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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Feeling Comfortable Carrying Excess Baggage

Man, have I been eating a lot of fried chicken lately.  I am neighbor to, the infamous, Front Porch, in San Francisco. I'm probably one of their best customers. "Da' Porch" is the home of the very robust popcorn bucket, full with popping corn garnish and about 7 to 9 thick pieces of juicy chicken. I am also down for a fried chicken po boy at lunch from time-to-time.  And most recenctly, since opening for brunch, I have begun an addiction to their chicken & waffles. It is technically, my local chicken shack.

In Oakland, there is Hibiscus, where I get the Chef's choice. It is my friend Sarah's recipe, passed down from her grandmother, Miss Ollie. While dining there, it is extremely hard to avoid her Phoulourie (split pea fritters).  That is unless she has her salt cod fritters on the menu that day.  Then, I am completely torn. The cocktail program is pretty tight too. I suggest THE PARISH PUNCH  El Dorado Rum, ginger limeade (housemade) or the BLACK PRINCE Flor de Caña 18yr Rum, Carpano Antica,Averna Amaro.

While we are on the subject of Oakland and fried chicken, I have another confession to make. At Brown Sugar Kitchen, I have been finding a lot of comfort in their Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Cornmeal Waffle with brown sugar butter & apple cider syrup.  That butter tastes like ice cream, it is so creamy and delicious. And the waffle is absolutely amazing.  The menu also offers up one the best pulled pork sandwiches, especially if you order the smoked mashed yams to go alongside.

My boss bought me the Fried Chicken Sandwich at Bakesale Betty recently.  It was so giant, that even I could only eat half. The Chicken and that slaw were stacked inside fresh baked bread. It was a dream.  And I shared that dream with my housemate later on and he concurred.

Most recently, on a recent Sunday brunch, the fried chicken dish stood out to me on the menu at Prospect (San Francisco). It came with slow cooked greens, house made tasso, creamed biscuit and honey butter. It was a lovely meal magnified with 3 cocktails (Bird of Paradise Fizz, Michelada de Prospect & Prospect's Bloody Fare) and of course, the James Beard’s French Toast– house made challah bread, blueberries, maple syrup. The 1st drink was the a gin and wine cocktail, the 2nd a beer cocktail and for the finale a very spicy vodka bloody.  I had to take a nap to recover from that experience.

It is no wonder I am carrying an extra 5 pounds these days.  What could be better in this inconsistent climate? Fried Chicken is comfort food.  It warms my body and soul.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Foggy Summer Nights

I am in somewhat of a fog.  Maybe it is due to being overworked or sleep deprived.  I keep forgetting to allow myself the time to reflect on some of my culinary adventures. Like, for instance, Plum Preview Dinner # 3 at Il Cane Rosso, 2 Monday's ago. What a great night that was.  It was nice to see the Master Chef Daniel Patterson in his element.  He really delivered a menu that  highlighted his abilities to create the most delicious savory dishes and show his soft and sweet side as well.

The table first got a most righteous snack of crisp chicken skin dosed with seaweed powder.  It was momentary and fantastic.  We were a group of robust diners at this table.  3 Bears and a skinner, tall guy to be exact. But we still managed to share graciously.

Then came our own dishes of warm smoked black cod- potato puree with a grilled pepper wild fennel relish and olive oil cracker.  The dish was delivered at the most perfect temperature, warm and edible.  And boy, did we chow down.

You can imagine our delight when the next dish, a cauliflower glazed with lemon & garum, bulghur, and a dandelion salsa verde arrived. Here was that sweet side I was referring to.  It balanced out the previous course and was great preparation for what was up next.

This time, slow-cooked pork shoulder, turnip-apple miso and fresh seaweeds. It screamed Peter Brady, 21st Century Style. It was cooked preciously the way you handle that meat. That plate looked incredible as with all the dishes of the night.  everything was so thoughtful and full of subtle and intentional detail.  It also helped to have a very delightful server to enhance the whole experience.

So, we got to the tail end of our prix fixe and a raspberry custard with sable breton, some yogurt and rooiboos was placed in front of each of us.  Gorgeous, both in presentation and taste.  They also had these yummy curried chocolate covered almonds to share. Again, the company of men acted appropriately with fair portions to snack on.

We stumbled over to Slanted Door for a nightcap and a chance to reflect on our great meal.  Although the fog was thick that night and the air very cool, our bellies kept us warm. We toasted one another a true and happy "Cheers!"

Monday, August 9, 2010

100 Reasons To Celebrate A New Mission Destination

Last night I got to visit some old friends at the new Commonwealth restaurant located on Mission Street.  I was with Jake for their soft opening and it was fantastic.  First of all, the room is elegant and comfortable.  I had been to the space for a beer tasting not too long ago, when it was still under construction and I amazed at the results.  But let's get to the menu, shall we?

Jake and I were hungry and certainly left satisfied.  We were sipping on some white wine and ordering like Mad Men.  The first dish to arrive were the Shishito peppers with goat cheese and rose petals.  A perfect combination of flavor and spice.  The goat cheese balanced it out well.  We shared the summer squash, which was a chilled soup with fried squash blossoms, shaved salad and Vadouven.  I may not know what that all means but it certainly tasted good.  The blossoms were the stars of the dish, but everything that accompanied deserves Best Supporting Nods too.

Moving on to those garden tomatoes and basil.  Man, that was incredible!  Just think about this for a minute. Black olive crumble! Smoked bread! And that Idiazabal cheese took the cake.  Very in season and very addicting.  But the dish of the night had to be the potato gnocchi.  Everyone was talking about it too.  It had corn, it had Maitake mushrooms.  But the truffle oil and the sage with the Parmesan Reggiano made it heavenly.  That gnocchi was so smooth and delicious, I could have walked into the kitchen and stolen another helping if I wasn't so bashful.

We had to order the brown butter poached skate wing with cauliflower, Dashi and sea beans.  Also in season right now and done with real thought, precision and class.  This dish exploded with yummyness.  I was reminded of Le Jules Verne in Paris with the foam on the plate.  I love foam!  I also loved loved loved the guinea hen and spot prawn. Three words, chocolate-almond emulsion.  I was onto a great glass of red wine at this point.

There was a salt cured Foie Gras on the Chef's Tasting Menu that we had to try.  We boldly asked for it and truly were glad.  It had Umeboshi and a seaweed brioche to spread it on.  We each had our own plate to avoid confrontation.  Mine disappeared too quickly.  Very impressive.

When it came time for dessert we ordered the White Russian.  This epic combo of coffee ice cream, Vodka Gelee, raw milk mousse and Genoise cake.  And we can't forget the Cinnamon Mille-Feuille with cardamom marshmallow, chocolate ganache and burnt honey ice cream.  It reminded me of the ultimate broken down smore. 

My curiosity about the narwhal was killing me from the dinner menu.  They mentioned nitrogen and that was it.  I needed to try this floc de gascogne, sake, ambrosia melon and shiso.  It was tremendous and worked as a last course.  The familiar faces and the ease of the night were very noteworthy, especially for a soft opening.  They had everything under a meticulous control and made it look easy.  I was so proud to be among the first to experience this place.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Subtle Perfections Are Evident At Baker & Banker

A week ago my friend Steve was visiting from Pasadena. We made plans to hang out and grab dinner. I had heard great things about Baker & Banker up in the Pacific Heights area.  And we really did enjoy our visit. The food, the service, the ambiance is all here on Octavia Street. I felt a little out-of-place because of my attire.  I chose the comfortable look with a T-Shirt and jeans.  But, so what, it is after all, California. And they still welcomed us with open arms.

Upon arrival in the dining room, Chef Lori recognized me right away.  She was so nice and immediately offered us glasses of Francois Pinon Vouvray Petillant "Non-Dose" (2008) to sip while they got our table together.  We ordered another round after we sat down and placed our order.

The Grilled octopus salad, yellow watermelon, spicy Asian vinaigrette, sea beans just seemed too good to pass up. It was quite something.  The elegant octopus was so delicious alongside that fruit and the spice was just the right amount.  It was one of those remarkable dishes that stays with you.  The Sparkles paired incredibly well with it too.

Lori makes the most amazing bread that goes in their Bread baskets.  I should know, I ordered 2 more baskets after the initial one. And if you want to go after my heart, that's the secret. Bread is life, it warms you. It is so satisfying when done well.

I continued to warm up with a glass of Von Simmern Erbacher Marcobrunn Riesling (2007).   At this point the Soy and mirin braised black cod had arrived.  The texture of the fish was truly a masterpiece.  I had a chance to mention it when Lori's husband came around to check on us. Jeff was so gracious too, as I mentioned how in love I was with his foie gras-shitake sticky rice.  I traded bites of my dish for Steve's Housemade pappardelle, wild mushrooms, summer squash, roasted ricotta salata and fresh mint.  No wonder it got all silent during our main courses.  We were under the spell and the flavors were bursting and leaving their mark.

The seduction reached it's max as we moved into dessert.  Once again, Lori took charge and we not only got the PB&J but the crisp as well.  The PB& J was her strawberry jam filled doughnuts with the most decadent peanut butter dipping sauce. The crisp was made with Nectarine and plum , brown sugar-pecan streusel and blueberry swirl ice cream.  Both nearly blew us out of our chairs.  We were childlike and competitive when it came to sticking our forks and spoons.  The whole meal was a work of art.  I felt spoiled and delighted all at the same time.  I look forward to going back to the bakery they are just opening next door!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Quick Bite And A Few Flights

The other night, I had a chance to finally try Spencer on the Go.  I have been to Chez Spencer many times but never their food truck.  I was with my friend, Tabitha, and my dog.  It was a cool night but we  still decided to eat outside. We practically had everything on the menu too.  The first thing we popped in our mouths were the Escargot Puff Lollipops.  They were "bananas!" I wish I ordered 6 of them.  We were also very impressed with the slider they had on the menu that night.  The meat was cooked to perfection.

Other things we shared included the Cauliflower Soup and Lobster Bisque. I loved the truffles in the Lobster Bisque and the cream. We insisted on asking for croutons for dipping. And the Parmesan chip layered in the Cauliflower Soup was excellent.  They certainly warmed us up with the chill in the air.

The Roasted Beet Salad with the Point Reyes Blue Cheese was so plentiful. And the Asparagus was also very tasty.  I insisted we try the Braised Lamb Cheeks Sandwich as well and I am so glad we did.  It was just the right amount of food we needed to continue on for cocktails next door.

Waiter, my pooch is welcome at Bloodhound right there on Folsom Street, so we walked over there for some whiskey and beer.  We had a Four Roses Bloodhound Barrel straight up to heat things up.  I ordered a Belgian Beer to follow it up. A mighty fine Abbey called Tripel Karmelie .  After 2 rounds we called it quits and headed home.  It was just one of those perfect, San Francisco, cold, summer nights. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Tale Of Two Lunches...And A Dinner

Last Friday, I officially began working in the coffee business. Oakland is a landmark for coffee.  Some of the best on the planet.  I am excited for the commute over there because drinking coffee and espresso are a big part of my daily routine.  That and beer guzzling are some my favorite hobbies.  I was pretty caffeinated throughout that first morning on the job.  I had a stop at Ritual before hitting the gym.  And then it was off to ROASTCO and my new sales gig.  I had a cup of their Kenyan blend and it perked me right up.  I needed it after my crazy chest and triceps workout earlier that morning.

The area I work in is pretty close to some amazing beer spots and restaurants.  Everywhere I ate that day had Linden St Black Lager on tap.  It is probably one of the best local beers around.  It seems from it's color that it would taste a certain way.  You will be surprised at the taste though, if you have a chance to try it.  I had 2 pints at Chop Bar with a Yucatan Grilled Chicken Torta. It's there Mexican-style sandwich with avocado, queso fresco, tomato, & ancho chile aioli and is served with a jicama salad.  It was mad good.  The menu in general looks very intriguing too.  I even got to chat with the owner, Chris, a bit.   Nice guy.  Mellow guy from back east, like me. Yeah, right...

I still had an appetite and saw the line around the corner at Brown Sugar Kitchen.  I heard about the legendary Fried Chicken Waffle they do.  I am really looking forward to trying that very soon.  Meanwhile, I asked Rachel, a server what a 1st timer should try.  She insisted on the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich and a side the Smoked Mashed Yams. So, I sat at the counter with another Black Lager and  ate my 2nd lunch.  I was a hog in heaven and I smiled all the way through my incredible sandwich.  Those yams are screaming! I can't wait to go back there and eat more.

After some champagne at Laura's house during cocktail hour that evening,  the July Birthday Club was off to dinner for our 2nd annual tradition.  Last year it was me and Lori being taken out by Laura to Chez Panisse. This year, we were a foursome at Pizzaiolo.  It was hosted by Jim and Laura this time. Our hosts treated us in decadent style.  It also helped to have Cate as our barkeep.  She made me some of her favorite drinks on the menu. Like the Metà del Turno.  It's  gin, lemon, amaro nonino, chamomile honey & fernet.  It was a great starter.

Other starters started to head to our table too.  Flatbreads with eggplant spread, broccolini, spicy carrots and  yogurt and the Burrata da Di Stefano with cherry tomatoes and a toast, arrived first. Anything from that oven, especially with Charlie on the deck is sublime.  So toast, flatbread, that Pizze with Rapini & housemade sausage that we had...phenominal!

The ladies ordered a bottle of Sangiovese Chianti Rufina, Fattoria Selvapiana ‘08 as the Star Route Farm garden lettuces and Heirloom tomatoes & cucumbers with fried squash blossoms were being passed around. How can you not order a fried squash blossom?  That's just stupid.

Jim got the pasta handkerchiefs with fresh ricotta, basil pesto & cherry tomatoes for the table as well as the ribeye steak with shoestring potatoes & a wild arugula salad.  Everyone was sharing the dishes as I continued with another drink from Cate.  This time a Bourbon Buck with lime, ginger, orange, cane sugar & peychaud's bitters.  It was extraordinary.

