Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mad for Macarons

"I'm bringing you something from NY, but I don't know if you're going to like them, but I'm bringing them for you anyway," said JC on the phone, the day before she was to fly in to SF. "OK, sure, bring it," I told her, wondering what the heck could it be.

Only THE most delicious sweet Parisian pastries from Macaron Cafe, opened by—what else?—a Parisian husband-wife duo. When JC handed them to me, she asked, "Do you even like macarons?" I told her I honestly didn't know. I can't even think when I might've had them. Sure I've seen them around—after all, SF is rife with French boulangeries, patisseries and bistros—but I'd always avoided them, mostly because the pastel colors signaled that these had to be too "sickly sweet" to be any good.

I was wrong. A luscious, creamy ganache filling comes sandwiched between two airy-crisp meringue domes, all of it bursting with flavor. The vanilla, mocha, chocolate, lemon, and peach ... I loved them all. Perfect with a cup of coffee or a strong cup o' tea.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Best Kind of Vietnamese at PPQ

JC did not want me taking her picture. Oh no. No way. But since we go waaaaay back, I ran roughshod over her wishes and snapped one of her anyway. (Thanks, C!) Then it was down to business. We scooted down the street and around the corner to my friendly neighborhood Vietnamese eatery, Pho Phu Quoc, and made quick work of the spicy, tart green papaya salad covered with a generous handful of crushed peanuts and deep-fried onion strings. Almost as good as the addictive rendition that Charles Phan offers up at Out the Door.

Then we wolfed down PPQ's bouncy fresh spring rolls. All of 'em.

Moving right along, we slurped up the rare flank steak and beef ball pho. Beef balls? Not so much. It was the spongey texture that put me off. But the rest? AH-mazing. A subtly fragrant, steaming broth, sprinkled with scallions, it's the best noodle soup of its kind that I've ever had.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

CAV Says It with Cheese

"You won't find a better cheese plate in town," our server declared as he slid this gorgeous plate across our table at CAV Wine Bar. "Funny you should say that," I said, "because I was just telling my friends that this IS the best cheese plate in town." For real though—I really did say it, because fully loaded, this trois-fromage medley kicks some serious ass.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I Dream of Bar Jules

I recently lost a bet to a coworker buddy of mine, never mind how or why. But the terms of the bet involved dinner—on me. Naturally, if I were forced to eat humble pie (figuratively of course), then I better damn well enjoy the meal. So I nominated new fave and Hayes Valley gem, Bar Jules, knowing I'd probably get a resounding "yea" from said coworker-buddy. After all, we'd only just been to the tiny eatery a week and a half prior—and savored every bite of our locally sourced, screaming-of-summer feast.

So imagine our dismay when we strolled up to Bar Jules tonight only to find it shut, closed, dark, dead ... to ... me. After a brief diatribe—read: rathole—along the lines of "this is why San Francisco can suck so bad sometimes. As if people don't eat on Mondays ... what what?!" we got over it and moved on to ever-so-lovely CAV Wine Bar. But since I've waxed poetic about CAV—on more than one occasion—this here blog post is all about the supercali-fantastic Bar Jules.

The menu (which changes daily) included a wonderfully sweet-salty yellow watermelon, feta and olive salad. My only criticism: it coulda used a bit of green to make it look as appetizing as it tasted (a chiff of mint or basil would've done the trick).

We split the fork-tender, flakey sea bass with farm-fresh English peas and baby carrots along with the luscious lamb lollies served over a bed of big white bean ragout. Laaaaaaaaaa ... in a word: heaven.

Thumbs (way) up on the quatro leches cake with a healthy helping of tangy-sweet macerated strawberries piled on. Doesn't look like much, but the combo of evaporated milk, condensed milk, dulce de leche and heavy whipping cream made this a decadent ending to the kind of meal that gets me dreaming of sugar and spice and all things nice (lamb lollies included).