5.18am Pinecrest Diner, Geary & Mason, San Francisco, California, USA
I’m still on London time, so waking bolt upright this morning I thought I’d go around the corner to the Pinecrest Diner (est 1969) for some scrambled eggs, seeing as they’re open 24 hours. I had a top day in San Francisco yesterday with Chirs, the bloke from our distributor, Henry Wine Group. He looks after the team of reps who cover the whole city area.
Hang on – two eggs scrambled with cheese that gets me sour dough toast and a shredded potato hash brown the size of your average newspaper as well – just arrived. My first hot brekky in the US and the eggs are fluffy and just great, and I know they’re real eggs because I saw them being scrambled at the open grill next to my elbow! Now I’ll be set up for the day.
Back to yesterday. Sometimes you’ll get an omen for a good day and you know the force is with you – as happened at our first call with Steven at William Cross Wine Merchants and wine bar. I had the 2004 Signature on board for the day, and he had just opened a bottle of the 1999 Signature at dinner a week ago. We had opened a bottle of the same around the same time for the press and trade in London as part of that 1966, 1977, 1988, 1999, 2002 & 2004 Signature vertical. It’s good to know that the 1999 Signature is travelling nicely as a 10 year old – on both sides of the Atlantic. Nice folks with an excellent tasting bar!
We had a whistlestop day really, and seeing as I give long answers to short questions as a rule, it forced Chris – my babysitter for the day – to revert into the native New Yorker that he is , and he had to drive like a Manhattan cab driver to get us from A to B almost on time. There was only that one “thread the needle’ moment of concern involving us, the two cars and a cablecar …
We grabbed lunch at Kokkari – magic Greek inspired food – that has had our wines on the list for at least the five years that I’ve been coming to town. Right now they have the 2006 Hand Picked Shiraz Viognier because it goes so well with the majority of their menu. Four of us (our hotel specialist wondergal Allison chimed in for the update on what is happening Yalumba wise around the traps) had that plus our tasting wines with a share combination of grilled lamb chops, traditional moussaka and the fresh peach, fetta and arugula salad – and the Arborio rice pudding with roasted peach – you need those fruit groups!
Then across to Noe Valley to see Erick at Urban Cellars – nice boy, nice part of town, I’m going back to finish that conversation on Shiraz. Over to South, the Southern Hemisphere wine specialists between Market Street and the ball park. This Saturday Clive Jones, the winemaker for Nautilus in New Zealand, is doing a lunch there with Chuck and Paige from the Jug Shop.
Then we headed down to Bin 38. Now talking of nice boys in nice locations, you cannot go past the big fella at Bin 38, a great restaurant/wine bar with a fire pit combination, and directly across the street from Kara’s Cupcakes! Oh perfect! Seeing as one of my ongoing investigations is “Ferrari’s Great Cupckae Challenge”, I had to stick my head in the door … and then of course I was a lost cause. Up to now I’d say the title holder of best cupcake would be Billy’s Bakery in the Chelsea part of Manhattan with their Red Velvet Cupcake. But now I think Kara’s takes it with their Banana Caramel Cream number. I think their secret weapon is the element of surprise as you bite in and get the melt in your mouth vanilla sponge and banana, then there’s this unexpected burst of caramel cream. They core the cupcake, insert the caramel thing and camouflage it with banana cream butter icing. Memorable! I bought their most popular Chocolate cupcake for the boys – because it’s good to share – and I think they liked it with the 2007 Bush Vine Grenache.
Great day – talked our faces off, and showed Australia, the Barossa, and Yalumba in a good wine way. I was lucky to have Chris as a babysitter as I got the tourist trip down the famous windiest road in the world – Lombard Street – and enough local knowledge to keep me well out of trouble on my days off this Sunday and Monday – especially the taco suggestion for the Mission district. Thanks!
I finished off with dinner around the corner at Lefty O’Doul’s (est 1958) – a piano bar diner chock a block full of baseball memorabilia from the old San Francisco Seals era. They do a great carved meat roast dinner – turkey, glazed ham, pastrami or corned beef if you’re hungry – for all of $12 including tip and tax! After a day like this it’s easy to see why I like this town so much.
Well, off to get set for today – we’re off to Sacramento – my first visit.