Sunday, December 4, 2016

Pica Pica in the Misson

Pica Pica serves naturally glutern-free food and boy is it tasty. Fried plantains, rice, black beans, their signature Arepas not to mention their frothy fresh Fruit Frescas. Tea Time met several friends in order to be able to share and enjoy several different offerings from their menu (which is available for delivery or pick up, you lucky eaters).

Pulled Pork Pernil plate with classic white Arepa

Blackened Beef Asado in the white corn Arepa with plantain and coleslaw side

Shredded Beef Pabellón in a sweet corn Arepa topped with Queso Fresco and coleslaw side

Happily all the Arepas come with a fried plantain so we didn't have any fights, but if you need more, then look at the sides listed on the menu. We'll be adventuring back to Pica Pica soon as we've been hearing about their Cachapas.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Premium Gold Flax Treats

The Premium Gold people sent us an extremely generous sample of two of the products, Gluten Free Flour and Golden Omega Ground Flaxseed and we proceeded to enjoy the delicious treats you can create using their gluten free line of products. Tea Time will add more to this post, so check back if you're interested in gluten free pizza dough!

J.K. baked this amazing chocolate fudge cake from Premium Gold's recipe. The recipe includes directions for buttercream frosting, but Tea Time doesn't like the taste of uncooked confectioner's sugar, so J.K. used the blender frosting recipe from Judy Rosenberg's All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed Baking Book, which has only three ingredients: chocolate, evaporated milk and sugar. We've made gluten-free recipes before with other brands of flour, but, while all were acceptable, this Premium Gold's product is outstanding. We could not tell this was a gluten-free cake.

 J.K. also tried substituting flax meal and water for the egg in her favorite muffin recipe. This worked,  but she didn't have the same luck with a pizzelle recipe. If you know anyone who is gluten-free or someone who is allergic to eggs, you'll find the Premium Gold Flax products live up to their name! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Eat Real Festival 2016

I volunteered with setup for Eat Real Festival 2016 but this time I stuffed vendor badges instead of goodie bags. This was much easier and didn't end with washing and drying all the cookware for the chef demos.

I returned for lunch on Friday. I usually case the whole festival first, but couldn't resist a crab cake near the entry. It was served on a bun, with slaw.
Mozzeria was there, with their fancy pizza truck, but Tea Time occasionally eats at their brick-and-mortar location in the Mission.
After checking out the rest of the offerings, I decided on a poke bowl. This looked so good that I forgot to take a picture of the truck.
And for dessert, I again had a chocolate fudge popsicle from Fat Face Popsicles.

The Eat Real Festival is on for the whole weekend, and there are more vendors on Saturday and Sunday. More Festival-goers, too, which is why I go on Friday, but if you don't mind crowds, you will be rewarded with a wider choice. There are also exhibits and free samples, which vary from year to year. This year Clover was giving away yoghurt and Toyota was giving away plants in pots that could be decorated on the spot, among other swag.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Labor Day Lunch with Herrick

Herrick and I get together for a meal at least twice a year, usually to celebrate our birthdays, but this year has been a little off-kilter, so we met on Labor Day for lunch in the Mission, at Taqueria Pancho Villa. This taqueria is not the fanciest in the Mission, but it is arguably the best. Everything is fresh and cooked to order.

There are house-made tortilla chips and salsa to keep the aroma of previous orders cooking from driving you insane with hunger.
And then there's your meal! Herrick likes spicy food and ordered the Hot and Spicy Prawns. His meal arrived before mine, so I swiped a prawn. And regretted it. Do not order hot and spicy here unless you mean it!
HOT & SPICY PRAWNS al chile de arbol
I like my food spicy but not hot. I ordered the snapper dinner, which came with guacamole instead of avocado slices. I don't know about substitutions, but the slices are available as an extra.
As you can see, the portions are huge. The staff cheerfully provided a substantial container for the leftovers. The menu is extensive, so check it out before you go. You order at the register, pay for your meal, then sit down and a waiter will bring your order to your table. There's usually a line, which gives you a chance to peruse the menu on the wall, but it moves quickly.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Lunch at the Beach Chalet

Tea Time had such a good time at the Pokemon crawl that we decided to enjoy another Pokemon outing, next to Ocean Beach, where there are lots of Pokemon to be captured. We started with lunch at the Beach Chalet, which is more expensive than our usual haunts, but well worth the expenditure due to delicious food, conscientious service and a classic San Francisco view of Ocean Beach. This lunch adventure included a big crowd of Poke Hunters outside the restaurant who always keep the lures on so the critters are attracted to the area.

