For breakfast yesterday morning, Matt and I ordered room service. (Would you believe I’d never done that before in my life?) Matt ate steel cut oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar, and I had a lovely fruit plate and a pot of coffee.
It was the one morning Matt didn’t have to work at his conference, so we took advantage of the free time by strolling up Stockton toward the piers. We had just decided to seek out some [more] coffee when this storefront stopped us in our tracks.
It was a quaint little bakery called Mara’s Italian Pastries. There certainly were a lot of treats to choose from—this was just one of their three display cases.
I just had a plain black coffee, while Matt indulged in – get this – a Nutella latte. I had a sip, and it was wondrous. We also shared a chocolate-dipped madeleine.
Upon reaching the pier, I finally caught a glimpse of the Golden Gate bridge.
My nerdy-inner-child was also delighted at the sight of Alcatraz.
There was one main reason, though, that we’d gone to Pier 39 in the first place…the SEA LIONS!
I’ve had a thing for seals and sea lions since I was a kid. Matt and I stood there for 20 minutes or so, watching them climb all over one another and listening to their adorable barks. Aren’t they just the cutest animals EVER? I think so, at least.
For lunch, we went to a place I’ve heard so much about: Loving Hut (the Chinatown location). The whole story behind Loving Hut is a little weird, I gotta admit (I’ll leave you to research that elsewhere), but I couldn’t possibly pass up the chance to try it.
Matt chose the Au Lac Vietnamese Ocean Wrap, a seaweed-wrapped “soy fillet” served with a plate of lettuce and herbs, peanut sauce, a pile of rice paper wrappers, and a bowl of warm water. In other words, it was a sort of build-your-own-spring-rolls platter. He enjoyed it quite a bit, once he got the hang of the wrapping and rolling.
I ordered something similar-sounding but completely different: the Au Lac Vietnamese Vermicelli. It was a giant bowl of soft vermicelli noodles, chopped raw veggies and cilantro, and “marinated soy protein,” plus an egg roll on the side. On one hand, I liked it—I mean, you can’t go wrong with noodles, veggies, and herbs. On the other hand, I didn’t like that the whole thing was perched on a bed of lettuce (which wasn’t mentioned on the menu), but I can chalk that up to my personal bias against leaves. My opinion of the soy protein was mixed—it was pleasantly chewy and had a nice, sweet sauce, but it also had some type of seasoning that made it taste unmistakably like pork. I was a little put off by the porky flavor, to be honest. Nonetheless, I knew it was soy, so I was able to mentally override that turn-off, for the most part.
On the walk back to the hotel, we stopped at a random shop in Chinatown so I could buy the biggest sesame ball I’ve ever seen. And it was only 50 cents! Oh, red bean paste, how I love thee.
For dinner, we ate at a restaurant that I never thought I’d actually make it to: Millennium.
I’ll warn you right now, the lights were dim in there, so I’m going to show you the photos I took with flash. Yes, yes, I know, it’s tacky. But you NEED to see these dishes in detail.
We were offered a plate of bread to start, with a scoop of what the server called “carrot-tofu spread.” I do wish the bread had been warm, but the spread was surprisingly yummy.
For our appetizer, we shared the Black Bean Torte—a whole wheat tortilla stuffed with a smoky black bean purée and caramelized plantains, with pumpkin-habanero papazul, pickled onion-grapefruit salad, and cashew sour cream. Wow, wow, wow. Matt and I agreed this boded well for the rest of the meal.
Matt’s main dish was the Brick Pastry Beggar’s Purse—phyllo stuffed with seared seitan, wilted kale, and truffled mushroom duxelle, with roasted Brussels sprouts, herby cashew cream sauce, and blood orange-beet reduction. He said it tasted very comfort foody, in a good way.
I opted for the Chile & Soy Glazed Tempeh with sautéed greens and broccoflower (Romanesco broccoli) and coconut red rice.
INCREDIBLE. The tempeh was fork-tender and wonderfully flavorful. I even, against all odds, ate the greens. That is not like me, AT ALL. It was just that good.
I had Millennium’s famous Chocolate Almond Midnight torte in mind for dessert, but all bets were off when I spied this one:
::fans self:: Holy CRAP. Unspeakably good. The warm, rich, very peanut buttery bread pudding provided a salty contrast to the ripe bananas, cold ice cream, and sweet vanilla crème. Cacao nibs and a chunk of peanut brittle added a crunch factor. This was a dessert I will never forget.
To end the evening, Matt and I took a trip to our hotel’s 36th floor to take in the stunning views of San Francisco’s nighttime skyline. It was an excellent conclusion to an excellent day.
There’s more San Fran awesomeness to come!