Chez Panisse.

February 15, 2008

So after reading this book, among others, I was determined to visit Chez Panisse on my visit to San Fran. I practically squealed with delight to the reservationist when I found out they had a table available. And, I was equally excited that Chris and Bryan were willing to partake in my culinary dream meal.

We started the meal with some Acme bread (baked by a former Chez Panisse chef) and butter. We also had the most incredible olives. The brine was out of this world.


To start, we had a Russian salad of dressed winter vegetables, farm egg, and tongue with chicory.


The dressing was light and creamy and went excellently with both the greens, vegetables, tongue, and egg. This was probably my favorite course of the meal. It was an inventive salad but tasted so different than most run-of-the-mill salad courses.


The main course was a Hungarian fish stew with new season paprika. The fish (clams, rockfish, and cod I believe) were served in a very hearty and robust sauce.


With the fish were herb noodles and creme fraiche. These noodles were out of this world. They looked so simple but the taste was absolutely addictive. They were buttery and so fresh.

meyer lemon

For dessert was a Meyer lemon tart. It was incredible how profound the lemon was. The tart was bursting with fresh citrus.

Overall, the service was excellent.  Glasses were refilled promptly, we were able to taste wine prior to ordering and we were given more olives 🙂

One of the most exciting parts of the experience was the tour of the kitchen (ask and thou shall receive, I suppose). By the end, we were probably the last people in the restaurant.


They were serving pork a few days after our meal. Gross, yah?


More pork.


Mushrooms galore.





Chez Panisse doesn’t have a lot of storage space since everything is cooked so fresh, so there is no need for a huge refrigerator or freezer. They have about 95 covers per night in the downstairs restaurant, the upstairs cafe seats more.

I would love to return. The food is not exotic, but it is simple cuisine prepared excellently and creatively. The wine list is extensive, the atmosphere is soothing, and the service was exemplary. Absolutely no complaints, and my fear of hyping up the restaurant was absolved by the first bite.


More San Franciso Eating Adventures

February 15, 2008

I really dislike coffee but wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to see the $20,000 coffee machine at Blue Bottle Cafe. The barista had such an intense focus the whole time, and told us that creating the coffee can be really stressful. He tasted each pot like 4 times, so I can only guess how hyped on on caffeine he must be by the end of the day.



James thought the coffee was delicious. I thought it was terrible (no surprise there) and got toast instead:


These were huge chunks of Acme bread with butter and strawberry jam. After 1.5 slices, I was stuffed.

For lunch, we went to Swan Oyster Depot, which was AWESOME.


The entire restaurant is a slender counter with really helpful waiters behind the bar.


Solid New England clam chowder. They put huge bowls of oyster crackers in front of every few seats–smart touch.

calamari salad

Calamari salad. One of the few things I think celery actually tastes good with. Really good squid.


Raw scallops with ponzu sauce and sriracha.


More raw scallops with olive oil, capers, and red onion. Both were absolutely delightful.


The guy who was serving us was excited that we liked sashimi, so he gave us some raw local halibut for us to try. It was really light and refreshing and had I had any room in my stomach, would have definitely wanted more.

The next day, I apparently did not have enough seafood, so I took myself to lunch along Fisherman’s Wharf for more clam chowder and fish and chips.

fish n chips

I wish everyday was vacation.

Burritos, San Francisco-style

February 15, 2008


Day 1: Get picked up from the airport and immediately scarf down a huge burrito from a place close to the Ferry Building. Not a memorable taqueria, I was just so damn hungry.


There it is, in all its glory. Rice, black beans, cheese, chicken, salsa, guac.


Day 3: Hunger got me once again.  This is from La Cascada in Berkeley.  Zucchini may be a delicious vegetable, but it doesn’t taste good with rice, beans, and pesto.

Barney Greengrass

February 2, 2008

The lox ARE good here, albeit overpriced (along with the whole menu…). Still, if you want to feel Upper West Side-y, there’s really no better place to go. It’s efficient, crowded, and a little bit gruff.



For some reason, the above was called an appetizer…


We decided against the latkes (a special for the day) since there were 4 for $12 which seemed kind of ridiculous. I asked if we could get a half order but the waiter said it would still be the same price. (“Carey! Stop with your ridiculous obsession with fried potatoes and get some damn fish” says Jon). Then, I think the waiter felt bad for my latke-money woes and he gave us one for free! Wahoo! Victory!  On a side note, the waiter kept referring to the guy eating at the counter as “Counter Guy” which I thought was rather funny.  For example “Counter guy, you need anything?”


It was peppery in a good way and nice and warm. It totally would have been a rip-off to oder then but they were good…

Quick Bites at Saint’s Alp Tea House

February 2, 2008

If you need something fast in the East Village, Saint’s Alp Tea House has a crazy list of drinks and an array of dim sum. It’s fast, fried, and cheap, so it worked well for me:samosa

Samosas. Okay, so the menu isn’t strictly Chinese. These were tasty with a kick of spice.

shrimp balls

Shrimp. In a fried ball. Doesn’t need a better description than that.

Also, see The Gourmet Cartographer for thoughts on the blueberry toast.

Mexican Fiesta (Or, Yes, You May Watch The Giants Game And Eat My Food)

January 22, 2008

This was fun, and thanks to the help of my lovely sous chefs, a success!   I have thus decided that Mexican food is a good genre to work with when feeding about 15 friends–the cooking is easy enough and the result is positive (seriously, who doesn’t like Mexican food!?)


Shrimp with chives, lemon juice, lime juice. I deveined every single one of those 60+ suckers because I didn’t want to pay extra for the already deveined ones. Luckily, the poop-free shrimp was probably the crowd favorite.


Chicken with what I attempted to be a taco seasoning (chili pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, whatever else looked good in the spice counter).


Jon’s ground beef concoction.  There’s way too many ingredients in here to list. But it was tasty and kind of sweet.

Mexican Fondue

Pepperjack fondue with more peppers.


Rice with black beans and tomato puree. Needed more tomatoes. Also could have made about a quarter of what I did (3 cups is WAY too much!).


Mexican Wedding Cookies, a la Cecily. Pshaw, and she thought she couldn’t cook. These were phenomenal. Then again, how can cookies with 2 sticks of butter not be good?


Sangria with lots of citrus.


Most of the table.

Also present: goat cheese, mushroom, pesto quesadillas (they went too fast for me to take a picture!).

A Quick Dinner Party

January 22, 2008

Trader Joe’s definitely helps when you have a 6-person impromptu dinner gathering. Plate

The line up:

Salmon (paprika, garlic powder, oregano, basil, salt, pepper)

Pasta and pesto (thanks Fairway–your pesto is really good)

Birdseye Steamfresh broccoli (it’s a good idea to create a product that you just have to microwave, but the broccoli is mushy and definitely does not taste fresh)

Eggplant (cooked with olive oil)

Trader Joe’s raspeberry & brie phyllo rolls (also so good, but make sure the brie doesn’t escape/explode onto your pan. In other words, don’t over cook)

Trader Joe’s spanikopita (this is a staple in my freezer. Always good.)