January 30, 2012

San Francisco day 3 | Marin farmers market | Herbivore | Haight Ashbury | Dosa South Indian

Day three was more blustery and less sunny than what we'd experienced so far, but still a far cry from the winter we left behind, so we weren't complaining as we started the day early and headed over the bridge to the Marin farmers market. We have all-year-round outdoor markets in Seattle, but the produce tends to be more of the stored root and squash variety, unlike at the Marin market, where fresh veggies were in abundance. My son was quick to point out (brag) that during the summer, the market is much larger, but to my eyes it looked pretty amazing.

One thing I noticed right away was the expanded variety of fruits and veggies from what I was used to. For example, there was a man selling (and sampling) dates, and he had at least six different varieties. I'd never even seen most of them before, and I couldn't resist buying some for Alison and Jordan.

The same was true for the citrus, and some of the oranges I saw were completely new to me. I couldn't resist picking up a couple of blood limes to take home, since the only kind of lime I've seen is a ... lime lime. It doesn't taste like a lime — more like a mandarin orange — and in fact is a cross between the red finger lime and the Ellendale Mandarin.

In addition to produce, there were all sorts of tasty offerings, like toasted lentil snacks being sold by one of the the venders. With so many varieties available it was a difficult choice, but we settled on red lentils.

Perhaps the most exciting find was the Scream ice cream booth. Scream is advertised as sorbet, but to me the consistency and taste is really more like gelato. The samples were flying from the vender to our mouths at lightening speed, one flavor more amazing then the next — pistachio, vanilla macadamia, hazelnut peanut butter, coffee almond. To me, the pistachio was irresistible, so I gave in to a small  (very small) cup. So good, but only available in Oakland, at the Marin farmers market and one spot in SF.

We left the market to the lively tunes from a country western band, and did some car touring before heading back to SF.

There was a Packers playoff game that Jordan and Alison wanted to watch so Ken and I planned our own afternoon walking tour, starting with lunch at Herbivore, a vegan restaurant which was conveniently near our airbnb, and on the way to our afternoon destination. I had a cold Indonesian noodle (rice noodle) salad which was tasty, though not memorable.

Ken had lemongrass noodles — char-broiled veggies garnished with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts in a lemongrass-ginger dressing over rice noodles. He said it was really good. I would probably return to Herbivore next time we're in town.

Our plan after lunch was to explore Upper Haight. Who hasn't heard of Haight-Ashbury, made famous in the 60s? Many of the the large, old Victorian homes along Ashbury have been restored to their former eye-popping glory, and we really enjoyed exploring the area.

I was especially taken with the cool-looking gates in front of each house's entry area.

Once we turned off Ashbury onto Haight, the flavor of the neighborhood took a distinct turn, and I thought maybe I'd entered a time machine and was back in the 60s. It was all head shops and tie dye, and people smoking pot on the street. We walked down Haight to Golden Gate Park, and were exploring the park when we realized it was getting colder, more windy, and late, and if we wanted to get back before dark, we'd have to begin our return walk.

We returned to the airbnb, and after a rest from all the walking, we headed out to dinner at Dosa South Indian restaurant on Fillmore, in Japantown. Dosa is not a vegetarian restaurant but has vegan and gluten-free offerings, and our waitress seemed very knowledgeable about the menu. The food choices were unlike any other Indian restaurant I've dined in, and I couldn't rely on my usual selections, like aloo gobi. Aloo gobi was nowhere to be seen, so I was forced to try something new. I had dosa (savory rice and lentil crepe) with a classic masala (spiced mashed potatoes, onions and cashews) filling. It came with fresh coconut and tomato chutneys, and sambar, a lentil dipping soup made with vegetables and spices. It was fabulous, and I'd love to have it again. Right now. The crispy dosa was delectable and the spicy accompaniments were delicious.

My husband had a seasonal vegetable curry with parsnip, potato, butternut squash, green beans and cauliflower, and he was well-pleased. We would definitely return to Dosa. You must make a reservation early because they get booked up.

Thus ends day three, and only one more to go, if anyone's still reading. :D

Full disclosure: I purchased the ice cream on my own. I received no money for the mention of this product. I am not an affiliate of this company. Any restaurant reviews are totally independent and not at the request of the restaurant. All opinions are my own.


  1. that lime is so cool! I love funky citrus.

    you are making me miss san fran so much, it's such a fun city.

  2. I'm reading. SF is someplace I'd really like to go sometime, so I'm thrilled by your photos. Keep them coming! Blood limes? Kewl.

