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7 am. Best time time to explore Fisherman’s Wharf: it’s clean, cool, and peaceful. Based on what I’ve read online, locals do not particularly care for this part of the city. Perhaps because it’s crowded with tourists? As a tourist, however, I can not see what’s not to love in the Fisherman’s Wharf, except maybe for those cheap souvenir shops littered all over the place.

And one of the things I’ve enjoyed doing was visiting Boudin’s Bakery and Museum. I also thought about my good friend, Didi, the moment I saw the bakery. She’s a very sweet lady who is working hard to be an awesome baker. Didi, this post is for you!

The Boudin French Bakery was established in 1849 (167 years old!), when San Francisco’s population was merely 20,000. This was the year after gold was discovered on the American river, and thousands of adventurers crowded into San Francisco.

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This particular store along the wharf occupies 26,000 square feet and includes a cafe, coffee shop, and patio. But the two main attractions are the demonstration bakery and the museum.

Walking on Jefferson Street, one is able to peer through the 30-foot window into the demonstration bakery, where bakers shape bread by hand.

The Bakery

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Boudin’s mother dough (also known as the starter dough) dates back to 1849, when it was first cultured. Its unique flavor comes from a wild yeast only found in San Francisco’s foggy climate.

“This is like Coit Tower, the cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge. Boudin sourdough right here at the Fisherman’s Wharf is iconic. It’s San Francisco history. If we run out of it, we shut the doors.” ~ Padilla, Boudin’s master baker.

Boudin’s mother dough even survived the great earthquake of 1906. It is said that when the quake struck at 5:12 a.m. that April 18, setting off fires across San Francisco, Louise Boudin tossed some mother dough into a wooden bucket and fled the scene just before the bakery burned to the ground. (source)

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The dough is mixed on a platform 20 feet above the ground floor, then tossed to the bakers below, who shape the bread by hand.

The bakery operates 22 hours a day. Sixteen bakers rotate through shifts producing nearly 3,000 loaves of bread each day. The finished break travels from the bakery to the coffee shop in wire baskets that move along an overhead railing.

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The Museum

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Upstairs from the bakery is the Boudin’s bread museum and bakery tour, which recounts the history of sourdough bread dating back to to the Gold Rush. A timeline chronicles the history of San Francisco and sourdough break from 1848 t0 2005. Just across the door is the Boudin family tree, picturing the firm’s original family of bakers from France.

Admission is free.

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An antique bakery wagon that used to deliver bread stands in the middle of the museum.

The desk of Louise (Isidore Boudin’s wife).

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She worked along side her husband to build the bakery for 14 years, after which she became a widow, left to raise four young children and a bakery to run on her own.

For the next 23 years—during a time when victorian women were considered helpless and weak—Louise kept the books and transformed the family-run operation into a prominent wholesale business. She insisted on continuing to bake the traditional way, using “mother dough” as a leavening agent rather than the newly introduced commercial yeast.

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The museum also contains a display of baker utensils from the past, including a bread peel, proofing boards, French rolling pin, metal scoops, a rake, frying pan, lunch pail, metal pick, drum sifter, copper tea pot, etc.

The Mother Dough – Up close.

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The Food:

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A crab-shaped bread on display.

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Waffles with strawberry, banana, and whipped cream, of course!

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Yay for great-tasting clam chowder sourdough bread bowl that’s also halal!

$6.89

The chowder felt light on the clam flavor despite the chewy and tender texture of the clams. It wasn’t too salty and contained the right amount of cream and hearty chunks of garlic potatoes (but still super-thick and gloriously white), making it perfect for those who are wary of anything too fishy.

This was a perfect dinner for a cold February evening.

Get the sourdough bread bowl because, sourdough bread bowl!

Boudin Bakery
Opening hours: 8 AM to 9:30 PM
(415) 928-1849 | 160 Jefferson Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

 

 

 

Posted in San Francisco | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
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Infusing a generous dose of Indian flavours, Farzi Café presents Indian cuisine where culinary art meets the alchemy of modern presentations and cooking techniques like molecular gastronomy to absorb the guest into the ultimate gastronomic illusion. With a vision of brining Indian Cuisine back “in-Vogue”, Farzi Café endeavours to showcase a unique, modernist approach to Indian food, where guests not only enjoy culinary innovations as part of its tapas style menu but also offers a high energy space, perfect for a relaxing dining experience. This is the vision of Farzi Cafe, as mentioned in their website.

There have been so many good reviews about Farzi Cafe since they’ve first opened their doors in Dubai, and I’ve read so many food bloggers gushing about the food, the presentation, the ambiance, and the service. Yet, it was only a few days ago that I was finally able to see what the fuss is all about.

I have only good words and praise for the quality of their service, food presentation, creativity, and taste. As you scroll down this page, you’ll notice I haven’t done much beyond sharing the pictures and listing down the ingredients. I’ve run out of adjectives to describe how good each dish was! The only downside was their table; they’re too narrow and cramped. Farzi Café, please do something about them!

Amuse Bouche:

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These cute, little pots of yogurt and berry compote are pop-in-the-mouth delicious.

