Friday, December 17, 2010

The Joy of Pickling

Another one of the memorable things that I did at the beginning of my lazy non-blogging break was pickling! I never really pickle anything before. I have made cucumber sonomo, a Japanese salad which involves vinegar, but other than that, no experience in pickling what-so-ever.

The first thing I want to pickle was red onion! Why? Not long ago, I had a delicious salad from Ad Hoc, which contains pickled red onions. I was craving for more after that. By the way, Ad Hoc's food never fails me! I looked at my Ad Hoc Cookbook for reference since afterall, I want it to taste just like it.

2 large red onions (about 1 1/4 pounds each)
1 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Instruction:  (make about 4 cups)
1. Cut off the top and bottom of each onion and cut lengthwise in half. Remove and discard the outer layer. 2. Slice each onions to 1/8 inch thick slices, following the natural lines on the outside of the onion.
3. Pack the onion slices in a 1 quart canning jar, reserve any slices that don't fit.
4. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
5. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the onions. Once the onions begin to wilt, you can add any remaining onion slices to the jar, gently pushing them down into the liquid to submerge them.
6. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refridgerate for at least 24 hours for up to 1 month.

Try them on a bed of salad, they add a little crunch and sweetness to it. Very delicious!
They also taste great with salmon as I was mixing some onto the salmon also! Happy pickling!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blue Velvet

I'm back! I haven't been blogging for awhile, but I have been eating and dinning as always. I need to catch up on my posts. Starting from this one...this was awhile ago, around September I believe, but hope it's still good and entertaining!

I was inspired by the Blue Velvet cake I had from Milk Cafe & Ice Creamery the last time I was in LA. With blueberries in seasons, I whipped up a batch of cupcakes almost like it.

Cupcake batter can be like a work of art, especially when food coloring is involved! I tried to use as minimal amount as possible because what goes in must come out, and it won't be as pretty as before.

I love blueberries. They are great snacks filled with anti-oxidants and vitamin C. I kind of over added blueberries in the cupcakes though. The texture of the cupcakes differ depends on how much you add. If you want mushy blueberries in every bite, then add more! If you want more cake, then add less.

Whipped up enough for my relatives who came over to visit.

Bluish green inside since I didn't add too much food coloring. It is still a blue velvet though!

Moist and sweet, but not overly sweet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Plant Cafe Organic

Pier 3 at The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111


3352 Steiner St, San Francisco, CA 94123

I don't have anything against inorganic food, but organic food always strike me as fresh and healthy! So after a morning at the farmer's market at the Embarcadero, I stopped by The Plant Cafe for a quick brunch.
The cafe offers outdoor seating with great view of the bay. It also offers heating lamp to make sure the customers are warm on cooler days.

The lunch menu offers food like salad, burgers, pizza, pasta, oysters and a delightful wine list. Everything seems ordinary but is organic. At the Marina and Downtown location, they also offer "create yourself salad" and fresh squeeze juices and smoothies. The cafe's signature Plant burger strikes's housemade with lentils, mushrooms, beets, cashews and bulgur wheat. Yummy! You can choose your breads from regular burger bun, wheat bun, and variety of sliced bread. You can also choose what to go in it.

The Swiss and Mushroom Plant Burger

The burger patty is very soft and flavorful, but I cannot taste specific ingredients that was in it. The bread was toasted perfectly. The mushroom and melted Swiss cheese added some softer texture to the burger. I LOVE this! It was so good, I ordered it again when I went again.

I also tried one of the pizzas on the menu. It was my favorite pizza, Margherita, but it comes with corn also! The pizza consists a thin layer of cheese, lots of heirloom tomatoes, basil and corn. The crust is thin and soft toward the center but crunchy at the edge.

Margherita Pizza with Corn
Mimosa with Fresh Orange Juice

And...wash down the meal with a glass of mimosa made with fresh orange juice!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ti Couz

3108 16th St
San Francisco, CA94103
(415) 252-7373

Like pho, crepe is another one of my comfort food. I think it's because it usually contains cheese or sauce. It's warm, gooey, soft, hearty and delicious! I am used to going to places like Squat and Gobble, Crepevine, Crepeville, etc, but it was nothing like Ti Couz.

