Field Trip #1 – The Mission District, San Francisco — Katerina Matias

Posted on January 14, 2013


On Thursday, January 10, 2013, my class and I went to The Mission District in San Francisco, CA to go on numerous food tours around it. We got off BART on 24th street, had a few minutes to kind of regroup (get coffee, use the restroom, etc.), and then we started our field trip. We started our trekking around The District by walking to a deli, Wise Sons Delicatessen. There, we were met with our tour guides and split into two groups. My group started at the Wise Sons Deli and was given a little history on the deli. We were informed that it was a Jewish deli and were soon served with samples of a pastrami sandwich, mustard, and a pickle. Now, I’ve had pastrami sandwiches before, but let me tell you…THIS SANDWICH WAS AMAZING! And with the mustard?! Holy cow, I was so surprised and pleasantly satisfied with the mini sandwich that I immediately thought of taking my family there to eat! The pastrami was salty with its perfect amount of grease and oils keeping it moist and perfect. The bread was a soft tan color, spongy and completely absorbing the grease, with a yummy crispy crust with grains (I think). I never would have thought to put mustard on my pastrami sample, but when I did, it was like it gave the sandwich a kick! The bitterness of the yellow mustard combined with the greasy saltiness of the meat was absolutely delicious and left me craving a full-sized sandwich! Just writing about it is making my mouth water… And the crust?! The wonderful crunch at my last bite just topped the whole tasting off perfectly…like a round, shiny, red maraschino cherry atop a three-scoop vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry sundae drizzled with hot fudge, sprinkled with nuts, and sprayed with whipped cream. Perfection…

Anyways, the next location we went to was Roxy’s. There, the one and only employee and chef greeted us. It was crazy to hear that he ran the entire place on his own, washed the dishes, and cooked the food all by himself! Anyways, the restaurant was quite small and from where we were seated, we could view the kitchen through a glass barrier. While he cooked, he told us that he would be making us one of his own creations, Yucca Gnocchi in a Bolognese Sauce. I immediately thought of a YouTube video I had watched by Laura Vitale, teaching her viewers how her and her Nonna (grandmother) made their own homemade gnocchi. Anyways, after the chef told us about how he came up with new food creations and how he was featured on a television show, he started to divide his creation onto a number of Asian-styled soupspoons. I noticed that he scooped two pieces of gnocchi for each spoon and included as much meat as each spoon allowed. He then followed this by drizzling some Balsamic syrupy concoction (as he referred to it since it was not quite liquid yet not quite solid), sprinkling some Parmesan cheese atop each spoon, and then adding some pieces of freshly cut basil. He then handed the two trays filled with samples to our tour guide who handed out our samples. I retrieved a spoon from the tray and passed the tray along, and I noticed the steam rising from the food. I smelled the meat sauce and noticed the dark coloring of the food. I blew on the food for a few seconds and ate a single gnocchi with a bit of sauce. It was so good! I was surprised at how the gnocchi was so soft yet not too soft that it was chewy. And the Bolognese sauce complimented it perfectly. I went into eat the rest of the sample and I saw that the meat was ground into small pieces and none of it clumped together. The sauce was a deep reddish brown color and was just runny enough that I was able to almost slurp the rest off of the spoon. Again, the gnocchi was absolute perfection and I couldn’t believe how tasteful it was! I would definitely have to say this was my favorite of the day, right along with the pastrami sandwich.

After eating that yummy concoction, we made our way to Mission Mini’s, where we got to choose a mini cupcake to eat. As soon as I walked in, I saw the cute pink background and the absolutely adorable mini cupcakes in a glass case. The air of the bakery was filled with sugar and sweet goodness, and I was immediately excited to eat one. I chose the Cinnamon Horchata mini cupcake because I love horchatas and the cupcake just sounded amazing. To my pleasure, I was right. The cinnamon flavor of the cupcake was so good and the horchata flavor was just like the milky rice water drink I enjoy ordering when I go to my local taqueria. The cupcake was perfectly moist and topped with a delicious cream cheese frosting, sprinkled with cinnamon.

