San Francisco

ferrybldgEvery city has its famous market building and San Francisco is no exception. On my trip to the city by the bay last month I couldn't help but visit the Ferry Building Marketplace, a collection of shops and restaurants all housed under one roof. The Ferry Building began in 1898 as a hub for ferries crossing the bay before the bridges existed. During the 1950s it had fallen into neglect, but in 2003 a thorough renovation was completed and the once derelict building was reborn as the modern market it is today. With more than 35 shops, there are plenty of places to visit for buying gifts, eating lunch, or picking up a number of foodstuffs.

What better time to visit the marketplace than on an a rainy day in the bay. On my first day in San Francisco, we stopped at the Ferry Building to take refuge from the terrible rain that was very unusual for March. The marketplace is almost always crowded, and on a rainy day that is especially true. For me it was hard to stay away, I ended up returning to the Ferry Building two more times during my stay in San Francisco—to buy gifts and to have lunch at the Oyster Bar. There are so many things to eat and do, that one day just doesn't seem to be enough, especially for a foodie like me.

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bpastrycaseI have recently made the greatest discovery of my life, gastronomically speaking. On a recent trip to San Francisco I was taken to b. Patisserie. Shouting OMG into the next century would not do this “salon de thé” justice’.  Opened in 2013 by co-creators, co-owners and total pastry geniuses, Belinda Leong and Michel Suas, b. Patisserie could very well have pastry chefs from all over the world setting out on pilgrimages to San Francisco. There is a line from the Eagles song, In the Long Run, “all the debutantes in Houston, couldn’t hold a candle to you.”

Sitting in a windowed corner of b.’s, savoring the croissant, the butter, sugar, crisp crusty outer layer melting in my mouth, the tune played in my head with the words changed to “All the pastry chefs in Paris, couldn’t hold a candle to b!”

b. comes from the name of San Francisco native Belinda Leong who began her career in pastry making back in 1999 working in the renowned San Fran restaurant, Gary Danko. After eight years there, learning much from Gary Danko who she cites as one of her major culinary influences, Belinda left for Europe, working in top patisseries and restaurants in Paris, Spain and Copenhagen, refining her skills and adding to her repertoire. After two years she came back to the Bay area as the pastry chef of Manresa the two Michelin starred restaurant in Los Gatos.  

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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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justforyouJust For You Cafe in the Dogpatch Neighborhood of San Francisco, sits about two blocks from where I now live. Their food is all fresh and local and is served with the Louisiana influence of owner Arienne Landry. I love their fish tacos and their tuna melt, but I had never reviewed their burger. Until today.

Saturday is generally a busy day at Just For You. They are a very popular place for breakfast and they have a brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays. I went late and avoided the wait. Stephanie was in charge today and she always takes great care of me and the rest of the hoards. As always the entire staff was friendly and prompt.

I ordered the Bacon Cheeseburger ($10.50).  Even though they don't have gruyere on the menu, they always have it, so that is what I asked for. I also added fries ($2.50). The burger comes piled high with tons of fresh vegetables. Green leaf lettuce, tomato slices and pickle slices are piled on the nicely toasted Acme white bun. Mayo was liberally applied.

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ImageSpork in San Francisco is my new favorite restaurant. Pat and I went there for dinner after a lovely day in the Mission, checking out all the vintage stores and eating Dymano Donuts. Spork is a place serving old-school classics in a new-school fashion. They have sustainable-this and local-that versions of slow-food takes on old classics. And despite the political correctness of their offerings, everything tastes like it was pan-fried in lard in a steel skillet by my grandmother. That's a very good thing!

The In-Side-Out Burger ($14) screamed "eat me" from the menu. The beef is fresh from Sun Marin Farms. Two patties griddle-fried, peppery and crispy on the outside. Moist and pink on the inside. The concoction towers over the plate. It is a stack of ingredients as follows starting at the plate: Butter lettuce, tomato slice, beef patty, bun circle, special sauce, beef patty, tillamook chedder and a grilled onion topping so sweet it could be applesauce. The special sauce reminded me of the spicy thousand-island type I make at home, only no islands. You have to eat this with a fork and knife, but it doesn't diminish the burger experience.

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