I’m Crazy For Trying

When multiple people tell me that they have found the best charcuterie in San Francisco, I am there faster than (insert witty metaphor here).

Many of you know that I think charcuterie is a modern day ambrosia. It is also:

1. My favorite type of meat preparation.

2. My favorite word to say (along with jorts). It just rolls off your tongue.

Trou Normand is the place to eat this summer and I am going to tell you why their meats are hand-on-knee amazing without trying to sound incredibly pretentious. The only pork they use comes from the Mangalitsa, which is an exotic, expensive, European pig that is not often used on American charcuterie boards.

(if you took the time to click the link and look at the pictures of the pig, you will see that it is fluffy and has hair! how cute is that?!)

Anyway, this results in eating the “Kobe beef” of pigs with its creamier texture that just melts in your mouth.

I really wanted to try this place out for lunch but also did not want to drive downtown. My love for cured meats defeated my hatred for spending $17 on garages, so I took one for the team and made my way down to Trou Normand for a late lunch with my school partner in crime, Kristina.

The L-shaped space is completely airy with a nice mix of modern and traditional interior. This naked lady keeps an eye on the bar patrons and ensures that everyone is having a good time. Luckily for us, we missed the lunch rush and had almost the whole place to ourselves. I hear it gets extremely loud when it is all filled up and I did not feel like having a 80 decibel conversation. Since it was the middle of the day, we did not imbibe on any of their famous cocktails and I will have to go back to try one.

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Instead, we hydrated with this new-age cola ($4) that is fermented with ginger! It tasted nothing like a Coca-Cola but it hit the soda craving perfectly.

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With over 25 charcuterie options, we were conflicted on what to get and our waitress gave us a few recommendations based on our preferences. For the meats, we picked a rosemary salami ($6) made with white wine and garlic, ciccioli ($7) with black pepper and oregano, and a salami cotto ($6) with anise, chili and garlic. Everything was incredible and I was honestly sad that I do not have two stomachs to try more charcuterie. Next time I am choosing the guanciale and porcini salami along with the chefs selection.

We took all the cheeses they had ($11/each) and I cannot remember exactly what they are but I know from top to bottom it is a sheep milk bleu, camembert and the third is unknown.

Also, can we just take a minute and admire how beautiful this plate is? Salvatore Cracco does an amazing job putting everything together.

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Kristina is actually in Chile now with her husband but when we ate here about two weeks ago, she just came back from Peru doing volunteer work and even witnessed a live birth! She also had to be on an 72-hour IV after eating contaminated food but she is fully recovered and now has a story to tell in the future. 🙂

On a completely unrelated note, the backdrop is actually how I want my future home to be with exposed brick walls and a tufted leather sofa. We had an incredibly beautiful jade green sofa in my childhood home that looked similar to the one that is pictured below.

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Since we are future dietitians, we thought that this butter lettuce salad ($8) with croutons and buttermilk dressing would make up for all the saturated fat and sodium we were consuming. 😉 I can never complain about ordering a salad to make myself feel better.

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We also had a hankering for the pork ragu ($14) made with fresh tagliatelle and parmesan. It was soul soothing to have a big bowl of pasta and I ate pretty much 80% of it myself. Unlike Kristina, I have no idea what portion control means.

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We finished our perfect date with a Mission Pie ($8) slice a la mode and a cup of espresso. Mmm…the only thing that would have made it better was if there was enough for three days worth of left overs.

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Also, the title refers to a Patsy Cline song I was listening to in the beginning of this post. I am just too uncreative to think of another one for now. 🙂

Way Out There

I am going to be a bridesmaid!! Do you remember when I announced that my friend Bailey got engaged?

She officially asked me to be apart of her bridal party while lunching at Outerlands on Monday. I am going to tag along and help check out potential venues with her later this week. 🙂 This is so exciting!

To celebrate a gaggle of great news, we indulged in delicious food. B lives in the Outerlands neighborhood and I wanted to check them out since their re-model.

What do you think of their aesthetic? I love all of the curved lines and the wood work. It really opens the place up.

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As beautiful as it was inside, we opt to sit outdoors since it was the one day out of the year that the Sunset had great weather.

(this is my new favorite sweater and I would wear it everyday if it was socially acceptable)

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Bailey just finished a huge workout and only wanted this zucchini soup ($9). Of course this did not bode well with me and I made her share an open-faced mushroom sandwich but this was a great start! I snuck a spoonful when she was not looking.

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The waiter put our mushroom a la plancha ($13) with shishito peppers and a mushroom tapenade on two plates to make room on the table. Bailey remarkably noticed that all of their plates are from Heath. They have the best tableware- made in the US, heavy and lasts forever.

I really want the Chez Panisse collection but that is a story for another day.

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I opted for an amazing outerlands cubano ($15) made with braised pork, mortadella, swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and cole slaw. I also added a fried egg for good measure. I am normally not a huge fan of cole slaw but it was really light and did not interfere with the richness of the pork. Also, their bread is out of this world amazing! I am pretty sure they make their levain in house.

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I would not be me if I did not sneak in a chocolate donut ($3) and milk/dark chocolate chip cookie ($2.5) for a late night Netflix binge watch.

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Any tips for a first-time bridesmaid?

Do you get a desert every time you go to a restaurant?

Sir Kensington’s

A few weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to enjoy a meal on behalf of Sir Kensington’s to test out their ketchup, sriracha seasoning sticks and report back to you. After doing my due diligence, I found out that their ingredient list is pretty impressive with no signs of HFCS or products made from concentrate. They boast a non-GMO project verified logo on their labels and have 50% less sugar compared to other national brands.

These are things that I can get behind. I have known V since 7th grade and already had plans to take her out for a belated birthday dinner. Timing just worked out, so she was my guest of honor. 🙂

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Our appetizer was an oak roasted bone marrow ($17) topped with a white shrimp escabeche, hearts of palm and tomato “jam”. I was thrilled when V suggested we pick this as our first course because not many people can tongue the texture of marrow. Me? A personal favorite. I love to dip my crusty bread in the goop-like gelatin that can only begin to be described as rich and buttery.

It is actually funny to me how people (including myself) are willing to pay so much money for what was considered back then as “poor people” cuts of meat like oxtail and bone marrow. They were usually the cheapest at butchers and considered scraps for dogs and now are used as components of gourmet dishes. It is similar to how lobster was considered a mark for poverty (“rodents of the sea”) and now it is not rare to see it priced higher than a good cut of steak.

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Since Waterbar is known for their oysters, it only felt right to try one. I did not feel like I could put my body through one again but V said she is indifferent and tried the Beausoleil ($4.05) from New Brunswick. Our waitress told us it was the perfect starter oyster. V approved and explained that it had a slight acidic taste and was firm without being too slimy.

PS: If I do ever eat an oyster again, it will be Grand Central Oyster Bar. My friend just came back from NYC and said they were ah-mazing. She also overhypes everything so time will tell.

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Here she is posing before slurping. I wanted to show you the cool view of this cylindrical fish tank I had from my seat. It felt right since we were eating right along the Bay.

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Her Wood Oven Roasted Alaskan Halibut ($38) accompanied by spring onion piperade, black mussels, fresh chickpeas and topped with Espelette chili looked incredibly mouth watering. So much so that I snuck a bite off her dish and found the fish really tender and moist. I loved eating the mussels with a dipped piece of crusty bread topped with the chili sauce.

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I was in a mood for a steak, so I ordered the Spring Onion Crusted Ribeye Steak ($39) served with crisp Kennebec potato, haircots certs and a black truffle aïoli. The ribeye was a little hard to cut through although I ordered it medium rare and the star of the plate was the potatoes. Mmm…I loved the aïoli so much I wish I could bottle it and take it home with me.

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Our VIP guest this evening was the Parmesan French Fries ($7) with the famous Sir Kensington’s ketchup. These crunchy fries were a great side with my steak and I was not disappointed in the ketchup. It tasted less sugary than other ketchups I have tried and I really admire that. I also noticed that it was thick and great for dipping.

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To have a meal without a vegetable side dish is tragic and that is where these artichokes (not on menu anymore) came into play. I was surprised at how much of a kick these had! I am all over anything spicy but I had to drink of water after a few bites.

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We ended the night with a delicious Rhubarb Gâteau Basque ($10) with strawberries, vanilla bean chantilly and a red wine reduction. Rhubarb is one of my favorite components to a dessert and the fancy whip cream was heavenly.
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An espresso was essential after a long night of eating and their staff was nice enough to bring out a post-meal amuse bouche of sea salt caramel chocolate bites.
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Thank you Sir Kensington’s for a fantastic dinner. I am now a fan and will pick up a jar the next time I am grocery shopping. Their product line includes more than just ketchup! Think spicy ketchup (mmm…chipotle), mayo and fancy mustard. They are available at grocery stores for all price ranges. Check their website to find a store near you.

