Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Trip: San Francisco

A few weeks ago, we took a quick trip to San Francisco.  We did the usual touristy trip to Alcatraz, walked around Union Square and rented bikes to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito.

And, we ate.  A lot.

(That's what you're here for, right? The food pics?)

We started out the first day right with a great breakfast and coffee at the Blue Bottle Cafe.  Their website describes them as follows: "We craft delicious drinks, treat our guests with care and respect, and compost scrupulously."  I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but my husband wanted to try their siphon coffee.  I had a grilled cheese sandwich with grainy mustard that I devoured instantly, and Jeff had poached eggs with cornbread, salad and sausage.  All of my favourite things!

Next, we met a friend for lunch at Hakkasan. The pomelo duck salad was scrumptious, but my favourite part of the meal was actually the desserts. I had black sesame and chocolate dumplings with yuzu and ginger tea. Jeff had coconut panna cotta with rum roasted pineapple and pistachio gelato.

As if we weren't already in a food coma, we finished off Day 1 with dinner at Saison.  Bon Appetit named Saison one of the top 10 new restaurants in America last year, but I also read lots of mixed reviews including one particularly memorable review that described the cuisine as "the garbage of the sea."

When I booked the reservation, they asked if we had any dietary restrictions.  I said that we prefer to avoid organ meats and that I don't like lamb.

After we were settled at the table, the server said to us: "I heard that you have an aversion to offal." The server then explained to us that most of the dishes use offal in some form or another.  At this point, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and trust that they would not be serving us awful offal.

20+ courses and five hours later, we had learned three things.

#1: the garbage of the sea can be extremely tasty.  Among other things, we ate (and enjoyed) abalone liver, sauce made from trout bones, vinegar made from fish heads, and sea cucumber skin and ribs.  Each course was carefully and artistically prepared, and the meal is something that we'll remember for the rest of ourl ives.

#2: I still don't really like organ meats.  There was a liver toffee made of milk, bread and beer with white chocolate that was ok.  There was also a cookie made of wood pigeon liver with grilled pecan honey and powdered liver on top that was not.

#3: A small Asian girl who gets drunk after two Long Island iced teas cannot handle the wine pairing.  The sommelier told us that each pairing would just be a splash, but they were actually more like half glasses.  After the fifth course, my head was spinning.  Jeff very gallantly offered to help me.  I'm pretty sure he doesn't remember the last third of the meal.

From top to bottom, left to right: tea with Douglas fir and herbs; white sturgeon caviar with kelp and gelee of the grilled bones; artichoke stuffed with scallop; coal kissed cherry blossom sea bream; some kind of delectable sushi; abalone with sauce of the liver and capers; sea urchin on sesame toast; black cod poached in sea water, rangpur lime and yogurt; asparagus cooked in their juices then grilled; cinnamon cake; kumquat panna cotta; spearmint and lemon tarts; black walnut ice cream and souffle.
Happy to have survived 20+ courses and 20+ "splashes" of really amazing wine
We spent one more day in San Francisco, but did very little eating (not surprisingly).

And there you have it.  San Francisco... we came, we ate, we conquered.


  1. Yes! I love food pictures! You had me at "grilled cheese sandwich with grainy mustard." I am definitely going to have that this week. Yum! But, oh my gosh, Liana, I couldn't have done it. You are so adventurous. I couldn't have eaten those courses. I am not good with organ meat. That pigeon cookie would have given me nightmares. Now, as for the wine, I would have gladly drank your glasses you did not want. And then I probably would have been asking for more pigeon cookies and declaring them my favorite.

    You look so pretty. I am trying to zoom in to see what you are wearing. : )

    Thanks for the trip pics and recap. I am glad you had a good time. I would love to go back there soon. It is one of my favorite places.


    1. It was a very adventurous meal. There was a lot of trust involved!

      My outfit was not very exciting. I was wearing a black blazer over a black drop waist dress from Banana Republic.

      I loved San Francisco. There's so much to do (and eat!)

  2. "I heard that you have an aversion to offal." That is awesome.

    1. Equally awesome is when my husband asked the sommelier why sometimes sake is served hot. He could barely hide his disdain but it's because the heat hides the impurity (so clearly, we've been drinking crap).

  3. Hey! You won the giveaway! So excited! I could not find your email. I will ship the necklace out on Monday. Please email me your address at

    I am super happy for you!


  4. Looks like you had an awesome time in San Fran! The coffee, the grilled cheese, and the panna cotta sound amazing. But, as a vegetarian, the 20 course meal sounds like that scene from the sequel to Raiders of the Last Ark. LOL! You are brave and you look gorgeous! :)