A Sunday in San Francisco

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So, I got a text from Joshua Thomas: ‘Are you interested in brunch?’ Of course! So I headed across town to meet him at Nopalito for a Mexican brunch. The walk from where I’m staying on Geary took me through some sketchy areas, as I cut down Taylor to Market and then hit Fell. There were a lot of rather scary looking people hanging around, but as I proceeded along Fell things became much better. Nopalito is on the intersection between Oak and Fell on Broderick, and it’s a lovely place to brunch.
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You just don’t get decent Mexican food in the UK, so this was a real treat. We had a few dishes, and they were all fabulous, including the very indulgent carnitas, which is delicious, fatty, meltingly soft pork that you wrap in tortillas.

We had a couple of beers each, too: the Moonlight ‘Reality Czeck’ Czech Style Pilsner from Santa Rosa, and the Magnolia Brewery Proving Ground IPA, which is made just around the corner in upper Haight. We later walked past the brewery.

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Refreshed and refuelled, it was time for a brisk stroll around the neighbourhood. Josh took me to upper Haight, on the boundary of the Golden Gate Park, and then we walked down from here to Lower Height. It’s a famous part of San Francisco, with strong associations with the hippy era. In fact, it’s still pretty hippy. Everyone seems to be smoking weed, and you can buy tie-dyed clothes.

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Lower Haight is home to one of the world’s great beer bars, Toronado. It’s quite small, decidedly old fashioned, and rough round the edges. But it has some incredible beers. We stayed here a long time, and were joined by Ross Cobb, of Cobb Wines and also winemaker at Hirsch Vineyards, as well as a couple of hipster friends of Josh.

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We stated off with Pliny The Elder from Russian River, on tap. This is an incredible beer: pale, complex, hoppy, fresh and perfectly balanced. Then the Hop 15 double IPA, which was pretty strong but just amazingly focused and well balanced. Then the Bochor Jacobins Rouge, a really complex sour beer, animally, bretty and quite wine like. Then La Merle Saison, a yeasty, smooth Belgian-style beer. Then Allagash White, a complex fresh lemony wheat beer.

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After this, it was back to Josh’s place, where he did sabrage on a magnum of Billecart Salmon. It was pretty cool. Here’s the film:

We followed this with some Madeira: first a Barros e Sousa 1980 Terrantez, and then a 1908 D’Oliveras Boal. Both were incredible. I even took notes:

Barros e Sousa Terrantez 1980 Madeira
Fresh, spicy and tangy with citrus fruit, nuts, spice, raisins and herbs. So complex. 95/100

D’Oliveras Boal 1908 Madeira
So complex with herbs, spice, tar, some treacle. Sweet, concentrated and intense with amazing complexity and depth. 97/100

After all this, it was time to head off for dinner. I hadn’t expected to be out quite so long. But it had been an epic time.

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