Any ideas for "classic San Francisco" dishes?

The theme of my cooking club's next meal is "classic San Francisco". The hostess is making cioppino, and I need ideas for a dish to add to the meal. I'm not a bread maker, so I don't think I'm up for making sourdough from scratch (unless someone wants to convince me that it's easier than I think), but could make a dish that uses store bought sourdough in a fun way. Any ideas?

Ms. T
  • Posted by: Ms. T
  • September 10, 2011


Smaug August 12, 2018
Sorry, kids, you can't duplicate classic San Francisco sourdough; at least no one's come close that I've heard of. Though their factory is now located in nearby Burlingame, Guittard chocolate started in San Francisco and makes better chocolate than Ghirardelli.
Kyle R. August 11, 2018
Alioto's on the wharf served a classic crab dish. Served in a very significant long tureen, there was quite a bit of crab in a cream, sherry, and mustard sauce. The mustard was at the forefront of the sauce. They served it with warm slices of sourdough.
Ms. T. October 4, 2011
Wanted to follow up and let you all know that our San Francisco feast was a success! We had a bay shrimp & celery salad (unfortunately our Green Goddess gal dropped out at the last minute), homemade sourdough bread, an Alice Waters-inspired savory goat cheese souffle, and cioppino chock full of seafood. For dessert, I made gussied-up "It's It" ice cream sandwiches with oatmeal molasses spice cookies and vanilla bean ice cream, dipped in Mexican chocolate. They were a big hit! The recipe is on my blog:

Thanks again for all the creative suggestions--I'm saving them for another time!
ChefJune September 16, 2011
Mtrelaun: thanks for the link. Duly copied. Sounds delicious!
mtrelaun September 15, 2011
@ChefJune: The original Celery Victor is really easy and good ( but I prefer the vinaigrette in this updated version: Totally agree that celery is underappreciated as a gastronomic lead actor!
boulangere September 15, 2011
mtreulaun, sign me up for a plate of Joe's Special any day of the week.
ChefJune September 15, 2011
Sorry, Ms. T. it's those rum-soaked raisins that keep the cookies soft! Guess that won't work.
Ms. T. September 14, 2011
Thank you all for the great suggestions! To answer the question posed by nutcakes and creamtea, the theme is deliberately vague because we all like room for interpretation. So it doesn't have to be a recipe from any particular time period, as long as it screams San Francisco.

But I like the idea of doing something a little "old school", so I've committed to the "It's It" ice cream sandwiches. Boulangere and ChefJune, thanks for the suggestions on the oatmeal cookies. ChefJune, that recipe looks amazing and I will definitely try it. But I'm not sure I want raisins for my iceceam sandwich--do you think these cookies would still stay soft when frozen without the rum-soaked raisins? And/or do you think I could do a splash of rum in the dough without the raisins?

Does anyone have tips on how to get a super thin chocolate coating? Do you water the melted chocolate down with a little milk or cream?

Will save all those other great ideas for another time--thanks everyone.
creamtea September 13, 2011
Oh, yes the Ghirardelli chocolate brownies; I make them all the time-- so easy! (But I make them "single chocolate"). We have family friends we entertain frequently (tho' not nearly as frequently as they invite us). If I don't serve (or bring) those brownies, I may as well be in the doghouse.
ChefJune September 13, 2011
mtrelaun: How about a recipe for "Celery Victor?" I love celery, and it's so underused.

Many thanks!
Greenstuff September 13, 2011
Thanks for the memories, cookinginvictoria. The Gourmet magazine look at SF was in March 2002. It sits on the bookshelf with my cookbooks. But it did not celebrate the era of sourdough bread, cioppino, and Hangtown fry. Much more current, with a celebration of greens (Monterey Market) and overly opinionated neighbors (Michael Chabon's description of Berkeley). Another place not to look (I thought it might be) is the Williams Sonoma book on San Francisco. I was pretty sure it had a recipe for an It's It, but I was wrong.
moka September 12, 2011
Cioppino is classic San Francisco, and with sourdough bread--yum! I'm from the Bay Area, and we always had cioppino with sourdough and a spinach salad.
mtrelaun September 12, 2011
As a San Francisco native, I can't tell you how much your answers have made me homesick! In addition to the dishes mentioned above, how about making a mess of Joe's Special or Celery Victor?
AntoniaJames September 12, 2011
cookinginvictoria, yes, I do use the ground chocolate . . . here in the SF Bay Area, Ghirardelli Everything is ubiquitous. Send me your address via the messaging system (through my profile) and I'll send you a few containers of it! Actually, if you could get another kind of ground chocolate, it would probably work just as well. Or, ask foodpickle how to substitute cocoa for ground chocolate. With the vast wealth of baking knowledge amongst us, you may just find that (most likely with some fat added) you can use the Ghirardelli cocoa after all. ;o)
cookinginvictoria September 12, 2011
What a fun supper club theme. Several years ago Gourmet magazine did a theme issue based around San Francisco recipes and food. If I can find that magazine -- it's buried in a box in our basement -- I'll take a look at it and post some ideas and links.

