Category Archives: Weekend Warrior

My weekend in The Mission

Anyone who knows me, knows that I avoid The Mission [District] like the plague. It’s not so much that I have negative connotations about it, I just always feel out of place and it’s not easy to get there from my house on MUNI. However, after I turned 25 I decided that I needed to start pushing myself out of my comfort zone and that included more trips to The Mission.

This neighborhood is known for the outstanding cuisine and while usually I try to hitch a ride over there, I decided to start trying BART. I know that sounds silly — I’ve lived in the city over 3 years — but it had to be done. Anyway, I spent about 75% of my time in The Mission one weekend, and it was so nice to experience all of the restaurants/coffee shops/bakeries that I always read about. And get over my fear of BART. Note to self: you must remember to tap out (seasoned riders, you know what I’m talking about).

It started with brunch at Foreign Cinema. We ordered the Persian Bloody Mary and the Caesar Bloody Mary. The Persian version was interesting with it’s unique spices, however I enjoyed the Caesar version, because it was a little thinner. Plus, who doesn’t like a floating shrimp in their drink. Then we moved on to the Huckleberry “Pop Tart”, Dungeness Crab eggs, and the Croque Madame. OMG the Croque Madame was amazing (hello, béchamel?!) and this was a nice preparation of the eggs with the Dungeness crab. Of course, had to add on the slow cooked brown sugar bacon, natch.

Caesar + Persian Bloody Marys

Huckleberry Pop Tart

Dungeness Crab Eggs

Croque Madame (photo courtesy: Donovan Unks)

mmm....brown sugar bacon

Sadly, I heard that Spork was closing, so the next day I decided to hit this Mission district restaurant up for brunch. I mean, how can you not want to try the “Inside Out” Burger? With its two patties of Marin Sun Farms grass-fed meat, slices of Tillamook cheddar, caramelized onions, and brioche bun sandwiched in between, you can’t go wrong. Then, there was a stop at Philz Coffee for the “Ambrosia” (a warm, sweet nutty java with a subtle finish) and on to Arizmendi Bakery for some legendary pastries.

Clockwise from top left: Bloody Hammer from 15 Romolo (prior to Spork), Spork Inside Out Burger, Spork's Interior, Fried Chicken Sandwich at Spork

More stops of the day included NOPA for amazing cocktails and some delish snacks, Irvin Lin’s Eat The Love holiday party (where I almost overdosed in sweet treats), and finally dinner at Frances at the counter. NOPA was serving some great bar snacks at reasonable prices in between service, like the Fried Brussels Sprouts, Fennel Sausage with Black Beans, and Goat Cheese Bread Pudding.

Clockwise from top left: Cocktail at NOPA, Bread Pudding from Arizmendi Bakery, Eat The Love Party, Line up at NOPA

Whew — what a weekend, but who can resist good eats and drinks? At least we know that when we push ourselves past our comfort zone, it usually always pays off. Hey, I’ve even ventured out to Oakland! Here’s proof that you can never say never.

xo.

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Filed under Empowerment, Neighborhoods, Restaurants, Weekend Warrior

Weekend Recap

Heyooo folks. I might be one day late, but can you blame me?! Monday was extra special with the 2012 Zagat San Francisco Restaurant Guide Launch at Park Tavern with Google! Let’s briefly review my twenty-something meanderings from a weekend out and about in San Francisco!

Friday

  • Don’t: Rickhouse. I love Rickhouse, but it’s absolutely impossible to grab a seat, let alone a drink in the bar after work on a Friday. It’s packed! Their cocktails are top-notch, so I’d recommend going on off-peak hours.
  • Do: Otis Lounge. 2 for 1 drink specials from 5pm to 8pm. Need I say more? Take a seat downstairs at one of the lounge tables, check out the scene and admire the peacock accents at this hidden spot on Maiden Lane.
  • Bruce Hill’s Zero Zero in SoMa: OBSESSED! Start your meal with a punch bowl. All of the food was amazing: Pork and Veal Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Fonduta, Fontina Stuffed Arancini [balls] with Black Garlic Aioli, Ricotta Doughnut [balls] (are we noticing a theme here? tehehehe), Rigatoni with Piquillo Peppers, Pancetta and Ricotta Salata, and Fillmore Pizza with Hen of the Woods Mushrooms, Leeks, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Pecorino and Fontina. BTW I saw this pizza on 7×7’s Top 50 Vegetarian/Vegas Dishes To Try Before You Die. Oh yeah, and did I mention they have soft-serve ice cream? Get the vanilla topped with De Vero Olive Oil and Sea Salt.

