June 16, 2008

San Francisco; A City of Passion.

As the plane purrs its hefty engine ready for take off... I peer out the window at the beautiful hills around me. I begin recollecting my thoughts of my amazing weekend here in San Francisco.
I made a mental list of the activities I've done for the past 3 days; and unexpectedly drew a blank. **Funny thing about that list.... I didn't do much at all!
.but how oh how did I wind up with these life changing inspirations and unforgettable memories.
Wow ...this City really must be intense! My heart is still racing from all that excitement; and my thoughts are still being drawn back into those quirky corners and colourful antics of this robust little city.A big part of the fun in my travels is the ability to speak about it after; to be able to convey my experiences through words and digital photography; it certainly feels like 'closure' in my short lived adventures. So what are my thoughts this time around? well... from bits of culture i've absorbed the past weekend; I've learnt that here in San Francisco, don't think... feel.
The city is all about feeling; inspiring... creating and being true to yourself. It's the ultimate place for passionate individuals like myself. Be it food, the environment, fashion, art, technology... the folks here in SF feel strongly about their passions and are never shy to express them. You see freedom of expression sprawled across streets; walls and parks around this beautiful city. It creates an environment reflective of it's innovative dwellers who welcome us curious guests with inspiring ideas. It's no surprise how topnotch eateries, bakeries, designers and boutiques pop up like daisies everywhere here in SF. It's competitive! The culture has extreme levels of respect for individualistic styles and personal flair. It's not rare to see tiny cafes and intimate designer shops giving mainstream food chains and clothing a run for their money! It's such a refreshing change to see that in America.The city is a mishmash the old and new; the fast and slow..
"er....What do you mean Su?"..
Quaint and picturesque antique facades of petite homes are lined elegantly on the sloping hills of this upbeat and modern city. Green smart cars and peddling bicyclists run along side through its busy and windy streets. Bustling sidewalks in the heart of the city are painstakingly manicured with lush greenery and blooming flowers to stop everyone in their busy paths. They never forget to stop to smell the flowers here in San Francisco.My beautiful SF angel Gianina; a passionate foodie and city slicker, guided Kassy and I through this lovely city she calls home. With such a brief weekend; it was unfortunate that we had not seen everything we should have. She did not bring me to see the legendary Golden Gate bridge...she did not bring me to tourist trap Pier 39... she did not walk me through SanFrancisco's Ghiradehlli square. She did more that that. She brought me into snippets of her life here in her favourite city. I feel in love. It was more than I could have asked for. To look at a city from the view point of those who live and breathe it's finest everyday; that to me...is the best adventure you could ever wish for.We met her awesome friends... drank her favourite cocktails, shopped at her favourite designer boutiques, partied to her favourite music, discovered her secret hideouts, secluded stairways and shared unforgettable conversations. Kassy and I have done more than visit SanFrancisco; we've been so lucky to have lived it through the eyes of this magnificent pastry chef. I've digested her incredible stories, her heartwarming experiences with food and will always be grateful for her sincere generosity.
She's a brilliant chef with a vibrant personality to match! ... and I'm not saying this just because she whipped up an awesome steak sandwich for us in less than 10 minutes...
...it really must be that leftover apple pie she warmed up for us...
or it could maybe just her incredible collection of the finest reds, whites and muscats... *laughs*
... I really must share these new SF terminologies I've picked up from Gianina during the weekend.
  • Gi-normous- HUGE
  • Rockstar - Fantabulous!
  • gNarly - Yucky... gross

Time to share the juiciest tidbits of my time here with the girls!

Bourbon and Branch: SpeakEasy

I was greeted with a delicious vanilla mimosa from Gianina in less than an hour of my plane touching down. Kassy and I swapped our cushy flats for sexy heels and headed out in search of some fun! Elusively hidden in the center of SF is a mysterious looking shop front with nothing but a heavy wooden door. I looked around... there wasn't any sign of it being a bar...there wasn't even a sign of it being open for business! Gianina walks up and pushes the bell with confidence. The door creeks open and a pretty shy blonde peers from behind, requesting a password. "???" HaH! COol! the warm draft greets us as we step into this dim bustling tavern filled with incredible tunes and skillful bartenders. I can't spoil the fun and provide you with its whereabouts. photo's weren't allowed either... but I can take you here: *CLICK*

Market St. ...Trams and the lot
Unexpectedly, I woke early the next morning... excused from a hangover... craving a coffee and hungry for adventure. I left Kassy in her deep slumber and snuck out on my own; with nothing but a map keeping me safe. It was 8 in the morning, I wandered aimlessly about a very unusually quiet union square. The tourist crowd and enthusiastic shoppers had not begun making their way into this retail district yet. It was a great opportunity to snap some fabulous photos of the city scape. I hate to hear snickering from on-lookers as they watch me get all hyped up about having the perfect shot with the perfect angle! Haha photographers know what I mean when you do the 'wide-squat' or the 'bend over-all fours'; my personal silliest must be the 'belly rest-back arch'. Oh for the love of pretty pictures...*tsktsk* I must have walked at least 4 miles, spoke to a good handful of locals and took a million photographs that morning. It was a wonderful introduction to the city and it's people
Yank Sing : Dim sum (financial district)
I've heard so much about good Dim Sum in SanFrancisco; lots and lots of hype about awesome Chinese food... I had to give it a go. Wasn't disappointed at all. Naturally not traditional with flavours or cooking techniques, but definitely satisfying nonetheless. We we're having dim sum in America! I wouldn't dare expect Hong Kong quality stuff. Trumps any Chinese joint in Florida that's for sure!

Napa Valley
Our sweet host; Gianina drove us a good ways out of the city beyond the rolling hills which unfolded into acres of wine-filled goodness! The past 3 months or so of self education on wine characteristics and it's varieties will definitely be put to good use here where wineries were aplenty! I was excited!I couldn't bare to put my camera away throughout the 45 minute drive to Napa; there was just so much to capture around me. The drive was beautiful... the wine was even more beautiful...and wait till I tell you about the food... oh the food!... MmmmMmm... 2 restaurants; a bakery and a wine tasting all in less than 4 hours; we knew what we were there for! *cheeky grin*

Bouchon + Bouchon Bakery (Thomas Keller)
What can I say... I missed out on The French Laundry this time around; I had to have my Thomas Keller experience... and as expected; I was blown away!I first waltzed into Bouchon's friendly bakery...killing myself over making a choice of 2 out of the shelves of loaves on display. 2 macaroons, 2 loaves and an eclair later... I was in freshly baked France.
We then took 10 steps out to the right; in search of more delicious-ness from Bouchon in more elegant surroundings. We sat at the sturdy metal bar tops; enjoying excellent choices of wine with succulent oysters, a show stopping slice of memorable pate and a medley of fine French cheeses.Redd
The heavy late dim sum brunch and light evening snack from Bouchon didn't ruin our early dinner experience at Redd at all.Gianina had a delectably crisp and luscious slice of pork belly
Kassy requested for a creamy and flavourful risottoand I landed myself a winning plate of delicious farro topped with a perfectly executed roast quail and poached egg.
A wine I happened to luckily stumble upon here at Redd; was Bryan Kosuge's Pinot Noir “The Shop” Carneros Napa Valley 2006. It's fragrance and subtle fruit notes appealed to me significantly. I must try to remember it.

Desserts were good. Nothing to shout about; but definitely a pleasant finish to our meals.

Ferry Building Plaza (Markets)
Nothing warms my heart like fiddling with local fresh produce first thing in the morning. Running my fingers through fruits, vegetables, flowers, organic products and crafts from local farmers intrigues me incredibly. You learn so much about eating habits, cultures and habits of the locals by visiting a local fresh market.

Seasonal peaches, nectarines, and amazing varieties of cherries were sold in abundance... I purchased a bag of these interesting looking green stone-fruits. They were a seductive deep red colour on the inside! How sexy! They were succulent; sweet and had a pleasant tartness to them. So so good.

