I love San Francisco. It’s a shame it’s more than 8 hours away from San Diego or I would be visiting every month. Unfortunately, I only visit once a year and it’s when I tag along with Paul while he exhibits at WonderCon. The plan is for me to explore the city for a few hours while Paul slaves away selling his wares. I join him later in the afternoon and help him out until closing.
Last year, I almost entirely missed WonderCon because I was having so much fun exploring the city with my friend Jen T., the better half of SpacePunks. This year I was solo but being solo didn’t mean I didn’t go out on food adventures on my own. In fact, I ate a ton and navigated the city myself.
The first thing I proclaimed to Paul when we arrived in the city was that we had to have an It’s It, an ice cream delicacy I’ve only seen in the Bay Area. It’s vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two oatmeal cookies and dipped in dark chocolate. The cookies were chewy and made all the more perfect since they didn’t have raisins. It was delicious. Not so great was visiting three corner liquor shops trying to find it. (Update: Apparently they are available in San Diego as well. HUZZAH!)
The first day alone I found the place where my dreams reside: Miette Confiserie. This quaint shop sells French and Italian sweets along with cakes, cupcakes and French macarons. There were bowls and dishes filled with beautifully wrapped sweets. It was almost too pretty to eat. Needless to say, I spent a small fortune here buying a little bit of everything including an absinthe lollipop. The shop is well thought out in decor and layout. I would visit here every day if I could.
Just around the corner was Paulette’s Macarons. The shop was filled with customers all buying delicate cookies in flavors like caramel, pistachio and almond. I bought more sweets in hopes of giving them to people when I returned to San Diego. Only a few made it home with me. Apparently you can do a French macaron crawl in this area.
On Saturday, I discovered the Ferry Building. The area was crowded with the farmer’s market people. I would like to say I saw a lot of hippies (I didn’t) but there was a ton of food all locally grown and a lot organic. To make up for the amount of sugar eaten the day before, I had a cone filled with meat for breakfast. It was actually a salumi cup from Boccalone whose tag line is ‘tasty salted pig parts.’ I would be lying if I didn’t say that didn’t draw me in.
The salumi cup is a paper cone was filled with different types of salami. The lady took special care to tell me what everything was but I just wolfed the whole thing down. It was all delicious. What continued to haunt me was Miette Confiserie. The Ferry Building location was the first and original location. It was smaller but still had the same pastries but less candies than the Hayes Valley location. I resisted buying more sweets.
I didn’t leave Paul out of all the fun. While my daylight explorations was spent eating a little bit of everything and buying a lot of edible souvenirs, the dinners were spent with him. One of our dinners was at Mums House of Shabu Shabu in Little Tokyo, infamous for their all-you-can-eat menu.
Mums is nestled on the second floor of Hotel Tomo, a manga-inspired hotel with a Giant Robot vending machine in the lobby. For $24.99, you can eat all the shabu shabu you want within a two-hour time limit. With the cold San Francisco days, shabu shabu is the perfect food. We were looking forward to this so we ate three plates of beef. Paul continued to eat a fourth plate on his own. According to our waitress, the record was 10 plates shared between two guys, so I didn’t feel so gluttonous when the empty plates piled up around us. Mums Cafe also has an all-you-can-eat AND drink plan for $42.95. The four riotious frat guys near us doing sake bombs the entire time we were there took that option. The also offer shabu shabu to-go (to my surprise).
Perhaps the best meal was at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar.
Besides serving absinthe, this restaurant is known for having Jamie Lauren from this season’s Top Chef as its executive chef. I was half-expecting most of the menu items to have scallops in them since she seemed to be fond of cooking with scallops all the time during the show, but there was only one scallop dish. Instead, the menu’s cuisine is French-inspired. It all looked so good.
We finally decided on arctic char and dungeness crab. The arctic char was perfectly cooked on top of fried spaetzel, microgreens and bits of ham hock. I still dream of that dish because it was so good. And fish with pork? Brilliant and each complemented each other. Dungeness crab was good as steamed crab should be and as I wolfed down the arctic char, Paul was still working his way through his crab. The restaurant was completely packed when we were there and I could feel people’s eyes on us trying to determine when Paul would finish his crab so they could swoop up our table and claim it as their own.
Maybe it’s a good thing that San Francisco is so far away. I would be spending all my money eating there. Someone once told me you could eat at a different restaurant/eatery in San Francisco every night of your life and never eat at the same one twice.