travel

Take out tasties and delivery diamonds

One thing I have learned from living in the Bay area, is that no matter how much you may enjoy or dread cooking, you always have the option of OK, great, and amazing takeout and delivery. Why leave your neighborhood or sometimes house for delicious good food? Unnecessary. Here are some of my faves:

tofu banh mi, saigon sandwichThe tofu banh mi at Saigon Sandwich is less than a fiver and the bread is perfectly shattering in crispness.

little saigon phoPho is right up the street in Little Saigon, but you can even get delivery if you refuse to change out of pajamas.

salmon and goat cheese omelet, broken recordOver by B’s place, we frequently lumber over to the dive bar Broken Record, where you can just as easily find a stellar goat cheese, salmon and asparagus omelet with caramelized potatoes and onions as you can get a pint of beer and a game of pool.

salvadorean cookieNearby are wonderful bakeries, like a Salvadorean place with all sorts of cakes and cookies.

custard cookiePick your filling: guava, pineapple, custard within a not-too-sweet crumbly cookie.

morning bun, la boulangeOh La Boulange, how I love thee. Yeah, you can now find the Bay area’s favorite local bakery chain in Starbucks, but you can’t replicate the charm of each location. I am completely addicted to the morning bun, with its layers of pastry wisps holding a bit of orange sweetness within each swirl.

tartes, la boulangeAnd don’t forget after-dinner (or after-breakfast?) dessert – the chocolate ganache tart is deep and dark…

nectarine berry tart, la boulange…and this seasonal nectarine and berry tart is  bright and cheerful.

apricot brioche doughnut, arlequinWhy, hello sweet little apricot brioche doughnut from Arlequin – I’ll be grabbing you in a sleepy stupor and stumbling back home.

kaka udonFor those cold an foggy days, nothing beats a savory broth stuffed with noodles, veggies and pickles from Kaka Udon.

tofu arepa and plantains, pica picaAnd thank goodness for delivery services, because I can munch on my  corn arepas stuffed with tofu and avocado with a side of sweet plantains from Pica Pica while doing some heavy duty couch-surfing.

knish and tea cake, 20th century cafeHere’s some pocket sized treats from newcomer 20th Century Cafe.

potato knish, 20th century cafeA delicate potato knish will soothe your savory snack craving.

tea cake,  20th century cafeWhile the tea cake is hiding a fruit treasure, so go ahead and take a big bite.

tofu banh mi, dragon eatsI really love the tofu banh mi from DragonEats as well, because the tofu is so flavorful and the veggies so crisp that it could be the last sandwich on earth for all I care.

tofu banh mi, dragon eatsMore, please.

smittenOver at Smitten, have your ice cream made to order with a shot of liquid nitrogen.

strawberry white balsamic with pistachio brittle, smittenThe smoothest strawberry white balsamic ice cream with a crumble of pistachio brittle.

brioche bread pudding, boxing roomBread pudding at the Boxing Room is crisp caramelized brioche doused with salty sweet butterscotch and tangy buttermilk ice cream.

tofu temptation, izakaya kouBut some things you can’t take out for the full experience, like the tofu temptation at Izakaya Kou with its pungent sauce against wobbly cold tofu.

smuggler's coveAnd alas, Smuggler’s Cove has yet to allow takeout tiki cocktails. I guess some things, like the cozy Goonies/pirate ship ambiance at SC, are worth putting on pants for.

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travel

thank you for being a food….I mean, friend.

It’s been a *ahem* number of months hiatus for the blog, folks, but not for my tastebuds. I’ve cooked a bit, and eaten a lot. These past few months have been packed with family and friends, because of which I am renewed and recharged. These next few blog posts are a bunch of my favorite taste memories, quite often recalling laughter, relaxation, and joy. First up, some fun meals out with lovely people involving silly stories, dorky jokes, and plenty of munchies.