Ti Couz is a French crepery located in the Mission District. The door front was hard to spot because I swear, I'd passed by it so many times but never noticed it until I decided to look up where it is and go. The service there was awesome. The waiter is pretty helpful and attentative. I'd been to Ti Couz two times, and both times, they left a big jar of water in case I wanted more.

Buckwheat Crepe with Mushrooms and Mushroom Sauce

I first heard of this from my coworker Kathy. She highly recommended it, especially the mushroom sauce. Then after checking out Yelp, many Yelpers said the same great things about the mushroom sauce being a must try. I personally love mushroom, so there was no doubt that this was my very first Ti Couz order. The crepe was folded in square-form with a thin later of mushroom stuffing inside and warm creamy mushroom sauce on the outside. The crepe itself was made with buckwheat and is crunchy around the edge and soft around the center. The buckwheat crepe itself already possess tons of flavor! I can eat it like bread or crackers! The mushroom sauce was very rich in mushroom flavor but was a bit too salty for my taste. So, the second time, I order a crepe with a side of mushroom sauce.

The crepe itself looks flat, but it was stuffed with mushroom.

Buckwheat Crepe with Egg, Ham and Cheese

This is another one of my favorite. It tasted great without any sauce whatsoever. It was simple and very hearty. The crepe was extra crunchy on this one since the stuffing was much dryer. The egg was made sunnyside up with a perfectly bright and runny yolk, which acted like a sauce itself.

I think I will come back here indefinitely! There are many varieties and combinations on the menu that you can create yourself. Ti Couz also serves fresh juices, Italian soda as well as beer and it's perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Oreo Cupcakes

This cupcake was inspired by the ever delicious Anthony's Cookies 'N Cream cookie. It's one of the chewiest and freshest cookies I'd ever had. I personally think that Oreo cookies by itself are already overly sweet, so I was expecting the ones from Anthony's would be overly sweet also, but it wasn't. It was perfect! The cookie wasn't big also, it was a little bigger than a bite size which was perfect for satisfying my sweet tooth.

Anyhow, onto the cupcake! So the cupcake itself contains crushed oreos. I didn't add as much sugar in this cupcake since I think it would put my sugar level beyond what my tongue and body can handle. I use both the cookie and cream fillings of Oreos, so right away I knew the batter would be thicker. I should have added a little less flour, but I didn't, so the cake was a bit on a denser side but still moist though.
The frosting on the cupcake is just vanilla buttercream but I made it runnier than the average ones so that it can be creamier. Lastly, I sprinkled some crushed Oreo cookie crumbs onto the frosting and garnished it with 1/4 of an Oreo cookie.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Pisces California Cuisine

3414 Judah St, San Francisco, CA
(415) 564-2233

I get pretty tired and lazy on weeknights when I get home from work. So I don't have too much motivation to go far into the city for dinner a lot of the times. The first thing I would do is usually find something around the neighborhood or neighorhoods close by. So I was thrilled when I found out there is an Californian cuisine restaurant near me.

What caught my attention on their website though was the nice ingredients they use in their dishes and the money-saving price tag that goes with them. There are two different pre-fix menu, one costs $23 and one costs $33. Either one allows you to choose from a selection of food. Three courses pre-fix menu only costs $23 has selections like potato leek bisque, lobster ravioli, grilled hanger steak, etc or the three course menu $33, which I ordered, has selections like Cioppino, Ahi Tuna, Filet Mignon, etc.

Smoked Salmon Strudel with Asparagus, Mascarpone, Ikura and Strawberry Vinegrette

Pisces' presentation realy "wowed" me. It was amazing how they can dress up a salad with a spring roll-liked food item. The presentation was good to look at and the food was delicious! The smoked salmon was salty, so it was perfect with the mascapone, asparagus and simple spring lettuce mix. The Ikura added extra saltiness to the dish, which was a bit much for me, but it was perfect with the sweet and tangy strawberry vinegrette.
Chocolate Battered Soft Shell Crab with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes & Basil

Again, awesome presentation! The crab was pretty heavy and so is the mozzarella, so I just wish there are more tomato to tone down at least the mozzarella and more lettuce to tone down the soft shell crab. Overall, it was just too oily and heavy for me. Maybe drain the oil from the crab a little more?

Crab Cioppino with Shrimp, Scallops, Mussels, Calamari, Fresh Fish and Tomato Broth

This is by far one of the best cioppino I had. The broth was rich and contains diced tomatoes, it tasted great with the juice from the seafood. The amount of seafood was very generous, especially the crab meat! The shrimps were a little too cooked but other than that, I would clean this plate!

Grilled Wild Ahi Tuna with Gnocchi, Edamame Beans, Oyster Mushrooms, Wasabi Emulsion & Dashi Sauce

The ahi tuna was okay. It was a little too grilled for me and too dry for me. I like mine just a little bit grilled so that just the outside is grilled and dry and inside still juicy and tender. I had gnocchi for the first time and it was delicious. The emulsion and dashi sauce definitely made the food on this plate taste great!

Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
I love creme brulee! This one is pretty okay and creamy overall. THe caramel was not burnt. The egg was not overcooked. Nothing much to say about it other than delicious!
Warm Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Gelato & Ganache Sauce

The warm chocolate brownie was too much for me. Super duper sweet and dense. It would go great with dark black coffee, which I did not order and would wish I order if I were to consume this whole piece of brownie.

I like Pisces. The ingredients were simple but nice when combined. The waiter was attentative. The ambiance is pretty good. The price for the kind of food you get is great! I think I would go back for more cioppino!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

You Say Marco! I Say Gelato!

Marco Polo Italian Ice Cream
1447 Taraval Street, San Francisco, CA
(415) 731-2833

Gelato is a variant of ice cream from Italy. But one place where I love getting gelato at is Marco Polo. At Marco Polo, almost all their gelato flavors are Asian inspired. Flavors like guava, mango, soursop, taro, coconut, green tea, black sesame, and even durian! They also have American inspired flavors like strawberry, chocolate and rum raisin. But none can beat my favorite flavor—lychee! It has tiny frozen lychee pieces in it, so it adds a little bit to the creamy texture. I actually love the black sesame flavor one too because of its powerful flavor.
Black Sesame & Lychee

Also, Marco Polo’s gelatos are very pastel in color, which means it’s super creamy! But even though it’s creamy, it actually has a lower butterfat content than ice cream..and that’s what classify it as a gelato. I also like Marco Polo’s gelato because it’s not overly sweet like most other places I have tried.
For a small cup, you can have up to two different flavors, and they don’t charge extra for cones! It is a bit expensive though because a pint cost about $8.00 and it keeps going up every time I go back. But doesn’t matter how much it is, I think I will keep going back for more!

Anthony's Cookies

1417 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA
(415) 655-9834

My friend Victor and I both craved for something sweet one night. So he decided to get cookies so that we can finish another thing off the 2010 SF Big Eat List. He then told me he bought 6! And without knowing or ever seeing how an Anthony’s cookie looks like, I was like, “wow, that’s a lot for the two of us!”
So it turned out Anthony’s cookies are small in size, like 2.5 inches in diameter or so. It is also a thinner type of cookie. So the item to get from the Big Eat List was the Cookies ‘N Cream cookie. I never had a cookies ‘n cream cookie before, so I was excited.

Anthony’s Cookies ‘N Cream cookie looks like a chocolate chip cookie but instead of chocolate chip, it contains crushed oreo-liked cookies. One bite into it and I was in love! I thought since it is a bit thinner so it probably won’t be chewy…man I was wrong! It was chewy and moist! But I should have known when I pull it in half…very gooey and chewy. I could definitely taste the cookies ‘n cream cookie in there. I was also surprise that it was not that sweet! I mean an oreo is super duper sweet to me but Anthony’s wasn’t.
I also tried the other cookies they have, like the white chocolate—which was pretty sweet! I also tried the semi-sweet chocolate with walnuts, which was just okay, but it was memorable because the chocolate was still very gooey and creamy even though the cookie wasn’t warm anymore.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Paul K

199 Gough St, San Francisco, CA
(415) 552-7132

Came here on a Tuesday night with the boyfriend for our anniversary. We are both user. So right after we were seated, my boyfriend checked into foursquare. He found that if you're a foursquare user and is a first timer at Paul K, you get half off on your entree. Yeah yea! Immediately we figured we have extra money for appetizers!

