All Vegetarian With My Vegetarian

Whoever said the coldest winter they experienced was a summer spent in San Francisco clearly has not lived in a decade ruled by global warming. Of course I am typing this as the city is lovingly blanketed by fog, but I promise that the last few weeks has been crazy-hot shorts weather.

(ps. Mark Twain was proven to not be the man behind the quote)

Now that summer is among us, I have been scrambling to get everything done before I begin my summer semester. A few things on my to-do list includes trying new foods (what else is new) and completing projects minutes before the deadline. I managed to check off both tasks in one day when I went to go visit Jacque sometime last week.

We promised each other lunch since I have not seen her since her mom was in town. I was in the middle of doing research on vegetarian friendly restaurants for said project and she recommended this all vegetarian restaurant that sits on the harbor of Fort Mason.

To be honest, the person we really need to thank is Jacq’s husband since she volunteered their wedding gift card to Greens Restaurant for our impromptu dining escapade. I said no about four times and made her text him to make sure it was okay.

A cool snippet behind Greens is that they were opened in 1979 as part of the San Francisco Zen Center. Their menu is all vegetarian, all local and all delicious.

I was really excited that there was a boat/building as part of our window scenery.

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As always, we shared everything family style and started with two appetizers. The first one to come out was vegetarian pupusas ($12) filled with squash blossoms, spring onions, serrano chilies and cilantro. It’s served with a side of avocado, salsa and pickled vegetables.

These were so different from the greasy, meat and cheese filled Salvadorian pupusas I get from Santaneca. Instead, they were light and was complimented well by the avocado. I am not the biggest pickled veggie fan so I saved those for Jacq.

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The next dish to roll out was fresh spring rolls ($11) w/ carrots, jicama, daikon, cabbage and jalapeños. These were served with a side of peanut sauce and a mushroom/radish salad.

It’s a good thing that I don’t care for pickled veggies and she hates mushrooms.

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As an ode to her African honeymoon, we shared the North African sampler ($17.5) that included a medley of different bites. Some things included were a basmati rice + lentil salad, beet salad w/ harissa vinaigrette, roasted carrots + fennel and hummus w/ dukkah + pita bread.

The flavors were spot on but I am a fan of warm foods and everything was a little bit less than room temperature.

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My favorite out of everything was this summer squash and pesto pizza ($17). It was topped with grilled red onions, lemon, asiago, gran padano and pepper flakes.

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Since her husband is allergic to chocolate and nuts, we indulged in this flour less chocolate cake ($?) with ice cream. It is hard to not be impressed with chocolate cake but the texture was perfect.

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Some how some way we ended up unintentionally matching! Only difference was her shirt had a cool floral pocket and my pants leaned more green.

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I am excited for this weekend, I might go to a drive-in theater! We will see how everything pans out.

Plans for this weekend?

Alotta Burrata

One weekend.

Two sisters.

Eleven restaurants.

Eighteen dishes.

(so many dollars spent, I can not even…)

They thought it could not be done. Hell, even we knew it was grossly ambitious. Or maybe just gross. IMG_8625.jpg

There are a few things you need to know about my sister and it will all make sense at the end.

1. She loves food just as much as I do. I am not sure if it is nature versus nurture, but it runs in the family. So naturally, when little sister (me) comes into town, big sister (her) has to show what Denver is made of.

2. She is a planner. I am talking about color-coding, laminating, by-the-minute itinerary.IMG_8627.jpg With this in mind, I present to you the ridiculous, out-to-lunch (literally) whirlwind trip that took place this weekend. I know coming to the Mile High city was a big deal, considering she has lived here for over ten years and this is the first time in my grown-up life that I have visited her. The food scene here is happening and there were so many places to be that we could not possibly do them all in three days. I was wrong.

We did it. I am so unbelievably shocked, frendshäm* and impressed that we were able to pull it off. Logistics, time and money (wallet is in tears) did not stand in the way of the Condell girls.

