A List Of Thinks

A few years ago (pre-Pinterest era if you can believe), I stumbled upon a picture of a bunch of nonsense phrases that was typed on a back of an old handwritten receipt. For some odd and unknown reason, I was really attached to it. I do not have the original .jpg anymore but I do have it written down in my journal and I thought it would be nice to share-

a list of thinkgs i should remember:

time heals

the sunrise is a constant

salt water stings

i am worth all of it

driving calms

the music will never end

books finish

(sometimes happily)

the phoebe birds will always

sing my grandmother’s name

locked doors can be unlocked

trees produce oxygen

i produce carbon dioxide

stars die all the time

the sun burns

I think everyone interprets it a different way and that is why I like it so much. Today’s entry started so random and I thought it would be good to continue and take a break from all these restaurant posts. 🙂

Typical

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Based on my posts, I should be six hundred pounds and my arteries clogged beyond fixing. I like to disregard limits when I go out to eat at restaurants so I can enjoy foods that I cannot make at home. Yes, sometimes I go a little overboard and I realize a few weeks ago that the internet does not know my eating habits outside of what I post. I am sad to report that they are pretty boring. There are a million healthy living bloggers that kick ass at posting healthy foods and recipes so I tend to steer clear and entertain my own little niche.

The above picture is a portion of a typical home dinner. If I know I am not going out, I usually eat a bigger lunch and make a smaller dinner with a few snacks to get me to bedtime. I subconsciously loosely follow MyPlate’s guidelines with 1/2 plate veggies and fruits, 1/4 protein and 1/4 whole grains. Taylor makes her amazing salads and I will grill up chicken with (insert seasonal vegetables here) and a fun rice blend. Our current favorite is a mixture of brown rice, wild rice and black rice.

Patience

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I never truly understood the limits of patience until I had to hang more than one picture on the wall. Somewhere between marathoning The Office and a trip to Ikea, I had a bright idea that I wanted a picture wall in my room. (not a bright idea at all)

It ended up being horrible in practice- I think it looks tacky. I was so frustrated at the end that I almost took them all down. They are still up as I type this because I actually really like the pictures and am waiting to rearrange some furniture before I decide what to do with all the frames. Any ideas?! I recently moved and I have one really blank wall with almost no furniture pushed against it (due to how the room is set up it would look kind of weird) so this was my solution. This is me personally asking for help.

Fortune

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I forgot to mention in my last post but Chino restaurant has song lyrics in their fortune cookies! So hipster, I love it.

Another one we got was philosophy is the talk on a cereal box/religion is a smile on a dog. I thought it was so deep until I googled the lyrics and found out that Baby Spice from Spice Girls was the singer.

West Coast

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There is this painted sign on the freeway that I have been trying to take a picture of for so long now. I never was able to catch it on time or forgot about it until I drove past it but I was finally able to snap a good shot when we drove back from our lunch at Barbacco. Taylor and I did a high five after and felt so accomplished. Another thing to check off my ridiculously long check-list of life.

PS: It’s on the right side of the 280 coming from the Embarcadero right after the Sixth Street or Mariposa Ave exit if you happen to care.

Homeless

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Wow, look how amazing the background shot is. I am so lucky to live in this b-e-a-utiful city. Emily, I am sure you are used to this view. 🙂

This section is titled homeless because I was originally getting my fashion blogger (ha, not) on when a homeless guy started doing some stuff that is not appropriate for this blog and I could not help but watch. This was after I took my best friend from middle school out for a belated birthday. That post will be going up on Monday and I am excited to show you more later.

Thank you for letting me share my list of thinks! There are a lot of pictures that got lost in the shuffle after I started to make each post centered on one topic. I am happy to finally get them out there.

What is the weirdest fortune cookie you cracked open? Mine was digital circuits are made from analog parts. How would you even interpret that? My brain is too simple to understand.

Any random things going on in your life?

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. 🙂

Four Corners of Italy

I find that people who do not blog cannot phantom how time consuming it really is. Although I have been down to one post a week these past few months (and I am so not happy with that), it is still nice to enlist help from some of my friends. Taylor is one of my guest stars on this blog (along with Abs and a few other pretty ladies) and I wanted to treat her to lunch to thank her for all of her dedicated help behind-the-scenes. I drag her to restaurants with me on a bi-weekly basis, sometimes make her proofread the night before when my brain stops functioning and she will walk around the Embarcadero all day with me to ensure that I complete my deadlines for side projects without complaining once. She is mostly open to trying new foods and provides valuable opinions about the dishes we try out.

So to celebrate our first day of summer school and as a thank you, I took her to Barbacco for lunch in the Financial District. We do not venture to that area a lot because parking is overwhelming and it is so far from the Mission. It was a nice change to see everyone in their business suits instead of rolled up hipster jeans.

I have heard so many good things about Barbacco and their fancier sister restaurant Perbacco, which is only two doors down. The restaurant is narrow but stretches really far into the back and you could not help but notice the abundance of communal tables; everything seemed very casual and comfortable. The place was jammed even on a mid-day Monday but luckily we got a great seat at the bar.

