Eating Our Way Through San Fran
Please excuse the New Year’s hiatus. We went to San Francisco for the American Economic Association meeting (where we saw some of the old Baltimore posse) and hung out with my dear college friends in Berkeley.
Yes, I finally consumed my first (half) of an In-N-Out burger on the way home from wine-tasting in the Russian River area. Those Mormons make good burgers, and apparently they treat their staff right too, paying several dollars above minimum wage at the entry-level.
But the real memorable meals took place in San Francisco’s Mission District. I’m still dreaming about the burritos and not-too-sweet strawberry aqua fresca from Papalote Mexican Grill. Instead of my chile verde pork, I should have just stuck with the potato-mushroom-carrot veggie one I ordered when there with my now sister-in-law summer of 2005.
We returned to the Mission that night for dinner at another favorite on the Bernal Heights Border: Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack. Let’s just say heaping bowls of spaghetti and meatballs (and 40’s of malt liquor) are the things to order at this hipster joint. And the fragrant garlic bread. The bartender poured some mean cocktails — a ruby red grapefruit-cucumber martini and a Kentucky Iced Tea (mint julep with lemon and sweet tea syrup) — while we waited an hour for our table at the bar. It’s worth the wait.
All forms of Asian food are also a San Francisco treat. We had interesting Vietnamese broken rice bento box-type dishes at Binh Minh Quan in Oakland’s Chinatown. And I met my cousin for lunch at the always reliable House of Nanking in San Francisco’s Chinatown/Financial District. I love how you just tell the waiter to order for you there. The mu shu beef, sesame chicken and usual pea shoots salad with braised eggplant didn’t disappoint. Several of the dishes were completed by slices of a crisp raw cucumber-like winter squash.
Almost forget to mention: lunch at Chez Panisse was good but over-priced. It’s just not the revolutionary concept it once was now that local food is everywhere. But we did love our braised quail and duck breast chichory salad. If only it was half the price.
But the most memorable meal of all might have been the home-cooked one we shared in Berkeley on New Year’s Eve. Kudos to Chef Dave, who made delectable seared pork chops with a mushroom-caper-rosemary garlic sauce, brown butter potatoes and homemade Alabama-style apple pie, without depending upon recipes or even measuring cups.