We didn't even need to order dessert because gifts kept a coming.  We had the bittersweet chocolate port le creme, puff pastry tartlet with vanilla custard & roasted Blossom Buff Farm peaches and the Spring Bright nectarine sorbet.  It was a grand feast and we were treated like kings and queens.  The day was something for the record books. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Industry Party Hopping

Last night was pretty exciting. I took the 24 Bus up to Jackson and Webster and walked through Pacific Heights. I was in route to Union Street for the 1st of 2 restaurant opening parties.  I was a bit early, so I stopped in for a couple Scrimshaws at the Bus Stop.  My friend Jake joined me and after our beers, we walked over to Cafe Des Amis.  There was a line around the corner and we saw lots a familiar faces awaiting entry. 

Once inside, we headed straight to the bar for some beer.  So far, I am loving their tap list.  First, I started off with a California Ale from Telegraph Brewing Company.  I really enjoyed that one.  Then came a Blanche de Bruxelles.  Really refreshing stuff! But the Bacchus was my favorite.  I believe it to have been a sour beer and it was delicious.

If the Hors d'oeuvres are an indication of what will be coming out of the kitchen tomorrow night, when they open to the public, we are certainly in for some treats.  On one side of the this beautiful, spacious layout, servers were handing out savory beef sandwiches.  Back and up the stairs in another stunning room, if you stood by the table direct to the kitchen, you were treated to oysters, sliders, lamb chops and even stuffed chicken. Oh, I also had many salty chocolate bites, tiny eclairs and mini cheesecakes.

The night didn't stop there. Jake and I hopped into a cab and drove to Mint Plaza for the opening party for Thermidor.  This place looks fantastic.  I believe they are officially open as of last week.  And the space looks very impressive.  And the cocktail program looks and tasted good from what I sampled.  We started with a couple bourbons on the rocks to get things going.  As we walked the room,  other whiskey cocktails were handed off to me.  I was loving life.

And life continued to get better as Jake treated me to a late night supper at Chez Papa Resto next door.  And treat is an understatement. We began with glasses of Rose champagne and then a great bottle of red wine.  We ate well too.  We noshed on some Snake River Kobe Beef Tartare with Dijon Mustard, Capers, Shallots, Garlic and Toast Points. I thought it was very flavorful and had a nice texture.  I really enjoyed the Dirty Girl Farm Strawberry and Beet Salad with Favas, Arugula, Pistachios and Aged Humboldt Fog.  We also had the Bouillabaisse and the Duck as our main courses and they were outrageous.  We left full and happy.  Just another typical Monday night in the city.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Night I'll Always Remember...

It was quite the dinner we had, the other night at Murray Circle in Cavallo Point (Fort Baker).  I went with my buddy Grant who knows this place inside out.  We immediately were sat at the money table and drinks were a flowing.  I decided to have a cocktail before I started ordering food.  And the Blood & Sand sounded right up my alley.  It had Achentoshan 12 yr, Roi Rene, Carpano Antica and orange.  Basically, that translates into scotch and vermouth and other goodness.  And boy, was it good. Just what the doctor ordered, to get the meal on it's way.

We had a bottle of Burgundy brought over as we made decisions on the vast menu. And then came some amuse bouches.  The first, was the sweet pea tortellini with Domestic Oscetra Caviar and a sweet pea gazapacho.  I have had that sweet pea gazapacho before and I just love the Serrano Chile and citrus ice they use in it's preparation.  But that tortellini was something else.  Man, with the Caviar all up-in-it.

The decadence continued when another amuse bouche arrived.  This time we had Halibut and foie gras.  Sassafras salt-cured Halibut, Carpaccio wrapping a Halibut Crudo, a little fresh fennel, served over a vanilla-roasted pineapple, finished with shaved foie gras and a sherry vinaigrette. It was bite size but I ate both, as my friend Grant does not care for fish.  It was presented and executed in such a great fashion.  I was thoroughly impressed.

I had already tried all 5 types of bread in the bread basket by now.  There was the whole wheat sourdough, a ciabatta, some Japanense seaweed bread, a spring onion semolina and fennel mustard seed bread. They were all pretty fantastic.  I used some of the bread to soak up the wild foraged porcini's that were braised and served "a la grecque with a pecan vinaigrette and aged sheep's milk cheese on top.

Along with mushrooms came an order of the coal-roasted baby beets with a crispy quinoa cake, a little dill puree, fresh ricotta cheese, sherry vinegar and a beet green tapenade. And the summer squash served over a Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio with lemon verbena vinaigrette.  These dishes were both beautiful to look at and delectable to the palate.

To finish up the fruits & vegetables, I also had the green garlic vichyssoise served with a smoked paprika oil, spiced almonds, grilled grapes and grilled Spot Prawns from Oxnard, California. And this was just the robust beginning to a even fuller meal to come.

Grant gave me a bite of the chicken & foie grais, which is  a country style terrine served with porcini mushroom, chicken foie gras vinaigrette with mizuna greens and a smoked sweet tea brined chicken breast. Normally, you can find this dish on the Grand Tasting menu.  We had a special portion made just for us. It defined the term specialty.

As the Burgundy continued to pour,  the Pacific Cod from the Fishing Vessel, Linda Ann, (Bolinas) arrived. It was served with Madeira glazed veal sweetbreads, tempura battered shiso and a sugar snap pea salad with a peanut vinaigrette. It was a perfect pairing of meat, fish and vino! 

Grant ordered a double portion of the wood grilled Marin Sun Farms grass fed beef.  It was ribeye served with a mytoki mushroom & mizuna salad and a parmesan potato gratin with a Cabernet Gastrique. I had a bite, it was tremendous.

My lamb dish was young pasture raised from Red Hill Farm in Petaluma. It consisted of a lamb chop with merguez sausage that is wood grilled and a leg served with a dry cured black olive paste. Finishing the dish off, was a neck and shank cannelloni that had been braised in a sheep's milk yogurt and served with compressed cucumber. It was a three-way done remarkably.

When the dessert menus hit the table, so did glasses of a fine sherry, a Moscato d'Asti and a Madeira.  Grant insisted we try several selections.  So we had a butterscotch soufflé, baked to order, with a butterscotch blondie and served with vanilla ice cream.  The next dessert was a strawberry tart served over a chamomile cream with strawberry preserves and a formage blanc sorbet. Then came a lemon creme brulee served with pistachio whipped cream, limoncello granita and grapefruit segements. Suddenly, a chilled cherry consume came out, served with roasted cherry sorbet, creme fraiche ice cream and pistachio tuile. Lastly, a short stack of blueberry pancakes with a blueberry caramel came out.  Grant insisted that I needed to experience it's blueberry sorbet and the citrus butter.  I experienced it all.  I was a cochon, but I loved it.

