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San Francisco day 3 | Marin farmers market | Herbivore | Haight Ashbury | Dosa South Indian

Posted Jan 30 2012 8:35pm

Day three was more blustery and less sunny than what we'd experienced so far, but still a far cry from the winter we left behind, so we weren't complaining as we started the day early and headed over the bridge to the Marin farmers market. We have all-year-round outdoor markets in Seattle, but the produce tends to be more of the stored root and squash variety, unlike at the Marin market, where fresh veggies were in abundance. My son was quick to point out (brag) that during the summer, the market is much larger, but to my eyes it looked pretty amazing.

One thing I noticed right away was the expanded variety of fruits and veggies from what I was used to. For example, there was a man selling (and sampling) dates, and he had at least six different varieties. I'd never even seen most of them before, and I couldn't resist buying some for Alison and Jordan.

The same was true for the citrus, and some of the oranges I saw were completely new to me. I couldn't resist picking up a couple of blood limes to take home, since the only kind of lime I've seen is a ... lime lime. It doesn't taste like a lime — more like a mandarin orange — and in fact is a cross between the red finger lime and the Ellendale Mandarin.

In addition to produce, there were all sorts of tasty offerings, like toasted lentil snacks being sold by one of the the venders. With so many varieties available it was a difficult choice, but we settled on red lentils.

Perhaps the most exciting find was the Scream ice cream booth. Scream is advertised as sorbet, but to me the consistency and taste is really more like gelato. The samples were flying from the vender to our mouths at lightening speed, one flavor more amazing then the next — pistachio, vanilla macadamia, hazelnut peanut butter, coffee almond. To me, the pistachio was irresistible, so I gave in to a small  (very small) cup. So good, but only available in Oakland, at the Marin farmers market and one spot in SF.

We left the market to the lively tunes from a country western band, and did some car touring before heading back to SF.

There was a Packers playoff game that Jordan and Alison wanted to watch so Ken and I planned our own afternoon walking tour, starting with lunch at Herbivore , a vegan restaurant which was conveniently near our airbnb, and on the way to our afternoon destination. I had a cold Indonesian noodle (rice noodle) salad which was tasty, though not memorable.

Ken had lemongrass noodles — char-broiled veggies garnished with fresh cilantro and crushed peanuts in a lemongrass-ginger dressing over rice noodles. He said it was really good. I would probably return to Herbivore next time we're in town.

Our plan after lunch was to explore Upper Haight. Who hasn't heard of Haight-Ashbury, made famous in the 60s? Many of the the large, old Victorian homes along Ashbury have been restored to their former eye-popping glory, and we really enjoyed exploring the area.

I was especially taken with the cool-looking gates in front of each house's entry area.

Once we turned off Ashbury onto Haight, the flavor of the neighborhood took a distinct turn, and I thought maybe I'd entered a time machine and was back in the 60s. It was all head shops and tie dye, and people smoking pot on the street. We walked down Haight to Golden Gate Park, and were exploring the park when we realized it was getting colder, more windy, and late, and if we wanted to get back before dark, we'd have to begin our return walk.

We returned to the airbnb, and after a rest from all the walking, we headed out to dinner at Dosa South Indian restaurant on Fillmore, in Japantown. Dosa is not a vegetarian restaurant but has vegan and gluten-free offerings, and our waitress seemed very knowledgeable about the menu. The food choices were unlike any other Indian restaurant I've dined in, and I couldn't rely on my usual selections, like aloo gobi. Aloo gobi was nowhere to be seen, so I was forced to try something new. I had dosa (savory rice and lentil crepe) with a classic masala (spiced mashed potatoes, onions and cashews) filling. It came with fresh coconut and tomato chutneys, and sambar, a lentil dipping soup made with vegetables and spices. It was fabulous, and I'd love to have it again. Right now. The crispy dosa was delectable and the spicy accompaniments were delicious.

My husband had a seasonal vegetable curry with parsnip, potato, butternut squash, green beans and cauliflower, and he was well-pleased. We would definitely return to Dosa. You must make a reservation early because they get booked up.

Thus ends day three, and only one more to go, if anyone's still reading. :D

I've been nominated for the Top 25. Now all I need are votes, and I'd be honored to have yours. :D

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