Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Latino's the end of June, right? Is it pouring rain anywhere else in the world?

Anyways, look at how beautiful the weather was just the day before the storm.  It was so nice that Matt and I were able to take a walk up and down Piedmont Ave. in Oakland after work and enjoy a nice outdoor dinner at Latino.  If you've ever been to the Piedmont area you'll know what I mean when I say this is kind of an odd place.  I guess you could say that Oakland took a willful stab at gentrifying parts of a city with a bad reputation and, well, Piedmont was one of those areas that had undergone that soil turning.  Even with all the hipster restaurants, the quaint buildings, and the charming antique shops, there are still obvious remnants of a town wrought with homelessness and Oakland just can't seem to shake itself loose from the "ghetto" reputation.  None the less, I love coming here for the food and some of the really fun shops (like A.G. Ferrari Foods, of course)  And now I can add Latino to my growing list of restaurants that I love in Oakland.

Fried Plantains
You should know about my plantain infatuation by now especially when they're cooked this way--fried and carmelized on the outside, but soft and nectar sweet in the center.

Matt's skirt steak
The sauce got me.  I mean the entire dish was great, the steak was meaty and tender and the "shoe string" onion rings were downright addictive.  But it was the chipotle mango sauce that won me over.

Duck tacos
This made me miss Lola Gaspar a lot. A LOT.
Don't get me wrong these were also very good, but it's definitely hard to beat that feeling I got the very first time I had duck tacos at Lola...I swoon. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Swan Oyster Depot

We've been meaning to try Swan for a very, very, long time now.  It always comes up as a suggestion when we're going down the long list of San Francisco eateries, but then some how we always pass up Swan Oyster Depot for something else.  We of course now know that we have been such idiots for choosing anything but this place for dinner.  Now you may think that I'm being a little bit harsh, but have you been to Swan? Well, have you?  Yes, that's right...I was actually being nice when I said we were "idiots".

This is one place where I don't mind standing in the door way for thirty minutes waiting hungrily and awkwardly for a stool at the bar while our meter is running out.  That says a lot doesn't it?  We arrived just about an hour before they closed, and they were still packed with people--this place is extremely popular.  And again, if you've been, you know exactly why.

One of the things that really drew me into this place is that it is just so relaxed, it's very old school with the bar-only seating and the rickety stools, and I just adore everyone who works there--they all have such quirky and friendly personalities that it just completes the experience.

The single most amazing bowl of clam chowder.
It's not thick and overly creamy, it's a thin soup that's extraordinarily clamy and just very good.  Not what I expected at all from a clam chowder--I've had a few bowls of this stuff in my day, and this my friends, the God of all clam chowders.  

Half dozen Miyagi oysters on the half shell (three different types) 
Matt's exact words after we finished, "UGH, God, why am I so stupid...we should have ordered a whole dozen!"

In my opinion, we should have gotten a dozen...each.

Crab cocktail
Usually, I'm wary of cocktails.  Why?  Well, I'm sure you know why.  Everyone's had a bad seafood cocktail experience--the fishy, definitely-not-fresh-four-day-old-dead-seafood-cocktail flavor that can't even be masked by the most delicious of cocktail sauces...yeah, those.  You've had 'em.  That's why I tend to shy away from ordering pre-made seafood.  But at Swan you don't have to be wary of the cocktails because
1) seafood is their livelihood
2) it's guaranteed fresh, g-u-a-r-a-n-t-e-e-d.

O, and definitely try their house made horse radish, that stuff will clear your sinuses, your mind, and make you  cry.  I walked out with a bottle myself.  


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Benny and the Jets

I've been depriving you haven't I?  Well, I do apologize.  I just got back from Los Angeles for my cousin's graduation and haven't really had time to sit down and write.  What I really should have done was bring my laptop along with me on the trip, but I was much too lazy to tote around this monster and my phone just wouldn't suffice.  But, the good news is that I have tons to share since it's been so long.

Before I jump into the food part, I just wanted to say that over the weekend I watched 27 Dresses for the second time and now Benny and the Jets is totally stuck in my head--hence it is the namesake for today's post.  So Elton John has nothing to do with this entry other than the simple fact that I'm completely addicted to the song (this, of course, is all in case you were wondering, or if I got your hopes up in anyway because of the amazing post title).

Okay, so off the tangent, and back on track.

If you've been following my blog for a while or if you just know me, you'll know that every time (and I do mean every time) my family and I make a trip down to southern California, we always stop at Harris Ranch for a meal.  (It used to be that you'd know when you were close because it's smelled to heavily of cow poo, but it's gotten much better since).  The reason why we come here during every trip is because not only is it a novelty but it's also a place to get incredibly meaty and well-prepared steaks. Admittedly, I have now gotten a soft spot for Harris Ranch...I guess because part of me wants to be a cow girl and eat steaks all day, but that's another story that you can probably live without.

 Berry Boost Smoothy
I get this every time.  It's so good and it's such a nice refreshing drink paired with a heavy steak.

Warm Spinach Salad
Not to be confused with the spinach salad 
(that happened to my dad when we went back to Harris for round two on the way home from LA)

I think it's the best salad on the menu.  I'm usually wary of warm spinach salads because they tend to over wilt the spinach.  But not in this case.  It's served with a light, tangy vinaigrette, mild blue cheese, sweet onions, and cinnamon almonds.  

Blueberry Sauce Short Rib with Shoe String Fries
This is a new item on their menu.  Although, I tend to stick with my steak only rule when eating at Harris Ranch, this was definitely a great dish.

