(San Francisco, Day 3)
The Ferry Building’s Farmers Market in San Francisco is huge - disorienting-huge. The previous trip to SF found us at the Farmers Market on a Saturday, where there are 100’s and 100’s of vendors - all selling something specifically crafted from a specific local business. Everything from local blueberry-vendors, to cheese, to vegan-specialty food, to meat stuffed with meat, French patisseries, everything.
We decided to check out the Market on a week day and see what would be open; I was on a mission to find that Mexican vendor with “Oaxacan Tlacoyos” - but they weren’t around on the weekdays. Today would be the last day for SF, so I wanted to hit it hard in terms of eating everything I could stomach.
Our first booth was the Soda Craft Handmade Fermented Soda vendors for their “Xtra Dry Ginger Ale” - if you dig Ginger Soda and Kombucha Tea (fermented tea in a soda-type form), then you’d be stoked there. Good stuff. Ashley opted for the Hapa Ramen’s Miso Market Bowl… decent stuff (but meatless on her choice - meh); I went for Namu’s “Real Korean Tacos”. Namu used actual seaweed instead of the typical tortilla (which was awesome); one filled with Kaibi Short Ribs, one with the Chicken Thigh. I’ve had Korean tacos using the tortilla - but there’s something extra cool about the seaweed as the wrapper.
Meat stuffed with meat is always a great thing. Multiple preparations of pig with pig are always great too. I stopped by 4505 Meats for their “4505 Bacon-Studded Hot Dog, Zilla-Style.” This was a big hot dog with bacon hunks cooked into the perfect “hot-dog-bite-and-go-pop” dog. On top was Kimchi from Namu, then fried pork skin chicharrones in the form of pork-rinds - amazing.
Takoyamen was a must for their Tako-yaki (a Japanese dish using a batter and squid hunks, fried into a super heated ball of deliciousness, topped with Okonamiyaki sauce) and the Oi Ocha Green Tea (served in all vending machines in Japan). We stopped into the inside part of the Market to hit Blue Bottle Coffee Co for Cafe’ Lattes - where we hilariously heard someone ask for Splenda to the server, where they replied “we don’t use fake stuff.” It is San Francisco after all.
I always need sweets to top off a good meal - and luckily across the way was Miette Patisserie, where we snagged Macarons (one Rose Geranium flavored, one Hazelnut, one Vanilla, one Pistachio). I’m a sucker for French sweets - and these were something else. The Rose Geranium tasted like eating a flower covered in fantastic sugar - the Pistachio may have won for me though. Texturally - perfect as a macaron gets.
We rolled our way back to the hotel to recover for the next meal.
The Club Sandwich is a staple order for me when it comes to somewhere Deli-ish (and I can’t find any tongue or liver) - so when we got hungry again, we hit The Grove (again) and I had their club and Fat Tire on Draught (a fantastic Colorado beer that isn’t available at all in Florida). The Club at The Grove is damn good. Thick bread, thick meat, thick kettle chips. Before being a food adventurer, I would always room-service order a Club at whatever hotel I was currently staying in - judging the hotel by their club… this would have been a top 10.
Before dinner, we decided to go to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - always an inspiring place. I’ve mentioned before in interviews and such - but before, I didn’t get art. I didn’t appreciate it. One day in Paris, Ashley dragged me (me: kicking and screaming) to The Louvre’. It was painful at first, but then it started to settle in - I started to feel inspired - granted, I didn’t know why, but I just did.
From that moment on, I began to seek out Classical art museums - feeling driven and inspired by being around all that creativity; and at this point - I didn’t get modern art. The same thing happened - one day it clicked, and now I’m hooked.
I am constantly inspired by visual art. I am incapable of visual art - I don’t understand how it’s done, how to do it… and I don’t want to know. I find it to be the most inspiring thing these days… more than music. Whether Film Makers like Lynch, Photographers like Jon Paul Dougalss, or Modern Artists like Cory Arcangel - these are the people that make me want to do what I do.
