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Dommy & P. in SF Pt 3: Chez Panisse, Frog’s Hollow and Zuni Café

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Three days into our trip to San Francisco I was hitting that vacation slump. In all honesty, I could have just stayed in the plush hotel room bed all day, sipping a cup of tea and nibbling on that AMAZING biscotti I got from Citizen cake (Something I forgot to mention on my first post because I idn’t get around to eat it until our last day in SF... but it was SO good, HUGE, dense but crisp, the hazelnuts roasted to perfection and it was all dipped in CREAMY wonderful chocolate...)

But I had to brush off the shlumpy feeling and gave myself a good scrub and polish as this was the day I was most looking forward to the trip... and we started it off with lunch at the café of Chez Panisse!!

Walking in, it was just how I imagined it. I loved stepping into the kitchen, with the big fires going. As we walked to our table, we passed bowls of lovely fruit, desserts and plates; I just wanted to snatch a few for a bite... But I maintained civilized.

First off, I loved that they had lots of half bottles on their list. SO and I enjoy wine, but aren’t huge drinkers, so a bottle for us is too much. We ended up with a wonderful Santa Barbara Pinot Noir

To start we both got salads. So was the winner with his with rabbit. The dressing went so well with the rabbit and greens. Mine was a pretty typical crispy goat cheese salad. I love this salad, but this version was bit too rich for me (My favorite has hearts of palm and other additions to help tone down and cut through the goats cheese). SO also ordered the Heirloom Tomato Soup. Excellent... especially with their bread.. Hmmm....

We then went on to our mains... And again, SO was the winner with his slow roasted Pork Shoulder and Belly. That belly was the true essense of pig candy. The shoulder amazing flavorful and tender. Just everything worked well together...

I ordered the Gnochetti with chanterelles. This dish was not what I was expecting... I was thinking Baby Gnocchi, but instead of pillowy potato, it was VERY al dente pasta. The dish came with a generous grating of parmesan cheese on top. I didn’t notice at first, so upon first bite, it was horribly salty!! I began to whimper. But luckily SO reminded me to mix my food, and it made a grand difference, although SO had to fight me off his belly the entire meal... :)

For dessert we opted for the petit fours which were little pate choux puffs Stuffed with Chocolate Mouse. It went wonderful with the mint tea I could not resist ordering... :)

We were happily stuffed as we walked out into Berkley and SO reminded me of a surprised he planned! We hoped into the car and passed by the Berkley Bowl (I would only watch with puppy eyes as we passed... next trip for sure...) and arrived to our secret destination. The Scharfen Berger Factory!!! I was overjoyed, but a bit concerned. I had worked in the Chocolate business and been into many factories. I was dressed in my Chez Painesse Chanel and heels. I knew it wasn’t going to fly (And that I would be SURPREMELY unhappy if I ended up with Cocoa on my Coco...). Luckily SB was a bit more lenient that my other clients and since my slingbacks (I still hadn’t recovered from my Mission Burrito incident, so no strappies for me) covered my toes , I was okay as long as I wore a hair net. SO however did not get off so easy... Since he sports quite the beard, they made him wear a beard guard along with a fluffy white hair net. He looked like one of those garden gnomes, but in suit. He BEGGED me not to put that picture up on CH, so I won’t...but those who want to see it can drop me an e-mail... ;)

Luckily there was no massive choco-mishaps. The factory was actually not running since it was a holiday weekend and the scent of chocolate was not penetrating and actually very mild.... (My visits to Fairfield always left me reeking of cocoa for days...). Of course we had lots of samples and picked up a few things. I still perfer their Nibby Bar among all else (Although they dodged my question about making it thinner) and the Chocolate Covered figs were good, but not really exceptional.

After our trip, we went back to the hotel, ditched the car (And the precious tweed...whew!) and headed down to to the Bart Station and before I knew it I was happily running down the asiles of the Ferry building...

I tried... I REALLY tried to restrain myself as I knew all the stuff I would get I would then have to shlep through the rest of our day there. So we picked up:

* Schramberg Sparkling Wine from the Wine Merchant, a friend once recommended it to me and I had to pick up a bottle. I have since seen it at Trader Joes... LOL!

*Various White Teas from Imperial Tea Court

* Various Dried Mushrooms and Marinated Mushrooms (Which will go into Manacotti for next week!) from Far West Fungi

* The House Oil from Stonehouse Olive Oil (Which we pretty much have all used up!! It’s going to be hard to replace... :( )

* And of course, we had to pick up a stone fruit from Frog Hollow. SO dislikes peaches, so we got a Nectarine. It was HUGE. Came out to about $4. But it was the best and juiciest nectarine we’ve had. I also picked up some Peach Preserves to take to work. Sadly, it wasn’t nearly as flavorful as the fresh fruit... as well...

Again, I totally restrained myself (especially at Recchiuti) telling myself that it will give me something to look forward to trying on my next visit... and I certainly am looking forward to it...

After the ferry building, I did my typical girly tourist SF Shopping. While in Chinatown picking up some Pearls, our thoughts went to dinner and the thought of Zuni baked chicken made just cry... And so we decided to head over to Zuni, as in, actually HEAD over and walked from China Town to Zuni... ALL the way... We realized as soon as we got to the door what an insane move that was...

Although we looked like two sad sack and ravenous tourists, the hostess had no sympathy. An hour wait... further, the chicken would take an HOUR to prepare and we could NOT pre-order it...Still, we soldiered on and decided to wait at the bar in hopes of snagging one of the few small bar tables. And within the time we ordered our drinks... a table opened up!!! I guess all those years of being nice to puppies and old ladies paid off...

Again, we were starving... and ordered...

* Seafood Plate with raw little necks and Steamed Shrimp and Periwinkles. I haven’t had Periwinkles in AGES. And they were cooked perfectly. Not too chewy at all... The Shrimp were standard, could have used some spicing and I don’t like raw clams, but SO really enjoyed them.

* Fried Onion and Okra plate, okay this was the reward after a long walk. I love Okra and Onion Rings and while the rings were fried a little too much, the Okra was tasty and as always there was NEVER enough....

And FINALLY, The Zuni Roast Chicken...

What can be said, as perfect as we imagined it. The skin was so crisp, the chicken so juicy. The bread salad with currants was heavenly (Although SO would have liked it to be more stuffing like)

And that was my BEST day in SF... EVER....

--Dommy!

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  1. That's a nice walk for a fall day and it sounds like you earned that chicken! Glad to hear that you enjoyed yourself so much and i have had very similiar experiences with the Chez Pannisse Cafe. while i always want to order veggie when i am there (cause it always sounds so good on the menu) what comes it is dissapointing compared to everyone else's dishes. I have learned my lesson and stick with the meats and fishes while in the cafe.