From our hotel in Union Square, we walked up and down to Fisherman’s Wharf, where we caught our first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the cute lounging sea lions. Like any confection-loving tourist, we walked over to Ghirardelli Square and were instantly engulfed by the chocolate aroma. While nibbling on salted caramel samples, we trekked up to charming Nob Hill to our dad's historical landmark recommendation, the Fairmont San Francisco Hotel. We people-watched and caught up over a couple of cocktails and plate of assorted cheeses.
We walked down to the Ferry Building Marketplace which boasts an array of iconic bites, from the fine crafted brews of Blue Bottle Coffee to Cowgirl Creamery's stellar cheeses. For dinner, we went to our brother's recommendation, The Slanted Door, a San Francisco hot spot that features modern renditions on Vietnamese classics with a local Californian flare. We arrived before our reservation so ordered “The Dorchester” (gin, lime, maraschino, and grapefruit ) at the mosaic glass covered bar while marveling in the stylish, open interior. Once seated, we sampled a bunch of dishes including the Slanted Door Spring Rolls, Prather Ranch Beef Carpaccio, Cellophane Noodles with Dungeness Crab, and Caramelized Wild Gulf Shrimp while we watched the Bay Bridge light up the night's sky. We concluded our meal with a Snickerdoodle and Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich, and were admittedly on a culinary high after this experience.
Once the sun peeked through the fog, we ran over to the vast, lush and serene Golden Gate Park. From there, we sought lunch on the eclectic yet sophisticated Chestnut Street. We stepped through the cozy wooden interior of Blue Barn, a cafe that celebrates organic and local cuisine with thoughtful sandwiches and salads. For Marni it was salad time-a wintery blend of greens, Brussels sprouts, kumquats, Parmigiano Reggiano and Meyer lemon. For Kara it was sandwich time-a Buffalo Blue Chicken sandwich with celery greens on a ciabatta roll. Washed down with glass mason jars of water and chocolate, peanut butter and s'mores Rice Krispies treats, we could see why this adorable spot has become a gem for locals.
As Happy Hour hit, it was time to meet up with some friends who drove up from LA. We ordered some carefully crafted cocktails at Bourbon and Branch, a speakeasy-type of bar with a dark cavernous library. Kara opted for a mix of vodka, cucumber, and lime while Marni opted for gin, ginger, grapefruit. No pictures this time, it was too dark!
To cap off the weekend, we dined at Bar Tartine. Known for its alluring, world renown bakery during the day, the eatery features a serious menu with an Eastern European and Californian flare. Seated on wooden benches in the chic, simplistic, countryside interior, we were not surprised when the meal started with a freshly baked bread basket, an instant highlight to the meal. Over Hungarian wine, we shared plates that included inventive Dill Pickled Beets, Smoked Potatoes with Green Garlic Mayonnaise, Roasted Baby Kale with Rye, Seeds, and Yogurt, Green Chili Fisherman’s Stew with Collards, and Lamb Meatballs. We adored each dish's minimalist, 'no frills' presentation and were blown away by the bold flavors and textures.
After testing just a short sample from our lengthy list of recommendations, we rented a car and headed north where our adventure continued. . .Stay tuned for an account of our perusal through the incredible wineries of Sonoma and the neighboring quaint towns. Also, keep an eye out for some California- inspired recipes to come!