Tuesday, February 19, 2013

California Love: the Food

Dear Em,

Thank goodness that San Francisco is a bunch of steep mountains hills, because I needed the exercise with all the food I ate. We wanted authentic West Coast food experiences, & what we got was amazing.

We started at Rogue, more to try out the beer selection than the food. Rogue is a craft brewery in Portland. They farm malted barley, blueberries, apples, plums, & cherries totaling 3800 acres of crops. They also make their own cheeses to pair with the beer. There was a Rogue Distillery & Public House in San Francisco, & your Daddy was excited to check it out. When I realized they served tater tots with their meals, that was all I needed. Their selection of beers was diverse & fun. I don't even like beer, but they had mocha & fruity flavored ones that I enjoyed trying. Your daddy was in craft beer heaven.

The next morning we had the best breakfast ever at Boudin Bakery. Boudin specializes in sour dough bread, with the mother dough originating back in 1849. There were shelves & shelves of sour dough bread...sour dough bread for miles. Some of the loafs were in fun shapes like crabs & teddy bears (I thought about taking one home for you, but you don't really like bread & I don't know how you'd feel about me eating the head off your teddy bear). I'm not sure if you know this, but bread is one of my top five favorite foods. If you stuck me on a deserted island & all I had was bread, I'd be OK. If I had stayed at Boudin long enough, I would have tried to eat half- OK ALL- of the bread before going into a pleasant sour dough coma. Instead, I just ordered the scrambled eggs with veggies in a bread bowl. It was flavorful & yummy & bready & absolutely filled me up for the busy day we had planned.

All of our breakfasts in California were great & filling (including a breakfast we picked up from a convenience store one morning). In fact, we missed lunch most days because we were still full from breakfast. One of my favorite things about breakfast in California was the different take on bagels and cream cheese. In the East Coast, we mostly plop some cream cheese on our bagels & call it a day. In California, a bagel & cream cheese also means slices of tomato & capers & lox (I didn't actually try the lox, but I'm kicking myself for it). It's incredible. I will never look at a bagel with cream cheese the same again. Why didn't we think of that on the East Coast?

In Napa our food was great, but the site of our lunch was really the best part. We ate in a wine cave at Paoletti Estates Winery. The owner of the winery is a little eccentric & had a very expensive, very large, very exquisite wine cave built. We had a picnic style lunch in the middle of the massive wine cave, next to beautifully colored stained glass windows. Opera & classical music was playing overhead. It was quite an experience to dine amidst all of the wine barrels (& weird ceramic busts- more on that later). It was for sure something I'd never done before & something I'll probably never have the chance to do again.

After heading back to San Francisco, there was one last thing I really wanted to try, West Coast style Mexican food. Your daddy & I love Mexican food, & I was sure it would be different than what we are used to in the North East. We went Mamacita, a fun & trendy looking Mexican restaurant. The first time we went, we hadn't even thought of making a reservation. Big Fail. It was a Friday night & was packed- over an hour wait. We ended up scrambling for something that wasn't over an hour wait. Lesson to be learned: make reservations for Friday nights in San Francisco. We came back on a Monday, earlier in the evening & were seated right away. Wanting to be able to try the best, we explained to the waitress we were from the East Coast & asked her what she would recommend. She went down the menu & highlighted her favorites as well as the customer favorites. We chose the Pato a la Plancha (duck tacos), Carne Asada (steak tacos), & Rancheras (a beef enchilada with goat cheese- goat cheese is one of my other top five favorite foods). Every bite was amazing. There were layers upon layers of flavor, & I left feeling satisfied & excited that I had tried duck for the first time. It was AH-MAZ-ING.

I miss the California food already, just not the calories.

I love you so,

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