Posted by: Grub | June 24, 2011

SF Part Deux

Yesterday we decided to check out an area of San Francisco that none of us had ever visited before – the Mission.  I made up a fresh fruit salad for everyone in the morning, and I mixed it up with a coconut tapioca pudding that I bought at the tamale place at the farmers market on Tuesday (no one else was interested in the pudding, so all the more for me). I remember eating this tapioca pudding two years ago and buying small tapioca pearls so that I could recreate it at home, and then forgetting ever to do it.  Not this year!  Tapioca pudding is back on the list.

The weather yesterday was a bit different than the day before – it cooled right off, and as we were driving through the city, you could see the fog rolling over the hills and down into the city.  The fog just sat there most of the day.  I wasn’t complaining at all, as it gave my poor sunburned shoulders a bit of a break!

We headed from the hotel directly to Mission Dolores and Dolores Park.  There was a big construction project underway at the park, so it wasn’t quite as peaceful or beautiful as it might otherwise be, but we appreciated the big palm trees and the splendid view of the city. It was pretty deserted when we arrived, but when we walked by again a few hours later, it was packed with people having lunch and suntanning on the hill.  One of my highlights was seeing a huge hawk just sitting and hanging out in the middle of the grass.  There were about four or five smaller birds that kept taking little bounces towards it and chirping at it, and it just sat there looking at them as if to say “Please.  Bring it on. I would welcome your challenge.”  Badass hawk.  I love nature.

Dolores Mission

Dolores Park

We then headed over to Valencia Street and walked up about seven very long blocks.  We saw lots of the murals that this area is famous for as well as some very artistic graffiti (unfortunately our photos of the graffiti were accidentally deleted from my parents’ camera).

Women's Building

There were also lots of fun cafes and bookstores all along the street.  We then headed over one block to Mission Street and it was like walking into a whole other world.  People, noise, litter, colour, music – it was almost overwhelming after our relatively peaceful walk up Valencia.  We stopped for lunch and Sam helped me gobble up some tofu scramble with guacamole, salsa, black beans and roasted potatoes.

Dog Eared Books on Valencia

Children's books section - can you see Anne of Green Gables?

Even closer up - it's an excerpt from Harry Potter

There were rainbow flags up all over the place, and it wasn’t clear to me whether this was because of the area’s proximity to the Castro (which we understand is the “gay district” in SF) or in preparation and support for the Gay Pride Parade which is going to be held this weekend, something I would love to be in town for one year.  It was pretty cool to see such visual and public support for this community, even coming from a city like Vancouver that is already pretty LGBTQ friendly.

We spent a few hours at the hotel in the middle of the afternoon, taking naps and reading and relaxing for a bit.  Being the introvert that I am, I always appreciate taking a little bit of time to recharge like this every few days, especially since we are going to be on the road so much for the next few months.  It also gave Sam a bit of a break and chance to play and wriggle all over the place before heading out for a long dinner.

And what a dinner it was.  The five of us had dinner at Millennium Restaurant in downtown San Francisco, one of the premier vegan restaurants in the country.  I hope that you will humour me in doing some gushing over the food!  I wasn’t able to take photos of any of the actual food because Sam was actually more of a handful than he normally is at a restaurant and was quite demanding about getting a share of what Chad and I were eating.  I did get a couple of restaurant shots though – they were dark, but you can get a sense of the warmth of the lighting in the room.

Bring on the fancy foods!

To start, I had one of the best salads I have had in my life, and this is also getting added to the list of dishes to attempt to recreate at home.  It was called the Sea Vegetable and Avocado salad, and it was a whole lot more than it sounds like.  Shredded lettuce; long strands of seaweed (I am unsure what kind but will be doing the research); matchstick carrots, red pepper and daikon radish; kelp noodles; thinly sliced nectarine; thinly sliced snap peas; macadamia nuts dusted with Shichimi Togarashi (luckily I just bought a jar of this exotic spice mix about a week before we left home); a lemony, gingery, slightly creamy dressing; and avocado slices drizzled with a wasabi cream.  I don’t normally like wasabi, but this had the perfect amount of kick to match the rest of the salad.  SO GOOD.   It was light and refreshing and so many interesting flavours and textures. Sam even liked a mashed up combo of the avocado, kelp noodles and nectarine.

For dinner, I had a huitlacoche tamale filled with roasted poblanos and a cashew cheese, with nopales, braised kale and black beans.  It’s funny – I eat so many black beans (probably about five times already on this trip) that it was really amazing to eat a black bean that had such a distinctive flavour, just from the quality and cooking method of the beans. The dish also had a spicy green creamy sauce on the side, but I forget to check what it was before we left.  Delicious.  Everyone had a different entrée for dinner:  Chad had a smoked mustard tempeh dish with risotto (the tempeh was perfect), Dad had a seitan and mashed potato roulade with black lentil salad (my Dad ate seitan! So awesome! He said it tasted like sausage!) and Mom had a maple roasted portobello with gigande beans and crispy fava beans and arugula pesto.   Sam tasted just about everything at the table and didn’t flinch at anything on the dinner rotation.  He also ate the tofu-based bread spread out of the bowl by the spoonful!

Then came dessert.  Mom and Chad both opted for the light “sweet ending” plate of cookies, truffles and fresh fruit, which looked lovely.  I had the chocolate mint brownie sundae and Dad had the chocolate almond midnight, probably Millennium’s signature dessert.  This one we actually got a photo of.  I think he was pleased with it (understatement). Dessert was the one course that Sam wasn’t so sure about – we let him try spoonfuls of coconut cream, which he was OK with, and little tastes of my mint chocolate ice cream, which he was not a fan of at all.  It was pretty strongly mint-flavoured, and I think it was just such a radically different flavour than he is used to.  He also had some of Chad’s fruit and a couple of tastes of the chocolate filling in Dad’s dessert, but I think he was getting tired and full and pretty much rejected dessert.

Chocolate Almond Midnight

I finished my meal with something I have been looking forward to since the last time Chad and I were here:  a White Russian. It was perfect.  This is something that I can never order in a regular restaurant, ever, and so it is such a treat to be able to enjoy one at a place like Millennium.

Perfection in a glass

We got back to the hotel full and sleepy, and I think that the meal was a success for everyone.  I so appreciate my parents being willing to try all of these crazy new foods and be adventurous, and to have fun with it with us!  I am also so thankful to have been able to bring Sam with us and to have shared the experience with him, even though he won’t remember it.  I decided early in the meal last night to take some chances in my own food choices, and pick different dishes than I normally would, and am so, so glad that I did.  What a great night all around!



  1. These photos are beautiful – love the composition and colour! How is it that you get Sam to smile in almost every photo? I love that kid. Millennium Restaurant sounds incredible (your description of your salad made my mouth water!) and will be on my list of places to try the next time we are in SF!

    • Thanks! Mostly, Sam just LOVES the camera. All I have to do is hold it up and then smile at him and he lights up. It is really easy to get fun shots of him. So lucky!

  2. […] was the easiest pick of the list.  I already wrote about our fabulous dinner here, but suffice it to say, the food was magnificent, the restaurant itself is beautiful and the […]

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