From top left: Arancini, Meatballs, Rigatoni and Fillmore Pizza

From left: punch bowl, vanilla soft serve, ricotta doughnuts

Saturday

  • San Francisco Public Library: awesome way to save money on those books! I don’t know about you, but I don’t like keep my fiction books after I am done so as long as you can finish them during your rental period (or at least remember to renew).
  • Figs topped with bacon and goat brie cheese are simply divine, as I experienced at Sabrina of @thetomatotart‘s Intense Dark Party.
  • Chris Cosentino’s Incanto in Noe Valley: Eating for the first time at Incanto, I knew I was in for something special. And that something special began in the form of Ibérico di bellota lardo and Asian pears. I almost didn’t feel bad that I was eating pure, unadulterated fat. Then followed was a crazy special: Truffled Uni Sformato and Sweetbreads alla Puttanesca. My tastebuds could not believe what they were experiencing! So much decadence, and only in the first three dishes.
  • Then we moved on to the Spaghettini with Sardinian cured tuna heart, egg yolk and parsley. Simply amazing: the saltiness of the cured heart and the yolk added another layer of complexity to the dish. After that was the Pork Belly with cabbage, apples, rose geranium and pickled mustard seeds. Is it healthy to eat this much fat? Probably not. Does it bother me? Not in the least.

From top left: lardon, sweetbreads, spaghettini, truffled uni sformato

From top left: Mystery Flight! Guess your wines! Pork belly and delicious bread plate. I know it's just bread. Don't judge!

Sunday

  • North Beach: There are so many fun shops in NB to hit up! Lola, Alla Prima Fine Lingerie and Craig Fonarow Photography were just a few that I admired while strolling Grant and Columbus Streets. After you’ve had your fill of browsing and window shopping, take some gelato into Washington Square Park and enjoy watching the dogs and families!
  • La Mar on the Embarcadero: Always a winner; Cebiche Clásico and the Grilled Chicken Skewer with fried potatoes and Peruvian corn. Tip: spoon the juice or “leche de tigre” from the cebiche onto the rice. You’ll be glad you did.

Monday

  • Gary Danko: “My advice: check your ego at the door” upon receipt of his award
  • Tim Zagat: “Study the service numbers…we’re essentially giving you a free market study [with Zagat]”
  • Tim Zagat “we’re handing our baby over to a great company…Google with local, maps, street view…it’ll be the perfect fit with Zagat.”

Bad pic I know, but the man himself.

I finally had the opportunity to try some light bites from Park Tavern and they were delicious! Especially loved the Fried Oyster “Caesar” Salad, Fried Green Tomatoes and Fried Pork Belly bites. Also, the Deviled Eggs with bacon was a tasty bite. I  can’t wait to check it out for dinner!

I hope you all had a fab weekend as well! Xo.

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Seattle: The Waterfront

On the weekend I was in Seattle with the weather being as fabulous as it was, the waterfront was such a sight to behold. It had cheesy restaurants and souvenir shops, a big arcade and of course, piers for the boats and cruise ships.

The ferry and Space Needle in the background!

Since Saturday was my day for sightseeing, I decided to use my Seattle CityPass for an Argosy Harbor Cruise. On this one-hour cruise around the harbor, I learned a bit about Seattle’s history and soaked up the rays from the decks of the boat. I didn’t know that this was such a busy port city! They receive goods from our friends in Japan and China, and distribute them across the United States. As our guide, Robby, put it – it’s the greenest way to ship imports. Watching the actual process of the cranes unloading the big barges and loading up the trucks was one of the best parts of the tour.

The biiiig cranes that unload the shipping barges

After the cruise, I walked about 5 minutes to the Seattle Aquarium. This aquarium packed a big punch into a space that spanned two full buildings. I saw cute little seahorses, an array of sea urchins, watched the fish and harbor seals swim above me and even touched some of the marine life – creepy!

While there were little ones running around me and strollers abound, this was a fun stop as a grown-up to indulge my inner child and bring back memories of my first visit to an aquarium. Touching the starfish, sea cucumbers and sea urchins was the best part!

Adorable sea horses

Fun facts: Puget Sound Hall’s heating and cooling system operates 25% more efficiently and the entire aquarium’s green practices include recycling, composting, solar water heating and feeding sustainable seafood to the marine animals. It’s always encouraging to see these positive steps forward and makes you feel better about supporting organizations like these. Thumbs up!

