Monthly Archives: August 2011

Seattle: Tàvolata & Le Pichet

Tàvolata

Craving an Italian reso to qualm comfort food cravings, I settled on a recommendation for Ethan Stowell’s Tàvolata. Located in Belltown (and a convenient 5 minute walk from my hotel), Tàvolata serves up Italian eats in a simply chic setting. On this particular evening I posted up at the bar, where I was able to gaze in the dozen or so mirrors behind the watering hole and peak at my fellow diners enjoying the large, wooden communal table.

Ethan Stowell is a Seattle fixture and a 2009 Rising Star Chef. Naturally, I read up on this place before I moseyed on over and learned that the pasta is made in-house and is a menu must. Unfortunately I was still a little full from that Beecher’s mac ‘n cheese, so I went with the Crispy Semolina Gnocchi from the Antipasti section of the menu. I figured this would cover the [pasta] bases and not leave me feeling overly carbo-loaded. I loved the subtle hints of anchovies, the dusting of parsley and the fresh marinara dipping sauce, but I felt that the dish was a little heavy on the salt and believe me, I have a tough time saying that as I usually enjoy more salt than most.

Crispy Semolina Gnocchi

I was feeling like I needed a little meat on my bones, so I settled on the Smoked Pork Belly, also from the Antipasti section. I learned that the preparation of the pork belly began with grilling and pressing the belly into the meat, however I felt myself saying “where’s the belly?” The dish was a bit dry, but the apricot puree, fennel, red radish and white balsamic provided complexity to the dish.  Lastly, for some greens I went with the Rapini with chile and garlic, however I felt this dish needed some lemon to offset the bitterness of the rapini.

Smoked Pork Belly

Rapini

Tàvolata | 2323 2nd Avenue, Seattle | 206.838.8008

Le Pichet

I wandered over to this neighborhood French bistro based on the recommendation from the bartender at Bathtub Gin & xxx (more on that later). I was glad to sprinkle in some French cuisine with Le Pichet. I began with an Amuse of radish and white bean toast – very nice. Then I moved on to a combo of cheese plate and Merguez sausage. Normally I don’t like to order cheese from a resto because it’s difficult to judge based on that, but I was seriously full from my previous [food] endeavors – so give me a break! I was balancing it out.

Radish and White Bean Toast

Anyway, absolutely LOVED the spicy lamb-beef sausages, served on a salad of summer plums, cucumber, celery and a pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. Very delicious – and I think we are noticing a theme here with salty/savory paired with sweet.

Lamb-beef sausage

Stilton, le chevnot and a sautratus (though I don't think I got the spelling right on the last one).

Another thing I loved: the Demi Pichet. Eight dollars and fifty cents got me a mug of Sauvignon Blanc – what’s not to like?! And last word of advice: I heard the Fallafels aka crispy chickpea fritters are AMAZING so get in on that if you are ever in Seattle and stop by Le Pichet.

Le Pichet | 1933 1st Avenue, Seattle | 206.256.1499

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Filed under Food, Restaurants, Seattle, Wine

Seattle: Pike Place Market

As I mentioned in my last blog, I just recently visited Seattle for business trip. Of course it could not be all work and all play! I’ve decided to start my series of blogs about my travels with the historic Pike Place Market. Naturally, I’d like to give you a little history: Pike Place Market was originally started back in the 1907 as an outcry to the outrageous prices that the middlemen were charging for fresh fruit and vegetables. Basically they were acting like greedy Americans, purchasing the produce and marketing it up to make big bucks on the margin. Umm…I wonder where they learned that?! Anyway, luckily these farmers wisened up [and listened to the people], and Pike Place Market became the bustling mecca that it is today!

The famous "Public Market" sign

Sure…we all know Starbucks began in Seattle and seriously, for someone who doesn’t even LIKE this java chain (sorry!), I still had to get a picture of the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market. Yep – we all know why their house blend is called “Pike Place”.

I would never wait that long for a coffee!

Of course I’ve heard of the “flying fish” at the Pike Place Fish Market and I quickly learned that the reason why the owner began this policy of encouraging his fishmongers to throw around the fresh catch and chant along with each other was to inspire a business that was on the verge of bankruptcy – who knew? You can read about the story in John Yokoyama’s book entitled When Fish Fly. If you’re really ambitious, buy some fish to take home because they guarantee no leaking or stinking for 24 hours (though I’d hate to be sitting next to the person on the plane if that claim failed).