Starters & Main Course:

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Aubergine Quesadillas 

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Tempura Dynamite Prawns
Batter fried prawns, chili mayonnaise atop lemon and chili foam, tobanjan tobiko

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Cottage Cheese Scramble Tarts.
Fresh cottage cheese and pepper scrambled to perfection, encased in a tart.

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Raj Kachori with Crisp Okra Salad and Chutney Foam
Crispy shells containing tangy pumpkin and sweetened yogurt, with crisp fried okra salad on the side, and chutney foam on top.

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F.F.C – Farzi Fried Chicken
Fried and seasoned chicken drumsticks, barbecue cream, and crispy lotus chips.

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Braised lamb chops

Fall off the bones lamb chops marinated well with maple and kokum glaze sprinkled with micro popcorn.

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Dal Chawal Arancini

Countryside lentil risotto balls, pickled mayo, and poppadum rolls. I loved this! 

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Chermoula Crusted Paneer Tikka, Couscous Salad, San Marzano Mankhni
Barbecue roasted fresh cottage cheese, cashew coated with Chermoula spices, bed of masala couscous, tomato gravy.

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Farzified Shwarma Biryani
8 hours cooked leg of lamb, dum biryani, kachumbar labneh.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

A traditional classic dish that’s composed of tender chicken morsels and mixed with San Marzano Curry. This dish was served in a red telephone booth because the dish has been famed as a favorite food in London.

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Mutton Pepper Fry, Layered Flaky Paratha
Lamb morsels, traditional spices, flaky gourmet bread.

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Cayenne Spiked Prawns, Lemon Fried Rice
Peppered prawns with lemon fried rice.

Dessert:

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Warm Semolina and Banana Syrup Cake, Saffron and Pistachio Ice Cream.

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Lotus Biscuit Cheesecake, Milk Custard, Cookie Dough Essence.

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Rissoto Phirni Oxide
This was made right at our table using liquid nitrogen and mixing it with a very popular Indian dessert, called Phirni, which was cooked with Italian risotto rice with saffron milk, mawa crumble, nuts, frozen sugar, and rose petals. 

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Legendary Karak Chai Ice Cream, Fresh Baked Cinnamon Cookies.

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Rasmalai Tres Leches, Carrot Cream, Rose Petal Net.

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The reason why there’s so much food is because this was lunch with my colleagues, and we’ve had so much fun sampling each other’s food. Unlike Tresind—another exceptional modernist Indian fine dining establishment, but with a formal setting and much higher price tag—Farzi Café is casual and affordable.

Take a look at the cute menu photographed by Al John Mangahas. Ruchi loved the cold Irish coffee with vanilla foam (something I’d like to try next time!). Krishna Marie tried and recommends the tandoori mushroom chaat. See Zeyna enjoying her Farzified Piña Colada! Are you a vegetarian? Check out The Vegetarian Soul’s review about the place and see if Farzi Café is for you. Oh, and the bill comes in a typewriter! Take a look at this picture by Pickle My Fancy.

Farzi Café
Building No.5, City Walk Phase 2, Al Safa, Dubai
Phone: +971 526892036 | +971 43942556

There is a huge underground parking in City Walk. There are very nice and modern-looking prayer rooms in the area. I went with my colleagues for lunch on a weekday and the place was abuzz with professionals, families and children. We were a group of ten and the total bill came up to AED 1,300.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments
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“The Sony Alpha 6000 is what you would get if you threw the NEX-6 and the NEX-7 into a boiling pot and sprinkled the fragrant mixture with the latest and tastiest hot sauce,” says Jon Devo, technical writer.

Sony’s Alpha 6000 model came out in 2014 so it’s 2 years old, making way for newer models now. I bought mine earlier this year, prior to my US trip, because I’m just tired (and lazy) traveling with the bulky Nikon DSLR.

What I wanted in my next camera:

  • Takes very good pictures (obviously).
  • Supports interchangeable lenses.
  • Excellent and reliable auto-focus.
  • Takes crisp pictures in dim light settings (food pictures in restaurants).
  • Not outrageously expensive.
  • Fits into a normal-sized handbag.

Sony Alpha 6000 meets all those requirements! I will not be doing an in-depth technical review because a) you can easily find those online, and b) I do not possess the knowledge and expertise to do a technical review. I better leave that to the experts. What I’m going to share is my personal experience after using the camera for 6 months.

A Quick Look at the Specs:

Image Credit: Imaging Resource

The Sony a6000 weighs just 343 grams (including the battery and SD card!) and, as you can see, it easily fits in the palm of your hand. I held it for the first time in a shop in Mall of the Emirates and was surprised at how small and light weight it was. After having had used a big DSLR for sometime now, it initially felt weird holding something so small. Now, I refuse to travel or dine with a massive camera.