Yum -- I am going to have to make ChefJune's oatmeal cookies with rum-soaked raisins. Sounds delicious. I just googled the Ghirardelli double chocolate brownie recipe that AJ mentioned. That looks amazing too. AJ, do you use ground chocolate when you make these? The recipe says not to sub cocoa for the ground chocolate. I wonder if it's possible to grind your own chocolate. We can buy Ghirardelli cocoa in Canada, but I've never seen their ground chocolate for sale in stores here.

Ms T, hope that you will report back what you end up making!
AntoniaJames September 12, 2011
ChefJune I love those oatmeal cookies . . . the best oatmeal cookies to emerge from my kitchen, ever. What a great idea, using them for ice cream sandwiches! Thinking rum raisin ice cream here, of course. Or maybe rum/dried sour cherries ice cream. ;o)
ChefJune September 12, 2011
If you're going with the Ice Cream Sandwiches, these cookies
stay soft under all conditions.
AntoniaJames September 12, 2011
Ms. T, I can send you via the messaging system the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie recipe, if you like. It's one of our favorites. ;o)
ChefJune September 12, 2011
Two ideas: General Tso's Chicken also started in San Francisco.

OR, how about making a chocolate dessert with Ghirardelli chocolate? San Francisco is the home of Ghirardelli.
creamtea September 12, 2011
very true, nutcakes, "classic San Francisco" covers a lot of eras!
nutcakes September 12, 2011
Flo's Blum's cake rocks, I've made it many times.Cold cracked dungeness crab is another classic starter. Serve it with sourdough! Crab Louis is another. Hopefully someone will make some. It's very easy to incorporate a cup of starter into the very easy 'no-knead' recipe if someone has some or you make or buy it.

The green goddess sounds like good and do-able side or starter. They still serve hangtown fry with oysters at Tadich Grill for 140 years, and I've had the Ciippino there many times.

I wonder how old you mean when you say classic? Blum's isn't pre-1900's
boulangere September 12, 2011
Oh, yes, the It's It Ice cream sandwiches are so perfect. Think about an oatmeal cookie filled with one of the many ice creams on this site. Any oatmeal cookie recipe would be wonderful, as long as it has enough fat and corn syrup to be relatively soft when frozen. Great project!
Ms. T. September 12, 2011
Thanks everyone for the great ideas! I may experiment with the green goddess direction, since I think that will go best with our meal, but will definitely save some of these other ideas for another time.

My other thought is to make homemade 'It's It" icecream which case, you may see another Food Pickle question about how to make oatmeal cookies that will stay soft when frozen...
inpatskitchen September 11, 2011
Maybe some sourdough croutons in that Green Goddess Salad?
Gale September 11, 2011
hangtown fry -
creamtea September 10, 2011
How about Blum's coffee crunch cake: Flo Braker's version. Blum's was an institution in San Francisco; whenever we travlled there, we had to visit Blum's for something sweet.
I believe the coffee crunch shouldn't sit on the cake too long before serving, maybe add up to an hour or just before serving.
Or, Irish Coffee. OR both.
susan G. September 10, 2011
You can make the legendary "San Francisco treat" from scratch. I believe it started as a family recipe, maybe Lebanese. Should be findable!
Sam1148 September 10, 2011
>A Green Goddess salad.

I miss green goddess. I might have to whip some up this week. Thanks for the reminder of that dressing.

AntoniaJames September 10, 2011
A Green Goddess salad! It was developed by the head chef at the Palace Hotel in 1923. Here is some more information:

I don't have my copy of The Essential New York Times Cookbook handy, but I believe the recipe is in it. Send me a note privately for more info. ;o) P.S. Sounds like such a fun theme!
Sam1148 September 10, 2011
It's old school. But Chop suey and crab rangoon started in San Francisco.
Maybe a crab rangoon appetizer and rumaki (chicken livers and water chestnuts wrapped with bacon and fried).
Check out some classic trader vic recipes for appetizers.
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