Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Craftsman & Wolves

Delish Green Tea Cake, Roasted Tofu Sandwich, and classic Mac & Cheese
Delish Green Tea Cake, Roasted Tofu Sandwich, and classic Mac & Cheese

Craftsman & Wolves - The Mission

     Not to be overly dramatic or anything, but I'm pretty sure coming here changed my whole life. Craftsman & Wolves is actually best known for it's staple the "Rebel Within," which is essentially a muffin with an egg inside and sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately, those are so popular that they were sold out around noon the day I was there. Will obviously have to come back for that another day, but I still got to see and eat some of the most amazing food to date!

I swear I know how to rotate photos! I liked this angle better. Really.

     My friend and I came here for a late Sunday lunch on a beautiful day in the city. The Mission is a great place to go on a nice day because whatever the weather is like in any other part of the city at a given time, the Mission will be twice as warm and twice as sunny. This day was no exception.

Eclaires - Caramel + Chocolate (L) and Hazlenut + Vanilla (R)
Eclaires - Caramel + Chocolate (L) and Hazlenut + Vanilla (R)

      Waiting in line, I almost bought every single thing I saw. I mean, just look at those eclaires. Caramal + chocolate? Hazlenut + vanilla?? Beyond tempting. 

(L) Milk chocolate, vanilla ricotta tart, lavender semolina crumbs; (R) Lime, almond toasted meringue tart
(L) Milk chocolate, vanilla ricotta tart, lavender semolina crumbs; (R) Lime, almond toasted meringue tart

     Don't even get me started on these pastries. They kind of look too pretty to eat. On the left are milk chocolate and vanilla ricotta tarts, sprinkled with lavender semolina crumbs. On the right you see the lime and almond toasted meringue tarts. You can see in the shading that they're toasted but not burnt. Currently making a mental note to come back for these, along with the Rebel Within.

fruit pate
Fruit Pate

     As if those bites weren't tempting enough, when you make it to the cash register you see these adorable seasonal fruit pates!

Our Meal

roasted tofu sandwich
Roasted Tofu Sandwich, with fresh sprouts and pickled radishes, on a nori bun

     Remember earlier when I said this lunch changed my life? This Roasted Tofu Sandwich in particular is what I was referring to. Up until then, I had never had a roasted tofu sandwich in my life. I didn't even know that was a thing. But now I wish it was everywhere. 
     Every ingredient, from the nori-wheat bread (made in-house), to the sprouts, pickled radishes, and side of pickled carrots, was extremely fresh and delicious. The carrots and radishes were crisp, and being a pickle-lover myself I appreciated the decision to pickle the veggies. Their tangy flavor fit perfectly against the austere roasted tofu and nori-wheat bread.
     Aside from being delicious, it was such a healthy meal! This made it even better. And I had tons of energy for hours after the sandwich. I cannot recommend this enough.

green tea matcha cake
Green Tea Matcha cake

     My friend ordered their Dong Ding Oolong tea (closest they have to green), and the green tea matcha cake. She also got their classic macaroni and cheese, shown below.

mac and cheese
Macaroni and cheese topped with grilled chicken

     The picture makes it look smaller, but you get the idea. Her classic mac & cheese came topped with grilled chicken and was delicious. Warm and creamy, mixed with the protein from the chicken, it was a great comfort-food meal. Very different from my plate but amazing in it's own category. 


     The ambiance in C & W was just like the sandwich I ordered - bright and fresh, with a kick. They have big open windows to let in the beautiful Mission sunlight. On the walls are quirky and uplifting quotes like the one shown above (my favorite of the bunch). As I noshed on my sandwich, truly content, I looked around at the parchment quotes and wondered how often they changed them, and whose job it was - the cook? The cashier? Is there a special quote-finder they hire?
     I'll have to find out next time I come in. And there will be a next time! It will be before noon so I can hopefully catch a Rebel Within egg muffin before they sell out.

As always,
Thanks for reading + Happy eating!

