Friday, March 24, 2006

SF Day 1: Bow Hun

Another great day in San Francisco. Grace and I played tourist today and walked to Fisherman's Wharf. We pondered our options for breakfast and ended up having scrambled eggs and home fries in a sourdough bowl at Boudin Bakery. The building that houses the bakery is less than a year old. The first floor has a gourmet food store and bakery and a Peet's coffee stand. You can order food there and then find an empty table inside or out to sit down and enjoy your purchase. We sat at a little table inside because of the rain (that continued all day.) Watching the overhead baskets of bread circle through the whole bakery intrigued us enough to go upstairs and take the tour. It was $3 and children were free. It starts with a typical museum display on the history of the family bakery, mirroring San Francisco's. We went through that pretty briskly, more attracted by the the bakery through the second story window. We were particularly intrigued by a baker that was measuring out flour and other ingredients into large stainless steel vats on rollers. They could roll up to a flour machine that measured an exact amount of flour into the vat, then the vat could be rolled to a kneading machine. We watched as he unhooked one vat and removed it from the kneader. He rolled it over to a railing that looked over the first floor. Using a large knife he cut off huge chunks of dough and dropped them over the railing. I assume there were gentlemen there catching the dough but we couldn't see. He then rolled the rest of the dough to a chute that shot it down to the first floor where it went into a machine that formed the dough into perfect balls. We continued our tour ending in the Tasting Room that had wonderful fresh bread, with a variety of condiments to try. We certainly got our three dollars worth. The rest of the afternoon was spent doing touristy Fisherman's Wharf activities - Ripley's Museum, Hot Fudge Sundae at Ghirardelli (get the dark chocolate hot fudge sauce!) and ended with a hot tea at Barnes & Noble and then a trip to Trader Joe's.

Friday evening we were in search of Chinese in Chinatown. With the help of Chowhound PC Tom and the Gourmet Guide to SF we ended up at a small restaurant called Bow Hun, known for it's Claypots. We ordered pot stickers and eggrolls for appetizers. Both were very tasty and fresh. They came piping hot to the table. Our entrees came next. John ordered the Bow Hun Special Clay Pot. It came to the table in a clay pot and the liquid was actually boiling. Chuncks of tender BBQ pork were floating in a bubbling brown gravy. Floating on top were delicious dumplings. Under the dumplings were cabbage and large black mushrooms, quite a flavorful dish. Grace's order came next - Prawns in lobster sauce. This was the least appetizing looking entree we got but Grace seemed to enjoy it. My entree was a seasonal special of fresh dungeness (John saw her fish the live crab out of a fish tank.) It was cooked in a scallion and ginger sauce. The whole crab came chopped up on a platter, slathered with sauce. I have to say I have never had a fresher crab. Grace and I polished off every bit. It cost around $18 and was worth every penny.

After dinner we walked to Yoogo Gelato, an asian gelato and bubble tea shop. A very patient young girl let us taste as many as we wanted. I was very proud of myself for tasting the Durian Gelato - especially after smelling it! Yikes! It had the smell of putrid eggs. It tasted very sweet and floral, with rotting egg overtones. I also tasted Black Sesame (good), Taro (very nice) and ended up with a small combo cup of Passion Fruit and Lychee. Grace got Lychee and Rose - we thought of our friend Arbi who is from Tunisia where rosewater is a common flavoring - he would have loved it. Grace really like it too.

And one of the nicest things about John's place is we could walk home. Chinatown runs into North Beach which is the Italian section. It reminded me of the transisiton between New York Chinatown and Little Italy, one minute chinese restaurants and then pasta house and cafes with outside seating. We took a very steep climb up Montgomery Street then down a really neat neighborhood street and then finally down the Filbert steps, so actually we were climbing up Telegraph Hill and then down the other side. The Filbert steps go past some really neat homes all nestled in a rain forest-like garden. I guess I thought of the rain forest because it was STILL raining! There are another set up steps, the Greenwich steps, we plan to take another day in daylight and search for the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill!