American Adventure – Update 2

Having finally made it back to San Francisco (via an unscheduled recharge in Sausalito) we set off in search of a light mobile lunch. The local store is Whole Foods. I admit that I have never ventured into their London store, but after having visited here I certainly will. Any shop that lets you make your own peanut butter, sells more flours than you can shake a baguette at and has every kind of Valrhona couverture available by weight is definitely worth a trip!

The evenings sustenance came courtesy of ‘Scoma’, one of San Francisco’s oldest restaurants and a waypoint on the tourist trail. Almost completely unchanged since the 1950’s, haute cuisine it is not. Compared with ‘The Girl and the Fig’ it offers a fascinating insight into where American cuisine has come from, and where it’s going.

Scoma sells seafood, the menu groans under the weight of fish, shellfish and every combination possible. To start I shared their platter, a mix of oysters, clams, prawns and crabs. All were fresh and delicious. The main was a fried mix of halibut, scallops and shrimp, served with a frankly odd side of pasta, rice and steamed veg.

Monday brought with it the chance to branch out on my own while my flat mate headed off to work – following the Lonely Planet, reinforced by his recommendation, I went for breakfast at ‘Brenda’s Soulfood’. On arrival the queue was reassuringly large but I was quickly seated by the friendly staff and the house special ordered. The ‘Hangtown Fry’ consists of an oyster/bacon/scallion omelette, grits and ‘biscuit’ (American for scone). It was incredible – oysters work superbly in an omelette and the biscuit/grits ensure you’ll have enough stodge to make it through the day.

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Part way through a fantastic walk round three of San Francisco’s many hills I ducked into ‘Molinari’s’ to pick up lunch. It’s exactly what you think an Italian deli should be, family run, busy, loud and brash. The ‘luciano special’ sandwich was stunning, piles of Parma ham, buffalo mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and lettuce all with a special sauce inside a fresh focaccia, then lightly toasted. It did not last long.

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I cooked dinner for my flatmate, a simple steak with salad and potatoes, but it did give me a chance to sample the best beef available to the average consumer in America. I’m partway through writing up a post on beef in general so I’ll hold off on that. Whole Foods also provided a stunning bottle of wine, Duckhorn’s Duck Hunt Zinfandel. I’ve sampled this before at ‘Marcus Wareing at the Berkley’, but at almost four times the price. It’s a great little drink and a perfect example of how refined a Zinfandel can be.

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