Walking through the market was quite a zoo and filled with slow moving tourists, so I recommend getting there early to browse the unique wares. Among the items for sale were paintings, scarves, jewelry, honey, lotions, flowers and so much more!

Beautiful flowers!

Naturally you must take a pit stop to rub the nose of the golden pig for good luck!

I didn’t even know about this infamous gum wall until I checked in on Foursquare (thanks tipster!), but I stumbled onto this colorful wall of ABC gum, which is simultaneously disgusting and breathtaking at the same time.

It's the Space Needle and an Argosy ship!

Wandered onto this European-inspired cobblestone walkway

Seeing as it was 80 degrees the whole time I was there, I didn’t know if I could handle the heat from the Pike Place Chowder, so I am saving the pleasure of indulging for the next time I venture up to The Evergreen State. I did, however, enjoy a cup of the “World’s Best Mac ‘n Cheese” from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (definitely best I’ve ever had) and devour an Onion-Potato-Cheese Piroshky from Piroshky Piroshky (there’s something about the carb-carb-cheese ratio that just gets my engines goin’).

Mac 'n cheese with a glass of vino

Massive, warm piroshky

Another culinary treat I indulged in? Ice cream. But not just any….Pomegranate Cheesecake from Snoqualmie Ice Cream, a local purveyor. They did have some ice cream from a San Francisco vendor up there, but I just had to get the local stuff, yaddamean! I was glad to see SF representing to the fullest, though.

I tried to capture a photo pre-lick, but it was already melting!

Last but not least, I’ve got to include the random tidbit in here. Sure, it’s not in Pike Place, but Top Pot Hand Foraged Doughnuts had to make it in somewhere, right? I held off for 2 whole days, which was a struggle given that this outpost of sugary goodness was only 1.5 blocks from my hotel. The build–up came to a finale with the Raspberry Old-Fashioned, which satisfied my cravings and effectively made the happy places in my brain *sing*. If I ever go back, I would bring a friend (or 5) to break bread with and share in these doughnuts as featured on the Cooking Channel!

Top Pot is in top form!

Pike Place Market felt like a huge version of San Francisco’s Ferry Building, so I felt right at home and in my element. Rich with history and filled with tons of vendors, this is a must on any Seattle itinerary, and plan on spending AT LEAST a few hours browsing and exploring!

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Filed under Seattle, twenty-somethings, Viator, Weekend Warrior

Weekend Recap

Another weekend has come too slowly and gone too quickly. That happens all too often! Here are my observations from another fabulous, fun-filled weekend in The City by The Bay:

Friday:
The House of Shields – awesome cocktail bar, established in 1908! Strong drinks, great bartenders. Get there before or after the happy hour crowd to snag a seat and enjoy the ambiance.

John Colins – one of my favs in the city. The bartenders are super friendly and you’ll even find the owners slingin’ drinks on some nights! Cool after-work spot.

Osha Thai – pretty good Thai fare (mmm Lemongrass Sea Bass) and a local chain started by two sisters who moved to San Francisco from northeast Thailand. While not uber-traditional, it’s perfect for late night dining in a swanky atmosphere, staying open until 3am on weekends.

Eve Lounge – who knew, hip hop on Friday nights?! Check out the unique chandeliers,  beautiful portraits and interesting clientele, and get your freak on.

Temple Nightclub – $20 cover charge. WHAT?! Skip, unless you are REALLY inclined…

Saturday:
3rd Annual SF Street Food Festival – glad to finally head down to the Mission for 6+ blocks packed with street food vendors and hungry festival-goers. The lines were pretty outta control, but once you got talking with friends the time in line seemed to pass *somewhat* quickly. I tried some good eats however the wax moth larvae tacos were certainly not on the agenda this time. Thanks to Rye on The Road, a mobile bartending service, the biergardens were packed with people gettin’ their drink on.

Flour + Water's Porchetta Sandwich

Had a samosa from Curry Up Now..coulda used some chutney!

Banh Mi Taco from Peached Tortilla (Austin, TX) - Vietnamese briased pork belly, pickled daikon and carrot salad, sriracha mayo and cilantro

Scotch Egg from Chiefo's Kitchen - hard boiled egg wrapped in seasoned sausage and coated with breadcrumbs

M.A.D. Ahi Tuna Tartare

Persian Lamb Taco from Hoss Zare

Artful jello shot...

