Hi Everyone! :) It's Vicky again... blogging about my gluttony up here in the Wonderful SF Bay Area. For some time I thought I fell off the face of the earth!
Taiwan is well known for a type of "sandwich" where a fluffy slightly sweet steamed bun (think a la Peking duck bun) that's filled with a thick slice of stewed pork belly, pickled mustard (suan cai), cilantro, and a sprinkling of ground peanut and sugar. It's called a "Gua Bao" and you can find it all along the streets throughout the island country.
It used to be really hard to find these pork belly buns here in the states but in the last 5 years, it seems like everyone has their own version of it. Momofuku (NYC), Ippudo (NYC), random izakayas here and in the SF Bay Area, there's even a food truck that sells buns like hot cakes named "The Chairman" (play on words with Chairman Bao).
The concept of these buns are pretty easy to make and this past weekend I whipped up a large batch of them using David Chang's Momofuku recipe as inspiration. I brined a large pork belly after removing the skin, roasted it on high heat to render out the fat and then switched to low heat to let it slowly confit in its own juices and fat. Chilled, sliced, steamed some buns, added in some quick pickles, shredded green onions, smudge of hoisin sauce and a squirt of kewpie mayo. Voila! Luscious pork belly buns at home.
No more standing in long lines at the Chairman truck to get my buns...
2-3 lbs of Pork Belly (have your butcher remove the skin)
1/2 c. kosher salt
1/2 c. sugar
1 T 5 spice powder
2 c. water
Mix the salt, sugar, and 5 spice powder together and dissolve in the water. I use the lazy method and toss everything into a large gallon sized ziplock bag and shake. Put the pork belly in and squeeze out all the air in there and let it brine overnight in the refridgerator.
Preheat the oven to 400, remove the pork belly and wipe dry. Place in a roasting pan and roast the belly at 400 for an hour and then turn the temperature down to 250 for another 2 hours. The belly should plump up and per Momofuku, "feel pillowy."
Let it cool down and wrap it in a sheet of saran wrap and chill in the refridgerator so it can be easily sliced.
2-3 persian pickles thinly sliced
Slice the pickles and toss in the sugar and salt mixture. Let it sit for about 20 minutes and then rinse. Do a quick 5 minute soak in fresh water to remove the excess saltiness. Squeeze dry and set aside.
Slice the pork belly into slices and reheat on a good cast iron pan to crisp up the edges, steam some store bought buns, shred green onions, and get the hoisin/kewpie ready. Put a dollop of hoisin on one side of the bun, tuck in the hot pork belly slices, squirt some kewpie on there and top off with the shredded green onions and enjoy!
Hi Everyone! :) It's Vicky again... blogging about my gluttony up here in the Wonderful SF Bay Area. Actually not too wonderful as we're getting another storm pass through.
So my workplace placed us in teams and challenged us to a weight loss challenge.. a "Biggest Loser" or sorts. Before the challenge started, I managed to get one more wonderful delicious brunch in. Being that I LOOOOOOVE Cajun food, we made a trip up to the city to go eat at Brenda's Soul Kitchen. (Keep in mind, this place is in a shady place.... The Tenderloin... and you'll get taunted at as you wait outside for an hour for your table... We've had more than one hobo walk by and go "Man, who would spend 15 bucks on breakfast! You're nuts!" Seriously? I'd spend 15 bucks on my breakfast... especially from Brenda's!
The cafe is a tiny little place; you bump shoulders with everyone around you and you better get there right when they open or an hour before they close at 3PM so that you don't have to wait eons for food. Oh yeah... and out of towners, go on Sunday or have a Handicapped placard cause those meters are sharks!!
We finally settled in and Sam ordered the Andouille Sausage Omelette with a biscuit. I LOVE their biscuits. Flakey... light, buttery, oh so delicious!! It came topped with a smokey cajun-y salsa. Yum!
I ordered their special for that day: Bananas Foster French Toast. OMG it was French Toast heaven... Delicious and completely out of this world... The bananas were tender, well balanced with a hint of rum, and had a wonderful carmelization to them.
Being a Southern cafe, Brenda's also served biegnets. OMG... Biegnets.... Strangely, I hate doughnuts but LOVE biegnets. Something about the chewiness of them just totally appeal to me. Brenda's offers plain, Ghiradelli chocolate filled, cinnamon sugar and apple filled, and spicy Creole Crawfish and Cheddar filled. For those who can't decide, they also make a biegnet flight.. You get one of each!
I guess my days of eating Brenda's is now on hold...
Brenda's Soul Food www.frenchsoulfood.com
652 Polk Street San Francisco, CA 94102-3328 (415) 345-8100
Happy New Year's!! It's me, Vicky, blogging again about the food I put into my mouth.