*Frendshäm is a term we coined (based loosely) on a German word to describe second-hand humiliation. As in the, “Oh Sweetie”-kind of embarrassment. Consider it the next thing to go viral, I promise you that.

On Friday morning, my sister presented me the itinerary of what would shape our time together. Please note that there are no sightseeing locals, no shopping, nothing. All of our touristy things revolved around ensuring that it did not interfere with our food schedule. A, sort of – what silly Denver ‘must do’ should we slog through to tick down minutes in between meals? January isn’t the best time to come to Denver because a lot of things are closed for the off-season. However, we surely did not let that get in the way of our fun.

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What made this so great was that it was literally my sister’s favorite dish at each place. I wish I had a window into her genius brain when she was compiling this list.. classic You Are What You Eat.

Swiftly after a Thursday night pick-up at the airport, we arrived at Pinche Taco’s for what might be the best tacos outside of California. Even remotely thinking this means that they were out-of-this-world delicious. I dubbed these as sexy street tacos, with ingredients such as Queso a la Plancha (mmm…burnt cheese), pan roasted scallops and carnitas that Zeus himself kissed before making its way onto our plate.

(Horrible lighting, as it usually happens when food is that good). pinche.png After hearing that my sister never finished the last half-season of Breaking Bad, we hopped on that quickly and watched an episode before getting into bed.

FRIDAY

Upon waking up, we were a little nervous for what we had in store and decided to play it by ear. We ended up at The Source, which is a local food market that can be compared to a mini Chelsea Market. Lunch was consumed at Acorn and we shared the kale & apple salad (candied almonds, parmesan, togarashi) and tomato braised meatballs (anson mills stone ground grits, burrata, basil).

We high-fived after a successful start and walked around to check out the collective of food artisans and retailers that offer everything from freshly baked bread to craft cocktails. I was impressed with the place and loved the vibe; it reminded me of a less-touristy and more modern Ferry Market building.acorn.png

Our one (1) sightseeing adventure of the whole trip came after lunch, we drove to Red Rocks Amphitheater where the most legendary concert hall is. They had a pretty badass view of the city.

Of course the one picture I did take did not highlight this gorgeous view I am talking about. IMG_8619.jpg

I do not know if it is the altitude or that I am just severely out of shape, but those pesky stairs really got to me and I was embarrassingly winded after the whole thing. IMG_8620.jpg

Another episode of Breaking Bad and a cup of Café Bustelo later, we found ourselves in downtown Denver and ready to roll up our sleeves to get this food coma party started.

With itinerary in hand, our first stop was Panzano for their Crespelle ai Funghi (Hazel Dell mushroom stuffed crepes, fonduta sauce and white truffle oil) and a glass of bubbly. At this point, we realized that our trusty friend was crusty bread. Crusty Bread would make a cameo at literally every single meal. No joke. No complaints. NOT a gluten free weekend.

We walked over to Osteria for their burrata (creamy sweet center, firm edge). Bartender overheard our tactic for the night and asked to see the coveted list. To say he was thoroughly impressed was an understatement; it was at this point in time that we began to think that our crazy idea was actually straight genius. dtdenver.png

Next stop at Bistro Vendome, a quaint French bistro that uses local and seasonal ingredients. We broke our one-plate-per-restaurant rule here and ordered the mussels (garlic, herb, white wine, grilled sourdough baguette) and steak tartare (tenderloin w/ aioli, Dijon, capers, red onion). As a non-seafood kind of girl, the mussels were hand-on-knee amazing and I do not even want to count how many pieces of sourdough I went through. bistrovendon.png

Our last stop of the night was at ChoLon, a fusion restaurant with a menu that is inspired by traditional dishes found across the Asian continent. We enjoyed the soup dumplings (sweet onion, gruyere) and Brussels sprouts (ground pork & mint). We also had the pleasure of chewing the proverbial fat with the Chef Lon (Denver Cheflebrity) and shut down the restaurant as we listened to the fantastical tales of this renown all-over-the-world-and-back chef. cholon.png

