Sunday, April 28, 2013

San Francisco, Oakland, and Next time....- Day #5 (Sunday 4/14)

After spending so much time sightseeing and shopping, I was so glad to have a relaxing day to spend around Oakland today. On top of that, my lack of sleep was finally catching up with me!

After a really active Saturday afternoon, Naomi and I were looking to have a relaxing Sunday in Oakland. Naomi's favorite bakery La Farine, and the bakery was close enough for us to walk, so Naomi and I got ready and headed over there shortly after it opened for the morning.

The moment you opened its door, the smell of homemade bread and pastries breeze right in. The bakery is very cute (and quite popular) with customers coming in and out frequently. I had read some Yelp reviews that morning and had a few things I had to try- namely, the Savory Morning Buns, Sweet Morning Buns, and the Chocolate Croissants.

Lots of housemade freshly baked treats

Naomi was very familiar with this bakery, so we ordered an assortment to try. Here is what made the cut for our morning breakfast:
Sweet Morning Bun- buttery, flaky croissant pastry dough covered with cinnamon sugar

A sweet surprise! An almond paste filling in the middle (it was incredible)

Chocolate Croissant (my favorite)

I've tried many chocolate croissants, but this was one of my favorites so far. The croissant was buttery flaky, and the chocolate was creamy and soft. Pure heaven.

Savory Morning Bun- Same buttery flaky croissant but topped with chopped ham and cheese

A savory surprise of ham slices

Rustic Baguette- Delicious!!!

Lemon Shortbread- this was OMGawd good. Fresh and not too sweet yet not too tart

After eating a few of the pastries at La Farine, we took the remaining baked goods and walked back to their apartment. 

Naomi and Adrian had some grocery shopping to do, so we got into the car and headed to Berkeley Bowl West. This had place (or maybe it's b/c we were in CA?) had so many varieties of produce and grocery. Think Whole Foods but much larger.

Straus Family Creamery is a huge (and popular) family-owned certified organic dairy farm located in northern California. Naomi picked up some of their milk:
Love the authentic glass milk jugs

Large variety of beets, turnips, and carrots- literally "fresh from the ground" 
Who knew there could be 7 varieties of cucumbers?

... or sweet potatoes?
After battling through the Berkeley Bowl, we headed towards Vik's Chaat for some Indian street cart food. For me, I was thinking this would be literally a "street cart", but Vik's is actually an Indian supermarket (the nicest, cleanest, and brightest Indian market I've ever been to) attached to a large restaurant. 

Once you get into the restaurant side of the building, you'll see an almost-cafeteria like seating:

Before you even sit down, you need to stand (normally in line, this place was really popular!) and order your dishes. The dishes are all small servings, so it's a great way to try many dishes at once. Adrian stood in line while Naomi and I scurried to grab a table.

We started our meal with a Mango Lassi, a traditional Indian beverage made with yogurt, water, and mango pulp. It was pretty thick/creamy from the yogurt (and also quite filling):
Mango Lassi

Here is the (plethora of) food we ordered:
Cholle Bhature- The bhatura is a large deep-friend dough

It came with a side of pickled vegetables

Cholle (spicy chick peas)

To eat the cholle bhatura, you essentially rip off a piece of the bread...

... and dip it into the cholle sauce

Keema Samosa- Fried savory pastry filled with keema (lamb) and peas

Inside the keema samosa

These are puris filled and topped with yogurt and tamarind chutney. I was slightly surprised to see that this was a cold dish (first time trying it).
Dahi Batata Puri

The inside of the puri include potatoes and yogurt

Dosa (pancake/crepe-like wrap) filled with peas, carrots, lentils, and potatoes

My rating: B (I know I am in the minority because this place was very popular.) I am not used to this type of Indian food (we have mostly northern Indian cuisine here in Cincinnati). I did love trying all the variety of new foods, and I think if I lived here, I would continue to try new chaat items.

