Hello, San Francisco!

Greetings, friends! My apologies for the temporary absence! It’s been a rather busy few months filled with job developments, moving into a new home and exploring my new city . Moving to San Francisco is definitely a significant change that has taken a lot of adjustment and energy, but paired with all the other new things…all I can say is that life is chaotic right now! Though I’m still very much in transition, I didn’t want this blog to be totally neglected. Since I’m very much a visual person, I thought I’d share about my life through pictures!

IMG_2715 I work for a gluten-free, organic granola company called Nana Joes based in the Dogpatch district of San Francisco. I help make, package and sell the best granola ever and sometimes bake delicious goodies like the ones pictured above with some amazingly talented and wonderful coworkers :)

IMG_2716 Cranberry pistachio orange biscotti that I made for Nana Joes’ pastry program!

IMG_2721
The view from the Ferry Building Farmers market, where I work every Saturday.

IMG_2623IMG_2588
Oh the delicious food that can be found at the Farmers Market!

IMG_2720
And the beautiful flowers, among other things.

IMG_2718
The gorgeous St. Anne’s Church found on the corner of Funston and Judah that always lets me know that I’m almost home. On the very same corner is also where the N-line stops. The N has become my dear friend and primary means of transportation to and from work, and almost every other place in the city!

I’ve also been getting acquainted with the Inner Sunset neighborhood, where I discovered a farmers market not too far from where I live. Ever since I started working at the Ferry Building Farmers Market, I always get excited at the sight of beautiful, fresh, local produce. I’ve been trying to eat only organic produce and it honestly has not been that hard! Might I also add that it’s much fresher and more delicious buying directly from farmers, not to mention fun!
IMG_2719
My most recently acquired bounties. Everything was phenomenal!

San Francisco is a really beautiful city that I am blessed to live in. As tough as any transition is, waking up and knowing that I live in one of the best cities in the world makes everything better :) Oh and sweet treats like Tartine’s bread pudding below also help!
DSC_0906

SF Eats: State Bird Provisions

IMG_2576
Last night I had the privilege of dining out at one of San Francisco’s finest restaurants, State Bird Provisions. It was definitely one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had! But in order to thoroughly enjoy the experience, I think it’s important to prepare yourself for it. It is ideal to have a reservation (which must be booked months in advanced) but they do set aside 30% of their dining area for walk-ins. I went to the restaurant to line up a few minutes before they opened at 5:30 and there was already a line of about 40 people ahead of me. Upon reaching the hostess, she told me to come back at 9:30 for a party of 4. Although it was 4 hours later, I was happy to even be able to snag some seats because I was aware of the restaurant’s popularity.

Another smart idea is to go with more people, but not too many since it’s a small restaurant. 4 is the perfect number! They serve small plates, dim sum style and it’s more fun to order many plates to share. I also think it’s good to familiarize yourself with what they’re serving that night by looking on their website so that you can pace yourself with the dishes you choose. With dim sum style service, it’s definitely very easy to say yes to everything that comes your way and before you know it, you’re too full to enjoy other dishes!

IMG_2573
We started off our meal with this salmon tartare with pickled turnips. I would say that out of all the dishes that we ordered, this one was not as amazing as the other ones. The flavors were subtle but the salmon was deliciously creamy. The best part was the crispy quinoa and sesame seeds on top which added a wonderful crunchy texture. (I love texture!)

IMG_2575
Duck liver mousse with almond biscuits. The duck liver was really strong and I don’t know if I’m accurate but I believe I tasted alcohol in there? The almond biscuits were delicious! I could pop those tiny yummies in my mouth any day!

IMG_2572
Charred octopus in a tomato chickpea salsa. The octopus was cooked perfectly!

IMG_2577
Pork belly plum salad. Plum and pork belly. Who knew it could be such a delicious combination? Plums are so delicious right now! The pork belly was crispy yet creamy because of the fat.

Other items we got from the provisions (dim sum) section:
Garlic bread with burrata – creamy, light burrata atop warm and crispy bread.
Grilled rabbit, smoked potato and mushroom ragout – tender rabbit and extremely flavorful. The mushrooms were bursting with flavor from herbs with a slight tang.

From the pancake section:
IMG_2578
Pickled anchovy-sesame pancake with crème fraîche & basil. One of my favorites from the meal. The anchovy wasn’t too overpowering, the crème fraîche balanced everything out and the pancake was warm and fluffy.

From the commandables section:
IMG_2574
Pork spare ribs glazed in their own juices atop a bed of kale. The ribs were perfectly cooked, tender and extremely flavorful. The best part was the kale it was on which was so flavorful!

We also ordered the CA state bird with provisions (first picture). Quails have such tiny bones! It had a crispy outside with some pickled onions and some sort of shaved cheese. I enjoyed it very much.

