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A food crawl in the Mission and more (long)

Limster | Feb 3, 200204:21 AM

I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and went on a 3 hour food crawl this Saturday afternoon.

Started on Cole Street, where I dropped by Say Cheese for a little bar of bittersweet scharfenberger (BTW, they also stock Valrhona). Thanked them for the nice epoisses I got on Friday, as well as a very musky and complex sheep's milk cheese from Portugual, whose name I didn't write down. (Also got a free and rather heady whiff of a whole black truffle on Friday, when one of them showed off the fungus to me as I was picking up cheeses that afternoon.)

Strolled down to Haight and soaked in the street all the way down to the Lower Haight, where I stopped by Botana for a refreshing aqua fresca jamaica, rosy and slightly tangy with hibicus.

Onto Market, then Mission. Turned left on 24th and sauntered down to the El Farolito on 24th and Alabama. The al pastor taco I got was utterly mind blowing. The marinated pork was sliced to slim dimensions that maximized surface area for caramelization, but the meat still remained substantial, succulent and juicy. There was a lard lightness in the nimble flavor and a certain intangible sweetness that made the supple meat quite addictive. As I savored the meat, cilantro and what I thought were crunches from caramelized garlic chimed in. Interspersed between that were pinpricks of chilli heat. After the savory thrill, a warm glow of spice remained. A delight to die for.

La Palma Mexicatessen is next. Got a warm homey chicken tamale, heartwarming and bellyfilling. Mmmmmm....

By this time St Francis Fountain is closed. Backup -- Mitchell's on 29th and San Jose. It's going to be a bit of a hike, so a stopgap first from the Mexican bakery (forgot the name) across the street from St Francis. I get a round little cake that released a thin halo of buttery oiliness with each bite. The cake is somewhere between crumbliness and fudgy, and coalesced nicely to lend a quietest possible note of sourness, almost like a faint echo of thick sour cream. Quite enjoyable actually.

A long walk leads me to Mitchell's (Thanks Nancy Berry!). I taste macapuno (young coconut) and langka (jackfruit) and decided on a huge scoop of macapuno redolent of coconut, a creamy flavor that is thick and buttery on the tongue.

Stopped back for tea at Que Tal cafe on Guerrero and 22nd. Read, sip tea and recharge after a marathon walk around the Mission.

Met my buddy much later for dinner in Japantown - had a pretty good unagi don at Iroha, followed by a thin, almost brittle crepe made "live" on a griddle at Sophie's desserts. (Red bean paste with a bitter green tea flavored macha sauce is a great do-it-yourself combo.) These Japanese flavors are not a bad choice since nearby Galette (which offers better textured crepes) doesn't offer them.

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