Out With The Old

Karma is a bitch, I learned that lesson. In my past entries (and in person), I have bragged about the ah-mazing weather San Francisco has been having. Sunny days and no fog, which is extremely rare for this time of the year.

Our governor called a drought emergency and it is affecting our agriculture and food prices might go up. That is one small thing on a big list including water rationing and a lot of farmer’s jobs being affected. Yikes.

To play a small part in my local economy, I joined two of my friends for dinner at Tosca Cafe. (humor me)

Located in the historical North Beach district, it is just down the street from San Francisco’s own mini flatiron style building. I tried to get a great picture of this unique beauty, but it was overshadowed by our much larger and pointier Transamerica Building.

PS: The Caesar Salad was created in this green flatiron back when the ground level restaurant was called ‘Caesars’. You are welcome, rest of the world.

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The history of Tosca Cafe is unlike no other and I wanted to share with you the significance of dining/having a drink here.

It originally opened before the Prohibition era, then they closed the restaurant down and kept the bar open during the 60s. After going through highs and an extremely long low, the owner was going to evict the owners last year until (the) Sean Penn stepped in and had his New York restauranteur friend, along with Michelin starred Chef April Bloomfield, take over and revamp this historic piece of San Francisco.

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The interior is quintessential old-school San Francisco; it is iconic enough for the new owners to spend $1.5 million in renovation to ensure that the restaurant looked almost exactly the same. I can only imagine the likes of The Rat Pack hanging out here when touring in this little city by the bay.

Nice change from the hipster or industrial feel that is slowly making its way through every redesign.

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Two of San Francisco’s famous food bloggers Ben and Sandy asked me to tag along to one of their monthly dining escapades and I was thrilled to check off one restaurant on my ever-growing list.

Chef Bloomfield is known for her use of the whole animal, so it was no surprise that we start off with the crispy pig tails. These were the perfect opener and what little meat that was under the crispy skin was fantastic.

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My second time eating crab was a success with this in-season Dungeness crab salad. Although I only had a bite, I was not icked out with any seafood flavors and the dressing was delightful.

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My favorite part of the dining experience was being able to sit in front of the open kitchen and see the chef work her magic. The only thing that looked modern about this place was the stainless steel appliances and it felt like a warm fireplace in the center of a cozy and bustling restaurant.

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Although it is the worst lit picture, the winner of the night was the house made bucatini pasta with tomato, guanciale and chili. Sandy told me that there was a tiny hole in the middle of the pasta that gave the texture a bit of hollowness. If I could get my pasta to come out this al dente every time, I would never have to go out and eat again.

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Every restaurant has their off the menu specials and the next dish is one of them. These meatballs were made of beef, pork and guanciale and what surprised me was the kick at the end of every bite. It goes without saying that the sauce was the star, with ingredients such as marjoram and chilies.

PS: I broke out my meat grinder for the first time today, woohoo! It was a success. I used a chuck and brisket combination to make burgers tonight and saved half for meatballs tomorrow. Hopefully they will come out at least in the ballpark of Tosca’s, I know I have a lot to compete with.

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I do not understand how the staff was able to get the potatoes so crispy, yet have the inside so creamy. Perhaps I need to start cooking in pork fat, because these were a delight. I am sure the rosemary and garlic did a big part in the flavor as well.

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The penultimate picture is a vegetable dish, a cauliflower gratin baked with fingerling potatoes, taleggio and parsley breadcrumbs. I thought it was a bit too heavy but that did not stop me from having seconds.

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I always like getting a desert to leave a sweet taste in my mouth, so when Sandy suggested we try the buttermilk gelatin, I obliged.

It was a flavor I was not accustomed to: sweet with a tangy backsplash. I enjoyed my two bites, although I could not find myself buying a whole carton of this gelati.

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This sign fits right in with Broadway, our mini red-light district, right around the corner. IMG_8847.jpg

I start school on Monday, where has time gone? Somebody must have sped up the days in this past month because I am not ready to kick into crazy/obsessed/can’t sleep at night student mode.

Two things I would like to implement for the next four months:

– A strict study schedule to get all As again. (biochemistry, I am eyeing you and I am going to kick your ass)

– Only eating out on the weekends like a normal human being.