Craftsman & Wolves on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Alphabet Dining, Letter D: Dobbs Ferry

A collection of our plates at Dobbs

Dobbs Ferry - Hayes Valley

     For letter D of our Alphabet Dining, my friends and I voted on Dobbs Ferry, an Italian-American fusion restaurant located in one of my favorite SF neighborhoods, Hayes Valley. Hayes Valley is generally a more mature and upscale crowd, always bustling with people and filled with boutiques, bars and of course restaurants.
     Dobbs Ferry fit right in with the Hayes vibe - upscale, trendy, very clean and great atmosphere. We were lucky enough to be seated directly under their skylight, and though it was dark when we looked up we could see the trees reaching towards the sky. I thought this was a nice touch, making it feel more open and relaxing within the fancier environment. 

Our lovely view

     Even the menus at Dobbs were trendy and modern - with wooden covers! 


     Our waitstaff was very attentive. Our water glasses were always filled, and they even brought us a complimentary appetizer. Apparently there was a large party dining at Dobbs while we were there, so they preemptively brought us some delicious chips and hummus to nosh on until our food arrived.

Our complimentary Chips & Hummus with bacon puree
Our complimentary Chips & Hummus with bacon puree 

     Above you can see our complimentary Russet potato chips, with chickpea and bacon puree, garlic, scallion and chili oil. I don't know about you, but I've never combined hummus with bacon before, and let me tell you it is divine. The chili oil added an interesting spicy kick to it as well. 

The Meal

     As an appetizer, I ordered the sweet potato puree, with brown sugar and honey butter.

Sweet Potato Puree, with brown sugar and honey butter
 Sweet Potato Puree, with brown sugar and honey butter

     I would not call myself a puree person. I don't get the baby food appeal, unless it's in the form of hummus or applesauce. However, I do appreciate the mixture of sweet potatoes, brown sugar and honey butter. The combination is interesting, just like the hummus and bacon puree they brought us. While it did not convert me to a puree lover, I wouldn't say it was bad either. If puree texture is your thing, you would probably enjoy this dish a lot. The honey butter was sweet, and with my sweet tooth I wish I could take it home and put it on something else, like sweet potato fries!

Entree Bonanza

My Short Ribs
My Short Ribs

     I ordered the Short Ribs, the texture of which I enjoyed much more than my puree. It consisted of delicious and hearty braised boneless beef short rib, with caramalized leeks, polenta, and hedgehog and oyster mushroomsThe ribs themselves were perfect - not too tough, but not falling apart either. I easily cut through them with my fork. The meal was great filling comfort food, and I felt like I was chowing down on a fancy holiday dinner. 

Griddled Dayboat Scallops
Griddled Dayboat Scallops 

     One friend ordered the Griddled Dayboat Scallops, which in my opinion had the best visual appeal. They sat on a califlower risotto and came with micro greens, tobiko and lemon oil. No complaints there.

Pan-seared Striped Bass & Manila Clams
Pan-seared Striped Bass & Manila Clams

     Keeping with the seafood theme, another friend ordered the Pan-seared Striped Bass, which came with braised flageolet beans, Manila clams, sauteed kale, herb gremolata and chili oil. Between the fish and kale this has got to be the most healthy meal any of us got. Yum!
     Side note: They brought her a gigantic spoon with her entree, which we were unsure about. We figured it was to scoop the Manila clams, but seemed excessive considering how small Manila clams are. It was entertaining though - the fact that it stumped us kind of made Dobbs Ferry feel even more fancy.

mushroom pizza
Mushroom Pizza

     Alex N. went with the classic Mushroom Pizza. It came on a thin crust, topped with hedgehog and oyster mushrooms, mozzarella, marinara and thyme. If you're a pizza and/or mushroom lover, this is the dish for you! 
     All in all, I was content with my dining experience at Dobbs. My short ribs were delicious and filling, and though my puree did not wow my taste buds, I appreciate the variety and interesting combination of ingredients found on the menu. Since it was a bit more upscale and on the pricey side, I probably would recommend it more for a birthday or holiday than for a normal weekday dinner.
        I should also mention that at the top of the entree menu was a note specifying these meals were for the week of February 18, which means that they may change their menu every week! So if you have your heart set on one of the meals seen on this blog, I would check out their menu beforehand to see if it's on the menu that week. You can see an updated Dobbs Ferry menu here: http://www.dobbsferrysf.com/menu. 

Thanks for reading & Happy eating!