Paul K is a Greek and North American inspired restaurants. The ambiance was very modern and dim. The walls were hanged with paintings by artists and Paul himself. It was very quiet that night, with only about 3-4 tables including us. The service was great! Our waiter was very helpful and attentive.

Shortly after given our menus, our waiter put down a basket of warm housemade flat bread with hummus. The pita smelled very different and tasted different from the ones I usually see at Greek restaurant. It was much thinner. The hummus was thick and lumpy. I like it because the hummus was not overly salty like most I had.
Ahi Tuna Tartare with Lemon Oil, Pickled Radish and Sweet Potato Chips

I love appetizers made with tuna! So I knew we had to order Tuna Tartare. The tuna was very firm and finely diced. It was not mushy at all. The pickled radish along with lemon oil added some tanginess to the fishy tuna. Pretty good, but nothing to wow for. The sweet potato chips were very crisp and did not taste like sweet potato at all...I just thought it was regular potato.

Batter Fried Green Beans with Lemon Aioli

The Batter Fried Green Beans definitely reminded me of the ones from Coco500. But of course, they were both good in their own ways. Paul K's battered fried beans uses tempura-liked batter, whereas Coco500's uses the kind of flour batter you can find in taro croquette.I like it. It was crispy, oily and very aromatic. Oh and you have to eat it with the aioli..yum!

Seafood Stew with Fennel, Merquez Sausage, White Beans, Chili, Harissa Tomato Broth

I love cioppino! So when I saw seafood stew on the menu, I just order it without any thoughts. The seafood stew contains two type of clams, mussels, fish and shrimps. One type of clam is Manila, and I have no idea what the other one is. The other kind was so mushy and fishy; it was barf-inducing. The broth was watery, and lack tomato flavor. The beans were interesting; I never had beans in a seafood stew. I wish the bean would soak up the favor of the broth more though. The sausage was not very good, it tasted gamey, like lamb. Ehh, I don't think I'll order this again.

Grilled Hanger Steak with White Beans and Salsa Verde

The hanger steak was made nicely as ordered--medium rare. It was topped on a bed of the same white beans I found in the seafood stew. The beef was tender, and the salsa added some sweetness and tanginess ot it. It's good!

The food at Paul K seemed pretty ordinary. I like the atmosphere, the services, but I think I'll come back only if they have deals or I am happened to be in the neighbor. Otherwise, I don't think I'll pay the money for it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

American Cupcake

1919 Union St, San Francisco, CA

When I first heard about American Cupcake through , they did not even have a store front yet. So when I found out the store finally opened, I was excited!

I have been in a wine and cupcake phrase lately. I love how wine tastes differently when pair with something else and I love how cupcakes are small in sizes but bring such big joy when looking at them and big flavor when eating them. When I saw how there was alcohol pairing with cupcakes at American Cupcake, I knew I had to try it because pairing wine or beer with cupcakes sounds super strange...a white wine maybe, but red wine and beer too?

One super cool thing about this cupcakery is that it serves alcohol and it opens until midnight toward end of the week. I cannot think of any other cupcakery that opens pass 8pm or so. On top of that, American Cupcakes serve other sweets like whoopie pies, puddings, peanut butter sandwiches, candies as well as savory food like cheese, fries, nachos, sliders, etc.

The Tunnel of Love -- Red Hot Cupcake with Cabernet Sauvignon, Mexican Chocolate with Sonoma Brut and Chocolate Cupcake with Vin Gris Rose

It was super hard to choose one out of the five different flights they offer. Since I love wines more than cupcakes, so I chose the flight based on the wines. The flight is $16, which seemed pretty worth it considering wine usually cost around $6 a glass at the cheapest, and mini cupcakes are usually $1.50 or so. The mini cupcakes are a bit dry and the buttercream was very creamy and sweet. I took a sip of wine before and after I take a bite of cupcake, and seriously, the wine tastes better without the cupcakes. The cupcakes were so overpowering that, I could not taste the wine at all. The wine did not enhance the cupcake flavor either. I was a little disappointed with the pairings, but at the very least, I did enjoy eating and drinking them separately.

