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Hipster Toast and other SF Foodie Highlights

Craftsman and Wolves in San Francisco | Urban Pixxels
The Rebel Within at Craftsman and Wolves in San Francisco | Urban Pixxels

The question for me when I started planning my trip to San Francisco was not so much what to do, but rather where to eat. Right before I left, Condé Nast Traveller dedicated a whole feature on the new foodie capital of America, and they were right. Farmers’ markets, street food, trendy coffee bars and people standing in line for the best pastries in town…Where have I seen this before? So if you’re planning a trip to the city, here are my favorites.

Since you can’t explore the city on an empty stomach, start your day at Craftsman and Wolves in the trendy Mission district. They call themselves a contemporary patisserie and they sure know how to turn a classic into something special. Have their ‘Rebel Within’, a savory muffin with a runny egg inside: delish!

The Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco | Urban Pixxels
Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco | Urban Pixxels
The Farmers Market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco | Urban Pixxels

The Ferry Building Marketplace has everything a food lover is looking for. Go on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday and you get to enjoy the Farmers Market by the water as well. You’ll find the longest queue in front of Blue Bottle Coffee, which is one of the most popular coffee bars in the city. If you love coffee, make sure to try theirs before you leave, but visiting one of their other locations will probably save you some time waiting (I went to their café on Mint Plaza). And I think I liked my cappuccino from the Sightglass Coffee truck on the farmers market (only a short waiting line) even better.

Trendy coffee bar Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco | Urban Pixxels
Four Barrel Coffee in San Francisco | Urban Pixxels

Talking about coffee… The ultimate trendy coffee hotspot must be Four Barrel, also in the Mission District. The waiting line started as soon as I walked in the door, but I had no trouble finding a seat once I got my coffee. It surprised me that they didn’t have wifi, nor did the other places I went to. So you have no other option than to unplug, wake up and smell the coffee.

Hipster Toast at The Mill in San Francisco | Urban Pixxels
The Mill in San Francisco | Urban Pixxels
You’re now probably wondering when I’m going to mention the hipster toast. Well, here it is. The latest food craze in San Francisco is…toast. Not your British slice of white bread, half-burned toast. No, at The Mill you get thick artisan cinnamon raisin bread with a lavish spread of butter, dark brown sugar and cinnamon (or one of the other 3 bread/spread combinations). Is it good? Oh yes it is! And even though there’s a waiting line here as well, they’re very efficient in taking your order and preparing your toast while you wait.

Some people were shocked that they charge almost $4 for one slice, but these people haven’t been to London yet…

If you’re going to San Francisco…

The Painted Ladies at Alamo Square in San Francisco
Haight Ashbury in San Francisco
Crossing the street in San Francisco
Murals in The Mission in San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
Cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
Cars taking the hairpin turns on Lombard Street in San Francisco
Haight Ashbury in San Francisco

Do you also have a list of places that you’ve never been to, but for some reason just know you’re going to love? For me San Francisco has as long as I can remember been on top of that list. There was just something about it that made me fall in love with it… From a distance, because last week was actually my very first trip to California.

It’s a bit risky when you have so many high expectations of a city. I didn’t love London straight away either. It takes some time to see all the amazing things a city has to offer. So what could I expect from 48 hours as a newbie in San Francisco?

Well, a lot! I’d done my homework so I knew where to stay, what to do and where to eat. Not much time for spontaneity when you have so little time.

The city was as amazing as I’d hoped and still it was different than I’d pictured it in my head (but not in a bad way). My first ‘pinch me’ moment came when I cycled across the Golden Gate Bridge. The view over the water and the city is just spectacular. Unfortunately afterwards my Northern European skin had the same color as the bridge, but let’s quickly forget about that… If you’re planning to visit the city, put this on top of your to-do list.

So what else did I do, besides drinking lots of coffee which you may have seen on Instagram? As much as I like to act like a local, there are certain touristy things in San Francisco that you just have to do at least once. So yes, I took a ride on a cable car, visited China Town, saw the sea lions at Pier39, had the clam chowder in a hollowed-out sourdough bread bowl at Boudin Bakery and saw the cars taking the hairpin turns on Lombard Street.

But what I enjoyed most was walking around The Mission and Haight Ashbury. These two neighborhoods were more like I had pictured San Francisco. Colorful, creative, with beautiful murals and lots of great food and coffee places. Here you also find Alamo Square (first photo) and the pastel colored ‘Painted Ladies’ which you’ll probably recognize from the opening scene from Full House (which one tv channel was showing non-stop by the way). On my next visit I’d love to spend more time in these areas. Although I then won’t make the rookie mistake of thinking you can easily walk from one side of the city to the other. These steep streets are not made for walking…

Treasures of The British Library

The British Library | Urban Pixxels
The British Library | Urban Pixxels
The British Library - The Kings Library | Urban Pixxels
The British Library | Urban Pixxels
The British Library | Urban Pixxels
The British Library | Urban Pixxels
The British Library | Urban Pixxels

The British Library is not just like any other library. It has treasures! And good ones too. They’re so good that unfortunately you’re not allowed to take photos of them. But take my word for it: it’s worth the visit.

