October 1, 2009

Strolling in San Francisco {Naptime on the Road}

Last week I had the pleasure of attending BlogHer Food ’09, a conference for food bloggers from around the country. Luckily for me, the organizers of the conference decided to host the event in their hometown of San Francisco, a city I love and was thrilled to visit. To give myself enough time to enjoy all the sites and tastes of the Bay Area I extended my trip beyond the day of the conference, allowing five days and four nights to explore as many foodie spots as possible. And, while a long weekend was barely enough time to scratch the surface, I did manage to scope out some delicious eats and beautiful sites with my friend Katie.

As with all of my travel series posts, I am pleased to share some of my favorite San Francisco food discoveries below. If you ever plan a trip to the Bay Area I recommend you print this out to take with you, as well as visit the sites of some fantastic San Francisco resident food bloggers – Megan of A Sweet Spoonful, Amy of Cooking with Amy and Heidi of 101 Cookbooks, for more excellent recommendations and restaurant reviews.

The Naptime Chef’s San Francisco Foodie Travel Recommendations (in no particular order):

1. Miette: With my sweet tooth as my tour guide, I entered this candy shop and bakery within two hours of my plane landing. Drawn in by it’s artistically arranged window displays featuring jars of colorful candies, rows of lemon shortbread and stacks of gourmet chocolate bars, I couldn’t wait to begin tasting. Inside the shop is both sophisticated and whimsical, with a tempting display case featuring fresh macaroons, cupcakes and chocolate desserts. Needless to say, I sampled a few of their items and returned for seconds the next day.

2. A16: I have long adored the A16 cookbook and was equally as pleased with the restaurant. Though Nate Appleman has since left as head chef, his legacy lives on in the brilliant southern Italian menu and wine pairings. We enjoyed several delicious local wines, burrata, pizza, pastas, and, of course, the famous Monday meatballs. The menu offers a great variety of foods, and is perfectly written for anyone seeking a delicious Italian meal.

3. The Warming Hut: My daily jogs along Chrissy Field would often end at this cozy bookstore/giftshop/cafe. Overlooking the Golden Gate bridge this shop features books, gifts and various kitchen wares that focus on sustainability. Additionally, all proceeds are given to the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy which makes shopping there completely guilt-free.

4. The Ferry Building: Picture a large ferry terminal filled with local, seasonal, sustainable gourmet food shops offering everything from gelato, to farmstead cheese, to tasty salted pig parts (yes, an actual tag line, see above), and you have the Ferry Building. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to enjoy the farmers market that takes place on Saturday since I was at my conference, but it was just as enjoyable on Sunday, and I imagine it would be any day of the week. I highly recommend you begin your visit with a few empty tote bags purchases, and an empty stomach.

5. Cocoa Bella: As I’ve told you before, my sweet tooth is always my best guide when exploring new cities. Armed with this knowledge my friend Katie, who understands my passion for good chocolate, introduced me to Cocoa Bella. This shop is gorgeous to behold and even better to taste. They feature the worlds largest chocolate selection, featuring goodies from around the globe. I started with a few samples from France, Belgium and Italy – all were delicious.

6. Citizen Cake: Elizabeth Falkner is a world renowned pastry chef who got her start with Citizen Cake. An edgy out-of-the-way shop, Citizen Cake is an experimental patisserie featuring flavors ranging from the traditional chocolate chip cookies to the floral scented cupcakes. My favorite? The lemon and ginger sandwich cookies.

7. Cowgirl Creamery: If you can smell stinky cheese from a mile away it is probably Cowgirl Creamery Red Hawk. This store is located right in the ferry building and is hard to miss. Cowgirl Creamery functions as everyone’s dream gourmet cheese tray. In addition to their own brand of cows-milk cheeses, they offer delectable cheeses from around the world, along with breads, jams and cookbooks with which to enjoy them.

8. Coffee Roastery: Adjusting to jet lag takes time and caffeine. Enter Coffee Roastery. This local chain was my favorite for tea, coffee and pastries. Everyone who works there is especially friendly and exceedingly sympathetic to weary travelers. Plus, their almond croissants are out of this world.

9. Kara’s Cupcakes: A newer establishment, Kara’s is a smart cupcake store featuring delicious cakes made from all-natural ingredients. My friend Lisa recently ordered her son’s birthday cupcakes from this store claiming they are the best she has ever tasted in the whole city.

10. St. Supery: I was fortunate to take a trip up to Napa Valley and visit St. Supery Vineyards. As part of the conference I joined a bunch of my fellow food bloggers for dinner sponsored by Bertolli Frozen meals and their spokesperson, Rocco Dispirito. I’ll admit, I was skeptical of sipping wine paired with frozen pasta, but it turned out to be excellent. And, to prove Rocco was there, here is a picture of us together. And, no, unlike my friend Jennifer at Unplanned Cooking, I did not try to kiss him.