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Full disclosure — we killed two solid hours in the neighborhood. Hayes Valley is nice! We first went to San Francisco’s flagship Warby Parker store, where we both enjoyed shopping for some sleek new frames. Then we went into an interior design store briefly — for my mom’s amusement. We passed a cute-looking macaroon shop, but I won’t devote this column to those macaroons as the small bites we tried left something to be desired. Thankfully our stomachs both had enough will power to stay the course. Onward to Smitten!
The founders aptly describe C.R.E.A.M.’s vibes on their website, “It was a throwback to our childhood, when it became a ‘thing’ for us to sandwich rich ice creams and fillings between mom’s fresh-baked cookies.” The ingredients definitely taste homemade, and the store evokes a nice nostalgia of childhood. The store’s name, an acronym for “cookies rule everything around me,” is not quite the same as the Wu-Tang Clan’s 1994 single “C.R.E.A.M.” — “Cash Rules Everything Around Me” — coincidentally released a month before my first birthday. I may be old, but no one is too old to enjoy one of these ice-cream sandwiches.
Thanks to the joyous Instagram food account @Infatuation, Tartine Bakery has been on my radar for quite some time now. The place has established the kind of reputation amongst foodies — dedicated and otherwise — that aspiring bakers dream of. It’s been around for years, as the worn-out floors illustrate. It is here that famous food writer Michael Pollan had “the best bread I ever tasted.” It’s the type of place that I should have tried long before this weekend. When the company made national headlines this week for the announced merger with another local favorite, Blue Bottle Coffee, I knew this week would be the week to finally make the trek.
I’ll get right to it this week – I am sure many of you San Franciscans are wondering why I waited until week four of FoCo Joe At Home to write about Bi-Rite Creamery, home to some of the world’s best ice cream. I kid you not, Bi-Rite has that kind of reputation. Located just across from Mission Dolores Park — arguably the social and cultural backbone of San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood — Bi-Rite is a long-time San Francisco staple. I have been there many a time in my upbringing and have always enjoyed the ice cream’s high quality. The flavors really do ring through in a Morano-esque way — every spoonful is worth it. It is Bi Rite’s long-held dedication to quality and taste that dissuaded me from writing about it earlier — there is no need for another article out there praising the place, everyone knows that.
Bi-Rite is so well-known and well-liked amongst both locals and tourists that the line is always a good 25 people deep — and I mean always. I was in the area for over two hours this past weekend, and I’m not lying when I say the length of the line never dipped below 25. During primetime, from 2:00-5:00 p.m., the line only got longer. The wait for a simple scoop or two was a good 15 to 20 minutes — which is not long, all things considered, for Bi-Rite ice cream! But you have to really want ice cream to wait in this line. And I mean really. The line awkwardly snakes through the sidewalk and is constructed from red cloth lines like the ones airports use to control crowds of anxious travelers. I hate to say it, but Bi-Rite is not so different from SF International airport – delays are all too common. On a sunny Sunday afternoon, people are overeager to get some of this ice cream, and quite frankly, that in itself can be a drag. But let it be clear, those who make the wait are paid with full satisfaction — and then some. The location and the ice cream both cannot be beat.
It was a good week for FoCo Joe at Home. I will get to the food shortly, but first, here’s a quick update on my life and some musings on food in general. The internship is going swimmingly, and I’ve picked up CrossFit again, hoping the workouts will kick my butt into shape quickly. I have to admit, the quality of a CrossFit workout is so much higher than any workout I could conjure up on my own in a gym — largely because of the presence of the instructor and other athletes with whom I can compare myself to and compete against. The “team” atmosphere motivates me more than I ever can on my own.
I realized this week that the same could be said about my approach to food.
