It's been said that New York has better seafood than San Francisco, but when it comes to vegetables, there's no contest. The Bay Area's wealth of produce is second to none in the U.S.
After a recent trip to Bar Tartine to try Nick Balla's new menu, I've got liver on my mind. I blame his his duck leg cabbage roll inspired by a Northern Hungarian sauerkraut soup called kapusznica that his father used to make. The Eastern Europe-inspired menu addition buries strips of sous vide-cooked Sonoma Liberty duck liver in a pile of black trumpet mushrooms, dried cherries and homemade sauerkraut, all wrapped up in a tender cabbage leaf. It's a mess on the plate, but the sweet, sour and spicy flavors bewitch, bite after bite.
I’m not a fan of traditional American breakfasts. I like to eat weird random meats at 10 in the morning. Sunday mornings I go for dim sum with my wife and my 2-year-old daughter, who’s probably eaten more dim sum than anything else. My daughter likes egg rolls, sui mai and pot stickers. My litmus test for dim sum is the pork sui mai. You have to consider the size of it and how fresh the pork tastes. It has to have just the right amount of shrimp. Our No. 1 go-to is S&T on Noriega and 33rd. I like fried lobster rolls—fried dough stuffed with lobster meat and who knows what else. We eat salt-and-pepper shrimp and I love the steamed spareribs with chile-vinegar sauce. I love chewy cartilage-y things.
I've been walking the streets of the Mission District for years now and while the long stretch of Valencia Street—and, of course, the 18th Street gourmet ghetto—has become nationally recognized as a dining destination, Mission Street itself has held tight to its collision of dollar stores, taquerias, cheap furniture stores and generally cheerful, Latin-influenced funk.