Sunday, September 14, 2014

EATING OUT CROATIAN STYLE....AT LEAST WE THINK WE ARE...CROATIA EDITION

As I previously mentioned it seemed the mainstay of Croatian food was pizza. There's nothing wrong with that, but you know it's not exactly original. To be honest, during our trip we haven't really been able to pin down just what is a specialty here. But we definitely gave it a try and hit up spots along main streets and a few off the beaten track that were recommended. The dishes pretty much ran the gamut from meat to fish to pasta and some other things. And while we did do the pizza thing I'm not gonna cover that now, in fact I'm pretty pizza'd out at this point and will be taking break it....for now. Still we had some interesting stuff so here's just a taste of out Croatian food adventure.

This is what most of the towns along the coast look like--red tiled roofs and blue green waters. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

HERE A BAKED GOOD, THERE A BAKED GOOD, EVERYWHERE A BAKED GOOD....CROATIA EDITION

After a few days in Croatia one would think the national dish was pizza. No really, I'm serious, it's everywhere, in every restaurant we pass or dine at. Though when you stop and think about it, way back when Italy controlled this county before it was given its sovereignty and thus their food seems to have had a big influence on food here. Plus, there are tourists everywhere, in every coastal town we pass and as with places in the US, pizza appears to be the go to easy winner. But the other thing we've noticed is the abundance of pekara/pekarnicas--that's Croatian for bakery. Of course being the sweet toothed, pastry loving, baked goods kind of guy I am, I made a point to try and stop in as many as possible. A feat I found out is impossible as they are as ubiquitous to Croatia as Starbucks are here in the US.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

KILLING ME SOFTLY WITH PASTA AND A VENETIAN APPETIZER...VENICE ITALY EDITION

Pizza notwithstanding the next thing to try in Italy is pasta and surprisingly we didn't really have all that much while there. When at home it's one of the things I don't really eat, you know carbs and what not. I feel if I'm going to waste calories on useless carbs I'm gonna have a piece of cake, a donut, a pastry, whatever to satisfy my sweet tooth. Pasta, eh, I don't really miss it. However, when I'm on vacation eating rules are set aside and I indulge in what the country has to offer and on this particular jaunt there was also the pasta and something the restaurants called a "typical Venetian appetizer" which was....a surprise. So now I bring you pasta and an appetizer--Venice edition (yes I took the below photo).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

8 PIZZAS, 4 DAYS, 2 DUDES AND 1 ITALY....VENICE EDITION

Whenever one is in Italy they always tell you to try the pizza as it is some of the best. Of course, on our recent sojourn to Venice me and the SO have decided to put that to the test by having pizza at least once a day during the time we are here at 4 different spots and see if it is truly better and if you can tell a difference from one place to the other. Ultimately our findings are wholly unscientific and not really based on anything other than--this is the place we chose and let's get some pizza here. In the the grand scheme of things, the places we went don't really matter much as like canals in Venice all you have to do is turn a corner and voila, there's a pizza place. Be it trattoria, ristorante, cafe, whatever, they all pretty much had pizza. Some offered more toppings, some less and so on. Thus I bring you another blog from the road and the great pizza taste test--Venice edition.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

CAN YOU EVEN GET A BAD MEAL IN ITALY? VENICE EDITION

Greetings from the road! That's right people I am in Venice, Italy of all places and I've decided to try this blogging from the road thing while on vacation. Though it's a double edged sword since I'm supposed to be relaxing and taking in the sites not staring blankly at a computer screen (with an achingly slow download speed--curse you vodafone!) working my brain around what food I should write about. But happily and both sadly at the same time, while sitting in a trattoria watching people go by, me and the SO (yes he's here too) were enjoying our glasses of wine al fresco looking over the remnants of our so-called dinner with disappoint only moments after musing "can you really get a bad meal in Italy?" And sadly we found out--YES, YES YOU CAN.

It all started as we neared the dinner hour and had been walking around the city all day. There are any number of cafes, ristorantes, trattorias, you name it, that dot the narrow sidewalks of the town. The all pretty much look the same and also all offer pretty much the same. Most of the variation we had seen was in prices. Closer to the tourist areas the higher the prices, of course. We were headed to catch the Vaporetto (that's their version of BART but on the water) back to our hotel but decided to stop and get a bite to eat before hand. Since we were both hungry we went with the first place we saw and this is how it all started.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ARLEQUIN IN HAYES VALLEY....IT'S LATE, IT'S OPEN, I'M HUNGRY, I'M GOING IN....

