Time For Tapas

So big things are happening in California…it rained last weekend. I know that I am late to the party considering today is Friday, but we are just going to ride this out.

Last Saturday, I was in that in-between stage of being sick where I was displaying symptoms but not quite bedridden yet. Staying home all day made me feel bad for myself, so I decided to go out and support Loló’s opening weekend at their brand spankin’ new location on Valencia St. (their original location was only a few blocks away, but bigger is always better and this place could fit at least double the crowd)

Take a second and see how depressing it is outside. Boo umbrellas and bokeh.

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Then welcome yourself inside and feel an instant mood-changer. Boom, just like that. What kind of human does not like palm trees and sunsets? (+ bartenders and a whole page of mescal cocktails)

Also, their wall of vintage car doors? Stop it.

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Their decorations were so tacky and bright that I fell in love instantly. Props to their interior designer, every wall was so different but worked so well.

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We started with a plate of guac + chips w/ cotija cheese and pomegranate seeds! ($6.5)

There is always a first time for everything and I loved the pom seeds, I might have to make it this way next time I have friends over.

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If there is a food trend in San Francisco right now, it is definitely fried Brussels sprouts (sister, you called it). Every restaurant I have eaten at lately has it on their menu and I always get sucked into ordering them. No regrets, as they are perfect every time.

Loló makes theirs with shallots, hazelnuts and late harvest zinfandel vinaigrette. ($6)

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Funny story, it was a tie between Brussels sprouts or the Mexiterranean Cheese Fondue ($9) w/ oaxaca cheese, tomatoes, cilantro, oregano and organic corn chips.

After a few minutes of deliberation, we realized that we are adults and can order whatever the hell we want for dinner. Both it is!

PS: That is a piece of bread that is holding the fire, putting the literal meaning of working with whatever is in your kitchen.

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Grecia is going to be my stand in for this post because I looked horrible (think sick nose, beanie and oversized sweater). Also notice the coats sewed into the chairs, I love it.

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She ordered a Michelada first and it did not take me long to realize that I really wanted one too. ($ no idea)

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After eating the crab salad at Tosca Cafe, I have been craving more of this local crab since it is in-season and was happy to see it on the menu here as well.

Introducing the Dungeness crab croquetas con garlic aioli and mirasol pepper reduction. ($8.5) I love bite sized food when eating tapas, so these were fun to just pop in my mouth.

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Grecia’s favorite of the night was the shrimp and rock fish ceviche, w/ a citrus roasted pepper sauce, avocado and salted peppercorns. ($11)

I am not a huge fan of seafood as you know, but I did try a bite and thought it was a good tasting ceviche (from the few other times I tried). I also wanted to take the spoon home with me.

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My favorite was a tie between these chicken confit ‘tinga’ tostadas with bacon, chipotle peppers and roasted tomatoes (8) and the pibil roasted pork shoulder gorditas ($8) (no picture because I ate them faster then my brain could think about pulling out my camera)

I think I should be an honorary Mexican because:

1a.) I look like I am one (under the right settings, Chinese and European genes will cross and tangle into one Latina looking baby)

1b.) Patients come up to me and speak in Spanish

3.) I love everything Mexican food

4.) Not to toot my own horn but my Spanish accent is spot-on…now all I have to do is catch-up on vocab.

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The penultimate tapa was the lamb sliders on a brioche bun and porcini mushroom sauce ($10)

I really wish I liked lamb because these looked so amazing in every way. Damn you, gamey meat.

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And finally, the vibrant ‘diabla shrimp’ with a creamy and spicy cascabel and chipotle pepper sauce, white mushrooms and white rice. ($15)

You really cannot go wrong with shrimp and cream sauce.

Especially not with white rice, I have been eating so much healthy rice (brown, wild, black) and quinoa lately that I almost considered just eating a whole bowl of regular rice and skipping the shrimp. (do not fret, I had Chinese food for dinner last night and had my fill of white rice for the week)

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Last year if you asked me if we should share a desert, I would have been fine either way. Now I feel like my meal is incomplete without finishing on a sweet note.

I do not remember exactly what this is, but I know it is a berry truffle with hints of basil.

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PS: Happy Birthday Ciafa!

