Wednesday, December 13, 2017

eight am

This small coffee shop in San Francisco was a gem of a discovery. We were just walking around and stumbled by a breakfast spot which specialized in healthy, gluten free food. We immediately walked past it and ran into eight am. For the record, they open at 7:00 am.

We figured that it was run by a family since the service was excellent and our server acted like the owner and I mean that in a very good way. The Avocado Toast Three Ways sounded wonderful. The Avocado Toast with Fried Egg was a toasted multi-grain bread spread with mashed avocado topped with one sunny side- up egg. I had that one since I was the only one of the three of us that likes fried eggs. Mertz had the Avocado Toast which was a slice of sourdough with mashed avocado topped with bacon. Sujata, the vegetarian, picked the Avocado Toast with Heirloom Tomato, also with mashed avocado but on sweet baguette. We were all happy with our choice. The trio of toasts came with a full bowl of fresh fruit. Both Mertz and Sujata were in heaven.

We didn't think that would be enough for us so we split an order of the 10AM which was a Crepe with caramelized bananas and Chantilly cream. The crepe was light and it had the right amount of sweetness. The bananas were cooked to perfection. Our server kept our coffee cups full. We finally asked if he was the owner and he politely said yes but pointed to the kitchen where we could see what appeared to be his parents.

eight am is located at 1323 Columbus Ave. in San Francisco. If you are ever in the area, make it a point to stop by this gem of a coffee shop.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Back To The Slanted Door

I loved the restaurant my cousin Riz took me to a few nights ago.  My 2 friends were jealous so they wanted to go too.  Especially when they discovered that The Slanted Door was on the list of recommended restaurants our friend Milena, aka Ms. Gourmet, gave us.

It was too late to make reservations and, since we had a late breakfast, lunch was out of the question. Mertz, Sujata and I walked from our hotel to the Ferry Building. It was a beautiful day and there was lots to see on the way to the restaurant.  We got to the restaurant too early for dinner so the dining room  had not opened yet.  But the bar and lounge areas were open with a limited menu so we ended up at the lounge area.  For drinks Sujata and I had Moscow Mules while Mertz had a glass of red wine.  We ordered 4 plates to share. We chose the Slanted Door Spring Rolls which I had the night before; gulf shrimp, pork, mint, shallot mayonnaise with peanut sauce. We also ordered the Vegetarian Spring Rolls for our vegetarian friend. I must admit that even those were delicious.

The third item we chose was the Grapefruit & Jicama Salad; red cabbage, pickled carrot and candied pecan which was surprisingly delicious. Looking at it didn't do anything for me. I guessed that it would be sour. A couple that sat across from us was eating something that looked good. I asked them what it was and how it was. It was the Gau Choy Gow, wild gulf shrimp & green garlic chive dumplings so we ordered that.  I could have eaten more than one of those. It was so tasty, especially with the sauce it came with.

After dinner we had a leisurely walk back to the hotel while enjoying the skyline of San Francisco.

The Slanted Door is located at the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco. Reservations are a must. By the time we left, the restaurant was packed! I know that when we go back to San Francisco, The Slanted Door will be one place to revisit.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Tartine Bakery and Cafe

We had to postpone our trip to Tartine Bakery from yesterday to today. Uber would have cost us over $30 yesterday, as opposed to $12 today. The place was very small with only a few tables inside. They had a few outside tables but it looked too cold to eat out there. Lucky for us, 3 people were evacuating their seats so Mertz immediately sat and ordered us to go ahead and get our pastries while she saved our table.

I was actually thankful for the line because it gave me time to collect my thoughts. I was excited to see so many things I wanted to try. Everything looked wonderful. It was my turn to order; I chose a slice of Apple Pie which looked amazing, a Savory Scone which had bacon, Gruyere, fromage blanc, herbs and sea salt, and the Morning Bun which had cinnamon sugar and candied orange zest. I also had to order a Gougere with Gruyere, black pepper and thyme.

Sujata had the Almond Croissant and Mertz ordered Croque Monsieur and a Chocolate Croissant. Everything was delicious. The apple pie had chunks of semi-firm apples with streusel on top. The savory scone with bacon was very good. The morning bun and the Gougere were my favorites. The morning bun was reminiscent of a good kouign amann. The gougere was soft, light and airy with a wonderful flavor of Gruyere, black pepper and thyme. The next time I go to Tartine, I will have the gougere and the morning bun again. I was hoping I could buy several to freeze but since I am not home and, would have to hand carry them on the plane back to Los Angeles, I figured it would not be practical.

The Croque Monsieur was also very good even if we ate it cold much later since there was no way we could finish everything we bought.  Tartine Bakery is definitely a bakery one should visit while in San Francisco.  Tartine Bakery is located at 600 Guerrero St. in San Francisco.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Slanted Door

My cousin Riz and I hadn't seen each other since high school. She picked me up from my hotel last night and took me to The Slanted Door, a Vietnamese restaurant at the Ferry Building here in San Francisco. The place was very busy and though we didn't have reservations, they were able to accommodate us in the bar.