Choices, sometimes there can be too many. It's a problem I run into every now and then when I'm out wandering the city. I get hungry but am not always sure what I want to eat and I find myself staring at menus on windows waiting for anything to strike my particular taste buds. (It drives the SO crazy) Eventually I reach a point where I'm just like f**k it and I'll walk in someplace and get what I get. Sometimes this works out, sometimes it's nothing but trouble. (Again, this too drives the SO crazy) On a recent weekday off I had this particular problem when I found myself in Hayes Valley, which has a fair number of things to choose from and I've been to a lot of them. But I wanted a different place and didn't want to spend too much and wasn't sure what I was looking for and so on. That's when I walked by Arlequin and kept walking and then ultimately turned around and decided to give it a try.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME

The chicken sandwich from Roli Roti at the Ferry Plaza Thursday lunch time farmers market. A rotisserie breast with crispy grilled skin and spicy slaw on an Acme sesame roll. The chicken was tender, juicy and well seasoned though the skin wasn't crispy as advertised. The slaw was a mix red onions, celery, cucumbers, red cabbage and wasn't all that spicy but still added some tasty crunch and as with the chicken it had some tasty seasoning. Overall I liked the sandwich despite the mis-representation and considering it was only $6.50 it was a pretty good deal at the Ferry Building. Plus another bonus, they sell it from a separate, shorter line than their regular one which is always long when you only have 30 minutes for lunch.  



Roli Roti on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 21, 2014

THE PASTRY CUPBOARD...SWEETS WEEK (OR TWO) SUGAR CRASHES TO AN END

A man walks into a bakery and....that's not exactly the start of a joke but more like me 2 or three days a week. Bakeries are like bars to me--I won't usually pass one by without going in to try something. And no people I DO NOT HAVE A PROBLEM! I just like baked goods but they gotta actually be good if I'm gonna walk back through those bakery doors again. Usually one good cookie will do that for me and while some folks search this town for the perfect burrito or best burger I'm on the lookout for the exceptional cookie or the lushest cupcake. It's that search which brought me to my latest foray The Pasty Cupboard.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

KIKA'S TREATS.....A SWEETS WEEK FACTORY TOUR

SFMade is a San Francisco non-profit that helps support local businesses that are home grown, produced and made in the city. Their members are a diverse collection of small to biggish companies and many of them are folks who specialize in some kind of food. Every now and then SFMade has special events that include factory tours of local companies. Since I like to see how the food is made I sign up for as many as I can go to (plus they are free) and it's an interesting behind the scenes look at the whole process of making the food stuffs we consume. One such company that opened it's back doors was Kika's Treats and, well, they make baked goods and sweet things so of course I'm gonna go and check 'em out.

This is Kika and she makes treats!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME STILL IN SWEETS WEEK

So Safeway is trying to make the waffle-nut a thing--a cross between a waffle and a donut. The texture was a little weird, somewhere between cake and waffle but it was too chewy. And the glaze plus chocolate glaze had this odd metallic aftertaste that pretty much overpowered the sugar rush you are gonna get from the thick layer on top. And in total honesty here, I did warm it up some and add a little butter to it, because you know it is a waffle of sorts, but even that couldn't overcome the taste and texture shortcomings. Oh well, nice try Safeway, please stick to cinnamon buns like you make at the at Church and Market. And why can't every store make them like that and why can't my local Safeway in SOMA actually carry some. OMG I have so many questions. SUGAR RUSH!!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

JUNK FOOD JUNKIE: KRISPY KREME GLAZED PIES...SWEETS WEEK CONTINUES

Krispy Kreme, a name that can evoke squeals of joy in the donut obsessed or strike fear in the hearts of the no-carb eternal dieter. Me, I like 'em--they are light and fluffy and the raspberry is a favorite, but it's not like I'm gonna say no to other flavors. Plus they try out new flavors on a regular basis keeping things fresh. Right now I think they are trying out a banana pudding and carrot cake version. You can take a gander at some others clicking here. Fortunately for me the only one here in the Bay Area is down in Daly City and not exactly in a place I find myself near on any kind of a regular basis. Still, if perchance it happens I'll pop in to see what's going on. Thing about The Krispy is that they are all over the place and they also originated in Winston Salem, North Carolina--my home state. I remember growing up there how they used to sell packaged Krispy Kreme donuts in the grocery stores, thus they weren't quite so magical, but tasty nonetheless. On a recent trip home I noticed they were expanding their supermarket offerings to include glazed fried pies and being the sweet junk food lover I am, I most definitely had to try 'em--all of them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

BOB'S DONUTS....A NON DRUNK APPRECIATION? KICKING OFF SWEETS WEEK

Bob's Donuts (and Pastry Shop as they like to call themselves) is considered an institution here in San Francisco and they have been around (way) long enough to be considered one. It's one of those places that shows up on folks best of lists for donuts-particularly when that craving for sweet stuff hits really late at night or being that it's on that stretch of Polk-strasse that has a few bars and things--when you are kind of drunk, semi-drunk or really drunk and need something to fill a need that only deep fried will satisfy. I know for a lot of folks that is exactly what Bob's does for them, and if truth be told, 10 or more years ago I myself used to hit up the place after imbibing a few at a nearby watering hole. Over the years I've moved on (from booze) to other sweets as the proliferation of bakeries in town has grown. But even with that abundance, Bob's has remained and I was in the hood, during daylight, recently and thought as I walked by..hmm..why not see if the array in the window stands up to taste on a bright sunny afternoon as well as they would on a dark boozy Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME

This is my start to SWEETS WEEK! I've reviewed Johnny Doughnuts previously but at the time passed on their cro-dough--a cronut knock-off. As with most things in life my opportunity came around again to try one and so I dived right in. What I liked about this was the doughnut itself, flaky and doughy at the same time it didn't feel weighted down by deep frying oil like some of these can be. Plus it was also generously doused with sugar without tasting overly sweet, I liked this part of it quite well. What I didn't like, which you can see in the pictures below was the custard filling this time around. I'm sure it's they same one they use in their Boston cream pie doughnut but here it had a tangy taste of sourness that was off-putting, almost like it had gone bad, which I'm sure wasn't the case but it sure tasted like it. Which is a shame as I liked the doughnut, though like any junk food junkie I just scraped off the custard and ate the doughnut part and for that reason I'm giving this version a sideways yes--who knows, you may or may not like the tang, but you'll definitely enjoy the cake part of the doughnut. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

FOOD TRUCK QUICK BITE: GYROS ON WHEELS...THIS REALLY CONCLUDES MEAT WEEK

It's no secret I've been to the SOMA StrEat Food Park any number of times and on almost every occasion I see one or two trucks that I've seen there or at other events and think, eh, nothing special, because I'm looking to really invigorate my taste buds. One such truck I've seen a lot and avoided has been Gyros On Wheels--not because I think it's bad or anything it's just, you know, gyros--that's something I can pretty much get anywhere in this town, so not exciting. Yet, on this particular Sunday, I thought, WTF, I'd pretty much tried all the other trucks there that day so why not them.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

CHEZ MAMAN IN POTRERO HILL I'M JUST HERE FOR THE BURGER...MEAT WEEK CONTINUES

Sometimes restaurants get known for a particular dish which can be both a blessing and a curse. If the dish is really good it can bring the folks in to give it a try but it can also cause a place to be too crowded for locals. Or the other dishes can get neglected and things can slide to where the staff don't care and they just roll their eyes and take your order without much thought. Or in some cases the place soldiers on doing what they do well and meeting all expectations in other areas of food and service. One such place is Chez Maman, the original location in Potrero Hill (they have an off-shoot now in Hayes Valley).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME

Chocolate bacon cracker from Biscuit Bender at the Ferry Plaza Building. Mostly known for his biscuits, which come in several flavors, he also offers up this large thin crispy cracker with bits of bacon covered in a semi-sweet chocolate. It's a really tasty, salty, crispy, sweet treat--though I think the bacon needs to be kicked up a notch--not quite enough crunchy bacon bits for me. Still, it makes a rather perfect munchable to snack on while you wander slowly through the Ferry Building among the milling tourist masses or for that long boat ride back across the bay after a busy work day. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

SMOKESTACK MAGNOLIA BREWERY IN DOGPATCH...MEAT WEEK CONTINUES

    
                            This is Dave--he has a brewery.            This is Daniel--he has a noodle shop.

One day Dave and Daniel got together and threw around some ideas about opening a restaurant attached to Dave's new brewery in Dogpatch. I'm sure it was something like--"Hey, I brew beer and you cook food, let's combine those and see what we come up with." And VIOLA! The idea came to fruition and they opened a place called Smokestack--a combination brewery and smoke house where beer and meat merge. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

GS RIVERSIDE BBQ WELCOME TO MEAT WEEK

Geary is a long avenue that stretches nearly the entire length of San Francisco from Market Street all the way out to Ocean Beach. Along the way it speeds through downtown and several neighborhoods all with their own splash of San Francisco-ness.  Once it crosses Arguello is becomes the Richmond District which is a large and encompassing area. I get out their occasionally to visit Green Apple Books and figure since I took the exhausting trip on the 38 Geary MUNI bus I may as well make the most of my time here and hit some places to eat, of which there are many. They seem to take up every other storefront as you make your way down Geary and are mostly of the Chinese, Mexican, coffee shop variety. Though every now and then something different appears, in this case GS Riverside BBQ, a small corner spot serving up smoke meat stuff, and of course I am so going to give it a try.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

YOUR WEEKLY DIGESTION OF FOOD NEWS TO CONSUME

Chicken salad from The Sandwich Shop in Dogpatch is a tiny mom and pop with some great sandwiches made to order like this one. House made chicken salad on toasted 9 grain with all the fixings or whichever ones you choose. And to top it off most of their choices are just $6 for a very large sandwich--where else you gonna get that in this town? It makes a great hidden find for folks who work in the neighborhood and don't want to drop a lot for lunch. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

FRANCES IN THE CASTRO...THIS IS WHAT FOOD IS FOR

Most folks like me keep a list of some sort of places they want to try. From hole in the wall to fancy shmancy places that may require a small loan to dine at. My list is pretty long and just as I take something off 2 more come on to take its place--kind of like the mythical hydra and I trying to be like an eating Hercules getting through them all. It's a Sisyphean task to say the least but I soldier on because I like food and if it's good then all the better. One such place that's been near the top of my list for awhile is Frances. I'd heard nothing but raves about since it opened thus it is a difficult place to get reservations at unless you can go right when they open at 5pm (during the week no less!) but you know folks have jobs and stuff and it's difficult sometimes to make that work. Though me and SO finally got schedules to mesh and made our way their one weekday at 5 night--miracles happen.