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PPS: Happy Valentines Day! If you want to be my Valentine, listen to the new Frank Sinatra compilation all day today like I have been doing this whole week. Then, feel free to e-mail me and let me know how much you enjoyed it and what your favorite song was. Also, mail me a rhubarb pie. That would be the most ultimate Valentines day ever. 🙂

(it’s called Sinatra, With Love)

PPPS: A reader e-mailed me and asked if I could start including the price of the dishes I order. I thought about it and did not want to be embarrassed (no shame) on how much I spend on food, but we will try this out for a few weeks and see if I like it.

PPPPS: (last one, I promise) Do not forget to enter the Zabada Clean giveaway!

What are your Valentines day plans?

Do you like eating tapas? If so, what is normally your favorite dish? I always get one shrimp dish and chorizo if they have it.

Take Me To Senegal

I somehow find a way to mention my birthday in almost every post without me knowing. It is as if I take a sedative while writing at night and do not catch things until the morning.

Why am I bringing this up? Well, because this story requires a slight indication of the b-word (birthday, not the naughty one) and we will get to that. First, we need to cut-scene back a few months ago, How I Met Your Mother style.

Sarath and I have always made/got each other little things for our birthdays these past fews. For 2013, she purchased a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant for me. I have wanted to try this place for the longest time, but never got around to it.

My old roommate (who is back in Boston now) and Sarath used to get crazy here late into the weekend nights. I, being the grandma that I am, thought that a nice early dinner sounded much better before bedtime.

This meal was very fun because it was completely new to me. I have never eaten at a Senegalese restaurant before. For the cartographically-challenged, Senegal is located in the westernmost tip of Africa. It is also a melting pot of cultures (Middle Eastern, French, African, etc) due to politics that are far too heavy for this silly blog.

It took us a few days of rescheduling but we finally made it work! Time to eat delicious food at Bissap Baobab.

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Who better to ask to accompany me more than Sarath herself? This is her doing an artsy pose.

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My pose was a little less creative. I honestly look the same in every picture. Whenever anyone tells me to do a funny face, it ends up being the smallest variation of this.

I can not complain because it is a step up than my old smile, The Chandler. My awkward stage lasted a few years longer than it should.

PS: I miss my long hair, I got a haircut two days ago and it is so short. 🙁

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Our appetizer, the pastelles, were a great introduction to this foreign cuisine. These deep fried pastries filled with marinated beef tasted amazing and I wish we ordered two! Yum.

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Family style is always more fun because you get the pleasure of eating two entrees without the guilt of feeling like you are going to rip your pants after. This decapod dish was marinated in garlic and cayenne pepper, served in a red curry with pita bread. The Baobab Gambas had a unique curry taste, tasting more similar to East Asian curry rather than Indian.

Marco, the owner, told us that he gets some inspiration from the South East Asian flavors from traveling in Bali and the surrounding areas. Sarath introduced us and I really enjoyed talking to him, it is always nice to see the vision behind the man in charge.

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Our other shared entree was the Niebe Thies, chicken and black-eyed peas cooked with vegetables in a spicy Senegelese sauce. Coincidentally, I was commenting on blogs the morning of our dinner and wrote that I never tried black-eyed peas before. Somehow the stars aligned and I knew that I had to try them! Love at first site, really. This was my favorite dish.

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The star of the night was the Banana Flambee, bananas sautéed in butter and rum, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A la mode always does it for me on a cool San Francisco night. Plus I love banana desserts, like fried bananas with green tea ice cream. Mm mm.

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I tried to take a picture of their sign but it was too bright for my camera. I love the little dancing man.

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In more recent news, Erin @ The Almond Eater and I officially met in person! Is she not the cutest little being ever? Our original plans was to grab beers and tapas but the restaurant was closed for a private event. Instead, we chowed down on delicious burgers and I gave her a small tour of the city!

PS: Do not ask why the picture is so yellow, I can not remember the lighting being so horrible. Also do not bring up the fact that I tried to hide my half coke half diet coke.

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What culture’s cuisine have you been wanting to try?

When you met your blogger friend, what activities did you partake in?

By The Bayou

This week, there has been too little this:

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These Belgian truffle fries received an impromptu serenade from moi.

(Also could not leave out the picture of pear, Nutella and roasted almond crepes.)

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And too much this for my liking:

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I have never been happier for a Friday to come along. Although, I am sure I will say the same thing next week. Gravity is out in theaters and I was suppose to watch it today, but now have to wait for Friday night. I feel like I have not watched a movie for a really long time but it was actually the middle of May when The Great Gatsby came out in theaters. Crazy how time passes in my brain.