In addition to the 3 mini wine pairing cupcakes, I also tried the regular size strawberry cupcake. The regular size cupcake is more moist and the frosting is just sweet enough, it was delicious! The frosting looked dense but it was actually pretty fluffy and light. I was expecting the regular size cupcake to be more moist since smaller cupcakes are harder to control sometimes because they get overbaked easily. The strawberry cupcake definitely make me want to go back and try others.  

The decor of American Cupcake is very modern and bright. The interior are all white with colorful lightings on the ceiling and jars of candies filled the wall. There are also booth as well as bar seating...a very trendy and fun hang out place. I would definitely go back for the atmosphere.

Just Koi

4288 Dublin Blvd, Dublin, CA 94568
(925) 833-3938

Growing up in Hong Kong, I get really happy whenever my mom takes me to a wonton noodle house. Just the comfort of the wonton wrapper, the taste of the white pepper that was used to marinate the prawns, the crunchiness of the prawns, the juicy-ness of the pork--they all go really well together with a hot bowl of egg noodle...and oh yes, and some Chinese chili sauce.

There are only a couple of places that have nice wontons or should I say, wontons that taste like the ones I had in Hong Kong. One of these places is Just Koi in Dublin, CA. This restaurant or more like a cafe is in association with Koi Palace and Koi Garden, the tea houses. But instead of serving all dim sum, it serves noodles, fried rice. porridge and such.

The service at Just Koi is just okay. They rarely come and fill your water or tea and come really shortly before you even have a chance to look through the selective menu.

Wonton Noodle -- Egg noodles with prawn and pork wontons and vegetables

Just Koi's wontons are perfect! I love my wontons with prawns, not shrimps and white pepper! The white pepper is a must in marinating the prawns and in adding flavors to the wontons. The pork needs to be a little fatty in order for the wontons to be juicy. Delicious!

Salt and Pepper Tofu -- Deep fried tofu coated with salt and peppers

The Salt and Pepper Tofu was light battered and fried. The batter was very thin and crispy, which added just enough contrast to the soft steamy tofu inside. The fried garlic and chili added extra flavors with the salt and pepper as well.

I hardly order anything else here besides wonton noodles and maybe like other appetizers like the soya tofu. Other than that, the wontons are just too comforting for me to change and order something else.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blueberry Peach Pop

Going down the fruit aisle in the supermarket, you will see a lot of peaches and berries. One of the reason I love summer is because of the fruits available to us in the summer! So a couple weeks ago, I decided to make popsicles after feeling inspired by this book I saw at the bookstore. I forgot what it's called...something like "pop" or something. I bought peaches from the farmer's market and blueberries from Safeway the very same week, so I decided to make popsicles with them.

It's super duper easy. All you need is a blender, fruits, fruit juice, yogurt and caster sugar if you want extra density and sweetness. Blend your favorite fruits together by itself or with yogurt or with sugar and then layer them out in a popsicle mold. Try putting heavier ones at the bottom because it will sink down if you pour it at the top.

Tatah! Peaches with blueberry yogurt popsicle!

Friday, August 13, 2010

II Cane Rosso

One Ferry Building # 41, San Francisco, CA
(415) 391-7599

There are so many sandwiches to try on the SF Big Eat List, but luckily, all of them are pretty different, and one of them being Il Cane Rosso.

Sun Farms Beef Brisket Sandwich -- lemon aioli, spicy pickled red onions

I usually don't like beef brisket because they seem so fatty to me, but Il Cane Rosso's was not too fatty at all. The sandwich bread was grilled and spreaded with lemon aioli. The bread soaked up all the beef juice, so it was super tasty. The pickled red onions was a little bit tangy, which added so much flavor to the sandwich as a whole. The green that goes with the sandwich added that crunch with the moist, tender and mushy meat. So so fresh and so good!

If you have a chance and see it on the menu, do try it! Because it took me a couple times before I finally see the beef brisket sandwich on the menu since they change it weekly or so. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Curry House Round 2--Cupertino

10350 S. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino, CA
(408) 517-1440

So the first time I had Curry House, I was in Los Angeles. So recently, I found out that they have one in Cupertino, and they serve the same menu!! Yay, so now I can have yummy Japanese curry without traveling so far.

So last time I ordered my curry hot, which I thought wasn't hot enough. This time I ordered one level higher--extra hot (which was 75 cents extra by the way) Boy, I was in trouble! I couldn't even finish half. It was so spicy that it burns every single bite. For the first time my rice wasn't covered and drenched with curry. It was rice coverng curry!

