Thursday, February 23, 2012

Galavanting through the city and a Christmas dinner - yes in February...

A few years ago when my husband’s job moved up to the city we were planning on moving up there. In the end the school and my job logistics squelched that move, but I still have a romanticized dreams of urban living. If nothing else, for the wealth of good food in the city. Since Jason was working over Christmas this year we decided to modify our typical Christmas even plans and move the celebration to the city. We hiked up Nob Hill to see the gingerbread house at the Fairmont, and down to Union Square to see the very impressive sugar castle at the Westin. We returned on New Years (observed) for another day on the town. So here is a run-down of some gluten free dining with kids in the city – much of which is walkable around Union Square.

Ferry Building. We usually hit the Ferry Building for the Saturday Market where we almost always indulge in Primavera’s fresh and flavorful Mexican goodies – I love their Chicken liver tacos and seafood tostadas, while Jason loves their chilequilles. But heading to the market on a different day opens up other options. Of course Mariposa has a stand in the market, which is all GF. Aaron loves their items; I like their quickbreads. They often have sandwiches with salumi from Boccalone – Aaron’s favorite. Or we grab buns from there to take elsewhere. Down the hallway is Charles Pham’s Out the Door, which has a gluten free menu, for relatively fast Vietnamese Food. This time I had a chicken salad, which is light and flavorful, although the cabbage was a bit bitter this time. Around the corner is Il Cane Rosso, which serves up sandwiches (not GF), salads and sides. We had some baked beans, brown butter polenta, and pickled veggies – all very good. Inside Farm Fresh to You they make gluten free sandwiches using Natural Food Works bread. Order the sandwich bread unless you get a grilled sandwich, in which case the Panini is good. Ungrilled it is a bit dry. I can’t say these are the most fantastic sandwiches in the market, but I do like Rose Anne’s bread when warmed. Aaron got a turkey with cranberry and enjoyed it – it had plenty of meat. Isaiah had a warm sandwich from Boccolone which was not GF. For sweet treats, we love Rechuitti chocolates – with a fondness for their fleur del sel and carmelized hazelnuts. Another sweet treat was found at Cowgirl Creamery’s Milk Bar – where they blend Rechuitti caramel (very dark), with whole steamed milk. They have all sorts of flavored steamed and cold milks.

Minamoto Kitchoan. This beautifully designed store has Japanese sweets flown in from Japan. We love Benkyodo for their fresh mochi and Simply Mochi, but this had other options. We tried the benihanaringo – an apple jelly – very nice slightly sweet and soft.   The kinako mocha, chestnut mocha and mugwort mocha were all good. I think I give a slight edge to those that are made locally when you get them very fresh.

Galette 88. A new creperie in downtown serving true savory French crepes. They have their buckwheat flour milled for them (note that it is not milled in a GF facility). We miss these crepes and this place was a delight. Service was great, the crepes were great, and the toppings were very high quality. Mine had goat cheese (aged, crotin), with fig and carmelized onions topped with barely dressed arugula. Aaron had sausage peppers and onions with mozzarella and parmesan cheese Рlike pizza in crepe form. Isaiah had smoked salmon with cr̬me fraiche. My only complaint is that the salmon was pretty salty. We had not effects from the crepes.

La Palma. (Mission). Not dining per se, but we always stop here when in the area for packs of tortillas. Once in while we get a pack that is too heavy on the lime (I am the only one that can taste it though). Their corn tortillas are fresh, warm and wonderful and I am particularly partial to their Nopales tortillas. On the days leading up to Christmas there is a line down the block for their freshly ground masa preparada, attesting it’s quality.

Humphry Slocombe (mission). Ice cream – I love ice cream. I have to say Humphry Slocombe is probably my least favorite of the ice cream places, but their flavors are daring. When they get one right it is great, but there are misses.

Xanath (Mission). Intense vanilla ice creams are worth the stop. The others aren’t so eye opening.

Bi Rite Creamery (Mission Dolores). This time we tried the soft serve – actually not great this time and the mint overpowered the chocolate. Usually they have very rich and creamy ice cream – this is where I take people that want traditional rich ice cream.

Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous (dogpatch). My favorite ice cream. I knew they were good when I loved their chocolate chip of all flavors. I think their candied violet is my favorite, but the halwah is up there.

Contigo (Noe Valley). A wonderful little Spanish restaurant with small plates to share. Not everything is gluten free but they certainly guide you about the menu well. We started with jamon iberico, a really wonderful nutty ham – they served the bread on the side. Spanish olives – loved the pickled veggies and almonds with it. Warm butternut squash salad with mushrooms, frisee and manchego – this was a real winner, sweet savory with a nice splash of sherry vinegar. Patates braves – not fried in a dedicated fryer so the non-GF folks enjoyed these. Very crispy. Chickpease and spinach – also not gluten free, but my husband said this was his favorite – smokey spices, rich flavor. Calamars a la planxa – the disappointment of the night – overcooked and a bit burnt. I have had wonderful versions of this dish – just not this one. Braised duck – also very good, sweet savory combinations. Sauteed greens – nice sherry vinegar flavor, perfectly cooked. 

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