So instead of a movie, I went to eat at The Front Porch. Located in Bernal Heights, they dub themselves as “Southern Mission Hospitality”.

I did not notice that the restaurant is located in the garage of an house until I was editing this picture. You would not even notice sitting inside.
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Also loved seeing them dress up the restaurant with Halloween decor. I do not celebrate much on the actual day, but it makes me happy because it means the holidays are right around the corner!

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Okay, this was not the best example but inside had black and orange all over. Promise.

I found my new life motto.

“Tara, what do you think about the financial crisis happening in America?”

Fucket, get a bucket.

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These little cornbread muffins were really filling! The dip was interesting, I had to ask the waitress. Honey and some kind of chili pepper, but it tasted a bit nutty to me. Hmmm.

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I ordered the Spicy Shrimp + Grits: wild Louisiana shrimp, garlic, shallots & andouille sausage red eye gravy.

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This burger is funny to me because the top bun reminded me of a shiny bald guy’s head and that’s all I could think about when the waitress brought it out.

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Could not resist sharing the baked Mac ‘n’ Cheese, I have been on such a kick lately.

PS: I think my camera is lactose intolerant or something, I can never get a good shot. It just looks really blah when in reality it tastes like it was made in Zeus’ kitchen.

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Going to polish this post off with my ice cream happy dance. Mitchell’s is only a block away and I could not resist a junior sized coffee and ube ice cream.

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Have a great weekend! Xx

What’s your plans for the next two days? Have you/want to watch Gravity? How can you say no to George Clooney? He is my old celebrity crush! So dreamy.

Shrimp, And More Shrimp

A prayer to the school gods, I feel like a three week old weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I finally finished an intense Microbiology test yesterday and I’m just glad I never have to look over bacterial conjugation anymore.

To celebrate, Chi, his uncle/basically brother/also our roommate and I went to eat at Playa Azul for dinner. It took about 20 minutes to decide what we wanted to eat:

Chi: Should we have Peruvian?

Me: No, I’ve already eaten Peruvian twice this month. Should we eat Burmese?

Chi: No, I don’t want Asian. Should we go to Beretta?

Me: No, not really wanting a pizza. Oh! Let’s go to Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack!

Chi: Ehh, Playa Azul?

Me: YES!

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Playa Azul in definition is a Mexican seafood restaurant. Now for those that know me, might know that this might cause a small problem because I’m not the biggest fan of seafood (read: I don’t eat it), but I do love shrimp! And that was good enough for me.

I’ve always heard about it from friends but never had a chance to try it, so today was our day. To my luck, everyone wanted shrimp so we had a jolly time eating family style. Can you tell that I really just wanted to try the whole menu? 🙂

The first thing to come out was Tostadas de Camarones, aka Shrimp Ceviche! I was so excited because I always wanted to try ceviche, but it’s usually made with fish. Remember to add a little hot sauce on top to bring this plate to a ten. Chi says only Tapatio or Tabasco, while Junior says Cholula or Victoria should be okay too. We have options, people!

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We also ordered a shrimp sampler which included bacon wrapped shrimp (!), jalapeño popper stuffed shrimp (!), breaded shrimp (!) and shrimp and octopus ceviche in the middle. Can you say bomb?

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Look at this cheese explosion. One was enough for me, but I don’t think I lived until I ate a jalapeño shrimp popper.

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We also shared two entrees. The first one was Camarones A La Diabla, eight jumbo tiger prawns in a spicy chipotle sauce. This was my choice, but sadly it ended up being my least favorite. It sure looks great in pictures though!

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We also shared the Camarones Al Mojo de Ajo, another eight jumbo tiger prawns (this time in garlic and butter sauce). This plate was my personal favorite, I feel like you can’t go wrong with butter garlic shrimp.

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My favorite way to eat? Wrap everything up in a tortilla, it doesn’t matter what you put in there. When in doubt, wrap it up.

(Can we also rave about how they had my favorite habanero sauce?)

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Awesome. That’s all I have for today, folks! My weekend will consist of working, relaxing and back to studying on Monday. I need a school vacation, fast. Only one more month left, shit is going to hit the fan soon!

What’s your favorite kind of seafood? Who usually picks the restaurants in your relationship?