Friday’s Round-Up:

Restaurants: 5

Dishes: 9

Stomachs a calorie away from exploding: 2

Saturday

Somehow, someway, we woke up not feeling like death. The only thing on our mind was a cappuccino, which worked perfectly with the next step being butternut squash pizza (walnut, smoked mozzarella, sweet onion & arugula) at True Food Kitchen. The one thing I was uneasy about on the list ended up being delightful, especially with a fried egg on top. butternutsquashpiz.png

I would like to tell you exactly what we did after; however, everything seems hazy as I am typing this post. Almost as blurry as this picture taken by my beauty of a sister. IMG_8672.jpg

Although Saturday was not as ambitious the night before, I think my favorite thing that happened was at Z Cuisine. The last time I ate a cheese plate was less than a week ago at Maialino in New York (I found the restaurant name, yay!).

This cheese plate was something else. Something where my pathetic little words would only dull how outstanding this was. My sister and I had to stop for a second and make sure what was going on was real. Whoever chose the assortment deserves a round of applause, from the apple and cheddar combo to the contrast of creamy cheese and nutty texture . We wanted to go back the next day to eat more.

As mouthwatering as the cheese plate was, the star of the whole weekend was the cassoulet. Slap-your-mom delicious and worth every penny. Although this is only January, my intuition tells me that this is going to end up on my top-ten of the year list. 100% sure. The dish, prepared for three days, included duck leg confit and a pork belly & shoulder house sausage (andouille style) baked slowly together in a heirloom white beans and bacon ragout, served with wilted chard and kale. Z Cuisine, you hit it straight out the ballpark and need to open a location in San Francisco like yesterday.

And this is where our list took a left because we hit a wall. Fried chicken wraps were next, but we just could not do anymore. We had a drink at Old Major and ended up just talking for hours. Toward the end, an order of duck-fat fries made its way in front of us and we obliged. saturday.png

Saturday’s Round-Up:

Restaurants: 3

Dishes: 4

# of times frendshäm was used: too many

SUNDAY

Three words. Pork shoulder tostada. IMG_8686.jpg

Served with charred tomatillos, sunny eggs and queso panela from Beast and Bottle for a quick brunch before heading to the airport.

There were many times during the trip where my sister and I were unbelievably disgusted with ourselves for having moments of hunger after all this food, but overall I like to think that we killed it. Game, set, match to whoever (aka nobody) doubted our motives.

I apologize for this incredibly long-winded post, I know it is a lot to consume and digest (ha). The reason I did not split this into two posts is because I did not want to drag anything on and because I think I am going to a restaurant I have been dying to try on Monday and that deserves a posts of it’s own.

1. Thank you sister for everything. You are the best you there is.

2. Do not forget to enter the GIVEAWAY that ends on Friday! I am giving away a $50 Gift Card to a grocery store/restaurant of your choice!

PS: If this was a Word document, it would have been five pages. Run and tell that to the next person who says you need to read more. You are welcome.

Have you been to Denver? If so, what was your favorite restaurant?

Who are you rooting for in the Superbowl?

Otra Vez

I hope you do not hate me after this post.

Why? Because I am posting pictures of Beretta, yet again. Last time, I promise.

Half of the Lisbon house went out to eat a midday meal on Saturday and we had bad luck choosing a restaurant. Everything good was either closed because of the awkward timing or way too far away. Luckily, our go-to Beretta welcomed us with open arms.

Their arugula & fennel salad was a great starter and paved the way for our feast to come.

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Just expect a picture of Taylor at least once a week now. She makes an awesome dining companion. I do not know if it is our shared love of arugula or because she is always down to leave at a minute’s notice to grab Easy Breezy with me at 10:00 pm. More than once…wish I was kidding.

