Girls on Food

San Francisco

My SF Day: Ferry Building, Central Kitchen & Alton Brown

I spent Saturday in San Francisco basically geeking out about all things food – revisiting some favorites at the Ferry Building, trying out a new restaurant, and listening to Alton Brown wax poetic about endothermic reactions!

Ferry Building

ferrybuildingmarketplace.comMy first stop was at one of my favorite places in the city,
the Ferry Building. It’s packed with wonderful shops and restaurants and you
can’t beat the view. Some highlights include Cowgirl Creamery (
for incredible cheese and Boccalone ( for incredible meats! I’m a big fan of their “Salumi Cones.” Genius.


Don’t fill up before you hit Hog Island Oyster Co. though. ( There’s usually a line to be seated but it’s definitely
worth it and they’ll serve you champagne while you wait!  The oysters are fantastic. If you know
someone who is on the fence about them this is the perfect place to go and these two are the perfect varieties to order…
Deep Bay, British Columbia
The larger oysters at the top, these are very mild.
Sand Isle Kumamoto
Humboldt Bay, CA
The smaller oysters at the bottom, these are mild as well
but taste almost creamy. My favorite.
A bonus: They serve delicious sweet rustic bread from
Acme Bread Company (, which is also in the Ferry Building.
adorable recipe-wrapped candle

Central Kitchen

3000 20th St
San Francisco, CA
This is a new restaurant from the owners of the popular Flour +
Water (still on my to-taste list). It’s tucked away just down the street from F + W behind Salumeria, their fabulous delicatessen. I fell in love with it in the first five
minutes based solely on the simple but creative décor in the indoor/outdoor space and our charming,
enthusiastic server. 

I love the large format “tile” bolted to the back wall.
The back of a stucco building becomes modern bench seating.

We ordered quite a bit of food but here are the highlights…


crispy trotter with chopped clams & tonnato
This was my first time trying pig’s feet! It tasted like pig face to me, which is delicious. I’m pretty sure these are a staple on the menu, they just swap out the accompaniments. It’s a great way to start your meal – tender, flavorful pork deep fried with cream sauce and fried capers. Plus, you’ll feel better knowing that you opened with something adventurous.
chicken liver mousse with fig mostarda & spiced wine 


 If you’re only going to order one starter, make it this one. It’s beautiful and you won’t be able to part with it until the jar is scraped clean.
Confession: I kept eating it between courses and when the toasted bread ran out I put it on the homemade oat caraway rolls they serve to start. If we didn’t have to get to the theatre I probably would have kept it around for the dessert course. It’s that good.
Last Stop – Castro Theatre…

An Evening with Alton Brown
Presented by Bay Area Science Festival (Now through November 4th!)
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one to be
honest, but I was very excited about it. Turns out there were hand-drawn slides, experiments, and laugh out loud moments that even
Alton didn’t see coming. (I’m pretty sure he was as entertained by San Francisco as we were by him.) Here’s what I learned…
– There’s no such thing as cold.
– Alton’s position on organic vs. conventional produce: Buy
local above all else.
– The secret to killer spare ribs: Sous vide for 72 hours and
finish them off with a blowtorch!
– Bow ties are cool.


Braz-erkely: Brazil Cafe

Brazil Cafe
1983 Shattuck Ave
(between Berkeley Way & University Ave)
Berkeley, CA 94704

This stand may be small in stature, but with it’s bright color scheme and a flood of people waiting for their orders, it’s tough to miss Brazil Cafe.



Upon arrival, you are greeted by the owner Pedro, who offers a sample of his
tri-tip dipped in cilantro sauce. The tri-tip is soft, buttery and the
cilantro cream adds the perfect herbal kick to it.


Unlike a lot of food buses and stands, there is an ample amount of seating here. The water is self serve, but there is a free mango smoothie offer if you check in on Yelp, so that makes up for the lack of service. Mom was clearly not amused with the lack of shade and a restroom…

My mom ordered the tri-tip plate which was loaded with food. The rice that came with it was especially different. I’m not sure if it had a cream or possibly cheese added to it? It didn’t have the dry consistency that a lot of South American dishes have.

I ordered the “Pedro’s Favorite”, which is a sandwich packed with tri-trip, ricotta cheese, jalepanos, pimento stuffed olives, pinapple, sauteed onions and topped with his house cilantro sauce. I could only eat 1/2 of this sandwich due to the size. It may sound like a strange combination of flavors, but they all blend perfectly together. This is without a doubt one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten. I even saved the other half and ate it when I arrived to Seattle the next day.

So if you’re in Berkeley, you have to try this place!

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SIFT: Crave-Worthy Cupcakes

My sister discovered this lil’ cupcake joint when she made
the decision to go this route for her wedding. Like any savvy bride she
immediately booked free tastings at every spot within a 100-mile radius and,
thousands of calories later, the clear choice was Sift.



Locations in San Francisco, Cotati, Santa Rosa and Napa PLUS a traveling food truck
A win on Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” gained them some major bake-cred, and after tasting the winning flavors I can attest it’s very well deserved.