Dobbs Ferry Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 18, 2013

Indian Curry Buffet & Mystery Ice Cream

Indian Curry Buffet - Curry, rice, ice cream, and watermelons
Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Vindaloo, watermelon, Basmati Rice, and Mystery Ice Cream

Curry Village - Inner Sunset

     Three day weekends can be a hit-or-miss in terms of restaurants. Any given venue could embrace the holiday in one of two ways: 1) Be open and ready for the incoming flock of customers, or 2) Close up shop and take a (most likely much-needed) rest day. Luckily for me and my friend Brian, today Curry Village opted for the former option. Brian and I have a bit of a tradition where we meet to come to Curry Village for their delicious curry buffet, and today did not disappoint.

First Course

My first plate - Chicken Tikka Masala, Tofu Veggie Curry, and Basmati Rice

My first plate - Chicken Tikka Masala, Tofu Veggie Curry, and Basmati Rice

     My first plate from the buffet consisted of (clockwise from rice), the classic Chicken Tikka Masala, some mixed greens for good measure, and a Tofu Veggie Curry. The Tikka Masala was amazing as usual - great hot temperature with mild spice, almost sweet, and the chicken pieces were fairly large - no skimping here. I could honestly eat this for DAYS. This is my answer to the tropical island question, If you were stuck on a tropical island and could only have one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Chicken Tikka Masala, hands down. Great taste, protein from the chicken. Too good. The Tofu Veggie Curry wasn't spectacular in my opinion. To me, the soft tofu is an odd texture to have in curry. I'm used to having heartier food textures to juxtapose the milky sauce of each curry, be it chicken, lamb, or potatoes. 

     The naan at Curry Village might just be perfect. And not just because it's free (most Indian restaurants will charge $1 per naan). Even if you don't order the buffet it's free here. I know this because before I discovered the buffet I naiively ordered a single entree for only a couple dollars less than the buffet (which is about $11 for lunch and $15 for dinner)!
     They are generally good at keeping the naan coming without you having to ask for it. Once it arrives, it has been seasoned with garlic butter and each piece is always as fluffy as a cloud.  
   There are never any burned, carcinogenic corners here like you see at some other establishments.
milk tea
     It is also worth noting that they give you tin foil at the end of your meal to take home the rest of your naan. It is great reheated as leftovers later. 
     The milk tea (also free), is another nice touch. It is refreshing and gives you a bit of much needed caffeine after eating all those carbs.    

Second Courses

Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Vindaloo, Basmati Rice and watermelon

Chicken Tikka Masala, Lamb Vindaloo, Basmati Rice and watermelon

     For my second course, I made sure to get more Basmati Rice, which with it's sprinkling of green peas is great to mix in with the different curries. I also made sure to nab another helping of Chicken Tikka Masala. I wasn't kidding when I said I could eat this for days. The dark brown curry you see on the bottom of the plate featured above is their Lamb Vindaloo, consisting of lamb naturally, as well as big hearty pieces of potatoes. This is also amazing, and probably my second favorite curry here. I did notice that there was hardly spice in it this time, which I don't mind because I prefer milder curries, but it do remember it having a bit more spice/flavor in the past. Maybe it was an off day. You can see I also put some watermelon on my plate this time, so crisp and refreshing next to all the rice, naan, and curries. 

Lamb Vindaloo, Fried Potatoes, Aloo Gobi, Fish Tandoori, Tofu Veggie Curry

Lamb Vindaloo, Fried Potatoes, Aloo Gobi, Fish Tandoori, Tofu Veggie Curry

     My friend was adventurous and got (from top, dark brown): Lamb Vindaloo, Fried Potatoes, Aloo Gobi, Fish Tandoori, and the Tofu Veggie Curry. He also claimed that there were tater tots in the tofu curry, which I didn't believe until I looked at this picture. The tofu curry is the lightest curry you see above, on the top-left. To the right-most side of this curry you can make out the texture of what could really be a tater tot and does not look like tofu. So who knows? He enjoyed the mystery tater tots either way.


