Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Fresh and Fruity

Franciscan Crab at Fisherman's Wharf celebrated its 50th anniversary not so long ago, and as SS's plus-one, I was lucky enough to take part in the cornucopia of fresh fruits de mer adorning the 20-foot-long buffet table in the massive "2nd Tier" area of the resto. Boasting breathtaking views of the bay, Franciscan is a place I'm sure my dad would like—he of the old-school variety would appreciate the cushy red leather banquettes, plush carpeting and black-and-white "period" photos dotting the interior. I'm sure he'd also approve of the ever-so-tasty shrimp cocktail, basted Dungeness crab legs, crab and avocado sandwiches, and the bite-sized grilled red pepper and buffalo mozzarella bruschettas for the taking.

And let's not forget about the free-flowing Champagne that lightened our mood and refreshed our palates. The fleet-footed server at our station was always on hand to refill our glasses, glasses we drained effortlessly to the rhythm of the upbeat jazz trio playing just a few feet away. Now, this is living.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bar Tartine: Before and After

Dessert the night before: Bar Tartine's tarte tatin piled high with juicy in-season apricots, zig-zags of a sweet-tart blackberry reduction and a dollop of airy whipped cream.

Brunch the day after: Bar Tartine's whole wheat savory crepes packed with fluffy scrambled eggs, a sprinkling of sausage, sweet corn and other veg, generously drizzled with a pleasingly tangy and sweet cherry tomato jam, and accompanied with a pile of perfectly crisped and sunshiney flat fries. (Plus a few cups of Blue Bottle coffee.)

Mission: to go to Bar Tartine often and work my way down, up, sideways and backwards across the tantalizing menu. At least until people catch on and the place gets packed during the brunching hour.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Dim Sum Delights

Ma mere bought me a pork bun for the whopping price of 50 cents. And as I wolfed it down today, I thought of my last visit to Wing Lee Bakery in the Inner Richmond. My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach. Between CL and me, we noshed on a variety of dim sum delights: shrimp dumplings, red bean sesame balls, egg rolls, pork buns and more. And despite the fact that I ordered food for four, I think the bill came up to less than $8. How's that for some good, cheap eats?
Nothing, of course, compares to the caliber of Harbor Village, long dead and gone, and a touch more expensive than your average dim sum eatery—my friend would happily gnaw on a chicken claw while I would slurp down the delicately made rice noodle rolls and other more "mundane" steamed dishes off the trolley cart. City View Restaurant in Chinatown does a pretty swell job of filling the void, however. I like it a bit better than old standby Yank Sing though it's probably safe to say that Ton Kiang can and does hold its own to City View.

But if all I'm looking for is to scratch my dim sum itch for very little money, then I'll hit Wing Lee or any of the other handful of no-frills bakeries in the Inner Richmond with a tenner in my back pocket and a growl in my stomach.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Chinese or Japanese?

Thai, actually. My ma and pa are in town for an extended visit, and ma had a hankering for some good Chinese food. Unfortunately, there is no good Chinese in my neck of the woods, but I offered up Osha Thai, which had recently opened a new resto in the 'hood. The folks were willing, so we strolled on over and got seated within a few minutes of our arrival. Despite the din and roar that assailed our ears (high-pitched titters, the clatter of silverware, they all reverb off the walls and come back at you), we managed to enjoy our dinner. What you see here is the pineapple fried rice, my go-to dish (at the downtown Osha) when I've been out enjoying some lovely beverages at nearby Rye.

For dinner with the folks, I hit a home run with the:
- pad see ew comprising stir-fried rice noodles, egg, garlic, broccoli, black bean sauce and pork
- spicy sweet basil leaf with ground beef, fresh chili, garlic and bell pepper
- seafood curry made with fresh green chili paste, coconut milk, apple eggplants, bell peppers, basil and bamboo.

Ma, who's always had the idea that Thai food isn't very good, has now revised her opinion. She LOVED all of the dishes, so much so that she told me I did good with what I'd ordered (she's very sparing with her compliments, almost grinchlike some would say). That said, Osha Thai has taken Marnee Thai out of pole position. Dad, who went to town on the spicy dishes in particular, no doubt agrees.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Argentina By Way of Brooklyn

I don't know how else I'd rather spend a lazy summer's day than to sit by the windows of a deliciously well-executed Argentinean resto, Carniceria, with one of your BFFs, the breeze wafting in and around you and the Fania All Stars crooning about love and life in the background. I had what was likely the best caffe latte ever (brought to me as a cup of steaming espresso, which I then poured over a glass of ice and chased with a cup o' milk) and then followed up with a wonderfully spicy and salsified Spanish rendition of (rice) steak 'n eggs.
I heart brunch. Just had a delightful late-morning meal at Bar Tartine last week (more on that later). I'd forgotten about my trip to Carniceria, until I stumbled across these pics. I'm glad I found 'em cuz it was a trip to remember.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Pig-Out Pick-Me-Up

What better way to brighten up your day (or night) than to pal around town with a buddy like C, who's pretty much up for anything, like hitting Taqueria Cancun after a long night of people-watching, head-bobbing (to live music, if you're wondering), small-talking (not with each other since everything we discuss is deeply profound ...uh, fer shur, really, like oh my god), and last but not least beer and Tanqueray tippling. She's a tiny tad confounded here because she'd just lost a chip from her nachos. Well, no matter. There's plenty more where that came from. I'm partial to the porky pig burrito. A super-effective roadblock to the dreaded hangover, which seems to come on way more in my 30s than my wee 20s. Ah, youth.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A Little In-N-Out

