti to me whether it's spray paint on a wall, paint on wood tiles, pasted paper or metalwork.
I'll try to add as much about the piece featured as I can recall.
This shot was taken in the SOMA area of San Francisco earlier this year. It's by The Mac.
This post is backdated to back when I was in San Francisco in early January.
When I found out that Rogue had a pub, I knew I had to go check it out.
The pub is in a corner of North Beach a few blocks away from the bigger tourist attractions of Beat bookshops and Italian restaurants. The space is pretty big, with a smaller second room used for game nights and parties. The vibe was very laidback, I didn't run into any hardcore beer geeks eager to sneer at anyone's beer choice. Despite being owned by an out of town brewery, the place had a decided neighborhood feel. In fact, while I was there, I ran into a former co-worker who had just moved to San Francisco. He and his roommate had been getting settled in and decided to go to the local for a round or two.
I sat at the bar on a quiet Sunday afternoon, while everyone else watched the game, I delved into the tome that listed all the Rogue Ales available. They have 44 taps, pouring mostly Rogue ales, but also nearly a dozen guest brews. I stuck with the Rogues myself, but I appreciated the option.
The beer I tasted after the jump...
(This entry is backdated.)
2006 was one of my better years for travel. I saw 2 new countries and 6 new cites. I tried to get a fresh look at the places I'd been before, exploring new neighborhoods and seeing new things.
I hope to find a way to include all or most of these trips in the blog one way or the other. For now this will have to do.
After the jump, my photo rundown of the places I went last year.