Beautiful pink sea urchins: sea strawberry, strawberry anemone, short red gorgonian

Check out more photos on my Flickr album of the Harbor Cruise and the Aquarium here.

Xo.

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Labor Day Weekend Recap

Of course my Labor Day Saturday began with a trip to the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market. The first stop for breakfast: 4505 Meats. I went for the rather modest Bacon Maple Breakfast Sandwich with maple sausage, gruyere cheese, cress and nasturtium greens, and a runny fried egg. There’s just something about that buttery, seedy bun that makes me all warm inside.

4505 Meats' Breakfast Sandwich

I just had to get a pic of myself trying to take a bite of @thedapperdiner’s massive double double 4505 Burger with Frankaroni, a patty of fried mac ‘n cheese and 4505 house-made uncured hot dog.

If only I could unhinge my jaw...

One thing I love about the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market is the samples – I tried an Asian Pear from Frog Hollow Farm that was just so sweet and divine, Mt. Tam cheese from Cowgirl Creamery and some baba ganoush from Marin Gourmet. After Chicken and Beef Korean Tacos (2 for $6) from Namu, it was off to La Mar for a Pisco Sour and Lafitte for the 1st of 30 days of Caipirinhas.

Korean Tacos with seasoned rice, daikon & kimchee salsa, kimchee remoulade, housemade teriyaki sauce on seaweed. Yes, I did eat the spilled over filling with my fingers. It was that good!

Cocktails galore! From top left: cucumber caipirinha, heirloom and pisco sour

@thedapperdiner and @carinaost got the Scallop and Pork Hot Dog with spicy pickles, stone fruit mustarda and skinny pomme frites, of which I had to steal a taste. My second drink at Lafitte was the Heirloom, made with Swans Neck Vodka, Averna, Prado Pastis, tomato and herbs. This drink seriously tasted like an heirloom tomato salad – it even had a nice salty bite to it.

Leave it to the Dissident Chef to come up with a Scallop and Pork hot dog!

How could I top this morning/afternoon? A Giants game with the parents. Sadly the Giants lost this one to the D-backs, but I was able to get in on the Sheboygan Bratwurst Stand and some garlic fries, natch. At the games, you must skip the plain ‘ole hot dogs and go straight for the big honkin’ Sheboygan topped with grilled onions and sauerkraut! You’ll be glad you did. Oh and make sure you have extra powerful gum/mints for those garlic fries.

My giiiiiant Sheboygan and the parentals in front of the park!

Since the Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is ending on September 6th, a girlfriend and I tried to hit up the museum on Sunday – but beware: apparently the tickets for these kinds of exhibits sell out! After attempting to get our culture on in the MoMA store, we decided to stroll up Geary and stop in the free galleries that decorate the street.

I highly recommend this as a cheap alternative, since all of the galleries are free AND open on Sunday! After paying a visit to Cohen Rese Gallery and the Martin Lawerence Gallery (who is holding an upcoming art auction at Stanford Court BTW), we stumbled into Christopher-Clark Fine Arts. And lucky that we did! Insider tip: they had work from Matisse, Picasso, Varya and more – and some of the pieces were actually featured in the Steins Collect exhibit.

Matisse

Picasso

Later on, I was finally able to check out Chambers Food + Drink (in the former Bambuddha Lounge space at the Phoenix Hotel). I highly recommend the Truffle & Wild Mushroom Dip with waffle chips, Panchetta Wrapped Figs with Balsamic Reduction, the Sizzling Kobe Tri-tip (it’s served on a hot stone, medium rare – so cool) and the Sea Bass with big, lovely artichokes. I had high hopes for the PB & L.T., which was basically pork belly atop rice paper filled with heirloom tomatoes and lettuce, and the Burrata Gnocci, but I would skip those. Of course dinner was followed by some dancing at 222 Hyde and some pool-playing action and jukeboxin’ at CC’s Cocktails! Both good haunts for the aforementioned activities!

Sometimes you just need a lazy day and even though Monday was absolutely AMAZING weather-wise, I was just plain old lazy! Kudos to all of you who BBQ-ed and did other fun things outdoors. I did rally myself to meet @thedapperdiner and @carinaost at Tataki South in Noe Valley, a restaurant known for its sustainable sushi. They had some *daring* (re: spicy) sushi rolls, including the Extinguisher with albacore, habanero masago and spicy aioli, and the Russian Roulette with crawfish, cucumber, asparagus, tobiko and topped with scallops. The premise of this roll is that one of the pieces is over-the-top spicy and whoever is the winner (or loser), gets the prize of a shot of nigori sake to cool the burn. Not a game for the weak of stomachs.

Creative, delicious rolls from Tataki South

Tataki South also had a great happy hour from 5pm-7pm: $4 rolls and $3.5 hot sake, yes please!

Can I get a “holla” for the staycation?! I hope y’all had a fun-filled, restful Labor Day weekend as well and happy Tuesday!

Xo.

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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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San Francisco City Tour

Recently I had some family in town and in true form, we took San Francisco by storm! This is one of the things I love about this city — there is so many things to do, sometimes it is hard to fit it all in a short time! As a local, it’s also really fun to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy San Francisco through the eyes of a tourist.

Day 1 began with the Tour de Ferry Building. We arrived at the busiest time, but that was quite alright given that we were all in the spirit to eat. After strolling by all of the produce outdoors, we entered through Sur La Table and made our first purchase: El Porteno Empanadas. We ordered the Fugazzeta (aged cheddar, onions, oregano) which I found tasty but not too exciting, and the Champinones (local organic mushrooms by Far West Fungi, shallots, parmesan cheese, crème fraiche) which was delicious, earthy and much more complex.

El Porteno Empanadas Stand

As we wandered along, some stopped for vegetarian spring rolls and the interestingly-flavored ICIO Water.

ICIO Water - blood orange tarragon and black currant blueberry

I, however, had my heart set on Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick. I’m a lover of all things cheese, so naturally I went for the gold: Burrata with seasonal vegetables and herbs served atop arugula with crostini and dressed with McEvoy Olive Oil. Drool. My aunt and cousin went for the grilled cheese of the day — that sandwich was very good as well.

Cowgirl Creamery's Milkshed Map

Then we hopped on the F-line and took it down to the start of our San Francisco hop-on hop-off city tour in Fisherman’s Wharf. The tour took us to all of the popular neighborhoods (Golden Gate Park, The Haight, Civic Center, SoMa, Union Square, Chinatown) and I was quite surprised by how many “fun facts” I learned about San Francisco.

Chinatown

San Francisco's breathtaking architecture

I’ve included some of them below just for funsies!

  • The Spreckels mansion is the largest house city in San Francisco – yes we all know that Miss Danielle Steel now resides in that [not so] humble abode
  • The term “Sugar Daddy” was first coined by Alma Spreckels when speaking of her husband, Adoph Spreckles, the sugar baron
  • Any house painted three or more colors is considered a “Painted Lady”
  • That is actually real gold on the City Hall dome!
  • Alma is also the model for the monument in Union Square honoring naval hero Admiral Dewey and the assassinated president William McKinley
  • Twelve faceless statues sit atop 580 California called the “Corporate Goddesses”. These faceless statues are there to remind those in the banking industry to “be honest, even when you think no one is watching”.
  • Denim was invented in San Francisco during the Gold Rush because miners needed durable clothes to wear
  • The Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall is designed to look like a baby piano from the outside – if you look closely you can see the white keys, black keys and strings inside.

City Hall

The "Corporate Goddesses"

Day 2 began with a stroll through the North Beach Festival – fairs and festivals are a really great opportunity for visitors and natives alike to get out in the sunshine, check out local vendors and people watch.

North Beach Festival from above

Street art at the festival

After we had our fill at the North Beach Festival, we hightailed it through Chinatown, down into Union Square and hopped on MUNI underground because we all had one track minds — we wanted to devour some sandwiches from Ike’s Place! Once our sandwiches were ready after a brief wait (Tom Brady with vegan breaded chicken, garlic and herb sauce, mushrooms, avocado and cheddar for me), we trekked over to Dolores Park. At the park everyone was happy to give their little feet a break at the park and enjoy the local flavor! We all know what I think about Ike’s (see Ike’s Place, Dolores Park & Bi-Rite Creamery) so no need to get into detail on how delicious they were.

After we were finished, we made our way back the hotel room to enjoy a glass of wine and some good family time before everyone had to part ways. It was amazing how much ground one can cover in a single weekend in San Francisco — also, important to note that I figured out what a walking drill sergeant I can be. So when I say “oh it’s just a couple blocks”, it really is 5-10 blocks. In my defense, San Francisco is such a walking city — you hardly even notice the distance you’ve gone when you walk by yourself! However even I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed putting my feel up for a rest, sipping red wine and surveying the rooftops from the balcony. This was the perfect way to play tour guide and show my relatives San Francisco’s best!

B.R. Cohn and Ghirardelli Chocolate - nice pairing.

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