IMG_20130626_194957_961The cheese board at Fat Angel has all of the perfect pairings for your cheeses, just add beer from their mile deep selection.

IMG_20130626_195436_390But if you don’t order their piping hot, super creamy polenta fries you consider your evening ruined.

IMG_20130704_110422_425Why have one popover when you can have three? Apples with salted caramel, berries and mascarpone, and egg and cheese makes a well-rounded brunch (with the bottomless mimosas, of course) at Luna Park.

IMG_20130707_115539_505Ridiculous brioche French toast with caramel and ice cream at Farmicia.

IMG_20130710_191651_996Reliving Istanbul at Bursa with tangy haydari and bread and creamy feta prawns.

IMG_20130802_240239_822The ice cream waffle at Kowloon Tong Dessert Cafe is literally that. These ain’t no Eggos, the waffles are chewy and the vanilla and egg flavors really come through.

IMG_20130804_155853_358An SF picnic would not be complete without the Kentucky from the Creme Brulee Cart: candied pecans swimming in bourbon caramel.

2012-04-28%252019.32.53sometimes amazing people will make amazing food, likethis neverending italian meal of homemade pasta, grilled lamb and cioppino. feel the love!

2012-02-05%252014.05.29

and for parties, having friends with excellent taste and talent means black bean and shrimp tostones.

IMG_20130810_141229_866Smoky grilled squid at Majikku Ramen.

IMG_20130810_141255_038You can’t beat their ramen. Don’t even try.

IMG_20130916_150854_886Digging into the last of the heirloom tomatoes of the season at Mateo’s Cocina Latina; and even though this is wine country, it is fitting to indulge in a fresh margarita on a sultry summer day.

IMG_20130916_184608_322They don’t take kindly to cake-ists at the Petaluma Pie Company. Here, their nectarine-blueberry hand pie (if you have giant hands).

IMG_20130921_121037_472Golden poached eggs over rice with fried shallots and nori at 903; a perfect breakfast today to inspire me to share more, and more often.

travel

picnic in the presidio

San Francisco takes full advantage of its indian summer. In fall, while the rest of the country is bristling against the crisp autumnal wind, this city is shrugging off the chilly shroud of fog and snuggling up against lazy days of sun. They don’t last long, these gifts of warmth – so the city’s green spaces are littered with sun-worshippers laying out post-brunch or post-hangover.

This past month, the city really upped the rewards by offering Picnic at the Presidio – an invitation to take over the main lawn of the Presidio, amid its gorgeous views at the base of the Golden Gate bridge, with other like-minded laze-abouts.  Brought together by the good folks at Off the Grid, they sweetened the pot with a DJ pumping out old school summer jams, bocce ball courts and balls, and of course a string of amazing food stalls from local restaurants. Oh, and did I mention the wagons of mimosas and bloody marys rolled up straight to your blanket. We gathered some buds and some picnic essentials from my local Spanish and French importers and joined the party, soaking up the last days of sun with a clear view out onto beautiful San Francisco bay.

travel

inside outside lands

Hey there, lovely people. Just a quick little dispatch of cell phone pics from the annual fun, fantastic festival of music, wine, beer and FOOD at Golden Gate Park – Outside Lands. Here are some personalized pairings for you that I found to be quite sublime. If you have a (free) Spotify account, you can listen along, too.

Day one:

The best way to kick off a 3 day festival is with sweet sweet sugar – this time in the ingenious form of a dulce de leche “spring roll” served crispy hot with gooey caramel and stuffed with cheesecake. I was ready to go for the amazingly talented Sharon Van Etten and the comedic/musical improv genius of Reggie Watts. [from pacific catch]







Sadly the usual August cold, wet SF fog took over, but the chill was soon extinguished with this crusty sourdough bread bowl full of creamy chowder chock full of clams and potatoes. I doused it with some sriracha for extra heat, and it was perfect for  the acerbic witty rants of David Cross.  [from woodhouse fish co.]

