Chelsea Lives: San Francisco

It’s time for another Chelsea Lives post! At the beginning of August I was lucky enough to go to San Francisco for work. While there I of course indulged in as many foodie recommendations as I possibly could! From start to finish, here are my favorites.

Blue Bottle Coffee, specifically its outpost at SFMOMA, had been on my list for years ever since I found out that they employ a pastry chef whose duty it is to create desserts inspired directly by their permanent collection. (DREAM JOB.) Before I found out about this, a dear friend and I had had a similar idea, which is why there’s a pitifully small section of this site devoted to art-inspired treats. Turns out I just can’t bring myself to combine my day job (thinking about art) with my hobby (baking!), as much as I’d like to (there’s only so much research I can do in a day, and fancy art treats do in fact require research!)–so needless to say I was THRILLED that my work trip brought me to SFMOMA so that I could finally try these desserts.

It was a hard sell between the Mondrian cake and the Thiebaud cake, but I was running on low steam after a long flight in, so I went for espresso and the Thiebaud, a yellow cake with coffee ganache and vanilla buttercream. Oh my god–I think this is the best cake I have ever had in my life. The coffee wasn’t overpowering and the buttercream was this perfect, silky texture, while still being thick and rich. I went and visited the Thiebaud painting afterwards and I swear it really was like I had just eaten a slice of the cake right out of the canvas.

Long story not short: Caitlin Williams Freeman is my idol.

Speaking of best things ever in my life–which pretty much is the caption for every picture in this post since food in California is AMAZING–burrata salad. Agh! Burrata is one of my favorite non-dessert treats. Who can resist mozzarella and heavy cream encased in more mozzarella!? Three cheers for whatever Italian came up with that genius idea. And this salad, with deep red tomatoes, arugula and herbs, good quality olive oil, and a generous helping of S&P was its perfect complement. I found it at Cowgirl Creamery‘s little take-away counter in the Ferry Building, an overwhelming mecca of fancy gourmet food stuff. Between an outpost of Miette Patisserie, Scharffen Berger chocolate, and Ciao Bella, I was definitely a happy camper.

The next day I went to much-hyped Tartine Bakery for lunch. It definitely lived up to the hype and may have changed my tune about underbaked baked goods. I love a gooey, sugary, doughy baked good, but this scone… Wow. Just wow. The density of flavor thanks to baking it to that awesome caramel hue is out of this world. New baking resolution: Fear not burning, embrace caramelization.

I also had a delicious sage/lemon/pecorino grilled cheese for lunch, don’t worry–a girl does not live on scones alone (though perhaps she does live on scones and a combination of various types of cheeses).

I met up with a friend and we had coffee at Blue Bottle! I wanted to try the New Orleans iced coffee on Sara’s recommendation, but since I’d been caffeinating myself throughout the day, I thought it best to stick with something decaf, which they couldn’t do with the premade iced coffee. Also, San Francisco is gloriously chilly, which I of course loved thanks to my bizarre affinity for 40-60 degree weather, so a hot latte was perfect. Blue Bottle’s coffee is ridiculously good. I am still regretting not bringing home a tiny bag of beans.

For dinner, it was a famed Delfina pizza. The line was ridiculous so we got it to go and ate it in Mission Dolores park (thus the grassy backdrop for above dinner). It was awesome. The perfect combination of doughy and crispy and some of the best pizza I’ve had outside of Italy.

For dessert: Bi-Rite Creamery, which is just around the corner from the park. AHHH!!! This is my new favorite place in the world. Okay, one of like 25 favorite places in the world, but still. Certainly up there as one of my favorite ice cream places, second only to San Crispino in Rome. This ice cream is crazy! Anywhere that sells anything honey lavender flavored has pretty much stolen my heart, but seriously, this beats out Wisconsin custard by a mile. (Sorry, Wisconsinites. I still love a Leon’s malt, but even that comes only so close to Bi-Rite.)

And actually, I’m not even that big of an ice cream person. Further proof that this ice cream is insanely good.

I have actually thought about that honey lavender ice cream every day since getting home. I’ve been considering buying an ice cream maker and the Bi-Rite Creamery cookbook solely to attempt its recreation. Stay tuned.

Last but not least, I snuck into Craftsman and Wolves (again on Sara’s recommendation) before my meetings on my last day there and it’s got to be one of the most beautiful coffee shops I have ever set foot in! Everything is really well presented in San Francisco, but this place takes the cake. The display cases are like those in an art gallery–precise, designed, intentional. Really beautiful. I wasn’t blown away by the muffin or the coffee, but it wasn’t bad by any means. (Poor muffin, it just couldn’t compare after Tartine the day before.)

In conclusion: San Francisco, I think you’re pretty awesome. Writing this post made me remember how delicious your food is and how much I loved your weather. Now I’ll stop typing to you as if you are a person and put you on my list of places to convince my family to vacation next so I can get back there sooner than later (hint, hint, Mom, I know you read this blog).

PS… What did you think of the graphics for this post? I thought I’d jazz up my Instagram photos in Photoshop a little. Would love to know what you think!