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.

Yes, I am Obsessed.

“Read This If You Are Obsessed with SF’s Burgers”

So, of course, I did. This article makes me want to fly back to San Francisco immediately so I can try every burger and verify The Bold Italic’s statements. A great breakdown and a mouth-watering display of burgers.

Nopa

Nopa is one of those restaurants whose name feels like it is constantly being thrown around in San Francisco. Even if you’ve never been or don’t even know what style cuisine they serve, if you live in San Francisco, chances are you have at least heard the name.

When my mom told me we had reservations during the one week I was back for Thanksgiving, I immediately got even more excited to return home. As I churned through the final weeks and days of school before Thanksgiving break, Nopa began to represent to me everything and everything food-related that I missed about San Francisco and home. With all of these ideas and expectations running through my mind, I am surprised that Nopa managed to meet my expectations. The dinner was tasty, though the dishes ranged from those phenomenally great to those that were just good. The ambiance and design of the restaurant alone, however, I think are worth a visit and the price of the meal.

A note – one thing I kind of loved about Nopa were the more quirky dishes on their menu, though they may not be everyone’s cup of tea. A young couple sitting next to us  did not love the dishes that we lovingly devoured . While everyone may not agree, having complex dishes that involve peculiar ingredients like duck gizzard feels distinctly San Francisco to me, and I loved it.

Josh @ Nopa, perusing the scene

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Grass fed Hamburger – probably, almost definitely the juiciest burger I have ever tasted. (Sorry, Dad, your freshly-ground burgers are almost as good.)

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Piggy platter – trotter terrine, smoked ternderloin and liver mousse.

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Avocado salad, pickled beets, clementine, almonds, and sesame seeds.

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Fried Sardines with Romesco.

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Grilled Bread, Duck Gizzard Confit, carrot hummus, pickled jalapeño and persimmon.

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Flatbread of spicy fennel sausage, butternut squash, olives and crescenza.

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Country Pork chop, potatoes, brussel sprouts, mustard and grapes. The pork chop was divinely moist (extraordinarily) and my dad is to this day still speculating as to how they created it.

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Seared duck breast, sauerkraut, carrots, golden raisins and wild arugula.

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Morrocan vegetable tagine, toasted almonds, lemon yogurt.

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I ran a 5k the next morning. If that is what I have to do to stay alive and eat meals like this every day, consider it a done deal.

SPQR: The Last Supper

It’s been exactly a month since I’ve relocated from the West to the East Coast. A month since I’ve tasted any food from San Francisco. A month of college food. But it hasn’t been a bad month at all, just a busy month – hence the lack of any activity on this blog.

I do miss my city by the bay, its weather, and its food. So on the anniversary of my relocation, I am nostalgically looking back on my last meal in San Francisco.

My last dining experience in San Francisco was bittersweet (literally). My parents took me out to SPQR the night before my 6 AM flight and we ate our hearts content. SPQR was fabulous. The portions are small, and the prices – well, not small. SPQR highlights seafood caught by one local fisherman. The dishes depend on the supply, which means they are often atypical to what you may find in any other restaurant. The restaurant is beautiful design-wise. The skylights above add a nice glow to the restaurant and make for great photography. Although the restaurant and their prices may seem a bit pretentious, there is something incredibly charming about SPQR, where the quarters are so tight that you can watch the chef chat with customers as he prepares food from your seat. I want nothing more to have a seat at the bar – saved for neighborhood regulars, friends of the chef, and people in the biz (the restaurant and food business, that is).

And finally, here’s what we ate:

“fritto misto’, pesce, eggplant, squash, squid and its ink with smoked chilli

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chicken liver mousse, peach fennel marmellata and balsamic gelatina

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complements of the chef…

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octopus, opal basil, panissa, green chickpea, cucumber and american ham

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monkeyfaced eel, smoked plum, horseradish crisp, plankton – too many different ingredients on one board, so little time.

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lobster tortelli, nantes carrot, lobster brodo and garden herb

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“pyramidi al fungi”, chanterelle mushroom fonduta, espresso rubbed cheese and summer truffle – not my favorite dish, it was far less complex or interesting than the other dishes.

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guinea hen cappelletti, sundried tomato, burrata, cavalo nero and red wine

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smoked fettucini, sea urchin, smoked bacon and soft quail egg – this was by far the best dish. It was amazing. A new twist on what could have been a simple carbonera. All of the ingredients fit the right flavors but added more – a hint of exoticism, a creamier texture, etc.

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And DESSERT! At this point, I can’t remember exactly what we had. But don’t they look great?!?

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For those of you still blessed with living in or near San Francisco, I suggest you get to work on securing a seat at the bar at SPQR.

SPQR
1911 Fillmore St.

San Francisco, CA 94115

(415)771-7779

Outside Lands: Festival for the Foodie

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To assume that Outside Lands is simply a music concert would be a grave mistake. Don’t get me wrong – listening to the performances is the main attraction, but Outside Lands has plenty to offer to the other senses.

The smell of the weekend? The nice wafting smell of weed that comes in intense waves but doesn’t fully depart until you leave Golden Gate Park.

The sights of the weekend? The people of course – while you can find your fair share of expected San Francisco hippies and yuppies, Outside Lands attracts everything from entire families to eccentrics in costume to shrieking teenage girls.

And the food – oh, the food.

Outside Lands collects a wonderful variety of good food from all around San Francisco on one plot of land. Think Off The Grid, but you’ve got food trucks and fancy restaurants and street carts and a whole lot of other food vendors.

On Saturday, the Grizzly Bear front man called out into the crowd: “You guys have the bougiest food stands of any music festival I’ve ever seen.” Bougie. And proud. And delicious.

As my friend Maddie commented:Image

There were two main planning struggles for me this past weekend: 1) how to see all the bands I wanted to see (sometimes sacrifices are necessary because of simultaneous scheduling), and 2) how to eat all the food I wanted to eat (no excuses, the stomach expands). The only excuse that stands in terms of food is the pricing – the prices (although it’s not unexpected, it still surprises me) are a bit outrageous for all of the food and drinks at Outside Lands.

And so, I shall commence with the records of what I consumed.

Charles’ Chocolates Gourmet S’more. Yes, please. A definite crowd favorite.

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American Grilled Cheese Kitchen Grilled Cheese with a whole lot of bacon:IMG_2015

I had a bite of the Breakfast Grilled Cheese as well (with fried egg and bacon). Also delicious.

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This photograph does not do it justice, but the Artichoke & Ricotta Sandwich from Luella was wonderfully simplistic.

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I can guarantee you that these Tater Tots from Q were better than Napoleon Dynamite’s. I get it now though, I did not realize how scarily addicting tater tots are. Another crowd favorite.

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Wild mushroom grits from 1300 on Fillmore:IMG_1977

Gilroy Garlic Mac N Cheese. The SECOND best mac n cheese at OSL.

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The BEST Mac and Cheese at Outside Lands. The Crispy Mac and Cheese from Andalu. Whoever thought of frying mac and cheese was genius. The Mac and Cheese from Andalu almost had a grilled cheese texture to it (the outside breading of the mac and cheese was substantial). Perfectly crispy on the outside, perfectly soft and cheesy on the inside. The Spicy Tomato Vinaigrette was also key.

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To add on to the wonderfully healthy food I had at Outside Lands, I also had a huge slice of sausage pizza from Spicy Pie. I was starving, and it was gone in a few minutes.

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Last but not least, the beef and pork arepas from Pica Pica. Although my sister was excited to try Pica Pica’s arepas, I had no clue what they were. They were a delightful surprise and the best dish I had at Outside Lands.

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Until next year, Outside Lands.

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