Monday, October 01, 2007

Pizzas, People and Places to See, San Francisco, Part 4

(Continued from this earlier installment, which was continued from this one, which was continued from this one.)

Saturday - day three of my recent San Francisco trip - brought new possibilities, because my dear friend and host Tommy was free for the day. You might think it odd that I fly up to the Bay Area to spend time with my husband's best friend - but really, he's like family. If you knew him, you'd understand!

When I used to live in the Bay Area, I loved to drive out to Point Reyes to eat at the Tomales Bay Food Company, all the way from the East Bay. I've been wanting to go again, but just haven't had time on recent trips - it's really a full day to drive up there and back from the City. This time though, Tommy and I had friends we wanted to visit in Mill Valley - so we decided to drive out there just for the heck of it, and stop by for a visit on the way back.
Morning Bun (orange and cinnamon - so good...)
Before departing the City, we stopped by Bay Bread Boulangerie on Pine in the Fillmore to fuel up on coffee and pastries. Their version of a morning bun was one of the best I've ever tasted - flaky, croissant-like layers of pastry coiled with cinnamon and finely grated orange zest, all coated with granulated sugar. Thus fortified, we headed out of the City in Tommy's 911 convertible, a great car for a fun little trip.
On the way out of the City
The weather was still spectacular, and the drive out to Point Reyes on Lucas Valley Road was gorgeous. Point Reyes itself was buzzing with activity - the farmers market was going on, and there were more people on the streets and in Tomales Bay Foods than I recall seeing before, but that was several years ago (actually, try ten!)
Our Destination - Tomales Bay Foods in Point Reyes
We had a nice little picnic on the back lawn, with sandwiches and a tuna confit salad that honestly wasn't quite as good as I had hoped it would be. For some reason, the food didn't seem quite as interesting or unique as I remember.
Picnic Lunch
We had sandwiches - roast chicken with capers and lemon for me, and roast beef with cheddar and peppers for Tommy. They were good, but I remember some amazing simple salads with fresh ingredients - served in paper boxes - and I didn't see any of that in evidence here. It was really just like what you can get at Dean and Deluca, or Oakville Grocery. It used to have that sort of artisanal-hippie Chez Panisse vibe, if you get my drift.
Roast Chicken with Capers and Lemon
After lunch, we wandered around the shops in Point Reyes, and I was thrilled to find a basket identical to one I had seen in the De Young Museum the day before. It was a smallish basket woven in Africa of multicolored telephone wire. When I saw it in the museum I thought "Wow - that's cool, I sure wish I could buy one of those!" Lo and behold, there they were in a gift shop in Point Reyes the very next day. I don't have a picture of mine, but you can click here for some fabulous examples.

After moseying around the town for a bit, we hit the road and headed for Mill Valley to meet up with friends Janine and Gregg and Nate and Sarah, who live over there and have babies under a year old - making it much easier for us to go to them than it is for them to come to us.
Nate and Sarah at the Depot
We met up on the square in Mill Valley for some coffee and conversation at the Depot, then moved the party over to D'Angelo's for some wine and a light supper of appetizers and pizza. It was really fun to see everyone and meet the babies. From D'Angelo's we continued on up to Cici Gelateria, owned by a friend of Sarah's from high school - for some dessert (this group is nothing if not enthusiastic about eating and drinking!)
Cici Gelateria in Mill Valley
Cici is the real deal. They imported their equipment from Italy, and make the gelato with organic ingredients including dairy from Straus Creamery and local produce. The flavors are heaped in the modern display piled with fruits and other garnishes, and look delectable. I had coffee and chocolate - several in our group also enjoyed the hazelnut. There is a complimentary posting on Chowhound here.
Gelato at Cici in Mill Valley
After gelato, exhausted from our day of eating and driving - Tommy and I headed home

Sunday morning was our last chance to see Tracy, who was in town for a conference from the East Coast. She had a short window for brunch, and I really wanted to take her to Boulette's. I forgot though that the last time I went there was on a Monday morning - not a Sunday - and the wait was much longer than I expected. It forced Tracy to miss the second half of her morning - but hopefully it was worth it.
Beignets with plum jam - they were worth the wait.
We had a gorgeous meal - starting with Beignets, continuing with the "Eastern European Hot Chocolate" which we all sipped, and moving on to entrees -
Boulette's - Poached Eggs with Roasted Tomatoes and Peppers
Poached Eggs with Piperade for Tom and Tracy, and Pork Chile Verde for me with pureed cranberry beans.
Pork Shoulder Stew at Boulette's
Luckily I was able to give some of my pork to Tommy- I certainly couldn't eat it all.
Inside Boulette's
Before leaving, I bought the requisite cookies (the chocolate ones with sea salt and some little baby thumbprints) some smoked paprika and Welsh Sea Salt. I also bought a couple of bags of their Blue Bottle blend coffee - which was strangely disappointing - maybe because they use french press pots, and I tried it in a regular drip coffee maker. After dropping Tracy off, I took Tommy home and finished packing, and flew home that afternoon.

I'm already thinking about the next trip - but before I go back to San Francisco, I'll be taking two trips in the next three weeks - one to Santa Barbara and Big Sur, and another to New York City for the Gourmet Institute. I can't wait to report back on those!


  1. dontcha just love the bay area...

  2. you are making me hungry in my own town!