Being in the Bay Area, San Francisco city is now just a few minutes away from me. This foodie city has a happening culinary scene hiding underneath the fog 😉

From the hustle-bustle of the farmer’s markets in the different parts of the city, street food festivals to the trendy restaurants, I’m on an expedition, tasting the flavors of San Fran.  The cuisine here seems to be a blend of Asian, Latin American and European cultures. Ingredients for almost any type of cuisine can be found locally and the Bay Area provides fine, fresh ingredients from fruits, vegetables and herbs to meats, cheeses and wines, not to forget the supply of seafood from the Pacific Ocean.

In the last couple of months, I have been exploring different parts of SF. I felt like a kid in a candy store at the Ferry Building and could go back again and again for the most amazing “Early Girl” pizza slice I had at the Arizmendi Bakery. I think these and many more such foodie places are the true essence of San Francisco.

From my unique finds at the Ferry building and also at the award-winning bakery, I’ve created a couple of simple, flavorful dishes. Try them out and enjoy a little bit of San Francisco in your own home!

Chipotle Chicken Sandwich with Cilantro-Jalapeño Aioli

After moving to California, we got a new outdoor grill and now we happily grill away all kinds of things, filling up the air around us with a wonderful smoky aroma. So with the freshly-baked bread (and a whole bunch of goodies) I got from Arizmendi Bakery, I decided to make a sandwich with a spicy chipotle grilled chicken. And sticking with a Mexican theme for the sandwich, I decided to add another spicy dimension to the overall flavor of the sandwich by smearing the bread with my cilantro-jalapeño mayo or aioli. Finally, to balance the heat and add a little sweetness, I put a couple of slices of avocado and then some of red onions.

This sandwich is now a family favorite!  I’ve already made it about 10 times (seriously!) for lunch and for a few picnics. It’s perfect for a light meal, doesn’t take too much time or effort to make and travels very well. So, give it a try and I guarantee you’ll make it again….and again!

Makes 4 sandwiches

4 individual baguette/ciabatta rolls or 1 loaf of ciabatta, split (Use your favorite bread, if you’d like)

Chipotle Grilled Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (split into 4 by cutting across each of the breast pieces all the way through)

extra virgin olive oil, for brushing on the chicken breats


fresh ground black pepper

ground chipotle chile pepper


romaine lettuce (1-2 leaves per sandwich)

red onions, sliced (optional)

avocado, sliced and splashed with lime juice (3-4 slices per sandwich)

Cilantro-Jalapeño Aioli

¾ cup light mayonaise

1 small jalapeño, minced (If you don’t like too much heat, discard the seeds )

5-6 sprigs of cilantro/coriander, minced

½ lime, juiced

Preheat the grill (outdoor / indoor/ grill pan).

Brush the halved (laterally sliced) chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle salt, black pepper and generous amount of ground chipotle chile pepper. Grill for about 7-8 mins on each side. Make sure not to move the chicken pieces while grilling in order to get perfectly grilled marks.

*Cover with aluminium foil and let them sit for about 5 mins before assembling on to the sandwich.

While the chicken breasts are grilling, prepare the toppings and the aioli by mixing all the ingredients for it.

Spread the aioli on the bread bottoms (and tops if you’d like). Lay the grilled chicken breast pieces on the bread bottom and top it with lettuce, onions and avocado slices.

Serve immediately or it can be refrigerated up to 24 hours.

Pasta with Tree Oyster Mushrooms and Asparagus

I’m in love the SF’s Ferry Building Marketplace! Since its not a typical touristy spot in the city, I had missed it during my prior visits as a tourist. Now, I’ve been there a few times, strolling along the marketplace, checking out some of the famous foodie hot spots of the city. This place has it all: a celebrated restaurant, an oyster bar, some hole-in-the-wall eateries, artisan bread store, a fine cheese shop, a wine shop, a fishmonger, chocolate and gelato shops, a rather unusual herb store, a couple of bakeries, coffee shops, specialty stores for cookware and tableware and the list goes on……bringing the unique flavors of SF under one roof!

