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JJL's first few days in SF so far....

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Hello SF Chowhounds!

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for all of your advice, thoughts, and kindness in helping me prepare for my gluttonous week of eating through your city! A more generous board I have not encountered!

So I still have a week left here, but wanted to give you a report on my first few days here.

I arrived into SFO after lunch and actually wasn't very hungry when I arrived. I walked around my friend's neighborhood in the early evening (Inner Sunset) and stumbled upon Arizmendi Bakery by accident. Of course I had to go in! I had the hardest time deciding, especially as the Apple and Cheddar Cheese Focaccia was beckoning to me, but in the end went with a slice of the tomato, onion, and gruyere (?) focaccia. Very bready, nice chew, pronounced and deep tomato and cheese flavor.

The next morning, I woke up around 6:30 (I'm an early bird as it is and I was also jetlagged - would've woken up earlier had I not forced myself to stay up until past midnight the previous night) and headed out to Tartine Bakery. I had to get the frangipane croissant and the pain au chocolat because I'd loved them so much before (unfortunately, they forgot my pain au chocolat - have to go back for that one!) and also got a buttermilk currant scone and a frangipane tart. The frangipane croissant was every bit as amazing as I remembered. It was still delicious the next day warmed up in the oven! The scone I had not tried before and it was one of the best bakery scones I have had. The top quality butter is very evident and definitely brings the scone to the level that it is at. The frangipane tart, however, was a disappointment. The crust was more limp than I expected and the fruit and frangipane filling was just okay. I'd much rather have the croissant.

I finished up the Arizmendi focaccia for lunch and then went to a friend's place in Palo Alto for dinner.

Yesterday, I bought a quart of Organic Pastures raw milk and it was my very first experience with raw milk. I have been converted! The flavor cannot be matched, even by my very favorite grass-fed, organic, non-homogenized milk that I get in New York. No wonder all other milk products in the US taste so bland! I had some of that with cereal in the morning and also a Blue Bottle americano at the Hayes Valley kiosk. I don't have to say again how much I adore Blue Bottle. :)

For lunch, I met my great-aunt and uncle, my aunt and her husband, and their newly adopted baby for lunch in the North Beach at a restaurant of their choice - Macaroni Sciue Sciue.

I then walked around Chinatown and stopped in Golden Gate Bakery for an egg custard tart and a lotus seed paste cake. The custard tart just was not my cup of tea. The crust was quite limp and compared to the pastry flavor at Tartine, it just didn't have a chance. The custard was also rather bland and forgettable. The lotus seed paste cake fared much better, however. It had a deep, almost peanut-y flavor. I wouldn't return for either, though.

I walked to the Mission and stopped in BiRite Market to browse and got myself a single cone of mint chip and ricciarelli (cinnamon ice cream with Snickerdoodle pieces) at BiRite Creamery. I think it is the same combo I had last time, but it was so satisfying. I tried the roasted banana (not the best of the flavors, imho), malted vanilla with peanut butter pretzels and milk chocolate swirl, honey lavender, and something with a ginger and caramel swirl. I will get the salted caramel when I return in a few days. :) The texture is so creamy, the flavor so full, and the temperature is just perfect. Not too soft when scooped, but it softens nicely during the process of eating so that the flavors really come out to their fullest. The plus about the temp for the mint chocolate chip is that the chocolate pieces are not too big, therefore they're not frozen solid and you can actually taste the high quality of the chocolate! Very satisfying.

After having the ice cream, I walked over to Tartine Bakery at a quarter to five and picked up a loaf of just-out-of-the-oven country bread. I had some at home with Kerrygold butter and Cowgirl Creamery soft cheese (a washed rind, forgot the name), as well as with butter and June Taylor preserves. Good dinner! :D

Today, I am meeting friends for dinner either at La Ciccia or Aziza (I am still trying to decide, but it will probably be La Ciccia). I can't wait!! I'm planning to hit the FPFM tomorrow morning and try to get porchetta by the pound from Roli Roti and buy my own bread, a Namu taco, and a lot of produce to cook with. I have reservations at the bar alone for Canteen tomorrow night and am also going to try to make the Canteen brunch on Sunday for the souffle pancake. More posts to follow!

I'm having a ball here - thank you for helping make my trip a delicious one so far!

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  1. Great report jj! Sounds like you're gonna need to visit a vomitorium after all that indulging!! Or, better, just do lot's of walking (which it sounds like you are...). Glad you're having a wonderful time. The Bay Area is so green and pretty at this time of year.... adam

    4 Replies
    1. re: adamshoe

      Did you forget to mention wet?

      1. re: wolfe

        Oh, c'mon... today's our first rain in what? 6 or 7 days. We needs it!

        1. re: adamshoe

          I don't know where you are, but where I am it rained Monday. But since we still have three years of drought to reverse, I'm trying not to whinge about it.

          JJL, I'm glad you've found this board helpful. I'd like to note, though, that people tend to get out what they put in. You'd be surprised how many people post generic questions and never post again, even to answer follow-up questions, let alone report back. People like you who participate fully in the discussion and report back make it worthwhile to be thoughtful and helpful.

          BTW, let me just chime in on the La Ciccia vs. Aziza question: I'd trust susancinsf's recommendations, as she's very familiar with both restaurants.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            thanks Ruth, though I never thought OP was trying to choose between them, just which for when...not clear if that is still the case or not.

            However, more to the point, JLL, how do you choose between those two restaurants at the last minute on a Friday? I've seen people turned away at La Ciccia almost every time I've eaten there on a weekend, and even sometimes during the week (it is small. hopefully you know that. for that matter, I've seen Aziza fully booked on weekends too).

            whatever you choose, do continue to report back, thanks!

    2. Here are the links

      -----
      Tartine Bakery
      600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Bi-Rite Creamery
      3692 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

      Blue Bottle Coffee Kiosk
      315 Linden St, San Francisco, CA 94102

      Golden Gate Bakery
      1029 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

      Caffe Macaroni Sciue Sciue
      124 Columbus Ave., San Francisco, CA 94111

      Arizmendi
      3265 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA