It’s amazing how much hype and attention is given to winners of TV food competitions and even more remarkable is the quality of food on offer at these restaurants. Having unintentionally eaten at several restaurants run by the US food series Top Chef winners, the expectations from such restaurant just kept getting higher and higher and one such restaurant, The Girl and Goat, in Chicago had been garnering a lot of praise from critics and best restaurant lists alike.
You’ve got to hand it to San Francisco, they sure do food with style, whether it’s 2 star Michelin, a restaurant that seasons their garlic with food or serious health conscious fare. However, what San Francisco does better than anyone else are food trucks. Now, living in England, the thought of a food truck serving you something that you might be interested in seems like a farce – our experiences being limited to the pitiful excuse for food served out of these trucks at festivals and fairs. Off the Grid is San Fran’s food truck revolution bundled under one happy umbrella. The organisation has food truck markets every week, all over the city and even tells you how many trucks are going to be present at each market. Once a month, at Fort Mason, Off the Grid brings together no less than 30 trucks serving up anything from cupcakes to creme brulee to pho, beer, jerk chicken and tacos. Throw in a live band and some of the best food you’d pay handsomely for in a restaurant, and you’ve got yourself a perfect summer evening. My efforts must have taken me across at least half the food trucks and I have to admit, I was ecstatically shocked and surprised – everything I tasted was fresh, vibrant and just, downright, delicious!
It’s almost sacrilege to visit through the west coast, especially San Francisco and not pay a visit to a few trees. By trees I mean the biggest giants rooted on planet earth – the Redwood Sequoias. My adventure took me to Yosemite National Park where amongst the giants was one that stood 240 feet tall, 30 feet wide and looked well for it’s 2000 years of age. Of course, the rest of the national park, made famous by its namesake cartoon bear, too is stunning beyond words. However, one is ravenous on the way back and I had been lucky to have been recommended the restaurant Sons & Daughters by one of the waiters from Coi – the even bigger bonus was that the restaurant happened to be about 10 minutes from my hotel in Union Square. As I later found out, the chef is a protege of 2* Saison and has a style similar to that of its mentor, only a few hundred dollars cheaper. Being the last customer of the night, there was no rush to my meal, the service was lovely and I even got a complimentary addition to my tasting menu! On this occasion, I decided to finally try out a vegetarian tasting menu – something I should do more often as these are the ones that truly bring out the best of a chefs creativity.
Charlie Trotter: the man’s been a legend for 25 years having run one of the first fine dining restaurants to champion local produce and developing cross cultural cooking to a level that hadn’t been done before. Charlie Trotter’s Desserts was the first cookbook I ever bought, having left college to go work at Gordon Ramsay at the Claridges as commis pastry chef. In that book was a recipe for Goats cheese and grape ice cream – a fabulous combination and one that has been replicated at numerous restaurants. I, of course, being a bit of a rebel and over excited at having learnt how to make ice creams for the first time, decided to attempt a goats cheese and grape ice cream! I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with that, except, I used the recipe for a normal