A Weekend in San Francisco

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This post is long overdue, but has been delayed for a few weeks due to my recent move to Buenos Aires.  The next three months in Argentina will be surely produce some interesting material, but before I delve into the world of grass-fed beef, Malbec and yerba maté, I need to pay my respects to San Francisco- my personal food Mecca.

A friend’s wedding brought me into the Bay Area for Labor Day weekend (Congrats again Max and Hillary!).  I was fortunate enough to be able to arrive a couple days early to make the most of my food pilgrimage.  In my four days in the area I was only able to scratch the surface of what this beautiful city has to offer, but I was able to get around to all of my must-see spots.   Here are some of the highlights:

Kokkari

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An upcale Greek tavern.  This concept is unique in the sense that most Greek restaurants are modest, family-run establishments (albeit with tasty food).  This spot turned out to be perhaps my favorite meal during the entire trip.  The food was simple, elegant, extremely satiating and utilized incredibly fresh ingredients.

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Salad of heirloom tomatoes, local peaches and feta cheese

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Cast-iron baked feta with tomatoes, peppers, onions and capers

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Spit-roasted lamb with lemon roasted potatoes and arugula

Breakfast at the Four Seasons

I must mention the incredible breakfasts I treated myself to during my stay.  Starting the day off with some high quality sources protein and fat and perhaps a touch of carbs is so important. Check out these epic breakfasts:

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Dungeness crab omelet with sundried tomatoes, homefires roasted with veggies and some fresh fruit

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Poached eggs over corned beef hash and homefries

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Scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, homefries and fresh berries

Samovar Tea Lounge

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I attribute everything I know about tea to these people.  I also buy tea from their online store.  Fortunately, I was staying a few blocks away from their largest of three lounges, located in the beautiful Yerba Buena Garden.  I relaxed for a couple hours on their patio and took in the view and some top-notch tea.

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Beautiful view of Yerba Buena Garden

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Matcha green tea “shot”

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Velvet Cacao Organic Pu-erh

The Ferry Building

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Located straight down Market Street, this enormous structure is essentially an entire shopping mall for food with dozens of food stands, stores and restaurants all focused on local, fresh, sustainable ingredients.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

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The Hog Island Oyster Company

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Salumi cone!!!

Sonoma/Napa Valley

On Friday I was off to Sonoma and Napa for a wine tasting marathon that commenced at 10:20am.  And took us through three vineyards, finishing at the well-known Hess Winery in Napa.

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A nice place to escape the heat

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Cabernet Sauvignon (left) and Malbec (right) grapes straight off the vine at Hess Winery

Coffee

San Francisco has an incredible coffee culture, with single origin beans floating around wherever you look. I drank quite a bit of coffee during my stay, but Philz and Blue Bottle were the most memorable without a doubt.

Philz specialized in the “pour-over” method of brewing coffee, and has an extensive selection of beans from which you can select your ideal flavor profile.  Although I usually don’t opt for specialty coffee drinks that have significant amount of sugar, I made an exception to try their mojito iced coffee.  Totally worth it.

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Mojito iced coffee from Philz

Blue Bottle is known for brewing coffee in every way imaginable.  Their website actually provides detailed directions on how to perfect any brewing method you are brave enough to attempt (The siphon method would make Walter White proud). Their beans are incredibly pricy, but are among the highest quality in the world- no exaggeration.

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Incredibly discreet sign at the entrance of the Mint St. Blue Bottle location

I kept it simple with their famous New Orleans Iced Coffee: awesome beans cold-brewed with chicory root and just a hint of sugar (5g per serving according to the barista) and just a splash of organic cream.  The combination is magic.  It is the best iced coffee I have ever had.

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New Orleans Iced coffee from Blue Bottle

Airport Food!?

In the words of Tim Ferriss: “Every time I eat airport food, a little part of my soul dies”.  This is pretty much true, unless you’re at SFO.  Immediately after getting through security I was greeted by countless options to grab a bite to eat, all boasted fresh, local ingredients.

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Roasted chicken, local carrots, and mixed greens with an herb vinagrette

With the focus on ingredients and food in San Francisco, it is no wonder that many of the best minds in the Paleo/Primal food movement are from the area.  While other areas of the country are making progress, San Francisco is clearly the role model and a great ideal towards which we all should be shooting for.

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Can’t wait to come back!

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