The Lone Palm – $4 happy hour drinks. Need I say more?! Sweet Mission dive bar with pre-placed bar snacks. If that’s what your into.

Sunday:
SF Opera at the Stern Grove Festival – this series of summer concerts are not to be missed. I mean, when else can you see the Opera/Symphony/Ballet for free amongst majestic trees? Definitely get there early to claim a spot on the grass, bring a picnic/wine and enjoy the beautiful sounds. Sadly, the festival has come to a close for this year, so keep an eye out for next year!

xo.

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Filed under Culture, Food, Freebies, Things to do in sf, Weekend Warrior

SF Chefs 2011 Recap [PHOTOS]

My, my how time flies! It seems like just yesterday I was stoked to see my favorite chefs and taste their delectable creations for SF Chefs 2011. Now that the week of seminars, tastings and parties is over, all we have are faint and distant memories. And oh yeah…pictures! See below for my awesome iPhone 4 shots. Someday I’ll get a better camera and stop subjecting you to the madness!

I only went to the Grand Tasting on Sunday and the Industry After Party at Jasper’s this year, but one thing that stood out at the Grand Tasting was PORK PORK PORK every which way, thanks to the National Pork Board (Pork: Be Inspired!). Some things that I didn’t manage to get a photo of (but still tasted outta this world) were the Pork Confit with Summer Fruit from Frances‘ Melissa Perello, ceviche two ways from La Mar and Absinthe’s Smoked German Sausage with potato-corn salad and a spicy onion marmalade. Oh and Munch from Burlingame had a tasty Buttermilk Panna Cotta and I managed to make out Chefs Gary Danko and Joanne Weir discussing BLTs. Without further adieu….

eVe. Watermelon, squid, cucumbers, cumin, dill blossoms

Scala's Bistro. Jen Biesty. Petrale Sole with heirloom tomato, saffron, artichoke and herbs

Nombe Izakaya. Sansho pepper pulled pork salad, toy box tomatoes, red frilly mustard, okura, taro chips, yuzu cream

Sons & Daughters. Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara. Agastache marshmallow foie

Bix. Bruce Hill. Opentop pork sandwich with fresh tomatoes

Driscoll's berries!

Cool desserts at Jasper's from Rose Rodriguez

And last but not least….

Dominique Crenn. Hottest female chef ever!

Hope you had fun at SF Chefs as well and see ya next year!

xo.

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What I’ve learned about business trips

Not every twenty-something is fortunate enough to go business trips for their job. Some types of careers do not afford the luxury of travel as part of the job description – and that is completely normal! Especially in the recent economic downturn, many companies have been slashing budgets and being more frugal with their spending and expenses.

That being said, with Viator I’ve have the opportunity to take a few business trips — most notably to Las Vegas! Though it may not be the “Viva Las Vegas” or “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” approach of a leisure vacation, I quite like being there in a work mindset. Once you step off the plane, the hot air hits you and while a lot of people go to party at the nightclubs or play the poker tables, when you are there for business — well, you mean business.

Where you stay always matters, but the last two times I’ve been to Vegas I have stayed at hotels without casinos. Let me tell you, this also adds to the relaxed vibe because you don’t have to spend miles walking through the slot machines AND you aren’t subjected to the patrons’ cigarette smoke. If you are a budget-minded traveler who likes to live life on the edge, try Priceline‘s name your own price feature.

Here are some tips that I’ve learned while on the road (pun intended):

  • Take advantage of amenities. Aveda hair products, plush white robes and fresh sheets every night? Yes please!
  • Go with the flow and accept that there may be delays. ESPECIALLY when flying back to San Francisco
  • Learn to chat up others if you are a solo traveler
  • Ask for recommendations from friends on where to go in your down time — it’s a great opportunity to try new restaurants and bars
  • Carry on luggage is a MUST (if you are a chronic over-packer like me, try to change your habits!)
  • Soak in the bath. I don’t know about y’all, but I am not afforded this luxury at my apartment in San Francisco!
  • Televisions in the mirrors are an awesome invention, but might slow you down in the morning

I can’t wait to learn more tips and tricks as I start down the path to becoming a seasoned traveler. And if you are not already, than you will too!

At the end of the month, I will be going on my first solo trip to Seattle…eek! Wish me luck! If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them.