– Perhaps a 2x/week blogging schedule. M/Th, one restaurant and one recipe. What do you think?

Also, the FAOT birthday giveaway ends tomorrow night. Make sure to enter for a $50 gift card to a grocery store/restaurant of your choice!

New Aged Potatoes

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I got my Microbiology exam today and I’ve never been happier to get an 88 on a test before! I studied for 3 weeks/21 days/60 hours for this test and I’m so happy it’s over. Now I have two more to go before the semester is over.

I also want to share a helpful link I saw on the internet a few weeks ago:

27 Ways To Make Your Vegetables

I’ve been eating like a poor woman just trying to get rid of everything in the kitchen before I go food shopping during the weekend, dinner has been really simple.

For example,

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Rigatoni w/ chicken, basil, marinara sauce topped with fresh parmesan.

I also had to finish a pack of spring mix from TJs, so today’s post highlights day two and three of my new salad tosser! I seriously will eat salad everyday if I get to use it. This salad didn’t have any bells and whistles, since my fridge is getting more bare as the days pass. I added half an avocado and garnished with shallots.

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Today’s post will feature my take on this baked potato, mine is a little more plain and not as fully loaded. I have three happy boys in my house that tasted the potatoes, so please try this recipe if you have the ingredients on hand!

New Aged Potatoes

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Bake Time: 50 Minutes

Serves: 2-4 (Depends if you’re making as appetizer or side dish)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Russet Potatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Herbs De Provence (or whatever you have in your pantry)
  • Oregano
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Paprika
  • 1 Clove Garlic, sliced paper thin
  • Parmesan Cheese (optional)

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1. Slice the potato into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces, make sure the bottom is intact. Preheat the oven for 425°.

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2. Prepare a mixture of ~5 Tbs Olive oil, ~1 Tbs Herb De Provence, ~1 Tbs Oregano, ~1/2 Tsp of Paprika, ~1/4 Tsp Salt, ~1/4 Tsp Black Pepper. Everything is a estimate, I didn’t measure anything. This is a good time to eyeball. 🙂

3. Put the potatoes one by one into the mixture (cut side down) and let it soak for a few minutes. When taking out, use the remaining oil to make sure it gets into almost every crevice. A fork or brush may be useful for you.

4. Put a paper thin slice of garlic in every other slice.

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5. After sprinkling cheese in-between slices and on top, the potatoes should kind of resemble the picture above. Make sure to apply the olive oil mixture generously between each crevice for maximum taste.

6. Line a baking sheet with foil and pour the remaining olive oil on the foil so the bottom of the potato can absorb the flavor. Bake in the oven on 425° for 45-50 minutes, check the potato closer to the end. It should be crispy but cooked throughout.

Voila!

I used the potato as a side dish with a small piece of chicken, spring mix salad and sautéed mushrooms.

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Chi chose to eat the whole potato, he also “forgot” to go to the gym last night. (Just kidding!) (Not really kidding) 🙂

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What are you cooking this week? Do you have any food hacks to share?

An Eco-Friendly Kind of Day

Today was a whirlwind of healthy, non-GMO and organic everything!

My friend Jacque and I sought out with a game plan in mind of things we wanted to cover. We figured lunch first would keep us happy, followed by shopping on Valencia St in the afternoon and wrapping up our day with grocery shopping.

I have heard mixed feelings about Gracias Madre, which is a vegan new-aged Mexican restaurant located in the heart of the Mission district. It’s hard to imagine vegan and Mexican food in the same sentence. When I think of delicious Mexican, I think of cheese on top of meat on top of more meat. However, after much deliberation, I give it two thumbs up!

Not only is the food vegan, but all the ingredients are produced organic and local, which is something I really admire in a restaurant.

Jacque and I decided to do family style, so we can maximize the deliciousness. We started off with papas al horno, which are basically potatoes roasted in olive oil and garlic topped with cashew nut cheese. This was the first time I tried cashew nut cheese, and I must say that I am impressed. It didn’t taste 100% like dairy cheese, but it had a similar consistency and the flavor was not too far off.

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The next thing to come to our table was an empanada. We ended up getting two appetizers and an entree, which was more than enough. The empanada was stuffed with plantains and served on their special spicy mole sauce with the same cashew nut cheese layered on top. This one happened to be Jacque’s favorite, I liked it but didn’t go crazy for it. Before we left the restraunt she decided that she would be ordering it in the future through one of the food delivery platforms.