Tsar NicoulaiWhat better way to start your day with brilliantly smoked salmon, top quality precious beads of caviar and masterfully done truffle infused poached eggs. Champaign? *laughs* we girls really do know how to live the life huh? We trusted Gianina's skillful palate and sassy flair completely. She did not less us down a single time.
And then the impossible happened. Elizabeth Falkner walked straight into our luxurious breakfast escapade. Elizabeth falkner...owner of Orson and Citizen Cake in the flesh...wow..I sat there star-struck for at least 2 minutes... pointing and gasping discretely as I signaled Gianina. *tsktsk* She knew I was a fan girl.
I eventually got my sh** together and attempted to make eye contact. She smiled at me; knowingly I suppose. I'm sure she's had people recognize her from lots of places. I walked up for a friendly greeting and a photograph. It was awesome. :P

MiettePretty, Pastel and Adorable would be the 3 words to describe this shop. It sold all things sweet and delectable. The tiny details and stories behind each interesting piece of candy made it such a wonderful shopping experience. I learnt many new pieces of information and was very much inspired by this lovely little candy store

Their cupcakes were delicious too!
North BeachThe italian markets were going on... Gianina snagged several skillfully handmade victorian masks which were on sale. Somewhere along Grant Ave... I retracted my camera lenses and realized...oh..I've lost my girlfriends. A tiny bit of drama with the cellphone and lack of prepaid minutes later... I attracted the attention of a handsome policeman handing out stickers. YAy! I was saved. I rejoiced and celebrated with a cup of minty fresh lemonade sold by this incredibly adorable and cheery little one. How cute is she! I couldn't resist.

I dream of Cake
Popped by to photograph a cake studio with stunning cakes on display on Grant ave. too. The place was open by appointment only; but it didn't stop me from pressing my nosey self onto it's glass windows for a good peek of it's lovely insides.
Liguria Bakery - stockton st.
Foccacia's only...recipes are almost a century old! This friendly family run business often creates hefty lines of gluten lovers such as myself. It was late when I got there; and she only had the 'pizza'. It wasn't my first choice..but beggars can't be choosers. I was sold. It was delicious.

Japan town
Ramen NoodleS!!! *yum*!! Gianina and her buddy Kimmy drove us over for a taste of Japan in SF.
Kassy and I found more than just excellent noodles! I bagged loads of delicious treats along the way.
Juicy lycheesI have now something fun to bring home to my NotterSchool buddies!

Tartine Bakery
Chef James mentioned how I should pay a visit. and so.. like the good student that I am ;P I did. This friendly little bakery filled with yummy pastries by elisabeth prueitt caused never-ending long lines pouring out onto 18th st. When Gianina and I finally got to the counter... I asked for 6 items.. *greed* I wanted all of it! haha. The place smelt too incredible! It had an amazingly tempting aroma of buttery goodness. The grogere's and lemon curd tarts were probably 2 of my favourite items. After Bourke st. bakery in Sydney... I don't make comments about croissants elsewhere anymore. *sigh* Sydney.. I miss thee.

Rag Co-op - (Octavia+Hayes)I loved this cute little boutique!!! it was a collection of all local designers. It was my last stop in SF this morning. Gianina was spot on with awakening the shopping devil within me! Everything was incredibly artsy and funky! After 20 minutes of brisk browsing; I purchased a cool purple hat and a t-shirt tagged "I left my heart in SanFransisco" to take with me.

** 1/2 way through typing up this blog post; I befriended a shy dental student on my plane ride.... we were both mesmerized at the beautiful snowy landscapes as we flew past California heading towards Vegas.Dentistry apprenticeship.. Pastry student... flying side by side.....*grin* ....
*shrug* I think it's kinda funny.


Anonymous said...

glad you had a great time suyin, its great to know ur getting more and more inspiration whilst ur there, not just at skool.

Anonymous said...

I've always been curious ever since a friend of mine told me about you. Your pastry course seems to have a lot of decorating work involved (what gives?). Also, how many hours a day and how many days a week do you have to go to school ^^ (<3 your photos)

pingmouse said...

I would so give anything to be in your shoes now Su. Such great adventures and great food. i bet you are feeling a little anxious about going home for good :(

HOKASIL said...

