San Francisco

Scream SorbetIf you've never been to San Francisco you need to know our Summer starts NOW. Yes, in September. Not only is it pretty and warm and sunny but Summer produce--tomatoes, corn, pepper, and peaches are all ripe and delicious at the moment. It's easy to roll your eyes at our "sustainable, local, organic" mantra, but while you're here, be sure to try some of these bites of Summer.

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SFanchovyOne of the nice perks of writing about food is being invited to restaurants and even getting to preview ones that have not yet opened. While busy writing the cookbook I have taken some breaks to see what's going on around town. Here are some highlights:

Hog Island Oyster Co. Bar has long been one of my favorite little hideaways at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza. Tucked away in an awkward spot, it had fantastic views of the Bay Bridge and soul soothing clam chowder, not to mention an always stellar range of oysters on the half shell. The space is certainly not awkward any longer. Now that the oyster bar has taken over the adjacent spot, it’s a spacious and nicely unified expanse with two bars and plenty of outdoor seating. The menu is larger too.

My picks are still the classic clam chowder that has no flour so it’s rich and creamy, not goopy, and the white anchovies. Served with piquillo pepper aioli, chopped eggs and green herb sauce on baguette slices, the anchovies are are bright and juicy, nothing like what you get out of a can. In case you didn't know, Hog Island was founded by two marine biologists who are passionate about the future of sustainable seafood.

San Francisco Ferry Building, #11A, San Francisco 

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joescableexerior.jpg Joe’s Cable Car Restaurant in San Francisco is where “Joe Grinds His Own Fresh Chuck Daily”. A large sign on the outside of the restaurant declares this in bold type. Joe’s has been around since 1965. It is a charming place on Mission Street just south of highway 280. You can’t miss it driving down Mission. Windows are loaded with neon signs of the Golden Gate Bridge, a cable car and other San Francisco landmarks. Joe obviously likes signs. There must be 30 signs in the parking lot warning you not to park without permission.

Entering the restaurant one is struck by its cleanliness and nostalgia. Christmas lights with little Santas are still strung neatly from the ceiling. Fake flowers adorn the room, but somehow they work because they haven’t become a dusty relic, but are clean and new looking. The floor shines bright. One of three energetic waitresses greets and escorts a diner to a seat.

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redrumsign.jpgRedrum Burger in Davis, CA sits catty-corner to an In-N-Out Burger just off the freeway. Redrum was there long before In-N-Out and judging from the line at lunch time on a recent Thursday, they will be there for a while longer. Originally called Murder Burger when it was established in 1986, Murder changed to Redrum (murder spelled backwards) when a contest determined the winning name in 2001.

The place feels a little shabby when you walk in, but it seems comfortable like an old sweatshirt. I went to the counter to choose between burgers. 1/4 lb. $4.29, 1/3 lb. $5.49, 1 lb. $11.49 or my choice 1/2 lb. $6.49. They have Buffalo too. The burger comes with cheese, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. I ordered fries ($1.49), onion rings ($4.99) and on the recommendation of the counter-minder a strawberry shake ($3.99). They have various combo specials to save you money. “Twelve minutes”, he told me when he handed me my change.

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otdbush1.jpg You may have eaten at Slanted Door or even at Out The Door either at the Ferry Building or at San Francisco Centre, but you're going to want to try OTD Bush in the Fillmore. In addition to many of the dishes that Chef Charles Phan is famous for such as Vietnamese Spring Rolls and the Jicama and Grapefruit Salad or the Chicken Claypot, OTD Bush offers something else entirely. Breakfast!

I love breakfast but let's face it, going out for breakfast in this town usually means American fare, dim sum or maybe Mexican food. Now there is something new, Vietnamese food. At a press preview I got tastes of a lot of deliciousness. Hats off to Pastry Chef Chucky Dugo for a whole bunch of sweet and savory treats to dig into. I was crazy about the crunchy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside Beignets, Crepes with apples, Warm Banana Sticky Rice with toasted coconut and sweet and savory style pate choux pastries. The little puff pastries were still slightly eggy on the inside, just the way I like them.

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