Saturday, June 27, 2015

FOOD ROAD TRIP: BISTRO BESTICK STOCKHOLM SWEDEN

We are still in Stockholm and chasing trendy restaurants in this town. There seems to be a little boƮte around every corner and you never know which one really is THE off the grid place to go to get a great meal. This time we went on the recommendation of a local we just flat out asked "where do you go?" He said we should really try Bistro Bestick, supposedly the do variations of Swedish dishes for the modern palate, whatever that is. The nigh we tried to go they were booked up so made a reservation for the next evening to see what they got going on.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

FOOD ROAD TRIP: FISKBAREN STOCKHOLM SWEDEN

We've been in Stockholm less than 24 hours and already I've noticed it has at least 2 things in common with San Francisco--hipsters and food. I have to say I've never so many dudes with beards, tattoos, skinny jeans and funky floppy haircuts, they are everywhere. Many of the restaurants we've walked past also have the same kind of look--wood or stone tables centered around a main bar with lots of clean line steel and reclaimed looking wood accents--it's a trend around the world it seems. On our first night of searching for food we tried a place that was recommended to us by a dude at an ice bar (yes, a bar made of ice. We went for the cheesiness of the experience) but they were packed and booked. That dude then recommended a place around the corner that seemed popular as of late. We walked the block over and found it was 20 minutes for a table so we decided to just drink at the bar and wait. Why not, we are on vacation. It's was called Fiskbaren.

Monday, June 22, 2015

FOOD ROAD TRIP: CAFE CATHEDRAL OSLO NORWAY...REINDEER PIZZA!!

It's been a long day of walking and boating around Oslo and now we are hungry. Finding a place to eat is not always so easy when you are tired and menus aren't grabbing your attention. This was the unfortunate thing on this particular evening as we went through at least 5 options before finally settling on Cafe Cathedral for two reason--we were tired of walking around and Norwegian pizza. It grabbed our attention enough to say "let's do it".


Saturday, June 20, 2015

FOOD ROAD TRIP: LOKK IN OSLO NORWAY

Yes, I'm in Oslo and it's 72! That's right, I'm in spitting distance of the Arctic Circle and it's actually warmer here than in San Francisco. Plus, the sun doesn't set until 11pm. Even then, it's still like a little speck on the horizon so it is not like dark, dark. Sort of a perpetual twilight when the sun hits the horizon. Anyway, I'm trekking through Scandinavia for a couple weeks and decided to try and be a little adventurous with the food I'll be eating. It's our first day here and after doing some research I settled on a place called Lokk (I'll let you Google translate their page). It seemed funky and interesting enough and it was only a short walk from the hotel--SCORE!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

SB40 RESTAURANT, CARMEN'S, WHATEVER IT'S CALLED, IT'S STILL THE SAME OLD STUFF

Restaurants along the waterfront are a mixed bag of good, decent and I can't believe it's still around. When you live along that stretch of the Embarcadero you have opportunity of try a fair number of the places, mostly because they are close and convenient. Sometimes I see these spots that have seemingly been around forever and I think I remember trying that place and wonder why it's been so long since I've been back. One such place is SB40 Restaurant (or Carmen's as it was called for years and is still called by some folks). It's been a waterfront fixture for some time to varying shades of success. It's even had it's own business troubles which you can read about here. Somehow, it has managed to hang on despite all the machinations. I do remember my first time eating here, mostly because it was unpleasant. That was at least 7 years ago. Seeing as how they are still there with a new name and supposedly revamped menu, it seemed like a good time for the SO and I to try them again to see if things were different or if the "song remains the same."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

