Well, I knew he was coming, but I didn’t bake one. I bought one instead. Do you think I could make a cake as precious as the one below? Perhaps, but not under stress.

I thought about baking him a cake, but I’ve been known to impart too much meaning into such baked goods before. I thought about this one a little too much. So much so, that I ran out of time. So I bought one, which is nearly as good, meaning-wise, but less pressure, which is better.

I have a visitor arriving this week. A rather special one. He hasn’t spent much time in San Francisco and so it is up to me to show it to him. I’ll show him what I consider to be my San Francisco. The tricky part is figuring out just what that is.

I imagine there are those of you out there who have faced this problem before. A guest arrives. Their idea of San Francisco dining might consist of eating chowder from a sourdough bread bowl. Or Rice-a-roni. Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to have a guest who’s heard about dim sum and is game for it. That’s one meal out of the way. My guest will be spending nine days with me. That’s twenty-seven meals together. Hopefully together, anyway. What about the other twenty-six?

The pressure has been building. Inside my own head, I mean. I know it’s absolutely silly. I just want to show him, food-wise and other-wise, what it is I love about this city and what it has to offer. I will take him to a few of my favorite places, places that have meaning to me. I will offer him local foods that I love. The rest, I imagine will take care of itself. I will not be rigid. I will go with the flow.

To start things off, I’ve got a few of my favorite things already laid out for him when he arrives. Enter one Miette Sharfenberger chocolate cake, as pictured above. Also enter a selection of Michael Recchiuti chocolates as somewhat fuzzily pictured above. Nothing says “nice to see you” like a good sugar buzz.

We’ll have our first dinner at Frascati. The constant clackity-clack of the Hyde Street Cable Car line just outside the front door will send a rather rhythmic, not too terribly subtle message that, well, he’s not in Vancouver anymore (Such a world-class city!).

There are lots of other restaurants I want him to try, but time and budget won’t allow us to visit them all. Three more we’ll definitely be going to are:

House of Nanking, becuase I want him to get bullied by a waiter into eating great Chinese food.

Florio, because that’s my favorite little neighborhood haunt and the chef is a man who made me like tripe.

Kokkari. My guest’s family is Greek, so this visit is unavoidable. Besides, I want to eat smelt and lamb’s tongue again.

The rest will play itself out. Cowgirl Creamery, Blue Bottle Coffee, breakfast at Tartine, studiously avoiding Delfina, all that stuff will likely follow.

I would like to hear some suggestions from you, dear reading audience (sound of crickets chirping). Hellooooooo?


What smacks of this city to you? What is your San Francisco Treat? I’d like to know. I’ve got a few more meal slots to fill.

If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake. 27 April,2007Michael Procopio

  • Amy Sherman

    Frascati? Really? Luella across the street is so much better.

  • Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic

    I’m confused — why woud you studiously avoid Delfina? I love that place!

    Let’s see, you’re already doing Chinese or else I’d suggest Ton Kiang in the Richmond. What about Mitchell’s ice cream for some scoops of ube or macapuno?

    Or Pizzetta 211 for cracked egg pizza?

    How about a visit to Berkeley Bowl just to admire everything?

    Definitely an al pastor burrito at El Farolito!

    Or awesome seasonal cocktails and Cal-Moroccan fare at Aziza.

    (Basically, I’m just giving you a taste of the list I use when my San Francisco virgins come into town.)

  • cheshyre

    Ti-Couz is always fun, and crepes seem to liven up any meal.

    If you want to wow him with Greek food, it requires a trip to Santa Cruz. Vassili’s in Santa Cruz, hands down the best Greek food around. Many years have gone into trying to replicate that recipe for tzatziki. (plus you can make a day trip out of it and hit Zachary’s for a Mike’s Mess for breakfast) but now I’ve sort of strayed away from the whole SF recommendations topic, haven’t I.

    Fresh grilled hamburger’s at the Ferry plaza Farmer’s Market, to satiate you while picking out produce to make dinner that evening, is always a good combo.

  • ellen

    OMG-I could dive head first in to that cake, it looks so good.

  • Anonymous

    House of Nanking is the WORST Chinese restaurant EVER. Gold Mountain or R&G Lounge are better.

    Delfina is good.

  • Michael Procopio

    Amy– Frascati. Really. I’ve never been to Luella, so I will do as you suggest and check it out. Sometimes—and I know this might sound crazy in the foodie world– one doesn’t go to restaurants specifically for the food. Sometimes it’s about a mood, a feeling. That’s my reasoning. BTW, the food was excellent.

    Stephanie– Delfina gives me the willies because I served as the token male waiter there years ago, before the expansion and during. I used to really believe in the owners but, sadly, they didn’t exactly believe in me. The severing of our ties was weird and cowardly and passive-aggressive to say the least. I should probably thank them for getting me out of there and, admittedly, I miss the panna cotta, but that’s all I miss…

    Mitchell’s rocks.

    Cheshyre– I totally agree with you about Ti Couz. I’ve been there many times and have had lots of fun. The fact that it’s not a budget-breaker is a plus, too. The other places sound great, but I do not have one of those new-fangled horseless carriages at my immediate disposal…

    Ellen– The cake WAS good. If you head dive into one, make sure it is not placed on a glass coffee table like mine was, for safety’s sake.

    Anonymous– One of the things I love about Nanking is the total absence of appealing décor. Or friendly waiters. There’s something slightly hostile about the place. I just seem to find that amusing. I think the food is good. At least it was the last time I was there, which was, admittedly, more than a year ago…

    I thank you all for the suggestions. It’s fascinating to read and hear what others find important– food-wise– about this city.

  • Myannon-chan

    No f***ing point in getting him all the way down here and then missing the f***ing awesome Mexican food in Redwood City. Almost everything mentioned above has a counterpart in Vancouver. Not so the Mexican food. CalTrain is your friend here; one of the best places is La Fiesta, across the street from the station. When does your guest leave? You may still have time.

    I’m not always pleased with the service at Kokkari, but do agree with you about the smelt.

    As for Delfina, meh. Except the panna cotta, as you mentioned.

    I would also avoid Fifth Floor. Good enough food, but the atmosphere is dourly serious (so much so that they would not put sugar on the rim of my sidecar). It is okay to have fun during a lovely meal.


Michael Procopio

I am terribly fond of martinis, Edward Gorey, and sleeping with many pillows.
You are more than welcome to follow me on Twitter: @procopster

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