Baseball Cut Sirloin with Yam
A perfect, juicy med rare--it had a nice crust on the outside and it was just so meaty and flavorful.  

Pot Roast with Garlic Mashed Potatoes (and my dad added mustard before I could snap a photo)
Their garlic mashed potatoes are a garlic lovers dream come true--whole cloves of perfectly cooked-until-sweet garlic whipped into creamy mashed potatoes.  Just try and convince me that that doesn't sound like heaven...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Farmer's Market

The only thing that I'll voluntarily wake up early for is the Farmer's Market.
Well, even that sometimes isn't true...

I offered to make Sunday dinner since we had a large bag of rigatoni that no one had any idea what to do with other than ask me if I wanted to cook, apparently.  I saw it as motivation to get my ass up and out early and not waste away in bed all Sunday afternoon.  What I love about the farmer's market is, other than the smell and the taste of fresh kettle corn, the chance to walk around outdoors and shop for some of the freshest fruits and veggies of the season.  There's something about eating produce and even coffee cakes from the farmer's market that makes me feel better about what I'm putting in my body (not that cake for breakfast outdoors is any better for you than at Sprinkles) I do, I do feel less guilty about eating sweets at a farmer's market than I would at say, Starbucks. Go figure.

I made a really simple pasta sauced only by what liquid was given off by the cherry tomatoes and the slowly infused garlic and olive oil that I made.  Tossed the pasta in that with sauteed eggplant, mushrooms, fresh snap peas with tons of basil and red chili flakes.  

Spoonfuls of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top didn't hurt either.  Although next time I make this, I think I'm going to just chunk up the Parm instead.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


Hello.  I've finally joined 2011, and updated my blog settings.  I know, what took me so long, right?  Well I was happy with the way it looked up until today when I wished that I could make my title photo and my body photos larger but my old "2000 and singles" template wouldn't let here I am now with a disproportionately laid out page.  But hopefully come Monday, my blog will have gotten a face lift and have its act together.  In the mean time, "Tougher Than It Is"--Cake this is the song I've been putting on repeat for the past week.  It's gotten me back up on my feet after a series of disappointments.  Hopefully, it'll be of some inspiration to you too!

Friday, June 3, 2011


Last night a few friends and I went to Night Life at the Academy of Sciences. I grew up going there on field trips and for family trips but it's changed a lot over the years. What I love about Night Life is it gives us older folk a chance to enjoy the Academy of Sciences without children running around. Don't get me wrong, I love kids, but sometimes it's nice just to sip on a glass of wine and roam the exhibits.

What does all of this have to do with food?

Well, in addition to the food that they sell in the main room and in their cafeteria, last night they were promoting sustainable fishing and Hog Island was invited to the event to serve their Hog Island Sweet oysters. Free oysters? Why yes, I'd love some.

Being the oyster-loving freaks we are, Matt and I got in line 3 or 4 times for the o-so-good oysters with hog wash. O, you know you would have done the same!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


A quick post before I run out the door.

Tuesdays are my mom's day off, which means it's our little excuse to have a girls lunch out with my aunt. This week, we went to Fresca on Fillmore. I remember in high school my friends and I would frequent Fresca--finding this place (we went to the one in West Portal) was like finding gold. Eating there now brings back so many memories of dining about town, finding great restaurants like Fresca and thinking we knew about the best of the best. I now know that was not true. But in any case, those were some of the best years of my life to date.

To be honest, I haven't been to Fresca since...well, maybe once. I used to always get the chicken pesto sandwich and for old times sake we got it again on Tuesday. We also tried the ahi ceviche and the paella. The food is just as good as I remembered it. Makes me want to catch up with old friends again. How nostalgic of me.


Chicken pesto
Love their fries! They remind me of In n Out but thicker cut. No complaining here.

Amazing Paella
Don't forget to ask for hot sauce. Don't worry, it's not Tapatio or Tobasco, that is unless you like that over the real deal.

Time to brave the weather--wish me luck!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Delarosa Before the Rain

As we speak, the sky is falling. Well, no, not literally...but it might as well--it's pouring out! Happy June 1st to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Before this relentless storm hit, Matt and I were able to enjoy Sunday lunching out on the sidewalk, and what better place in the city to do this than in the Marina. I love the Marina, it's like our own little Balboa Island but bigger and better (take that, Newport!). It's a great place to eat, shop, and people watch--especially when it's sunny. Needless to say, it was busy out. For a city that's foggy and cold 99% of the time, we tend to all come out as soon as the sun peeks through. Yes, we're that sun deprived.

Matt and I just happened to stumble upon Delarosa--there was plenty of sidewalk seating, they had electric orange chairs, and it seemed to be fairly busy (minus the wait we saw at other restaurants that day). Luckily for us, we got a table outside. The outdoor seating is a bit snug, our first thought when we sat down, practically elbow flirting with the table next to us, was "This is awkward". But the draw of this place is the intimate seating and the good rustic food. So what else is there to do but suck it up and enjoy the weather and the food?

So here's what I was talking about in my last post: our paparadelle obsession--a totally unnecessary bowl of pasta. We ordered a prosciutto di parma pizza with mozzerella and arugula, and beer steamed mussels...did we really need the pasta? Apparently, yes.

Everything was incredibly good and only made better by the sun and the outdoor seating. The pizza was my favorite part of the meal; it was cracker thin and super crispy. Can you say "mMM Mmm good" to prosciutto di parma? We'll definitely be back for more pizza and for the burrata--something I've recently fallen in love with because of work.

O and look, the sun decided to come out after all. I don't think it'll last though, but I guess we'll see.

Eat up!