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Filed under Tips & Tricks, twenty-somethings, Viator

flour + water

flour + water is by far one of San Francisco’s top Italian restaurants. Nestled on the corner of Harrison and 20th Streets in the Mission, F+W is doling out the goods — and it is a well known fact, as we all have heard the notorious story that Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself  was denied a table one fateful night.

The Summer Pasta Menu couldn’t be more representative of this time of year — when it actually feels like summer! So hurry up and get your bootay in there to try Chef Thomas McNaughton’s hand made, perfectly al dente pasta. This stuff is seriously outta this world and we would expect nothing less from Chef, having held sous positions at both Gary Danko and Quince. I didn’t get a chance to try any of the Neopolitan style pizzas straight outta the Italian wood-fired oven but I’ve heard great things, so if you have an opportunity to try some of these pies, do!

cured duck with summer squash, blossoms, pine nut and basil

crispy pork trotter with cherries, pistachio, wild arugula & saba - so tasty

eggplant & smoked mozzarella triangoli with squash blossoms - delicate, yet the flavors complemented perfectly

orecchiette with goat sugo, broccoli di ciccio & rosemary. talk about goat-y goodness!

rigatoni verde with pork polpettine, taggiasca olives & chili. by far my favorite dish of the night - so rich and decadent, yet somehow finished every last bite

dense little pasta pockets filled with roasted pork, caramelized onion and parmesan cheese

rabbit confit & loin with artichokes, carrot, mint, preserved lemon & olive relish - bring on the protein! this dish was fun and inventive

The restaurants keep half of the tables open for reservations and half open for walk-ins, so either get there early or consult OpenTable. It’s also fun to stand in the bar/door area with a glass of wine in hand, giving each table the evil eye and betting with your dining companion on which will be the first to pay the bill and vacate the premises.

Another cool addition is the Dough Room, which by day moonlights as a prep kitchen and by night morphs into a great pace for parties of 8 to 10 with either an 8 course tasting menu option or a family style menu option.

They first Monday of every month are Guest DJ Nights (heeeyyy-o) so if you feel like listenin’ to some smooth beats while indulging, stop in on Semptember 5th when Thao Nguyen of Thao and the Get Down Stay Down makes an appearance. Your taste buds will be happy and your eardrums buzzin’ — heck, you might even get up and get your groove on!

Warning: Flour + Water may cause massive amount of delicious food consumption and you most likely will need a digestif after dinner (Fernet anyone?!), but the carbo loading is definitely worth an extra cardio sesh in the morning.

flour + water. 2401 Harrison Street. 415.826.7000.

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SF Chefs 2011

I know that I’m a bit late posting on this (hello Ashley, where have you been?!), but I wanted to at least note that YOU MUST BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW for SF Chefs 2011. In its 3rd successful year, SF Chefs is a food/wine/spirit extravaganza that you simply do not want to miss where culinary-admirers, oenophiles, cocktail aficionados and anyone in-between descend upon Union Square to indulge to their heart’s content.

If you’ve [hopefully not] been a slacker like me, you might have missed out on some of the sold out events — however I think the real bread & butta’ are the grand tastings. It’s so fun to socialize, meet other like-minded foodies, sip some great wines and taste bites from some of the best chefs around. Keep an eye out and drool over culinary innovators and trendsetters such as Hubert Keller, Ty-Flo and Chris Cosentino.

Credit: Robin Jolin, courtesy SF Chefs

Once you’ve had your fill (and are feelin’ a little tipsy), be sure to kick back and check out some of the chefs demos that take place on center stage throughout the day. Or check out a seminar or two — I know The Secrets of the Sommeliers or The Real Restaurant Wives of San Francisco both look very intriguing.

One of my morning seminars last year...wine and food pairings at 10am!

If you want to skip the events all together but have been dying to check out hot spots like Dosa, La Mar or Ragazza, be sure to hit up SF Chefs Restaurant Week which kicked off yesterday and goes until August 7th.

The epic bread display from the inaugural year.

The tickets are a bit expensive for a twenty-something on a budget, so the seminars and/or SF Chefs Restaurant Week are two great ways for you to get involved. Alternatively, next year I would highly recommend volunteering some way — the past years I was fortunate enough to attend all events because of my previous jobs with Moet Hennessy and Andrew Freeman & Co. And hey hey, if you are a Visa Signature® cardholder, you even receive 20% off all tickets — score!

Hope to see all of you out there!

SF Chefs 2011. Click here for tickets and more info.

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Filed under Food, Restaurants, San Francisco, twenty-somethings, Volunteering, Wine