We walked the grounds and my dog after the meal to let it all digest.  I was blown away by the service, the quality of the food and the libations.  But, I was equally moved by the night itself.  It was one of those magical evenings that will remain in my memory bank forever.  Thanks to Grant for making it happen.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My First Father's Day

I found a dog over a week ago and it is amazing how this little creature has changed my life.  If I thought I had slowed down since leaving my corporate gig almost two months ago, the dog has made me move even slower.  I look forward to waking up and walking him around the city.  And we have covered a bunch of terrain since we found one another.  Last week, we even ventured to the East Bay, the North Bay and down the Big Sur.

Having a sidekick makes it challenging to find food places that are accepting of pets.  Thank goodness for the good weather we have been having. This allows us to sit outside with coffee or lunch or whatever. Waiter, my pet, loves going to Bernal Heights and exploring the hillside.  On one of our most recent visits up there, we stopped at one of my favorite new spots along Cortland after a long walk.  Sandbox Bakery always has something tasty to try when we go there. I shared a Swiss Dill Biscuit and a Curry Pan with a bud.  I love the savory treats they offer up. I got to talking with Mutsumi and told her how impressed I have been upon each visit.

My friend and I continued to walk up Cortland to discover a new interesting Co-Op. Inside,  there is a produce market, a sushi joint, a knife sharpener, empandas, a bakery and Paulie's Pickling. Since I was still hungry, I decided to give their Brisket Sandwich Beer Braised w/ Grilled Cabbage Slaw & Russian Dressing a shot. Served on dark rye by Liz, one half of master team behind this spot. Her husband Paulie is the Pickler, apparently.  The sandwich was very good and had a huge helping of meat.  It came with my choice of a side salad.  I got to try the Grilled Slaw which was also quite good.  And I also had bites of the Shell salad which had olives, feta, pasta shells and sun-dried  tomatoes.  Liz told me that their picked green beans are now a staple at WILDSIDE WEST.  They put them in the Bloody Mary's. I will have to make an excuse and bring the dog over there soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Comstock Saloon Leaves You Speechless... Which Is A Good Thing!

Last night, I finally made it over to Comstock Saloon.  My friend Karri, a server over there, guilted me that I had already missed the first menu and therefore my friend Chris' game hen.  Jonny, the Saloon Keeper, also said, I missed the oyster stuffing that went along with it. Doh!  But my best friend Ron was in town for one last night and we had to celebrate in style.

And in style, is an understatement, when you walk into the Saloon.  It really is quite swanky and fun in terms of the layout.  We sat at the bar and put ourselves in the hands of the master of ceremonies.  Jonny asked my friend Ron whom his favorite pitcher was and based his drink around this.  Ron proclaimed Nolan Ryan and the concoction that was made was amazing.  It was a variation of a French 75 made with vodka and champagne.  Ron said it was everything you could ask for and more. I got Jonny's riff of an OLD PAL with whiskey and vermouth. It was fantastic!

At this point we had some snacks arriving as well.  Carlo and Chris, who are the Grub Slingers in the kitchen served us housemade cheddar crackers and pepper jelly.  The pepper jelly came with some ricotta and we just dipped those delectable crackers in the mix.  Then came the corn & jalapeno fritters and we were completely floored.  They were puffy and powerful.  Ron and I looked over at each other and just nodded our heads in agreement.  And this was just the beginning...

My next cocktail was a riff on the High Cotton. Made with Rittenhouse 100 proof rye, Pimm’s No. 1, Dubonnet Rouge, and dashes of Peach and Mint bitters.  Stirred and served up with a mint leaf and a lemon twist. Inspired by Lyndon B. Johnson and "the hope for better times to come."  I need not hope, they are a happening and the drink further proves this fact.  Plus, the Fried Seafood Cocktail that was brought out next is nothing but good times.  This unbelievable combo of fried oysters on top of succulent crab and cocktail sauce will have you ravaging.  I certainly was.

In terms of main courses, I think we almost covered all of them.  First, there was the beef shank and bone marrow pot pie that was out-of-this-world.  I had heard about this legendary dish from Karri and Co. She was spot-on.  Johnny suggested the clams and sausage to share as well.  He was not kidding.  The clams were screaming and the toasts and potatoes were awesome to sop up all the jous.  And would you believe that Jonny also brought us the chicken-fried rabbit with pepper vinegar to sample. And if that were not enough he even brought out the pappardelle which I think was vegetarian.  I couldn't tell at this point between the Dunlap cocktail and the glass of Pinot Noir.  All I know was that  I was in rapture.  I was seduced to the point of being completely speechless.  You can ask Karri.  All I could utter were moans and um's and ah's.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pairing Great Beer With Great Food!

Thursday night, I had another chance to drink the beers I have been selling with Waterloo Beverages.  I had a gone on a date and we met up at Monk's Kettle. This is one of my favorite spots, not just for the beer, but for the grub as well.  And, the staff that works there, appreciate both.  In fact, they encourage pairing, to get the most out of the experience.

I thought it best to pair the Ichetegem's Grand Cru with some ruffage to start us off. We decided on the Roasted beets, organic mixed greens, dijon vinaigrette, Laurel Chenel goat cheese and fried pumpkin seeds.  Our slightly sour Flemish Red Ale was the perfect choice to accompany this delicate salad.  The flavors of the beer were also as light and silky.

The waitress offered us tastes of Left for Dead my Moonlight Brewing which was interesting to taste after drinking the Ichetegems.  It was lightly refreshing and sour and had a reminiscent taste to Death & Taxes.  It had this roast-like finish that just took me there. It was perfect with the special Chicken Pot Pie we ordered. Sauteed '38 North' chicken breast served in a creamy mixture of onions, carrots, celery, turnips & peas, topped with housemade pie crust and micro sprouts garnish.  Um, duh, I'm drooling.  And I was in the same state eating it the other night.  Pure amazement.

Our tasting continued with Moonlight Brewery's Uncle Svenson, which I had the pleasure of trying at Beer Fest less than a week ago.  This Norwegian Farmhouse Ale was one of the highlights of the festival. Instead of adding hops this time, Brian Hunt uses Red Cedar Chips.  It's light in alcohol, checking in at 5.5%.  That went with our Center Stage entree.  We ordered the Coleman Natural Hampshire beer & cider brined Pork Chop with cheddar scallion potato cake, caramelized brussel sprouts, house-cured maple smoked bacon, and stone-ground mustard ale sauce. What a spectacular dish.  It was just really thoughtful to get all that flavor.  I had ordered us an Arend Tripel to pair with this dish too.  This beer by De Ryck Brewery is blowing the doors off most restaurants that carry it on their menu. It is sweet and has a great aroma of citrus and spice.

There was nothing left on our plates nor in our glasses.  It was my usual protocol when I dine at Monk's Kettle.  I will probably be back there soon to continue to pair more of our beers with this delicious cuisine.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Freaky Thursday

Yesterday, John and I dined at delarosa for lunch.  We had just conducted a tasting for Waterloo Beverages and had some leftover beer we were drinking at the bar with the bartender.  We were encouraged to try the Broccoli rabe and crescenza bruschetta.  According to our barkeep, it just might be the best thing on the menu.  Man, he wasn't joking.  I, being generous yesterday, gave John the bigger piece.  I swear we switched personalities yesterday at the meal.  He was ravaging and I was eating slowly.  Weird.