While I have spent quality time in a lot of stalls in the building, my love for mushrooms made me go back again and again in a store that sells nothing but the most amazing variety of fungi. This shop, devoted to mushrooms, epitomizes the Ferry Building for me! They have everything; cultivated and wild mushrooms, a variety of truffles, salts, oils, and various books to learn about the fungal world.

With the limited variety of mushrooms that I was familiar with from the supermarkets (button/white and portobello), this store opened a new door for me, alluring me to step outside my “fungi comfort zone” and explore some new ones, like the tree oysters.

With a tub of these delicate shrooms in my hands and a concoction in my head, I went up to one of the staff member, who gave me a low down on their flavor profile and helped me envision this pasta dish, with oyster mushrooms and asparagus in a light lemon-butter sauce. The tree oysters are tender and take only a couple minutes to cook. The lemony sauce brightens up the mild flavor of the mushrooms and gets done by the time the pasta cooks.

Serves 2

½ lb pasta, short shaped like fusilli, penne, or your favorite kind

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp butter (alternatively, use another tbsp of olive oil)

1 large garlic clove, minced

1-2 sprig of thyme (optional)

1 small yellow onion, diced

½ lb tree oyster mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and sliced if using large sized (Alternatively, you can use regular white mushrooms or baby portobello mushrooms)

10-12 asparagus stems, ends trimmed and cut into 2 inch long pieces

½ cup chicken stock or use the starchy water in which the pasta is cooked

½ lemon


freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

4-5 sprigs of flat leaf parsley, minced

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in generous amount of salt and add the pasta. Cook for about 8 to 10 mins, until tender but still firm to the bite.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil and butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the thyme, onions and garlic and cook for a couple of minute or so.

Toss in the mushrooms along with the asparagus and season with salt and pepper. Continue sautéing for a couple more mins, stirring occasionally. Then add the stock or pasta water and cook until all the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms have cooked down, about 3-4 mins.

Squeeze the juice out of the lemon over the pan and stir to mix it in. Drain pasta and add it into the pan. Mix well and adjust the seasonings.

Remove from the heat and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately or at room temperature.

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11 thoughts on “a little bit of San Francisco

  1. Both the dishes look delicious and I am envious of you… such a wonderful market and so much to choose from.

  2. The dishes look great. Definitely going to try the pasta. What could be a veg substitute for the chicken in the sandwich. Seems like you are all set now. You are already talking like a California girl!!!

  3. Liked the Chipotle Chicken Sandwich recipe, but is there a substitute for the ground chipotle chile pepper?? I don’t think I’ll find it here in muscat..I surely want to try this one !looks v tempting

  4. Thanks Bergamot! Come to California and we’ll both hang out at the market 🙂

    Hehehe, yes Prachi, we are all settled and enjoying California now :))
    Now for the sandwich, in place of chicken, use portobello mushrooms and see how it turns out. I would follow the same marination and grilling technique for it and skip the avocado, may be. But it might just taste very well with the avocado also, you never know.

    Soni, try combining cayenne pepper or Indian red chilli powder and paprika. Smoked paprika would be even better if you can find it, otherwise regular paprika should work.

  5. The moment I saw the chipotle chicken sandwich pictures and read it’s recipe my mouth started watering and I was so sure that I would try my hands at this one.

    The best part of the sandwich was the smoky aroma of chipotle grilled chicken. It tasted superbly fantastic. I mean I could have it as is without even sandwiching it in!

    I really liked the Cilantro-Jalapeno Aioli . I use this spread quite often now for my other sandwiches too 🙂

    The sandwich turned out pretty succulent and full of flavors!

    I would recommend all the readers/fans of SC to try out this recipe!

  6. Hi there!
    I made the grilled chicken on Saturday and it was yumm
    didnt find the chipotle pepper bt with the paprika it tasted gr8..tx fr the recipe

  7. Hey,

    Tried the Pasta with Tree Oyster Mushrooms and Asparagus dish the other day.

    Great taste and surely going to make this repeatedly like I do the Peas Pesto one.

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