Sir Kensington’s company compensated this meal and all my opinions are always proudly my own.

Fireside

Thank you to everyone who commented in the last post. I have to say that I totally agree! Actually writing blog posts is not time-consuming, it is the social media part that accompanies it. When I first started blogging, I thought that photo editing was challenging but now I have everything down packed and I can edit many photos in a short amount of time. I love reading all my friend’s blogs in the morning and when I have short windows throughout the day but do not always have time to comment. I always felt really guilty and would wait to make my rounds before posting a new entry on my blog before realizing that it was really unproductive. Not being so rigid about that took away a lot of the anxiety I had with this hobby and now I can say I fully enjoy it again. 🙂

If possible, do you mind answering the question posted on the bottom?

Anyways, enough of blogger talk. We have food to mesmerize over! I first heard of Chino while eating at Z Cuisine in Denver with my sister back in January. (mmm..still having dreams about their cassoulet)

Our waiter/bartender gave me the inside scoop of this place since his brother-in-law was part of the opening team. I kept it in the back of my mind and my eyes lit up when I saw the sign being put up as I was driving down Guerrero Street. That was a few months ago and I finally had a chance to stop by last Thursday.

I heard from friends that their ambiance was playful but did not expect such a sensory overload. I loved the hanging lights and it made me feel like I should have been dining al fresco under the stars.

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The decor fit the fusion mood perfectly and it was cute to look at various things from my childhood. I do not know if any of you ever made a trip to Toy Boat in the Richmond but that was the first thought to come to my mind with all the vintage 70s toys.

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It did not take us long to get into business since I am pretty knowledgable with Chinese dishes. Our first selection was the (wait for it) Nick Balla’s Dope Ass Japan-O-Mission Wings ($9) with fishy-limey-hot-n-sour sauce.

I expected something different based on their over compensated menu name but these wings still got the job done. I loved how crispy the skin was but the spicy lover in me wished that they had a little bit of kick.

Also, my favorite part about Chino is that everything on their menu is less than $10. You cannot even get a kids meal at McDonald’s in San Francisco for less than $10 these days so I thought it was awesome for them to use that price point.

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I am happy that I cleared up a question burning in the back of my mind for at least 10 years after ordering this dish. Rice cakes are called lean gao in Chinese and I was never able to talk to anyone about it since I did not have the English translation. We ordered these “spicy porkey rice cakes” ($7) with hot pepper paste and braised bok choy and imagine my surprise when I bit into it and realized exactly what it was! Now I am not constrained to the Chinese translation and can order rice cakes at whichever Chinese restaurant I choose. Land of the free, right?

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The staff shipped me to the back to check out the dumpling masters at work. I had a good chat with them in Chinese and they were really fun to talk to. These dumplings look green, I wonder what they were wrapping!

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Chino’s quintessential dish is the Xiao Long Bao ($9) which is what sparked the idea for the restaurant. If you never had XLB before, it’s basically a soup dumpling originating from Shanghai. You take a small bite first to release the steaming hot broth (make sure everything stays in your spoon) and then you eat everything in one bite. When I went to Shanghai a few years ago, I ate almost 30 of these bad boys. They are so good.

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My favorite dish of the night, of course, was the braised pork noodles ($8) with sichuan peppercorns, peanuts and Chinese mustard greens. I could probably use my search bar and pull up 500 times I mentioned how much I love sichuan peppercorns (and how they are my favorite flavor in the whole world) but 501 times will not hurt. Seriously so good, I wish I had ordered two of these so I can have one the next day.

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The cold sesame noodles ($6) were served with cucumber, summer squash and mushroom. I am usually a big fan of cold asian noodles and was really glad I ordered this. However, the dish could have used a teeny bit more flavor. Bland is a frightful word to use when describing food but that is the best adjective my dining companions could come up with.

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Overall, I might have fell into the buzz and hype which is hard not to do with this food-driven city, but I also made sure to keep in mind they have only been opened for less than a month and are still working out the kinks. Totally understandable. I love the ethos of this restaurant and see the great potential they have down the road.

PS: Easy Breezy for dessert.

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What do you wish to see more of on the blog? Restaurants? Recipes? Lifestyle posts? Miscellaneous? All? None? I am putting my big girl panties on for the comment section and can handle any dish you wish to share. 🙂