I experienced a whirlwind of international flavors while on my short weekend trip in San Francisco last May... from breakfast at one of the city's many casual cafes to dinner at finer Vietnamese fare... to saliva-inducing spicy Szechuan Chinese to milder Mediterranean munchies... here's a look at the many marvelous meals from that weekend.
Breakfast @ Cafe Capriccio (San Francisco: North Beach)
I had an open-faced bagel piled high with turkey, fresh tomatoes, red onions, mozzarella, basil. Yum! I really liked that Capriccio packed the tomatoes high. One stingy slice of tomato in my sandwiches just doesn't do it for me. And I liked that the mozzarella topped off the sandwich rather than congealing to the bottom slice of the bagel. It sorta Saran-wrapped the tomatoes and onions together, preventing the pagoda pile from toppling over. Call it my love for organizations, but I like! And some fragrant basil and a bit of coarsely ground black pepper for minor oomph? Like, like, like!
Dinner @ Out the Door (San Francisco: Union Square)
While we ordered quite a few dishes from the menu, there were two that caught the attention of my taste buds. The first was the green papaya salad. I don't normally like the papaya smell or flavor, but the combination of sweet, spicy, and sour was strangely addicting. I kept telling myself to save my appetite for the forthcoming courses, but while waiting for the dishes to arrive, I began to pick out the peanuts. One thing led to another, and of course my chopsticks picked up strand after strand of the green papaya.
The other dish that quickly became a favorite was the crispy duck. Oh, how I couldn't (and still can't) resist beautifully, golden, crispy skin of pork or poultry. The meat under the wonderfully crispy skin was tender, moist, and juicy. Wow, it was like the double trifecta of poultry perfection: skin x (beautiful, golden, crispy) + meat x (tender, moist, juicy). I honestly couldn't ask for more. Well, I could... another order please?
Dinner @ Spices (San Francisco: Inner Richmond)
What a fitting name: Spices! The only way the restaurant's name could be any more fitting is if it's changed to Spicy-as-hell. One dish at this restaurant had officially caused a near-death experience for me. The mini spicy tofu cubes had a bite that created a psychotic spiciness in my ears. As beads of sweat rolled down and around my eyebrows, my ears rang with panicked alarm. Some seeds from the Szechuan chili pepper must have slipped into my mouth somehow, and one off-bite must have caused the seed's juice to explode. Not water, not tea, not yogurt smoothies (I know understand why those drinks are on the menu) could prevent the forest fire from spreading across the prairie of tastebuds. Sorry, Smokey. Call me crazy, but I'd chomp down on these little tofu bombs again. I'd be crazy not to.
Lunch @ Oasis Grill (San Francisco: Financial District)
I met up with Grace while during her lunch break. She frequently called me during her lunch breaks to describe what she was having. Ugh, although it's nice to hear her voice, it's not so nice to hear the delicious meal she was having. So when I finally made it up to SF on a weekday, Grace grabbed the chance to introduce me to one of her usual lunch spots.
Grace ordered the chicken shawarma. And while I was pondering over all the menu options (and irritating the on-the-go bankers with my turtle-like decision-making process), Grace instructed, "Get the chicken shawarma. It's good." I obliged. After all, it's the first item on the menu.
We grabbed our shawarmas and hopped on over to the area across from the Ferry Building for our Greek grub. On this beautiful day in the San Francisco, those who spent 8+ hours a day in the Embarcadero buildings enjoyed their lunch while basking in the sun. Ah, shit like that makes me happy.
The super enormous chicken shawarma made me happy too. It was almost the length of my forearm. The simple wrap was filled with rotisserie chicken, lettuce, tomato, and a gastronomically gourmet garlic sauce. The garlic sauce, although typically thought of as a mere condiment, was absolute gold in my eyes. The sauce added a flavorful bite to the lettuce and tomato and was a mediator of moisture for the chicken.
I suddenly envied all those who worked at the Embarcadero buildings. Suit and tie to work for this? No problem! If I worked in the city, I'd be a regular at Oasis Grill for sure. I peeled more of the alumnimum foil off, and nom, nom, nommed away.
Halfway through the wrap, I was absolutely full. That shawarma was BIG. And upon annoucning that I couldn't eat another bite, I heard an exclamation of, "WEAK SAAAAAUUUCCE." I stared. I blinked. I thought, "this girl just called me weak sauce. Must. continue. eating." I wasn't about to let a girl beat me at eating forearm-lengthed shawarmas. No failing.
I finished. "Oooh...," I thought, "San Francisco, you've done me good." I spotted a portion of the shawarma pushing out from inside my belly... "I shall return."
Until the next trip to San Francisco, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.
ML - 20100706/20090516-20