Curry Chicken Rice Plate -- Small curry rice, fried shrimp, soup and salad

I ordered a rice plate with my extra hot chicken curry. The fried shirmp was pretty okay. The batter was crunchy and wasn't as light as tempura. The corn chowder soup was so good and creamy! The cream was not super thick and it was super smooth. The corn aroma was strong and seem pretty fresh. The salad dressing was good. It was also very light and especially refreshing when you ordered an extra hot curry.

Deluxe Menchi Katsu Curry--Curry pilaf wrapped in egg, topped with beef hamburger cutlet. Served with curry sauce

The Menchi Katsu was sooo good! Even though it was hamburger, which meant grounded meat, it still tasted very beefy and non-burger liked. I didn't like the batter on the shrimp from the rice plate, but the same katsu batter was perfect with the texture of the hamburger meat. I straight up thought it was regular meat but very tender one. The rice was just okay, a little bland. The egg was thin and fluffy, tasted pretty good with curry.
Curry Pan - Fried bread stuffed with delicious curry made of plenty of vegetables

Oh my gosh! This bun was so good! It was super hot when the order came out, which I regret for not taking a bite of right away since I was full. But just hours later when it was lukewarm, it still tasted super delicious! The crispy fried bread and the mushy meat and vegetable filling, and the aroma of the curry was so rich, I could smell it even when the bag was closed. This would make a wonderful lunch! I am definitely getting some more when I go back next time.

The restaurant was very clean and the staffs were very friendly and attentative. I also realized that the Cupertino Curry House has special deals all the time, especially during the summer. The last time I went, kids eat free! But even without specials and deals, the meal there are very affordable and very fulfilling.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pot Pot Pot Pot Pie!!!

Pot Pie Paradise
3522 Arden Road, Hayward, CA

My coworkers went to Pot Pie Paradise on the first week that our work moved to Hayward. It was the only restaurant we found in the area that serve decent and creative food...all in a pot pie! The restaurant was nothing fancy. The interior reminded me of a deli and Indian or Persian restaurants for some reasons. But other than that, unless you drive really slow and happen to see the sign, otherwise, it's like a pin in a sand pit because it is surrounded by warehouses.

The first time I'd been to Pot Pie Paradise, I ordered a sandwich. It was nothing special. Two months after the move, I finally decided to try a pot pie there.
Piccata Mushroom Vegan Pot Pie -- Assorted fresh mushrooms (shitake, button, oyster, portobello), capers, lemon juice, orzo, olive oil, onion, garlic, fresh herbs.

Wow, this pot pie tasted amazing! I am surprised how flavorful it is without using any butter and cream in the filling. But yeah, the vegan part only applies to the filling, I am sure the pie crust contains butter. The crust was flakey but wasn't flakey as I expected it to be. Oh yes, so this place charges 50 cents more if you want your pot pie hot, even when you were to dine in. I mean it was fine until I found out that all they did was take out a pre-made homemade pie and just put it in the microwave.

Broccoli Raisin Salad

For $1.50 more, you can get a side salad or soup with your pot pie. I decided to get a salad. Pot Pie Paradise has many side salad to choose from, like the Broccoli Raisin one above, as well as regular garden salad, caesar salad, fruit salad, pasta salad, etc. My Broccoli Raisin Salad was pretty good...crunchy broccoli and chewy raisin. The dressing was light even though it's creamy in color. This definitely worthed my $1.50.

Since there are so many unique pot pie variety to choose from and they also serve sandwiches and salad, I am sure I'll be going back to try something else! Also, it's probably one of the best restaraunts I have so close to my work.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sketch Ice Cream!/pages/Sketch-Ice-Cream/103500175674?ref=ts

On a nice sunny day, my boyfriend brought over a pint of delicious Earl Grey Tea ice cream from Sketch. He told me he ordered it for me two days ago...I got confused. You need to order ice cream? Apparently Sketch used to have a store front but the owners closed it so they can focus on their beautiful new born baby. According to my boyfriend, they still sell ice cream, but you would have to call in to order and pick it up at their apartment. Interesting!