After lunch, we decided to walk off the food and did some shopping. After some shopping at the Crate & Barrel Outlet, we headed out for a mid-afternoon snack. But not before I saw this mobile cupcakery!
Mobile Cupcakery located outside of the Crate & Barrel Outlet store

This isn't a big deal to Naomi, but I've seen it on blogs, read about it on magazines, and thought it was so cute. I didn't get to snap a picture, but people were lining up (other side of the truck) and ordering cupcakes. Perfect day too, as it was low 70s and sunny.

We headed towards the Lakeshore area to Arizmendi's Bakery & Pizzeria. This is Naomi's favorite pizzeria in San Francisco, and while I wasn't the slightest bit hungry, how could I pass it up? It is located in a really lovely and cute neighborhood in Oakland.

Although we were there at around 4pm, there was (no surprise) a line to order pizza.
Naomi told me she has seen the line go out the door

Arizmendi's only make 1 pizza daily (always vegetarian)
Today's pizza included: Mustard greens, broccolini, red onions, mozzarella and fresh Asiago, roasted garlic, parmesan, and olive oil.

It was one of the best pizzas I've ever tasted. I wish I had been hungrier so I could have eaten more of this. The crust was perfect (love the thin crust), not greasy, and the toppings were cooked perfectly. The roasted garlic on top was heavenly. Excellent quality pizzas.

Something interesting to note is that Arizmendi's is co-operatively owned- meaning, the people who own it, work here. 

We headed across the street to Trader Joe's, and I nearly passed out at the line. First, the line was going down the entire length of the store, and wrapping around the back. Naomi said this was normal on a weekend. Are Californians just used to waiting in lines?!

We had literally been eating all day, so waited (a few hours) before heading back out to The Ramen Shop for dinner. Think Japanese ramen but in a hip, contemporary setting. I was excited to try some Japanese ramen!

The menu was limited but had some variety:

The Ramen Shop was dimly lit (I guess added to their hip atmosphere?)

Naomi and Adrian invited one of their friends Jeremy, and luckily, we got a reservation. We started off with a few appetizers to share:
Tuna Tartare- Spicy Yellowtail Jack tartare with watercress, fennel, and cilantro topped with a citrus vinaigrette

Pork Fried Rice with wild nettles and Siew's spicy chili paste

To be honest, I thought both appetizers were meh. The tuna tartare was good but not great, and the pork fried rice was just ok (definitely have had better). Both were plated nicely though.

For dinner, since Naomi and I were still full from our day of eating, we shared an order of Shiyo Ramen:
Shiyo Meyer Lemon Ramen with split roasted chashu, soy-marinated egg, mizuna, and nori

Adrian and Jeremy both ordered the Shrimp Miso Ramen:
Shrimp Miso Ramen with ground pork belly, asparagus, shoyu-marinated egg, and shunpike
My rating: B. This is not authentic Japanese ramen, but definitely a contemporary version of it. (My favorite ramen I've ever had in the US is still Ippudo in NYC.) I've never even heard of shrimp in ramen?! Regardless, if I had to choose between the Shiyo Meyer lemon vs. Shrimp Miso ramen, it'd be the shrimp miso ramen. It had a good depth of flavor, rich broth, and had I ordered this, I would have given it a B+ rating for taste.

There is no doubt San Francisco has an incredible variety of (excellent) foods, and coming back home was somewhat of a disappointment. I joked with Jenna that I really didn't know where I wanted to eat back home after having had so much variety and ethnic foods at my disposal in San Francisco. 

I want to thank Naomi and Adrian for showing me all over SF and Oakland, introducing me to new foods, and for allowing me to stay at their apartment all weekend!

Next time we are in SF/Oakland, these are the places I'd like to try (mostly food, naturally):
  • Fenton's Creamery- Local ice cream shoppe that has been around for years 
  • Ici Ice Cream- Every time we passed this place, there was a massive line out the door
  • Zachary's Chicago Pizza- Apparently, this place is so good (and popular). Crazy lines, but reviewers say it is worth it. If you love deep dish, this is THE place to do in SF
  • Bakesale Betty- Supposed to one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in the US
  • B-Dama- Another Japanese restaurant that garners good reviews
  • R&G Lounge- Located in SF Chinatown, supposed to have excellent Chinese fare
  • Japantown
  • Sausalito, Marin Headlands (sightseeing)