San Francisco: its food, its restaurants and its chefs

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd October 2014
As the San Francisco Michelin guide is released today we're looking at its food scene and the signature dishes. San Francisco is at the forefront of trends such as Asian fusion cuisine and exotic greens, whilst food trucks are a common sight on the roads, offering a source of ethnically diverse street foods. Mission Burrito - credit to So Called ExpertThe city and encompassing area is famous for its bread and various meat and seafood dishes, along with dessert. Among the unique foods in the area are abalone (sea snails), crab, sand dabs, shrimp and crusty sourdough. Regionally typical dishes include Joe’s Special, Hangtown Fry, the Mission burrito, It's It and Cioppino. Joe’s Special originated in 1932 when the chef told a local bandleader that all the kitchen had left after a late night show was spinach, onions, mushrooms, ground beef and eggs. Apparently the bandleader told him to just ‘mix them together’ and it has been a local favourite since then. The Mission burrito first became popular during the 1960s and is distinguished from other varieties by its larger size and inclusion of extra rice and other ingredients. The essential components include the tortilla, Spanish rice, beans, a choice of filling, and the choice of salsa, ranging from hot to mild. Some taquerias offer a “super” variety which includes a choice of meat and all of the typical burrito ingredients. Many taquerias provide vegetable or tofu mixtures to accommodate their vegetarian customers. The Hangtown Fry is one of the many dishes coming out of the Californian Gold Rush in the 1840sCredit to whisksandchopsticks.wordpress.com and 50s. It combines scrambled eggs, oysters and bacon and originated in Placerville, known then as Hangtown. Allegedly, the name either originates from a lucky miner’s idea of a treat or a condemned man’s request for a last meal. Another dish to come out of the Gold Rush is sourdough bread. In contrast to other areas of the USA, San Francisco’s sourdough has remained in production since 1849 and is a white bread characterised by a pronounced sourness not found in other region’s varieties. It combines well with sea foods and soups, such as cioppino, clam chowder and chilli. Cioppino is a fish stew of Italian-American cuisine. It consists of crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish sourced from the Pacific. The name comes from the Ligurian dialect meaning “to chop” or “chopped,” which describes the making of the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the day’s catch. It’s It, is a mouth-watering dessert, debuted in 1928 at George Whitney’s amusement park. The dessert is a combination of chocolate coating and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream sandwiched between oatmeal cookies. Since its inception the flavour choices have expanded to include chocolate, mint and cappuccino. In 2006, San Francisco became the second U.S. destination to have a Michelin guide. In 2014 there were two three stars; seven two stars and twenty-nine one stars, making a total of thirty-eight top restaurants having a place in the guide, along with many others the inspectors felt worthy of a mention. Here is a selection of the top restaurants in San Francisco. The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, three Michelin stars: Christopher Kostow was a Michelin-starred chef before he was 30.  Specialises in local, sustainable Californian cuisine. The restaurant applies a more modern approach to food with the use of emulsifiers, gelling agents, and stabilizers. Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, two Michelin stars: Dominique Crenn earned a Michelin star two years in a row and won the coveted Chef of the Year title from Esquire magazine in 2008. A modern take on fine-French cuisine, where artistry is at the forefront. The menu changes seasonally and features locally sourced produce, whilst drawing on traditions from around the world. Coi in San Francisco, two Michelin stars: Specialises in fish and shellfish. Four stars in the San Francisco Chronicle, number 49 in San Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants List and chef Daniel Patterson is this year’s “Best Chef: West” by the James Beard Foundation. Aziza in San Francisco, one Michelin star: Mourad Lahlou is featured in the Chronicle newspaper’s annual Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants list. Mourad’s modern reinventions of traditional Moroccan dishes are all about showcasing the excellent flavours of his native country in ways that harmonize with the fresh and local ingredients of California. Fried quail at State Bird Provisions – credit to nytimes.comRestaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco, one Michelin star: Mediterranean/French cuisine. Gary Danko is a recipient of the James Beard Foundation “Best Chef – California” award.  Danko's dishes are served all year, but ingredients are adjusted seasonally to emphasise local produce. State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, one Michelin star: The kitchen acts like a culinary workshop. State Bird Provisions is an adventurous contemporary American restaurant, which started out just serving quail, but has slowly evolved into a restaurant without any programmed elements. By Jenny Williams

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 22nd October 2014

San Francisco: its food, its restaurants and its chefs