[SAN FRANCISCO & Berkeley] Eats in 24 hrs


Dear Food Diary:

In between meeting up with family (some of which I haven’t seen in over 10 years) and the 1st FoodBuzz Festival events, I had time to explore and eat around places I’ve missed during my previous 2 visits. There won’t be any Golden Gate Bridge or Fishermen’s Wharf here, just some randomly fun and delicious places I managed to squeeze in.
(I thought the dinasour trying to eat the tomato was hilarious and a good representation of my weekend ahead)
My first stop, the California Academy of Sciences was highly recommended by SF native Albert. I didn’t think I would enjoy it, but it was actually very cool, everything from feeding penguins, butterflies, clear dome shaped rainforest, aquarium to a their natural ventilation system on the rooftop garden. I had my breakfast at the cafe, peach tea and a really fresh fruit tart.
In the rain, I took the bus back to Union Square, hoped on the BART and walked 10 blocks, just for food… all the way to Berkley, my much anticipated meal at Chez Panisse.
Table for one atChez Panisse
My first time eating alone at a restaurant, lunch was at the cafe upstairs, everything was fine until I couldn’t decide what to order, sharing would of been ideal I thought to myself. The friendly waiters were helpful and insightful.
Next thing you know, the 2 gals sitting two tables over approached me and asked if I was a food critic/blogger (guess the camera and note pad gave it away). Turns out, they were Liz and Janice from Meal Makeover Moms, who happened to be nominated for a Foodbuzz Award! Chit chatting with my new friends, sharing our wonderful dishes and anticipating the rest of our weekend events.
I never had Cardoon (which resembles cooked celery but tastes similar to artichokes), these came with a potato salad that was tender to the fork but not mushy, it had sprinkles of shaved bottarga di muggine (cured fish roe, sometimes called a poor man’s caviar) that were surprisingly mild, little bit of chive and parsley. Lightly seasoned so you could taste each ingredient. Everything was brought together with a lot of respect for each component.
The waiter suggested the Liberty Farm duck leg confit, very tender and the meat maintained to stay juicy while the skin was crispy and evenly seasoned, paired with frisee, a sweet and tart red pepper relish. The seasonal roasted vegetables took my mouth on a trip to the farmer’s market, sweet potato, brussels sprout, and poblano peppers that for some reason burned like a hot iron on my tongue, waiter said 1/100 turn out to be this potent, I guess it’s just my luck. Thank goodness for the iced citron green tea.
Pink Lady apple and sour cherry crisp, was very similar to apple pie, only it had the tart cherries for a nice contrast to the sweet. Warm and very buttery, a nice crumble/crunch in every spoonful, and the quince sorbet added another layer of fruity aroma. Quince is similar to a pear crossed with an apple, adding a delicate taste to the sweet sorbet.
I was delightfully surprised to see foam art on my latte, very strong and milky.
The food, service and unexpected company made it a meal to remember and proved the rave reviews. FYI: make reservations in advance and ask for the the sunlit room in the back. Waiter tells me, this is where Chef Dan Barber (Blue Hill) learned about farm to table, while working under Chef Alice Waters.
P.S. Chubby’s RATING:
Chez Panisse on Urbanspoon
Sorry Union Square NYC, you just can’t compare. Everything was so beautiful, we all wished we had something like this back home or at the very least bigger suitcase to carry all this amazing goodness home.
Boccalone was my first stop and one I’ve been dying to try.
Chris went to some conference in Napa, so I didn’t get to meet him.
Since there was soooo much to try around the market, I only had a Mixed Salami Cone, salami, prosciutto, pancetta, what’s not too love about cured meats. If I had to pick one, I would say pancetta Piana. I’m kicking myself as I’m typing for not trying the head cheeses, like the Porchetta di Testa, I guess that gives me enough reason to go back.
P.S. Chubby’s RATING:
Boccalone on Urbanspoon
My first Guava Pineapple, very juicy though it didn’t taste too much like a pineapple, just a very tasty sweet/tart combo. The skin was bitter so we ate around it.
I’ve never seen yellow oysters, nor lemon looking buddha hands, aren’t they purty!? Tried maitake mushrooms during our Foodbuzz dinner for the first time, which are super fragrant and intense, hope I’ll see them on menus more often.
Got lunch at the Primavera Tamales while sitting by the water on a warm sunny afternoon, the ground pork sopes had a nice masa, extra crunchy crust, but the ground pork had an odd porky taste that wasn’t pleasing to the palate. The mushroom tamales were very very good, smooth and well seasoned. The chipotle salsa was a clear winner.
P.S. Chubby’s RATING:
Had to check out the SFMoma, which had 5 floors of fun, interesting and some hmmm questionable stuff. And a gorgeous rooftop sculpture garden.
My dear friend Marianne drove all the way from Sacramento. I convinced her to drive and buy me Humphry Slocombe ice cream (cash only). Flavors rotate daily, I was looking for foie gras, pink grapefruit tarragon, boccalone prosciutto or pistachio bacon, but non were on the board, a little dissapointing, but then again, it’s yet another reason to revisit! After trying all the flavors (the girl behind the counter was really patient) I ended up with McEvoy Olive Oil (you could taste just enough of the olive oil, also a hint of citrus and of course vanilla, I think the oil made it extra smooth, and lips felt a bit buttery afterwards) and Secret Breakfast which had bourbon and corn flakes, breakfast of champions for sure. Nicely creamy, just a kiss of bourbon and tiny little pieces of crunchy flakes, a winner.
P.S. Chubby’s RATING: 3/4
Humphry Slocombe on Urbanspoon
Tartine Bakery & Cafe James Beard Award 2008

Got the coconut passion fruit bavarian for our family dinner. Generous coating of coconut, moist genoise (sponge cake) plus layers of sweet and tangy passion fruit and lime. Melt in your mouth, creamy but perfectly balanced with the aromatic fruits, so it wasn’t heavy or too sweet. Loved it. The coconut macaroons were a little sweet for me, I would go back just for the cake, although I wanted to try everything.
P.S. Chubby’s RATING: 1/2
Tartine Bakery on Urbanspoon
Chubby’s Family Reunion Dinner
My aunt and uncle made a whole table of Shanghainese food. The shrimp were brought from Shanghai (shhhhh)! there was shark fin soup, abalone, tofu and crab meat casserole, and some homey dishes my mom would make. We ate and laughed around the table, it doesn’t get any better than that.
After dinner my tasty weekend came to an end. There wasn’t enough time, appetite or luggage room to fully enjoy the city, but what I did experience, made me want to go back.