Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Holiday Tea at the Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco

Tea Time brings you another elegant hotel tea adventure, this time courtesy of the Ritz Carlton SF. You may know this hotel for its prominent restaurant Parallel 37 which serves inspirational California Cuisine. However, every holiday season the hotel presents an opportunity (for those in the know) to enjoy a delightful Afternoon Tea. The Ritz has only one seating at 3pm, so you should reserve early before it's booked up. There was a crowd waiting when we arrived, but everyone was seated by the hostess in a timely manner.

Your menu awaits.

The essential condiments for Afternoon Tea

You can even get a bit of Afternoon Tea history when you peruse the menu, "Afternoon Tea was first established when Anne, 7th Duchess of Bedford grew tired of that sinking feeling which afflicted her every afternoon around four o'clock in the long dull space between meals." Once your server arrives, you can order your tea selection. J.K. chose Chocolat (of course!) which is a strong black tea, perfectly suited to a good glug of cream and a bit of sugar. Angela picked out the Organic Pear Green, which was refreshing and had a hint of fruity sweetness all by itself.

Organic Pear Green
Pour a glass for me!

Chocolat–in its pure tea form

No seeds allowed with a lemon net.

The menu for your tea service is preset so if you have any dietary restrictions, let them know with your reservation. Tea Time was delighted by the desserts and surprised by the "sandwiches" at the Ritz afternoon tea. Our favorite savory bite was the creamy pate-filled pate a choux with the parmesan cheese chip on top. We were remiss in not giving the Currant scones their close up for this post, but you can see them peeking out next to the Rocky Road Brownie on the bottom tier, left photo.

two views
The tea stand
Tea savories circle up clockwise: Cucumber Triangle, Ham and Cheese, Crab Rectangle, Duck Pate,
Egg Salad with mushroom-center
number one favorite savory bite–of course it was duck!
Dessert Circus clockwise. chocolate macaron, rocky road brownie, crunchy vanilla meringue cookie, lemon tart with griotte cherries, vanilla macaron, chocolate chip mini madeline (!), vanilla raspberry cake-center
The Ritz tea falls in line with the pricing of other Hotel teas; you're paying for the experience as well as the food (and wine-if you're Tipsy). However, Tea Time would add this afternoon tea experience to the regular rotation due to the inventiveness of the menu and tastiness of the food. If you want to splurge on afternoon tea, the Ritz does it right with thoughtful service and a relaxed atmosphere.
Happy Holidays

The bar is closed for Afternoon Tea

Prominent local resto Parallel 37
J.K. couldn't finish her last three pastries, so she asked our server to put them in a box. They came back in a festive container, accompanied by a few friends! Tea Time visited during the Holiday season when there are ample options to reserve a spot for afternoon tea, if you're quick. However, we got a tip from our server that starting in March, every 3rd Saturday will feature an afternoon tea break! So give the Ritz a call now to reserve.

Bonus desserts and a cute Currant scone too!
But wait! There's more! Every day from Christmas Eve through New Year's Eve, the complimentary tea urn in the lobby was replaced with the Hot Chocolate Lab. Two flavors of hot chocolate plus assorted toppings, including two flavors of marshmallows. The hot chocolate flavors varied (the caramel was our favorite, but they were all good), however, the marshmallows were vanilla and peppermint every day. The Ritz serves the hot chocolate, but the toppings were DIY.

Friendly Servers
Cauldron of Yummy Hot Chocolate

Multitude of Toppings

If you're in the city and want an Afternoon tea break, you'll have to plan ahead to show up on a Saturday at the Ritz (with a reservation). Or do like Tea Time and wait patiently for the Holidays!  Hopefully if there is enough demand for this classy tea, the Ritz will take advantage and start to host them the entire weekend and maybe even have two seatings. Fingers crossed, Tea Lovers!


Thank you for the delightful tea!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ramen Underground

Beth and I decided to catch Corazone under the Dome at the Westfield Center before it closes on July 7, so I met her after work and we set off for Shorty Goldstein's for dinner. Alas, Shorty isn't open for dinner. Then we went across the street to to the Crocker Galleria, only to discover that the only food place still open was the sandwich shop. So we went over to Kearny Street to see what we could find. Most of the places we like were still open, but we jumped at the chance to actually get into Ramen Underground, which is always too crowded at lunchtime for us to consider.

The sign on the street signifies "open"!
We initially sat at the counter but were soon able to move to a table. A very nice waitress immediately gave us menus and water, but the writing is literally on the wall–the walls are all covered with chalkboard paint.

 The place is extremely small, so if you're claustrophobic, order to-go. As you can see, it was a tight squeeze between counter and tables when we left.

This is not your dorm ramen! Even Dave Lister would like these "pot noodles." Beth ordered miso broth with fried pork belly added. After we started eating, a woman sharing our table gifted her with half a soft-cooked egg.

I don't usually finish most of my broth, so I ordered the nightly special, Salad Ramen, which comes with a very small amount of vegetarian broth. This is a totally vegetarian dish, but I ordered pork belly as an add-on. Unfortunately, the kitchen neglected to add it. This was, however, quite enough food for me. Both bowls came with a hefty portion of chewy noodles.

Lesson learned! Beth and I need to branch out to dinner sometimes so we can actually get in the door to order food at someplace like Underground Ramen. Is there a restaurant that always has a line out the door for dinner? Maybe check it out for lunch and you'll be able to get a jump on some delicious foods yourselves!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chile Pie x2

Pie. Ice Cream. Hand Pies. Sweet, savory, Chile Pies (and Ice Cream) has it all! You can visit them at their NOPA locations, or hop over to their Green Chile Kitchenette. Both are easy to get to by public transportation and also have street parking available (perhaps not ample, but if you have to lot lizard around a bit you can just meditate on your reward of pie a la mode).

Tea Time visited their NOPA location first. It's a medium sized resto with an ice cream counter (Three Twins, Yo), plus a great pie station as well. Tea Time was hungry, so we got lunch before dessert. It's a nice bonus that Chile Pie serves savory pies as well as traditional fruit pies, cream pies and nut pies. (Oh, don't forget the Frito Pie!) We settled upon a hand pie with side salad. This meal was filling even though we shared a plate. We really enjoyed the salad, it was a a great counterpoint to the hot pie.

Chicken hand pie and Beet salad on kale  with a yummy biscuit.

Hand pie cross section.

Pies, glorious pies! Whole to-go or by the slice.

Tea Time had spied on all the pies prior to ordering, and we settled on a winning combo. We'd eat this duo again and again.

Berry Pie with 3 Twins Chocolate Ice Cream-FTW!
The Green Chille Kitchenette was calling our name to check it out too. So after a little bit of wandering the Castro J.K. and I were ready to eat! The kitchen-ette is a place to get a quick bite, with fewer tables and less space. However, they still had plenty of pie. We let our stomachs do the ordering and ended up with leftovers! Our cup of savory sausage soup came with a biscuit and side salad, plus a shot of sour cream to tame the minor heat in the soup. We also got a full order of the beet and kale salad (which was just as tasty here as at the first resto). Finally we ordered the Pulled Pork Sandwich with slaw. (J.K. took home half a sammie and lots of salad-it was a large serving!)

Cup of soup with side salad and yum-o biscuit
So nice we had it twice!

Pulled pork sammie with slaw-fritos on the side

This peanut butter pie with a chocolate cookie crust was very we gave in. Of course we got it a la mode, can't resist those Twins! If you love peanut butter, this is the pie for you. J.K. and decided we prefer the berry with the chocolate ice cream, but that's just our taste buds talking.

Peanut Butter pie with Three Twins Chocolate ice cream

Even though the holiday rush is over, you may still find an occasion for pie. If you don't have the time/inclination to bake, head on over to the Chile Pies nearest to you (or just give them a call!) and grab what strikes your fancy. Don't forget to get some scoops to go on the side. Ice Cream is this years hottest accessory for baked goods.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Lunch With Beth--House of Xian Dumpling Restaurant

Beth had checked the resto House of Xian Dumpling Restaurant out herself and deemed it blogworthy. Housemade noodles and both Xian and Shanghai dumplings. What more could we ask for? And we've been craving Shanghai dumplings ever since Happy Dumplings closed their brick-and-mortar to concentrate on the food truck circuit.
The place setting is simple. This food does not need embellishment.
We tried the pork dumplings in both styles and liked them both so much we couldn't pick a favorite. The bok choy with oyster sauce was delivered to our table by mistake, but we ate it--and paid for it.

Boiled Xian Pork and Chive Dumplings

Bok Choy with Oyster Sauce

Pan Fried Shanghai Pork Dumplings      

Noodles and dumplings were made in the dining room by the in-house noodle maker. We definitely recommend this restaurant. Hand-pulled noodles are a treat!


If you know of any other Chinatown restaurants with hand-pulled noodles, please let us know in the comments.