I was never a fan of Earl Grey Tea, but I am a fan of Earl Grey Tea ice cream. My very first taste of it was at Birite Ice-Creamery in San Francisco. So when my boyfriend showed me the pint, I chuckled and told him that I didn't like Earl Grey Tea. Little did he know that I do like the ice cream made with Earl Grey Tea. Anyhow, Sketch's ice cream does not consist any eggs and cream, they made their ice cream with only Straus Organic milk, and whatever ingredients needed for the flavor.
Earl Grey Tea Ice Cream

This ice cream is simply guilt-free! It melts faster than regular ice cream and not as airy, but it was still pretty creamy and very light. If I am going to order it from Sketch in the future, I want to try something fruity and see how the texture turns out.


568 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA
(415) 983-0102

I went to Wexler's after a fun tiring day back in July. Wexler's Scrotch Eggs were on the 2010 SF Big Eat List, so I ended up there for dinner one night. I was running late, and so I called in to let the hostess know. She said that they will reserve my table for 15 minutes in a pretty rude tone. I was about ten minutes late on top of the 15 minutes and upon entering, I told her about my reservation and with a rude look, she said that I have lost my table since I was late but I can sit at the bar if I like. I said okay and ended up sitting at the bar. Then for the next 30 minutes or so, the table that was supposed to be reserved for me was still emtpy. WTH! I should have just gone onto and reserve again! For the rest of the night, that same hostess looked like she was "pms-ing". She hardly smiled and she stood around checking out her own nails. She made this dinner experience not a very good one.

BBQ Scotch Eggs -- Burnt Ends, House Made Hot Sauce, Sweet Tea Gastrique
I was quite excited about this dish since this lady in one of the Paper Source classes I went to said that this was the best thing she had eaten on the list so far. Anyhow, the BBQ Scotch Eggs are basically deep fried poached eggs with running yolks--sounds unhealthy eh? Indeed, but it tasted pretty good. The batter was a little to hard for my taste though. The inside just tasted like a regular poach eggs. I found that I kept eating it with the sauce and the garnishes; in other words, it was a bit bland. I must have overhyped myself about it. I don't think I will try this again since I am watching my diet.

Smoked Fulton Valley Chicken Breast -- King Trumpets, Spring Onions, Favas, Smoked Onion Chicken Jus
Onto something healthier! The chicken breast was delicious! It was very, very tender and juicy. It is probably one of the best chicken breast I had at a restaurant. The king trumpets and spring onions made the sauce really good. The chicken tasted good by itself, but I like dipping it into the sauce before I eat it. Becareful though, mthe spring onion in this dish was delicious but quite slimey and huge, so I almost got choked because the onion got stuck in my throat.  

Smoked Farrotto -- Shelburne Farms Cheddar, Green Garlic, Black Trumpet Mushrooms
This was my very first taste of farrotto. Before this, I never even heard of it. Farrotto, which is a risotto-liked dish made with farro! Farro is a relative of the wheat specie which originates from the Middle East. It needs to be soaked before use and is mainly used as a pasta. This Smoked Farrotto was very, very creamy and heavy. It was very thick, probably from the starch of the farro, but it was very flavorful. I couldn't really tell that it was cheddar cheese but I could tell that it had mushrooms in it. I think this dish should be shared since it's so bold and heavy.

Wexler's sure provided some interesting ingredients and dishes. The service was decent overall. The bartender was also our server since I was at the bar; she was very nice by the way. And as long as I don't have to deal with that hostess, I wouldn't mind going back again.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kendall-Jackson Wine Center

5007 Fulton Road, Fulton, CA

I always want to go wine tasting just because I live in vineyards-filled California, and just because I never even been to any winery! A couple months ago, I started getting into wine. I love how they taste when pair with certain food, and I love the knowledge behind growing, making and tasting them.

Hold and behold, my very first visit earlier this month was to a winery that I bought the most bottles from (whether for myself or as gifts)--that winery is Kendall-Jackson in Sonoma. I don't know how it becomes one that I often buy, maybe because the name sounds good to me.

The experience and service at the estate was superb! I know I can be a little bias since it was my very first wine tasting, but all in all, I really enjoyed the estate as a whole. One, the estate offers a food and tasting menu. Two, the people working at the estate really take their time to explain their wine (okay, maybe all estates do that). Three, there is a garden outside the estate where they grow ingredients that goes into the food tasting menu, and it is opened to the public! The garden really enhanced my experience there, especially since they have so, so many varieties of edible plants there!

