San Fran Pics

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hi everyone,
    As promised here are the pictures to accompany my recent SF post.

Bay Bridge

Not sure what "neighborhood" this was

My Mint Bliss sundae from Ghiradelli. (Sorry, I'm not sure how to flip this pic around.) It was SO good!

Alcatraz Island/ Pier 39

Inside the Westfield San Francisco mall. The picture hardly does it justice.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

**I apologize for the lack of photos. As soon as my replacement USB cord comes, I'll post photos.

A few weeks ago, my best friend, Tulip, invited me on an impromptu road trip up to San Francisco with friends. She insisted that I go and would not take no for an answer. The trip would be about 3 days and she and I would not have to drive. Concerned about my finances, she made the very generous offer to pay for most of my food.

Finally out of excuses, I agreed. She said we would be on our own as the friends would be busy at a conference for the 2 days. San Francisco is a fantastic walking town. So, no heels for this trip. It was the first time ever that I had gone on a trip without an agenda or a lot of information. The only thing I knew was we were staying in a motel room in Berkeley and would be driving to the city.

Unable to plan as I typically would do, I felt a little lost. Tulip and I didn't have so much as a map or a clue of where we would go on our own. We were dropped off around the Moscone Conference Center and would make our way around. Although I was born in SF, I was not raised there. It's been over a decade since I had last been there. I also have only gone to see family and I would be at the mercy of their schedules and interests- busy and very predictable.

Tulip assured that we would be fine with her phone (as long as there was wi-fi) and asking the locals. (I definitely don't operate that way. But it worked out.) We decided to go ask a few locals about some places of interest to go within walking distance. Our first stop was the San Francisco mall. Bloomie's drew me in where I spied some truly beautiful (and very pricey) designer shoes. I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment when I saw the shoes- "Hello, lover".

One of the places someone had suggested was to go to Pier 39. We also heard about this wonderful cupcake place that we had to check out in or near Fisherman's Wharf. I'm not sure just how many miles it was from our Moscone starting place, but it was some serious hiking. We had munched on peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Before we reached Pier 39, I was starving.

I saw a cafe, Pier 23 Cafe, which was along the water. We decided to hang out there and give our tired feet a rest. I decided to order a cup of their New England Clam Chowder. Honestly, that has to be one of the most common and often disappointing dishes for me in restaurants. I have rarely eaten a remarkable clam chowder. Tulip confessed that she had never tried the soup before. I offered her first bite. She said it was ok. I agreed, ok but not outstanding.
I ordered the Ensenada Style Crispy Fish Tacos. It was decent but a bit disappointing. I probably should have ordered the Grilled Chicken & Bacon Sandwich. Full but disappointed, we trekked over to Pier 39 and then inquired about this cupcake place.

We had discovered a fun indoor market where free samples were everywhere. Most of the samples were delicious except for one exceptionally strong and unpleasant olive oil. There was no sign of the mysterious cupcake place. No one had heard of it and we had asked several people along the way.

We had fun roaming around in Fisherman's Wharf. We decided to go walk to the famed Ghiradelli Ice Cream Shop. Chocolate heaven!  I spotted a very cute tea shop, Crown and Crumpet. If I had known about the tea shop earlier, I might have been able to get us a reservation for their light tea. Perhaps another time.
We saw a different cupcake place, Kara's Cupcakes. However, not only was it empty, it was expensive. Then we saw a long line and figured it was Ghiradelli. While we were in line, we spotted an abandoned ice cream sundae. A hungry pigeon was having fun sampling the ice cream.

We finally got close enough to peruse the menu. I always have a hard time with desserts. I was torn between the Cookie Bottom Sundae or the Mint Bliss. Tulip is partial to berries in her ice cream and so she chose the Very Berry Sundae. The Mint Bliss consists of: "one scoop each of mint chip ice cream and chocolate ice cream, topped with freshly homemade dark chocolate hot fudge, whipped cream and an Intense DarkTM Midnight Reverie® 86% chocolate".
The Very Berry Sundae had "Strawberry cheesecake ice cream topped with sliced strawberries, under a layer of vanilla ice cream with blueberry topping, whipped cream, chocolate-covered blueberries and finished
with a homemade, chocolate-dipped waffle roll".
Mine was flawless, decadent, and amazing. I had a sample of her sundae. It was almost perfect, save for the odd chocolate-covered blueberries. Fresh blueberries would have been tastier.

Like most women, we figured we had walked off our calories and then some. It was already late afternoon and we had to head back to Moscone. We never did find the cupcake place. We ended up going back to Moscone by passing by Chinatown and Little Italy.  Too bad we were full from the ice cream. I happen to love Chinese food and Italian food.

We met up with our friends. Tulip wanted to take us to the Belgian fry place that she went to 5 years ago. I was excited by the idea of Belgian fries with different dipping sauces. It's called Frjtz. It was also over an hour walk from Moscone. My poor legs, feet, and back truly ached but I obediently went along for the long walk. Our friends said we would take the BART back to the car. Turns out it would take approximately 12 minutes to get back.

Now, the fries were truly delicious. I ordered a large order of fries with pesto mayo and white truffle artichoke ketchup. Tulip is a spice fiend so she had to ask what were the 2 hottest sauces: jalapeno ketchup and chipotle remoulade. Choosing the sauces was somewhat of a challenge. These were the sauces to choose from:
Pesto mayo
Curry ketchup
Thai chili ketchup
Ginger Orange mayo
Kalamata ketchup
Creamy Wasabi mayo
Parmesan peppercorn ranch
Jalapeno ketchup
Chipotle remoulade
White truffle artichoke ketchup
Bacon mayo
Grilled eggplant mayo
Strawberry mustard
Miso mayo
Spicy yogurt peanut
Balsamic mayo
Smokey honey mustard
Roasted pepper mayo
Ponzu ketchup
Tamarind cashew ketchup

Frjtz had a wide menu: mussels, sandwiches, crepes (savory and sweet), burgers, and salads. If I ever get to go back, I'm getting a crepe. We headed over to the BART station and headed back to Berkeley.

The next day, Tulip and I were in no mood for long hikes. We returned back to the SF mall and hung out in their food court. I have to say that I am highly impressed with their food court, very clean, gourmet, and impressive. We saw a special for Fish & Chips for $5. SF is an expensive town with cheaper meals hovering around $10 and up. The eatery is called Catch Isle. It was bright, clean, sleek, modern, and friendly. I was expecting a paper boat filled with 2 pieces of fish and a handful of fries. What we got was a large plate covered with crisp skinny fries, two large beautifully golden fried fish, and a paper basket of cole slaw and a paper cup of tartar sauce. It was truly a glorious meal. I prefer my cole slaw to be more mayo based than vinegar based (Catch Isle's version) but it was still good. It was actually the best seafood dish I had there and the cheapest.

Before we left the mall, Tulip wanted to surprise her guy, Apollo, with gourmet chocolate. Apollo loves root beer. Cocoa Bella Chocolates happen to have root beer chocolate. It's caramel infused with root beer in dark chocolate. Artisan chocolates are pricey but exquisite. If I had extra money, I would have bought some fleur de sel caramel, passion fruit, Laderach cappuccino, Marquise de Sevigne Hazelnut Champignon (mushroom), Tarte Tatin (French apple pie), etc.

We ended up having a late-night dinner in Livermore at Strings Italian Cafe. I ordered spaghetti and meatballs as it was one of the cheaper dinner items. I couldn't believe I only got 2 large meatballs. I fell asleep on the way back.

I hope that I will get to return to San Francisco soon, only this time with an itinerary and BART fare.

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