I Burst My Belt in San Francisco: Pixar, Foreign Cinema, Omnivore Books, Wise Sons, Knead, SPQR, State Bird Provisions, Bar Tartine, Zuni, Boulibar, Humphry Slocombe, Tosca and Sightglass Coffee


People often ask, when they read posts like these, “How did you not explode eating all of that food?” Normally I answer, “Oh, I only took small bites” or “I burned it all off by walking a lot.” But the truth is, I did explode after our week, last week, in San Francisco. My hands are typing this, but my face is across the room, and you don’t want to know where my lower half is. But let me tell you, friends, it was totally worth it. We ate like kings (and queens, as the case may be) from Wednesday to Sunday and now you get to eat like kings and queens too–well, with your eyes–as I take you back through it.

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Fried Potato Bread with Fried Chicken at Bar Tartine, Dinner with @ChezPim at State Bird Provisions


Yesterday I described a mini-drama in my head when I was choosing, on Wednesday, between the fried potato bread with fried chicken and something healthier at Bar Tartine. I went with something healthier and kind of regretted it.

So yesterday (Thursday), I went back with Kate from Serious Eats and we tackled the fried potato bread with fried chicken on top. You can see it in the above photo. I see that picture and think to myself, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I ate that.”

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Return to Zuni


When I was a nerd in high school (“What? YOU were a NERD in high school? That’s SHOCKING!”) my brother and I played many CD-ROMs. “Under A Killing Moon,” “The 7th Guest,” and, my personal favorite, “Return to Zork.”

This post has nothing to do with that except the title is an homage to that most peculiar video game, with creepy animations and a most memorable soundtrack. Instead, this post is about my return to one of San Francisco’s most beloved restaurants, a restaurant that I was dying to try my first time visiting here as an adult only to leave disappointed (see here). Was I disappointed this time around?

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What To Eat in San Francisco (A Wrap-Up)

Here’s a review of my favorite bites from my trip to San Francisco. Thanks Bay Area Bloggers for making me feel so welcome: after I join a gym and burn off the 40 million calories I ingested this trip, I’ll book another flight and do it all again. And now, my favorite San Francisco bites!

Oysters (& Champagne) at The Ferry Building:


The quail at Ad Hoc:


The Burrito at Taqueria Pancho Villa:


The strawberry trifle at Zuni (all the way on the right):


The frangipane tart at Tartine:


The bruschetta at A16:


The cellophane noodles with fresh Dungeness crab meat at The Slanted Door:


The entire experience at Chez Panisse:


(I know that sounds like a cop-out, but I mean it. No individual dish stood out: the whole experience melded together into a sublime whole. Plus I’m really proud of that post, and want more people to read it!)

The spicy cauliflower at Pizza Delfina:


The green garlic flan at César:


The tea leaf salad at Burma Superstar:


And, finally, the Arpege farm egg at Manresa:


Whew! What a list. Hope visitors to San Francisco put it to good use. And two final tips: Never call San Francisco “Frisco” or “San Fran”; you will be shunned. And if you rent a car (a tricky issue: great to have for Napa and Los Gatos, bad to have if you’re just staying in the city), there’s good parking near the hospital on 14th in the Castro. Just make sure to move it before the street cleaners come on the corresponding day. I just paid my $40 ticket, a final souvenir from a terrific trip.

Burma Superstar


Brett had Bay Area bloggers buzzing. “Where is he taking you?” they asked when I told them about our e-mail exchange. The exchange went like this:

Me: I want to meet you!

Brett: Great! Let’s meet for lunch Thursday.

Me: Ok. But there’s a problem.

Brett: What?

Me: I’m going to MANRESA that night and I don’t want to eat too big a lunch.

Brett: Hmmm… Ok, I’ve thought it over and I have the perfect place.

Me: You do?

Brett: Yes. It’s a surprise. See you Thursday!

So I told everyone he had a perfect place but that it was a surprise and everyone was anxious to know what it was. So was I. He picked me up near where I was staying in the Castro and drove me north or south or east or west, I really have no idea. I do know he said we were in the more authentic Chinatown. And then he said, “Here we are,” and we were there in front of the best-named restaurant in the history of restaurants: Burma Superstar.

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César & JoJo


Oakland is home to Derrick Schneider of Obsession With Food, his wife Melissa, and their friend Julie. I crossed the bridge to join them for dinner at César, a restaurant with two locations: one there in Oakland, the other in Berkeley right next door to Chez Panisse. As far as I remember, César the man spent time working at Chez Panisse (as most Bay Area chefs do) before opening up his own place. This won’t be a thorough review because, frankly, I’m getting burnt out writing about San Francisco grub (I’ve been back in New York since Friday!) so I will point out the dishes that I liked the most on this tapas-style menu.

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Pizza Delfina


My reasons for going to San Francisco were manifold: to see the Golden Gate bridge, to eat lots of food, and–very high on the list–to meet one of my all-time favorite food bloggers, Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. Heidi’s star is on the rise these days: with the release of her GORGEOUS new cookbook, Super Natural Cooking, she’s about to take the world by storm. Have you seen it yet? Held it in your hands? You really should, it’s a beautiful thing.

For our rendezvous, Heidi–who lives close to where I was staying–gave me a call Wednesday morning and invited me to join her for coffee at Tartine before lunch at Pizza Delfina. We walked over together (I knew it was her coming down the street because of the trail of 101 cookbooks she left in her wake) and had an instant rapport. We talked shop (how does she make her site so spiffy?), we talked food (Tartine’s baked goods are truly remarkable), and we talked cameras (she fixed my manual mode so it shoots now in 400. What does that mean?!)

And then it was time to mozy on over to Pizza Delfina, the more casual extension of the highly regarded restaurant Delfina. And guess who joined us? None other than Bruce Cole of the late Saute Wednesday and current editor (and owner) of Edible San Francisco. I never expected to meet Bruce and I was really glad he came: he’s really low-key and really fun.

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