I met Val 15 years ago in London when we both worked for the same company. Val left London and transferred to our San Francisco Office in 1997 and a year later I left for our Boston Office. Of course, like most things with distance you lose touch and then there was the creation of Facebook, which gave the world back a way to reconnect. It was on Facebook I started to notice Val’s posts and how much she seemed to love the food world of dining out, cooking and baking. I asked Val would she do me the honor of writing a Guest Blog to which she happily agreed. Val takes us on a wonderful culinary journey of her very own San Francisco and now I cannot wait to go back and try out all of these places I have never been to!
Please welcome Val…
I was so honored when Tracey asked me to be guest blogger especially because I’m a residential interior designer not a chef. However, my husband and I are real foodies and living in San Francisco there is absolutely no shortage of inspiration where food’s concerned. We love to eat out but also really enjoy entertaining and cooking – hence the tonnes (not kidding) of cook books we have!!
I thought I’d take you on a little tour of some of our favorite restaurants here in San Francisco and the dishes we then try to recreate.
When we moved here from London, we first lived in North Beach, which is the Italian quarter – I love all the lamp posts decorated with Italian flags, Washington Square with it’s imposing church and all of it’s authentic restaurants, which are actually reasonably priced! One of our Friday night haunts used to be The Washington Bar and Grill (it’s sadly closed now) but the bar tender knew us by name and before I had taken my seat there was a Kir Royale waiting for me with a twist of lemon – just how I like it! We’d snack at the bar and especially loved their salads – here’s our tomato and avocado, tomato and herb and Tuscan bread salads:
Around the corner from Washington Square is the up and coming Grant Street – I’ve noticed the fancy clothing boutiques moving in but one place that has stayed put is Jacqueline’s. It’s a tiny space that specializes in souffles!! I’ve been meaning to try and make a souffle for years and finally made my first batch last week. Donna Hay is my new hero…. I followed her instructions, didn’t deviate once, and here are my spinach and cheddar cheese souffles… very tasty too!
Another fun area in the City is Hayes Valley – it’s full of restaurants and cute stores. This is also where Bar Jules is located. Being a big “foodie” and not getting out as often as I’d like, I love the fact that they post their daily changing menu each morning on their website, using fresh, seasonal produce provided by local vendors, farms, etc. So I can salivate over what I’m going to eat that evening, constantly changing my mind too! One time we were there we dined on flank steak on a roasted sweet potato with grilled spring onion and garlic bulbs… I think we did a good job of copying this one:
I don’t even know if I should tell you about my secret restaurant… but here goes. Chez Spencer is a real find. Tucked away on a side street in the Mission district – an iron gate gives no indication of what is tucked away. It opens up into a little courtyard with an overhead canopy and French doors leading to an industrial like space that’s made cosy with a fireplace, crisp white table cloths and a pianist! The menu is fabulous and, get this, they have a food truck where you can get escargot to go!!! We recreated their Chilean seabass with a Chardonnary beurre blanc sauce, heirloom tomatoes and mixed greens:
Finally, I’m definitely a savory girl… not big on desserts at all – but if I have to share one then Zuni Cafe’s creme brulee is delicious. The crispy caramelized top and the fluffy creamy middle is perfect. When I make mine – as you can see here – I also like to add some raspberries or rhubarb – I love how the colors bleed into the cream too!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick visit to San Francisco and my culinary attempts!! Thank you Tracey xoxo