JUNK FOOD JUNKIE: LITTLE DEBBIE STYLE AND YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME

What can I say, if it's red velvet I'm gonna give it a try no matter how tacky it may be. Such was the case when I came across these cakes from Little Debbie at at Target recently. Though I'm sure I'd have come across them in a Walmart too. That's the thing about Little Debbie, at $1.99 a box their products cross all lines throughout the country and they make a host of product. They also do themed stuff depending on the time of the year it is, thus it was a surprise to see these in spring as opposed to around the holidays. No matter, I grabbed a box for the sake of discovery, because that's the kind of person I am. As far as color goes, that got that down pat. It wasn't too bright red, but just the right darkish red to convey the color of velvet drapes. It's covered in a "white frosting glaze" thing that really is just powdered sugar and probably milk in some form. Sweeeeetttt would be the word for this. The cream on the inside reminded me of the stuff they use to fill their Oatmeal Creme Pies, something I grew up with and kind of like but not exactly the stuff of red velvet cakes. The cake itself is moist and has the right texture though as for flavor, there may have been notes of chocolate or I may have been delusionary from all the sugar, hard to tell. I couldn't help thinking it tasted a little like their Swiss Rolls just not as chocolaty. It's like they added red food coloring to the rolls, made them square and viola--Red Velvet Creme Cakes! As a junk food nosh, they'd do in a pinch, as a red velvet substitute, not so much. I will say the SO liked them more than me, at least I'm going with that as they seemed to disappear not soon after I brought them home. Oh well, while not a total loss, actually, not a loss at all, I mean they were only $1.99. They won't fill my red velvet need but as a kitschy party fave for a 50's themed get together I'd say they are spot on. And after your second martini, it won't really matter anyway. 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

STRAW IN HAYES VALLEY....YES, IT REALLY IS CARNIVAL FARE

Concept restaurants abound across the US and come and go with seeming regularity. Occasionally, they even make their way through San Francisco, though most are down by Fisherman's Wharf and aimed at tourist clientele instead of those of us who actually live here. (Yes, I'm talkin' bout you Bubba Gump whatever Co.) Every now and then a neighborhood spot opens with a gimmick but sometimes they don't stay around long as the schtick wears thin and people get bored--you know how foodies are. But sometimes an idea comes along that sounds interestingly odd and manages to overcome the kitschy factor and survive in this notoriously tough food town. One such place is Straw in Hayes Valley. A tiny little establishment specializing in carnival fare or circus fare or state fare food, whatever you'd like to call it. From deep fried to covered in powdered sugar, they are serving it up old school. I've known about them for some time but for whatever reason, just never went there. Thus I figured it was time to see what it was all about.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

RETURN OF COOKIE TIME! AND YOUR WEEKLY EDITION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME

I was craving cookies again while strolling through the Castro hood and decided to roll into Sweet Inspirations as I remembered they did some dipped things. I think I was jonesing for a peanut butter chocolate hybrid but they only had the one choice today so I scooped up the chocolate chip dipped for the small princely sum of $2.65. Not a bad price as you do get a hefty cookie that is thicker than most you'll find around town. It had a lovely golden brown color and nice little crispness around the edges. As you work your way towards the middle it does stay a tad crunchy. Ultimately, one of the issues with thick cookies is the middle can sometimes either be too doughy (underdone) or too crumbly (overdone). This one walked right up to that line and touched a toe over it for me. I do personally prefer a softer, gooey center, something you won't find here. Still it wasn't so bad as it was plentiful with chips in pretty much every bite. And the addition of dipping in a semi-sweet chocolate covering for half gives you an extra jolt of intense flavor. In the grand scheme of cookies in San Francisco it's okay when you consider the price and size of what you are getting. Most basic flavors are here and there is enough chocolate to satisfy that craving. Now if they could just cut the cooking time down a bit and get the soft center it would be right up there in my top five. As is now, it's pretty middle of the pack, but will do in a pinch. 


Thursday, June 4, 2015

NEIGHBOR BAKEHOUSE IN DOGPATCH....THEY'RE TOTALLY BAKED

I've done bits and pieces of Neighbor Bakehouse in the past, but since I've hit them up on a regular basis, I've had the opportunity to try a variety of goods, both sweet and savory and thought I'd wrap them all up in one tidy review. Refreshing your memory on some old faves and showcasing a couple of newbies I've noshed on lately. As a reminder, they've were doing wholesale baked goods for a couple years before finally opening up the space to those of us who live/work in the hood. Their hours are roughly Wednesday-Saturday 6:30am till they sell out, which, depending on the popularity of an item, can happen pretty quickly. It amazes me that in this town of gluten free, organic, healthy eating, etc., whenever a new bakery opens their goods seem to just fly out the door. Anybody who's been to B. Patisserie, Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, Two Fish Baking Co. and more can tell you if you want to popular things, you need to go early or frequently. Ugh, the things you gotta do to eat in this city. But you know, I eat for you.

 
Yeah, the signage and exterior are a tad unassuming, it's what's inside that counts. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

THE PROGRESS...YES I FINALLY WENT THERE

I'll say this right off the bat, I'm one of the few who is not the biggest fan of State Bird Provisions. While I liked the concept and a couple of the dishes, most were just so-so and when you factor in the price you are paying with portion and quality you are getting, it was mostly a miss for me. I'm not going so far as to say overrated, I do feel they get more press than is warranted, but that's just my opinion. Even with this cynicism I was still interested when they decided to open another restaurant just a few doors down from the Bird called The Progress. It supposed to be a different concept from the other place, though they were still pushing on the local, organic, what they bought at the farmer's market that day ideal. The place has been popular since it opened so getting a reservation was a challenge and I wanted to wait a bit till any kinks got ironed out before we gave it a shot. That opportunity came recently--at 9pm on a Saturday night--it was the only time available. So me and the SO hitched up the big boy pants and headed out to see what all the fuss was about.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

FOOD ROAD TRIP: FISHMONGERS IN DURHAM NORTH CAROLINA

Hometowns are usually full of restaurant institutions and Durham is no different. Though when you have limited time you don't always get a chance to re-visit on home trips. But there are also a handful of these places that I never even got to when I lived here way back when. Most of that was do to not really caring too much about what I was eating or looking for something new and different. Foodie, after all, is still a newish term. One spot I never made it to was Fishmongers. It was one of the first restaurants to open in 1983 in downtown near an area of remade tobacco warehouses called Brightleaf Square. It was all part of a revitalization effort for the area that still seems to be going on today. Here it is 32 years later and the place is still serving up seafood to the Bull City and I figured I'd waited long enough to try the place.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

FOOD ROAD TRIP: MONUTS DONUTS DURHAM NORTH CAROLINA

Seems like this is really turning into a donut trip--not that there's anything wrong with that. I find myself in Durham, NC and doing that whole Airbnb thing. The place I'm in happens to be down around 9th Street, near that Duke campus. It's been a changing stretch over the years that recently has started hosting trendy, hipster food places, something I'm not sure I thought I would ever really say about my hometown. One place down on this stretch that seems to have captured local folks attention is called Monuts Donuts. And well, you know, donuts, of course I'm gonna be all over that!

Friday, May 22, 2015

FOOD ROAD TRIP: DA VINCI'S DONUTS IN ATLANTA...SOUTHERN SWEETS

I'm on the road in the South and what better time to try something different. I'm passing through Atlanta, GA and its sprawling metropolis. Getting around this town can be a challenge, no matter what your mode of transportation. Thus, when new things pop-up near where a person lives folks are willing to give it a try, because who wants to drive across town in rush hour traffic. Fortunately while I was there, a new donut place opened within a 5 minutes drive from where I was staying and hitting them up before getting on the highway seemed like the perfect opportunity. It was called Da Vinci's Donuts and like most things in this town in was located in sort of an office building/strip mall complex.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

MARLOWE BURGER IN SOMA....EH, I GUESS IF YOU LIKED THE ORIGINAL

Burgers in San Francisco have their own pantheon of favoritism. There are endless lists of which one is best overall, which is best serve by a burger joint, which is best served by a bar, best food truck one, best one served by a sit down restaurant, etc. The lists can be endless, meaningless, ever changing and non-stop. One burger that always seems to show up on these "lists" is from Marlowe. A burger so famous and popular that when Marlowe recently moved from one space to a larger one, they turned the old spot in a place that (mostly) solely features their burger. It's called, Marlowe Burger, obviously.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

OFF THE GRID PICNIC IN THE PRESIDIO....AND YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME

Now that I have Sundays off me and the SO are able to try out some of the events that only happen on weekends. One of those is Off The Grid Picnic in the Presidio--part of the ever burgeoning collection of food truck pods/events that Off The Grid has propulgated over the years. This one is relatively new in their pantheon, yet, as you can see in the picture below, it has become quite popular. The closer you get to the ocean in San Francisco, the more likely you are to encounter clouds, fog and wind. The Presidio is neither immune, nor different to this caveat. And hey, what better way to spend a few Sunday afternoon hours than being surrounded by running, screaming kids and pets while sitting on the damp ground trying to stay warm and eat. It's like a dream come true for me. To be honest I didn't exactly what to expect at this event. We'd been to the Fort Mason version of this event several times. It's on Friday nights and again, a place that can be windy and chilly. That even has grown exponentially over the years and has lots of trucks and food stalls to choose from. By the time we got there the place was packed, mostly up toward the top of the hill and while there aren't as many actual food trucks, roughly seven here, there are a fair number of food stalls offering up other choices.(For my reviews of what we got you can scroll down this blog to the previous 2 entries or just click here and here.) They had a DJ here and he was pumping out what I'll call old-skool r&b jams--from like the 80's early 90's--hello Shalamar! So I was on board with that. Plus, I think getting there a few hours after it started was enough time for the lines at the vendors to go down and we had no trouble just walking up to windows and getting served quickly. I think if you are planning to spread a blanket on the ground and truly picnic, you'd need to come early to get a good spot. But seeing as how neither I nor the SO had any intention of sitting on wet grass we were fortunate enough to snag one of the table and chairs that are on some of the porches of the buildings surrounding the parade grounds. Actually, most of the tables were open, I suppose you come here to sit on the ground, and if you are up for it go right ahead. Otherwise, now you know, there is another option that was readily available if wet pants aren't your thing. Good for us also, sitting off to the side allowed us to watch the action on the field without having to worry about being trampled or sniffed by either pets of kids. Beyond the fact the day was gray and windy, I will say it was a fun time to just go somewhere and hang out for a bit, or at least until our fingers started to turn blue. (Reminder--take gloves next time) All in all, it was a fun excursion and is definitely worth the trip for either families or for something different to do in town on a Sunday, at least for an hour or so. But be sure to layer up it can get chilly. Though if you are a true San Franciscan, you probably already are. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

FOOD STALL QUICK BITE: GIRL FRIDAY ZEPPOLE AT OFF THE GRID PICNIC IN THE PRESIDIO

It was a full day at Off The Grid's Picnic in the Presidio and after stuffing ourselves full of meat what better way to finish off than with something warm and sweet. The dessert offerings where on the slim-ish side but there was one that stood out to both me and the SO, offering up deep fried delight--Girl Friday Zeppole.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

FOOD STALL QUICK BITE: COCHON VOLANT BBQ AT OFF THE GRID PICNIC IN THE PRESIDIO

It's a gray overcast, windy Sunday in San Francisco (like most summer days) so why not spend it outside in the Presidio! Which is exactly what the SO and I did when we ventured out to experience Off The Grid's Picnic in the Presidio event held every Sunday 11-4pm in one of the foggiest and chilliest parts of town. But hey, we are used to this weather so no big whoop. Plus I'm wearing my 20 or so layers--we'll be fine. By the time we get there, the place is jumping and the main parade lawn area is mostly packed with folks, kids and dogs--camped out, picnicking on the damp ground. Yeah, not my idea of a super fun time but the surrounding buildings have porches with tables and chairs set up that are free to sit at, so that saves us from trying to find a place to sit (like I'm gonna do wet grass anyway). And with a fair number of food trucks and even more tent covered stalls offering up bites to eat, me and the SO were bound to find something we could eat. We made the rounds to check out whats what and as sometimes happens, the first place we came across was the vendor we ended back at. Cochon Valant--a Sonoma based barbecue outfit that does catering and events such as this around the Bay Area.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

SPECIALTY'S STUFFED CROISSANT AND YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME

Specialty's is kind of a bakery/coffee shop/sandwich shop hybrid kind of place with several locations across the city. From what I can tell they sprouted up originally in California and have now have over 100 locations in CA, Washington and Illinois of all places. Years (and years ago) when I worked downtown I used to hit them up a lot for cookies, though mostly the day-olds as they were half price, which made them a much better bargain. Ah, the joys of saving a buck in San Francisco. Not being around where there shops are anymore I hadn't partaken of them in awhile. Recently I strolled by one just off Market Street and was feeling a bit peckish but didn't want a whole lot of something at that moment. (I know, strange, I wanted a small bite!) I thought why not see what they got. It looked like they had just put out a bunch of freshly made pastries and such so i think I hit them at the right time. I was in a savory mood (yes, again, strange!) not a sweets one and zeroed in on the stuffed croissants. Yes, they have the requisite ham and cheese thingy, but they also had a turkey and Swiss cheese one that caught my eye and stomach. It was only $3 (plus tax) which seemed a fair price for the size and weight of it. Added bonus, it was still warm. I only had medium expectations getting this, thus was pleasantly surprised by the buttery flakiness of the bread, the generous portions of both cheese and slices of turkey and most of all---an added dollop of ricotta cheese on the inside. This added both a tang and creaminess like butter that was pleasing and tasty to my tongue and tummy. Kudos to Specialty's for serving up this cheesy, meaty, buttery delight that hit the spot and conquered my savory craving of the moment. This will definitely be added to my list of quick affordable small bites in San Francisco, something that can sometimes be hard to come by. Though, with their multiple locations downtown, it will make it a little easier to find.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

TONY'S SLICE HOUSE NOW SERVING IN SOMA

The more things change the more they (sorta) stay the same. Just as Ironside called it quits on their SOMA location the space was snapped up by noted Bay Area pizza impresario Tony Gemignani. He of Tony's Pizza Napoletana, Tony's Slice House and Capo's, to name a few. It's called Slice House and it's serving up the same slices and pies you can find at his other Slice House locations around the Bay Area. He opened a few weeks ago, just in time for the Giants first home game, natch. They didn't really change out any of the decor from the previous tenant. Outside of a few photos of pizza, the space is pretty much the same as it was. In this instance, that works, I mean the space is what it is and was already generic enough to move from one thing to the next without needing to spend money on changes. Tony's is meant to be all about the pizza and it's what I was intent on trying since this was a new place in my own personal hood and I want to try and support them, even though I know their target right now is SOMA day workers and Giants fans. We'll see how things shake out once ball season is over, for now, let's have a slice of pie! 

  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

EGG SALAD DAYS AND YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONUSME

Lee's Deli is as ubiquitous in San Francisco as Starbucks, or at least it seems that way. What started as one local downtown sandwich shop has grown into 13 Bay Area locations serving up sandwiches made to order and a hot/salad bar for both breakfast and lunch. I do find myself in there before work loading up on bacon, just because I can and it's slightly cheaper, easier and less messy than buying and cooking it myself. One of my go to sandwich faves here is the egg salad. I'm also calling it the messiest sandwich in San Francisco. The egg part is pretty basic--lots of eggs mashed up with what is either a hint of mayo or water--I'm still not sure and the ladies behind the counter aren't very forthcoming. Still, even with it's mysterious creaminess, I get it anyway--I like taking chances that way. They also don't skimp on the portion, it is piled on beyond the edges of the bread making it more than a handful to eat. Here you can get unlimited toppings and seeing as how the egg salad itself doesn't have much beyond egg, I add on lettuce, tomato, purple onion, sprouts, pickles, mustard and mayo on two slices of toasted 9 grain. Sprinkle on a little pepper and for $3.75 plus tax it is a sandwich that hits all the vegetable, grains and proteins needed for a filling lunch--something I do have every now and then. All of these things lead to a big 'ol mouthful that I end up using a fork to get through as the egg and toppings usually fall out all over the wrap. It's like egg salad plus a veggie salad on a sandwich. Sometimes I'll go whole hog, literally, and have them add bacon, something that may not be that unusual as the ladies don't even think twice before doing it. I'll also give them props for not skimping on anything you decide to get on your sandwich. You don't have to get egg salad when go as they have multiple other options to choose from, and considering most all of their choices run under $5 they are a refreshing option to the $8-$10 "artisan" ones that are rife in this town. If you want a good sandwich that isn't going to break your lunch budge Lee's is a good place to get a piled high bite made the way you want at an affordable price--a rarity sometimes in San Francisco.