As night fell, it was time for some liquid warmth via this summery twist on a Tom Collins made with fresh watermelon and rhubarb mixed with Moroccan mint tea. It was bursting with fun, like the 10,000 strong dance party put on that night by French duo Justice [from tito’s vodka]




Day two:

egg n tomato grilled cheeseStarted the day off bright and late with a dreamy brunchy combo of a fried egg smacked into a tomato grilled cheese on sourdough.  With a good sharp Tillamook cheddar and flavorful juicy tomatoes offsetting the runny egg yolk, this was simply amazing. My energy was boosted for the psychedelic Brit pop of Tame Impala and the country-inflected crooning of Father John Misty.  [from the american grilled cheese kitchen]







Later in the day I managed to withstand the long line of the famous glass-walled truck/pizza oven on wheels that is del popolo.

Twenty minutes in line was worth it, look at that blistered crust! This stellar neapolitan margherita pie was the foundation for my shimmies to the soulful Americana of  Alabama Shakes and the beloved reunion of slacker philosophers Grandaddy. [from del popolo]







That last push for the evening means I needed SUGAR. Hello, gooey, sticky salted caramel bar.  Enough lift to keep up with the bluesy punk of The Kills followed by an epically foggy, mystical night in the park with Sigur Ros. [from up and under pub and grill]







Day three:

I really tried to start out healthy, see this toasty maize arepa stuffed to the brim with black beans, plantains, tomato and tomatillo salsa was even gluten free and vegan – but man it packed a whollop of flavor. Just the boost I needed for the disco punk dance party thrown by Franz Ferdinand, who even paid tribute to Donna Summers. [from pica pica]




How adorable is this baby meyer lemon cupcake? This sweet lil’ delight complimented the contagiously festive joy of Amadou and Mariam [from mission minis]




What’s cooler then mac and cheese? Fried mac and cheese, dipped into a tart and kicky tomato vinaigrette. What’s cooler than that? The coolest girl in school, Santigold, bringing the deliriously giddy masses to to their feet with her  art-pop jams.  [from andalu]




I had to get one last bite in, and what a bite it was: a crisp spicy ginger cookie from miette sandwiching subtly tart and thoroughly sweet lemon and vanilla cookie ice cream. A perfect ending to a great festival, with an energetic soundtrack of Bloc Party’s angular pop. [from three twins ice cream]

travel

sf street eats

What did I say? The SF Underground Market is the worst-kept secret for a secret underground market, and now it’s been shut down by the health inspector for not being secretive enough. It’s a shame, I truly hope the good folks over at SF Forage can find an alternative route to feeding our gaping maws with delightful treats from Bay area upstarts. Fortunately, I was there at the very last market in June.  My bestie Julie was visiting and we pretty much ate our way through the city, stopping at the market during the day when it was wonderfully less busy but still vibrant and drool-enducing.

We started with fabulous veggie tamales from Tamales Oaxaca.  They were moist and dense with a perfect amount of cheese in the veggie filling.  Topped with a refreshing slaw and not-too-spicy salsa, these were satisfying and packed with flavor.

I can’t speak highly enough of the amazing – AMAZING – hand held (or shirt-pocket) pies from Desperation Bakehouse. This was their first (and unfortunately last) foray to the market, and they came with guns a-blazing. Julie and I tried a savory and a sweet pie – the English pea puree pie and strawberry and lemon pie. The pea puree was sweet, herby, and vegetal with a hearty but flaky crust. The crust is what really made these pies perfect, not too light to become dust but not overly chewy and dense – these were like the golden crust of a Southern biscuit yielding to a buttery rich crumb underneath. The strawberry and lemon pie was a revelation – the balance of sweet and tart was brilliant, and the sugar-studded crust wasn’t overly sweet but had a nice crunch.  I was so enamored of them, I went back and bought two more for Adam and B for later that night because they HAD to taste these.

