Chef Andy in San Francisco

March 25, 2013
View from San Francisco Hotel We got a great view from the hotel!

Welcome to San Francisco. Population, over 793,000. A completely daunting atmosphere but at the same time, a serene waterfront beauty. Our mission: experience all that the city has to offer in food, wine, and culture. As a couple of mid-westerners, San Francisco is a place that has been on our bucket list as it is known for its culinary inventiveness and classic cuisines. With only four days to explore the city we knew this might be a challenge but we are going to take it on, one bite at a time!

After a brief journey of navigating the sloping hills, avoiding the speeding trolleys and crowds of busying locals, we found ourselves at Embarcadero Place, a beautiful location lining the Bay with a Ferry Building that houses numerous eateries and local shops selling anything from assortments of mushrooms, chocolates, artisan breads, meats and cheeses. Working up quite the appetite from the hike we settled down and grabbed a seat outside at a restaurant, Market Bar. We decided on a glass of wine each, and small plates to try. We refreshed our palate with a wonderful Columbia Valley Riesling, KungFu Girl, and a Paso Robles Merlot by J. Lohr. The Riesling certainly hit the spot;  a welcoming crisp, sweet acidity that hinted at melon notes and finished perfectly clean-- a pure Washington Riesling delight. The Merlot had a dry, leathery smokiness that was low in tannins and warmed the soul. The wines paired wonderfully with our dinner as well. I indulged a warm, savory cream of cauliflower soup that was a wonderful bowl of pure white flavor, simply garnished with chives. I paired the soup with a steak tartar that was composed of eye round, organic eggs and crostinis to munch. The texture was as it should be; light, soft and punching with flavor. The hint of a stone ground mustard seemed to make its presence very clear and unfortunately overwhelmed the simplicity of the steak as it was intended. While it was enjoyable, I don’t think that would be  a plate I would order again. My  husband bellied up to a plate of warm Mahi-Mahi roasted a la Plancha, that beautifully incorporated hedgehog mushrooms, swiss chard, crisp prosciutto and pork jus. The combined flavor sung together and it had a hint of heat, of soy, and the touch of the braised swiss chard developed a delightful earthy plate.

Mahi Mahi Roasted a la Plancha Mahi-Mahi Roasted a la Plancha

After dinner we continued on working out way around the very busy Market Street, Financial District and Union Square area. The next stop was to the View Lounge at the Marriott Hotel on their 39th floor. When the elevator door opened up and we turned the corner, we had a floor to ceiling view of downtown San Francisco at night--absolutely stunning! The glowing lights of neighboring high-rise buildings and the new twinkling lights of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, an LED spectacle we couldn't stop admiring, enveloped the lounge atmosphere. The lounge was packed with people and after further inspection we noticed that it spread more around the corner of the building, really giving the guests a never ending view of the city. Many couples were sharing intimate conversations, while other tables bustled with visiting business guests, laughing and draping their suits coats over their chairs, happy to be above the chaos below. As we settled to a table we took a glance at a rather minimal drink list. My husband settled on a dark, Big Daddy IPA from the local Speakeasy Brewery.  I decided to toast the night with a glass of organic Prosecco from Mionetto, part of the Treviso area. At first sip I was completely taken aback by the taste. Anticipating a sweet, bubbly experience, here this wine was  completely forward with a taste that was unmistakably sweet like chocolate. Not a note of fruit or flower anywhere! It was very weird but while I was taking the bizarre sips, I couldn’t help but think of all the wonderful dessert pairings that this wine would accompany. I will certainly look forward to that experience.

As the first night comes to end, we wearily make our way back to the hotel, discussing the night with such anticipation of all the places we have yet to explore. First bites down...many more to go!