Sunday, January 30, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
According to a few food trend articles I've read recently, bacon, as well as cupcakes, are out. (Apparently coconut water, pickling and anything gluten-free is in.) But bacon will always be in fashion, in my book. Meaty, savory, and smoky with just the right amount of grease. It's one of the best ingredients on earth.
So when GP Norm tells me about Pirate Cat Radio Cafe, a place that serves maple bacon lattes, it instantly goes on my must-try list. Funnily enough, it's a vegan cafe that is also home to an indie radio station run by volunteers (who sometimes double as the baristas).
Apparently Anthony Bourdain is a fan of this latte too. It's rich, satisfying and deliciously chunky (from bacon bits that are sprinkled on top). Once you get over the hunk of rendered bacon fat that is scooped from a jar (collected from restaurants; I had to ask), the combination of sweet, savory, and the kick of caffeine is really, really nice. And probably one you don't have every day.
After a sip of my friend's bacon latte, I wanted to try another menu item and went for the coconut curry latte at the barista's suggestion. This was a different experience altogether. The frothy combination of coconut cream, soy milk and curry powder might have been better suited in a bowl of soup. Or maybe over rice. Either way, I wasn't a fan. Not to knock the barista's taste or anything (she was really, really, like super nice).
The space is tiny but intimate, with the DJ booth window facing out to the coffee bar. I met Norm and ButterSCOTTch (who apparently doesn't like his foodie name and asked for a new one; I'm working on it) here and we had a great time. If bacon jam is breakfast in a jar, this is definitely breakfast in a cup. One that you can happily enjoy at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
SAMIWICH'S TASTE RATING
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Any trivia buffs out there?
According to the Scoville scale of hotness, which pepper is the hottest?
What's the first animated movie to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar?
Besides Mexico, what's the only other country to have an "x" in its name?
It was the night of the big trivia contest fundraiser, and after a week of stuffing massive amounts of random information into our heads, my teammates and I (better known as Team Iron Chefs) were ready for the real deal. But first we had to fuel up. And there's no better brain food (at least in my opinion) than dumplings and hand-pulled noodles. So we headed to the Inner Richmond to try the recently-opened San Dong House BBQ.
We were disappointed they were out of the recommended oxtails, but quickly got over it when we tasted the meaty and flavorful beef tendon soup, served with soft, silky hand-pulled noodles. You can hear the actual "thwack" of the noodle dough being thrown and pulled throughout your meal as the "master" known as Shifu Chi does his magic at an open workstation in the back of the restaurant. (Note: the restaurant opens until 1am, but apparently Shifu goes home at 10:30, so if you're hankering for noodles, put in your order by 10pm).
I was also really impressed by the beef pancake appetizer, which was tasted like Peking duck (only with beef) rolled in a green onion pancake (only without the green onions) which sounds a little strange, but is really, really delicious. However, the boiled dumplings (we tried pork, and chicken & corn), and dan dan mein (spicy pork & bean sauce noodles) were just okay - we all agreed we'd had comparable if not better iterations at other restaurants in the Bay Area.
It was the beginning of a long, long night. But after 3+ hours, 100+ questions and battling it out with 27 other teams, we ended up winning a respectable 2nd place overall. We even got a trophy! And by the way - the Ghost chili has the highest heat units, making it the hottest pepper; Beauty & the Beast was the first animated movie nominated for Best Picture (Up was the 2nd); and the only other country besides Mexico with an "x" is Luxembourg. Just in case you were wondering. Go Iron Chefs!
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Here's another reason why I love Yelp. A few months ago, my pal TSS told me the name of a fabulous fried chicken place in Fremont, but I didn't bother to write it down as I'm hardly ever in that neck of the woods. But a recent errand brought me to that very area right around dinner time, and a quick Yelp search for "fried chicken" lead me to her recommended place. It's called Coco Chicken. And it's delicious!
But I could have kept eating more. Especially with the delectable sauces that you choose to come with it (we ordered it on the side). The waitress will tell you that the most popular ones are sweet & hot and soy garlic, and I whole-heartedly agree, they are finger-lickin' delicious. We also tried the honey mustard which was reminiscent of the dipping sauce you get with McDonald's Chicken McNuggets (which is a good thing, in my book.)
It's hard to imagine ordering anything else, but the Korean dishes others were eating (like bulgogi, kalbi and spicy pork) also looked mighty good, and the staff couldn't have been any nicer. My brilliant friend TSS says she orders the fried chicken to go, then drives to a spot in SF's Chinatown that has great waffles, creating the best chicken & waffles you can imagine. Darn, I didn't write down the name of that place either. But I have to say I really like that kind of thinking. Yelp, here I come...
Sunday, January 09, 2011
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Over the years I've adapted some interesting traditions. I like to visit Disneyland for my birthday. Every Christmas I must watch Love Actually. And, for two years in a row, my first meal of the year has been at the cafe in the Lucky Chances casino in Colma. I’m not sure how this one started, actually. It has nothing to do with gambling, but more about the Filipino-style breakfasts that hit the spot after a night of ringing in the new year.
I had to look it up, but “tapasilog” or anything ending with “-silog” is a Filipino dish that includes garlic fried rice, eggs and some kind of fried meat. I’ve been here multiple times and always order the same thing – “tapsilog” with longanisa (sausages), marinated beef, or Spam, if the mood strikes.
On this day, the longanisa was juicy and garlicky with just the right amount of sweet, perfect with over-easy eggs and garlic fried rice. It comes to the table with sliced tomatoes and a tangy, spicy, vinegary dipping sauce for the meat.
Every time I’ve been here, I’ve headed straight to the café, so I’m not sure what the rest of the casino or gaming area looks like. Based on the menu (which includes Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino and as well as American fare, like burgers and fries), the clientele is quite diverse. It's also frequented by all types (families, hipsters and seniors alike, with an occasional bleary-eyed card player mixed in).
I rounded out the meal with coffee (lots of it) and a short stack of pancakes; hot, fluffy and covered with syrup and butter. Oh, and I have this other New Year's tradition too (of making resolutions to be healthier, eat better, etc) which starts, uhm, right after this. Happy New Year, everyone!