Good Eats from San Francisco (and East Bay)

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I took a recent trip to Northern California where I spent most of my time in San Francisco ย eating my favorite food (ice cream, 6 days in a row…not gross at all!), exploring the different neighborhoods, and soaking up the rare sun rays in the otherwise foggy city. San Francisco has such an amazing food scene, one that I greatly admire and respect. Since I was there for 10 days, it meant that I had plenty of meals to spend exploring all the good food SF and the East Bay have to offer!

Here are photos of some notable dishes and meals from my trip:

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The shrimp ceviche from Chubby Noodle, a pop-up inside Amare bar in North Beach. The dishes were mediocre in my opinion, but I thought this ceviche was pretty good and I had a great time eating outside with friends while people-watching :)

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The #5 combo from Cordon Bleu Vietnamese Restaurant, a hole in the wall in Nob Hill. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this cheap plate of food that comes with a delicious and crisp egg roll, flavorful 5-spice marinated chicken, a strip of beef kabob (random), and some tomato based sauce to go on top of the rice. Definitely enough for two meals!

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This is the grilled pork on vermicelli from Pho Ao Sen in East Oakland. While they are known for their pho and bun bo hue, I almost always get the pork with vermicelli and love that this place gives you plenty of meat and provides a flavorful sauce!

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The fried egg and bacon open face sandwich from Outerlands in Outer Sunset. Really long wait for a casual Friday lunch, but they really satisfied my cheese and egg craving! The bread was also really thick and toasted perfectly.

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The fried egg sandwich (do you notice a trend here?) from Plow with crispy potatoes. Oh those crispy potatoes were almost like potato chips in cube form but with better seasoning and more substance. Delicious! The fried egg sandwich was tasty, though a little greasy since I added bacon. I also tried my friend’s lemon ricotta pancakes which I LOVED but I also do love anything lemon flavored.

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The monkey bread from Plow is also a must-try!

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Two scoops of ice cream (balsamic caramel and brown butter) from Humphry Slocombe in the Mission for a post breakfast snack. Balsamic caramel sounds pretty interesting and is definitely an acquired taste for most but I loved it since I’m a fan of tangy, sour and sweet! Brown butter is the ice cream flavor I wish I invented and is probably one of my all time favorite ice cream flavors, though I wish there was some crunch in there for texture.

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If you’re in the Mission district in SF and feel like eating Mexican food that’s slightly healthier, go to Papalote where the lines are shorter and the food is definitely less greasy. The chili verde taco is wonderful and it comes with plenty of fresh goodies!

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The crawfish beignet from Brenda’s French Soul Food is definitely worth waking up at 7 am on a Monday for.

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So is their shrimp and cheese grits! A little heavy for breakfast, but I mean, breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day right? Brenda’s will surely fulfill that!

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Oh Ici, what a love-hate relationship we have. Love because it MAY be my favorite ice cream place in the Bay Area and this malted vanilla chocolate chip totally validates that statement. Their ice cream is just so light and good! It’s also probably the only place where I’ll even consider getting a cone because of the little chocolate surprise on the bottom of each one! Hate because going 5 days a week during undergrad really didn’t do my wallet any good.

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Ah, Salumeria – a fun discovery in the Mission! Their roast beef sandwich is delicious and they have a wonderful seating area with great lighting, perfect for instagramming and food photographing ;)

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Of course, every meal needs dessert! Not just one, but three! (I guess four if you count the scoop of Bi-Rite ice cream that I’m not picturing in this post). No trip to SF is complete without a Tartine visit. I was so tempted to get the Lemon Meringue Cake, but opted for a morning bun and banana cream tart instead! I do wish I got a slice of Tres Leches and I totally would’ve if I didn’t also buy a caramel chocolate mini loaf from Craftsman & Wolves that was sort of forgettable. Cool store concept though!

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What better way to end my SF trip than with some duck on a bed of farro from Olea in Nob Hill? Chef Gabriel Amaya is truly talented and kind as well!

Looking at these pictures reminds me of what an amazing 10 days I had in NorCal. I’m truly blessed to able to enjoy such good food with even better friends! Thank you all for a wonderful trip!

Pizza Wednesday

Although I start work pretty late on Wednesdays (as in 2 pm late), I woke up at 6:49 am this morning, one minute before my alarm went off (which always happens to me). I had to wake up extra early because I was attending a parent-teacher conference, though I’m neither the parent nor the teacher. I’m just the overly concerned 3rd grade English tutor (more like the Math tutor who has never tutored English before and is really there to ask the teacher how to help 3rd graders with English. Luckily I got there before the parent did. Sigh. I’m a fraud). The meeting took literally 8 minutes, so I had an entire morning ahead of me. After a quick Starbucks run, I decided to go to Sprouts to browse through produce sales and get some inspiration on what to make. Note to self: Starbucks and Sprouts are both EMPTY at 8 am! Is this because people are already at work? Or have better things to do at 8 am in the morning than to grocery shop? Do people love grocery shopping as much as I do?