Mystery Ice Cream (Bubblegum flavor), and watermelon
Mystery Ice Cream (Bubblegum flavor), and watermelon

     For dessert we tried the prettiest ice cream! I was really excited for it and for more watermelon. I'm always excited for watermelon. The host told us that the ice cream was blueberry flavored, and while we did find what looked to be blueberries in the scoops (you can sort of see one on the far left), the flavor had us guessing. At first we couldn't quite place it. It was definitely a super sweet, candy-type flavor. Was it cotton candy? No. Starburst? Not quite. Then we got it. The ice cream was absolutely an overpowering bubblegum flavor. The old school, pink chewy bubble gum that lasted forever. It was weird to me to be eating something with such a strong bubble gum flavor, because the smell and taste of bubblegum tells every part of my brain to NOT swallow that food! From a very young age we are taught that bubble gum will stay in your system for 7 years if you swallow it. Whether that's true or not, it's ingrained in us to not digest that flavor! So while I fully appreciated and enjoyed looking at this interesting ice cream, it was not my favorite flavor. 


     The ambiance in Curry Village is really great - everything always seems spotless when I'm there, and this time they even had carnations at every table! Little touches like that can really make a difference in your dining experience. They have a few HD tv's on the walls that are always playing fun Bollywood music videos, so you get that fun experience as well. They turn the music way down or even on mute, though, so it doesn't interrupt your conversation.

     I must also mention that the walls of Curry Village are filled with SF pride. My favorite is this giant jigsaw artwork of the city skyline and not only the Bay Bridge but the Golden Gate as well. Touche, Curry Village Buffet. Touche. 

Restaurant Recommendations?

     Are you curious about a particular restaurant? I'd love to see your best SF restaurant recommendations! Leave them in the comments or shoot me an email. 

Thanks for reading & Happy Eating!
Curry Village on Urbanspoon

Beyond Deep Dish - Patxi's Pizza!

Patxi's Pizza - Hayes Valley

     Confession: I am a pizza FIEND. When I was younger I would have it at school for lunch nearly every day, and I just never got sick of it. Luckily for my internal organs, my food preferences have branched out quite a bit since then, but there will always be a little piece of my heart reserved for these savory cakes.
     It seems like most of the world leans towards the thin crispy pies, but I always preferred the thicker deep dish styles. I liken it to my preference to chewy cookies over crunchy, but that's a whole other post! That's why when Patxi's came to SF, I was stoked. 
     As you've probably already surmised, Patxi's specializes in delicious Chicago Deep-Dish style pizzas as the one you see below. They are pronounced "pah-cheese,"  and they certainly do not skimp on the cheese! 

The Californian

The Californian - mozzarella, fresh spinach, yellow onions, and tomato sauce on whole wheat crust
The Californian - mozzarella, fresh spinach, yellow onions, and tomato sauce on whole wheat crust

     We ordered the Californian, which had a healthy (-er) whole wheat crust, mozzarella (low-fat), fresh spinach, and yellow onions, topped off with a hearty layer of tomato sauce
     When you're eating the Californian, you find yourself in one of those rare situations where you are full and clearly should stop eating, but it tastes too good so you just keep going. Your taste buds literally override your internal body signals which tell you that you've had enough to eat. Between the two of us, my friend and I left the restaurant with just one small slice each to-go. The rest was demolished. 
     The pie is so thick that each slice is kind of like eating two pieces on top of each other, double-decker style. In this case the bottom slice is mainly spinach and cheese, and the top slice is just tomato sauce, but hey it works!
     Putting the tomato sauce on top is a genius move, by the way. It's such a heavy ingredient, and usually put as the bottom layer in any pizza. Having it on top allows you to bite into it's richness first, and then meet the refreshing spinach in the bottom layer. It also keeps in the warmth of the cheese below. I don't know how they came up with it, but I'm impressed.
     I should also mention that ordering the deep dish means waiting 30-45 minutes for your food to arrive, so I recommend grabbing an appetizer while you're at it. They have a great salad selection to choose from as well. Also, there are more Patxi's dispersed around the city, such as in the Inner Richmond and Noe Valley. So you have no excuse not to try it! :)

Thanks for reading & Happy eating!
Patxi's Chicago Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 15, 2013

Alphabet Dining, Letter C: Canto do Brasil + Chili Pies

Canto do Brasil - Hayes Valley

     Tuesday, in honor of Carnival and for Alphabet Dining Letter C, we went to an adorable Brazilian restaurant called Canto do Brasil in Hayes Valley. I instantly fell in love with the decor here. Any restaurant that can make me feel like I'm on vacation in another country is good in my book. It's a fun ambiance, which I can appreciate.