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Can we take a minute and soak up this meat antipasti? From the top to the bottom: prosciutto, lard, salami, mortadella and hot coppa. We do not have to talk about the pickled salad goin’ on in the upper left hand corner because I did not like that. At all.

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I love this picture because it is an actual candid. I can only imagine the dirty thoughts that ran through my head when the waitress brought the plate out.

Hint: It involved a crostini and meatgasm in every bite. A calorie less than divine.

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I found my table lighting hot spot for these broccolini dosed in garlic, olive oil and peppers. It is hard to believe a dish so simple can taste so good.

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I know gnocchi is a cult favorite, but who has had it pan seared? It is life changing and I want to recreate something similar soon. This dish was made with pancetta and porcini mushrooms.

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Lastly, what Beretta is known for, their thin crust pizza.

On top is a broccoli rage, pancetta, tomato & mozzarella special and the bottom has hot salmi, coppa, tomato, provolone & diavolicchio peppers.

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This week is bitter sweet for me, I have to work and study a lot but will reward myself with a mini trip down to LA for the weekend. 🙂 Details to follow.

What are your plans for the long weekend? (Forget the fact that I am asking on a Wednesday).

Michelin Man

The San Francisco (and surrounding areas) Michelin Guide came out on Wednesday!

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Incase you live in the dark, this handy book “helps both locals and travelers find great places to eat and stay, with obsessively-researched recommendations to more than 500 hundred restaurants. This guide, updated annually, appeals to all tastes and budgets. Local, anonymous, professional inspectors carefully select restaurants, using the celebrated Michelin food star-rating system”. The history, which I actually found really interesting, can be conveniently found here.

It is my food goal this year to hit up all the bib-gormaunds, one and two stars and maybe The French Laundry. Although, I do not know how feasible this is because it is impossible to get reservations at State Bird Provisions no matter what. It’s probably easier to get a table at TFL or Meadowood, yikes.

The Lisbon House had a girls night on Wednesday and we ate at the Michelin-bibbed restaurant, Starbelly. (Sarath, we missed you!)

We were seated in their outside canopy, it felt really good to be outside but still have the warmth of the ceiling heaters.

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Micheladas are my favorite (alcoholic) drink in the whole world. If it is on the menu, I will order it. It is made with Mexican beer, salt, chili powder and lime and it tastes fantastic. Ciafa was suppose to be my model but the aperture kind of blurred her out. Isn’t she beautiful?

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I spotted this awesome door handle behind me and could not help but take a picture. Where can I find one of these bad boys? I really like the vibe they have going on in there, it was really cozy.

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Of course Taylor was in attendance too!

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We all shared the burrata di stefano, served with toasted hazelnuts, lemon and olive oil. Actually, I am not sure exactly what exactly is in/on it because they only have a sample menu online but I am almost sure.

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Ciaf and I ordered two pizzas. Mine is the chorizo, egg and cilantro on top. In my Foodservice Systems Management class, I have to create my own business and my idea was a pizzeria that serves “cultural cuisine”. In other words, pizza fusions with different countries national foods (Lomo Saltado, Kung Pao Chicken pizza, etc). One of my pizzas was this exact one (+ onion) so I was really excited to see it in person.

She ordered one with Starbelly bacon, jalapeño, arugula and green goddess dressing. I really enjoyed hers as well.

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Taylor ordered the catfish w/ andouille sausage, risotto and okra.

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I know so many of you bloggers are bakers and make the most amazing and badass recipes, but today in class I made a chocolate soufflé. We won out of the whole class! Ours was the best. It was decadent, rich and perfect. I was so proud of me and my lab partner. Plus I got to use a Kitchenaid for the first time and now I really want one for Christmas.

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The TA for our class brought in In-N-Out and she made me crave it all day. I had to go after my night class. I feel bad for all you East Coasters because In-N-Out is one of the main reasons I will miss California if I ever leave.

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Have a great weekend!

Thoughts on In-N-Out? What have you made in your life that you are most proud of?