After the museum we trekked over to Nopalito’s - a place that I heard doesn’t do reservations, does Mexican food, but does it all local/organic. Mexican food? Count me in! It just better not be Tex-Mex or Gringo-Mex.
Nopalito was at the corner of a neighborhood, seemingly in an area further away from the strips of restaurants to be typically expected. It was packed. The vibe was killer. It felt like a simply decorated, modem kitchen/dining room of some imaginary stylish rich friend you could possibly have. It wasn’t pretentious at all, very welcoming - not cluttery (well… the people were) and the food people were happily mowing down on looked insanely great.
We grabbed drinks by the bar and waited for our table. Ash had the Killer Bee (Del Maguey Vida, lemon, honey-smokey, floral, and nectarial), I (naturally) went for the El Diablo (Pueblo Viejo Blanco, cassis, Bundaberg ginger beer, and lime). Serious drinks. Sweet without being too sweet, that ever-welcoming bite of Tequila (I love me a good tequila) - I wouldn’t mind a couple of these bad boys…
The prices were impressive. In a place like this - this packed, this location, this city…. I was expecting a heftier price tag. This place had it all - if I were ever insane enough to open a restaurant - it’d be a place like this in Orlando. Orlando doesn’t have anything like Nopalito.
Food. We started with the Totopos Con Chile - tortilla chips, salsa de arbor, cotija cheese, crema and lime. The textural mix of the soft cheese (no yellow cheddar here my friends!) and the crunchy pop of the tortilla chips was good enough - but the salsa and crema and lime? Best damn chips and cheese i’ve ever had.
Gorditas are a favorite of mine - a difficult-to-find-at-times-favorite, but a favorite nevertheless. We had the Gordita De Picadillo (fried tortilla pocket, grass-fed beef, potatoes, carrots, refried pinquito beans, queso fresco, and salsa venas) and hot-damn lemme tell you - too good. If they had this place in Manhattan - they could have easily doubled the prices. There’s something about the idea of a traditional taco in something like a little house-sandwich that makes me happy. We also started up with the Tostada Con Tinge De Pollo which was a crispy tortilla, pinquito beans, shredded chicken, tomato, chipotle chile, epazote, cabbage, crema and avocado. I will dream of this place.
Our main we shared (with a nice batch of Negra Modelos) was the Carnitas: braised pork, orange, bay leaf, milk, cinnamon and beer, cabbage salad, onion, pickled jalapeno and rice. This very well may have been the restaurant that made me get into it… but as of recently i’ve decided that I will (for at least right now in my life) dedicate myself to making Mexican food at home. I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of Carnitas recipes I can find purely because I am always soulfully-gratified every time I have real Mexican food. Fake Mexican? It kills me like eating fake Japanese… I know i’m not Mexican - but I am so in love with the food culture of the country - I can’t wait to get over there some day.
These Carnitas were mouthwateringly-godly. Big hunks of hours-long cooked pork - cooked so long that it pulls apart in muscular-fiber-looking hunks of softness. The beer/milk/beer/bay preparation are subtle… but they make a big difference. The vinegar-bite in the cabbage were fantastic.
My stomach is viciously digesting itself as I recall that night…
I’ve mentioned before that I always befriend waiters/waitresses/bartenders/chefs (when applicable/possible), and our super-nice server finally asked (after all the pictures and notes I had been writing down) if I was a chef. I laughed… “ah… i’m in a metal band… hahaha…. but I blog on the side.” We exchanged some words and she popped away to grab the check - returning with a gift. Nopalito’s house-made dark chocolate ice-cream popsicle. I love dark chocolate. I typically require desert on a cellular level…. so this? I was painfully full in the stomach - but we couldn’t have been happier.
We grabbed a glass of wine across the street afterwards with an old friend from high school, went to sleep, went the The Grove for breakfast (probably for the final time ever - I mean… we did go there like 20 times) hopped on a flight to go stay with our friends Hollie and Kenny in Orange right before the first Mayhem show in San Bernadino.