Pineapple Bowls + Mussels

     We split a few plates, tapas style. It's worth noting that the waiter did bring out a plate of prawns instead of the chicken plate we ordered, and blamed it on the chef. Awkward. But overall the food was great, and one entree in particular stood out above the rest: the Seafood Tropical. Shown below, this plate comes with a mixed greens salad, rice, yucca flour, watermelon, and oh yeah- half a pineapple!! That's right, they serve you half a pineapple, stuffed with red snapper, prawns, calamari and salmon (which is sauteed in olive oil and garlic). If I went back I would selfishly order this as my own entree. 

Half-pineapple, stuffed with salmon, red snapper, prawns, and calamari.
Half-pineapple, stuffed with salmon, red snapper, prawns, and calamari. 
Also: mixed greens, watermelon, rice and yucca flour

Mussels sauteed in red wine, olive oil, lemon and garlic
Mussels sauteed in red wine, olive oil, lemon and garlic
     The mussels were also notably delicious (and not that blurry in real life). They came sauteed with red wine, olive oil, lemon and garlic. We made Rayna try one even though she doesn't like mussels, and after trying these she decided maybe she does like mussels! Also, we asked for more bread at least 3 or 4 times until we soaked up all the mussel sauce. YUM.

More restaurant decorations and ambiance: A couple parrots and a carnival headdress
A couple of parrots and carnival headdress = 
Brazilian ambiance

Dessert - Chili Pies

     After Canto we had some room left for dessert, so I suggested a cute pie place nearby. I thought it was just called Pie, since I remembered it's fittingly located at 314 Church Street, but when we got there it turns out it's full name is actually Chile Pies! So perfect since we were on letter C of our Alphabet Dining.

The pie shake & 3 pie slices
From left: Chili Green Apple w/Three Twins Coffee ice cream, Chocolate Caramel Pretzel, Mexican Chocolate Pecan.
Also featuring The Pie Shake (Chili Green Apple slice)


The Pie Shake  

     Three of us got pies, and Alex N. got the Pie Shake. You read that right. They blended a slice of pie with Three Twins ice cream and milk, and topped it all off with whipped cream. Alex chose the Chili Green Apple Pie. If you look closely you can see how rich and thick it is! Heavenly. 
   Rayna ordered a slice of the Chili Green Apple with Three Twins coffee ice cream (above, left). Becca got the Chocolate Caramel Pretzel (middle), and I breezed through the Mexican Chocolate Pecan. They were all amazing and left us ready for a serious food coma. Especially the shake. If you're wondering how the chili pie was, it mysteriously works. The chili isn't too overpowering but gives it a subtle kick. Definitely worth a try.

Thanks for reading & Happy eating!

Canto do Brasil on Urbanspoon

B is for Boarding?

Our snow boards on the ski lift
My Burton baby on the right. Ski lifts are terrifying.

Mini Vacation - Reno, NV

*Update March 2013: Alphabet Dining, Letter B is completed! Bistro Central Parc, Fancy French Birthday Dinner - read it here!

   So a couple weekends ago I took a road trip up to Reno for a much-needed mini vacay. We did some boarding at  Mt. Rose and I got to visit my mom in Sparks. It was a blast, but unfortunately that weekend also coincided with Alphabet Dining, letter B. So I will have to make that up later in the year. For now, B will have to stand for (snow) boarding.


Alphabet Dining Kickoff, Letter A: Aslam's Rasoi

Alphabet Dining, Letter A: Aslam's Rasoi - Curry
Our long line of yummy curries at Aslam's Rasoi

Alphabet Dining

     Late last year, my friend Alex N. (there are two main Alex's in my life and it's important to distinguish between the two), brought to my attention the idea of Alphabet Dining. Alphabet Dining, as it's name suggests, is the plan to visit a variety of restaurants in alphabetical order. The first week you go to a restaurant that starts with A, and the following week you dine out somewhere that starts with B, and so on. The catch is that you must go in order, and our group of friends decided to make it even more tricky by only choosing restaurants that none of us have been to. Given the fact that we are ALL San Francisco natives, this is not the easiest of tasks. Luckily San Francisco is a busy, bustling city with a multitude of delicious and diverse restaurants to choose from. Even for natives looking for new eateries. In alphabetical order.

