Sunday, April 26, 2009

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: SF Food Tour

The Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24, Program: Each Featured Publisher interested in participating in the Foodbuzz "24, 24, 24" is eligible to submit a proposal of a unique dinner they will create, capture, and post about to share with the rest of the world. Foodbuzz will select 24 entries and provide the winners with $250 to help make the proposal happen. All 24 dinner events must be held on the same date, Saturday, April 25th. Posts must be submitted to the Foodbuzz website by Sunday, April 26th.

My Proposal: My friends and I have been on food/drink tours in different cities -- including Seattle, New York, and Bangkok -- but we thought, "Why not create our own food tour in our home city of San Francisco?" We are rounding up 8-10 foodies and selecting 10-15 items from The Big Eat SF list (http://www.7x7.com/content/eat-drink/big-eat-sf-100-things-try-you-die). Then we will map out our route and eat our way down the list!

Yes folks, we actually pulled this off successfully and treated our palates to some great food in the city, focusing mostly on the diverse Mission district. Armed with itineraries, maps, water bottles, and indigestion pills, we traipsed from one restaurant to the next, sampling their signature dishes listed on the Big Eat SF list. It was like speed dating with food, and several places caught our attention for a second visit.

Destination #1: Arinell Pizza - A cheese slice
509 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

A fast, cheap, hole-in-the-wall joint for regular and deep dish pizza with a selection of basic toppings. We tried the cheese and mushroom slices, and feedback ranged from mediocre to delish. All agreed that the crust was thin and crispy. I personally thought the pizza was too greasy, but you can't be too picky when it's a few bucks a slice.


Destination #2: Ti Couz - Buckwheat crepe a
nd French cider
3108 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

This used to be my post-yoga hangout when I was still in school, so I was delighted this was a stop on our tour. (See my previous post here.)


We tried a buckwheat crepe filled with tomato, cheese, and slightly spicy sausage. The buckwheat flour gave the crepe a nice nutty flavor and a thicker texture.

We also split a bottle of the organic French pear cider, which everyone loved. Generally, French cider is made more like a wine than other ciders (so this is perfect if you're an oenophile like me). The low alcohol content, light texture, and acidity level was reminiscent of champagne. The cider was slightly carbonated, but luckily did not mask the wonderfully refreshing, delicate sweetness of the pears. Not bad at $16.75 per bottle.

Destination #3: Truly Mediterranean -
Lamb schawerma
3109 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Another non-descript, hole-in-the-wall establishment, serving falafel, kabobs, schawerma, and other Middle Eastern food. The lamb schawerma was amazing! A generous helping of tender marinated lamb meat, tahini sauce, hot sauce, onions, tomatoes, and parsley tucked into a crispy lavash wrap. I'll definitely be returning here!

But beware of their garlic mint yogurt drink, unless you're a fan of beverages that taste like thick, salty milk that would be better suited as a dipping sauce.

Destination #4: The Monk's Kettle - Giant pretzel with mustard
3141 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

With its extensive five-page beer list, knowledgeable staff, and upscale pub food, this is a great place to chill when you're in the mood for a pint or five.

Beers on tap

If you're not sure what kind of beer you want, ask the staff to pour you a sample of brew, served in adorable mini beer mugs like the one pictured on the right.

The giant pretzel was, as you can guess from the name, huge. It barely fit on the plate! It was made perfectly though -- firm, crispy, and salty on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. The mustard dipping sauce added a nice, sinus-clearing kick. Definitely great beer food.


Destination #5: Tartine Bakery - Desserts

600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Ah, one of my favorite spots in the Mission district (see my previous post here). We were supposed to try their morning buns, but unfortunately, they had sold out by the afternoon, so we split two of their yummy desserts instead.

The lemon tart was just as I remembered it -- a sweet pastry shell filled with rich, slightly tart lemon cream, topped with a dollop of white cream and edible pink petals. Wouldn't mind having one of these every week!

There were no complaints about the banana cream tart either. This was a flaky pastry crust topped with bananas, fluffy cream, chocolate shavings, and powdered sugar. Simply heavenly.


Destination #6: Pizzeria Delfina - Pizza margherita

3611 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Delfina is a popular contemporary Italian restaurant, and Pizzeria Delfina is its adjacent sister restaurant featuring pizzas inspired by the Naples region.


We ordered their pizza margherita, a traditional Neapolitan pizza that can "officially" only have three ingredients -- tomato, mozzarella, and basil. Delfina uses fior di latte mozzarella, which is made from fresh cow's milk.

I love pizza margherita for its simplicity; each ingredient (if fresh) really stands out with its distinct flavor. The tomato was sweet, the cheese was creamy, and the basil was a nice earthy, lemon-y touch. The crust was soft but nothing special. I'd like to come back and check out some of their other pizzas, along with their wine list.

