One would think that having a dairy allergy along with celiac disease would pre-empt any gorging of food in a place like San Francisco which has a multitude of restaurants (really, they’re everywhere you look!), offerings of clam chowder, pastas, pizza, deep-fried seafood (every type!), Ghirardelli Chocolates and the famous SF Sour Dough Bread. Not much choice here for celiacs or those with allergies, one would think … But! Difficult to find gluten & dairy-free? Nope, so easy in fact, I gained 5 lbs (2 kilos) in 2 1/2 days! Was it the sea air? Was it the aroma and sight of food EVERYWHERE? We were constantly hungry … They were very accommodating chefs, willing to prepare any food gluten & dairy-free … what a combo! The barrage of food photos lining the walls, posts, windows of every building – a 360° view of FOOD! No subliminal messaging required here! It was blatant – EAT! So we did … and it was oh so very good …
Try some scallops at Scoma’s – just order a platter, they are so delectable, soft, creamy, light, perfectly cooked and seasoned. I had the scallops for an appetizer (wish I had ordered a platterful!) and the halibut for dinner. The halibut was ok (a wee bit on the dry side) – the sauce they served with it … AMAZING … green olives, capers, peppers, tomatoes … light, aromatic, chunky veggies in a tomato broth, reminiscent of Italy – I could have eaten it as a soup!
Then there were the Thai experiences … Thai restaurants offer a wide variety of foods, vegetarian, vegan, pork, fish, chicken, many varieties of noodles, curries, salads, wings … the list is endless, and so are the menus! The flavour combinations were different from any Thai food I’ve tasted before. A cross between Vietnamese and Indian food, in my opinion. There are 175 Thai restaurants in San Francisco proper. That’s a lot of Thai food to sample. Ask if they can accommodate you before you are seated – best to speak with the chef to be sure he/she understands the importance of cross-contamination and how to avoid it. Look at the menu and ask if they can make the dishes that appeal to you, gluten/dairy-free. Don’t forget to mention Soya Sauce as an allergy – most brands contain wheat, not everyone is aware of that.
We enjoyed an excellent dinner at the Thai restaurant in the Parc 55 Hotel, consisting of crispy, spicy, sweet and sticky wings, light, cleansing mango salad and a red curry with 6 large prawns and many vegetables served with rice and a chili sauce. That was just for me. I had wanted to order more but was stopped in my tracks by the owner … Too much food! You order too much! Stop! Much laughter followed those comments. And not just from our table. What can I say? Was starving and it all looked sooooo good! Khan Toke, a popular Thai restaurant, replete with traditionally dressed servers and decor, was repeatedly recommended. We planned on a lunch visit to Khan Toke on our last day in San Francisco, unfortunately we didn’t know that they only opened for dinner. Next time! Instead of Khan Toke, the next day (our last in SF) we enjoyed a delicious, very large lunch at Suriya’s with a couple of lovely friends. Chicken & prawn parcels, wrapped with rice paper and served with peanut sauce and chili sauce … best sauces ever! A platter of sesame & coconut encrusted sweet potatoes – these I did share but not exactly freely nor liberally. 🙂 Those were my appetizers. Each of us enjoyed a selection of yummy appetizers, chatting, laughing … all so very pleasant. And then came the main dishes. Oh right, we did order more … There were four bowls/platters, each offering a different culinary masterpiece … well … we each ordered one that appealed to us at the time. Could this have been a case of “eyes bigger than belly?” How were we to know these lunch offerings would be so LARGE? No photos of those dishes are available … really … who can think of taking photos when your mouth is watering as dish upon dish of steaming … hot … delectable … delights is set before you, the aromas flavouring the very air you breathe, tantalizing, mesmerizing, inviting you to partake in the richness of their offerings! Oh YES! Ahem … hence not many photos. It was all so delicious, so much food … though we did manage quite well.
It was all impressive! The sights, the food, the company, all blended into a lovely, interesting, relaxing, albeit short, getaway!
A few tips … Although the thermometer read 23°, it was chilly enough to merit wearing a sweater, if not a coat and scarf! The wind blowing in off the Bay is cold! And it is windy! The temperature drops significantly at night. So if you are traveling to San Francisco … (according to San Franciscans, the best months are September & October – something to do with weather patterns & fog … ???), do bring warm clothes – layers, lots of layers, a small back pack – for shopping is also handy. Work out/detox to lose some weight BEFORE you go – guaranteed you will gain weight there – no matter what your particular dietary needs are … there are a myriad of restaurants to choose from, most are very accommodating and reasonably priced. Stay away from the “street” food though, unfortunate (the aromas emanating from these places are mouth-watering), but cross-contamination is an issue in those tiny kitchens.
One final tip: wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing … make some room for all those scrumptious eats … you’ll be happy you did!