The Rules

     To recap, here are the official rules of Alphabet (aka ABC) Dining:

Restaurants must be visited in alphabetical order

No one present may have visited the restaurant previously

Everyone votes on their top 3 restaurant choices for each letter

Most popular vote wins

Restaurants should vary in price, cuisine, and neighborhood

Letter A

Aslam's Rasoi - The Mission

     The best and worst thing about Aslam's was their enormous selection of delicious curries. We probably spent more time deciding what we were going to order than actually consuming our food. But that may have also been because it was really good and we were really hungry.
    I've always heard that you can tell the true quality of a restaurant by how packed it is at any given time. Luckily we had made reservations ahead of time, because though Aslam's was a relatively large venue, every table was filled with people. Mind you, we went in the middle of the week, so I can't imagine how packed it would be on the weekend! Definitely a good sign.
     The food did not disappoint, from the meat plates to the veggie options. We asked for mild to medium spices, and nothing was too spicy or too bland. No complaints here!
     Shoutout to Chester who didn't tell us until after dinner that he does not care for Indian food.

Aslam's Rasoi on Urbanspoon

Anchor Steam Beer-Battered Fish & Chips

Fish & chips and Stuffed artichoke heart
Anchor Steam beer-battered fish & chips (top) and stuffed artichoke heart. NOM.

Woodhouse Fish Company - Castro

     The picture above really speaks for itself, but seeing as this is a food blog I figured I should throw in some details and shoutouts. The shoutout is to Woodhouse Fish Company, who really know how to complete a girls day on a sunny Sunday in the city. What began as a mani/pedi date with my friend Samantha soon escalated into what can only be labeled as a serious seafood bonanza.
     To quench my strange craving for fish & chips (I call it strange only because I live in the U.S. and have never even been to England), I ordered the house fish & chips, which did not disappoint. The fish was Alaskan Cod, and was battered in Anchor Steam beer, which if you don't know is headquartered in San Francisco and just entered into a deal with the Giants to spruce up Pier 48, so there are some extra points right there. My friend ordered the amazing stuffed artichoke heart you see on the bottom, which was filled with dungeness crab and bay shrimp.
     Below you can see our darling oyster appetizers, which I love and could stare at all day, is that weird? We're planning on coming back on a Tuesday when they apparently have a $1 oyster special.

Our Oyster Apps

Valentine's Day Manicure
Our manicures!
    Woodhouse Fish Company on Urbanspoon



     The other day someone asked me what my hobbies are. Or I was updating my LinkedIn profile, whatever. The point is that when I thought about it, I realized that when I'm not working or going out with my friends, I tended to float around from one activity to another. I couldn't pinpoint one steadfast hobby that I've stuck with throughout the years, honed in on and really made my own.


     I took up knitting for a while, but abruptly put down the needles once I made a beanie with the SF Giants logo in it and realized I would never top that. (Side note: I made that beanie for a friend's birthday and have yet to see him wear it! You know who you are.)

Hula and Tahitian Dance

     Back when I had my car in the city, I would drive to Pacifica to train in Hula & Tahitian dance. I even got to perform in a 49ers halftime show once, which even through the fog and possibly the least comfortable coconuts ever was a huge honor for me as a SF Native who would be dragged to Niners games as a child. But not even this joy could convince me to drive my car in circles for hours looking for parking in my neighborhood. Sorry I'm not sorry.

SF Dining Adventures

     I snowboard probably once a year, I swore I'd stick to weekly yoga this year (made it twice), I have a habit of getting halfway through a book and jumping headfirst into another one, but there are two things that have always been consistent. My capital-L, Love, for photography & dining out in my city. The City is a rare, delicious convergence of cultural variation with culinary expertise. And thanks to the advent of modern technology, I am able to document the many chow-downs I have, no matter what pocket of the city I'm exploring that day. Yes, I'm THAT girl who takes pictures of her food before she eats it. Well, as long as it looks delectable. Which it usually does.

     So please, follow me on my dining adventures! They start right now :D
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