Every year at this time, I like to revisit a challenge I set for myself when we first arrived in April, 2005. I made a list of all the foods that seemed essential to a happy urban life. I figured I'd feel at home in San Francisco once I knew where to find each of them.
Last year's answers are here. But seasons change, feelings change.
So true. Maybe my answers have changed, too?
1) A good pizza place that delivers
Aha! Now that the wonderful Gialina has opened just a few blocks away, who needs delivery?
2) Sushi within walking distance
Eh. Still Deep Sushi. Still pretty good. Still overrun with Bugaboo strollers.
3) Ice cream within walking distance that's just far enough away
Mitchell's is still very, very good. But if we walk just a bit further we can make it to the new Bi-Rite Creamery for some excellent salted caramel ice cream. I tip my hat to them: They knew that we were all suckers for the word "creamery".
4) A brunch place where you don't have to stand in line
My house. Seriously, it's impossible everywhere else.
5) Dim Sum, ibid
Ugh. Once more, I'm horrified that I said "ibid". I leave the original phrasing here to shame myself into never using it again. And I suggest getting to Ton Kiang early to beat the crowds. I'm also going to try to check out Joy Luck Palace this weekend. Will let you now what we find.
6) That place you recommend to visitors
Three: Slanted Door, Quince, and Bacar. With any of them, you'll leave feeling that you've had a proper San Francisco dining experience. Bacar might not be in quite the same league, but it's a crowd-pleaser with a great wine list and it's pretty easy to score a table.
I always send weekend visitors to the Ferry Plaza market because, you know, we live in a cult. And if Saturday night reservations are hard to come by, I'd send them to the food court at the Westfield Centre downtown because you can get Slanted Door food on demand and you won't see another mall food court like it.
7) That place with the young chef who just needs one good review
In a city with so many food writers, I'm beginning to question whether anything remains to be discovered. But down in Big Sur, the Big Sur Bakery and Restaurant is serving fantastic made-from-scratch food all day long, from their perfect jelly donuts in the morning to smoky wood-grilled wild salmon with succotash at night. And they're not getting nearly enough credit or attention.
8) The place with the rice pudding
Whole Foods in Palo Alto. Seriously, it's pretty good. Otherwise, it's my house once again, where I'm working on a terrific cinnamon rice pudding with apple compote for the book.
9) An Indian restaurant with puffy breads
Spice Hut in Menlo Park (and Newark, Sunnyvale, and San Jose). It's a chain!
10) The place where you meet friends for drinks
I'm in a retro mood, so I'd say the Tonga Room or Top of the Mark.
11) The place that becomes "your place."
It's not a restaurant. It's all of Big Sur. Whenever I'm there, I feel like I'm living my California dream.
p.s. Many of you (my mother-in-law) have asked how the kitten is doing. He's doing well. So well that the little 3-lb. pipsqueak has usurped 18-lb. Clio as the alpha. I can't begin to explain it, though I do wonder if things might change once Elijah is old enough for a certain little snip-and-tuck?