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$40 a day in Lower Nob Hill

nooodles | Mar 26, 200601:01 AM

I took my friend on a little food tour in my neighborhood today, and realized we'd spent exactly $40 each for a day's worth of intense eating and drinking. Since I'm sure most of us have seen "$40 a Day," I thought it would be fun to share.

Think of this as a quick tutorial of eating well in the Post/Jones neighborhood. Personally, I think we ate way better than you-know-who ever does on her show. Prices include tax and tip.

We started off the day at Canteen. I had a lamb scallopini sandwich with a side of tossed raddichio, she had the strawberry french toast, and we each had a cup of chai. The lamb was thin, tender, and cooked rare. I'm getting really picky with Canteen after going there so many times, but I think the lamb pieces could have been cut for more conducive sandwich eating. Huge chunks kept slipping out of the bread. The other quibble was that the sandwich might have been a tad too buttery, even for this butter eater. My breath tasted like butter for hours. I couldn't decide if that was good or bad. The strawberry french toast was nice; not too sweet, well done. I kind of regret that neither of us ordered a dish with eggs. Canteen's staff all have the magic touch with eggs. The gingery chai was great, as usual. $15 each.

After a morning of shopping, we picked up a few bottles of wine at K&L Wines (no, this isn't in my neighborhood, but we ended up there anyway). Laden with wine and ready for an afternoon break, we headed to Hung Ky for banh cuon. To our dismay, they were out. We settled for a chicken salad, but it's really no substitute when you're aching for banh cuon. $4 each.

After resting up and eating some thin mints, we headed to The Hidden Vine. I need to dedicate a post to The Hidden Vine some time. They are really exceptional. The space is warm, inviting, yet formal, and the owners could not be sweeter. I'll do a long post on them soon, I promise. She had a flight of three white bourdeaux all blended from the same two grapes. One was 90% sauvignon blanc and 10% semillon, the second was about 50/50, and the third was 90% semillon and 10% sauvignon blanc. It was really fun to see that the three wines tasted completely different from each other despite being from the same region and containing the same two varietals.

I was recommended a glass of 2004 Hahn Meritage Red Table Wine from the central coast of California. It contained almost all of my favorite red wine grapes: 42% merlot, 38% cabernet sauvignon, 7% cabernet franc, 7% petite verdot, and 6% malbec. Basically, anything that contains cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and petit verdot tends to go over extremely wel with me. This wasn't a fancy or expensive wine, and it wasn't particularly refined. It was just completely drinker-friendly. It's the kind of wine I crave and envision when the words "I want a big fat red wine" escape my lips. Totally California, totally lovable. $11 each.

After chugging down a copious amount of wine, we were hungry and eager to get to Tajine. As in the past, Mohammed was an amazing host and helped us make good food choices and leave completely full despite not cleaning our plates. $10 each.

It really amazes me that I was able to end the evening so full, so tipsy, and so thoroughly entertained for so little money. All the places we went today are convival, casual, and owned by super friendly people who care about the food they serve and are willing to share their vast knowledge about their respective cuisines. We really did take a culinary trip around the world, all while never leaving a two block radius of my apartment.

The only place I had hoped to hit today but did not was EURA, which usually ends up being $5-10 a person depending on whether I just have tea or grab a snack as well. One can't do it all, though I suppose we should have tried!

(click the link below to see a post with links to photos, addresses, etc.)

Link: http://chezpei.com

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