The Pork Store
(San Francisco, Day 2, Part 1)
Ashley and I are perfect travel companions - we basically want to eat and drink good stuff, maybe see some cool bits - but it’s really just about the food and drinks. Taking another recommendation from Kahlil, we hit up The Pork Store Cafe’: a greasy spoon of sorts, with a really cool name and history (apparently it’s been around for along time.)
We had the oh-so-delicious mystery-diner-coffee and o.j.; then dug into the mains: Eggs In A Tasty Nest and Huevos Rancheros Deluxe. Back in my Trivium-van-days, we could really only afford Denny’s and Waffle House (it was all we could find even), and I’ve always loved the idea of their skillet mash-up things.
Eggs In A Tasty Nest is hash browns, bacon, sausage, peppers, onions, cheese, eggs, and biscuits - all heaped into a big, nest-like pile. Some smashingly great breakfast foods mixed into one. I did have Huevos the day before, but Pork Store’s sounded even better: hash browns, avocado, beans, salsa, eggs, chorizo - hot damn was this a treat. Eventually, the way it all mixed together - it all became a soup-like mashup of breakfast-greatness. The flavors went perfectly together, and this place certainly was what you imagine a great diner to be: greasy, sort of hot, makes you smell like the restaurant, and has portions way too big.
Since already being in the Haight district, we decided to just walk all day until we were hungry again. The Haight-Ashbury area was the rock-and-roll, drug, free love capitol of the US back in the 60's… and nowadays - it’s a little more… relaxed. There are some tourist-traps and some legitimately still very-authentic Haight things all living together in a few city blocks; remnants of that distant age is still lingering in the form of shops and incense.
Next, we made our way through the Golden Gate Park; a gigantic hunk of nature full of parks, trees, fields, playgrounds, and… bums. San Francisco is one of my favorite places in the U.S. - a place that is openly accepting of all walks of life - but I think one of those took the invitation a little too graciously.
There are all sorts of homeless in San Fran: old bums, punk bums, bum dogs, bums with walking apparatuses, freak bums, bums holding scary tools or weird machine-scraps. It looks like a congregation of different alien-species all plumped out of their meteorite-shopping-carts and descended upon SF. I saw one angry dread-bum leave a tree… which had about 10 different other people living in it; I was looking to use a public restroom one day - when - bam! - a wheelchaired-bum comes flying out and in the room, still stood another homeless man pulling up his pants, covered in dirt. Colorful.
The next stop was the San Francisco Conservatory Of Flowers. It was a really cool place, each room had the specific required temperature that different species of flowers needed to survive in their native cities, states, or countries. It was good photo practice to say the least. All these flowers though were making me thirsty for a cocktail.
Trekking back into town, our next stop after some shopping (had to buy new plugs since I left my main ones at home), and it was to Alembic, on the Haight.
Alembic is sleek; cool; mysterious - tucked away, complete with an inconspicuous visage that leads the passerby-fanny-packer elsewhere. Inside, the lights are moody - the decor classic/modern - very now as far as the rest of the country is looking when talking New American cuisine. Alembic specializes in pre-prohibition era cocktails (the new (old) trend quickly circulating the world’s watering-holes) but I can tell they’ve been doing this a long time.
Each of our servers had totally ripped biceps and triceps from all the intense cocktail-shaking that we were about to bear witness to.
We started with: The Aviation (gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, creme de violette) and A Southern Exposure (juniper gin, fresh mint, lime juice, a touch of sugar, and a little shot of fresh celery juice). Both were mind-blowing. The Aviation has quickly become one of my favorite drinks in the cocktail realm, and anything involving anything lime or mint or anything green in a drink or food has my vote - so the Southern was bliss.
After bowling those down, we had: Blood And Sand (scotch, cherry brandy, sweet vermouth, and fresh orange juice; served ice cold and up) and the French 75 (gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, champagne… but Alembic did it their own way with what I think was uh and… ah… blurry).
As far as food went, we decided to go with tapas-sized bites, since we’d be eating intense amounts for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants (Foreign Cinema) later on. We had: Sumac potato chips with garlic-lemon yogurt and zaatar - a fantastic take on chips and dip - only ridiculously gourmet and fresh; Shishito peppers with house-smoked salt - simple and intensely great (Ashley’s favorite of Alembic for food); and then a Matthew-necessity, Jerk spiced duck heats with pickled pineapple and salt. Anytime we’re talking offal, count me in - and the Jerk spiced duck hearts? My favorite. The gamey flavor of the grilled duck reminded me of all the yaki-tori places back in Japan, and the added pickled pineapple (which I think was my first taste of pickled pineapple) complimented nicely.
I don’t know if it’s because i’m extremely hungry or massively nostalgic right now - but I can remember exactly how those Sumac chips and Lemon yogurt tasted right now… it’s like you earliest memory of eating out of a giant bag of potato chips as a kid, gobbling it up with that mixable-powered-dip - only it’s actually made of real ingredients and made with care.
We decided to walk all the way back to the financial district after lunch - a casual almost 2 hour walk back(!) - rest up and get hungry again for dinner.