Sunday, May 30, 2010

Guerilla Cafe, Berkeley

We had a nice brunch in the sun at Guerilla Cafe.

Heather and I shared the Mediterranean Plate, which is two poached eggs, toast, tomatoes, olives, cucumber and feta. I really like the idea of this dish - I love poached eggs, and I like that it's served with something lighter than the normal stuff you get poached eggs with. My problem with it though was that the eggs weren't really poached.  I love when you put your knife into the egg and the yellow runs out of it. This was more like a hard boiled egg disguised as a poached egg. 

We also shared the Waffle of the Day - which was orange zest waffles - and they were delightful. They served it to us as 4 mini waffles which made sharing very easy.  The orange was subtle but it added a lot of flavor. 

Guerilla Cafe
1620 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 97709
510 845 2233

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Italian Ice

A couple of pictures from a recent trip to New York - enjoying some rainbow and lemon Italian ice with my niece and Toothless.

Does anyone know of anywhere to get Italian ice in the Bay Area?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

San Francisco Food Crawl Part 2: The Mission

After a fun - but rained out - first attempt at a food crawl, we finally settled on a date for round two.   This time we decided to keep it all walkable, so all of the places we went were in the Mission. I like the idea of doing a food crawl by region anyway - San Francisco has so many different neighborhoods with great food, plus it's a good excuse to keep doing more of these crawls and exploring different areas of the city. 

Our first stop was The Monk's Kettle. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I like a good font and logo, and this place has both.  Even though they are known for their huge variety of beer - both on tap and in bottles - we were there specifically for the giant pretzel. And since our group was bigger this time (we lost one person, but gained three, for a total of seven) we decided we needed to order more food at each place.  

On the left is the mac and cheese made with house-made cheddar ale sauce and toasted bread crumbs.  We didn't love the mac and cheese - it was ok, but we all wished it were a bit heartier (the non-vegetarians were specifically mentioning it'd be much better with bacon).  The pretzel lived up to it's reputation. It's served with stone ground mustard and more house-made cheddar ale sauce and it is so much better than the pretzels you get from street carts. 

It's a little bit awkward going into a restaurant with seven people and then telling them you aren't really there for a meal - just to try a couple of things. Our waiter totally went with it and was very sweet about having us taking up a whole table.  We definitely could have eaten more there - and I fully intend to go back to try the lobster pot pie - but we were pacing ourselves for the rest of the day. 

Round two was easy enough to get to - across the street from The Monk's Kettle is a Pakistani/Indian restaurant called Pakwan.  We stopped in here quickly to get some chai to go.  I have to admit that I am used to the American-ized chai from places like Starbucks and Peets.  This was so much more subtle and not nearly as sweet - and at $1 a cup, it's also a way better deal. We took our chais and headed down 16th Street to our next stop, Balompie Cafe

So this place is tricky to find if you're like me and rely on Google maps, because Google maps will tell you it is on 18th Street and Alabama.  Ignore that, because it isn't there. We were lucky because as we headed down 18th Street we happened to find it in front of us (it's at Capp, between Mission and Van Ness, if you're wondering). 

There are a few locations of Balompies, but this one is the oldest one. The 7x7 list tells you to go to Balompies #3 (in the outer Mission/Bernal Heights area) but that wasn't walkable for us and really, I don't know how necessary that is because we all loved the papusas here. We ordered three different types - bean & cheese, zucchini & cheese and the loroco con queso, which was "native Salvadorean vegetables & cheese". Are you seeing the cheese theme here? Our group was comprised of cheese lovers, so we were all very, very happy.  Each order comes with two papusas and costs $2.50. I really don't know of a cheaper meal than that.

This was my first ever papusa, and I am now a big fan. Usually if we want cheap eats in the Mission, we go to one of the many taquerias in the neighborhood, and I'm so excited to have a new option. We all left here talking about how we want to come back.

Next up on our list: Dynamo Donuts. By the time we got there - around 2pm - they were sold out of all donuts except the cornmeal rosemary cherry and lemon thyme. I was slightly disappointed because I had wanted to try the spiced chocolate donut. Once we tried these two though I didn't mind missing the chocolate - they were both incredible.   The owner was also there and very friendly: he told me that on any given day they have about 7 - 10 different varieties, and that the spiced chocolate is not one of his favorites. The most popular donut, which they have daily, is the maple glazed bacon apple. I guess I'll have to go back for that one too.

He also took me out back to show me the patio that they were just finishing getting ready to debut - it opens tomorrow!

Our group had dwindled by this point, but our group of four persevered and headed back up 24th Street to Humphry Slocombe.

They are always so nice there and let you sample all of their crazy flavors. I tried two that I would never want to have a whole cup of - golden beet safron sorbet and thai chili lime sorbet. The beet one really tasted of beets, probably not something you'd really want for dessert. The chili lime was surprising - at first I didn't taste much, and then it really gives you a big chili punch. 

In the end, we picked three: Secret Breakfast (cornflakes and bourbon), Balsamic Caramel and Chocolate Smoked Salt. We were too late to try the Harvey Milk & Honey Graham Cracker ice cream, which was only available today, for Harvey Milk Day.   None of us liked the Balsamic Caramel - too much balsamic, not enough caramel. We all liked the Secret Breakfast but our favorite was the Chocolate Smoked Salt.  

We left there full but not yet done with our mission: we had one last stop, at Anthony's Cookies

I'm not sure if this is true in all cities, but I love that in San Francisco you can find, in walking distance from each other, shops that specialize in just donuts or just cookies.  I wouldn't think that would be a sustainable business model, but Anthony's has been around since 1997 so they must be doing something right. We ordered three different types: Cookies and Cream, Toffee Chip and German Chocolate.  Much like with the ice cream, the one we liked best was not the one on the 7x7 list: the toffee chip was the hands down winner. We all liked the cookies and cream and none of us liked the German Chocolate,  which didn't really have much flavor.

Though we could have followed up our cookies with pie from Mission Pie or cupcakes from Mission Minis, we decided to call it a day here. We walked three miles, spent about $15 each and consumed more calories than those three miles could possibly offset. What a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

(for restaurant addresses and phone numbers, click below)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Out The Door, Fillmore

Out The Door is part of the Slanted Door family - it's the cheaper, more accessible version. I've been to the Out The Door downtown (yes, in the mall) a few times and it's a pretty good option if you are shopping and hungry. The menu at the Fillmore location seems pretty similar, but I did like the food better here - maybe because it was brunch, or maybe because... I wasn't in a mall. 

I started off with some peppermint tea. Heather was not impressed - and made the good point of, "I can't believe they charge $3 to put some mint leaves in hot water". It was good though, and now I know what to do with the mint leaves I have at home so I don't have to throw them away because they've gone brown. 
I always love going to brunch with Heather because I know she'll also want to get a bunch of things and share everything.  This was the vegetarian steamed bun which we both liked. I want someone to show me how they make the dough for a steamed bun.
The brunch menu is a mix of mostly Vietnamese options, with some standard American stuff thrown in, like pancakes and scones. We ordered the rice cake egg scramble, which is made of rice cake, bean sprouts, pickled daikon and soy.  My favorite thing at Slanted Door is the daikon rice cake, and this dish had very similar flavors.  It was a really unique egg dish, and I would definitely go back and order it again. We also ordered the ricotta pancakes with strawberry rhubarb compote. The pancakes were pretty good - and I love anything with strawberry and rhubarb - but they didn't compare to the pancakes at La Note.

I will definitely be back here for brunch - I'm still wondering about the coconut caramel roll which we didn't try.

Out The Door
2232 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94115 

(415) 923-9575 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bouchon Bakery, Yountville

Before eating dinner at Ad Hoc, we had dessert at Bouchon Bakery. This is another one of those places that I'd like even if the desserts weren't amazing - it is so well designed and everything in there I really, really wanted to try. It was incredibly hard to pick what to eat - so we picked lots of things, and had dessert tapas.

There's a window in the bakery where you can see the pastry chef at work. It must be incredibly annoying to be this guy and have people taking pictures and gawking at you all day as you create amazingly intricate pastries. 

The macarons really caught my eye - they always look so colorful and perfect. It's hard to tell in the photo, but the diameter is much bigger than the other french macarons I've had. We got two of these - the chocolate and the espresso. 

We also got the strawberry rhubarb tart, which was really more like a cheesecake. A very good cheesecake. That's the espresso macaron above. I loved how the inside was actually a little bit cold- I've never had that before. Are they all supposed to be like that, and I've only been eating sub-par ones?   We also ordered the chocolate bouchon, which was kind of like a brownie and really amazing. We all agreed that the bouchon and the macarons were the big winners. The cookies - both the chocolate chip and the chocolate chocolate chip - were only just ok.

Our celebrity sighting for the day - hello, Beethoven!

Bouchon Bakery
6534 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599-1397
(707) 944-8037
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