As I walked around Sprouts, I remembered that I had just purchased some pizza dough from Trader Joe’s the night before and decided that I wanted to make pizza for lunch and eat the leftovers for dinner. But since it was only 8 am and I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet, I decided to make a PIZZA DAY out of my Wednesday and to make myself a breakfast pizza! I left Sprouts with mushrooms, a red onion, tomatoes and mozzarella (which I didn’t know had two z’s until I typed it right now).

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When I got home, I tore off a quarter of the dough I purchased from Trader Joe’s and let it rest on a lightly floured surface. I bought the garlic and herb pizza dough which is only $1.29, though it really isn’t the best dough ever.

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I wasn’t sure about what I wanted on my breakfast pizza, other than a lovely runny egg like this right here (except this is just plain raw, which is a big no-no!). I read a tip that you’re supposed to put it in a ramekin before you gently slide it onto the pizza. Imagine if you cracked a rotten egg straight onto a pizza! I ended up adding fresh tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms along with marinara sauce and some mozzarella. I decided to be go against some fatty bacon, though I’m sure they’d add a lovely crunch!

10 minutes in the oven at 400 degrees F (according to the pizza packet) and voila!
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Does this pizza look yummy to you? Well…here comes confession time. This pizza definitely looks better than it tasted, haha. Quite a few things went wrong while making this pizza:
1. I don’t think my oven was hot enough. We own a normal convection oven and a microwave that doubles as a convection oven. When I’m baking smaller batches of food, I bake it in our microwave oven. Well, let’s just say that the temperature is weird in there and is not very accurate, which led to multiple baking issues.
2. I added the egg too late. I added it a few minutes before the baking time was over and when everything else was done cooking, the egg white was still pretty clear. My weird microwave oven shuts off immediately after the timed cooking ends so the temperature drops quickly. So I took out the pizza and *gasp* I converted the oven back to a microwave and microwaved it to cook the egg. We all know what happens when you microwave pizza — the crust hardens, the cheese blows up sometimes (I saw mini explosions in there) and yes…disaster. Well this definitely did wonders for my crust, which I discovered was still slightly undercooked and mildly chewy. Bleh. Also, it’s probably a good idea to add spinach later or to add it right above the cheese so the fat keeps it moist and prevents wilting and/or burning.

On the upside, the flavors were great! I think the greatest problem during my whole pizza morning is not having enough patience — patience in waiting for the egg and crust to cook, in waiting for the oven to reheat instead of sticking it into the microwave for a quick fix. Yep yep. Patience is key when making good food! Well, lesson learned. I’m making my lunch/dinner pizza pretty soon so hopefully that will look AND taste good! :)

Cranberry Adventures

About a week ago I was at Sproutsย perusing the fruit aisles for some deals on fresh fruits because I realized that my fruit intake recently has mainly been from baked goods like cakes and fruit croissants. Well…I wouldn’t exactly call that healthy fruit consumption…so I decided that I would change that and get some genuinely fresh fruits! While at Sprouts, I stumbled upon a $1 deal for a bag of fresh cranberries and excitedly purchased them because I have NEVER had fresh cranberries before. As soon as I got home, I tore the bag and stuffed those cranberries in my mouth. I am not sure what I was expecting, but those cranberries sure found their way OUT of my mouth quickly. Tart? No. Juicy? No. Bitter? Yes. Bland? Yes. Cranberries are berries right? Then why do they taste so disgusting? I had to salvage these 6 cups worth of cranberries somehow. The quick and easy and really, the only solution I considered to my nasty cranberry issue was of course…to bake them! In a cake!

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Don’t they look so good and tasty?! I was deceived because they were anything but.

Off to the internet I went to find a simple, yummy sounding cranberry cake recipe. I found Joy the baker’s (she mah faveeee)ย Cranberry Coffee Cake recipe which seemed easy enough. But because I don’t have a 9×13 in. pan (and didn’t have enough cranberries anyway), I altered the recipe and used 3/4 portion and divided the batter into a 9 in. round pan and 6 in. round pan. Just some simple math. It was really not that complicated at all. Trust. And it used up my 3 cups of cranberries perfectly!

This batter was really yummy (it was because of the butter and brown sugar) and the crumble swirled into batter. Such a great idea! Joy really knows what she’s doing.

I cut a slice while it was still semi hot and it tasted so good! My mom brought some to her work and we shared some with family (because we always have too much baked goods at our home) and it was suchhhh a hit! It was such a hit that it’s been requested for Thanksgiving :) I guess I have to go buy more cranberries now! There was one problem though…I never got my fresh fruit fix :/ But at least I got cake!