Destination #7: Limon Rotisery - Rotisserie chic
ken
1001 South Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94110

This lively Peruvian restaurant focuses on its signature dish, pollo a la brasa, a slow-cooked rotisserie chicken that's marinated for at least 8 hours. This was my favorite dish from the entire tour. The chicken was incredibly tender, juicy, and laced inside and out with a tantalizing blend of herbs and spices. Chicken should always taste this damn good.

Dipping sauces for the chicken

You can get this yummy fowl in the quarter ($7.25), half ($9.50), or whole ($15.95) sizes, which comes with your choice of two sides. We tried the yuca frita, which was fine but forgettable, and the vegetales salteados, a colorful assortment of sauteed green beans, tomatoes, and onions.

The rest of the menu has different hot and cold small dishes, wines, and some cheerfully strong sangria.


Destination #8: Beretta - Caponatina with burrata

1199 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

This restaurant just opened last year, but has quickly made a name for itself as a trendy place to enjoy contemporary Italian appetizers, artisan pizzas, and inventive cocktails. It was so packed that we ordered the caponatina to go and then ate it while bunched up in a corner between the end of the bar and the door.

Caponatina is a traditional Italian eggplant appetizer, and I loved Beretta's version. Sliced eggplant, cherry tomatoes, olives, and burrata cheese came together in a happy medley with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Very light and refreshing.

Destination #9: Papalote Mexican Grill - Chips and salsa
3409 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Not quite sure how this made it onto the Big Eat SF list, because there are definitely other places in the city with better salsa. Maybe it's better when you're drunk (as is the case with the bacon-wrapped hot dog cart in the Mission).

Destination #10: Jardiniere - Absinthe daiquiri
300 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

We ended our tour in Hayes Valley at Jardiniere, Traci Des Jardins' highly-acclaimed French restaurant. We sat at the bar, so we were right in the middle of the gorgeously elegant space.

The pretty ceiling

Absinthe daiquiri - Neisson agricole rhum, lime, martinique syrup, Pernod absinthe. The guys liked this drink, but the girls didn't care for it. One described it as "a lemon drop gone wrong."

We also decided to order some food to top off our tour. The terrine of duck foie gras was served with toasted bread squares, carmelized pineapples, and macadamia nuts. Terrine refers to a loaf of ground or finely chopped meat, pressed together after cooling.

This duck foie gras was creamy, but not as buttery as I'd personally prefer. The flavor was light and not very gamey, so I'd recommend this to foie gras virgins who are seeking to try this delicacy. Yet because the flavor was so light, it tended to become diluted when eaten simultaneously with the pineapples.

And finally, we ordered a trio of sorbets -- hibiscus, burnt milk, and Mexican chocolate -- which was beautifully plated with a ring of caramel, pumpkin seeds, and a spiced pumpkin seed tuile (a thin, crisp cookie). A wonderful way to end our day!

Many thanks to Foodbuzz for selecting this event to be a part of this month's 24, 24, 24 Program, and to my wonderful friends who planned and joined in on this gastronomic splurge. I highly encourage other foodies out there to coordinate and chronicle food tours in their own cities -- it's a great way to experience a lot of cuisine in a short amount of time, and to show off some of their local food!

11 comments:

Vanessa said...

Kudos to you- what a wonderful way to spend a day!! I would have loved to join in!

Cookie said...

What an awesome and yummy tour! I can't believe I haven't been to ANY of these places! Thanks for opening up my eyes to my own city!

Jo said...

I'm following the 7x7 Big Eat List too! It's so much fun! Makes me want to go to the Mission and eat right now! It's seriously one of my favorite neighborhoods!

Aggie said...

What a fantastic day of food! Everything looks awesome! Great 24 post!

Helen U. said...

Ahh, I miss SF! If I were there, I would have wanted to partake in this food tour! "Lemon drop gone wrong." --> Sounds like something I would say. Who said that?

The pizza from Delfina looks damn good! Man, the wrap from the Mediterranean place looks really juicy and delicious too. Drool~

taste tester said...

@Helen U: Haha Fiona said that!

The Duo Dishes said...

So SF is a fabulous city, a great food city. This is a wonderful post, so now we can have a list of spots to visit next time. Good 24 post!

Nate-n-Annie said...

congratulations on a great "24" event. One question though...how come no Chinese or Japanese restaurants on the list?

taste tester said...

@Nate-n-Annie: Guess we didn't get around to them! We were focusing on the Mission area restaurants from the 7x7 list. We were thinking about going to Sebo but it would've been a hassle. Next time!

Passionate Eater said...

That 7X7 list was so inspiring, and it looks like you successfully made your way through part of the list! Can't wait to see you finish all of the list!!

foodhoe said...

wow, you are ambitious to hit all of these spots in the same day! I laughed about the chips and salsa, sometimes that random stuff happens out of nowhere!