Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BRENDA'S MEAT & THREE...SERVING IT UP DOWN HOME STYLE ON DIVISADERO

Brenda's French Soul Food has been a staple in this town for some time. It's quite the popular spot as evidenced by the lines waiting to get in, that's what happens when you put out good food and don't take reservations. As waiting in line for something is like a right of passage in San Francisco. For whatever reasons, the folks at Brenda's hadn't done much about expanding--that is until recently. Suddenly they've opened up a cafe/coffee shop/store a few doors down called Libby Jane and in the last couple months they've taken over the old Blue Jay Cafe (websites seem not to go away) space and turned it into Brenda's Meat & Three (some websites need to be worked out). I like the original, so when I heard about this outpost I was interested in giving it a try to see what if any differences there would be between the places.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME...JUNK FOOD HOLIDAY COOKIE JUNKIE

It's holiday cookie madness I tell ya'! Your standing in line for you vente double latte mocha frappa whatever and there they are, staring right at you, calling your name. "It's Christmas! Eat me!" With their snowy white frosting and chocolate hats. And that's what I do. I plop down my $2 and change and grab a Christmas snowman cookie to go so I can eat it in private shame. After gobbling it down while walking to work (yes! exercising and eating at the same time!) I can honestly say--it didn't suck. The cookie is not as sweet as you'd think with that icing. It's kind of a semi-sweet sugar cookie without the sprinkling of sugar baked into it. It's more like a thin shortbread with a layer of frosting. The cookie was crispy and crumbly but not so much so that it left a trail of crumbs on your shirt. The frosting was just thick enough to also not overpower the cookie. All in all, for a mass produced cookie, it won't too bad. Being the junk food junkie I can be, I'd say this is probably the perfect compliment to whichever coffee or tea you get at Starbucks. It's also a bigger than my hand sized cookie for under $3 which you know in my book is a big plus. Overall flavor is decent, though it mostly just tastes like a basic Christmas cookie. There wasn't anything that made me go wow, but for what it is and where I got it, it was fine. And yes, if I was there getting something and was in a cookie mood, I'd probably go holiday and get the snowman again. It was just good enough to fulfill my sweet tooth craving--at the moment. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

FEASTLY....DINING WITH STRANGERS COMES OUT IN THE OPEN

Me and the SO have been doing the underground dining scene for quite some time now. Groups like Ghetto Gourmet, Canvas Underground and Wild Kitchen/ForageSF have been around for awhile. Used to be you'd see a listing on Craigslist or something which led you to a website where you put in an email address to get on a secret list. When dinners were announced you'd get a notice and then send your credit card info to some stranger. From there you would get an email the morning of the day of the meal about the location which could be anything from a fish monger warehouse to a closed down taqueria to a house in a sometimes slightly sketchy neighborhood. Then you would show up with wine in hand and be treated to a multi course dinner of surprising food with folks you don't know. Dinner with strangers.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TWO FISH BAKING COMPANY..FROM SEA RANCH TO SOMA IT'S PIZZA/COOKIE TIME!

I'm trying to remember what great person said "you can never have enough bakeries"--oh wait, that was me. I mean really, you just can't. As the seasons progress in San Francisco, more do seem to be opening, though sadly, many of them are not necessarily convenient to those of us who live in SOMA. Fortunately, or maybe hopefully, the tide is beginning to turn as a popular Bay Area fave, whose original location is up at The Sea Ranch, has opened a small outpost in the hood and we now have our very own Twofish Baking Company. (Though their hours are strictly M-F 7:30am-3:30pm right now, I have hopes they will try some Saturday hours soon, fingers crossed.)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME...THE GERMAN SCHNITZEL EDITION

This is schnitzel from Little Red Riding Truck. They are a German inspired food truck that hits up various spots around the Bay Area. I checked them out on a visit to SOMA StrEat Food Park one day as I found myself in the mood for something fried. And what better way to go fried and German than with schnitzel. Pounded pork tenderloin, battered and pan fried, served with a choice of one topping, I went with bacon and onions, of course, and a side of french fries. First off I will say it was a bit on the overcooked side as you can even see the black burn marks on the breading. Plus it came off a little dry because of it. The onion bacon topping wasn't really hot, more room temperature, thus it was kind of a soggy glop on top of the meat, which didn't help things too much. This also came with fries (no choices there) which was odd as they do serve bacon fried potatoes with their bratwurst and I think that would have been a much better accompaniment to the schnitzel as opposed to fries. In this case it wouldn't have helped it be any less dry and flavorless, but they would have been better than the fries which were vastly under seasoned, salted, whatever. All around, sadly, it was just a big mess. And not a cheap one, roughly $12 for this. Oh well, that in and of itself is the joys and pitfalls of food trucks, sometimes the food is good and sometimes it isn't. Maybe I just caught them on a bad day or a not particularly good cook day, either way, it won't stop me from trying other trucks, though I will probably think twice or look harder at other choices before I pick Little Red Riding Truck again. Till then I'll just go to Walzwerk for my schnitzel fix.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

OVER THE RIVER AND DOWN 3RD STREET TO LONG BRIDGE PIZZA WE GO!

Vacation has long passed and it's time to get back into the pizza flow, because nothing says holiday like pizza--am I right? It's quick, it's easy, they deliver, it can be red and green--what more do you want? I'm diving right in with a new place that opened not long ago in the Dogpatch neighborhood called Long Bridge Pizza Co.

 

I have the occasion to run down 3rd every now and then and my nostrils had connected with the delicious baking smell wafting from their doors. Each time I ran by I thought, I gotta try this place sometime.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

HOLIDAY FOOD NEWS IS LIGHT...SO HERE'S A FILLING SCHULZIE'S BREAD PUDDING REVIEW!

Lots of folks take breaks during the holidays it seems so food news is on the slim side this week. Thus I'm expounding out and throwing in a review of dessert, since we all haven't eaten enough so far. In keeping the with holiday theme, sort of, I made a trek through Hayes Valley recently to check out Schulzies Bread Pudding.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

HOMESKILLET....SKETCHY TOWN GETS A BURGER JOINT

Let's be honest. As of right now even with all the changeover that is happening downtown, parts of Market Street are still--challenging. None more so than 6th and Market. It still has a way to go but it seems some folks are willing to take a chance where others have failed. Pearl's Deluxe Burgers originally had the spot on this colorful corner but gave up the goat and not soon after the place was taken over by Homeskillet. A place that is like Pearl's meets Dottie's True Blue Cafe--which just happens to be around the corner.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME

Yes, I went back to Big Chef Tom's Belly Burgers, because well, they are really good. This time around I took the SO so he could experience the juiciness. We went for the All-American--a pork belly patty with sliced green apple, cheddar cheese and rosemary mayo on a toasted buttered bun. Sounds odd, but it all worked better than I expected. Tasty meat, tangy apples and cheddar and the nice hint of rosemary blended seamlessly to make this a yummy burger. I can see why it is a bestseller on their menu. Another visit another winner for Chef Tom. Either that or I'm just addicted to pork belly burgers. Either way, each time I go, every bite I've had has been delicious. This really is my new favorite burger place and I am picking this over SOMA StrEat Food Park whenever I'm in the area, it is only a couple blocks over. So if you are ever in the area and aren't thrilled by any of the food truck choices, skip on over to Big Chef Tom's and get a pork belly burger. Choose one of the main menu ones as they are tried and true and their flavors are proven to be tasty. The special burger flavors they feature can sometimes be hit or miss as far as coming together taste wise, but the pork belly burger itself will always be a winner. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

THE MILL...TRYING THE (NOT QUITE) $4 TOAST AND HATING MYSELF THROUGH EVERY BITE

Much has been made of The Mill and it's $4 toast since that notorious post went up last year. But here we are over a year later and The Mill is going gang-busters, serving up coffee and loaves of bread to folks along the Divisadero corridor. A street that has not only gotten a makeover but has become a place to venture to get a decent bite to eat. From Ragazza to Nopa to Bar Crudo and so on. The street and neighborhood have become gentrified over the last few years and it's sort of a Noe Valley meets Marina hood where mommies push strollers wearing yoga pants and ponytails. All while hipsters stand around and drink their coffee in too tight peg leg pants and flannel--when it's near 70 degrees outside. Be that as it may, I finally decided to venture over and try this famed toast since I figured the hubbub had died down enough so that I could get in and out without much fuss. Herewith then folks is my journey to The Mill.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

BALOMPIE CAFE...I'M JUST HERE FOR THE PAPUSAS

Some of the small restaurants in the Mission have been there for ages. They are small madre y padre places featuring authentic foods from their native countries. There are so many it seems difficult to try them all, or even get back to some once you have tried it. The food is usually good and affordable. I've hit up any number of these places over the years, but since I don't live near there anymore, sometimes returning can be a haul. Every now and then I do get an opportunity to revisit an old favorite and recently I had the chance dine at Balompie Cafe for the first time in a really long time.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME....AND SOME JUNK FOOD JUNKIE REVIEW

Oh Walgreen's you slay me! Like several other stores in town, our ever present Walgreen's drugstore has been going through a makeover the last year or so and is trying to be your one stop quick shop for literally everything. They are also reaching out to the grab/eat/go crowd with their own food imprint called "de-lish". It's their house brand name that covers any food related product--like generic but dressed up with catchy design. Part of this new brand included a couple new refrigerated dessert offerings like the ever present red velvet cake. It's a square two layer cake with icing packaged in a little plastic container for $2.99. I was in a Walgreen's one day when I had a sweet tooth attack and saw this little cube calling my name from across the room. At first I was dubious but I bought it anyway. Right off the bat, after one bite, I actually liked it. Yeah, I know, crazy right. The cake was moist and there were basically two pretty thick layers of cream cheese icing. I even checked the label to make sure this was real and yep, there it was right in the ingredients. Though I would suggest if you are health conscious in any way to not read the label on this. It's best to either just eat and enjoy or not eat at all, there is no in-between here. The cover says real vanilla used and no artificial ingredients, but you know, red dye kind of is, so I'll personally just ignore it all. The cake also has the right flavor of being chocolate cake with red food color added instead of some white cake that looks bright red. (Always pass those by they are imitators!) Added bonus, even with all the stuff in it, it doesn't taste too terribly sweet either. Thus it won't make your teeth hurt, but your waistline might complain a bit. As an admitted junk food junkie, on occasion, I'll say this satisfied a spur of the moment sweet tooth moment. Would I always want this? No, but when the feeling hits and ones choices are limited, I like to keep this in my back pocket as an option since I can usually find a Walgreen's open when other places aren't.

Friday, November 14, 2014

HRD COFFEE SHOP....REVAMPED, REMODELED, REVISITED

Things change. It's a statement that conveys the ever evolving landscape of dining in San Francisco. We may hem and haw and not like it, but inevitably our favorites come and go or remake themselves into sort of the same but still different than what we remember or loved about them. Nowhere is this more evident than in the recent makeover of HRD Coffee Shop.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

MISSION BEACH CAFE.....FORGET BRUNCH!....IT'S DINNER AND DESSERT!

Brunch, it's not something I usually get to these days, especially in San Francisco. Since it is still all the rage there are just too many people waiting for a table to eat eggs. I can make those at home. One place that gets a lot of brunch play is Mission Beach Cafe. It's a place that's been around awhile and has a good reputation, but for one reason or another I just never made it there. Recently Miss O and I had our schedules converge and since she lives round the corner from the place we decided to hit it up for dinner.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME.....AS COOKIE WEEK CRUMBLES TO A CLOSE

I was at The Mill and decided to forgo the "toast" (I'm saving that for some other time) and opted for trying some of their cookies. The chocolate chip with sea salt (it is all the rage) and the cherry chocolate. They were $2.50 and as you can see both fit on the bag, which means they weren't all that big and you know how I feel about that. The chocolate chip was decent enough, some pretty large chunks throughout, a tad too much crunch on the outside, softer in the middle, but a bit on the thin side for me. It was, however, the better of the two. I had hopes for the cherry chocolate, those are two things I like together. Sadly, the cookie was sticky, gummy when it should have been chewy, gooey. Plus I only came across one cherry, so there wasn't optimal distribution to give you the flavor. And that one cherry was like a sticky paste with only the barest hint of cherry flavor I was craving. The whole cookie was just off, which is too bad, I wanted to like it but it wasn't good. I couldn't even finish it and let's face it, if I can't finish a cookie, something must be wrong. I think these just go further in proving my point that an expensive cookie isn't always better. You'd think a place that bakes bread would have the baking part down but in this case, not so much. I'd say just stick to the loaves and coffee if you go and get your cookie fix from somewhere else. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

ANTHONY'S COOKIES IN THE MISSION....COOKIE WEEK GOES POPULIST

Do any internet search on best cookies in San Francisco and you will get a varying list of names. Though one name does show up on pretty much every list--Anthony's Cookies. They've been around since 1997 and I've heard their name bandied about over the years but hadn't found the time/made the effort/gotten my lazy butt over to where they are waaaay down Valencia past 25th street. That's like Outer Mission almost all the way to Bernal Heights--I mean that's all the way on the other side of town from where I'm at, totes not convenient peeps. I love a good cookie as much as the next folk but, ugh, all the way over there? Yeah, I know, suck it up and go. And that's just exactly what I did to keep this cookie week going.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME...AND STILL SOME COOKIE WEEK

Now THAT'S  a big ass cookie! And I'm not just talking about the picture. This lovely chocolate chip handful and a half is brought to you by Sweet Inspiration in the Castro. Normally I hit this place up for their well icing'd slices of cake, this time I decided to snack on one of their cookies, which are all made in-house. At $2.25 it's a good price for a really big cookie. For the most part it is also a pretty tasty cookie. Not too sweet, crispy around the edges, slightly soft as you get towards the middle, pleasant small notes of brown sugar. Though for the size I do think they need to up the chocolate chip quotient. When things are this big sometimes there can be an issue with coverture and the chips don't spread out as evenly as you'd like. You move from large pockets of chocolate to areas where there isn't anything. So not a chocolate in every bite thing. Plus, me personally, I like my cookies just a tad chewy, gooey-er than this was. Still, overall it's a decent cookie for the price and I don't think you be dissatisfied with flavor. It hits enough of the right notes to make it worth a try if you are in the hood and craving a not so light sweet bite. It's big enough to share or have some now and save some for later--if you are that kind of person. Me, I just ate it all in one sitting, cause I'm that kind of person. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

TOUT SWEET PATISSERIE...COOKIE WEEK MINI REVIEW

I don't necessarily go in search of cookies, well, not always. Sometimes I just stumble across them while conducting my daily business. Most times if it is some place I've not tried before I'll plop down my dough and give them a shot. Such was the case with Tout Sweet Patisserie. It's not a new place and I'm not talking about the space open at Macy's downtown. I'm talking about their small pop-up tent that hits the farmer's markets at the Ferry Building on some days. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

OVER THE MOON ICE CREAM & COOKIES....IT MUST BE ABOUT THE ICE CREAM...COOKIE WEEK EDITION

Any readers of this blog know I am all about the dessert, though not usually about the ice cream as dessert. Too creamy, too runny, not filling enough. I like my desserts with heft and one of my favorite eats is a cookie. I've tried a lot over the years all over this town with varying degrees of delight and distaste. One day I was strolling through the Embarcadero and came across Over the Moon Ice Cream & Cookies and thought, well, I'm not big on the ice cream but let's give the cookies a shot.

 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME...AND WELCOME TO COOKIE WEEK!!

What makes a cookie $3? I often find myself asking this question as I eat around town and come across places selling cookies. These days, cookies are everywhere. From bakeries to donut shops to lunch spots to restaurants. All of varying degrees and prices. Usually the $3 tag is something I only see at "specialty" places where they offer it up as "organic", "locally produced", "sea salt", etc. Really sometimes these are just buzzwords to get you to spend more. See places like Craftsmen and Wolves and the like. I don't mind paying $3 if the cookie is worth it and part of that comes down to size also. Take the cookie above for instance. I got this at the new Samovar Tea Lounge location on Valencia street. Overall it is a perfectly decent cookie. A little crispness around the outside, chewy towards the middle, chocolate mostly throughout and a sprinkle of sea salt and brown sugar on top. A pleasant salty sweet treat. Is it $3 worthy? Eh, not so much. Even if they do use Valrhona chocolate, organic sea salt and what not. These things aren't that uncommon in town and honestly no longer make a cookie a special thing. Sort of that concept that if everyone is doing it then it isn't so special anymore. I would say the sugar on top was unnecessary and the cookie as a whole was a tad overdone. Plus it was about the size of my palm and not thick but thin. Thus when taking this into consideration and comparing it to other cookies around town I'd say this is more a $2-ish cookie, still a smidge high maybe, but passable in San Francisco pricing terms. The upshot of this for me is that special ingredients don't always make it "special". When it all comes down to it, taste is the most important thing and you can make just as good a cookie with proper baking and Nestle Toll House chocolate as with anything else. Cookies don't need to be pricey to be good, they just need to be baked right.