  3. I am sooooo envious of your trip - food, family, sightseeing! So glad it was fun. I'd love to try some of that Scream!

  4. Bitt,
    Fun indeed. I don't know what it would be like to live there, but it's a great place to visit. (It occurs to me I was enthusiastic about visiting Seattle, too.)

    Blood limes was only one of at least a half dozen varieties. I've never seen so many choices. California is its own universe.

    Well I'd say you've had your share of fabulous trips in the last few years. Yes, indeed.

    I'd love to be able to share a pint of Scream with you, but we'd both have to be in San Fran at the same time.

  5. Gorgeous stuff, from the lime to the Victorian houses. Sounds like a fair amount of your meals weren't really mind-blowing, though. Do you find dining out any better living where you are?

  6. Awesome farmers market, it makes me long for summer!

  7. Looks like another great food day in S.F.! How'd you like the local culture as well? Hah! Yes, you never know what you'll come across as you stroll those old neighborhoods.

  8. Herbivore is good, but their best dish is hands down the Schawarma. If you make it back, you should give it a try!

  9. Foodfeud,
    Thanks! Two out of three dinners were really great — not bad odds. But I think we're somewhat alike in our reluctance to eat out and enjoy restaurant food that's not exactly what we want. :)

    Me too. But even in summer, our market is very limited compared to the one in Marin. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing ...

    The local culture? Pretty interesting, and varied by neighborhood, as you would expect. Sometimes, though, I had the impression that no one over 30 lives in San Francisco. :)

  10. Ok, Day 3 is officially the day I wished I'd stowed away in your suitcase for. Your food at Dosa looks incredible and not at all greasy- reason enough to revisit San Francisco.

    As for Scream, it reminds me of The Bent Spoon in NJ. While not all vegan, most of their sorbets are dairy (and honey) free- tasting much more like gelato than what the term sorbet implies, in flavors like dark chocolate and coconut.

    I do also recall that while in San Francisco it seemed like there were no children or older folks. Portland too. Hmmm.

    Still reading!!

  11. Tierney,
    I'm sure I'll be back, and I'll look for the schawarma. Thanks!

    Dosa is definitely worth a return visit, and you can hide in my suitcase next time. You're right about the children. I forgot to mention their scarcity along with people over 30. I started noticing every time I saw a child, as if it were something really unusual. In fact, the population of children under 18 in SF has been declining, and I'll mention this in my last SF post.

  12. I'm always amazed at what's available at the farmers market. I've tried blood oranges before, I'm not sure I've seen blood limes. The Dosa food looks super yummy! But I have yet to find anything at Herbivore that really knocks my socks off.

  13. Andrea,

    I always get a little thrill when I see you've commented on our blog, as I adore your blog and respect you a lot, so thank you! I also noticed that you recommended us as "vegan guy bloggers", on another site. Very honoured that you thought of us and our little blog all the way over in Oz - thank you!

    Those blood limes also look ridiculously yum - James' fave things are blood oranges, and limes.. What can I say?!

    I can't imagine you walking through a crowd of pot smokers, but it would have been worth it for that fantastically rich and fatty looking curry! Ahh, the joys of coconut (which may or may not be bad for our health!)

  14. Chow vegan,
    Dosa was wonderful, and I hope you get to eat there. Herbivore was OK, but not great, as you said. Still, I'd go there again.

    Wow, thank you for the kind comments. Of course I noticed right away when you weren't on the guy list. I totally enjoy reading your blog. And I have a soft spot in my heart for Australia — except that they sprayed the plane interior with insecticide before we could debark. Never quite got over that, but I don't think it's done anymore.

    Not a crowd of pot smokers — more like one or two at a time. I was surprised at the number of times we encountered public toking while in San Francisco. Not just in Haight-Ashbury, either.

  15. Thank you.

    Uhm, I have *never* heard of the inside of a plane being sprayed with insecticide! That really happened? That is just insane and terrifying?! They would never get away with that, these days. Imagine the chemicals people had to breathe in, and get all over them!? Urgh.

    I guess it's common enough in certain places. People think they're hiding it, but it's always obvious. As long as they're not harming anyone, I don't have a problem with it!

  16. Mathew,
    It was a long time ago, and I was quite shaken by the experience, to put it mildly. If it happened today, I'd probably be removed by security and detained as a terrorist. Horrible. Ugh.

    No one was trying to hide it, and it doesn't bother me so much as surprise me that it's so open.


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