We started finalizing our dining options while sipping on fresh-made strawberry mint limonatas ($3).

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Before we get started, I wanted to just briefly mention that this lunch reminded me of my time in Denver. Crusty bread made an appearance in almost every dish.

Our first of the first courses was two unique bruschettes ($3/each). These thick crostinis are Acme brand and were so crunchy and perfect. One of our bruschetta was assembled with roasted peaches + prosciutto di parma and the other with asparagus, meyer lemon, capers and red onion. I loved that we did not have to stick to one flavor combination and we were allowed to branch out and get different kinds. Next time I am coming for the chicken liver pate and lardo with onion.

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What might be the hidden gem of salamis is ‘Nduja ($6). I have only seen it at one other restaurant and it is SO underrated. It is a spicy, spreadable smoked Calabrian salami that does not look too appealing at first. However, be prepared to have your life changed once you take your first bite. It is pretty salty on it’s own but fares well when eaten with the crusty bread. The smokiness of the salami added a complex flavor that we thoroughly enjoyed. Taylor was a little apprehensive at first but she instantly changed her mind and declared it her new favorite.

Half way through, our friendly waiter asked us what we thought it was made out of. I hesitantly answered pork because it seemed like a trick question. He laughed and said it was made out of liver and kidneys specifically and he always waits until his diners had a chance to taste it before sharing his fun fact. This is why you cannot knock things before you try them!

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The restaurant was filled with light and good vibes. We usually do not eat at the bar so it was a nice change of experience.

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This is our new favorite waiter, Vicenzo. It is pronounced with a hard C because duh, Italian. Whatever photography skills (see dark picture above) he lacks is made up with his charismatic personality.

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Taylor and I shared two entrees for our main course. The first being orecchiette ($13) with cavolo nero, fennel sausage and pecorino cheese. In other words, it is basically a fancy kale pesto pasta. Surprisingly, it is hard to find good pasta in the city but this one was very fresh, vibrant and had an amazing texture. There were little criss crosses on the back of the orrechiette.

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The next entree was Barbacco’s famous polpette ($13). If I had to describe these in one word, it would be “wow”. These Sicilian meat balls were ground and rolled with pine nuts and raisins. They were accompanied by braised chard and a spicy tomato sugo. At this point, I was stuffed to the brim but had to eat at least half of a meatball. Let’s just say that they were the perfect after school snack.

I am not a fan of rock hard meatballs and these were the complete opposite. The insides were airy and had large chunks of garlic (and other ingredients) rolled in. The synergy of flavors were balanced out by the crusty bread but still left an explosion of spice.

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And to complete our meal was an olive oil panna cotta with marinated peaches and a brown sugar crumble. This is the second time I had an olive oil dessert and it was a lot better than the first. The taste of the olive oil was subtle and paired well with the texture of the sugar crumbles. I love that they used seasonal peaches because they are so sweet right now! Seriously, I buy maybe 10 at the Farmer’s Market each week and I have not had a sour one yet.

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This is one of those few meals where every single dish knocks your socks off. I cannot wait to come back! Now I am in a pasta mood. Abby, SPQR next week?

How many hours a week would you say you spend on your blog?

Favorite type of pasta? Mine is bucatini.


Arepas Para Mi

I originally wrote about The Palace when I tried their “baller on a budget” tasting menu. Um, five courses for $50? Sign me up.

A few weeks ago, I heard through the grapevines that they were opening for brunch and I wanted to check it out. I am a fan of Chef Manny and was interested in what he was going to bring to the table.

You should already know that I had to bring my tasting team with me.

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I gave away what we ate in the above picture, but the first dish to come out was an eggs benedict with pork (I cannot remember which cut for the life of me) and arugula. No brunch is complete without a runny yolk somewhere in the mix.

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See? How magical does that yolk look? The best part of eating runny eggs is cutting into the albumen and having the yolk flow all over your plate like hot lava.

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The menu leaned very Argentinian and their focus are arepas. We ordered two, one steak with avocado and the other one chicken. I never had an arepa before so I could not compare it to anything but I thought they had good flavor. It hurts me to say but I think it could have been executed a little better.

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I read somewhere that they were offering steak tartare but did not see it on the menu. Katerina, the wife of Chef Manny, took care of our table and I asked her if they would be offering it soon. I was so happy when she informed our table that the chef might be able to accommodate my request.

Chances are that it is going to be a good day when I get tartare before noon.

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The Palace has an open kitchen and I love watching the talent behind the counter. Here is a picture of the owner/chef Manny and a member of his support staff.

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Us girls spent the rest of the day BBQing and I could not help but show off my godson. I really do not care about dogs at all (especially little dogs) but he is just so sassy.

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How do you feel about runny yolks? Could not live without them.

Have you been barbecuing lately? I would normally answer no because my hair smells like meat after but we actually have been taking advantage of the grill in the backyard lately.