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Postcards from San Francisco

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Dusk at Golden Gate Bridge. 

San Francisco is the city of golden light. It is the city where you embrace the west coast the moment you step out of the airport. The air is not humid like New York, there are palm trees, bursts of colors, fog and sunshine. 

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You know you are in California when you take photos of palm trees. 
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Stumbled across the newly opened flower shop Marigold. A beautiful space.
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Local flora and street art. 

San Francisco is bay windows, lemon trees outside your window and Hispanic grandmothers selling cups of fruit with chili powder on the street. It is tacos for three square meals and tracing the light from your morning coffee till it disappears behind the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is watching fluffy dogs leaping around in Mission Park with fresh nectarines in your bag and juice dribbling down your chins. 

I loved walking through the packed streets of Chinatown, the familiar smell of fading groceries and the lineups up for boba tea. San Francisco is the quiet across the water, the trains, the buses, the people that cannot block the chill of summer and light that streams between buildings and museums that make this city.

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Ferry Building Market. Explored the area with friends, sampled six different kinds of peaches. A place where you want to eat and photograph everything.
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A white eggplant!

San Francisco is where I crossed off another city on my list and went home satisfied knowing that my world is smaller. It is a city to cross off your travel list and return to visit again and again.

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Greens at Conservatory of Flowers
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Till next time, San Francisco. 

Some recommendations:

Ferry Building Marketplace: A mecca for chefs, food lovers and tourists like me.

Tartine Bakery: Everything is delicious here! Coffee, artisan bread, everything. I loved people watching here. Must visit and eat here.

Conservatory of Flowers: If you love plants, come here for a half day trip. Beautiful and photogenic too.

Boba Guys: I don’t even drink boba in Taiwan but this place was really good! Impressed with the quality of my matcha tea and almond jelly.

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Pender Grocery: An Interview + Pan Con Tomate Recipe

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With it’s colourful interiors and sun-lit space—it is hard to miss this charming grocery store on Pender street. The smell of fresh baked goods beckons you in to admire the shelves and tables that are wonderfully stocked with Spanish goods, everyday necessities and organic produce.

Today, I sit down with Shawn, one of the three founders of Pender Grocery. Shawn tells stories of food and travel in the Basque region, how he discovered his passion for food, and their vision to cultivate slow living in a busy city. For a moment, my mind is teleported to apple fields, farmer markets, old towns and a relaxed and pleasant ambience that the store seems to emit.

Tell me how you started from importing cider to opening a grocery store in downtown Vancouver.
A few years ago, my wife and I travelled to Spain to visit our friend Michael, who was the chef of a restaurant in San Sebastian, a city known for Michelin restaurants. Michael introduced us to Basque cuisine—we experienced the pintxo culture, and ate our way through restaurants, each more interesting than the last. The experience shook me and there I discovered that I had a deep passion for food. It was a lightbulb moment. After Michael moved back to Vancouver, the three of us started importing wine and cider from the region and it led to importing goods, and the opening of this store.

Opening a store was actually a plan for us in the next three-five years. Luckily, we came across this space at the perfect time, and the landlord, who was hugely supportive of our idea, made us an offer we couldn’t resist.

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The sign on the wall and decorations in the store caught my attention the moment I walked in, how did the look and design for the store come to be?
We are actually sitting in a space that used to be parking lot 100 years ago. The sign on the wall is something really special—we uncovered it when we were tearing down the walls to reconstruct the space. It is a ghost sign from 1906 that was covered up in 1908. We decided to keep it to lead the look of the space. After that, everything seemed to fall into place. Many of the vintage pieces here are collected from friends and family as well as passed down from Kelly’s late grandmother.

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This is a very interesting location to open a grocery store, what is it that you hope to bring to the community here?
Living in the city, we are disconnected from farmlands and we don’t get to see how food is grown and made. We felt that the area was lacking a grocery store, and the idea was to create a Bodega—a grocery store for the neighbourhood.

Our customers consists of working professionals, and residents form the local community. We want to cater to everyone but also want people to come in not knowing what to expect. We want to invite shoppers to take their time to browse, and to be inspired to cook.

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Using ingredients from your shop, what is a simple and delicious recipe that anyone can make?
I love a good Pan Con Tomate—a humble recipe with few ingredients. Slice a fresh tomato, place on traditional crusty bread, drizzle with olive oil and add a sprinkle of salt. A simple snack can be a good can of conservas from the store—sardines, squid or mussels marinated in Galician sauce. Simply open a can, dip with bread, and eat with gusto with a glass of wine. It is a tasty high end treat.

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Pan Con Tomate Directions

In a small bowl combine sliced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper

Whisk until combined

Toast the bread slices individually until golden warm and crispy

Set on plate and sprinkle with sea salt

Top with fresh basil

Serve