Favorite Experiences in San Francisco - First Weekend Trip

It was a chilly, breezy, July morning, and the fog hung low. My husband and I started the day at the Dynamo Donuts shack on Yacht Road where we sampled their well-known Maple Bacon doughnut (this later inspired a maple bacon cake, still one of my favorite creations) and a gluten-free Carrot Cake doughnut. We sat by the water and ate, gazing at Alcatraz and the Golden Gate, watched a lazy fisherman, and listened to the waves. I loved it. I loved just sitting there, soaking it all in. 


After doughnuts, the sun came out, and we drove over to Pier 39 where we browsed the shops. In The Spice & Tea Exchange, I enjoyed an impromtu lesson on spices, salts, and sugars from a man who worked there. He knew so much, and I'm grateful to him for sharing as I tasted, asked, clarified, and expressed delight in the many flavors and combinations. Tasting the difference in, say, cinnamons or peppers that are different based on where they grew is astounding and revelatory. He seemed pleased by my interest, and he brought out some dehydrated vinegar from the back for us to sample. We showed our apprecation for his attention by adding many products to our basket. Down at the wharf near Pier 41, we found and explored a 1940s submarine, the USS Pampanito. It was a bit unnerving to feel the sub swaying around us. We talked about how neither of us feel "made" for that lifestyle or feel comfortable being under the water in an enclosed space. But it was so very neat to see the bunks, quarters, ward room, and control room. It astounded us – the feats of engineering encased in those spaces. These worked! It's a testament to me to never under-estimate the past, and a reminder to not be arrogant about my own time. Then, we wandered over to Boudin. Oh, Boudin! Their museum displays were fascinating, documenting the history of their bread, the company, and San Francisco. Their factory was engrossing, where old school bread-making technique met modern small-industrial machines and processes. We also tasted their famous sourdough and had a refreshing drink at the bar.


Wrapping up the day, after a quick stop at our hotel, The Palomar, we headed to dinner at the Bluestem Brasserie. It was a last-minute choice and not an unfortunate one. When we arrived, there was a raucous crowd at the bar, and the hostess took us to their upper level to be away from the noise. We were greeted by several managers/house employees on the way up, and all the servers were very friendly. After a carb-filled day, I was ready for some vegetables (part of the reason for choosing this restaurant). My appetizer, a wild arugula and corn salad with sugared chopped almonds, fresh peaches, and a light champagne-peach vinaigrette, fit the craving perfectly. And the entree! A duck confit salad, I think it was the highlight dish of the trip. My husband called it "not-your-mom's-chef-salad." Pulled duck meat and lardons over a bed of frisee, watercress, cherry tomatoes, shallots, and croutons topped with a fried duck egg. We also sampled the chili-lemon-parmesan fried cauliflower and macaroni & cheese. Later, we walked over to Beard Papa's for a chocolate cream puff. 


The next morning, we hustled back down to Fisherman's Wharf for a Segway tour. So fun touring that corner of San Fran, via a unique form of transportation, on a gorgeous, sunny, windy day. While on the tour we noted Scoma’s (I still need to go back there), a seafood restaurant off the beaten path, right on the water, and a favorite local hang-out. In business for about fifty years, its own boats fish every morning and bring the catch straight to their cleaning building before being walked another seven yards to the restaurant. We ended up at Municipal Wharf, which has a great view of the city. Then, we coudn't leave without driving in our teeny-tiny car down Lombard Street. I wanted to go down it once! For the experience. I would hate to live there, though, as the streams of tourists stood in driveways and blocked cars. The day ended with Cocoabella and Schoggi Imported Swiss Chocolates, where we bought a few goodies to take home. Schoggi turned out to be our favorite.