Al Brown lists some of his foodie favourites from an ever-changing culinary city of superlatives.
When it comes to San Francisco, it's nearly impossible to name just five favourite food-related activities when you find yourself in this culinary nirvana. I have been lucky enough to have a couple of visits in the past five or six years. Although some things will inevitably change in this progressive and liberal North Californian town, some things never go out of style.
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
To get a feel of what is grown in the region, head to the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Held three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), it acts as a window to what's in season and at its best. This is no tourist trap — the majority of the 40,000 weekly shoppers are locals. Make sure you don't fill up on breakfast beforehand as there are plenty of delights to sample as you venture through.
Swan Oyster Depot
It's no secret that I'm a lover of crustaceans, molluscs and the like. There is a small, yet famous fish market on Polk St called Swan Oyster Depot. It's more than 100 years old and has been owned and run by the same family since 1946. You can get anything on the menu as a takeaway option from early in the morning; however if you want the true oyster-bar experience, securing a seat at the counter is a must. Don't be surprised to wait for a seat; due to popularity there is often a queue down the street.
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Anyone interested in where the whole "Californian Cuisine" movement started should really try to secure a reservation at Chez Panisse. This neighbourhood bistro was established in 1971 by much-lauded and respected Alice Waters. It is without question a San Francisco icon, its fame built around organics, seasonality and sustainability. Don't expect molecular smoke and mirror tweezer food, think generous portions and protein cooked at its prime.
While San Fran is known for its baked goods, the talk of the town is always about the sourdough. My all-time favourite bakery in the world is San Fran's own Tartine Bakery. It's a must-visit, either first thing in the morning for fresh croissants, sticky buns and great coffee or drop by for lunch for their delicious hot-pressed sandwiches using local organic ingredients. With only a couple of locations, be sure to grab a loaf to go to preserve the Tartine experience.
Lastly, no trip to San Francisco would be complete without an excursion to the beautiful countryside of Napa Valley or Sonoma wine country. They are littered with wonderful wineries, outstanding farmers markets, restaurants and cheese-makers.
Al Brown is an ambassador for Regal King Salmon.