After catching some critters we wandered upstairs to the Beach Chalet and even managed to catch a table for two next to the window! We perused the menu and decided to start with an heirloom tomato appetizer, which was a so good, it attracted some attention from our prey. (Eventually we'll get over taking photos of Pokemon in our food, but for now it's fun.)

Voltorb eyeing our appetizer
The bar had Margarita mix but no plain lime juice for her drink of choice, the Tequila Gimlet, so J.K. ordered this excellent Margarita, while Angela enjoyed a tall glass of their signature Pacific Punch cocktail. Tea Time Tip! Happy Hour at the Beach Lounge and Bar is M-F 3-6 and 9-closing. A great place to check out after dinner since most restos host happy hour only before the dinner hour.

J.K. ordered the lobster roll for her main course, but although our waiter told the kitchen she didn't want mayonnaise, they went ahead and served her a Massachusetts-style roll, made by mixing the lobster with mayo. In Connecticut, where J.K. grew up, lobster rolls are soaked in butter. Unfortunately, all the lobster at the Chalet is mixed with mayo in the morning, so while the kitchen made her a tuna tartare sandwich, the waiter brought her a bowl of New England claim chowder. Which meant Angela didn't have to share her soup in a bread bowl. Yes!

Tuna Tartare Sandwich with house-made potato chips
We were pretty full after all that food, but we couldn't resist the chocolate castle for dessert. Angela first tasted this delightful dessert at a Dark Dining event hosted by Taste TV. Tea Time always has room for Chocolate! The view at the Beach Chalet is also a classic. Ocean waves and a sandy beach just across the highway, so if it's a good day for walking you might even hatch an egg (or just get in some exercise).

All in all it was a great day for lunch and Pokemon hunting. The lures are almost always on at the Park/Beach Chalet and we overheard some hunters say it's even popular with the 2am crowd who can't sleep. You'll surely be able to be entertained, even if you're not into Pokemon Go. This little Squirtle is ready to share a smile and maybe even leftovers from the Beach/Park Chalet if you're willing.
Squirtle hanging from a car bumper

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fisherman's Wharf Pokemon Crawl

We're very sorry we haven't been posting lately. We got caught up in the Pokemon GO craze and although we haven't yet caught 'em all, we're giving it the old college try. J.K. has upped her walking to 6 miles a day, and hunting Pokemon makes the walking a lot more interesting.

Tea Time decided to sign up and participate in the Fisherman's Wharf Pokemon crawl on July 28. For three hours, all 70 poke spots at the Wharf had lures going, and many businesses had special offers for Pokemon trainers. Plus if you went to the visitors information center you could get a free Pier 39 coupon book. Tea Time started the evening with drinks and half-price appetizers at Hard Rock Cafe, a tourist draw at Pier 39. There were lots of other options, but we picked the Hard Rock because of timing and taste.
There were a LOT of Magicarp around.
Angela opted for a signature drink, a pink lemonade and vodka delight, while J.K. stuck to her usual Tequila Gimlet, which was very popular with the Pokemon inside the Cafe.

We didn't anticipate the enormous size of the appetizers, so we ordered two, nachos and potato "skins." Another table saw the size of our order and decided to order just the nachos! After we noshed down and checked the time (still thinking we *might* make it to Ben and Jerry's in time to cash in on their Pokemon GO coupon) we went walking. Or training. Either way we caught a lot of those little guys!

Close-Up of Potato Skins
Close-Up of Nachos
We were well fueled by our giant appetizer meal at the Hard Rock (donating the leftovers to someone else) so while we did walk around the pier and then down the street past B&J's, we didn't stop in for ice cream after all. The wind started picking up and it got a bit chilly so we decided to head to our respective homes after it got dark. Tea Time Pokemon Tip: This Halloween season you can catch a lot more ghosts and get extra candies! Don't know what the heck we're talking about? You can download the app. Or just read about it online. Either way fuel up and get out for a walk. Winter is coming, so let's enjoy our time outside now!
an Oddish
An amazing number of Magikarp!
P.S.  A Warning: if you do download the Pokemon GO app, you may find you're addicted. Just ask J.K.
Connecticut J.K., Pokemon Hunter

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

AfternoonTea with a theme at Charles Chocolates 4/16

We arrived early and had time to check out (and sample!) the chocolates before the tea began. Charles Chocolates always features a fun, seasonal "chocolate box." Yes, the box is created out of chocolate too! Delicious. As far as Tea Time can gauge, Chuck designs a new box for whatever holiday is coming up, then the old ones go on a slight discount. When you attend their afternoon tea, you also get a discount on cafe goods including bars and confections. Score!