The bartender liked Riz, especially when she explained we were "prima" (cousins).  Since I was not hungry I suggested we order just appetizers. Riz and I each ordered a glass of wine to go with the Slanted Door Spring Rolls; gulf shrimp, pork, mint, shallot mayonnaise with peanut sauce. We also ordered the Crispy Imperial Rolls; gulf shrimp, pork shoulder, vermicelli noodles and roasted peanut. Both appetizers were very good and we enjoyed the peanut sauce.

It was so nice to meet with Riz. She encouraged me to come back to San Francisco so we could go to Napa on an eating expedition. I told her before that happens she will have to visit me in Los Angeles.

Thank you Riz for showing me your city and making our reunion so enjoyable.


After a satisfying lunch at Fisherman's Wharf, we didn't want a big dinner. Our hotel gave us a coupon for the restaurant Pescatore which is just around the corner. We got all bundled up since it was cold outside, only to discover the restaurant was connected to our hotel.

We were asked if we wanted some bread and the answer was a unanimous yes. We each decided to have a salad and share an order of Pizza Melanzana; eggplant, sundried tomato, basil pesto, wild arugula, fontina and olive oil. Sujata and Mertz ordered the Organic Coastal Greens and I had the Classic Caesar. They liked their salads and I enjoyed mine with its anchovies.

The pizza was thin crust and was delicious. It was the perfect size to share. Pizza with a nice glass of Chianti was a nice way to end our long and full 1st day in San Francisco. We had another surprise when our server brought a birthday slice of Tiramisu. This was our 2nd for the day. It was not nearly as good as the one they served at the Fog Harbor Fish House but it was a nice gesture.

Pescatore is located at 2455 Mason St. in San Francisco.

Kokkari Estiatorio

We tried to make dinner reservations for the much recommended Kokkari as soon as we landed in San Francisco yesterday. We were out of luck. But it didn't take us long to think outside the box; what about lunch? Our luck changed when they were able to accommodate us at 1:30 p.m. Though we arrived right on time, they did not seat us until 1:45 p.m. Until that time we stood waiting in the bar area and we observed that the bartender was not the friendliest. He looked like he didn't want to be there today. I even heard him asking his helper to get him more glasses but in a demanding tone. We just hoped that this was not a sign of things to come. We noticed a large fireplace in the main dining area with a rotisserie with some kind of meat, which we later found out was lamb.

As soon as were seated we were welcomed by our friendly server, Peter. We were served a basket of wonderful bread and delicious olive oil. Mertz ordered the Artichoke Souvlaki; grilled artichokes and eggplant skewered with peppers and onions, accompanied with yogurt and pita. Though Mertz thought it was good, she didn't think it was outstanding as it lacked seasoning.  Sujata had the Ravioli; roasted squash and fontina cheese with sage brown butter, mushrooms and hazelnuts. She loved her ravioli.  I settled for the Moussaka; traditional casserole of spiced lamb, eggplant, potatoes and yogurt bechamel. I enjoyed my moussaka which was quite flavorful.

For dessert we thought we should at least order the Baklava; traditional walnut and honey baklava with vanilla-praline ice cream. Though delicious, we thought it was on the heavy side, unlike the baklava I have had from The Baklava Factory in Los Angeles. It was presented with a candle in honor of Sujata's birthday and this was on the house.  We also ordered Rizogalo; Arborio rice pudding with honey roasted pear. We loved this dessert as it was not too sweet and it had nice flavors like cardamom and orange.

We were offered Greek Coffee and since I had no idea what Greek coffee was, I was game. For those of you not familiar with Greek Coffee, it is stone-ground coffee heated over hot sand. You could have it 3 ways, Sketo for no sugar, Metrio for medium sweet and Glyko for sweet. Mertz had hers sketo, Sujata had hers metrio and I had mine glyko. The coffee was very good but it was not sweet enough so when Peter came by I asked if he could add more sugar plus some cream. He whizzed my coffee away. In a couple of minutes my coffee was back and was 100% better.

Kokkari Estiatoria is located at 200 Jackson St. in San Francisco, California.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fog Harbor Fish House

A friend of Mertz recommended a restaurant for us, saying they served the best clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. We were so hungry after having toured Alcatraz so it was good timing. The restaurant was located at Pier 39, not far from where we disembarked our tour boat.

The restaurant was the perfect choice for San Francisco because Fog Harbor Fish House extends out over the beautiful San Francisco Bay so we were able to enjoy the view from our table. We got the menu and I was tempted to have crab legs but immediately dismissed the idea when I saw a lady cracking the crab legs and eating small pieces of crab. It looked like too much work.  Mertz and I ordered what we originally came for, which was the Original Award Winning Clam Chowder served in a house baked sourdough bread bowl. Before that, they asked if we wanted some bread. We could never have too much sourdough. The sourdough was nice and sour served with cold butter and we all loved it.

The clam chowder was supposed to have bacon in it but we never detected any. The chowder was good but I don't think it was outstanding.  Sujata had the Fried Shrimp with French Fries. She had no complaints.

We were pleasantly surprised when they brought out a large portion of Tiramisu for the birthday girl. Our server brought 3 spoons so we could share the birthday calories. The tiramisu was quite edible and soon after we started picking at it, the dessert had vanished into thin air.

Fog Harbor Fish House is located at 1-81 Jennings St. Pier 39, San Francisco, California.