In general, I’m not really a cupcake fan. The whole cupcake craze brought about a flood of shops that put out cute little creations in fun flavors that just did not taste great, and were tragically dry. Not the case with Sift! They have a creative, ever-changing menu and the cake is so moist and flavorful you won’t see a bunch of cake bottoms filling their trashcans (classic cupcake move!).
The first time I tried them I “shared” five. And then I went home and ate a whole one. Don’t judge. 🙂 Here are my favorites…


Battle Royale 
almond cake w/blueberry tequila filling, acai berry cream cheese frosting
This is by far their most interesting flavor, and it’s one of the three responsible for their “Cupcake Wars” win. To me, this is what cupcakes are all about – going wild with the flavors, and nailing the execution. People are more adventurous with their selections when they don’t have to commit to a whole cake and this is the perfect choice to break you out of your comfort zone. Plus, tequila!
vanilla cake w/cinnamon cream cheese frosting
I was actually surprised I liked this as much as I did. It’s pretty simple for my taste, as are snickerdoodle cookies for that matter. The flavor is just right on though. This is a crowd pleaser as well, several good reviews on this one.
Berry Good Cheesecake
vanilla cake on top of a graham cracker crust, filled with raspberry jam, topped with cream cheese frosting
I love cheesecake and this tastes freakishly close to the real thing. I love the graham cracker crust as well. Another crowd pleaser.
Stud Muffin
brown sugar beer cake, salted caramel frosting, topped with cayenne dusted bacon
Of course I love this one. What’s not to love?! All the flavors taste amazing together but the best surprise is the beer cake. I could eat that by itself all day long. How often can you say that about a cupcake?
If you don’t live near the Bay Area they will ship their popular delights! It’s pretty pricy (add $29/dozen) but they discount when you buy a dozen. It’s a definite splurge but I’m a big fan of treating yourself, especially with baked goods! If you’re worried about the freshness in shipping I personally just drove five dozen cupcakes two hours to bring them to work the next day and everyone flipped out over the day old ‘cakes. Two days later, (surprisingly) same reaction!

French Breakfast in the Bay: the girl and the fig, tartine bakery

I love breakfast.

If I’m not working on a Saturday or Sunday, I’m brunching.
I’m a savory breakfast type of girl though – no thank you to pancakes and
French toast, no matter how inventive. At the top of my list: quiche. In fact,
I’ll take that a step further and officially declare it my death row meal: a
perfect quiche lorraine.
A weekend in the Bay Area led me to discover two incredible
versions, and more breakfast delights…
the girl and the fig
country food with a French passion
110 West Spain Street
Sonoma, CA  95476


This is one of my very favorite restaurants so it’s no
surprise that I loved everything I was served. It really deserves a post all to
itself about the many wonders they create but for now, consider this snapshot
of a flawless breakfast your amuse-bouche…
Cheese Plate
Cow – St. Jorge (Santa Rosa)
Goat – Laura Chenel Chevre (Sonoma)
Sheep – Roquefort Gabriel Coulet (Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, France)
Also in attendance: fig cake, fig jam, spiced nuts, local
honey, apple


I paired this with their Fig Royale: French sparkling wine,
house-made fig liqueur. It basically ruined mimosas for me, no matter how good
the orange juice. I’m okay with that though.
Quiche Lorraine, summer salad and matchstick fries with tarragon
This to me feels like the closest I’ve come to tasting a
quiche prepared the way it was intended. They don’t fuss with it. It’s just a
perfect egg custard filling with a small amount of diced ham set inside a
buttery, flaky crust with a golden brown, crisp top. Classic.


I know I mentioned I’m not the sweets-for-breakfast type but for those of you who are, this looked pretty fantastic too!
Stuffed brioche French Toast with sweetened Bellweather
Farms fromage blanc, lemon & huckleberry compote


 Tartine Bakery & Café
600 Guerrero Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
I should start off by saying this is actually the third time
I’ve been to Tartine, but it’s the first time I’ve actually gone inside. The
first two times I’ve driven by to see hungry locals literally lined up down the
block and just didn’t have time to wait. It’s perpetually packed. I couldn’t even snap a picture without seeing people walk in or out. Luckily, I
wandered in during a slight break in the crowd and found a
little room at the counter to stand and enjoy the favorites that keep the crowds coming…


Quiche with crème fraiche, Niman smoked ham and heirloom tomatoes

This quiche is more like the kind you find most places,
stuffed with seasonal produce. I chose the ham and heirloom tomato, though the
squash version was tempting. It was fantastic. Perfect filling, perfect crust,
and it’s pretty hard to find fault in adding heirloom tomatoes to any breakfast
in my book.


More impressive to me at the time though, probably because I love these and never find them in bakeries, were the Gougères!

These are made from choux pastry (pâte à choux), which is what they make profiteroles, éclairs and beignets from, but it’s mixed with gruyere cheese. It’s a rich, hollow, flaky cheese bun. Warmed up they’re pretty hard to beat by themselves or, my preference, with tomato soup!Since this is the first place I’ve found them I wanted to give you a recipe link so you can make your own if they don’t carry them at your favorite bakery:
This isn’t the recipe I’ve used before but it’s the one I want to try next. I’ve made the traditional variety with just the gruyere, at Tartine they add black pepper, and in this recipe they add dry mustard and cayenne. Baker’s choice!