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?

Panko Baked Avocado Fajita Tacos

One thing (out of many) that I love about living in California is the produce. I understand that fruits and vegetables go through seasonal changes but we grow almost everything in this state. When I went to New York a few months ago, Bailey and I stopped by a random Whole Foods to buy a bottle of wine for our hosts. I noticed that almost of the signs in the produce area wrote “Grown in California”. Call me sheltered, because back home it seemed common sense that the food was grown within the state. Duh. Sustainability, right?

My oblivious, born and raised in CA brain did not realize that other cities and towns do not have the same perfect climate that we have to grow delicious fruits and veggies.

PS: Yes, I was also shocked that they do not sell alcohol in the same place as foods on the East Coast! I honestly have a beer maybe once a week so it is not a big deal to me but I never heard that kind of law before. The worker there looked at me like I was the biggest tourist (or crazy) when I asked him where the wine section was. He pointed out the doors and across the street to a wine boutique.

If I ever move to that side of the nation, how am I suppose to pair my wine with my cheese if I am in a rush? First world problems.

Just wanted to show off the nice weather from my roof top.

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I was kind of in a cooking rut, so I texted my b-e-a-utiful sister and hustled her for some recipes I could steal for the blog. She gave me a few great options and I headed to the market down the street to pick up a few ingredients. Turns out, they do not sell eggplants (weird) and I did not have time to drive so I had to make use of what I had.

My whole produce tangent was because of avocados. Yes. Creamy, delicious, good-on-everything avocados. And they are abundant here. Year round. I am afraid to move and have to pay $4 for an avocado. I get them here for 89 cents and it is such a bargain.

So I put my thinking cap on and a lightbulb came flashing through! A-ha!

Baked avocados! Breaded with panko! In a taco? Yes! AKA the food love-baby of my Eggs In a Hole (Avocado Style) and Panko Baked Eggplant Caprese recipes.

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Panko Baked Avocado Fajita Taco

Prep Time: 25 Minutes

Cook Time: 12 Minutes

Serves: 3

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Medium Hass Avocados
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Jalapeño
  • 2 Eggs
  • ~1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • ~1 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Cooking Oil
  • Queso Fresco (or any kind of cheese but get QF if possible)
  • Parsley, for garnish
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Salt, pepper and oregano, to taste
  • Baking paper

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1. Preheat the oven to 425° degrees.

2. Cut your avocados in half and then each half in to fours (8 slices total for each whole avocado).

3. Set up your working station by having three different bowls. First bowl with flour, second bowl with two well-beaten eggs (with pepper and salt), third bowl with panko crumbs.

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4. Throw your avocado into the flour bowl and coat it thoroughly. They are more sturdy then you think, so just tap it against the edge to get the excess out.

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5. Dip the avocado into the egg bowl and let it drip until it is evenly coated and thin.

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6. Drop the avocado into the panko crumb bowl until it is coated enough that it blends in.

7. Put on a baking sheet with olive oil generously drizzled on top and bottom of the panko-covered avocados.

8. When oven is done preheating, slide the avocados in for twelve minutes. Flip them over half way (6 minute mark).

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9. While avocados are baking, wash and chop the bell pepper and jalapeños into thin slices.

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10. Cook them in a large pan with cooking oil, oregano, salt, pepper and fresh parsley until soft but still retaining the firm texture.

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11. Heat up a few corn tortillas on your tortilla griddle.

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12. Garnish with parsley, queso fresco and a splash of lime. Amazing. Seriously.

Was walking on Valencia St today and saw this transporting truck. Pretty badass, no? In a crime noir sort of way?

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Are you allowed to buy alcohol in supermarkets in your area? What’s your favorite taco combination?

Yummy Eats Happy Me

How many pizzas I made at home since Friday: 2

How many restaurants I ate at in the past four days: 7

How much unnecessary window-shopping, which turned into regret and sadness in less than 20 minutes: $178

So much food to go over, so little time before Breaking Bad comes on. I am literally shaking in my jammies waiting for the next episode by the way. (No spoilers) I know I have been talking about it since it started back up in August, but I have never been so emotionally attached to a show like the last episode. Don’t mean to sound like a wuss, but it was hard for me to fall asleep after thinking about Walt went through last Sunday. Can someone e-mail me today so we can discuss this weeks episode along with what else you have on your mind?

Moving back in time, my roommate Taylor texted me on Friday and asked me if I wanted to make pizzas with her. Yes, please! She picked up the ingredients on the way home and we worked our magic.

Before:

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After:

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It tasted just as good as it looks! Really easy to make by the way. Just lay the sauce and mozzarella cheese, bake for 10 minutes on 450° and lay the uncooked arugula and prosciutto on top. Took us literally 15 minutes and only had to wash two dishes, a knife and spoon.

Also, look what was waiting for me from Amazon when I got home. 🙂

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Lisbon House just got a little more raunchy.

Saturday involved my usual morning shift at the ol’ Chiropractor’s office and a new addition I have been embracing these past few weeks: Mexican for linner (or dunch, depending on what kind of person you are).

La Taqueria, /the/ official taqueria of San Francisco, holds a special place in my heart. My dad, sister and I use to come here all the time when I was younger and I always remember the carnitas and agua de fresa whenever I drive by.

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I don’t come here very often because there’s always a long line and it is a pretty expensive taqueria but so worth it at the right place and right time.

