People always ask me what I miss most about living in San Francisco. My answer is always the same: the food and wine. But what’s a Lady in London to do when she goes home to California to await the birth of her nephew and can’t make any firm foodie plans?
A lot, actually. While San Francisco has no shortage of excellent restaurants, it also has its share of options for grazing. This is a big benefit on those occasions when I can’t commit to reservations or when I just want a few (hundred) marginal calories in addition to the thousands I consume every day I’m in California.
On this trip, I had no trouble finding little feasts for every part of the day. In my own neighborhood, the Marina, I picked up my favorite tuna sandwich from the adorable Blue Barn Gourmet and my perennial favorite ahi poke wasabi bowl from Pacific Catch.
Down the road, I couldn’t resist a mid-afternoon sweet treat from Kara’s Cupcakes. Their fleur de sel chocolate cupcake was a winner that day, but on another occasion I dove into a red velvet one that was equally good.
But my favorite cupcakes in San Francisco are from Miette, a patisserie in the city’s Ferry Building.
On Saturday morning my mother and I headed out to the famous farmers’ market there, grazing away on everything from Miette’s beautiful gingerbread cupcakes to the famous triple cream Mt Tam cheese from Cowgirl Creamery (let it never be said that the USA doesn’t do good cheese!).
I also introduced my mom to the farmers’ market’s secret Blue Bottle Coffee stand in the front of the building, which has much shorter lines than either of their other two locations (don’t tell your friends). We loaded up on lattes before grazing on samples of fresh oranges and pears.
Back in The Marina, I fed my California wine habit with a glass of Pinot Noir from my favorite wine bar, Nectar. Always buzzing, it somehow manages to have a table just opening up every time I arrive. This visit was no exception, and a friend and I caught up without needing a reservation.
Speaking of no reservations, later that night I had dinner at Pizzeria Delfina in Pacific Heights. They don’t take bookings at all, but my friend and I had a surprisingly short wait for their famous pizzas on Tuesday.
The same went for the famous brunch at Ella’s in Presidio Heights. Jet lag worked in my favor when my mother and I arrived early enough to snag a table and tuck into a feast of lemon-ricotta pancakes and an open-face omelette.
Over in Cow Hollow, I met up with another friend at Roam, a great order-at-the-counter place with burgers so big that mine came complete with tortilla chips inside.
And back by my apartment, I finished off my two weeks of grazing in San Francisco with breakfast at The Grove, a beloved neighborhood cafe with a rustic interior and coveted outdoor seating. My mother and I enjoyed a breakfast bagel there on my last day of sunshine before returning to the snow in London.
Come to think of it, maybe the food and wine in San Francisco tie with the weather when it comes to the things I miss most when I am away (when the fog is out, anyway). But I prefer to use the weather as my excuse for decamping to sunny San Diego, which, conveniently, was the next destination on my California trip…