This past week was my first week on the job, and my internship could not have started out on a sweeter note. At 9 a.m. on my very first day, I was treated to a box full of donuts! I normally am not the biggest fan of donuts — I think them as an especially heavy, unhealthy treat. Even on special occasions, I don’t go out of my way to seek out a custard-filled chocolate éclair (my favorite) or a jelly donut (my second favorite). There are lighter donuts to choose from to be fair, and I always have room for a good ol’ glazed donut. But this morning, at 9 am, I was confronted with a true dilemma. Who eats donuts, let alone at such an hour? Not I. But who can turn down a donut on Day One? Not I…
Spring is upon us, but unfortunately I am not. I’m off this term — a by-product of my swim season schedule — and living it up at home in San Francisco, California. I have an internship I am excited to start in a couple days, a family and a fair amount of free time. Some of this free time, I am pleased to announce, will be dedicated to furthering this wonderful column. Thus I begin the next chapter of FoCo Joe — a spin-off “special edition” column, if you will—FoCo Joe at Home.
Sadly, the time has come for me to post my last column of the term. It’s been a good one, friends, and I hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as I have. That said, I have some more bad news to share. My fast approaching absence from campus this spring term can only mean one thing— it will be a while before I am able to make another FoCo creation. I know this will likely leave you, my dear readers, floundering in a sea of emotions. So allow me to try and explain. My time on the swim team has shaped my D-Plan, and as a result, the spring terms are my only opportunities to get away from Hanover. Last spring, however, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina. So that means this spring is my only shot at a real off-term. I honestly wish I had more seriously considered taking a Hanover FSP, not only so that I could have continued to celebrate the heavenly oasis that is FoCo but also so that I could have continued to share my stories and spend quality time with you all each week. Sadly, it was not to be. For once, I will truly be sorry to be off campus.
This was a crazy weekend for me. I had my 22nd half-birthday, for starters. Not even an emoji on my Windows Phone can adequately describe how I felt about this. Making the weekend even crazier, I stayed up late on all three nights this weekend due to insomnia (correction: it’s probably a stretch to blame my lack of sleep Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights on a fit of sleeplessness. The real problem was my inability to fall asleep at a reasonable hour. Honestly this whole weekend I felt like I as living in a different time zone. Awful). In the midst of all this craziness, though, I came across something that actually made my life moreorganized. Browsing Instagram, I discovered a delicious looking dessert on “The Infatuation” restaurant review account. As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it. For once, I had a real plan!
Entering FoCo this weekend, I once again had no idea what I was going to make for this week’s column. I knew that I wanted to find something adventurous, even bold, but I couldn’t think of anything. I workshopped the idea of making an ice-cream sandwich without using FoCo cookies —certainly an earnest concept, if an impractical one —but I decided I owed it to my readers to stay away from the cookies. That’s when one of my Dartmouth swimming & diving teammates, with whom I was eating dinner, started talking about bananas.
Valentine’s Day is a strange holiday, if you ask me. Sadly —or happily, depending on your view —I have never had a significant other with whom to share the day. So this weekend, like usual, I spent my February 14 finding new ways to spend time with my friends. Given this nontraditional approach to Valentine’s Day, my mind naturally went to the foods less eaten on this most romantic of weekends for this week's column. After all, for those of us without a romantic partner, Valentine’s Day can feel pretty isolating. Thus was born the theme for this week’s dessert — celebrating those treats we eat alone, in isolation and in unashamed revelry.
Last week I introduced you all to the FoCo Superbowl, a healthy, hearty dessert with fruit, yogurt and granola. What was I thinking in turning away from the sugary sweetness of my previous columns? Well, I was inspired by the availability of a “Superbowl” pun, and the start of the Dartmouth on Purpose 21-Day Challenge had me feeling inspired. This week, though, I’ve returned to my normal routine, and as promised, I’ll be introducing the seriously sinful opposite of last week’s creation — the Superbowl Sundae. If I had to describe my aims in creating this dessert in one word, I would probably go with “glutinous.” Luckily, I have a whole column, so you’ll get a lot more information shortly.