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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If there is one thing that people are whispering about, it is the roasted chicken for two. This succulent half chicken (feet included) sits on top of a toasted levain spread with ricotta and pine nuts. The marsala sauce was the perfect dipping sauce for the potatoes below.

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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 of 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!