John continued to pull a Samwick when the Dungeness crab arancini arrived with a side of calabrese aioli for dipping. They were scrumptious. I mean, delicate Italian rice balls stuffed with succulent crab, is just too good too be true.  And for some reason, I was savoring each bite.  I must of had some buzz.

I was drinking the Linden St. Black Lager.  And the Linden St. Common Lager as well.  They both paired tremendously well with the Hot salami, coppa, tomato and diavolicchio pizza. We were really excited about this pizza.  We seem to always go for this style.  I recall, just last week, in fact.  I think we were at delarosa's sister Beretta and got something pretty similar.  Who knew you could find a good pizza in San Francisco?!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Yesterday was glorious.  I have the sunburn to prove it too.  I got to go the Beer Fest up in Santa Rosa.  Apparently, there were 4 going on throughout the greater Bay Area. I got to shout out a big thanks to Mario Rubio from Brewed For Thought, for getting me on the list as one of the vendors. And I have to say it is a blast to be part of the team at Waterloo Beverages.  We do have some real gems in our Belgian Beer profile.  Opening the beers up at tastings and seeing just awesome reactions to our beer, gives me such a thrill.

Although, we did not open up any yesterday, we certainly had our fair share of some of the best beer around.  I started off in Mr. Brian Hunt's hands when he personally poured me his Reality Czeck. It was as soft and delicate as he described and a great Pilsner to get things started.  I did go back immediately for his Death & Taxes.  I just love this very crisp Black Beer. It gives a great head when it pours that is so distinctive and fun.  I drank it up rather quickly.

From Moonlight Brewing Company, I headed over to the Bear Republic folks to try their Crazy Ivan.  I love this complex Belgo-American IPA. It had me hopping around looking for some eats after I sucked down this Dark Ale.  I just enjoy the fact that they made it and are inspired by their 3R's.  That would be their Racer 5, their Red Rocket and their Hop Rod Rye, which are all triumphant brews.

After hopping around for some beef sliders and some decadent Humboldt Fog Blue Cheese, I visited the Napa Smith guys and had a refreshing Wheat Beer.  I love this Brewery, especially their Amber Ale which I have had many times.  They were also pouring their Organic Pale Ale which definitely has a great fragrance.  I was smelling it and drinking it while waiting on line for a beef sandwich with horseradish sauce.

I stumbled over to Stumptown Brewery for a taste of their Rat Bastard Ale.  These guys are awesome and really made a great Pale Ale beer.  With the help of Third St Aleworks and Bear Republic, who both loaned grain and yeast,  they made their first beer brewed and aged in time for yesterday's festivities.  I noticed how pleasant it really was as I came back for a 2nd pouring after another visit to the cheese table.

I continued to refresh my commemorative glass at the Anderson Valley Brewing Company with a very refreshing Summer Solstice Cerveza Crema.  This beer was perfect for the hot sun beaming on my shoulders and bald head.  And it was definitely creamy and sweet and most drinkable.  The lady pouring it had a great big smile on her face when she was pouring it for me.

One thing that got me excited while waiting in line for some pulled pork was hearing about Uncommon Brewer's Bacon Brown Ale.  The kids were saying it tasted like they had just had a BLT or a burger from the aftertaste.  I did taste the bacon but it was more like a flavoring.  What surprised me was how thick this pour was.  I drank it pretty fast as to keep that foamyness going.  I was completely blown away by their Siamese Twin Ale though.  It is a Belgian-style dubbel brewed with whole lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and Indian coriander.  That combination of ingredients made it very sweet and very bold at the same time.

Next On Tap, was the Point Arena Pale Ale from the kind folks at Ukiah Brewing Co. A great American pale ale with nice malt and hops.  It was nice to drink as I made my way over to gods at Russian River Brewing.  I needed a Pilney The Elder real bad.  I crave that taste and smell and I saw them out of the corner of my eye.  I was even there for the opening of a very special Supplication.  Mmmmm, the sour cherries in that masterpiece of a beer are so tasty.  I have to admit I also went back at one point for the Damnation.  I just love the richness and the smoothness of there beers.

I remember visiting the Blue Frog for a Pale Ale that I enjoyed.  The Lagunitas folks had a Tap of their Lucky 13 which was pretty outstanding too. A Mondo Large Red Ale as it says on the label and it fits it perfectly.  Hops are there but it is very pleasant to taste.  And speaking of pleasant tastes, I also had a stop at Ruth McGowan's for their flagship Cloverdale Ale.  And I certainly love Amber Ales,  but this one stood out with that perfect combo of malt and hop.

Speaking of my love for Amber Ales, I know at some point, I stopped by the Stone Brewing folks to get some Levitation.  Ale that is.  But I was levitating at this point, for sure.  And this beer just kept me on my high.  It is big, it is special and I lived up to it's name yesterday.

Although I was pleasantly buzzed it never got out of control.  That is, I managed to continue to try things.  Like the Bodega Head IPA from Third Street Aleworks.  I liked the finish on this one.  I am a huge fan of IPA's and this one had that bitter up front taste that I enjoy. I went to the Steelhead Extra Pale next.  This Mad River beer was delicious and I imagined I could drink alot of it on a day like we were having.  But I needed to move onward as the fest was wrapping up in the next hour.

So I hit up Lhasa and Speakeasy before making back to Moonlight to end this day of beer. I felt great, besides my sunburn, of course.  And I have the pictures to prove it.  And apparently, all the memories too.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Having the witch after dinner, with class...

After a stacked day of selling Belgian Beer and packing coffee bags, my Flemish friend and I celebrated, buying grabbing a bite in Oakland.  John was nice enough to treat at Boot and Shoe Service.  We both have been dying to try this place.  Kate is a fantastic bartender and incredibly gracious as well.  She immediately came over and hugged us and asked us what we felt like drinking.  Since I told her I favored a Bourbon cocktail, she offered to make me us  Deadly Sins.  Along with Bourbon, this cocktail has Sweet Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur, Dash Orange Bitters and an Orange Twist Garnish.  It a perfect treat to start to relax, as we awaited our table.

We got moved through the waiting list rather quickly and were seated at one of their great communal tables.  John and I started to look over the menu and immediately spotted the meatballs and toast and asked our waiter to bring it over.  It was a great dish and very popular around the room.  I loved the meatball but also loved the tomato sauce and the bread toasted in their wood oven.

By this time, we already ordered our 2nd round of drinks.  I asked the waiter to tell Kate I was in her hands.  She made me a bittersweet Fata Morgana with whiskey, Amaro Nonino, Dry Vermouth, orange juice and a pinch of cardamom.  Kate was impressing me behind the bar and I was about to be impressed in the dining room.

