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-inside 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?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tea Time in Palo Alto

At Tea Time in Palo Alto the regulars get to keep their mug of choice in a cabinet that has a slot with their name on it! Who could resist this personalized service?
If the weather is nice grab a table outdoors, plus if you're not sure which leaves to pick for your tea pot, they usually have a sample available outside that might tempt your tastebuds.

We took the time to adventure down on Caltrain to check out this little tea shop since we want to give readers a wider scope on Bay Area Afternoon tea spots. Tea Time is just a hop, skip and jump from the station even if you aren't big on walking. Plus you can reward yourself with lovely treats and delightful tea before a little bit of window shopping and venturing back to the train. Of course there is plenty of parking if you prefer to drive...

If the weather is chilly your tea pot may want to stay cozy, but if you feel the heat yourself feel free to ask for a glass of ice and cool down. We did both while we deliberated our food order. Angela chose Strawberry Cream Rooibis and J. K. picked out Japanese Cherry a green tea. 

Cozy little pots

But we were ready to feel the chill!
Lovely cheese and fruit plate
We were quite peckish after all the travel, so we started with the cheese platter (it comes with a pot of tea as well). Lovely honey and several options to pair with the cheese came out on the plate. Tea Time also chose the High Tea for One (with added side salad) that comes with your choice of 2 sandwiches plus desserts/scone and a pot of tea.

Turkey Left, salmon right

After we cooled off and had our nosh we people watched for a little while. Once we felt refreshed and ready to wander it was time to step out onto the wide sidewalks of Palo Alto and explore before our train ride home. If you're in the area and looking for a spot of tea, check out Tea Time. You might even become a regular and get to keep your personal teacup on the shelf.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bistro Michel - Oakland Grand Lake

Heya, Adventurers!  This is J.K.'s friend Beth, back in the States and home to the Bay.  I had just had a birthday, so later in the week my friend and neighbor Kathy took me out to dinner and a movie, as we do every year.

There is a new restaurant on Lakeshore in the Grand Lake over here in Oakland.  It's a French bistro and pastis bar called Bistro Michel, and it's become wildly popular for brunch.  We were doing dinner however, and barely got in without a reservation (Kathy wasn't sure when she'd get off work).

Apparently they have three different Pastis/Pernod liquors, and it was Pastis in my Sazerac.  Kathy had a kind of lemon drop:  vodka, vanilla, lemon and mint.  Both were tasty.

Kathy had a hanger steak that was a lovely and decent sized piece of meat.  She found it tasty, but a little less hot than she'd hoped.  That was because you can't cook a hanger steak to medium well, which she would have preferred.

I had an interesting dish:  rabbit cassoulet with house-made sausage.  In addition to its containing rabbit rather than a duck leg and confit, it was nontraditional in other ways.  There were some greens on top, and skinny carrots and parsnips sticking out of it.  It was much heavier on the meat than the beans.

That is indeed a burlap bag of bread; it arrived with a garlic butter-olive tapenade thingy.

The cassoulet ... to die for.  I can't describe the flavors and I don't know what the soft grain-type topping was, but it was as thoroughly delicious as a birthday entree should be.  The rabbit was tender enough to flake with a fork.  The sausage chunks were a little chewier, in a good way.

And apparently they don't want to scare anybody off by stating on the menu that they're horse meat, but the waitress mentioned that when I raved about the dish.  It's a Provencal thing, don't worry about understanding.

I'm going back for brunch, and will definitely have the cassoulet again.

It's possible to hang at the bar and have bar bites, too.

Bistro Michel is toward the Mandana end of Lakeshore, about three storefronts past the ever-reliable Spettro.  3343 Lakeshore, near Trestle Glen but across the street from that.

Sho 'nuff boss chow, y'all!

Lobsta Truck

I caught up with Lobsta Truck at 5th and Minna Streets. The menu isn't extensive, but both the lobster and crab are available either Connecticut (butter) style or Massachusetts (mayo) style. I didn't taste the crab, but I can report that the lobster is top quality and compares favorably with Jimmies of Savin Rock There aren't enough sides, though, unless you like soup with your lobster. I'd rather have coleslaw and fries. So instead of soup, after I devoured my lobster roll, I headed over to the food court at the San Francisco Center for a scoop of Haagen Dazs Belgian Chocolate ice cream.