A little In-N-Out goes a long way. I hadn't been in god knows how long (I'm thinkin' maybe 10 months?) and man, was I jonesing for a burger animal style (that's with grilled onions, pickles and extra spread for those of you who don't know) with some of their fresh fries. In-N-Out's the only fast-food joint I'll frequent—read Fast Food Nation and you'll know why. The first time I took my folks, they told me they didn't like this place, that the burgers were no good. But I said, Ah, but did you try them animal style? Animal what? they said. So they gave it a go, and now they happily acquiesce to my request to make a run to the West Coast chain whenever I visit them in AZ. On our last visit (heck, on every visit), we mowed down our meal in a meager handful of minutes.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

No Trifling Matter

Newly opened Salt House, which has received rave reviews, had been on my go-see list almost since my first month back to SF last year. So, when the opportunity came up to go try it out (and for free, no less—thanks, boss!), I jumped. After throwing back a couple handfuls of the addictive roasted nuts tossed in truffle honey, I got handed the house ground burger smothered in NY cheddar and a towering pile of some of the best crispety-crunchety onion strings I've ever had. The burger, juicy, messy and wonderfully seasoned, was enormous. And it was so much better—by leaps and bounds—than the sad Absinthe burger I'd had a couple of months back.

But the thing that made me swoon was the strawberry trifle. Moist cake, juicy berries and airy whipped cream with the crunch of shortbread cookies to provide a contrasting texture ... the most splendid of desserts that had us wishing we'd each ordered our own so we didn't have to share. Ah well, there's always next time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hot Pockets and More

It's probably been at least five years since I ate (with great pleasure) at Limon, and since that time, I've heard mixed reviews about this Peruvian resto. In fact, when my friend recommended we eat there last weekend, I told him I'd heard it was overrated. "Overrated," he exclaimed with a disapproving shake of his head. Limon is great, he assured. And so, with the promise we'd get seated in just a few moments (due to a last-minute cancellation) and my curiosity piqued, I thought why not? Two hot pockets—aka crispy empanadas packed with deliciously seasoned sautéed beef, onions, olives, raisins and eggs, served with rocoto cream sauce—and three seafood apps later, I had my answer.
The small plates, especially the aforementioned pastries and the ceviche Limon (small hunks of halibut and tender rings of squid marinated in lime juice, served with yam, Peruvian corn and mussels in a salsa criolla) are pretty damn good. I'm not so sure about the entrees however—the ribeye steak, though tender and doused in a piquant chimicurri mustard sauce, had been salted with a heavy hand. I was glad I'd opted for the tapas and topped it off with an order of the spongy and moist almond tres leches. All shared of course, though I could easily have taken care of business by myself.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Munchies for Mochi

Knowing how much my folks like mochi, those Japanese rice ball desserts typically stuffed with red bean, my sister bought them a box of 10 and handed over the sweet booty as soon as she landed in AZ. Forty-five minutes later, they arrived home, and this is what was left. Dang. Based on what I've read of Two Ladies Kitchen, where my Oahu-dwelling sis got the goods (she had just run Hawaii's Volcano marathon), the mochi are made fresh daily and are also stuffed with white chocolate, peach, passionfruit, peanut butter, and even whole fresh strawberries.

Definitely out of the ordinary. Get a load of the blue tint to the one on the left. Certainly, nothing I've ever seen in a mochi before. And I didn't see it for long either. Mom and dad demolished the final two right after I snapped a picture. Guess we've got something to look forward to when we visit the Big Island in November ...

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Carb Lover

My folks' dog is a true Korean (yes, he really is: a Jindo to be exact), but also because he loves the carbs ... pasta, rice, bread, you name it. He gobbles it up. What's he eating here, you wonder? Hunks of bread. Yep, that's right. My mom, who dotes on him, gives him all manner of carbohydrates (something we Koreans can't live without). He tips the scales at 60 pounds. A husky dog, for sure. For the longest time, I thought my mom was doing our dog a disservice, feeding him this stuff on top of his usual dog food. But on his last visit to the doctor, he was given a clean bill of heatlh. The vet even went so far as to say that his heart beats like that of a one-year-old. Pretty damn good considering he's 9 years old now ... so, i guess that proves it: a high-carb diet isn't so bad and may in fact do a body good. All the more reason for me to keep on shoveling up the carbs ... Atkins dieters, eat your heart out.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Figgy Goodness

I heart figs. Ever since I had to prepare them as part of a five-course while I was working garde manger at a NYC three-star resto ... sliced in half, topped with a goat cheese, nut and Indian spice crumble. These tempting little fruits were not a part of my childhood—OK, yeah, who hasn't had a fig newton, but whole? Not a chance. So it's no wonder that my dad, then mom and finally my sister asked me, truly baffled: "How do you eat them? Do you have to peel the skin off first?" To which I responded, all you gotta do is trim off the stem and pop the sucker into your mouth. You can eat it as is, or serve it in a salad or with cheeses like goat and blue. Roasting them with a suckling pig would also be faboo. (My sister and I had this rendition when we were in Barcelona.) The ones you see here were plucked off the branches of my dad's little tree, which he planted just a few months ago in his backyard. No they're not quite ready to eat, but they're still so tantalizing and pleasing to the eye, dontcha think?