A gift of burrata and toast with curly cress and shaved radishes came out from the kitchen.  John always makes it known when we eat together of "the dish." For him, it was this burrata cheese.  Creamy, soft, stretching across the toast, this dish was amazing.  And while in our high, our Pizze landed on the table.  I can still smell it, the wood oven still lingers in my mind.  And the taste of tomato, anchovy, black olives capers & calabrian peppers is something I will not forget for a long, long time.  It was cooked so well and delivered so fast, that the ingredients were so distinct and delicious.  We were moved by the whole experience of this place.

When it came time for Dolce, the strauss vanilla soft serve with olive oil and sea salt was mentioned.  I raised my hand in acceptance.  And it lived up to everything I  imagined and more.  It was like cake batter with the soft cream and the salty olive oil  melting in my mouth with every slow bite.  John got their delicious buttermilk panna cotta with strawberries.  That was another tasty treat to go back and forth with the ice cream.

We decided to go back to the bar and have one more cocktail with Kate.  This time she made me a E.U.  Made with Gin, Calvados, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Dry Vermouth and Strega.  It was awesome.  And a perfect send off to us as we reflected on the bridge back to the other side of the bay.  It was such a great meal, I could not wait to write about it.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Freakin' Go Nuts For Dynamo

Part of my daily ritual has been donut eating. And for almost 2 years I have biked on down to 24th between York and Hampshire to Dynamo Donuts.  I think what intrigues anyone that first glances at their menu is the Maple Glazed Apple Donut with Bacon.  It is sort of like a dream come true.  You can almost relate with Homer Simpson with every bite. And whenever I turn someone new on to this phenomenon, they utter the same moan. 

Another reason, Dynamo Donuts is so appealing is the coffee.  They humbly execute some of the best espresso around.  Of course, they use one of my favorite roasters, Four Barrel.  But similar to how they apply perfection to every donut, they use the same care in making coffee. All this while being friendliest staff in the neighborhood.

I used to reign as Mayor of this place, on FourSquare of course.  I have been recently ousted. :( But, I try to check in at least once a day to regain my mayorship.  So, it is no wonder that you may see me carrying a box full of their Spiced Chocolate with cinnamon, sugar & Chipotle dredge.  The Vanilla Bean is probably also up in there as well, as it is one of my favorite go-to donuts.  It is a vanilla and orange zest donut with a vanilla bean glaze.  And the Lemon Pistachio Donut with fresh lemon zest, lemon icing and toasted pistachios is absolutely a show stopper. The combinations are so thoughtful and delicious, you will definitely end up trying the whole repertoire within a few visits.

Lately, they have been doing a Blueberry cornmeal, which is like the answer to my childhood dreams.  It reminds me of Don's in Livingston NJ.  We used to get muffins in this incredible bakery/restaurant growing up.  And they were always a combination of corn and blueberry in our bagful.  Well, imagine the two combined and walla.

So, when Jesse, one of the many fine barista's asks me every morning if I want a donut, it is certainly hard to deny my cravings. Like the Lemon Sichuan.  That vanilla donut is filled with lemon curd and sugar/sichuan dredge. And the Banana de Leche filled with dulce de leche and fresh bananas is to die for, especially after it's then tossed in sugar.  There just are so many and they are all just amazing.

If you are looking to put a smile on someones face and stimulate there senses with the smells of bacon, sugar and spices, you have to drive down the Mission towards Potrero and give this place a shot.  I promise you one thing, it will become a habit.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Another CAMINO Tale

So, I just got back from brunch in Oakland.  And once again, I was amazed at CAMINO.  I brought my girlfriend Lori, who is also is a big fan of this restaurant.  I love going there too because all my friends work there.  I had a chance to hang out with all of them earlier in the week up in Sonoma on a farm.  I was so blessed to eat terrific food and drink rose all day in the sunshine.

But back to brunch...I ordered the wood oven-baked eggs with herbs and cream.  Pretty much anything made in their wood oven is going to be fantastic.  It's simply a given.  And these eggs were so good.  I had ordered a couple baskets of bread to go along with the sweet condiment plate. Which, by the way, had sheepsmilk ricotta, walnut butter, strawberries and homemade Meyer lemon marmalade.  Yeah, I know what you are thinking.  And yes it was, divine.

Speaking of divine things, the grilled pork and herb sausages were wonderful. That and potatoes roasted in duck fat completed my order.  Lori let me eat most of her endive salad with fennel, anchovies and parmesan.  She was already full from her poached eggs with fava beans, morel mushrooms, greens and rice.  I got to try a bit of that dish today as well and it rocked.

Lori told Alison, the owner, that their grapefruit juice was the best she ever had.  I had both a macchiato and their Pisco cocktail, so I was super content.  That cocktail is truly spectacular with it's lemon, gum syrup, egg white and hibiscus bitters. I drank it slowly, to take in the variety of flavors it offers up.  I just can't write enough about CAMINO.  I really love being there. Can't you tell?

Friday, May 21, 2010

East Bay Is Where It's At!

After a great day in the East Bay, what better way to celebrate, then to go to Pizzaiolo at 5008 Telegraph in Oakland.  Did you know they are celebrating their 5 year anniversary in June?  I'll be there for sure.  Last night I brought my new friend John, whom I have been palling around all week with, to this incredible place. And we had an outstanding meal.

I started drinking this tequila cocktail and John had some housemade lemonade when Charlie, the chef, brought out his Trippa all Fiorentina as his gift to us. It took us a few rounds of bread to soak up every single drop of this dish.  It was powerful, distinctive and had Charlie's  signature all over it. The egg blended so well with the chunky pieces of tripe. "I love tripe!"

And since I saw him up there,  I steered towards the Monterey Bay sand dabs in saor from the wood oven with pinenuts and currants.  I knew Charlie's hands would be all over this.  And when it arrived, I looked at John and he looked up at me and said, "Oh my god, this dish is amazing."  It was soft and delicate and literally fell off the bones as John dished it out to me.  It was absolutely exquisite.

By this time I had moved to beer, Racer 5, of course.  And the Braised Becker Lain pork with polenta, asparagus, baby artichokes and breadcrumb salsa verde came out.  The shoulder had so much flavor.  That bread crumb salsa verde was so good, I was eating crumbs of it off the table, as not to go to waste.  I opted up the extra sphere of asparagus for more meat.  YUM! John was beaming with pleasure and satisfaction.

And we about just fell over when they brought the special pizza of the night out.  It was a Clam Pizza and a tribute to the New Haven coal fire ovens.  Especially Pepe's whose legendary Clam Pie is known around the globe. Well, I never had the privilege of Pepe's as of yet...But this pizza, last night, unbelievable...It's not just the clams, it's the clam juice, the Calabrian Peppers, parsley, onions, garlic and olive oil. Now, didn't that just tickle you to hear?  I'm still tickled pink, wishing I had a piece of it right now, in front of me.  I ordered a Boont Amber on tap to help with my last slice.  I moved through that slice with ease after being a pig the whole meal.  Taking your time with food is very necessary and something I need to learn more. It's just so damn good at Pizzaiolo! ;)

Henry, our server was so gracious and sweet and brought us some sorbet to cleanse our pallets from this extraordinary meal.  We were in utter heaven as we kissed Jen Louise, our beautiful host and dear friend, goodbye. I love the East Bay.

