Budget-conscious Bliss: The Sweet-tooths take San Francisco

A couple of weekends ago, three friends and I spent our Saturday afternoon on a “Dessert Crawl,” an event that was part tea party, part walking tour of San Francisco’s Mission District.

The idea for the crawl was born on Facebook, when various people were offering a friend recommendations for good places to go for dessert.  As different folks chimed in with suggestions for my friend Katie, another friend, Frances, remarked, “Dessert crawl!”, and because we all recognized what a lovely thing such an event would be, we immediately commenced planning Dessert Crawl #1.

Because the agreed-upon date for the crawl was a good few weeks away, we had plenty of time to plan where we would go and how we would go about the crawling.  We all agreed that we should share desserts and walk to all locations in order to avoid feeling disgustingly full before we had even finished dessert number two.  We also had places in mind that we definitely wanted to hit–Bi-Rite Creamery, Tartine, and the Creme Brûlée Cart being among them.

When the day arrived, Creme Brûlée Cart had decided he would be in Hayes Valley instead of the Mission, and he would be there far earlier in the day than we had planned to meet.  Though initially disappointed, we forged ahead without him and had a delightful Saturday afternoon.

We first hit up Bi-Rite Creamery.  It was my first time going there, and when it was time to place my order, I was delighted to find that my small, “single”-sized cup could accommodate two small scoops of ice cream, so I got to try two flavors; I chose toasted coconut and ginger.  Both were good, particularly the ginger, which had a creamier texture and far less ice crystals than the coconut. Other flavors consumed by our party: salted caramel (the “it flavor” at Bi-Rite, it seems) and toffee.  Raves all around.

From there we walked down the block to Tartine.  They are known (and rightfully so) for their bread pudding, but it was a rare warm day in San Francisco–not really bread pudding weather–so we chose a small lemon tart and shared it amongst the four of us.  The tart was beautiful to look at and incredibly satisfying to eat, with a filling that was less lemon curd and more lemon cream; still, it somehow managed to taste light, airy, and pucker-perfect tangy.  We also liked the fact that the tart had a crunchy-cookie-type crust that added a perfect balance of texture to the silky citrus filling.

Lemon Tart for four at Tartine

Lemon Tart for four at Tartine

When we left Tartine, we had a good several block walk to our next destination, Mission Pie.  It was  a lovely walk, during which we admired the architecture

A beautiful home with a beautiful view.

A beautiful home with a beautiful view.

and even chatted with a friendly, curious cockatoo who greeted us with many hearty squawks and an eventual throaty, “Hello!”

"Hello!"

"Hello!"

At Mission Pie, we shared a slice of the mixed-berry pie.  The filling was spectacular: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries–all nestled tightly together on a flaky bottom crust.  The filling was full of berry flavor and had not a bit of the bland gooeyness that seems to plague so many other fruit pies of lesser quality.

Berry pie with whipped cream on the side.

Berry pie with whipped cream on the side.

Pie consumed, it was time to head to our last destination, Anthony’s Cookies, where we each bought our own cookie (they’re small), with which we toasted our very delightful Saturday afternoon.  They were cookies we would all be pining for later, long after we had gobbled them up.  I had the peanut butter cookie, and it was truly one of the best I’ve ever had.  Anthony does not flatten his peanut butter cookie, and because of that, it bakes up with a crisp outer texture and a warm, soft-chewy center.  It’s like a hug for your tongue, and who doesn’t need a good hug these days?

As we said our goodbyes, we all remarked how great the day had been:  The Dessert Crawl is economical!  We all tasted four desserts and spent around eight dollars to do so.  And, because we shared items and had small portions of the things we didn’t share, we didn’t experience “sugar crash” afterward.  Plus, it was wonderful to be outside, walking and appreciating our surroundings as we moved through the city on foot (one of the best ways to see and appreciate San Francisco).  And as my friend Frances noted, probably the best thing about a Dessert Crawl is that it doesn’t require nearly the recovery that a Pub Crawl often does.  Amen to that.

We are already looking forward to DC #2.

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About Sarah

Grammar goddess, cultural critic, full-time media junkie. I read, I bake, I watch tv. And then I write about it.
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