I left my heart in San Francisco

13 Mar

Since Blister’s in the Philippines for new year’s eve, we couldn’t go to our annual new year’s trip to Glen Ivy. So this year, Bubby and I went to San Francisco, the city where we fell in love. Our first date was at Palomino in Embarcadero. The food was not particularly good, but I was nervous. We were friends for so long and ate together all the time, but on this January 30th day, 7 years ago, I had butterflies in my stomach. After dinner, he held my hand as we walked along the pier. I was jumping on and off of the stoops, and he held my hand for my “safety” so I wouldn’t fall. It was more like a slicker version of the “yawn and reach” technique at the movie theater. Since that day, we just knew we were meant to be together. No DTR conversations, no “where do we stand?” inquiries, no “it’s complicated” relationship status. We just knew we were together and have never broken up since. Sure, there are times when he’s my greatest enemy and I want to punch him hard in the balls, but most days he’s my best friend.

Going back to San Francisco is always a treat. I love walking down the dirty streets of my old hood, the Tenderloin. Stepping on spit, fecal matter, and used needles never felt so good–kind of like an urban version of Dorothy and her yellow brick road. Although my brick road is stained yellow from urine– both animal and human. I also love going back to San Fran for the food. Always for the food.

Our hotel was located in Fisherman’s Wharf, a tourist trap.  The best part of this tourist trap is Trish’s Mini Donuts.  These fried rings are worth the six-hour drive from LA.  Every time I go to SF, I always try to fight the tourist trap traffic just to get my hands on these fried babies.

They are liberally showered in cinnamon sugar which eventually melts into the super hot fried dough.  I have never ordered a tub of these mini donuts, but one day I will.  Cha-longe!!!

On New Year’s day, we decided to go to Brenda’s, the only Cajun restaurant in the Tenderloin.  As a former Houstonian, I love Cajun food.  We decided to go on New Year’s day assuming the crowd would be hung over in bed.  On our walk to Brenda’s, we noticed some stragglers still partying at noon the next day.

I cannot remember the last time I partied until the sun came up. I feel old.

As we walked towards Brenda’s this is what I saw.

Oh hell no.  That line is not cute.  We had to wait for an hour and 45 minutes.  Bubby had been before, and he made me wait for my crawdads.  And dammit, he had me at crawdads.

After watching every crazy homeless person pass by, some familiar faces and some new, our table was finally ready.  The restaurant is packed with tables only two inches apart from each other.  I immediately ordered the watermelon iced tea to ease my anxiety and claustrophobia.

Sometimes sweet tea outside of the south can be way too sweet.  But this watermelon iced tea was perfectly cool and sweet. It reminded me of a hot Houston day and the smell of fresh-cut green grass.

Crawfish beignets with cayenne, scallions, and cheddar

Brenda’s serves several different kinds of beignets including plain with powdered sugar, apple, chocolate.  I ordered crawfish because I love crawfish.  The beignets are served hot, fluffy, and they collapsed with the pressure from my fork.  As I broke into the dough, the melted cheese oozed out.  Unfortunately, the ratio of crawfish to dough is off.  I expected large chunks of crawfish, but there were probably three small ones swimming in cheese in each pocket of dough.

I ordered the grillades and grits, and Bubby ordered the fried catfish eggs benedict.

The beef cutlets in the grillades and grits was tough and difficult to chew.  The grits were fluffy clouds perfectly buttered and smothered in cheddar cheese.  Nothing makes my belly smile more than buttered grits and cheese.  Bubby’s catfish eggs benedict was not as good as we imagined, but the biscuit was slap yo’ mama good.  That biscuit was it.   Would I wait two hours for it? Probably not.

Bubby and I needed to burn some serious Cajun calories, so I dragged him to Union Square for some serious shopping.  While in Union Square, Bubby and I always have to eat at King of Thai Noodle.  It’s not fancy Thai food, but serves really good roast duck.

Bubby always orders the duck fried rice with a fried egg on top, and I order the duck noodle soup.

Simple.  Duck.  Noodles.  Soup.  Peppers.  Good.
I haven’t tried the other dishes because there really is no need to.  This is the only dish I order every time.

The next day, I dragged Bubby to Hog Island Oyster Co.  I had a serious craving for oysters.  But once again, we hit another damn line.

The wait was not as bad as Brenda’s, probably 30 minutes total.  I ordered fresh lemonade to prep my taste buds.

We ordered both fresh and baked oysters.  The fresh ones included Hog Island Sweetwaters, Hog Island Atlantics, Sand Isle Kumamotos, Chelsea Gems, and Island Creeks.

These fresh oysters were thick and smooth as they slid down my throat.  The kumamotos had a slight “oceany” tang which I let Bubby enjoy.

The baked oysters were actually as tasty as the fresh ones to my surprise.

The Casino and Tarragon oysters were so flavorful.  The only bad thing about them was that there were only four.

The clam chowder

The clam chowder is not your typical clam chowder.  It’s not thick, but light and milky.  I added a splash of fresh lemon juice which really brightened the taste of the clams.  I loved dipping my grilled cheese into the chowder broth.

The crunchy sourdough bread and the stringy cheese dipped into the milkiness wonder of the clam chowder felt like a perfect hug from the inside on a cold January San Francisco day.  The pickled vegetables, cauliflower and carrots, added a nice acidic note to the entire meal.

As we walked back to our car to head home, we picked up some road trip treats in the Ferry Building.  Miette’s macarons and Blue Bottle Coffee Co.’s cappuccino.

The vanilla was way better than the chocolate.  Even Bubby, chocolate lover, agreed.

And for the last damn time, a San Franciscan line at the Blue Bottle Coffee Co.

Good strong caffeinated drinks.  Too bad it wasn’t strong enough to keep me awake during our car ride back to LA.  I always fall asleep in the car like a behbeh.

Goodbye, San Francisco.  I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for this beautiful city.  Where else could you find an Asian family all dressed in matching puffer jackets?

Trish’s Mini Donuts
Embarcadero Pier 39, Bldg B
San Francisco, CA

Brenda’s
652 Polk St
San Francisco, CA

King of Thai Noodle
184 O’Farrell St
San Francisco, CA

(duck noodle soup only)

Hog Island Oyster Co.
1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA
   

Miette Patisserie
1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA
   

Blue Bottle Coffee Co.
1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA
  

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