Monday, August 23, 2010

Family rolls into town and the Ferry Building rocks!

It was the first time Sophie had seen night since we were home in Singapore in December (which I don't think she remembers). And so when we stepped out into the street last night at 8.30pm, our daughter was literally in awe, make "Woah" sounds and squealing in delight at the twinkling city lights and strange interesting shadows bouncing off everywhere. On any other day, she would have been asleep by now but last night was special and she got a rare glimpse of life past sunset.

My aunt Veronica and Uncle Han were on a 13-hour transit in SFO enroute home to Singapore from Vegas and I was beside myself with excitement to see them! We've always been really close and it was so wonderful that she had planned her trip such that we would be able to meet up, even for a few hours. They're real foodies-- my uncle owns a seafood restaurant in Singapore-- and we could think of no better place to take them than our favorite place for good noshing in San Francisco, the Ferry Building. We figured it would be a better choice than say a sit-down restaurant since the Ferry Building has a wide variety of merchants and vendors from which to sample food as well do some foodie shopping. Being by the water helps too, and on a gorgeous, gorgeous Saturday afternoon no less. And it did not disappoint.

It was truly something special, sitting on the patio of the Ferry Building with family, basking in the sun and breeze of a typical San Franciscan day. And to make it even more special, try having some of the freshest seafood the country has to offer while you're at it. We're talking sweet, briny, succulent Sweetwater oysters from the Hog Island Oyster Co. and clam chowder like you've never seen before.

None of that gloppy, starchy stuff you get elsewhere, this is the clam chowder dreams are made of- delicate, light, but still oh so rich and delicious. And to add to that, a stunningly simple but peerless grilled cheese sandwich made with cave-aged gruyère, creamy fromage blanc, and a sweetly spicy mezzo secco from a local cheesemaker. Although the Hog Island Oyster Co. is famous for its oysters, its sleeper hit is its grilled-cheese sandwich.

But the whole point of going to the Ferry Building isn't to eat at just one place, is it? And my aunt had already declared that she wanted to sample food from at least four restaurants if possible! We weren't quite that accomplished but we did manage to get an outside table (again, yay!) at The Slanted Door, serving Vietnamese-fusion cuisine. It's crab and cellophane noodles is on the list of 100 Things to Eat in San Francisco Before You Die (a list which, by the way, we're taking quite seriously...) and so we thought it was as good an opportunity as any to check another thing off our list. The food was pretty impressive all round but the one dish that really stood out and made all our tastebuds sing was the grilled pork sausage stuffed Monterey squid with cilantro, basil, chili and lime.

Don't let how it looks fool you- it's not the prettiest dish you'll see (I personally think the colours are crazy awesome), but man it tasted phenomenal. Scorched-grilled and tender on the outside, succulent and flavorful on the inside; and that amazing sauce! It was so good Uncle Han's already making plans to recreate this in his restaurant (that and a raw bar inspired by Hog Island)

Sophie did pretty well throughout dinner. She was antsy, of course, because she wasn't allowed to roam and crawl every- and anywhere she wanted; but with enough puffs, blueberries, and pain epi from the Acme Bread Company, she could be persuaded (ok, bribed...) to sit still. Jude and I also took turns to carry her around, where she promptly did one (or more) of the following: 1) squawked "Dok!" to every moving creature (bird, dog, fish) she saw; 2) yelled "Mama!" so loudly I'm sure everyone along the Embarcadero could hear her, and 3) waved, smiled, and gestured at anyone who would give her the time of day.

At the end of the day though, delectable food aside, it was just plain wonderful to spend the day with my aunt and uncle (even if it meant a cranky, grumpy baby who only got to bed 2 hours past her bedtime). We're a tight-knit family and being away from them is one of the suckiest things about being here. But being with my aunt and uncle yesterday and watching them dote and fawn over Sophie (who really couldn't have been more charming if she wanted to) made the suckiness go away a little. Just a little.

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