Okay, onto the food! As mentioned previously, I had the food and wine pairing.
Johnny Cake with Trout Roe and Sour Cream (to serve with 2007 Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay)

Kendall-Jackson is known for the Chardonnay. So according to the chef, the rich mouth feel of the sour cream goes well with this full bodied wine. I was suprised how corn cake goes really well with trout roe! Then I was suprise how the sweetness of the corn and the saltiness of the trout roe totally sweeten the the wine, turning it from a bit sour to a nicer finish. This 2007 Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay was my favorite in the whole tasting menu--the aroma and taste of this wine was really, really good!!

Crostini with Delice de la Vallee Cheese, Fresh Beans, Radishes and White Verjus Vinaigrette (to serve with 2009 Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc )

The Sauvignon Blanc was a bit strong in acidity or sourness. But after eating this crostini, the acidity was toned down a little bit, probably by the cheese. The crostini was interesting. All the greens on it made it tasted very green and earthy, if it wasn't for the cheese, I don't know if I can eat it, especially the sprouts.

  • Buckwheat Crepe with Smoked Ham Hocks and Bellwether Farms Carmody Cheese (to serve with 2006 Highland Estates Seco Highlands Pinot Noir)

  • Sweet Tea Brined Niman Ranch Pork Belly Slider with Syrah BBQ Sauce (to serve with 2006 Highland Estates Alisos Hills Syrah)

  • Korean Style Kobe Beef Lettuce Wrap  (to serve with 2005 Highland Estates Trace Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon)
This next course was pretty grand considering it had both crepe and kobe beef! So I finally understand why people usually pair red wine with meat, especially steak or other fatty meat. All the red wine was quite bitter from the tanin at first, but after each bite of food, it tasted so much better since the fat rid some of the tanin flavor. 

The buckwheat crepe was amazing! I could eat more if they offer more! The ham was flavorful but it didn't cover the flavor of the cheese. The light Pinot Noir that served with it did not get covered by the rich ham and cheese neither, it actually enhanced it.

The pork belly slider was good because it's fatty and it has hoisin sauce in it. But yes, the fatty pork is so fatty and tender that it definitely helps rid the tanin of the syrah, a wine that I usually don't drink (that my dad drinks a lot).

Lastly, the kobe beef lettuce wrap was amazing also! The beef was not too heavy, but heavy enough to be balanced with the lettuce. It was so good that I wanted to go Korean BBQ afterward. But anyhow, the heavy BBQ flavor and the beef definitely helped rid some of the tanin with the full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, which was the strongest wine in this whole tasting menu.

Onto the last course...dessert!! For this course, I actually looked forward to the the wines more than the desserts because I love the color of white wine and the wines listed for the tasting were late harvest wines, which I never ever tried I was super excited!

  • Mama Frischkorn's Caramel Corn (to serve with 2006 Late Harvest Chardonnay)

  • Arborio Rice Milk Panna Cotta with Blood Orange Curd and Marinated Citrus (to serve with 2007 Late Harvest Riesling)
Okay, the caramel corn was super duper sweet for my taste. I could only finish 1/3 of it. The Chardonnay on the other hand was much sweeter compared to the 2007 Highland Estates Camelot Highlands Chardonnay from the first course, but not as sweet as the caramel corn. I am guessing that the caramel corn suppose to make it sweeter by enhancing the sugar in the wine.

The Panna Cotta was super creative, especially since it was made with Arborio rice. At the beginning of the tasting, the chef asked for my favorite wine, and I said Riesling. So kindly at the end of the meal, he brought out a regular Riesling that he had at the estate to let me compare it to the late harvest one. The Late Harvest Riesling was nothing like the regular riesling I usually drink. The Late Harvest Riesling was extremely sweet, it was like drinking a moscato or syrup! I couldn't finish my glass. Although I must say, the milder taste of the panna cotta was just perfect for the wine since the wine was so sweet already.

The grapes weren't ripe yet when I visited in early July. I think I will go back around September so that it will be riped by then. Also, the chef said the food and tasting menu change as the season change...count me in for that!