Next we went to the Local Mission Eatery. I noticed that it was a lot bigger than any of the other places we went to, and to the left, I saw through a glass window some pieces of animals dangling by strings (like a pig or cow foot!); to the right was the kitchen; and further back was where the bakery was. We waited around for a bit before we were served with our sample: grilled cheese with caramelized onions and apple butter on a baguette. When I first held the sandwich, I noticed the grease soaking through my napkin and oiling my fingers. Then when I went to take a bite, I was surprised by the crunch of the bread and the potent flavor of the caramelized onions. The cheese was almost undetectable compared to the sweet taste of the onions and the unique flavor of the apple butter. I love my grilled cheese sandwiches, but I would have never thought of using apple butter and adding onions since I’m not a huge fan of onions, but I tolerate them.

Following our trip to the Local Mission Eatery, we went to look at the murals on Balmy and were led by someone who was associated with Precita Eyes. We walked down the street and were given brief overviews of what inspired each mural and the stories behind them. It was a nice little break from eating and helped us work up our appetite for the next location: Taqueria El Farolito. Our tour guide informed us that he would not be joining us for our mural tour because he was going to go order us tacos from this taqueria. As soon as I heard tacos, I got excited! I love my Mexican food and it could probably qualify as one of my favorite foods. Once we sat down, our tour guide brought us a cup of horchata to drink! Again, something I love! I took a sip of the drink and automatically noticed how grainy it was. It had that yummy rice flavor and hint of cinnamon, and that grainy texture added to its authentic feel. Next, we were given our taco and I was amazed at how appetizing it looked! The taco was on layered soft tortillas and had pieces of pork on top, covered in a mildly spicy orange sauce with vegetables sprinkled and spread on top. I picked up the taco, folded it in half, and bit into it. I felt the hot sauce and oils running in my mouth and dripping down my fingers, and the potent flavor of the sauce exploded in my mouth. The pork was absolutely cooked to perfection, soft with a bit of charring on the outside giving it that perfect texture, and the sauce was impeccably spiced to give it a little kick. And the horchata just added to the experience, offering me something to help reduce the spiciness, haha.

After eating here, we made our way to Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream. The place looked extremely cute and looked like an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. Inside, however, it was totally different. On one wall was a two-headed calf, on another was a crazy-looking painting, and on the next was a painting of Campbell’s soup cans with flavors like “Fetal Kitten”! **what the heck?!** Anyways, as we were told to not be afraid to try samples of everything before we ordered our sample scoop, I couldn’t help but notice the crazy flavors: Mulled Wine, Chocolate Sea Salt, Basil Lime, Honey Graham something, and all kinds of other things you wouldn’t expect to be an ice cream flavor. I started trying samples and the first I tried was the Honey Graham one. Immediately off the bat I was overwhelmed by the potency of the honey and felt my face form a disgusted look. Next I tried the Mulled Wine, and again, my face scrunched up at the bitter flavor of the red wine following the sweet taste of sugar. After, I tried a bit of my friend’s sample of the Chocolate Sea Salt, and honestly, I thought I was going to spit it back out. The salt was so intense that I couldn’t even sense any other flavors! I was pretty disgusted and that just completely threw me off. But, finally, I decided on the Basil Lime Sorbet. Even that was so intensely tart that I couldn’t finish it. I felt awful about tossing it, but the intensity of the lime was just too sour and I couldn’t bear to eat all of it. I would honestly have to say I probably wouldn’t be going back there for a dessert scoop of ice cream…

Our final stop was Pig & Pie. This particular restaurant sign was unique because the current owners decided not to get rid of the old Discolandia sign, and instead just added on to it with their own. The restaurant was quite large and walking in, the aroma of barbeque sauce filled my nose. We were led to the back of the restaurant and waited next to the kitchen. Our tour guide spoke with one of the chef’s and we were soon given out sample. We were given a pork sausage that contained some veal and back fat, topped with sauerkraut and mustard. The chef told us they made the yellow mustard themselves and pickled their own sauerkraut. As soon as I bit into my sausage, I noticed the crunchiness of the bread and was immediately taken aback by the mustard. The mustard was powerful in that my mouth almost went dry, my throat hurt, and my sinuses cleared…I felt like I just ate a spoonful of wasabi! When I bit into the sausage, I felt the oils spilling out of the soft exterior and the flavors of salt and pepper filled my mouth. The sauerkraut didn’t bother me much, and I find that I actually like sauerkraut. It was pickled very well and added a good flavor to the sausage. But man! That mustard was crazy…crazy in a good way. I liked the flavor it gave, but I was just shocked at how strong it was!

Overall, I really enjoyed this field trip to The Mission District and am highly considering going back to Wise Sons and Roxy’s one day with my family for lunch. Those two were my favorite places and I just really want more of their food!

Posted in: Student Posts