One of the biggest benefits to moving away from San Diego and into the Bay Area is the endless amount of food options up here. Granted we don't have a great taqueria where I can get my carne asada fix, or that I'm still finding something to rival Din Tai Fung's dumplings, but the food up here is pretty amazing. The biggest find up here is the amount of stars up here. Now I'm not talking about Catherine Zeta Jones or Brad Pitt... but something even more coveted. Michelin Stars. Yup! The Bay Area boasts of plenty of Michelin Stars... including the only 3 star restaurant in the US. French Laundry! I'm still awaiting the day where I can eat there again... with my D300 so I can capture my meal in its wonderful photographic glory!
Last year, for my 21st birthday (yes, I'm still celebrating my 21st birthday... I think we're up to a few anniversaries of my 21st birthday... but seriously, whose counting right?) Sam arranged for a lovely get together at the wonderful One Market in San Francisco. It touts a star so now overall my star count is up to 8... They were wonderful in keeping a large round table for our dinner party and the food there was delicate and well thought out.
I started out with the pea soup, accentuated with crisp pancetta and topped with a soft boiled organic egg. Now keep in mind, I've always hated egg yolks ever since I was a kid. It still baffles me to this day; this egg-yolk hating habit. Evolution has made it so that we crave high fat and rich foods (which explains my endless love affair with butter...) but to this day, I still have a hard time eating yolks. This soup... was perfect. This was the first time I understood why people call egg yolks creamy. We gently broke the egg and mixed it into the soup to create this amazing creamy rich finish. The pancetta broke up the smoothness and added a nice textural balance along with the briny saltiness. Emulsified peas never really appealed to me but the soup was this beautiful beautiful bright green color. Nothing was overlooked here; even the croutons were crisp and well seasoned!
I recall awhile ago when I was living in San Diego, there was quite a bit of controversy about foie gras. I'm not sure if it is still served down there, but it was offered on the menu up here. (Along with at the menus at the Google cafeteria... their Kobe burger with foie gras with a side of Maine lobster tail is amazing!!) In any case, we ordered a side of the foie gras to whet our palate. Oh Mr. Goose... you did not die in vain. The foie gras was seared perfectly; I normally hate liver in any shape, way, form or preparation but I didn't turn my nose down on this one. The foie gras had a perfect creamy consistency, paired with the carmelized hazelnuts and apricot compote, it was one fab dish!
In my family, we grew up eating a lot of fish. Having Taiwanese roots, fresh whole fish is super important to my family. When we have family dinners, there's alway a whole steamed fish which then the chopstick battles ensue to claim the fish cheeks. Yes... fish cheeks. Since fish spend their whole lives bug eyed and gulping, these two highly priced muscles are extremely tender yet firm at the same time. When I saw that they had Halibut Cheeks on the menu... I squealed. I ordered the Halibut Cheeks with Root Vegetables and Fennel Foam. I didn't really quite understand the foam component but the cheeks were amazing! Tender... chewy... and very "Q!"
Sam ordered the Seared Steak on Polenta with Bok Choy and Brussel Sprouts. Again... seared perfectly, but I couldn't really tear myself away from my fish cheeks to eye his dish. When I finally sampled it, it was utter steak heaven. The meat was amazingly tender, flavorful and seared perfectly. The centers were warm and moist and the edges were still slightly crusty from the hard sear. The sauce was a wonderful reduction and the bok choy was cooked perfectly.
All in all, it really showed on how well the restaurant was run. The dishes were very well presented and thought out. The pairings were great and our server suggested great wine pairings. I was pleasantly surprised at how great the service was since they were charging a standard service charge for how large our party was. If you ever find yourself up here in SF, check out One Market.
1 Market Street San Francisco, CA 94105 415.777.5577
Hi! It's Vicky again... blogging again... This time, I'm finally featuring one of my favorite hole in the wall lunch places.
My friend Jennifer introduced me to this gem that's super close to work (since we work together) and it's fairly off the beaten path. I've always liked Mediterranean/Greek/Middle Eastern food, but this hails as some pretty authentic cuisine. I didn't realize that so many places had their "take" on hummus (similar to how Panda Express does "sweet and sour chicken.") Needless to say, this place does a perfect style of the traditional-going-back-to-the-founding-roots type of hummus. Perfectly balanced out with tahini and garbanzo beans, served with a flavorful extra virgin olive oil, it's the balance to my carb addiction. Ahhh... Tartousa... It's truly our mini oasis during lunch.
Jenn and I love sitting in the back patio, soaking in the sun and savoring our long awaited lunch break. This restaurant tends to be kinda slow during lunches but picks up during dinner. Their back patio turns into a quasi-hookah lounge that serves food - often they have music too.
Today for lunch, we both ordered our usual... the chicken daya wrap with Mediterranean pomme frites, and a side of hummus. Behold... the glorious hummus!
Here's another shot of the hummus, with some of the pita bread served in the back. The hummus was perfectly creamy (not gritty like some places), thick, flavorful. It has become our fall back on comfort restaurant for rough day at the office.
