As much as I love my idyllic, small beach town lifestyle and wouldn't trade it for anything in the world, I must admit- I left my heart in San Francisco. Born and raised just a stone's throw away, I love that my family still resides there so that I can pop over for a weekend visit anytime.
By far a must on my SF to-do list is the Ferry Building. A virtual mecca for food lovers, I always discover a new treasure each time I go, whether it's a basket of locally foraged wild mushrooms, a jar of blood orange-infused olive oil, the best cappuccino you'll ever have or a vegan gourmet doughnut. So clearly, no Bay Area trip is complete for me without a visit to the Ferry Building!
On our way to brunch al fresco (more on that in a bit), we made the requisite pit stop at Miette, a charming little bakery with a retro vibe and simply adorable confections.
Every time, without fail, we hone in on the macarons- they're just too tempting to resist, and it's practically tradition for us at this point.
|Rose Geranium and Chocolate Lavender macarons from Miette.|
Gorgeous, aren't they? We promptly ordered one of each flavor, plus a few more just to be safe. And then we happily devoured them on the way to our brunch destination, Boulettes Larder. In fact, we were still snacking on these cookies when our first course arrived (that's how good they are).
|Boulette Larder's signature beignets (and macaron remnants)|
Piping hot, light, airy, bite-sized and generously coated in a layer of cinnamon sugar that begs to be licked off your fingers...what could be better?
But it did get better. Much better. Our waiter happened to be a very good friend and fellow food enthusiast, and let's just say that he did not steer us wrong with his menu recommendations. Not that he had to grasp at straws or anything. The daily changing menu at Boulettes Larder is a shining beacon of farm-fresh ingredients and complex, layered flavors. After the beignets arrived we were spoiled with a delicate fruit compote with orange blossom water as well as toasted Acme bread with organic apricot jam and sweet butter. And then came the entrees:
|A Spring salad if there ever was one.|
|Spiced beer-braised pork belly, so impressive I adapted this to one of my own menus shortly afterwards.|
|Squab. The season's first cherries. Dandelion greens. And that incredibly rich looking sauce is a squab emulsion. Mind: Blown.|
|Tim, my go-to foodie in the city :)|
As if that wasn't enough, Tim kindly surprised us with a heavenly lemon meringue tart to celebrate my sister's upcoming birthday. And thank goodness it was small enough to allow only two bites each, because we were stuffed!
Time to walk it off and explore the rest of the market, naturally. My new favorite stand is Biscuit Bender, specializing in handmade biscuits and inventive jams and butters. With jam flavors like watermelon-sweet tea and bacon-bourbon, I was instantly enamored. And how cute is the decor?!?
My dad was stopped in his tracks by these cookies called Alfajores, South American butter cookies sandwiched with a layer of dulce de leche in the middle and usually coated in confectioner's sugar. He grew up eating them as a child, and so did my sister and I, but never dipped in chocolate, never with raspberry filling! Way to take a good thing and make it better. He bought two boxed assortments, and I am slightly ashamed to say that one of those boxes went the way of the dinosaur later that day, even after that ginormous brunch!
And then we all swore off sugar for a week.
To balance out all the consumption of our Ferry Building trip, something active was in order, so we skipped on over to Santa Cruz in search of a certain river bank that my sister's fiancé had frequented in his youth.
A nice little hike along the train tracks opened to reveal this serene spot, and although the weather was overcast, we braved the chilly water to wade in the river...
...except for my mom, who, upon finding a melting chocolate in her purse, quickly salvaged it by spreading it on a strawberry.
I don't think I could have loved her any more in that moment.
What are your favorite stands/shops/restaurants in the Ferry Building? Do you have any favorite little known nature spots? Let me know in the comments!