Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chocolates and North African Fare in San Francisco

 My last San Francisco layover was a sensuous treat. The town was dressed for Christmas and everywhere we turned was another reminder of the Holiday.

We headed to the The Ferry Building Marketplace, for a chocolate tasting at Recchiuti Confections.

 There were two chocolates that literally took my breath away, the Tarragon and Grapefruit Truffle, and the Cardamom Nougat Truffle. Both were unusual flavors that were surprisingly good. It's fascinating that chocolate can be enhanced by so many different kinds of flavors. 

I dared not buy the assorted box of chocolates, because I knew they would never make it back to the hotel, much less home for Christmas!

We headed over to my favorite bread shop, Acme Bread Company

I love their Herb Slab and Walnut Levain and wanted a few loaves for the Christmas Dinner. I am happy to report that they did make it home! The array of bread they display is truly mind boggling. Every loaf is flavorful, crunchy and chewy. I even recommend the cinnamon swirl roll, which I had for breakfast the next morning.

As we left the Ferry Building we saw one of the vintage street cars still in service in San Francisco. This one had been decorated for Christmas.

We began a long walk across town a wonderful North African Restaurant Cafe Zitouna

We discovered Zitouna last week on a walk around the city, and decided to try it on the next layover.  After photographing chocolates, I was exhausted and left my camera in the hotel room. I realized two bites into the meal that I should have brought it. An iphone would have to do. Surprisingly the photos aren't all that bad!

We thought we would split an appetizer, entree and dessert. Our first course was the Mosaic of North Africa, a combination of Zaalook (eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, and parsley sauteed in olive oil), Michwiya (mix of tuna capers, onions and roasted peppers), Taktouka (a blend of bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic), and North African Salad. Unfortunately we were starving so I forgot to take a picture:(
Our entree was the Breast of Chicken Kabob, served with North African Salad and Loubia, white beans cooked with cumin and garlic. The North African salad was sublime. All fresh greens, red onions, olives and goat cheese with a cumin scented vinaigrette.

If that wasn't enough, dessert was to die for! Tunisian Pudding they called it. Sounds simple, but was actually an extraordinary combination of flavors. Layers of Lady Fingers, pistachios, and almonds graced a light custard flavored with geranium essence. I have a scented germanium plant given to me by a friend. I knew it had to be good for something besides it's fragrance. Anyone have a recipe for geranium essence? 
Of course, being tired and hungry I only remembered to photograph the dessert after we had finished it. Guess I will just have to order it again.....

The Moroccan Mint Tea arrived on a charming tray with these lovely glasses. Lightly sweetened it was the perfect end to a really wonderful meal and a even more wonderful day.

I adore this place and can't wait to return for another meal.

All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef