Ooh, my favorite!

Pizzeria Picco
August 16, 2010, 1:44 pm
Filed under: Food, Restaurants, San Francisco

Not the greatest pictures (from my phone) but I had to share because we had quite a lovely Sunday, complete with the most awesome dessert I’ve had in a while.

A trip out to Larkspur to visit our friend Dom quickly turned into a lunch date when I realized Pizzeria Picco was right down the street. Foodie Friend Brian had been talking about this place for a while, but I just hadn’t had the chance to make my way up north until yesterday.

It was a beautiful day and the pizza was great! Oh how I love wood fired pizza. (For my Seattle friends, it was very similar to Tutta Bella. But only the Columbia City location, not the others which are just not as good.) I was so busy eating that I didn’t take pics of the watermelon feta salad, or the burrata beet crostini, or the bacon braised kale pizza. I did however remember to take a pic of the tiny remaining pieces of the margherita pizza with calabrian chilis on the side.

I had been eyeing the dessert menu before we even left the house, and was especially intrigued by one of their specialties: organic Straus Dairy soft serve ice cream drizzled with DaVero extra virgin olive oil topped with a light sprinkling of sea salt. I was all set to order when this magically appeared after a mix-up on a different order. What a happy coincidence!

The ice cream was wonderfully smooth but also had the perfect amount of bite; I could almost chew it and that was a beautiful thing. The sweet and savory flavors were perfect: the olive oil was silky and fragrant and the granules of sea salt offered a bit of crunch and a great counterpoint to the sweetness of the ice cream. Ah, so happy!

Another lovely weekend come and gone…I can’t believe it’s Monday again.

Happy Friday!
July 9, 2010, 12:48 pm
Filed under: San Francisco

Market Street, downtown San Francisco

Welcome to the weekend friends. I hope you have some lovely plans ahead of you. My Seattle friends are enjoying quite the heat wave, and I must admit that I’m just a tad jealous.

I’ll be bopping around downtown and over in Berkeley this weekend. My dearest foodie friend Brian is moving away in the next few weeks, so we’re packing in as much eating as possible before he’s gone. I’m completely devastated but at least he’s going out with a bang. I’ll be sure to share anything juicy with you. TTFN, ta ta for now.

[image via sideshowbob]

Dear Zuni Cafe,
July 1, 2010, 6:51 am
Filed under: Restaurants, San Francisco

I have been a loyal patron of your restaurant since my first trip nearly two years ago. With every friend or family member I have visiting I have raved about your wonderfully juicy and succulent chicken, and assured them that the $50 price tag and the hour wait is well worth it; and indeed it was.

While each of my visits has been a success with my guests, it is only because the chicken has rescued the day. I cannot help but feel that your staff truly believes that they are doing me and my visitors a favor by allowing us to dine in your establishment, and that I should be grateful to have gotten a table (even with a resevation.) Growing up in the restaurant industry I was taught that a patron is a guest, is a friend, is a partner. At Zuni Cafe, we are often treated as a bother, as a nuissance, as a drag.

I regret to say that after my eighth and final visit the chicken could not rescue the day. I understand that you’re a San Francisco institution, but I can no longer look past the lackluster menu, under-seasoned appetizers, soups, and salads, and the cold and insincere service. I have the chicken recipe, and I’ve made it at home several times. I will continue to rave about your chicken, but only the one I make at home with all of the love that’s missing when I walk through your doors.



June 15, 2010, 12:31 pm
Filed under: Gift guide, San Francisco

Do you remember walking into the toy store when you were young, and the wave of euphoria that would come over you as you eyed the zillions of potential items you’d have to first test out, and then decide which you wanted to persuade mom and dad to take home with you? I haven’t felt that way forever, and I’d kind of forgotten about that feeling until we went for a little Sunday trip to Japantown’s New People center.

New People is a gorgeous glass front, three story building in the heart of Japantown that boasts all things J-Pop–and not just the typical kitschy trinkets you often associate with Japanese  culture–but really cool and interesting toys that you won’t find just anywhere.

The building hosts a cinema that screens contemporary Japanese films, a small cafe serving Blue Bottle Coffee and Delica snacks, a retail space with Gothic Lolita and other Harajuku-style clothing and accessories, and the New People Store, which is where I had my flashback. Now that I think back, my sweetie and I must have looked insane, or maybe I’d even venture to say rabid with giddiness. We’d each go our separate way for a minute, then attempt to casually stroll back (when what I really wanted to do was run) to take turns showing each other what we’d found. We did this for a good hour.

One of the toys that caught my eye was the Aerobase “micro MUSEUM series” models that you assemble from pre-cut parts on a sheet of paper or metal.  They’re tiny, tiny but so cool. The perfect gift for model lovers, but it’d really be a great little project for anyone since not all of the kits are super intense.

Image via New People

Image via Aerobase

I was dying to sneak in a few pics, but they’re pretty explicit about cameras in the stores. (The packaging on some of the stuff was gorgeous!) It would have been a bit overwhelming anyway, I would have left with a ton of pics, and of course not being able to pick a few, I probably would have posted them all. Really, there was that much cool stuff! In the end, here’s a pic of the goody bag we took home. We really did a good job in practicing restraint and left with a few gifts for friends.

Our goody bag!

Sons & Daughters
June 9, 2010, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Food, Restaurants, San Francisco

Last Friday my favorite foodie friend Brian invited me to attend a soft opening of his friends’ new restaurant on Nob Hill (taking over where Cafe Mozart left off). Sons & Daughters is a joint venture between Matt and Teague, two young and talented chefs who’ve worked endlessly for the last six months to get this going. I’ve had the pleasure of eating their food at Brian’s house before (an amazing goat ragout with fresh pasta) so I was beyond excited when they decided to start their own restaurant.

They did a beautiful job with the renovations so I had wanted to share some interior shots with you, but alas, I was so focused on the food that I completely forgot. Since the plates are so beautiful there’s still plenty to see, so here we go…

Lobster carpaccio with pea foam, lobster butter reduction, and caviar

My first taste of raw lobster and I don’t know that I’ll ever appreciate cooked lobster as much as I used to. It was so good! Sweet and ocean-y with a more concentrated flavor than when it’s cooked. And let’s talk about the butter reduction for a second; well, actually I guess there’s not much to say, there are no words to describe how good it was.

Herb salad with garden shoots, eucalyptus, curds and whey

This was an in your face plate of fragrant herbs. The eucalyptus came as a dressing of sorts after being pressed and served at the base of the greens. The herbs were lovely, and I enjoyed the contrast of saltiness from the curds and whey.

Sweebreads with oysters, crisp pork, and grapefruit

Crispy, yummy sweetbreads with bacon. This was so good. I love sweetbreads, I love bacon even more so I was in heaven with this one.

Lobster, foie gras, oysters, uni, black cod, sea beans

This dish was gorgeous! In spite of the rich and luxurious ingredients here, it was surprisingly light with very clean flavors. This was probably due to the broth that surrounded the proteins, so flavorful and delicate. I can’t remember all of the details, but the cod and foie were prepared sous vide.

Squab with aprium, parsnip, and horseradish

This may have been my favorite dish of the evening. The squab was cooked perfectly with the breast having been prepared sous vide, and the leg confit. The earthy flavor was matched perfectly with the sweet and tart aprium reduction, and the hint of horseradish coming from the parsnip puree was a lovely touch.

After dinner we filled out our comment cards and hung around to chat with the guys to hear about all of the craziness that was happening behind the scenes. In spite of the troubles the guys did a beautiful job and have so much to be proud of. It was a great night and I had felt so lucky to have been able to test out their first menu. I can’t wait to go back for their ice creams and tea service.

Hip-hop violin
June 8, 2010, 10:56 am
Filed under: Music, San Francisco, Videos

Last Thursday night I had the chance to go to a party hosted at the Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel in downtown San Franciso. It’s a gorgeous bar that is paneled from floor to ceiling with wood from a single redwood tree, and the original art deco chandeleirs and sconces from 1933 still adorning the walls and ceilings. As a cool contrast from the richness of the wood there are digital frames projecting portraits of people with the eyes that follow you throughout the room.

The night was glamourous and luxurious, and hence, was a great spot for people-watching. But even with all of the eye candy, we were there for the music. We all know I have a thing for a good DJ, but I also love the symphony and I try to go a few times a year. On this night Inka 1 and violinist Paul Dateh came to perform a joint set of smooth hip-hop beats accompanied by the classical sounds of the violin. It was bananas! When they transitioned into Ghostface Killah’sCherchez la Ghost oh my god, I was in heaven…two of my favorite musical genres rolled into one. Add a glass or two of bubbly and there’s the cherry on top. It was a great night.

Check out the video below of the guys in the studio, it really is great stuff.

Bluebottle Coffee Company
May 18, 2010, 7:06 am
Filed under: Green, Organic, Restaurants, San Francisco, Sweets

I’m not a coffee girl, but oh how I wish I was; just the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans makes me feel warm and cozy, and if I could wear it as a fragrance I totally would. Coming from the land of Starbucks you’d think I’d be a pro, but somehow, my love affair stops there as I just haven’t ever been able to drink a full cup of it.

If there was any place where I could be schooled on the delicacies of a proper cuppa joe it would be at Bluebottle Coffee Company – artisanal microroasters of organic, pesticide-free, shade-grown, coffee beans that are off to you within 48 hours of roasting. I love everything about this place, and I wish I could camp out at the Mint Plaza location everyday. I’m officially on a mission to earn some coffee badges.

One thing that could help me along with my coffee training is the Affogato, a generous scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso for drowning the ice cream with. (I don’t want to offend true coffee connoisseurs and loyal fans of Bluebottle, but I’ve got to start somewhere.) Oh my gosh, there are no words….

It was really big, so it’s perfect for sharing. I can’t wait to go back for an afternoon date so we can share this and sit by the window for some people-watching. I LOVE people watching, especially when it’s over something this good.

So, even though it may take a bit of time for me to appreciate all of the wonderful drinks they offer at Bluebottle, I’ll be be here every chance I get to pick up a bag as a gift or for an afternoon snack with visitors. This is an amazing company and I love what they do: not only are they experts at their craft, but they’ve truly infused environmentally-conscious practices into every aspect of their business. Check this out:

– All our coffees are certified organic, sustainable, and shade grown. We make occasional exceptions for beautiful shade-grown coffees grown responsibly without pesticides but not yet certified organic.

– We use cellophane-lined bags instead of plastic or polypropylene-lined. Cellophane is made from wood cellulose, so it is 100% biodegradable. Because of the slight porosity, cellophane is not used by roasters who are worried about shelf life, but because our coffee does not sit on store shelves for long periods, we can use this material with no trade-off in quality. Once the metal tie is removed from our bags, they are recyclable or compostable.

– We use food-safe stainless steel bins to mix our blends instead of the plastic bins which are standard in the industry. Your beans literally never touch plastic or aluminum from the time they are packed into burlap sacks at the country of origin to the time they are poured into your grinder.

– We compost coffee bean chaff (a waste product of the roasting process) and pay extra for paper (compostable) half gallon milk jugs, rather than plastic gallon milk jugs.

– All test batches, expired batches, or batches that do not meet our requirements are composted or donated to local food banks

– All inks we use are soy-based. All papers (except for our coffee bags – we’re still looking for cellophane-lined recycled paper bags) have post-consumer recycled content of 50% or greater, and are unbleached. All cleaning products are greenest non-toxic products we can find, and all appliances are the most energy-efficient on the market.

– All customer communications are done over the internet whenever possible.

They’re official!

[Thanks Ed for taking the Affogato pics. Still have stage fright with the camera.]

[Thanks Brian for leading the way.]

I love Saturdays
May 3, 2010, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Food, Nostalgia, Restaurants, San Francisco, Silly

Even with my weird schedule lately I still love a good Saturday. While I was out and about I came across these books and got completely giddy. The Where’s Waldo Complete Collection and the Best of Mad Libs do exist outside of my dreams, how cool is that? I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for anything that reminds me of when I was eight.

After some window shopping and some reading in the park, we were off to to watch the fight with some friends. Let me just say that I tried, but I’m not a fan of boxing. The best part was celebrity spotting in the audience, but the fight and the ref kept getting in the way. I did catch Mariah and Nick Cannon. Have to hand it to Mariah though, she posed through all 12 rounds, that must be hard work. The only other sighting I caught was Mark Wahlberg, and that was quite nice. Oh yeah, then there was the part where Chris Brown sang the National Anthem. Yeah, exactly.

It was great company and snacks…and Prosecco, a wonderful way to kick-off a Saturday night. From there we were off to hop around the city and ended up at Le Colonial to visit a friend DJing. After a drink or two and some dancing we were off to Ryoku for sushi and anything fried. We never had dinner, so we had to make up for it at 1:30 AM. These are not going to be pretty pics, but it was latenight dining captured with my phone. It is because of the champagne and this meal (and maybe a few other leading up to it), that I have started to detox today. So worth it though!

Green tea, white salmon, salmon belly, karaage, croquette, kurobota, yakitori…detox.

(I’m already looking forward to a real sushi dinner after the detox, still working up to a date at Urasawa on of these days.)

Anchor & Hope
March 24, 2010, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Food, Restaurants, San Francisco

A few weeks ago my friend Keri was visiting from Seattle. Before a night out on the town we stopped by Anchor & Hope for a few appetizers. For most people this might have constituted as a meal, but if you know me at all, you’d know this was my snack after a full meal; and to be honest I probably had a late-night snack later on.

I’ve been here a few times now, and each time I’ve had a wonderful meal. I always end up in SOMA before a night out, so it’s an easy stop that promises great seafood dishes in a warmly candle-lit, turn-of-the century warehouse. I’m sure I’ve just been lucky, but I’ve always been able to just stop by without a reservation.

On this particular night we split three appetizers, but while we sipped our wine we received paper baggie with french bread and a small ramekin of perfectly spreadable butter (not a fan of cold, right from the fridge butter) with a light sprinkling of fleur de sel. I usually hold off on starting with the bread and opt to save it for when the saucy dishes arrive–I’m quite an accomplished “dipper”.

Here’s how it went:

1.  Warm sea urchin and crab: Creamy and rich, with a nice taste of “ocean” from the sea urchin. (Perhaps a bit lost with all the cream, but still a lovely taste of the sea.)

2.  Warm asparagus salad with poached egg: Love asparagus, love poached eggs, love a proper hollandaise.

3.  They didn’t call it pork belly, but it pretty much was: Perfectly fatty and smokey; it went so well with the acid from the warm purple cabbage.

Bread and butter

Warm Sea Urchin with crab and lemon beurre blanc

Warm asparagus salad with poached egg and meyer lemon hollandaise

Pork belly and purple cabbage

Overall Anchor & Hope is one of my favorite destinations, especially when I’m craving a taste of the sea. In the past I’ve had an amazing bouillabaisse-style fish stew, perfectly cooked scallops, proscuitto-wrapped trout, and a crazy wonderful clam chowder. Service and atmosphere are great, and for all you beer aficionado’s I hear they have quite a selection.

I heart SF
March 23, 2010, 11:14 am
Filed under: Photography, San Francisco, Smile

[via monkeyknifefight]

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