Sunday, March 01, 2015

Weekends in San Francisco

San FranIt is not often that I get to spend an entire weekend in downtown San Francisco. It is even more rare when such a weekend begins with the most perfect weather. Now that I had gotten one, I was going to make full use of it.  The previous week, I had flown into Boston during a time when the region was in the midst of a deep freeze due to crazy weather that seem to be the norm now-a-days. I could hardly venture outside for a coffee without feeling uncomfortable in the chilling wind. Washington DC was somewhat better, but only a little. This made the lovely weekend in San Fran even more welcome!  After waking up late and getting some food under my belt, I decided to take a long walk to the Ferry Building.

Trace at the W Hotel serves a pretty good breakfast. Not the cheapest place in town, but you get what you pay for:  pretty waitstaff, breakfast made of locally sourced eggs, sourdough bread and appetising bacon, all as you watch all the people outside the tall glass windows right next to you.

Eggs at Trace, W Hotel, SF

If it is a Sunday, the Ferry Building is a hive of activity with a farmer’s market and street performers attracting crowds of both locals and tourists. I remembered I needed to buy some more exotic dried mushrooms, especially those I cannot easily source in India.  I finally settled on some Chanterelle and Oyster.

I continued walking to the next pier and entered the La Mar restaurant just as it opened its door for lunch. I felt the need for some other Peruvian dishes as I enjoyed the sunshine outside. La Mar always pleases and this time was no different.  They started me off with their popular pisco sour cocktail and plantain chips with dips.  The Cebiche Mixto - fish, calamari, shrimp and octopus in creamy leche de tigre - was sharp and refreshing.

Mixto Ceviche at La Mar

I had built up quite an appetite and so I followed up with a Causa and a serving of Anticuchos, a Peruvian skewer of gilled chicken, sweet potatoes, corn, huacatay sauce and chalaca salsa.  That filled me up nicely and it was with a satiated feeling that I strolled out for the walk back to my hotel.

Plantains at La Mar

Peruvian chicken skewer at La Mar SF

On the way, I was intrigued by a Chinese man selling a bunch of intricate and hand-made Obsidian knives. With the White Walkers arriving  next month, I it better to be safe than sorry.  I bought one with a deer antler handle that is quite an impressive little thing.

Obsidian Knife

In the evening I walked down the busy streets of Union Square watching all the tourists go by and have fun as the skies darkened and lights came on. The Westin St. Francis is home to Bourbon Steaks and that is where I ended up for dinner. While the steak itself was rather flavourless and disappointing today, the complimentary duck fat fries were a delight like always.

San Francisco

Duck Fat Fries at Bourbon Steak SF

The weekend was coming to a close now and there were few more days of work before I could fly back home. However, staying in downtown San Francisco does bring with it advantages for a traveling foodie.  You only have to walk a few block to find another new eating place.  I had written about the superb burger at The Cavalier; here are a few more pictures of their pudding and the Lipton carton in which they presented my cheque.  All in keeping with the British theme!

Pudding at The Cavalier SF

The Cavalier SF

Finally, a note on my current favourite hang-out, Hops & Hominy.  After you are done trying their Fried Chicken, you have to visit them again for their Shrimps & Grits.  Who could have thought this simple Southern dish can have so much goodness in it?  They have managed to turn this traditional dish into something truly remarkable.

Shrimps & Grits at Hops & Hominy

That pretty much gets me to the end of my food journey in this lovely city one more time.  It is not a coincidence that so many tourists converge here; there is something about this city and its downtown areas that is very attractive, in spite of the ubiquitous homeless people, many of whom seem drugged as they wander the streets.  There is change in the air too with several tech companies having set up their offices nearby in the Tenderloin area, which has changed the nature of the crowds here somewhat.

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