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This picture was taken to make my sister extremely jealous. I sent her a selfie of me eating my taco and she texted me back, “Were you there? I hate you for that”. Clearly this gem of a restaurant is worth a little sibling angst. I will be sure to take her when she comes to SF for Thanksgiving. (Also Maykadeh, but that’s a story not due for another few months).

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I ordered one chorizo and one carne asada taco. They filled me up to the point of wanting to throw up at any speed bump or pot hole on the way home. Worth it.

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Played a whole game Cards Against Humanity on Saturday night with a few house members and friends. I do not think it’s appropriate to post what some of the real winning cards of the night were. Can I brag and say I won 2nd place? Yeah, baby.

Sunday started with a bit of morning yoga in the living room via Comcast On Demand. It did not go so well because the yoga teacher was really intense and had us doing things I didn’t know the human body could do. We wrapped it up quickly, showered up and headed to Noe Valley for brunch.

I never ate at Griddle Fresh, but I have heard good things about it and had to pick something up for school so we gave it a try. Brunch on a Sunday in San Francisco is no joke, meaning the good places (all 200+ of them) have about 1-2 hour wait in line. Sometimes it is fun but sometimes you just want to eat and not stare at the lucky people who are sitting down and pretend that you are the one enjoying the pancakes or benedict.

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Being told there was a 30 minute wait=success, so we perused the menu and had our game plan set before we were seated.

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Abby told me that the corn beef hash was the best thing ever, so I obliged. This was the 6-hour cooked corn beef hash with a wasabi aioli and home fries. I was full about half way in but forced myself to finish because I just wanted the flavor in my mouth.

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Taylor ordered the bacon, spinach and tomato benedict with fried hash browns.

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I had a bite and they were amazing. The picture below looks picture perfect, no? I’m a sucker for a runny yolk, I can eat it on almost everything.

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We shared the Banana Mascarpone Soufflé Pancake. It was so fluffy and melted in my mouth. Perfect balance of salty and sweet if you ask me.

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While waiting for my favorite Froyo place to open, we passed by a fair trade store and got suckered in by the kitchen supplies in the front. I fell in love with these wooden spoons and table clothes. Seriously spent a lot more than I should of. 🙁 I suppose if they are fair trade than they are worth the extra money. Can’t be too mad for paying someone in Kenya what they deserve.

Yes, we ate Froyo after a whole stack of pancakes and plate of corn beef and potatoes. Don’t judge because you have not tried Easy Breezy yet.

Also can’t wait to do Tequila Loteria night. Abby, come over okay?

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Does your city have a restaurant it is known for? Also, sorry for asking again but thoughts on Breaking Bad (NO SPOILERS!)?

Comes And Goes

Today was the first run I missed in my training plan. I felt bad for about a minute but then picked myself back up because I realized I had way more fun today instead of canceling plans just to make sure I stuck exactly to my schedule.

So what did I do instead?

I had a date with Jacq where we had needles poked in us. 😉

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She FINALLY came back from her African safari honeymoon! This girl saw over 1.5 million Wildebeest and followed the great migration for two weeks with her new husband.

Her being back in San Francisco means that we can continue our weekly acupuncture sessions and chatter over a meal. We sure do get hungry after our 45-minute adult nap time. 🙂

Eating lunch at the same place twice is boring in this foodie city and we already tried everything in the immediate area, so we drove over to The Little Chihuahua on Divisadero to attempt something new.

Note how foggy it was in this picture. When we left a few hours later, it was so sunny I thought we were in SoCal.

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Somehow we ended up making it there exactly at 11:00am. I promise we weren’t hawking out in front, glaring at the cashier to make him open faster. 😉 I actually walked in first while Jacq was parking her car and he made a joke about how I should get a prize for getting there right on time.

Since this guy had joke for days, I made him take a picture of us.

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Everyone talks about how delicious The Little Chihuahua is so I was really excited to try their food. Jacq got the Fried Plantain & Black Bean Burrito which looked amazing. I didn’t take a picture because I’m sure you know what a cylinder of foil looks like, ha.

I ordered the camarones y pollo asado tacos. They were good but I wished I ordered something a little more special to understand the hype of the restaurant. I just couldn’t take down a huge burrito at the time and simple tacos seemed the most appealing.

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We were so engrossed in our conversation that two hours passed by without us even noticing. Jacq had to leave for work and we still had so much to cover. Love her!

I ran some errands before hurrying home to get ready for a going away dinner planned. What better place to round everyone up but Cha Cha Cha?

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Junior is like the brother I never wanted and I’m going to miss him! He’s going back to Santa Barbara to take over the family business. Clearly, this picture is focused on the skills of the gentleman skateboarding behind us. It’s actually pretty funny when you open up Lightroom and notice this while trying to hurry up and edit all the pictures. Not.

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A clearer picture of some of the girls that made it. I know it’s going to be a good day when I see Abby more than once in a week. 🙂

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I already have a post on Cha Cha Cha, but these pictures show the worthiness of the food a little bit better. I am not the biggest seafood fan, but I will indulge on these mussels steamed in a saffron broth.

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My favorite type of fungi, cooked with sherry and herbs. I wasn’t going to share this picture because it’s already in my other post, but I wanted to balance out the ratio of selfies and actual food.

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Adios Junior! See you when you come up and fix the hole in the wall. 🙂

Tomorrow is an exciting day for me, I will make sure to tell you all about it on Monday!

Do you like mussels? (I’m actually so turned off by the texture I have to eat the little slimy part with a huge chunk of bread). What’s in store for the weekend?