And for the best part…dessert!
IMG_2579
I wanted everything on the dessert menu but ordered two desserts to share including this mint ice cream sandwich, chocolate-plum coulis, pistachios. We also ordered the birdseed bittersweet chocolate crunch, caramel cloud cream, blueberries. A bunch of different textures and flavors that balanced each other out perfectly.

My first time at State Bird Provisions was amazing! Every component of each dish was executed beautifully and worked well with another. There was an abundance of creativity and attention to detail in every dish. The cherry on top of a delicious meal was the service. Chefs would sometimes bring you the dish themselves and interact with the customers ensuring that they were enjoying their meals. Every single person who worked there embodied the same kindness and evident passion for their craft. It was such an inspiring place with a relaxed atmosphere, perfect for small gatherings. I may have just found one of my new favorite restaurants in the city! I will surely come back, especially because their menu changes seasonally. But next time I will be booking reservations way in advance!

State Bird Provisions is located in the Western Addition.
Address: 1529 Fillmore Street (between Geary and Post)
Phone #: 415.795.1272
Note: They will be closed starting August 10th for 3-4 weeks (or more?) to expand next door.

***My apologies for the picture quality. I forgot my DSLR at home so all photos were taken under poor lighting with my iPhone 4S and edited with vscocam. Next time I will bring my DSLR!

Good Eats from San Francisco (and East Bay)

IMG_2156

I took a recent trip to Northern California where I spent most of my time in San Francisco  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:

DSC_0302
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 :)

DSC_0321
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!

DSC_0327
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!

DSC_0341
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.

DSC_0350
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.

DSC_0343
The monkey bread from Plow is also a must-try!

IMG_2145
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.

DSC_0392
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!

DSC_0418
The crawfish beignet from Brenda’s French Soul Food is definitely worth waking up at 7 am on a Monday for.

DSC_0423
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!

IMG_2144
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.

DSC_0430
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 ;)

IMG_2114
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!

DSC_0433
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!

Lemon Meringue Cake

IMG_1829

Two weekends ago, I was in the Bay Area for a very short trip and as usual, I made sure to include some foodie adventures in the short amount of time I was there. I was able to spend a whole day in San Francisco since I was staying there with a good friend of mine. One of the places we went to was Tartine, the famous bakery in the Mission District. I have tried only a handful of items from their menu and I went this time intent on purchasing just one or two morning buns. Unfortunately, they were sold out of morning buns by the time we got there so I had to quickly decide what other sweet treat I wanted to get. I quickly opted for the Lemon Meringue Cake (pictured above) because I love cake and lemon flavored desserts. One bite…and I was MADLY in love with this cake. I sat on a bench outside, slowly chewing, tasting and trying to identify the flavors that were in the cake. I tasted sweetness, tartness from the lemon, a slight bitterness, vanilla and a myriad of other more subtle flavors. I was mind blown at how much I enjoyed that cake that I really could not think of anything but trying to recreate that cake once I got home, especially since I own the cookbook AND have seen the recipe for it before!

DSC_0083

Well I went ahead and recreated that delicious cake! I’ll go ahead and say what you’re probably thinking: this is not a pretty cake. It could’ve been much more eye appealing if I didn’t let my meringue sit in the fridge for a while, deflate, and then frosted it flat onto the cake. The cake is definitely missing the pointy swoops and fluffiness of medium stiff peaks consistency.

DSC_0087

I also had to: ask everyone I know if they had a kitchen torch, end up purchasing one myself, run all over Culver City like a maniac looking for butane and overcome my fear of fire and small flames. I never found butane (until yesterday -___-) and ended up using a gardening torch, which was a bit larger but worked just fine.

DSC_0085

Let me tell you though, even after all the trouble I went through to procure all the necessary ingredients (my first time purchasing a vanilla bean!) and kitchen tools (pastry brush, 10 in. pan, cake box), I’d have to say that it was absolutely worth it. This cake is probably the most delicious cake I have ever made! That’s just personal opinion though since I know not everyone likes lemon.

This cake has several components, all of which are delicious and are some of my favorite flavors! All in all there were 5 recipes within this one recipe including:
DSC_0038
lemon cream (which is not the same as lemon curd! the difference is in how the butter is incorporated)

DSC_0050
A more sophisticated caramel (that includes vanilla bean — look closely and you can see it!)

The other three components were the layers of chiffon cake, lemon syrup and Italian meringue. It would’ve been much better if I had made some of the components beforehand, but nope. I was feeling extra ambitious and decided to tackle the entire cake recipe, my hummingbird cupcakes from the previous post AND mac & cheese cupcakes all in one day. Let’s just say I spent 12 hours in the kitchen and 5 hours running around trying to find all the ingredients and tools for all three items. But even after all the hard work and effort, I can’t say that I regret any of it! I am proud of this cake (and have eaten it for breakfast) and know that next time I’ll just make some of the components beforehand and improve upon my meringue-making!

* If you would like a copy of the recipe, feel free to contact me! It’s way too lengthy for me to post it all here, though I’m sure it’s out there on the web somewhere.