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My favorite was the chilaquiles, which was very different from what I imagined. The typical chilaquiles served in a traditional sense is fried tortilla, scrambled eggs, beans, rice and your choice of red or green sauce. Gracias Madre had to maneuver over some of the ingredients and delivered the fried tortilla with a tomato salsa, cashew crema, avocado and black beans.

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After wrapping up our food and paying our bill, we headed over to The Detox Market only to find it closed for good. The store was empty and anything remaining was boxed up and ready to go 🙁

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I honestly never been here before, but Jacque raves about it. They sell organic beauty, health and wellness products. I was looking for a new face wash without harsh chemicals so I was kind of bummed. But, I bumped into a girl who told me about an amazing household oder eliminator that can be found at https://odorklenz.com/home-odor-eliminator/ so that cheered me up a little.

The next place we ended up was The Scarlet Sage Herb Co.

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They had a huge assortment of bulk tea ingredients and we went nuts. Jacque had a handy book of different elements of tea and the different properties that each herb has. It was a new experience for me; she made a tea for her boyfriend’s circulation and I made one for relaxation. With the day ending, we made one final trip to Rainbow Grocery, which is what I was looking forward to all day! Rainbow is a San Francisco co-op that serves only organic, local, sustainable, affordable vegetarian food and household items.

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Their produce is fresh and it’s one of my favorite places to shop. The pricing is somewhere between Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, so it’s not crazy expensive for the quality you get. My days are usually not so green and healthy, so it’s nice to have something different every now and then!

Do you have certain expectations when you grocery shop?

Better Late Then Never

Is it too late to talk about the holidays?

Winter break is an anomalous time for me. The transition from the fall to spring semester leaves roughly three weeks of free time that I haven’t had before. In that time, I have…

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Played a game of Toma Todo.

Toma Todo is a drinking game that originated in Mexico. If anyone is familiar with King’s Cup, it’s the same principle where you pour beer into a larger cup that’s placed in the middle. There’s six sides to the dreidel:

Toma 1/2= Drink 1/2 sips

Pon 1/2= Pour 1/2 sips

Todos Ponen= Everyone pours

Toma Todo= Whoever gets Toma Todo has to drink everything in the middle cup!

It sounds kind of boring, but it gets really nerve wrecking and fun to egg on anyone that gets Toma Todo after the cup is entirely filled with beer!

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Seen some amazing views of SF.

Every time I see this bridge I am reminded of how blessed I am to live here. There’s so much to love in this little city by the bay, from the food to the scenic landscapes. I recommend anyone to come visit! Seriously, I’ll make an itinerary for you and everything!

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Attended the opening of Toma.

Toma’s grand opening was on December 19th and I couldn’t be any happier and proud! All the meats are organic, local and grass fed and the vegetarian options are to die for. The recipes are from past generations of family and even the tortillas are made fresh everyday!

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Went to my friend’s holiday gathering.

Two friends of mine had moved into a nice studio in the Nob Hill district of SF and realized they haven’t had a party yet and decided it was time. They served home made sangria and lots of apps. Although the pictures disappeared somewhere, I can assure you everything was delicious. The dog above is Bailey, my godson; isn’t he the cutest little nugget?!

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Spent Christmas with my boyfriend.

With the new restaurant opening, he wasn’t able to go back to Santa Barbara and my mom wasn’t doing anything so we stayed in SF and hung out all day. In the morning, we caught a matinee and watched Life of Pi (in 3D!). Of course, it was my idea. I read the book a few years ago and wanted to see how it would play out on the big screen. I definitely think the best part of the movie was the 3D effects, but I’m happy to report that he was happy with my choice (he originally wanted to see Django Unchained). We then took the long way home and basically drove throughout the whole city.

When we came home, we prepared a Christmas dinner for two. The chicken was stuffed with cloves of garlic and seasoned with rosemary, salt, pepper and cayenne. I sautéed the mushrooms and spinach together with olive oil, garlic, salt and paprika. We also made standard garlic mash potatoes and Trader Joe’s chicken sausage.

How was your holidays? Did you cook at home or go to a relative’s house for dinner?