The term “foodie” has been bandied about so much in the past few years that high priests and priestesses of the culinary kingdom are banishing it now and forever as a four-letter word. They have found “foodies” — those who are often equipped with cameras, who take copious notes and relish every morsel as if dining were a sport — to be guilty of being obnoxious in their random knowledge and unaccredited critique of gastronomy. Even more condemnable to them are people who brand themselves as “foodies” based on the un-extraordinary fact that they watch Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen or — heaven forbid — Diners, Drive-ins and Dives; own a blog dedicated to photos and descriptions of things they have eaten; or are registered as a Yelp reviewer. Artist Byce Vinokurov even has a series of paintings entitled “Foodies in Exile” meant to satirize this doomed lot.

So, with great apology, please allow us to use this verboten word in our vernacular just this one last time. We promise.

Last week, we traveled to San Francisco where we died and went to heaven in the Foodie Capital of America. (There, done.) The culturally diverse city is world renowned for its vibrant and innovative eateries and the mantra of consuming only that deemed fit for your body as a revered temple. Here, it’s all about local, organic and sustainable ingredients.

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First on our stop was a visit to St. Francis Fountain and Diner, established in 1918 and updated in 2002, where we hunkered down on a massive and very satisfying plate of creamy Tofu Scramble with a mildly spiced Peanut Sauce, the perfect Nebulous Potato Thing and a not too sweet serving of chunky banana bread.

For dessert, we ambled over to nearby Humphry Slocombe, a gourmet ice cream parlor where we waited in a line about 15 deep. Their many, many flavor combinations include Honey Thyme, Pom Coconut Ale, Hibiscus Beet and bestseller Secret Breakfast (a sensational blend of crunchy bits of Corn Flakes and bourbon ice cream, sssh).

The next morning, we wedged ourselves into the large, discerning crowd at the Good Food Awards 2012 Marketplace that took place at the Ferry Building. The farmers market type stands were manned by winners and nominees in the categories of beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles, preserves and spirits with samples doled out of their exemplary products. The Good Food Awards maxim is to “celebrate the kind of food we all want to eat: tasty, authentic and responsibly produced”.

On any given day, the Ferry Building Marketplace is an equally bustling diner’s mecca where you can find: Rechiutti Confectioners (focusing on the mastery of premium chocolates); Boccalone (Chef Michael Cosentino’s homage to the sus domesticas in all its glorious forms); Cowgirl Creamery (a full service cheese shop specializing in their own European style artisan cheeses); Heath Ceramics (impeccably crafted, sturdy and sleek ceramics for the home); Miette (a very charming pastry shop famous for its French macarons and other petite confections); Hog Island Oyster Company (where you can grab a few gleaming bi-valve beauties as you stroll by for only $2 a pop); and a slew of other incredible retailers.

Our brief ferry ride to the Sausalito side and back amped our appetite, so a quick bus ride to the Castro District for dinner was in order. After much back and forth with a rather persnickety companion, we finally settled on Miyabi Sushi. This stood out as the most disappointing and dismal meal of our stay with the salmon being criminally overcooked and the sashimi bland and obviously previously frozen. Thankfully, we rectified this horror with our euphoric first meal the next day.

What kind of Sunday would it be without first lazing about with a lovely brunch? Naturally, our first choice was Tartine Bakery situated in the heart of the very hipster-ish, historic Mission District. As we had already grown accustomed to the many queues, another one that was more like 30 deep wasn’t going to faze us. Plus, there was no way that we were going to forgo treating ourselves to their Croque Monsieur, mile-high quiches and brioche bread pudding. More about Tartine in a separate feature.

Next to Tartine Bakery is Pizzeria Delfina (which we were too stuffed to try) and next to them is Bi-Rite Market, a microcosm of all that is wonderfully edible. Their shelves and cases are lined with anything and everything that one could possibly need to create a fantastic meal with any dietary restriction. Their meats and produce are super fresh; the variety of fromage is extensive; they make their own ice cream; and they also run a bakery that produces an elegant line of desserts.

Left to wander the rest of the neighborhood window shopping, we chanced upon Mission Cheese which features American artisan and farmstead selections. We’re not entirely sure if their name connotes the district in which they’re located or if it’s their dedicated cause. In any case, having already sampled so many slivers at Bi-Rite Market, we had to bypass the Gruyères, Goudas and Chèvres. Instead, we ordered a very tasty Housemade Country Pâté (pork pâté with duck confit, figs, hazelnuts and a side of greens) and took some photographic notes of their decor for inspiration.

After perusing the oddities at Paxton Gate and popping in at the Pirate Supply Store, it was time to head back in the direction of our accommodations. We had noticed on the previous night that Sugarlump Café (a mid-century modern themed coffee shop) was hosting a pop-up called Sous Beurre Kitchen. Alas, when we got there it was not ongoing as they’re only open for brunch on Sunday and dinner  from Thursday to Saturday.

All tuckered out from the jam-packed weekend, we couldn’t bring ourselves to head out to Dynamo Donuts the next morning before our trek back home. Apparently, there they have designer combinations like Molasses Guinness Pear, Apricot Cardomom and Saffron Chocolate. Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine, has dubbed them “the new queen of the doughnut scene”. We’ll be sure to gobble them all up the next time we’re back up North.

On that note, our food adventure outside of Fullerton concludes. Check back from time to time, because there’ll be more.


Corky Nepomuceno

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