Although we live in baby-centric Noe Valley now, DPaul and I lived right on Dolores Park for 11 years. During this time, we watched the neighborhood evolve from a depressed, drug-ridden extension of the gritty Mission to one of the hottest spots in the entire city. Perhaps the most telling metric of this time was that the flat next door to our apartment went for sale in 1993 for $350,000. The year we moved out, in 2004, it sold again for $1.35 million.
At the very epicenter of this seismic shift was Bi-Rite Market. When Bi-Rite opened as a high-end, European-style market, it didn't just change that store. It changed the entire neighborhood, opening the door for businesses like Dolores Park Cafe, Delfina and Tartine Bakery to flourish. I've written about the change, and about the amazing pear skillet cake we used to buy at Bi-Rite, over on Foodzie, so check it out. The recipe comes the amazing new book, Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food.
The late '90s in San Francisco were a remarkable time, a sort of modern Gilded Age. If you want a little glimmer of insight into the time, read The Nudist on the Late Shift — in which I make a cameo. (Hint: I'm not the nudist.) It's a time I'll remember fondly, and so I love that this recipe has such a sense of time and place. When we make it, it's 1997 all over again in our kitchen.
(Photo credit: France Ruffenach ©2011)