Thursday, June 7, 2012

SF In A Day (cont.)

10th April 2012

After lunch, Yi went home with CY to work on her presentation for the e.g. Conference. Hub and I didn't know where to go and ended up at Pier 39.

The first time I was here, I liked it. This was my third time and I found it a very typical tourist trap, American style.



The only thing worth going to Pier 39 for is the seals. They were exactly the same as I last saw them--lying down and oblivious to everything.

Both Hub and I missed clam chowder in a sourdough bowl and we intended to eat lots of it. This first bowl was so bad (a 2 out of 10), we were confused. Was it our tastebuds or was it our bad memory because when did clam chowder become so horrible? There were no clams and the soup was very salty, tasted terrible and was so thick that it was like glue. There were many restaurants for clam chowder in Pier 39, and we had to go to Chowder. I was told later by CY's friend that Boudin Bakery (where the SF sourdough bread was first made) makes good bread and their chowder is still pretty good. Dang.

Chowder's crab cake was also disappointing, to say the least. I had crab cakes at Cheesecake Factory on my second day in SF and they were surprisingly good.

From Pier 39, we went to the Ferry Building in search of Miette, the cake shop I've always wanted to visit. There's Miette on the right. I bought some cupcakes to go. They were good.

Bay Bridge



I had to go to Lombard Street, supposedly the crookedest street in the world (but it's not, I read somewhere). We were there on our previous trip and had fun driving down the street. This time we didn't have a car so we had to walk up. It was a tough walk.


The street wasn't as pretty as the last time because the hydrangeas are not in bloom yet. Plenty of tourists; pity the residents.

In New Zealand, there is a street so steep that for years after I had nightmares of sliding down uncontrollably backwards in a car. I can't remember which city the street is in. I never want to ride on that street again.

Taken from the top of the street.

It started to drizzle and we were faced with having to walk all the way down. Then we saw a street car going the other way, away from the city. Surely there would be one going to Powell St. Sure enough, one came but it was full. We got on anyway, because it was really drizzling then, and it turned out to be one of the 'funnest' ride I've ever had. We didn't pay because the conductor didn't ask us to. Maybe we were expected to have paid on the way up, but I didn't care because it was raining.

I stood with one hand on the pole, holding my Miette cupcakes and the other my Olympus micro four third camera (which takes very good photos; I am pleased with it) and Hub stood behind me because I wanted to be outside so that I could take photos. He said "We can't be too old because the young people behind us didn't offer their seats." Are you kidding, I said, it's raining and nobody'll give up their seats to get soaked. But it turned out we got the best view and the youngsters could only peep through gaps between the standing passengers.

SF, city of lights.

Remember movies scenes of cars flying on the streets of San Francisco? We were both standing and hanging onto the poles, nearly brushing with other passengers on the streetcars coming in the opposite direction. The other passengers, young teenagers, were screaming at every dip of the street and I joined them too, screaming whenever I saw that we were going down yet another steep slope. There were so many times when I thought that I couldn't hold on anymore because my arm and hand ached. The rain fell on my face, my handbag, it was cold, my feet ached, and I thought it couldn't be happening, me at my age, hanging out at the side of a runaway streetcar on a cold rainy night. It was half nightmare and half Universal Studios. The 30-minute ride felt forever and my Miette paperbag had torn but luckily the cupcakes were still pretty. What a thrill, especially when I didn't expect it.

We got to Westfields and walked into Chipotle for a Mexican dinner but they were just closing. We got home, cooked some instant noodles and fried the assorted mushrooms. The white ones that looked like brains to me were spongy and slightly bitter. What a night. You must take that roller coaster ride in a streetcar down from the top of Lombard Street with standing room only and make sure it's on a rainy night.


Chocolate, Cookies & Candies said...

I've just spent the last 15 minutes going through all your previous posts. You certainly don't hold your punches back regarding the good, bad and the hilarious bits of your trip. I've enjoyed your witty remarks. I guess one of these days, I'll have to make the trip back to the US.

Anonymous said...


How did you get home in SF? Your friend came to pick you up or does public transport go all the way up to the secluded suburb where you stayed? The photo of your friend's suburb looks really out of the way. As far as I recalled, public transport is only good within SF's city center but for the outer suburbs a car is very essential or you get nowhere.

Jasmine said...

Lol! Thanks for the laughs! That sounds like a lot of fun! And also pretty darn romantic ;) SF on a rainy night screaming with the youngsters going downhill on a tramcar.. what a holiday to remember!

Best regards,

P.s. That's something NY doesn't have! Hilly roads and tramcars.


Hi Terri! I'm so glad you are having a great time in the states. And as always, I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures. Yes, I think you and your hubby made the right decision by prioritising on holidays and memories... :P

Blur Ting said...

Oh that was so funny! Wish I were there. This post brings back memories of a time when I had lots of fun staying with a friend in SF for a couple of months.

terri@adailyobsession said...

ccc: you must. i'd love to see america thru your lenses. your photos are so beautiful, always!

anon: i took the subway back and Cy came to pick me up, house about 10 minutes away only. yes the area looks wooded and all but it's not as suburban as it looks.

jasmine: romantic? we were hanging on for dear life all the way! but yes, it was fun, for me anyway:))

brook: *sigh* now it's hard to plan a family holiday. i realize tt i've reached the stage where my family will never be the same again. the kids will/hav spread their wings.

blurting: a couple of months! weren't you concerned about The Big One? i was lol. one day we heard a rattle of the windows. CY said it was a minor earthquake.

the lunch guy said...

there is only one place to eat cream based clam chowder in the States, New England, Massachusetts in particular. for tomato based chowder go to NY for the Manhattan style.

i have been making chowder for 30+ years and i have come up with one that is actually an amalgam of three; clam, corn and red pepper.

recipe follows .....

the lunch guy said...


Makes: 16 TO 18 servings

2 to 3 kg. sweet clams in their shells or more if yo really like clams (depending on their size)
2 lt. water
130 grams bacon, diced
150 grams celery, diced
100 grams onion, diced
100 grams red pepper, diced
100 grams green pepper, diced
2 ears corn, kernel-ed, save the cobs
lots of fresh parsley, chopped
some thyme, fresh or dry
1 to 2 bay leaves depending on their size
100 grams flour
340 grams potatoes, cleaned and diced
1 lt. milk, scalded
1 qt. heavy cream
as much butter as you like
salt to taste
fresh scraped nutmeg to taste (NOT a lot!!)
fresh ground white pepper to taste
Knorr chicken base to taste
chili sauce to taste

1.Steam clams in2 lt. boiling water, covered, until all open.
2.Strain broth and save.
3.Pick clams and save. a HUGE, HEAVY BOTTOM POT render bacon; add onion celery, leeks and bay leaf and cook till clear, do not brown.
5.Add peppers and kernel corn and cook.
6.Add flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon/spatula while scraping the bottom of the pot. You are making a roux. Do not brown, but be certain to cook out the flour taste.
7.Add clam broth SLOWLY and keep stirring until roux is incorporated into the liquid.
8.Put the scrapped corn cobs into the pot and simmer about 30 minutes. Skim if necessary.
9.Add potatoes and simmer until they are just cooked. MAKE SURE THEY DO NOT STICK TO THE BOTTOM OF THE POT AND BURN!
10.Add clams, cream, butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg and herbs and cook just a bit more.
11. Serve with a good crusty bread or: Cool, portion and pack, refrigerate and/or freeze.

the lunch guy said...

NOTE: if you are making the full batch and not going to eat it all it is suggested that you not add cream to it all.

Also,if you are going to store some of the soup for another day cook the diced potatoes on the side and add them to the soup you will eat that day. refrigerating or freezing anything with diced, cooked potatoes in it will not yield a good firm potato when re-heated. they absorb too much of the soup and "explode" and then the soup is just thick mush.

Remove what you want to eat that day, cream that, and then refrigerate or freeze the remaining chowder. Then when you go to re-heat, add the cream and some cooked potatoes.

I also like to make a roasted pepper puree to swirl on the top of each serving when plating it up, looks great and adds a great punch of flavor.

Also, there is a variation called Rhode Island Chowder, this is when you add some fresh chopped Dill weed. not a lot, a little goes a long way.

Another variation is to add a good sausage like chorizo or Italian. if you BBQ/grill them first that will add even more flavor. slice them thin and add them at the end or use as a garnish.

sometimes i also like to put mussel meats and/or oysters into the chowder to make it extra special. mussels are rather resilient while oysters are not. i suggest if you are to add oysters that you poach them in the soup when you are re-heating it. if they are in the soup too long they will shrivel and "die". you could also poach them on the side and use as a garnish with the sausages.

a big, wide, shallow soup dish is great for this presentation. ladle in the chowder base and then dot the top with sausage slices and oysters, swirl the red pepper puree on top and then sprinkle some fresh parsley over that. then stick a long thin slice of garlic toasted baguette in and your guests will love you for it.

TO WATCH: two of the only mistakes you can make is to not cook the roux long enough. you do not want to taste the flour as it will overwhelm the other flavors, some of which are quite delicate and subtle or allow the potatoes to cleave to the bottom and burn.

a good chowder should be thick and that requires constant watching and stirring. using a broad, flat wooden utensil to stir will allow you to constantly move the veggies and clams on the bottom so they do not stick. chowder is thick by nature and roux is like glue, so just be aware of that.

the lunch guy said...


hard shell clams are preferred.

little necks or even what are known as Chowder clams form North America.

but there are many hard shelled clams in Asia that are just as good to use. they will be mahogany colored many times, or white and grey.

be sure they are fresh, and soak them in water to remove all the sand, etc before cooking them.

you can even go 1 step further and strain the broth through a fine sieve or cheesecloth before introducing it into the chowder base.


Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

lunchguy: this made me most happy because i made clam chowder right after i came back frm the us and it didn't turn out too good.

questions: don't the clams need to be cut? and you said two mistakes to watch out but mentioned one only. what's the other one?

this looks like tons of work but i really love clam chowder so this recipe is great; will print it!
thank you so much!!!!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

I never go to Pier 39 - it's a complete tourist trap. The Ferry Building Marketplace is more my speed.

I love the shots you took going downhill on the cable car. Going to have to do that when we get back to the States.

the lunch guy said...

RIGHT!!! LOL i wrote it first, it was too long to post, and then i must have coy and pasted it poorly, sorry.

mistake # 2 is making this big of a batch, not eating it all in one serving, and including the potatoes in all of it.

if u are not going to eat it all at once not creaming or putting potatoes in the entire batch will help it last longer and be as tasty as possible upon re-heating it.

the potatoes will bloat, get very mushy, and explode, making the soup mundane. the cream is also best left to last so it tastes fresher and is white, white, white. letting it sit it will discolor from all the veggie juices.

best to make it without the taters or cream and keep only base. then cream and tater what you want to eat that day.


Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

lunchguy: yessir

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