As the national library of the United Kingdom, the British Library has a copy of every book produced in the UK and Ireland plus books from many other countries. Today they have over 150 million items in their collection, making it the 2nd largest library in the world.

Instead of wandering around I decided to go ‘behind the scenes’ with the library tour to learn more about the history, the collections and how they’re able to store all those books (and find them when you need them). I’m glad I did. The building is huge and they told me so many interesting (and crazy) stories. Apparently Meryl Streep was visiting the library that day as well to prepare for one of her new roles, but not at the same time as the tour unfortunately.

So, back to those treasures. To me this was the coolest thing ever. The Sir John Ritblat Gallery displays all these historical and significant books, letters, prints and other documents which is just amazing. People like Napoleon, Jane Austen, Leonardo da Vinci and Mozart once held these documents in their hands, putting their thoughts on paper and now they’re here for you to see them. There’s a letter from Michelangelo to his father, writing that he finished the Sistine Chapel and that the pope was ‘quite pleased’ with the result. There are writings from Shakespeare, music manuscripts penned by the hand of Bach, Beethoven and Handel, and letters from Galileo and Darwin. But also the Magna Carta, the Gutenberg bible and handwritten lyrics by the Beatles.

The website of the library lets you have a look at the digital editions of these documents, but that’s of course not the same as actually being able to (almost) touch them. The gallery is open seven days a week and free to visit. So if you’re in the King’s Cross area, go and discover the treasures of the British Library.

The Kinfolk Table: Recipes for Small Gatherings

The Kinfolk Table; Recipes for small gatherings | review on Urban Pixxels
The Kinfolk Table; Recipes for small gatherings | review on Urban Pixxels
The Kinfolk Table; Recipes for small gatherings | review on Urban Pixxels
The Kinfolk Table; Recipes for small gatherings | review on Urban Pixxels
The Kinfolk Table; Recipes for small gatherings | review on Urban Pixxels
The Kinfolk Table; Recipes for small gatherings | review on Urban Pixxels
I have a serious weak spot for hardcover books with beautiful photography. My iPad is fine for reading novels, but nothing beats sitting at your dining room table on a Sunday afternoon, drinking a cup of tea and flipping through the pages of a beautiful book. As an expat I try not to collect too many books or ‘stuff’ in general (yeah, good luck with that!), but once in a while I see a book that I just have to have. Here’s the latest addition to my collection: The Kinfolk Table; Recipes for small gatherings.

With 85 recipes you could qualify it as a cookbook, but it’s much more than that. In between the recipe pages you’ll find the stories of the home cooks behind these recipes (writers, chefs, bloggers and artists) in Brooklyn, Copenhagen, Portland and the English countryside. Together with the gorgeous portraits you get an idea of who they are (hello hipsters), how they live and what their relationship is with good food, home cooking and sharing meals with friends and family.

The recipes look great, but if I’m being honest I didn’t buy this book for the recipes. So I assume the same will happen as with all my other cookbooks: I intend to make everything, but I’ll end up trying only one or two recipes. But since this book is only ‘one-third cookbook’, there’s still two-third of stories and inspiring photos left that I’m sure I’m going to fully enjoy.

And luckily it doesn’t stop here. If you like their photography and style as much as I do, there’s also a Kinfolk magazine that comes out every quarter. A 144 pages, ad-free magazine about discovering new things to cook, make and do. I just got my first copy (issue 11) and I’m sure there will be more to follow. So much for my intention not to collect things…

Ozone Coffee Roasters in Shoreditch

Ozone Coffee Roasters in Shoreditch, London
Ozone Coffee Roasters in Shoreditch, London
Ozone Coffee Roasters in Shoreditch, London
Ozone Coffee Roasters in Shoreditch, London
Ozone Coffee Roasters in Shoreditch, London
Ozone Coffee Roasters in Shoreditch, London

Living in London sometimes feels like you’re on a (foodie) trip around the world. French macarons, Scandinavian pastries, Indian curries, Peruvian ceviche and even Dutch pancakes…it’s all here. You soon start to appreciate each country’s talents. And when it comes to good coffee, you want to be in Australia or New Zealand. Or an Aussie or Kiwi coffee shop in this case.

I wouldn’t call myself a ‘coffee connaisseur’, but most of the good and trendy coffee places I’ve been to in London turned out to be Australian / New Zealand owned.

Ozone Coffee Roasters is no exception. They opened their shop and café in Shoreditch in 2012 and have since then often been mentioned as one of the best coffee places in the city. They roast their own beans in the basement area and in the upstairs café you can watch the baristas turn those beans into coffee.

My cappuccino was excellent, and I’m not talking from experience, but I heard their breakfast and lunch menu is pretty amazing too. I’m sure it was brunch time somewhere in the world, but unfortunately not in London. So on my next London world tour I need to make sure to arrive in New Zealand around noon.