Monday, September 29, 2008


Things have been so busy so I haven't really been able to blog, let alone filter through my feeds! There has been a lot going on, including another wedding (post to come). Busy busy busy!

In this post: dinner at Pizzaiolo, brunch at Bouchon, and Gigi's 4-year anniversary at Swan Oyster Depot!

I've been wanting to go to Swan Oyster Depot for a really long time - basically since I moved to the city. My old roommate Shinie used to work near there and would always talk about it, but since it's only open for lunch and weekends are a madhouse, I just have never been able to go over the years.

Thank goodness for foodie managers heh, because we took a nice long lunch on a Monday to celebrate Gigi's accomplishment of bearing with our company for the last 4 years. Good God!

We got almost everything - clam chowder, oysters, seafood salad. The seafood salad is deceptively filling - doesn't look like much, but man I was so stuffed afterwards. Like all seafood places, this wasn't cheap. It was definitely good to try, but I don't think I would go out of my way to return... especially with the wait! My only complaint is that they don't have purse hooks under the counter. I mean, you're sitting on stools and the only place to put a bag is on the floor or on the hooks behind you where people can easily steal it without you noticing.

Awhile ago (i.e. before my trip to nyc), Cyn, Elvie, and I went to Pizzaiolo in Oakland's temescal neighborhood (up and coming gentrified borderline Berkeley on Telegraph area near Bakesale Betty and other restaurants). As a frequenter of Betty's fried chicken sandwiches, I've passed by many times since it's only down the block. It didn't click that it was the same place that Michael Bauer has lauded until Mike mentioned that he heard mixed things about it.

Elvin and I are good eaters, so we got 2 pizzas and a main. The space is surprisingly large - open kitchen, sunny with tall windows, and a large party area in the back. The ambiance was very family-friendly... very Californian, if you will... laid back, casual, and welcoming. The food, amazing. Do I say that often? Not at all! But it was! The clam pizza was so flavorful and juicy... a bit on the salty side, but I like salty. It doesn't look like it's on the menu anymore, but if you go there you should keep an eye out. Their braised pork entree was also very tasty (also not on the menu now). The other pizza we got (rapini and sausage, topped with an egg) was ok - not for those who don't like bitter greens. Definitely would go back! We were raving about it for the rest of the evening.


After my trip to nyc, I went straight to Vegas for a bachelorette party. Our last day there we had a nice brunch at Bouchon, which was actually my first time aside from bakery visits. Aside from a classy play on chicken and waffles (bacon + chive waffles with roast chicken), their strawberry croissants were really interesting. They really didn't look like croissants at all... and I wish I tried them dangit. Another time. But here's a picture that boggles my mind.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

9/11, Izzie, and Homemade Pasta

I happened to be in NYC during 9/11, so I spent that morning at Ground Zero to try to catch the ceremony. It was kind of a zoo and I really couldn't hear a thing except for some of the names. That evening I also went uptown to Columbia to watch (on TV, since only 100 student tickets were available, and the rest went to faculty and people more important than food bloggers) the forum for Service Nation where both Obama and McCain would be speaking. Campus was also a madhouse with camera crews every few feet, protestors, and crazies trying to get in. Lucky for me, little Izzie lives right off campus so I got to play with her and even make some homemade pasta for the first time with her mommy!

It was my first time, and I never realized how easy it is! Just 2 eggs per 1 cup of flour. Of course my well broke and my hands were a mess. After that I just watched Sophie and Albert do their thing and crank out that dough.



Packt Like Sardines on the MTA

In the wake of Tropical Storms/Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, and Ike, I made my annual visit to NYC and luckily only experienced a little of the storms. Unlike last year's visit, I didn't really have an eating itinerary, although I did want to try the Momofuku restaurants. It ended up being a really chill trip, just hanging out with good friends and eating more casually. Notable meals/snacks after the jump!

Aliada - Around the corner from Tina's apt, this Greek restaurant in the very Greek neighborhood that is Astoria had a variety of reasonably priced (<$10) sandwiches that were loaded with pork. Me being the glutton I am instead got the traditional moussaka with lemon potatoes, which was actually much lighter than the ones I've had here in SF. I'm not sure what kind of cheese they used, but the flavor was very mild and it wasn't greasy at all. Mister Softee - Yes, I know this is JUST an ice cream truck. But is it?? While Grace and I were headed to Bryant Park to see if we could scope some celebrities entering the tents, I spotted the ice cream man which immediately triggered a memory of this article I read a few months back. At $3 a cone, I was shocked! However, it did not disappoint. Not only was it incredibly satisfying amid the gross east coast heat and humidity, but it was unexpectedly creamy, rich, and very very smooth... a much higher standard than your average soft serve.

Joe Shanghai
- This time I also tried the beef noodle soup which wasn't spicy at all, but still quite tasty despite the heat. The XLB wasn't as satisfying as last time, but it's probably because it was like 90 degrees as opposed to 40. They're still very good, but I also maintain that the skins are too thick!

Burger Joint @ Le Parker Meridian - OK, so after googling for 2 minutes (yes, I'm lazy) I can't figure out the story behind this place. I'm not sure if it's the hotel's intentional "secret" that they have this dive-y place hidden in a dark alley in the middle of a fancy shmancy hotel, or if there's something deeper going on. Either way, it was simple and quite reminiscent of in-n-out, except with a kick of horseradish in their sauce.

Dessert Truck - We ate here after stuffing our faces with burgers, so we just shared one goat cheese cheesecake. Nothing too crazy, but the intrigue was that accompanying rosemary caramel, which actually did play very nicely with the rest.

Taim - I heard about this place from that sandwiches article, and I must say that I've never liked falafels very much. Taim's green falafel was definitely enlightening. Rich, moist, flavorful... I will definitely be on the lookout (on the east coast) in the future. They also had a really tasty fried eggplant/egg pita sandwich that Tina had. Will return for sure!

Pommes Frites - $5 for a small order? Waste of money, sorry Leslie!

Odessa - I seriously considered making a pierogi afternoon tour while I was killing time in the East Village, but ended up only trying one. Odessa was actually kind of a really old bar/restaurant. I tried meat and mushroom pierogis, and they were kind of dry (although dipping them in applesauce did help). But like I said before, we don't have much of an Eastern European population here... so I wouldn't really know what's authentic or not (like the Amateur Gourmet and any kind of Asian food).

Indian Bread Company - Literally right across the street from Joyce's place. Their spiced potato kathi roll was really good, although a bit small. Great for a quick meal on the go!

Doughnut Plant - I had a few hours before dinner and I happened to be in LES anyway, so I came here to appease my growling stomach. Donuts in the afternoon? I know. They were all out of the one I wanted (toasted almond), and the others weren't that appealing to me... but I settled on a square Italian plum jelly donut. Mike got mad when I said this, but taste-wise it wasn't much better than Krispy Kreme! I know my circumstances were not in their favor (late afternoon, their menu at the time just wasn't to my liking), so I would come back if I was already in the neighborhood.

Momofuku Ssam bar - Like the rest of the world
(except for this lucky couple!) we couldn't get a res at Ko, so Ssam bar became my first Momofuku experience. After watching David Chang's interview, I had a good sense of what to expect in spite of the hype, and wasn't disappointed. Good, tasty, Asian-inspired comfort food. Pork belly buns? How can you go wrong. Heirloom tomato salad was refreshing and sweet, rice cakes looked like gnocchi and had pretty standard Chinese flavor. The lamb belly was served seared and crispy... Leslie wasn't a fan, but I thought the fried version was pretty amazing - juicy, strong flavor, balanced crunch. Yummmmy!

Chikalicious Puddin' (or Dessert Club?) - After experiencing 3-course dessert at Chikalicious a few years back, I wanted to see what their more casual shop across the street had to offer. Pudding, cupcakes, soft serve, etc... it was definitely a different vibe than their first venture (including the atmosphere... a bit boba-shop if you ask me). The treats were pretty much what you would expect - the vanilla custard pudding had a very spongey cake that soaked up the custard (creme anglaise?) nicely, and the affogato was simple and a nice end to the evening. I wasn't sure what the "chocolate pearls" would be, but they ended up being little chocolate covered rice crisps (think crunch bar) and not the chewy tapioca I initially imagined.

Amy's bread - After grabbing an iced coffee at Porto Rico, I dropped by the Bleecker location for a snack and picked up their almond brioche toast. Wow. I'm not sure how they made it, but it seemed like it was a slice of brioche topped with almond paste, then baked again to achieve a light crust.