This photo was taken yesterday inside Boulettes Larder – an amazing, unique culinary haven inside the Ferry building in San Francisco. This also happens to be my dear friend Dana’s place of work. Dana – if you are reading, thank you for filling Adam and me with the most delectable food San Francisco has to offer.
Here is a picture of Dana and me after Thursday night’s dinner at the delicious Pizzeria Delfina, where Dana’s fiance Brandon is the sous chef. It’s lovely having friends in high foodie places.
So… I must tell you about our entire day of eating and drinking yesterday (Friday) – our only full day in San Francisco. It was a foodie day for the record books!
We started off for breakfast at Mama’s on Washington Square in North Beach at around 10am. We met Adam’s brother Dave and his family – Noemi, Tomas & Michelle. There was a line when we arrived, which gave us ample time to drool and obsess over the menu before we placed our orders at the counter. Then, we were seated at a lovely round table in the back of the restaurant – a charming, cozy, homey little spot.
Here is a picture of the exterior:
To start, we ordered a fresh-baked lemon blueberry muffin, which was light & fluffy, dusted with powdered sugar and bursting with juicy blueberries. Dave also ordered a piece of their fresh-baked banana bread, which was moist and delicious. For the main event, I ordered the SOB (south of the border) omelette – with black beans, salsa, sour cream and pepper jack cheese. Adam ordered the french toast sampler – three different types of french toast… a banana bread piece, a Swedish cinnamon piece and a chocolate cinnamon piece. Michelle (Adam’s niece) ordered the buttermilk battered pancakes with seasonal berries. I thought they were the most beautiful pancakes I’d ever seen and I had to take a photo!
Every dish was served with a soft sourdough baguette and homemade Ollalieberry jam. I had never heard of Ollalieberries before – but man… they make some scrumptious jam.
By the time breakfast was done, it was around 11:30. Adam and I walked over to my longtime family friend Ben’s office in the North Beach neighborhood to pay him a visit. We killed a little time and worked up our appetites for lunch – I know, who really needs lunch after finishing a crazy breakfast like that at 11:30 – but I HAD to try Boulettes Larder for lunch. I have been hearing about it for four years from Dana who has seriously awesome taste in food. She is just bursting with pride working for this restaurant/food market and now that I’ve eaten there, I so completely understand why.
Boulettes Larder was one of the most special dining experiences I’ve ever had. First, it is such visually appealing place. It is located in the Ferry Building (pretty much like the Chelsea Market of NYC) in San Francisco – right on the bay, with sailboats floating by and a view of the Bay bridge. You walk in and the entire kitchen is open – with the predominantly female staff working their magic for everyone to see. The kitchen is bright, immaculate, warm and homey – with copper pots and pans and other beautiful cookware hanging on the walls and filling the shelves.
There is one communal table inside the restaurant along with a market filled with exotic salts, spices, oils and other hard-to-find ingredients, most of which are used in their menu. Speaking of their menu – it changes daily, featuring fresh, seasonal, conscientiously produced farmstead ingredients and representing cuisines from cultures around the world. Dana told me that Chef and Owner, Amaryll Schwertner, NEVER repeats a menu item (except for a select few dishes that remain on the menu as staples). She is an artist, with an obvious passion for creating and this passion shines through with every dish that is presented.
Adam, Ben and I were lucky to get a table outside overlooking the bay and the Bay Bridge. We started with a basket of fresh breads from Acme Bakery and sweet butter. For our beverage, we enjoyed a delightfully refreshing and sophisticated sparkling Elderflower soda from Belvoir Fruit Farms in the UK.
For our lunch, we ordered three different dishes so we could share tastes all around! I had the Turkish pasta with cumin scented lamb, which was cooked with spinach, fava, parsley, yogurt and mint. The pasta was trofie, which is from the Ligurian region of Italy and one of my favorites… it has a really nice consistency – a little chew to it. This dish reminded me of the scene in Ratatouille where the mean critic tastes the ratatouille and gets transported back to his childhood. This dish didn’t really transport me to my childhood – because I wasn’t eating things like this when I was a child… but from the first bite, I was just blown away by the care and love that was so apparent in the dish. It felt like a home cooked meal that had been slowly cooking for hours and hours – there was so much depth of flavor and richness, but it was still bright and lively tasting with the yogurt and the mint! It was amazing and I ate it until my stomach hurt from fullness.
Adam (bless his pork-loving heart) ordered the pulled pork sandwich in a soft torpedo roll with green string farm potato salad and wild arugula. He declared this meal the best dining experience he’s ever had. The pork was super moist and bursting with spices and flavor – and the best part, was that it was tucked into this little boat of a torpedo roll, that was so soft, the whole thing just sort of melted in your mouth when you took a bite. It was sinful.
And finally, Ben ordered the spicy fried rice scramble with wild king salmon and Alaskan halibut. I only had one bite of this dish – but it was a wonderful bite – with a lot of spice and a very light curry taste to it if I remember correctly.
All three dishes were gorgeous – as you can see, which also added to the delight of this meal. Everything was plated so thoughtfully and artfully, I made everyone wait to dig in so that I could capture the beauty of every single dish!!
Now, although I was nauseously full at this point, I could only dream of how good their desserts must be considering the quality of everything we just ate, so we ordered one piece of their famous lemon meringue pie and one plate of assorted cookies (including a chocolate brownie cookie with sea salt, which was to die for). Apparently, Martha Stewart herself flipped out over this lemon meringue pie and wanted the recipe. I took one bite of it and nearly fell off my chair. This is BY FAR the BEST BEST BEST dessert I have ever tasted in my life! The crust was buttery and perfect – the meringue was so light and airy – almost like whipped cream – and the lemon filling was divine – creamy, sweet, tangy and salty all at once. It was beyond the beyond – and I am not even really a dessert person. I asked our server if I could ship one home to my mother for mother’s day (lemon meringue is her favorite pie), but unfortunately, they don’t do that. I made a vow that I will return one day with my mother because she must taste that pie. It is the lemon meringue that beats all others.
Food experiences like this inspire me so thoroughly. I want to continue to take photos of food and write about food and seek out more places like Boulettes larder where passionate people share their tasty creations and discoveries with eager guests. I was privileged and honored to be introduced to both owners of Boulettes when I was there and I cannot express enough how much I admire what they have created. It is a magical place and I hope to return many many more times in the future.