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MY SF Bites: Zuni Cafe, Smitten Ice Cream and More

November 16, 2014

With less than 12 hours left of my trip to the Bay area,  I made my way back to SF for more delicious bites before heading up north to Seattle.  Only an iced New Orleans at Blue Bottle in Hayes Valley will do to start the morning of food off properly.

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I resisted my usual order of liege waffle for a cheesy pretzel roll.  Generous portions of sharp Gruyere filled the crevasse of the soft chewy roll.  This was just what I needed to tide me over until my lunch at Zuni Cafe.

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I had just enough time to discover the neighborhood a little bit and to digest before it was time for lunch at Zuni Cafe.  I have long heard about this San Francisco classic but it took me over 3 trips before finally making a stop here, no good excuses at all.  Judging by the crowd of people waiting outside the front door waiting for the restaurant on Market Street, I am clearly in the minority.

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The space was brightly lit and airy with its lofted vault ceilings, quite welcoming for a Sunday lunch or any other time of the day.  Zuni Cafe is best known for their roasted chicken for two with Tuscan bread salad which takes approximately an hour to prepare so we order it the second we sit down in our seats.  In the meantime, we caught up over coffee and nibbled on thin buttery slices of prosciutto with charred Padron peppers, lemon zest and creamy goat cheese and crusty bread.

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Before we knew it, our plate of roast chicken arrived at our table with its crackling golden skin speckled with char.  The chicken was as delicious as expected, moist and succulent, perfectly seasoned.  Buried under a tangle of bitter greens and the chicken was a bed of croutons with sweet currants that had been soaking up all the fat and juices that found their way to the bottom of the plate.  The arrangement was perfection, not letting a single drop of deliciousness go to waste.

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This was a lot of food for two people but before we knew it, it disappeared before our eyes.  One delicious bite at a time.  This beautiful rustic plate of roast chicken definitely lived up to its formidable reputation.

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I had a little more time to kill before my flight and even though I had planned to stop by Smitten Ice Cream, I desperately needed a few laps around the block before I could fit another bite in my mouth.  Long and behold, my walk took me inside Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolate.  

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This beautiful shop was elegantly curated and the chocolates themselves were also pieces of work, like jewels displayed in the glass cases.  I pick up a quartet of the truffles for home and continued onto my stroll to Smitten.

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The shop was located in the middle of an urban park and playground, a perfect spot to set up an ice cream shop if you ask me.  What else is better than a little sweet treat after running around?

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Not one bit of Smitten will remind you of the old fashioned ice cream shops though, not the Tcho 60.5% chocolate or the sweet corn with berries but mostly, not the fact that every single ice cream cone is made to order (okay, perhaps the classic vanilla was a concession to nostalgia).

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Even though the Tcho chocolate was very tempting, I couldn’t resist the seasonal sweet corn ice cream with berry sauce.  I ordered mine topped off with cinnamon shortbread and stood back to watch the makers with protective gear churn away ingredients.  With the help of a little liquid nitrogen, I found myself enjoying my very own made to order sweet corn with berries ice cream.  The ice cream itself was smooth, much smoother than the liquid nitrogen ice cream I remembered making in fifth grade.  The sweet yet tart berry sauce was a lovely compliment to the smooth corn ice cream and the shortbread just added a little lovely crunch to the top.  This was a perfect way to cap off my delicious weekend of eating in the Bay area.

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Blue Bottle Coffee | 315 Linden Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 | www.bluebottlecoffee.com

Zuni Cafe | 1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 | www.zunicafe.com

Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates | 401 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 | www.elbowchocolates.com

Smitten Ice Cream | 432 Octavia Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 | www.smittenicecream.com

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