Who: VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland, Office Manager Jenny Diaz + Editorial Assistant Lisa Mickleborough
What: Gastronomical tour of San Francisco
Where: San Francisco's Chinatown and North Beach neighborhoods
When: July 12, 2008
Why: To be ladies who lunch. And snack. And get treats to go.
The Scoop: Having lived six months in this fantastic town, I'd like to think I've done Arthur Frommer proud, exploring SF's most remarkable nooks, crannies, and vegan venues. But no amount of my own enthusiasm or well-researched trailblazing can compare to a personally guided tour with a long time local—particularly one who happens to be vegan and great company. Colleen planned a jam-packed, epicurean treasure trail, leading Ms. Jenny and me east around the new old-world, making stops in the particularly delicious China and indulgent Italy. First stop: lunch at the Buddhist and vegan Lucky Creation—a tiny, spotless hole-in-the-Great-Wall where, no sooner had we dumped our bags and placed our orders did countless steaming white dishes descend upon our crowded table. Boasting simple and flavorful renditions of won-ton soup, pot stickers, tofu and eggplant, and homemade marinated curry, sweet and sour, and barbecue mock meats, all made with amazingly fresh ingredients. Lingering longer than our business-like hostesses would have liked (you may have to trade your first born for a second glass of water), we stopped for a quick photo op before meandering through the famous Ross Alley to peak in on the hard-working ladies of the historic Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory.
After so much food, we were in danger of slipping into a food coma, so off we went to North Beach for some uppers in the form of soy lattes and Italian sodas. But first, we had to take a quick Eurasian detour to the now all-vegan The Usual Suspects Café and peek at their recently Ruskied menu which, as we found out, boasts "borsh" and blintzes. Uh, you heard us. Check back here for highlights for our upcoming full-review!
Heading north, we visit Caffe Greco—one of San Francisco’s most treasured Italian spots. Famous for its authentic, fresh tiramisu and cannoli, they also whip up some mean, foamy lattes and a special sweet treat for our sweet-toothed tour-guide: the Greco Sunrise, which consists of Orangina and gourmet strawberry syrup. With the Saturday sun and tourists in full-force, the café's sidewalk seating presented the perfect opportunity to rest our feet, watch the flurry of interesting international fashions, and soak up some vitamin D. With no cuisine more indulgent than that of the French, we had to cap our tour de SF in France—or, at least, a French chocolatier. XOX Truffles’ founding chef Jean-Marc Gorce is nationally renowned for his velvety morsels, and we scooped up some of his vegan dark Chocolate, “l'orange,” and “noisette” (hazelnut) vegan flavors to take home as a sensual souvenir.
Here's a photo of the enthusiastic, albeit extremely caffeinated, trio: