Chez Panisse Chef Cal Peternell at Yale

When it was announced that Chef Cal Peternell from Chez Panisse was coming to Yale, I knew I had to go. It was like my two worlds — the Bay Area and Yale — were colliding in one fantastic meal. I had been to Chez Panisse once, on my fifteenth birthday. In addition, I had been to every Guest Chef (or as I commonly call it, “Celebrity Chef”) event hosted by Yale Dining. This was the first chef whose name I actually recognized. And so, even when I was put on the wait list for the event, I hounded the event coordinators to get in. And I did.

Like all of the previous Guest Chef Events, the menu was created by Chef Peternell, but the cooking was conducted by the Yale Dining staff. Some dishes were more stellar than others. Overall, all of the dishes were better than the dining hall food. Some of my eating-mates expressed disappointment, but I left my meal pleased.

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Iceberg lettuce salad.

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Deviled eggs with curry and saffron.

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The roasted butternut squash hummus was excellent. I probably devoured 3/4 of this bowl.

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Chef Peternell spoke, but mostly read from his new book.

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These meatless meatballs were meh.

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The twice-cooked pork with salsa verde was definitely the best main dish. Filling, rich, and good.

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Braised chicken legs.

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The macaroni and cheese was no different from the regular dining hall macaroni and cheese (which is pretty good) save for the oven-baked bread cumb topping.IMG_1093

Pear upside-down cake.

Student-Run Hospitality at House of York

This year’s Yale Pop-up project, run by Lucas Sin, is House of York — a family-style restaurant open on Friday’s in the Davenport Buttery. My friend Jake and I were lucky enough to get a reservation their first week (and their opening night!). Obviously, the dishes were far superior from the dining halls, and I loved the family-style concept. This first week, the Vietnamese fried chicken main was the shining star. The smorgasbord of side dishes that came along all had their own unique concepts, but were less stellar in comparison. I can testify to the fact, however, that House of York keeps on getting better and better every week. I would make a point to go at least once this semester.

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Sesame rice crackers with edamame-miso hummus

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Stem stir fry — massaro farm bok choy and chinese broccoli

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Sausage buns — chinese preserved sausage, mushrooms

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Saigon charcuterie — cha lua, smoked tofu, fish cake

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Spring rolls — rice paper, beets

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Buttered corn with nuoc cham, bird chilies, fried shallots

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Avocado seaweed salad with ginger wasabi, and lime

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Sweet potato cakes with tom yum paste and coconut cream

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Vietnamese fried chicken with beet juice barbeque sauce and chipotle aioli

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Mango Sorbet with thai basil shortbread, goji berries, dried lilies

P.S. Dessert was also divine.

Felicidades at El Quinto Pino

Earlier this year, I trained down to the city to celebrate my sister’s birthday with her. She had made a reservation at El Quinto Pino, and after drinks and a long stroll we arrived at the restaurant starving. We ordered a ton of tapas. Every single dish was great — the ingredients were unique, the flavors complex, and the execution superb. The uni panini was especially divine. Whoever came up with the concept of an uni panini is a godly genius.

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Picos y Taquitos – imported chorizo, zaatar marinated Manchego, housemade Menorcan style spreadable sausage, artisanal olive oil breadsticks

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Xato – Catalan raw salt cod, grated tomato, romesco, anchovy and chicory

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Arroz Brut de Conejo – Rabbit dirty rice-stuffed Savoy cabbage, saffron broth

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Revuelto de Ortiguilla – Soft scrambled eggs, imported sea anemone

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Lengua Llumaçanes – Menorcan style braised tongue, capers, tomato

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Uni Panini – Sea urchin sandwich

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Crème Catalan. Because we were celebrating, of course.

El Quinto Pino

401 W 24th St, New York, NY 10001
(212) 206-6900

The Pantry

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Earlier this year, when the days were sunny and the leaves were still green, CP and I took a nice, long stroll to The Pantry – one of New Haven’s best and most renowned brunch establishments. We had to wait in line, but the weather was nice and the wait was nothing too extreme. The food was well worth the wait.

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The Pantry is known for their Cinnamon Roll pancakes. If you go to Yale, chances are you’ve seen at least a few Instagram’s of one of The Pantry’s Cinnamon Roll pancakes. The pancakes are huge, delicious, and decadent.

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We also ordered the Eggs Benedict. They were the best Eggs Benedict I have ever had. CP and I both agreed that the Eggs Benedict were, in fact, better than the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes.

Together, between the pancakes and Eggs Benedict, we had a fantastic meal that was both savory and sweet.

Bar Tartine

My family and I went to Bar Tartine on my last night in San Francisco. We left stuffed and satisfied. The restaurant has a definite light, hip San Francisco feel present in the restaurant’s design and transcending into their service and dishes. The dishes are unique, the best by far being the beef tartare flatbread; some dishes, like the lobster mushrooms, were disappointing.

Overall, I would return to Bar Tartine, but not for my last meal in SF. The bread, wheeled over from Tartine Bakery, is obviously superb. The cultured butter was better than the more eccentric lard.

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Rye kvass / pickleback

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Sliced Bread + Cultured Butter

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Sliced Bread + Lard, onion, paprika

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Beets in chickpea sauce

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Lobster mushrooms and sorrel

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Beef tartare on potato flatbread with green horseradish

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Charred salmon with padron peppers, corn, and mushrooms

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Smoked potatoes with black garlic

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Sprouted lentil croquettes with kefir and coriander

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Poached Chicken with white beans, tomatoes, and skordalia

Bar Tartine

561 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 487-1600

Consuming Culture at Cassava

In a post-Outside Lands stupor, my friend Alicia and I ventured out to the Outer Richmond for breakfast before her flight. Cassava is a hip and trendy restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For morning meals, Cassava is known for their Japanese breakfast, which is exactly what it sounds like – a traditional Japanese breakfast, providing a different and unique break from the traditional American breakfast. Every once in a while, maybe you should eat breakfast with chopsticks.

We basked in the nice sunlight shining through the large windows and enjoyed the plethora of different flavors in our meal.IMG_3658IMG_3664IMG_3662

 

Spiced Honey Latte – awesome, albeit a little too sweet for my taste.

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Spiced Honey Latte Pt. II – Iced, with no added sugar. Even more awesome.IMG_3665

The Japanese Breakfast – koshihikari rice, seared albacore, cured lemon natto, house made miso, market pickles, “hot spring” soft poached egg.  We were not huge fans of the natto, but every other dish was great.

IMG_3675Scramble Eggs + Toast + Jam – fluffy scramble eggs in olive oil, rustic levain toast, house made market fruit jam, small salad.

 

A Richmond gem. Who says the Richmond isn’t hip?

 

Cassava

3519 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 640-8990

 

 

Brunchin’ at Zazie

My parents and I have been to Zazie for dinner, which was good not great, but I’ve always wanted return for their infamous brunch. And so, on a rare sunny morning (and my last sunny morning) in San Francisco my mom and I ventured to Cole Valley to enjoy a glorious mid-day feast.

The line was long. What you need to know about Zazie is that they operate on two separate waiting systems. The outside tables go on a first-come-first-serve basis, and the wait list only seats those inside and on the patio out back. We slid into a table outside and had…

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Miracle Pancakes – Bread Pudding Pancakes with grilled bananas and whipped cream

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And the Omelette du Jour – bacon, tomato provençale, fresh basil, and feta cheese

 

Like all San Franciscans, we love to brunch. We left full and fantastically happy.

 

Zazie

941 Cole St, San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 564-5332

Baking Babka

Let me tell you a story about how great my sister is. Last winter, in the depths of a despair-filled Reading Period, my sister sent me a present. She overnighted me a loaf of Green’s Chocolate Babka from Zabar’s in New York. I was over-the-moon ecstatic. I think I even shed a tear of joy. I had been waiting to have a slice of chocolate babka for almost half a year.

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To understand my relationship with babka I have to backtrack a year. Last summer I became obsessed with finding and trying babka. I had about one week left in San Francisco, and I went everywhere looking for it. Babka, apparently, is rare in San Francisco. Or worse, doesn’t even exist. My last hope was Wise Sons Delicatessen, but when I made my excursion out to the Mission the establishment was unfortunately closed. Alas, I left San Francisco unsuccessful and unfulfilled with my quest.

My experiences with babka since then have always been fantastic, delicious, chocolate-y goodness. This summer, I decided to try my own hand at making babka. I used the food network’s recipe online because it seemed to go along best with my favorite parts about babka – rich, chocolate-y, with streusel on top. You can find the recipe here.

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A beautiful, overflowing mess. Mmm.

 

 

 

 

Acquerello

Back in the day when my parents were young and hip and lived in Nob Hill, they came to Acquerello quite often. Since those days, Acquerello has steadily improved in food quality and reputation – and has become one of the best fine dining restaurants in San Francisco. (Comparable to Gary Danko, but by no means equatable.)

The restaurant is quite formal. Jacket is requried, and they refer to themselves as a “special occasion restaurant.” I was worried about taking photos inside, but was assured that it would only be a problem if I was distracting other diners. Given that the table next to us was a large, loud table yelling in Cantonese, I had no problem pulling out my camera for a few quick snaps.

Three complimentary starters:IMG_3622IMG_3626IMG_3627

 

 

IMG_3634Ahi tuna crudo, grapes, pickled Santa Rosa plums, rosemary, black olive, and tonnato sauceIMG_3633Frog Hollow peaches with burrata, rhubarb, black sesame, and basil

IMG_3630Snake River Farms beef tartare, onion soubise, white celery, and Balsamic pearl onionsIMG_3641Cuttlefish ‘tagliatelle’ with capers, chili flakes, lobster,and agrettiIMG_3639Smoked potato gnocchi with prosciutto, confited summer truffle, chive,and ParmesanIMG_3638Acquerello risotto with Brentwood corn, Tiger prawns, pancetta,and Calabrian chiliIMG_3648Grimaud Farms air chilled duck breast, beets, black pepper crumb, hibiscus and blackberriesIMG_3643Maine lobster tail with smoked butter, Brentwood corn custard, confit tomato,and tarragonIMG_3654Bourbon-caramel semifreddo, Amaretti crust, chocolate, and caramel sauceIMG_3656Complimentary desserts to finish off our meal.IMG_3657And a box of biscotti to take home. The biscotti were beyond delicious – quite different and wetter in texture than those I am used to (like my dad’s famous biscotti).

Overall, Acquerello was a fine dining experience. Every dish we had incorporated new flavors and was prepared to perfection. Surprisingly, I found the complimentary dishes to be more exciting and well-prepared than some of the dishes ordered from the menu. Contrary to some previous reports on Acquerello, we also found our dessert to be delightful. We were hesitant to order any dessert, given how full we were, but we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of pastry.

Acquerello was an experience I would do over again no question, as long as I am not the one paying.

Outside Lands 2014: Munching & Music

Outside Lands is a three-day festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park causing a mass invasion of festival-goers, policemen, music-lovers, and food trucks and stalls.

As my friend GP pointed out, Outside Lands is not just a festival of music but a festival of music and art – and the art of food most definitely plays a significant part. Apparently there were more than 2000 “food items” at the festival, though we couldn’t quite decide what counts as a separate food item.

The three-day weekend was a great way to get in all of my SF/American food fixes after China and before I leave for school again.

And so it goes…IMG_6810What better way to start out the weekend than with free Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food? 

IMG_6815Straw’s Donut Cheeseburger. I did not eat this entire thing – just one bite – which was enough to 1) make me realize that it actually was quite tasty and 2) clog 50% of one of my arteries.

IMG_6819Namu’s Korean Quesadilla. Nice idea, poor execution (granted, they were working with minimal space). The cheese was not fully melted, which is always a game-changer in a quesadilla.

IMG_6825Suite Foods Waffle Shop. We searched everywhere for these waffles which were featured on The Bold Italic’s Must Eats at Outside Lands. We finally found their small cart. Waffles were great.

IMG_6832Suite Foods Waffle Shop’s Maple Liège Waffle with Poached Egg and Smoked Sea Salt.

The one major problem with this waffle was that a good poached egg to waffle distribution was quite difficult, maybe impossible, given the differences in their sizes and shapes.

IMG_6921The Chairman Truck’s Steamed Bun with Pork Belly, Tumeric Pickled Daikon, and Shiso. 

I have had hundreds (okay, maybe not hundreds but up there) of Chairman Bao’s buns and loved them every single time. It is my favorite food truck in San Francisco. I had to get one for my visiting friend Alicia so that she would also love San Francisco.

IMG_6841Del Popolo’s Neopolitan Pizza with Pork Salami. (Nice try, Alicia.)

IMG_6945Nombe’s Ramenburger. The line was incredibly long for these ramenburgers every single day of the festival. Our ramenburger was sub-par. The actual burger was dry, and, well, I have very strong feelings about overcooked meat.

IMG_6977Rich Table’s Dried Porcini Doughnuts with Raclette. No visible Porcini in these doughnuts, but the rich flavor of the mushrooms was there. The raclette was incredible fluffy and delicious. Awesome.

IMG_6976Il Cane Rosso’s Griddled French Toast.

Best French Toast I’ve Ever Had. That’s saying a lot. It was really more like a huge chunk of rich bread pudding with maple syrup and whip cream. To. die. for. But actually, I might consider an earlier death by morbid obesity because of this dish.

IMG_6988Pork Arepa from Pica Pica. Always solid.

IMG_7056Charles Chocolates Gourmet S’more.

IMG_6999Hot Thai Tea from Charles Chocolates.

IMG_7040American Grilled Cheese Kitchen’s Crispy-Sweet Maple Brussel Sprouts. Bomb.

IMG_7045American Grilled Cheese Kitchen with Eggs and Green Chiles.

IMG_7055Kara’s Meyer Lemon Cupcake.

IMG_7065Sharona’s Chocolate Shop S’more. I was watching Ben Howard, it was National S’mores Day, it was free, it was in front of me. Can’t go wrong.

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Sataysfied’s mik tek tek fried noodles and dumplings. The noodles tasted like Cup Noodles. Not worth it.

IMG_7052A HUGE shout-out to my main eating partner, Alicia. She tried to get in most of the food photos. Alicia is the Waldo of Where’s Waldo: The Lowe Down Version.

By the way – we did listen to music, too. 

Until next year, Outside Lands.

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