Monday, May 17, 2010

BBQ Tuesday IS Back At Mission Beach Cafe

Mission Beach Cafe is currently doing a BBQ Tuesday Menu.  I was so excited to bring a party of 5 in the other night to attack these dishes.  We sat down, with the light of day fading. The interior is so comfortable at MBC.  And it never seems to get too noisy in there. My group began ordering libations as we perused the evening's menu.

The seasonal soup for the night was a corn & cauliflower soup.  It was made with roasted corn, Huitlacoche, Garlic oil and creme fraiche.  We found out from our server that the Huitlacoche is like a Mexican truffle.  It actually is a fungus that grows naturally on the ears of corn.  Well, from the sound of it, I was intrigued and the soup turned out to be phenomenal.  First of all, it had a smoky BBQ finish in each spoonful.  And that roasted, fresh corn, let me tell you... But truly, the Huitlacoche really left an impression.  A real delicate and delicious addition.

Everyone at the table raved about the tea smoked albacore tuna that was being passed around.  It was served on crispy lemon-saffron risotto with a chili creme fraiche. There was a fried quail egg on top of each piece dashed with caviar.  Sounds dreamy, huh?  We felt slightly in dream scape as it disappeared in front of our mouths.  Another dish that was made with so much thought.  The quail egg that was on top of pieces of tuna, the crispy risotto, the caviar.  I mean, come on! It was an excellent starter and our audience was howling for more.

Our table also got a salad to share. It had fresh escarole hearts, shaved fennel, rhubarb, hazelnuts, pt. reyes blue cheese and creme fraiche blue cheese dressing. I simply love blue cheese.  It stems back to my youth as a chubby kid.  I used to over pour dressing on my salad and simply get lost in the blue cheese.  Now that I am older and healthier, I prefer a lite pour to really taste the elements of my salad.  And that is how this salad was presented.  With just the right amount of dressing and the additional crumbles of cheese, I was very pleased.

The smoked lamb meatballs were also brought out from the kitchen for our enjoyment.  We each shared a half each along with some baby shiitakes, some red pearl onion and green garlic.  They were tender and had a great spice to them.  We all cleared that plate with no problem. 

The fifth starter was the collard greens with black-eyed peas, ham hock and lemon.  A great BBQ treat! The greens were the perfect texture, the black eyed peas crunched, the lemon left a great essence.  All the starters left us excited for what was up next in the barbecue.

There was a mesquite smoked pulled-pork shoulder sandwich that was going around.  I got a small taste of some very large flavor.  Large and in charge, in fact.  I loved the sauce with all the smokey flavors.  I also loved the fennel-cabbage slaw that came with the pork.  The dish has fries as well.  I love MBC's  fries. They are always crowd pleasers.

Next up on the entrees was the grilled organic half chicken.  Now, get this...It had a seasonal strawberry rhubarb glaze that was mighty pleasant to taste.  I thought the grilled corn was also done well.  And the presentation with the egg and flower was a great touch.  The chicken was thick, juicy and full of flavor.

Speaking of full flavor, we got the fig-wood smoked devils gulch ranch pork ribs with rancho gordo baked beans and grilled asparagus.  I got a big piece because the table was starting to get full.  I shredded the meat off the bone with ease.  It was tender and succulent pork.  I also loved the way the asparagus was cooked on the grill.  I was glad I got a solid helping.

I also had a robust helping of the tamarind-soy glazed arctic char.  It came with an olive oil yukon gold mash that was outstanding.  I popped many of the roasted cipollini onions and the sauteed pea shoots in my mouth.  The fish was cooked the way it needed to be.  Here again, it pointed to the thoughtful chef.  He really takes the time to perfect the dishes he sends out.  My party was oh, so pleased.

Everyone was so content but I insisted on some dessert selections.  It would have been a sin for them to miss the sour cherry pie.  I had this a few weeks back and have been dreaming about it ever since.  There is nothing that can touch it.  It comes with fresh whipped cream, that I insist, is a gift from god.  We also shared the banana butterscotch cream pie for the first time.  I thought it was very yummy. I also had bites of the honey lavender cheesecake before I called it quits. That was also quite something.  All the desserts are always amazing.  It's one of the things MBC is known for.  I just wish I had them right now because I am so hungry reflecting about them.
Photos by Karri Cormican

The night was now upon us and the room had just the right amount of light.  I looked around to see a very satisfied crowd.  I came back the next day and brought Bill, the owner some fresh flowers to thank him for a splendid time.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Someone To Watch At "The Porch"

Emerging Chef,  Mark Goodger, from The Front Porch amazed me last night with a couple of new additions to the current menu. I had the blue crab fritters with a criolla remoulade. Now, I am the biggest fritter fan through and through.  I relate also to the crab.  All kinds of crab. And, we are truly blessed with the ones that swim up to our shore.  These blue crab were so fine, I nearly lost my mind. Shared them with the bartender they were so damn good.  Girl could have gotten fired! They were so good...

And then came the Green bean casserole with Parmesan bread crumbs...Well, first of all, if looks could kill.  Me and Karri, the bartender and good friend of mine, were salivating like her dog, Mr. T.  Just picking it up on your fork is really fun. At first, I was aiming to save some for my friend Dave.  Poor guy was trying to find parking for nearly 30 minutes.  The casserole was ancient history by the time he showed up.

I encouraged him to look at the menu though to see if anything excited him. I got  really excited when he said he wanted to try the fried green tomatoes with pickled chow chow and a tomato marmalade.  Beside the fantastic tomatoes and they truly were fantastic.  The pickled chow chow was truly seductive. For those that may not know, chow chow "is an American pickled relish made from a combination of vegetables." The chef's offering was splendid.  It was a night with good buds and some Firestone DBA in my mug. I was quite the happy camper.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Swan Oyster Depot Is A True Landmark On Polk Street

I finally made it to Swan Oyster Depot this week.  I have been dying to try this place for years.  My buddy Aaron and I were always trying to get away at lunch.  It is only a 20 seat restaurant, so one must prepare to wait.  And how could you not?  The staff is super friendly from the moment you walk in.  You can tell that it is a family owned and operated establishment.  The 2 key people are the brothers that run the counter offering up tastes of the smoked salmon and pouring you an Anchor Steam.  The history of Swan goes all the way back to 1912. The business was taken over in 1946 by by Sal Sancimino and his three cousins, Frank, Al and Pat LaRocca.  Their children took it over in the 1970's. 

This place is all about the experience. So, I asked for advice when I ordered lunch for Drew and I the other day. We each got a cup of their legendary Boston Clam Chowder.  Looking back, I wish I had gotten a bowl.  I have read a lot of reviews on this particular chowder.  My experience with it was awesome.  I like the thin texture to it and the focus on the "bobbing bites of tender bivalve." It was all about the clams.

From chowder, we went to Oysters on the half shell.  All of which blew our minds.  The Cortes Island Miyagis were so yummy.  The Tomales Bay and Drakes Bay represented how great oysters are from California.  We had some Blue Points and Kumamotos as well. It all tasted like the ocean and I craving more. 

