Have you ever dreamed of being dropped off in a city and told to just wonder around and eat, drink and shop for 48 hours? Well I have. In fact, it’s a reoccurring dream for me. So, when Cracker Barrel Cheese told me I was going to get to do just that in San Francisco, I pinched myself.
If you’ve been paying attention, I have been working with Cracker Barrel Cheese over the last few months creating some creative content focused around the culture of cheese. We kicked things off by eating and drinking our way through Chicago, learning about the history of cheese and the passionate people who make Cracker Barrel Cheese. Since then, I have been sharing my food and wine discoveries, party planning tips and how to host a wine and cheese party.
My next assignment was to visit San Francisco and literally eat, drink, shop and be on the look out for all things cheese. Here is a taste of what I experienced in exactly 48 hours in San Francisco.
The Ferry Building
The Ferry Building is a must when visiting San Francisco, it is located along the Embarcadero at the foot of Market Street very close to the Bay bridge. It is filled with amazing culinary delights and unique shops. Go there hungry. Ciao Bella Gelato is a must for gelato or sorbet and Minette is famous for their salted caramels, among other delicious confectionery treats. Not only is the Ferry building filled with great places to eat but it is a great place to find unique gifts, great books and even fresh produce from Farm Fresh to You.
Cow Girl Creamery
Cowgirl Creamery is the award winning makers of artisan cheese and is located inside the Ferry building, we stopped by for a cheese sampling. They even have a 30 minute Cowgirl Creamery Experience which includes the story of Cowgirl Creamery, their experiences in cheese-making, a tasting of three cheeses and a special item from Sidekick, their adjacent, cheese-centric eatery. This is very much like being in cheese heaven.
Next, we headed over to The Wine Merchant and ordered a wine flight sample. The Wine Merchant is a retail store filled with wine from around the world that also has a wine bar that also serves a variety of small plates with Cowgirl Creamery cheeses, Acme Bakery breads and a selection of charcuterie and olives. They host regular special events where you can meet some of the local winemakers and they also offer educational classes to learn even more about wine and the art of entertaining.
SPQR in San Francisco
It was very close to dinner time and we searched on Google for the top restaurants in San Francisco. A restaurant called SPQR was highly recommended one review even recommended trying to get a seat at the Chef’s table. Without high hopes of getting a reservation (since San Fran is a foodie haven) we were shocked to find out they had two spots just open up at the chef’s table at 7:30pm, we were in luck! They ask if we were celebrating anything special or the reason for the visit and I told them I was a a writer in town for the weekend and had heard wonderful things.
From the moment we sat down we were greeted with a warm welcome and escorted to the chef’s table. The chef’s table is a high top counter overlooking the kitchen where you get to see all the action. There were about five chefs all bustling around the small space but it appeared to look like everything was in total sync. We noticed one dish being plated several times, it was the saffron rotini with veal bolognese. Since it looked to be like a crowd favorite, that’s what we ordered!
Our server did the wine pairing for us based on what we ordered and we started off the meal with a teaser of an appetizer, a spoon with Japanese kobe beef, mushrooms and black Australian truffle, compliments of the chef. It was wonderful and if that was any indication of the rest of our meal, I knew we’d be very happy. I started with the treviso di verona salad which included honeyed bacon, goat cheese and pecans. My saffron rotini was as good as it looked and with my first bite I instantly knew why it was so popular. The deserts were out of this world. We ordered almost all of them. Do yourself a favor and order both the blond panna cotta and the cinnamon bombolini. You will not be disappointed.
Call to make your chef’s table reservation now!
Wine tasting at Clou du Bois, Sonoma CA
We had a car pick us up and drive us to Sonoma, which is about an hour and half drive outside of San Francisco. It was the perfect day for a drive out to wine country. I highly recommend taking the time to get outside of the city to visit one of the local wineries. We had a private wine tasting at Clos du Bois and a very special lunch created by the chef. Thanks to Cracker Barrel Cheese, this portion of the trip was set up ahead of time.
We arrived and our host was delighted to have us and from the moment she started talking I could hear the passion for wine in her voice. She gave us a brief history of the Clos du Bois brand and the founder, Frank Woods who was devoted to bringing the french style of wine making to California. Famous for their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir they are also very well known for their award winning sustainable agriculture, eco friendly practices and solar initiatives. The Clos du Bois winery includes 4 acres of solar panels that provide 85% of their energy.
The tasting room is open daily and anyone can schedule a wine tour and tasting, including private group tours, picnics or a chef’s lunch.
Next we headed over to Healdsburg…
Let me start off my saying…I want to live here. This quaint little town of Healdsburg is what you might just call – perfection. The center of this town square has a park and the streets are lined with wine tasting rooms, restaurants, boutiques, bookstores, coffee shops and even a very retro candy store that will leaving you feeling very nostalgic.
The Healdsburg Shed is a gorgeous new lifestyle store that features a variety of culinary foods, books, kitchen and garden supplies as well as cooking classes. You can also grab a bite to eat, have a coffee or enjoy a glass of wine. Upstairs is an event space for educational classes or private events.
While walking along Polk Street, well known for it’s coffee shops and local restaurants and bars we stumbled upon Cheese Plus. This is a one stop shop for cheese, meats and accompanying foods like jams and treats. This is a great place to stop and pick up some things before heading out for a picnic in the park by the waterfront near Ghirardelli Square where you can take in a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge. And who knew there was specific cheese paper?
Next up on our adventure, we hit up a famous coffee spot called Blue Bottle Coffee. Blue Bottle Coffee will only sell coffee that has been out of the roaster for 48 hours so that every cup is guaranteed to be delivered at it’s peak flavor. A part of this coffee shop looked a little more like a science lab than a coffee shop. All of this serious coffee making made a flavorful and powerful cup of coffee.
This was an incredible 48 hours and as you can see, we really packed it in. I realize now that this trip was not really about San Francisco but more about passion and people living their passion. Every piece of food, wine, coffee and cheese we indulged in was hand crafted and created by deeply passionate people. I wish more people could experience what I experienced in these 48 hours because witnessing so much passion is a bit infectious. I know for me, it has only fueled my desire to get busy living my passion even more.