Monday, November 25, 2013

The Monser San Fran Trip Post

I've been quite delinquent in my blogging lately, and a lot of that has been a direct result of a recent trip Josh and I took to San Francisco for six days.  Though I took tons of pictures, I didn't blog while I was there, so I definitely got out of the habit.  And once you're out of the blogging swing, it's pretty hard to get back into it. 
And then of course once you want to get back on track, you're stuck with a sh*t ton of stuff and photos to recap just to catch up.  San Francisco was full of Mexican food, delicious vegan food, plenty of sweets, and good times with friends!  So without furher ado ... I bring you one monster post to recap our six day trip. 
Day 1:
Potbelly Mediterranean sandwich minus the feta.  (Yeah, this was breakfast at the airport ... You take what you can get). 
Rubios burrito.  Huge A+ from me.  This was my favorite burrito of the trip ... and there were many.  The proportions are all perfect, and when I asked for no sour cream the cashier actually suggested I add extra avocado in its place.  Um, yes please! 

Indian dinner at Kennedy's with friends.  I tried to scale back a bit by *just* ordering a vegetarian chaat sandwich.  Yeah, it was still huge ... But oh so tasty. 

Day 2:
Yet another burrito.  This one's from Orale Orale, and was my least favorite of the bunch.  For some reason they went way light on the beans, but heavy on rice and lettuce.  They also don't add salsa to the burrito, so you have to sit there pouring it on every bite.  Too much hassle for my burrito preferences. 
Dinner at Millennium with Josh and a friend of mine from high school was epic indeed.  We went all out (and paid generously for it - both with busted guts and wallets!).  We split a bottle of wine and appetizers, each ordered an entree, and split one dessert between the three of us. 
Unfortunately their menu online doesn't show the entrees we ordered, so I can't share the specifics.  I know the second appetizer was a raw "risotto", which wasn't my favorite. 
My entree, on the other hand, was an entirely different story.  I ordered the Potato & Chard Roulade, which had cashew Florentine filling with smoked onion and sundried tomato, mushroom Madeira cream sauce, seared broccoli di cicco, red wine, beet & fennel reduction, roasted maitake & lobster mushrooms.  It was amazing!  As was dessert.  I didn't get a picture of the Chocolate Almond Midnight - almond cashew crust, mocha chocolate filling, raspberry sauce, and white chocolate mousse - but trust me, it was delicious. 
Day 3:
Josh and I started the third day of our trip by heading to the Ferry Building for a quick breakfast.  Sadly, I couldn't partake in our favorite empanadas (I just took a generous whiff of Josh's to get jealous), but I did indulge in vegan doughnuts!  That's right, that's doughnuts - plural.  I picked up one pumpkin pie and one salted caramel doughnut from Pepples Organic Donuts.  My eyes were a bit bigger than my stomach, so I saved one for breakfast the next morning instead.  They were both delicious - even the one that sat around for a day!
We grabbed Thai lunch with a friend in Oakland, splitting an order of avocado spring rolls between the three of us. 
For my own lunch I got the mock duck curry, which was tasty and smoky - and not something I'd had before.  Basically, you can almost never go wrong with Thai curry in my book, so I was pleased. 
For dinner on the third night Josh and I had a little break from all the socializing with California friends and headed out to dinner just the two of us to one of our favorite restaurants - Cafe Gratitude.  We had scare a while back thinking this place was going out of business, but fortunately for us not all the locations closed, so we rushed into their Berkeley location extra "grateful" that they were there!   
Their menu items are all named a bit "uniquely", so bear with me ...  We ordered the "I am Honoring" - raw nachos - for our appetizer to split, which were so incredibly delicious.  We were so sad it only came with a few chips, so we had to gobble up the rest of the nacho toppings with our forks. 
Then we each ordered the same entree, the "I am Extraordinary", which is a BLT with their own maple coconut "bacon".  This is maybe our favorite dish ever.  We order it almost every time we get to a Cafe Gratitude.  Mine came with a strangely oily bun (like they'd accidentally set it down right in a bunch of oil - and Josh's wasn't like that), but even with that I still loved it. 
For dessert we decided to try their vegan carrot cake (I am Rapture - I couldn't even bring myself to say that to the waitress), which unfortunately was really underwhelming.  Actually, I would say it was almost bad.  And it's pretty hard for me to dislike any kind of dessert.  I wish we'd just gotten another "I am Extraordinary" ...
Day 4:
After starting the day with my day-old but still delicious doughnut, Josh and I drove out with a friend to Pinnacles National Park to go hiking, rock climbing, and caving!  It was a beautiful day and we grabbed snacks on our way out to tide us over while we enjoyed the outdoors.  On our way back to the East Bay, we stopped by La Plaza Bakery and Cafe, just outside of the park. 
I ordered my third burrito of the trip - a simple veggie burrito with no cheese and no sour cream.  While I waited for my order I spent a fair amount of time drooling over the bakery selection, but didn't think there was probably anything I would be able to get, so I didn't even bother to try to ask.  Fortunately the burrito came out quickly and it was quite good. 