Chocolates In A Chocolate Box
J.K. couldn't resist the Chocolate Covered Matzah. This is so much better than the supermarket brand! Our honorary Tea Time member Emily bought chocolate to take to her Mom that afternoon. It was time for sweet treats for everyone!
After we browsed the cafe and shop we went to sit out on the patio. The heat lamps are helpful, though the sun was out and it wasn't too windy the day we enjoyed our tea. We spent the time before tea chatting and our tummies were rumbling by Twelve. (Our one suggestion is to have water glasses and carafes on the tables–unless they can get the tea out faster. That would be most ideal.) We didn't get an announcement that tea would be starting late, but we started seeing platters arrive in front of hungry guests at about 12:15. Chef Vijitha gave us a verbal description of the menu, so we ate with our eyes before digging in with our forks, knives and hands. We have a bit of description from Chef Vijitha herself with the appropriate pictures.

"Masala Chai is an integral part of every Indian's day. Chai means Tea in Hindi, the most popular language of India. Since it is flavored with spices, it is called Masala Chai." Angela sometimes finds Chaflavored too strongly for her taste, but our group agreed that this tea was smooth and delightful. There are many types of Chai, so keep shopping around until you find one that fits your palate.
Steamy cup of Indian tea flavored with
cardamom, cloves, peppercorns and fennel seeds
Cheers to Chai!
Here's the lovely platter of Afternoon Tea we were served at this Guest Chef event.
"Sundal is nothing but boiled beans/lentils/legumes seasoned with South Indian spices and coconut. Marina beach is the second longest beach in the world and it is situated in Chennai, Vijitha's home city. The beach is popular for its food–the fire roasted corn or spicy green mango slices or sundal or bhaji. For this sundal, the Chef paired boiled green peas with green mango, carrots and cucumber along with South Indian spices, curry leaves and shredded fresh coconut. This dish truly captures the essence of Chennai."

Marina Beach Manga Thengai Sundal 
Iyengar Bakery Style Vegetable Puffs
Caramelized onions + potato+ paneer baked over puff pastry 
"Kara Paniyaram with Chutney. Rice dumplings are  seasoned with onions, curry leaves, ginger, cashews and mustard seeds. It will be made in a paniyaram chatti (appe pan)."
"Masala Vadai is a popular tea time snack from South India. It is very similar to falafel. Crunchy and delicious!" We all enjoyed this tasty cracker like treat a lot. It was especially good with the Chai.

"Gulab jamun, a popular Indian dessert, gets a makeover with cream cheese.: We were happy to take a few of these home when the plate of "leftovers" came around to our seats and many of our co-diners mentioned that they would love the recipe." Lentils are the main protein source for vegetarians in India. A lot of Indian dishes are made with lentils, legumes and beans. For the dessert on the bottom, Chef Vijitha made ladoos with paasi paruppu (mung yellow lentils), cardamom, sugar and ghee."
Gulab Jamun Cheesecake (top) and
Paruppu Ladoo (bottom)
Semiya payasamA dessert with milk and vermicelli
Time to dig in! No more waiting...
Tea Time enjoyed the information provided by Chef Vijitha although it was at times hard to hear over the chewing as we enjoyed her delicious creations. This region of India features well-balanced and flavorful foods. If you'd like to try recreating some dishes, check out spicesandaroma. Don't feel like dirtying up the kitchen? Look for Chef Vijitha at her next pop-up
Guest Chef Vijitha. Check out her delicious recipes at her blog.
Chuck Siegel of Charles Chocolates fame in the blue t-shirt on the right.
Emily, J.K. and Angela enjoyed the unconventional afternoon tea and take home chocolate. We left satiated and thinking new thoughts about the array of Indian food on offer in the Bay Area. Keep your eye out for Afternoon Tea events all over the city and let us know if we've missed any! You can find Charles Chocolates Afternoon Tea events on Eventbrite, Sundays at 12 p.m. Of course, you can stop by the Cafe and tasting room during regular business hours to get a chocolate fix.