Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chocolates and North African Fare in San Francisco

 My last San Francisco layover was a sensuous treat. The town was dressed for Christmas and everywhere we turned was another reminder of the Holiday.

We headed to the The Ferry Building Marketplace, for a chocolate tasting at Recchiuti Confections.

 There were two chocolates that literally took my breath away, the Tarragon and Grapefruit Truffle, and the Cardamom Nougat Truffle. Both were unusual flavors that were surprisingly good. It's fascinating that chocolate can be enhanced by so many different kinds of flavors. 

I dared not buy the assorted box of chocolates, because I knew they would never make it back to the hotel, much less home for Christmas!

We headed over to my favorite bread shop, Acme Bread Company

I love their Herb Slab and Walnut Levain and wanted a few loaves for the Christmas Dinner. I am happy to report that they did make it home! The array of bread they display is truly mind boggling. Every loaf is flavorful, crunchy and chewy. I even recommend the cinnamon swirl roll, which I had for breakfast the next morning.

As we left the Ferry Building we saw one of the vintage street cars still in service in San Francisco. This one had been decorated for Christmas.

We began a long walk across town a wonderful North African Restaurant Cafe Zitouna

We discovered Zitouna last week on a walk around the city, and decided to try it on the next layover.  After photographing chocolates, I was exhausted and left my camera in the hotel room. I realized two bites into the meal that I should have brought it. An iphone would have to do. Surprisingly the photos aren't all that bad!

We thought we would split an appetizer, entree and dessert. Our first course was the Mosaic of North Africa, a combination of Zaalook (eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, and parsley sauteed in olive oil), Michwiya (mix of tuna capers, onions and roasted peppers), Taktouka (a blend of bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic), and North African Salad. Unfortunately we were starving so I forgot to take a picture:(
Our entree was the Breast of Chicken Kabob, served with North African Salad and Loubia, white beans cooked with cumin and garlic. The North African salad was sublime. All fresh greens, red onions, olives and goat cheese with a cumin scented vinaigrette.

If that wasn't enough, dessert was to die for! Tunisian Pudding they called it. Sounds simple, but was actually an extraordinary combination of flavors. Layers of Lady Fingers, pistachios, and almonds graced a light custard flavored with geranium essence. I have a scented germanium plant given to me by a friend. I knew it had to be good for something besides it's fragrance. Anyone have a recipe for geranium essence? 
Of course, being tired and hungry I only remembered to photograph the dessert after we had finished it. Guess I will just have to order it again.....

The Moroccan Mint Tea arrived on a charming tray with these lovely glasses. Lightly sweetened it was the perfect end to a really wonderful meal and a even more wonderful day.

I adore this place and can't wait to return for another meal.

All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef


  1. I just read about that building.. oh you lucky girl..thank you for taking us along.. I bet it's always lovely to come home to those beautiful faces on the right in your toolbar/photos:)

    I wish you and your family Happy Holidays..

  2. How cool are you?! I've never even heard of this place in my home town! I will have to look it up and give it a try.

    You hit two of my other favorites, though, Recchiuti chocolates and Acme bread--could not live without either. Happy holidays, Pam!!

  3. Nana,
    It was my pleasure. I loved the company! It is always nice to return home. One of the benefits of a family. merry Christmas! Enjoy those beautiful grandchildren! Pam

    Hungry Dog,
    Do try this restaurant, I am going back on New year's Eve. I'm so in love with the fare, I'm considering buying a tajine......it doesn't get crazier than that! Any other chocolatiers you can recommend?
    Happy Holidays to you too!

  4. girl you really know how to live and enjoy it all! love that you share with us too~ wanted to wish you a very merry chritmas, and thank you for sharing your pics at fws too!

  5. Back at cha! I love your post and have learned so much about table top decorating. Whenever I need beauty in my life, I check fws. Thanks for hosting.
    Happy Christmas!

  6. Hello Gipsy
    I see in your profile that you are francophile that's great me too !
    i am Pierre based in Paris ; I have opened my food blog 6 months ago dedicated to french ccreative food : come and have a visit you are very welcome door is open !
    A bientot Pierre de Paris où il fait tres beau aujourd'hui

  7. Bonjour Pierre, Would love to visit your blog! Send me the URL, I wasn't able to access it through your name! Bonne Année, Pam

  8. 珍惜當下..活在當下..祝大家都平平安安健健康康!..................................................

  9. I just found your blog..Ill be back!!! :D

  10. Oh, now you've done it. You've gone and made me miss San Francisco again. Dan grew up there, and his brother is still there in his family home. We get there every few years. I'm hoping we'll get there this year! I don't know this chocolatier, but there used to be a really good one somewhere around North Beach, I think. They had awesome truffles. I can't remember the name, though.

    Tarragon chocolate! A MAY ZING. I'm going to have to have a talk with Christophe... Isn't the cardamom wonderful?

    If you have extra pecans, I can trade you for some chocolate next time you're in Brux. Hmmm????

    Happy New Year, Pam. I'm glad I found your blog this year.

  11. Those chocolates... what a great town to have a lay-over in... lucky girl Pam... Happy New Year!! ALways a great blog and I'm so glad we have found one another's sites!!!

  12. Hi Gypsey Chef,

    This is one of your fav first officers, finally signed up.
    Wish I had joined you on that day for lunch instead of going to the other location. I am heading to your spot next layover.
    The Artisan bread course is from the San Fran Bread Institute. They have a beginner's course and a woodfire course I want to try.

    See you soon, safe flying! Hi to you know who!