Thursday, October 4, 2012

Touring San Francisco and Burma Superstar!

After spending the morning exploring Alcatraz, we were back on the main land and hungry.  Rather than getting sucked in at the extreme tourist traps at Fisherman's Wharf, we headed down towards the Ferry Building.  For Boston readers, imagine a building similar in style to Faneuil Hall if it was filled with delicious, local vendors and locals who actually want to hang out and indulge (we can dream, right?!)
The Ferry Building
On the inside...
After walking up and down the building checking out the various vendors, Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick caught our eyes immediately.  D and J had packed up some of the Creamery's Red Hawk cheese for our picnic lunch and it was amazing, so an actual meal made with their cheese was too much to pass up!  My open face grilled cheese with an apple chutney and Nick's cheese toasties were just the right thing to perk us up and put us back on the touring track.

Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick!
Even after our meals, we had to stop at the Cowgirl Creamery storefront next door to taste some amazing cheese.  After some great samples, we decided upon a Cheddar and a Pecorino to take with us to wine country.  Neither of these really required much refrigeration and could handle the travel to the vineyards - a perfect snack to pair with our wine.

So much delicious cheese!
Cowgirl Creamery on Urbanspoon

After lunch, we jumped on one of the Street Cars that run between Fisherman's Wharf and the Castro.  These are not the famous Cable Cars but instead are Trolly Cars collected from numerous cities across the country that have bee rehabbed and found a home in San Francisco.  Known for being easily maintained and cheap to run, San Francisco continues to operate these as part of their transit system.  For only two dollars a ticket and with a 90 minute transfer window, this was a really fun way to get around.  I wish Boston had street cars like this!

Our car from Philly!
Original Trolley Cars and their manual turnarounds!
We hopped off the street car at Fisherman's Wharf and walked along the water, taking in the amazing views of the Bay and the clouds rolling in.

Views of the Bay
Of course, we had to wander through beautiful Ghirardelli Square.

From there, we made a stop at The Buena Vista Cafe for their famous Irish Coffee.  According to their story, a challenge was proposed to recreate the Irish Coffee severed in the airport in Ireland.  From there, and after loads of practice (even I could have practiced this!) they arrived at the "perfect" Irish Coffee, which, trust me, is DELICIOUS!  Directions for making the famous Irish Coffee can be found on their website.  I haven't tried to make one yet, but with this chilly weather coming around the corner I will definitely be experimenting!

Enjoying the Irish Coffee
The Buena Vista on Urbanspoon

After our break, we headed back towards Fisherman's Wharf, taking in all the gift shops in pursuit of the sea lions on Pier 39.

The Actual Fisherman's Wharf
I remembered the sea lions from my first trip to San Francisco and definitely wanted to show them to Nick.  For some reason, tons of sea lions gather and sun bathe on the floating docks in the water and are so much fun to watch!  That, and they are super talkative!

Sea Lions
View from Pier 39
Another look at Alcatraz

More of the Sea Lions!
After a full day of touring, we took the street car all the way back up to the Castro and got the full tour of Market Street while we were travelling.  After regrouping a bit and catching D and J up on our day, we then went out to dinner at Burma Superstar.  Having never had Burmese food, J described it as the best combination of Thai, Chinese and Indian food, which was totally spot-on.  To begin, D got a Thai iced tea and I ordered a glass of Sangria.  The Sangria was on the juicier side - grape-like, but not too sweet.  The two boys shared a pitcher of Anchor Steam.

Since this was Nick's and my first experience with Burmese food, we left most of the ordering to J and D.  To begin, we got the Tea Leaf and Rainbow salads.  Both arrived and were then mixed table-side by the server.  The rainbow salad is made with 22 ingredients, four types of noodles, green papaya, tofu, onions, dried shrimp with a tamarind dressing (among other things)!  The tea leaf salad is an amazing combination of actual tea leaves, cashews, sunflower seeds, and all sorts of amazing textures - so delicious and unique that it was once featured on the Food Network!  The fresh ingredients and the surprising combination of flavors were something entirely new and special.  These salads are worth the trip on their own!

Rainbow and Tea Leaf Salads
One of the dishes D and J were most excited about what the Samusa Soup, which is a broth filled with all sorts of goodness including samusas, which, even though they are sitting in a spicy flavorful broth, are somehow a bit crispy with plenty of bite.  Definitely another dish worth ordering! 

Samusa Soup
Since there was a bit of a chill in the air, and it was September, I gave myself carte blanche to dive head-first into pumpkin.  One of Nick's and my suggestions of dishes was the Pumpkin Pork Stew, which consisted of a plate filled with tender pork slow cooked with kabocha squash and ginger.  The stew was flavorful and was a great way to indulge in my first fall dish!

Pumpkin Pork
Another dish I was looking forward to was the Burmese Lamb Curry plate with braised potatoes. I am not sure which of these dishes I preferred!  This lamb was super tender and flavorful.

Lamb Curry
We topped each of these plates with Coconut Rice, which is a blend of aromatic jasmine rice cooked with coconut milk and topped with fried onions.  While not overwhelmingly coconut-y, there was a nice coconut scent to the plate and just the right amount of sweetness.  It worked well with both meat dishes. 

Coconut Rice
Burma Superstar was definitely a great meal and so much fun!  Burmese food was fresh and flavorful, and a delicious alternative to the Chinese or Indian food I so often turn to.  Someone please tell me there is Burmese food in Boston!

Burma Superstar on Urbanspoon


  1. This looks like an amazing day! Buena Vista is a must-visit. I have never had Burmese food before but will keep an eye out next time we are in the area.

  2. Oooh, I've never had Burmese food! Sounds and looks delicious.

  3. The Burmese food sounds so unique and interesting. that salad with 22 ingredients looks like a must try!

    I didn't make it to the Ferry Building when I was there, but loved exploring Fisherman's Wharf and Ghiradelli Square

  4. I remember going to the Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf many years ago, and I definitely want to go back someday. I never had Burmese food, but it looks delicious!

  5. Pumpkin stew sounds really interesting! I love the Ferry Building, especially the farmer's market on Saturdays!

  6. San Fran is really high on my list of places to visit... as is Cowgirl Creamery. What a fun trip!


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