Saturday, June 27, 2009

COCO500's Wicked Fried Green Beans

Loretta Keller knows that, come hell or high water, her green beans have got to stay on the menu. They were on when the resto was formerly known as Bizou and made it through the transition to COCO500 several years ago. Deep-fried in a light batter, the pile o' beans come out super crisp and piping hot with an ever-changing dip that's typically mayo-based but sometimes made of chickpea or mustard.

With summer in full swing, zucchini blossoms are in season, so we were lucky enough to get a version of COCO500's flatbread incorporating these fragrant flowers, seasoned with truffle oil and parmesan. Ever so light and delicate, it—along with the green beans and a little vino of course—made for a great ending to the day.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Weird Fish Is Green

AF and I went to Weird Fish for her birthday dinner, and had a pretty good meal. Neither of us were feeling adventurous enough to try the "suspicious fish dish," which leaves it up to the chef to deliver you the fish of the day with 2 accompanying sides, no questions asked. So, AF went for the dijon-almond encrusted rainbow trout with mashed yams and sauteed spinach while I decided on the shrimp taco with rice and beans. Of the two, the trout was the standout dish, while mine was just fine.

What I really like about Weird Fish is that it's a green business. According to its website, the resto serves locally grown vegetables and prepares fish that's primarily farmed and sustainable. "Thank you for supporting us," it says. "Together we can make a difference."

And how.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pizzeria Delfina is pretty good

Yep. You heard me. Pizzera Delfina's Neapolitan-style pies aren't the best I've had, but a pretty nice meal nonetheless. SS had the clam and tomatoes, subbing arugula for the cheese (sadly SS and fromage don't mix), while I went for the broccoli raab with bufala mozzarella, extra-salty cured olives, and hot peppers. I still think Pizzetta 211 makes the best thin-crust pizza in the city, while Pauline's comes in a close second. All three offer the freshest (local, seasonal, organic when possible) toppings. But it just seems that Pizzetta 211 and Pauline's do a better job of getting that crust super thin and crisping it up well and good.

Recently, Little Star's thin crust broke back into the top 3. I'd kicked it out a couple of years ago—for the same reason why top honors can't go to Delfina: a not-so-stellar crust—when I'd gone with my Lonely Planet writer friend to check out a few pies for her SF reviews. But I tried it again a couple of weeks ago, and found myself delightfully surprised—and revising my previous note to self to only go to Little Star for the deep dish pie and nothing else.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Finally! Dosa

It's now going on more than 2-and-a-half years since I've been back from New York, and yet it took me that long to finally make it out to Dosa. Chalk it up to getting a mixed bag of reviews—some fantastic, others not so much—thrown at me from different sets of friends. Well, the visit was way overdue, and thanks to my cousin, MC, I hit the South Indian eatery on Valencia a couple of weeks ago ... and I liked it a whole heckuvalot.

The theme: Fried.

* Fried sliced onions seasoned in chickpea batter, garnished with cilantro and flash-fried curry leaves
* Fried prawns dry-rubbed in ground chickpea, chiles and other spices, sitting on organic micro greens

* Dosa's cod special, also fried I think. Super flakey and moist, bathed as it was in a zesty green cilantro curry.

And of course, the fried breads:

* A dosa, similar to a crepe, but about 7 times the size; it came with helpings of tomato and coconut chutney, and sambar (a lentil-based soup you dip the dosa into)
* Poori, deep-fried disks of bread made from whole grain durum wheat that puff up when they hit the hot oil.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bienvenue Paulette

I'm hoping there's a place for Paulette in the SF food scene, because its pastel-hued macarons are a really sweet addition to Hayes Valley. The passionfruit was to-die-for ... so much so, that I had to go back for seconds. Course, the coconut, pistachio, raspberry and lemon were also calling my name. Oh well, there's always next time ...

Friday, June 5, 2009

El Tovar at the Grand Canyon

After our epic 18-mile hike down South Kaibab to Phantom Ranch and then back up Bright Angel trail (oy), we hobbled on over for a well-deserved feeding at century-old El Tovar Restaurant that eve.

Though I remain mystified by the bizarre ritual of stuffing animal heads and mounting them up on the walls—a good 7 or 8 of them were cluttering El Tovar's lounge, I never say no to a tasty set of venison rib chops (which my sister ordered) or a fat New York strip crowned with a generous handful of buttermilk-cornmeal onion rings (my dad's pick).

Lucky for me, they shared some of their spoils, because my dinner—a gnocchi primavera—was sadly forgettable. I know, I know. What was I thinking bypassing a meaty main in favor of pasta and veg? The beady eyes of the massive moosehead looking down at me in the lounge should have clued me in to the fact that protein is El Tovar's specialty. Oh well, chalk it up to one part exhaustion and another part hunger, plus a large dose of altitude hangover thrown in.