Drew and I shared the combination salad with Shrimp, Prawn and Crab.  It certainly had a "munificent helping of sweet, meaty crab atop a crisp bed of shredded iceberg, slathered in a heart-stopping puddle of Thousand Island-esque Louie dressing."  There was definitely  some mighty amounts of Shrimp and Prawn as well. That accompanied with local Sourdough bread for a munchin'.  It was all so fresh and satisfying.

Sipping on my 2nd Anchor Steam, I knew I was going to come back for the Smoked Salmon on a Saturday.  It would go well with bagels on Sunday, a tradition we used to do when I was growing up. Man, I can taste it now on top of my freshly boiled onion bagel with chive cream cheese.  Yum! Just one of the many excuses that we bring me back to Swan Oyster Depot real soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

STABLE Has Become A Staple

Today was my 2nd stop at STABLE this week.  I got to meet Thomas, one of the owners of this fine establishment.  We got introduced by a mutual friend and ended up talking over lunch.  He had suggested I try their special, the Cuban pork sandwich.  It had red onions, melted Swiss cheese, bacon and pepperoncinis.  It was very special indeed.  It came with a refreshing salad of greens, onions and carrots.  I loved how the pork tasted with the bacon.  The melted cheese was fantastic and really added to the overall flavor of the sandwich.

Thomas talked about his background and showed me pictures of the farm he has in Petaluma.  He has a true passion for what he does.  I was in awe watching him in his prime.  He was engaging with his staff, his peers and his customers.  We toured the kitchen where all the magic takes place.  He told me the history of the building.  It stems back to the 1850's.  Thomas has restored, modified  and even updated the structure through the years.  Always paying homage to the original structure.  Today, STABLE is known as a place that serves it's community with the freshest ingredients.  Most of them grown from the farm or in backyards around the neighborhood.

Another reason why I find this place so inviting is the coffee.  It's probably because they use DE LA PAZ.  The other morning, Grant and I were in there for a little nosh and I had one of their macchiatos.  I had another one today.  Exceptionally done on both occasions.

I had the frittata the other day as well  They used great pasta noodles and  tomato sauce.  I think they called it Grandma's recipe.  It simply looked  irresistible when I saw it.  And it did not disappoint.

I  treated myself to a warm, out-of-the-oven chocolate chip scone that day too.  Scones are either done really well or not at all.  And I only have nice things to say about this one.  I love it when the chocolate chip is still in tact and melts in your mouth when you take a bite.  Of course, I had to share this moment and a small piece of it with Grant.

Grant and I  talked about how beautiful the overall space is.  How incredibly comforting it feels when you step in.  It is always bright and full of color.  Whether you are looking at the art on the walls or sitting down at one of the yellow tables downstairs, there is always a warm color to notice.

The flowers are changed frequently by a neighboring florist Lila B.  I got to meet Baylor, the owner of the flower studio, when Thomas suggested I go and get some for a friend. She has excellent stuff.  A lot of plants and flowers that are grown in the neighborhood.  I was very impressed. And so was my friend.

Thomas also introduced me to Jen from batter bakery.  I had tried her lavender shortbread with sprinkled sea salt only moments prior to being introduced and was all full of glee.  As my readers can confirm, I love salty sweetness.  Jen has a kiosk for the bakery downtown at the old flower tube located out front of 555 California, right at the corner of Kearny. She was so sweet and gracious, she even gave me an oatmeal cookie and a chocolate chip cookie to sample. Well, I just did.  All I have to say is that, they are both gone and I loved every minute I had eating them.

STABLE has changed the neighborhood on Folsom.  Expect more surprises from Thomas & crew in the near future.  I am just glad to have finally gotten to see behind-the-scenes.  I now know where greatness comes from.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Terzo Leaves Us Craving For More...

Jake joined me for dinner Friday night at Terzo located in Pacific Heights.  It was a first visit for both of us.  We sat in the very comfortable setting and ordered libations.  I, a Duvel Green and he, a glass of wine.  Our friendly neighbors next to us recommended the Hummus with house made pita & Za'atar.  And they were right when they said "it's all about that pita."  The plate had neither a drop of hummus nor a crumb of pita when the waiter came to retrieve it.

Onward to the Steamed Mediterranean Mussels with Oloroso Sherry, Bay, Chiles, Cilantro & Grilled Toasts.  What is not to love about the sound of that?  The combination of the spices in the broth were spectacular.  That is always the indicator for me.

My friend Eric had mentioned to get the Panzarotto & Marinara if it happened to be on the menu.  It was and I was delighted.  It's a calzone with fresh mozzarella, ricotta & Calabrian chiles.  How can you go wrong with that?  I thought it was star of the show.

We also got some crispy onions to munch on as we moved on to our second drink order.  This time I got a New Belgium Ranger IPA.  It was the perfect amount of food and beer to kick off my weekend.  I will definitely be coming back to explore more of Terzo's menu very soon.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Wednesday, Drew and I opened the sunroof and drove off to Sausalito.  As we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, we watched just how perfect the weather can be along the bay.  We pulled into FISH. at 350 Harbor Drive and got a table outside on the deck.

Drew ordered some Kumamoto Oysters while I ordered some BBQ Oysters.  We each shared accordingly. I had decided to drink their Mission Blonde from San Diego that was on tap.  It paired well with the San Diego hamachi poke in a sesame Ginger dressing and housemade yam chips. I simply order the poke every time I eat at FISH.  It's the bomb!  Reminiscent of the poke I always get whenever I am in Hawaii.

I got to talking with the woman behind the counter about the different fishing vessels that supply to the restaurant.  Apparently, her uncle has a fishing vessel named Rayann that sometimes appears on the menu's specials.  That day the F/V Anna Marie, from Louisanna,  had provided glorious Grilled Prawns on "Kisur" Bulgur Salad.  Kisur is a traditional Turkish Salad made with Green Almonds & Mint.  The Bulgur is a wheat grain similar to a cous cous.  The Shrimp actually stood on their own.  They tasted so fresh and succulent.

Drew claims the side of Grilled Frisee with Roasted Beets to have had the best Chevre he ever tasted.  It was smooth and creamy.  I enjoyed how fluffy it was.  I also liked the Tarragon vinaigrette that was drizzled all over the dish.

One dish you must order when you eat at FISH. is their Crab Roll.  It is their West Coast rendition of the East Coast favorite.  They use Sweet Dungeness Crab served atop a toasted ACME torpedo roll with organic butter and sweet chives.  I split the sandwich with Drew.  He noticed how fast my half  went and was kind enough to give me his last bite.  What a good friend...

As if we didn't order enough food, we took it even further, when we decided to share dessert.  We ordered the Buñuelis Con Dulce de Leche.  It was 3 scoops of Cinnamon Ice Cream in a crispy tortilla shell topped w/ Housemade Dulce de Leche Sauce.  It quickly disappeared and we headed back to the City with satisfied bellies. I sure love having the weekdays off.  We shall see how long this lasts. ;)

All photos were shot by William Drew Story.