Some of its main features include:

  • 24.3-megapixel sensor
  • 11 fps continuous shooting with subject-tracking (very helpful for shooting restless subjects!)
  • 0.06 sec autofocus time (that’s fast!)
  • Full HD movie shooting
  • 3-inch tilting LCD
  • Built-in flash

I still can’t get over how light weight this camera is, specially after spending years traveling and shooting with my Nikon DSLR. It’s small enough so that I don’t feel conscious taking pictures in a restaurant. And I notice that passersby don’t give me the looks when I’m out on the street taking pictures because the camera is small and looks quite harmless. “Oh, just another tourist taking random pictures,” they think. These days, I feel like being a hijabi in a non-Muslim country taking pictures out on the street with a bulky camera and a huge lens looks quite suspicious.

Price: $600+ for body and kit lens.

Landscape Photography

These pictures have been cropped. No other editing was done.

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From an Aircraft’s Window

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This happened when the aircraft was flying somewhere over Canada and the temperature recorded outside the window was -50°C and lower. Now, when I focused on the view outside, placing my lens close to the window to ignore the ice crystals, this is what I got …

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The quality of the picture makes you think the aircraft window was clean and spotless. Ha!

Pictures Taken At Dusk

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The picture above was taken swiftly as I was crossing the road and Masood was asking me to hurry up before the light turned red. Also, it was beginning to get cold and he wanted to seek refuge in the nearest coffee shop. I’m amazed at the details the camera managed to capture!

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Night Photography, Handheld.

In an ideal world, one uses a tripod to take crisp pictures at night. For me, it’s just another thing that will increase the weight of my bag so I hadn’t bothered with it. I do, however, make use of other means—a short pillar, the back of a bench, or a low wall, a windowsill, a fence, or the husband’s shoulder while I ask him hold his breath for a few seconds—to stabilize the camera.

The following pictures are shot while the camera was handheld and settings were set to night mode.

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Food Photography

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I’m delighted to announce that this camera makes an excellent companion to any person who won’t eat his or her food without shooting it first! As a food blogger, I’m so happy with the results of the Sony Alpha 6000.

Up Close and Personal 

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See how it gives a nice, subtle bokeh too?

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The Sony Alpha 6000

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Bouncing off the cool, wintery sunshine off its sturdy body. Photo taken with Masood’s iPhone. We were in Coit Tower, San Francisco, so early in the morning that the place was still closed. We wandered about the area and got pleasantly surprised with the amazing views of the city!

I rarely make videos because I feel like editing them takes a lifetime. So I can not remark on the video-making capabilities of this camera except that when I made a short clip of Masood drinking coffee in Dubai Mall, the image and voice quality came out nice and clear.

All pictures were taken using the standard kit lens that came with the camera. I was so tempted to purchase a good lens prior to my trip but decided I could do without the additional expense (the lens costs as much as the camera!) – for now. Yes, the kit lens won’t be as sharp or quick to use compared to a good glass, but it is a solid starting lens.

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It’s crazy to think that a $600 camera, let alone a mirrorless camera, can shoot up to 11 frames per second but the Sony Alpha 6000 can! And it’s quite amazing.

Also, the Sony A6000 produces natural-looking colors that are easy to work with in post-processing. Shoot using the right settings—with the options of manual and auto—and you won’t need to edit them beyond a tweak or two.

If you already own Nikon speed lights, you can use them or a number of other third party flashes and flash triggers on the A6000, which is great. There is a built-in pop-up flash that I like to use as fill-flash when photographing a close subject against a bright background.

Another feature that I love is the tilting LCD screen with the capability to tilt up and down, which is very useful when photographing at different angles. I initially assumed this feature wasn’t all that impressive, however, I found myself using it more than I thought I would, especially when shooting from low vantage points, such as having the camera near the ground. I can now simply tilt the screen and look directly down on it from above, frame my shot and capture the photo.

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Now, the Sony A6000 does not have any weather sealing but the camera has been doing quite well in harsh conditions. I’ve taken pictures in very windy conditions, during a heavy snowfall in Chicago, in the gloomy weather of New England, and in the heat of the Oman, and the camera did not disappoint. It kept taking superb pictures.

Regarding its overall responsiveness, I remember some reviewers complain about lags when you turn on the camera, but I personally have not encountered any serious lags or delays. Nothing that would bother me, anyway.

The Sony Alpha 6000 is available in silver or black. Those who own the silver camera said that when the color scratches off after heavy usage, black color shows from underneath it, making the camera look old and worn out. So I chose black.

Did I tell you that it can connect to a wifi so that transferring photos over your phone or tablet is a breeze?

One of the few trade offs to moving to a mirrorless system is the fact that not only are the camera bodies and lenses smaller and lighter but the batteries are as well. Plus, mirrorless cameras have all electronic parts (electronic viewfinder, for example) and you get what I mean. I bought an extra battery on the trip, but never really got around to using it. I was able to make it through 3oo something shots per battery. Of course, the batter life also depends on other factors such as temperature, image review times and how long you leave the LCD screen on between shots.

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PS: Hope this review helps!

PPS: I have purchased this camera and am not, although I wouldn’t mind much if I were, affiliated with Sony or have received the camera for review.

Posted in Chicago, Salalah, San Francisco | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments