Sunday, April 12, 2015

Lunch With Beth–Americano

It was a nice day for a walk, so Beth and I headed over to Hotel Vitale, in the first block of Mission Street, to try out the Express Lunch at Americano. We don't usually spend this much on lunch (except for the occasional crab splurge), but the reviews were excellent and the lunch turned out to be well worth the price.

Elegant Place Setting
I chose the Quatro Formaggi Panini with a green salad on the side. The Express Lunch comes with a small mandarin and two house-made, chewy cookies already wrapped to take away for later.

Beth went with the Grilled Chicken Panini with a green salad. Soup is also an option.

The salad greens were amazingly fresh. Americano buys them daily from the Farmers Market.

Cookies–one chocolate, one vanilla
The food was excellent and the service was attentive. If you're looking for a fine dining lunch experience that won't take hours, Americano is the place for it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lunch With Beth / Oolong Noodle House

Oolong Noodle Company is on Washington Street, across from the Pyramid, in the space formerly occupied by Louie's. Beth had been there before, but never tried the combination menu because the soup is so good.
 But since there were now two of us, we ordered one soup and one meal to share. We got the pork belly noodle soup.
And, making a theme of the pork, we ordered pork spare ribs with eel-flavored rice. It was definitely enough food for two, and tasty as well.
They kept the fish tank in the entry
There's too much glare from the street to see clearly, but the woman on the left is making noodles. 

Crab Splurge With Gina

Gina nabbed a Groupon for Fisherman's Grotto and invited me for a crab dinner. Her friend Louie was in town and came with us, but he didn't indulge in crab.

As soon as we sat down, our waiter brought us a platter of sourdough bread. Delicious on its own, it was perfect for sopping up all the garlic butter that came with the crab.

 Gina and Louie started with New England-style clam chowder. I had the salad.
We had a choice of roasted crab with garlic butter, steamed crab, or cold crab. It wasn't a difficult decision for us! The crabs were cracked for us, and so easy to pull apart that we didn't need the provided tools.
Crab swimming in garlic butter
 Louie opted for the parmesan-crusted halibut, which was covered in a tasty orange sauce that he couldn't quite identify.
Louie came along, just for the halibut.
 Our Groupon included a tiramisu to share, and we supplemented it with spumoni.

The restaurant's theme carpet
We were fascinated by the giant, fancy Applebee's across the street. Fortunately, no birds had defaced Gina's window and I got a good picture. If you're visiting SF, please check out a local resto, it will most likely be delicious and maybe even cheaper than Applebee's. We can give you lots of ideas if you're not sure where to eat in this town!

2015 Dinner with the San Francisco Writers Conference Volunteers

San Francisco Writers Conference Advisory Board member Harvey Pawl again invited the speakers and volunteers to be his guests at a Chinese banquet at Great Eastern on Jackson Street. We met up in the hotel lobby and took advantage of the warm weather to walk through Grant Street to the restaurant. The street fair was just ending, but there was still a lot to look at, and we temporarily lost a few of our people to shopping.

As soon as everyone was finally present and seated, we were served a platter of fried shrimp dumplings. Crisp on the outside, tender shrimp on the inside. Unfortunately, Angela wasn't there to remind me to take a picture of the insides of the dumplings before I gobbled my share.
Quickly following the shrimp were golden pumpkin fries. Again, crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
 Then it was more shrimp, this time sauteed with cashew nuts and vegetables.
 The shrimp was followed by steamed supreme chicken.
And a platter of beef with ginger and scallion.
 Deluxe mixed vegetables
were quickly followed by a perfect Peking duck with steamed buns. The skin was delightfully crisp, with no fat underneath.
Vegetarian noodles. 
More veggies! Sauteed mustard greens with deep fried bean cake and Chinese mushrooms.
Fried rice finished the meal. There was also white rice on the table for those who wanted it.
 And, of course, a fortune cookie.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Ferry Plaza Seafood-Happy Hour

We're ready for any adventure. And if that adventure includes oysters on the half shell, so be it. If they're fresh briny dollar oysters, all the better! Now don't wander over to the Ferry Building looking for this resto—you're gonna have to head to North Beach to find Ferry Plaza Seafood. You won't have to fight the crowds to get to their pretty little bivalves here, mostly because it's on a quiet corner and not a lot of worker bees get away until after 5. So on your next weekday off (weds-fri), head over to get your seafood fix at 3:30 and beat the ravening crowds.

We were both pretty hungry as we perused the Happy Hour menu, so we ordered the grilled charred edamame pods (tasty, but Angela likes grilled Fava Bean pods better) and the Salmon Rillettes right off the bat. When the waiter came back by we picked out the fries and oh, also, our first dozen. Angela enjoyed a decently priced glass of good quality sparkling as well.
We forget how many trays we ate—3? 4?
The oysters were delightful. Fleshy and full of flavor, unlike some past dollar oysters we have experienced (don't look for them on the blog—we try to stay polite). But the fries, the FRIES! Tell everyone about the fries. Obviously cut from actual potatoes, Ferry Plaza Seafood uses all the pieces and you get hot hot crisp crunchy salty yummy perfect with oysters Fries. Go for dollar oysters, but make sure to tell your server you want the fries.

If you linger over your oysters, the band (a duo that evening) might start serenading you which is the perfect compliment to the lovely fishy decor and polite (not nosy!) servers. Check out this North Beach eatery for their Happy Hour treats or if you're craving a tasty seafood dinner.



Monday, January 19, 2015

Lunch With Beth: Yet Another Crab Splurge at Z&Y Restaurant

Crab is in season, the harvest is plentiful, prices are reasonable and we just can't resist! We had been wanting to try Z&Y Restaurant for a while and this seemed like the perfect time.
We ordered the crab with ginger and scallions, which is a traditional Chinese presentation. The presentation, while different from others we've had, was equally impressive.
The crab came with a few baby bok choy, but we got an order of green beans to make sure we had enough veggies.

We ordered everything mild, but it all came at the limit of my tolerance. We couldn't decided whether the chef doesn't like modifications, or we were really lucky that we ordered it mild!

Here are some more pictures of the crab.
Beth photo bombing the crab
The crab from another angle

2015 Winter Fancy Food Show

The Winter Fancy Food Show was, as usual, enormous—it covers both the North and South Halls of Moscone, plus the Gateway Ballroom, which showcases new products. Uncle Steve was there himself, offering tastes of his delicious marinara sauce. I am waiting to be able to buy it locally.
Pitaya Plus was offering samples of sorbet made with its frozen pitaya product. I am looking forward to being able to buy this product, also. Only the white-insdie pitayas are available in San Francisco. I love them, but I love the red-inside even more! I bought my first one in Chinatown because I had never seen one before and had no idea what it was, but its looks were intriguing. Fortunately a coworker who was familiar with it passed my desk, and taught me how to cut it open. It isn't difficult. The skin is very thin, and can be peeled once the original "incision" is made. The white flesh is much like kiwi fruit and the red is naturally sweeter.
As I passed the Japan aisle, a demo of gluten-free noodles was just ending, and I was encouraged to take a sample. This recipe was a little too spicy for my taste, but so good that I finished it anyway!
My attention was snagged by the enormous bumps on the Madeleines at the Bridor de France booth. Everything they bake is magnificent, but I have never seen such huge Madeleine bumps anywhere else! I think it's the fresh eggs. (Maybe I can convince my landlord to put a chicken coop in the back yard.) A slice of one of these huge cakelets proved that they are as tasty as they are gorgeous.
In the Italy aisle, a demonstrator was making fresh Baci. My first one wasn't set, but was much too enticing to wait for. I gobbled it almost immediately—I had to take its picture first. The next time I passed by, I got one that was on its way to being set. No gloss, but still nice and soft.
The absolute highlight of my day was meeting Bob Moore of Bob's Red Mill. Although I buy most of my grain products in bulk, I always buy Bob's Flax Meal, which is a superior product in a sealed package. As I waited in line to meet Bob and get a photo and signed cookbook, a woman passing by said "There really is a Bob. I thought he was an actor!" Well, I didn't check his ID, but I am convinced this is the real Bob.
Tea Forté has created an ingenious new infuser. The "string" is attached to the bottom half, and exits the top half, with a "tea leaf" blocking the string from being pulled out. There is no chance of losing one of of the pieces.
 Fannie Mae Chocolates had a chocolatier dipping humongous fresh strawberries in dark chocolate.
 Numi had their samples of their Turmeric tea in this gorgeous cauldron. Unfortunately, the cauldron didn't fit in my shoulder bag! A couple of teabags did, though, and Tea Time may be reporting on them later.
 The Perky Jerky man plucked samples off his costume to hand out to passers-by.
Another visit to the Japan aisle gave me a demo of cookie baking and a sample of the ice cream dessert constructed around the cookie.
Churchill's Confectionary, whose cookies and candies need no embellishment, nonetheless pack them in the best tins. Here's a sample of some of the newest ones. Nijiya Market in Japan Town carries a few of Churchill's products, but I think I'll be searching online for some of these special tins.
This lollipop from Melville Candy Company is Tea Time's choice for most novel novelty. It looks like a real apple pie, but it's a confection in the form of a lollipop! We are disappointed that it isn't an actual hard candy lollipop, but it is delicious.
I could go on and on, but I want to make sure you all stay awake. Did anybody else attend the show? What were your highlights?