Wow....Interesting Trip you had. Btw, how many days were u there? You seemed to be able to hit A LOT of restaurants/bakeries.... :) Love your blog.

ariannameimei said...

hey suyin,

i'm sure you get this a lot. i'm still gonna say it anyway. =P i'm a big fan of your blog, and your work. people procrastinate by browsing facebook, but i prefer to spend time staring at your beautiful creations. your photos are excellent! i guess i particularly like your food blog because i'm also a Malaysian, currently studying at UNSW. i love baking and cooking as well, and am inspired by your creativity! i admire how you managed to juggle everything: studies, managing your own business, cooking, socializing... even going to the gym! haha. wishing you all the best, especially once you graduate from that lovely school in USA. =)


mei mei

Unknown said...

Su! OMG - I must have those white wine glasses!! Can you tell me where your friend got them? Love love love!!

Cheers, gina

Sister Libby said...

All those pictures were so pretty! I love SF.

Anonymous said...

Hello there, it's my first time leaving a comment here. Well, this is because i only discovered your blog 2 days ago. What have i missed?!!!
Well, i must say, i love it, love it, love it... I spent 2 days reading from the day you arrived in the State till up-to-date. If my boss finds out about this, i will be in so much trouble.. hehehe.
Anyway, i would like to say thank you for sharing your experiences with us.
Can't wait to read more from you.

Good luck and enjoy the rest of the time you have in the State.

Eunice from Perth

fairyiryani said...

su-yinnn,youre so lucky to have the chance to visit all those cute bakeries and my my my the cakes and cuppycakes looked sooo yummy, too pretty to eat ! I cant find those kind of bakeries here :P...so sad !!! okla maybe scones but cute cuppy cakes and cakes nope nope nope...:P. Ive been travelling around UK but so far tak jumpa also any worth mentioning bakery :P.
take care hun, looking forward to visit ur own bakery hun ^_~

Su-Yin -D├ęcorateur said...

jo hyeon: <3 :)

limmyfox: hey there~ love your blog posts too~ can't believe I hadn't discovered u any earlier. I joined the notter school for it's strong artistic influences. We do have heaps of non-artsy subjects; my camera is just usually hidden during those times. Haha. I take more photos and speak more about the 'fun' and good looking stuff. *shrug* just my preference I guess. I had (graduated) school 4 days a week. 7am till 3pm. It was good fun. Loved every moment of it. Ewald Notter is genius.

pingmouse: oh yea... oh yea... anxious doesnt BEGIN to describe it! haha

hokasil" We were there for 4 days...but we had more than 3 meals a day... yes... gluttony..yes..im glad it was just 4 days! haha I would have exploded in the center if it was for more! :P

goldriverdancer: You are such a sweetheart! Thanks so much for leaving me such a nice comment. UNSW was a memorable time for me. I loved sydney to bits! I love the city;' it's people..and sigh* the culture was incredible.
Make the most of your time there dear.. it's going to make you shed tear when it's time to go.

gina: hmm.. I'm not sure of that one; she's real good with 'treasure' hunting! haha I'll be sure to ask. They are tiny glasses for dessert wines and ports. SHouldn't be too difficult to find.

sister libby: :) thanks

eunice: heyhey~ haha did you use a 'fake-name' to post a comment :P . It's funny how most people read me from work! haha i get very low numbers on sunday when everyone's having their day off. I think it's funny how people come here to get hungry :P hehe. Thank you so much for leaving a comment. Truly appreciate it.

nadia: hey babe~ I'm happy to hear you've been travelling too~ I can't wait to come home to catch up with everyone. I much admit; I'm feeling a little out of sync with all things malaysian. Can you believe I'm nervous to see my friends back home? haha

Sweety said...

Hi Su,

You are not just good in cooking, but you are very artistic too, with words and your photo. It is very very enjoyable to read your post.
I wonder how you are able to find so many good friends in such a short time. Your S.F trips was well documented. Very adventures! Admire the life you have and your talent.

Just want to drop a word to say Congratulation! Yeah, a shining Malaysian star! I bet you will be a famous Chef. If you open a bakery in Malaysian, do update. I will visit when I go back.