We were happy and full, but we didn’t stop. Oh, no. And I’m so glad that we pushed our gut to the limit because we definitely, definitely needed to have the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Milk flavored frozen custard from frozen kuhsterd. In one moment, I was a blissed out kid watching Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of milk leftover from that particularly wonderful sugar-bomb cereal. Oh, and did we want to add some of that not-quite-cinnamon, not-quite-toast but definitely crunchy cereal to the top of our custard? Hell yeah we did! Oh, SF underground market, you bring me such delight and I can’t wait for you to come back to us in whatever way is possible.

The night before, we had made our way to Fort Mason for the largest weekly gathering of Off the Grid SF, a street party with the best local food trucks.  It was chilly and packed with hungry hordes of foodies and photographers, with live music, beer, and beautiful people checking out what everyone else is eating. It was rather dark to take photos, so I didn’t get to capture the revelatory croissant-like buttery and flaky wild mushroom empanada from El Porteno, but trust – it was glorious.  And we didn’t have the patience to stand in the ridiculously long lines for Korean tacos and Indian burritos (this time). But we did try out the curious call of Hawaiian-Chinese-pan-Asian food at IZ IT.  Julie had the tofu musubi, a non-greasy crisply fried (panko-breaded?) tofu with rice and wrapped in seaweed. Usually I only see spam musubi, so the fact they had tofu was awesome, but even better was that the tofu was packed with flavor and had obviously been marinaded in some delicious sauce.

I had the same crisp fried, savory tofu over lettuce with hot sauce and refreshing cucumber as a sort of Hawaiian/Japanese/Mexican taco fusion thing. I don’t know how to categorize it but the flavors were on point.

We have to start the way we finished, so another tamal at hand, this one from Chaac-Mool. They served up a ginormous moist and dare I say fluffy tamal with spinach and cheese and whole corn.  Topped with piquant salsa and dusted with more queso, it was really filling and very flavorful.  Tummies sated, we reverted to our happy places – shoulder to shoulder with other good-food hunters, bracing against the chill of the San Francisco bay wind.

travel

underground finds

 

SF underground market

The SF Underground Market is the city’s worst-kept secret.  About once a month, some of the bay area’s artisans of edible crafts get together and throw a party. The scene, filled with music and cookery aromas, is packed to the gills with people grazing between vendors’ stalls.  The vendors sell take-home products by day and cook up hot food and desserts by night.  Sounds like a farmer’s market, so why underground? Well, these vendors have been honing their craft in home kitchens or are just getting their business off the ground.  Without a commercial kitchen or a health inspector, you’re exploring the tasty nibbles of a secret San Francisco.  Except, it’s not very secret with lines around the block during all hours of the event and some vendors hitting it big with pop-up restaurants, food trucks and more.  Still, for that moment, it’s just you and a few hundred food-loving explorers, tummies full of beer, cheer and nosh, happily bumping into each other with plated bites, peering at what good finds the person next to you scored.

B didn’t have much to say about this chicken empanada, but he did scarf it down – tamalenation

The mac n’ cheese  with mascarpone and other cheeses was beautifully golden and had a great crust, and was very creamy. I missed the sharpness of cheddar, though – baia pasta

The longest line in the house was for a chef freshly cooking up four simultaneous pans of duck confit gnocchi with cherries and duck jus, a beautiful thing to behold.  At $5 a bowl, truly the best deal of the night even though B couldn’t taste the duck – sf delicious

I’ve never before had this made-to-order Vietnamese shrimp and bean sprout crepe, and although I found it a bit mushy, the flavors were divine – little knock

Not just any Belgian waffle, this authentic Liège waffle has the sweet, chewy crust from the honking balls of pearl sugar in the batter.  This…this was amazing – Suite Foods

The scene below: cooking up dumplings and burgers (in matching aprons!) and waiting in line for not-so-secret snacks.