Plus as soon as we got back (a two plus hour drive later) we were heading to dinner with friends at their house.  When I'm a guest in someone's home I don't like to snap pictures constantly of the food, so I have no pictures to show from that evening.  But the spread was amazing.  They went out of their way to make everything vegan for me - which was so thoughtful I couldn't believe!  They had all sorts of appetizers - fruit, hummus, bread, crackers, olives, and baked chick peas.  For dinner they served a salad, pasta, and roasted brussel sprouts - all delicious!  And for dessert our hostess made a beautiful orange cake - which I loved, but unfortunatley not every guest cared for :( 
Day 5:
Winding down the trip ...  For brunch on Sunday of our trip we headed out with friends to Burma Superstar in Alameda.  We started with one of their famed dishes - the tea leaf salad.  It was so tasty and not overly salty (which it can apparently be). 
We all also snacked on lotus chips while we chatted and waited for our food.  They are so addictive you have to be careful not to eat the whole basket by yourself!  Fortunately there were a bunch of other people vying for the chips too, so there wasn't much chance of that! 
I wasn't terribly hungry (maybe all the food from the trip was finally catching up with me?), so I ordered the samosa soup as my entree and shared a bit of Josh's curry.  The soup was plenty filling and (like everything else) was delicious. 
For dinner we met Josh's sister at A16 for tasty Neapolitan pizza.  I talked everyone into ordering their own pizza, so I had a marinara pizza (naturally vegan with no cheese!) all to myself.  And, yeah, I finished it ...  Definitely no dessert after that huge meal. 
Day 6:
Before heading to the airport on our last day, Josh wanted to make sure we got chaat from his favorite spot in Berkeley.  Unfortunately, when we arrived we found that they didn't actually open for a half hour, so with a little time to kill we headed into a little cafe nearby, Bittersweet
Their signature hot chocolate is naturally vegan - actually made with hot water rather than milk, though they offer both soy and almond milk for an extra charge.  Though the hot chocolate was quite good, I think I'll try it with almond milk if I ever stop in here again - for the added creaminess. 
After briefly stalling with our hot chocolates, we finally stopped into Chaat Cafe.  We each got a chaat to go and quickly ran off to the airport, where we actually got to enjoy our food.  My chaat was so good I almost wished I'd had two! 
Especially when it got a little closer to our flight and I realized we'd be in the air for five hours with no meal service (not even a snack offered on flights anymore - cheapskates!).  So Josh and I ducked into an airport store to grab food to go.  While Josh went the sensible route with spring rolls, I grabbed a vegan Pumpkin Apple Cupcake, which I enjoyed a few hours into the plane ride.  It didn't exactly fill me up, but it kept my stomach from grumbling too loudly until we got home. 
Whew!  Any time we go to San Francisco I know we're in for some epic food adventures.  The city (and area) is home to some of our favorite restaurants, and whenever we plan a trip we make sure to plan a way to hit all our most beloved spots while we're there.  This trip was no exception.  (Hence our down-to-the-wire trip to Chaat Cafe on the way to the airport.)  But we also got the chance to see great friends and have tons of fun, which is what the trip is really about anyway ...  That and the food!

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