Service here can be slightly spotty probably since we tend to sit on the patio and the waitress seems not to check up on us as much as I like. (I still have my camel tendencies and need multiple refills of water.) The upside is that when we just need to vent or talk, we're not constantly interrupted. Shortly after we scarfed down the basket of pita, our wraps came out. Delicious! The chicken was marinated perfectly, cubed and tossed in a creamy garlic sauce and wrapped up in a pita/shwarma bread. Paired with cubed tomatoes and their homemade Mediterranean pickles, it provided the perfect textural and taste balance. Ahhh...
I've always been particularly picky about my french fries. They need to be perfectly crisp and not greasy. Tartousa does a good job. They're cut thick so the centers are nice and mealy, tossed with some salt and paprika, served with a side of ketchup topped with a dollop of their garlic sauce. Delicious!
If you find yourself in the area on the way to SFO for a flight or having some time to kill, swing on by... The food was great!
Tartousa Mediterranean Bistro 514 Peninsula Ave San Mateo, CA94401 650.558.9674
It's Vicky again... blogging away about another restaurant up here in the Bay Area.
Sam and I recently moved in the Bay Area and left the vicinity of this restaurant that used to be a staple-go-to-place. For months we didn't swing by but would occasionally entertain the thought of eating there. Yesterday, bogged down with 18 library books were pushing the deadline for being overdue, we had rushed to my cousin's solo concert at San Jose State to hear her perform for her graduate studies... and still forgot to go to the library. When we got home, we decided to go to Darda for dinner since there was a library branch along the way.
It's interesting... how over time and distance certain cravings become more muted. When I first decided to move away from La Jolla, I couldn't fathom how I would be able to survive with Roberto's or Mister A's. Over time, I whetted my cravings with a taqueria crawl up here and spanning distance, those cravings slowly disappeared. To us, Darda was the same way. Fortunately, it's not a plane ride away. Unfortunately, it meant that we'd have to fight tooth and nail through some really bad traffic in order to get a good meal. Last night was the perfect opportunity.
It was a nice familiar shopping center and we found parking at our usual curbside spot. Walking into the restaurant, Sam had told me that we moved to the Peninsula to be closer to San Francisco, yet it seemed like our dinner variety had greatly been reduced and at the end of the day, we actually visited SF far more frequently than now. I guess that just means we should schedule in more day trips up to eat.
Darda is a favorite amongst the Muslim community here. I remember when I was attending UCSD, and meeting some of my new suitmates, one of them hailing from Walnut Creek (which is an hour northeast of San Jose) we bonded over our mutual liking of the green onion bread from Darda.
Sam and I settled in and ordered our classic staples: Knife Cut Noodles Stir Fried w/ Chicken, Green Onion Pancakes, Beef w/ Scallions, and Szechuan Green Beans... Ahhh... it was glorious!
The beef dish came out first, glistening was flavor and absolutely fragrant with the "high heat wok smell." The beef was extremely tender which leads me to put in a little blurb for how much I love Halal restaurants... their meats all taste extremely fresh and are tender to the bite.
The beef was followed up quickly by the knife cut noodles. Being that we just came back from TW, the noodles weren't as chewy or "Q" as we'd like them to be. They didn't have that much of a bite to them and the thinner pieces were bordering on the mushy side. At the end of the meal we had mentioned this to our server and she advised us to make it a point to order it on the "Q" side in the future and it would come out perfectly.
Ahhh... and the green onion pancakes... they were more like crepes, super thin, yet extremely extremely chewy. It was perfect! Sam wrapped the beef in the crepes and ate them a la burrito style.
I love that they sear the beans with oil at an extremely high heat which results in the skins separating and wrinkling. The beans are cooked with marinated turnip and ground beef and finished with some wine and soy sauce. Delicious!!
I'm starting to drool as I'm writing up my recap. As we finished our meal and walked out with really full stomachs, again... we questioned why it took us so long to make the drive out here after we moved... Darda... oh Darda...
Oh and ironically since I finally did do my TX post... I just booked my tickets to head back to Houston to spend New Year's. More southern eats coming ahead! :)
Hello! It's Vicky again... This time not writing about the amazing food we get up here in the SF Bay Area. Sam and I took a trip to visit his family in Texas. The last time I was in his neck of the woods was back when I was 3. It was a fantastic trip and he scheduled around my stomach... and balanced it all out with some great sightseeing.
Sam chose a great Cajun seafood restaurant to show me what REAL Cajun food tastes like. Also... it was very apparent that Texas definitely has huge portions! We met up with his parents at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen near Sugar Land. We started out with huge crusty loaves of piping hot bread served with butter.
We ordered a Blackened shrimp and crawfish cheese fondeaux (notice the play on words!) to start. Obviously we were digging into this dish before I scrambled to get a picture of it. Glorious! Melted cheese, which is always a good thing, mixed in with crawfish tails and shrimp. I was regretting not packing my fat jeans on this trip.
I ordered the Salmon Diablo which was a portion of Char-grilled Salmon topped with crab mean, crawfish, and pico de gallo in a lemon garlic sauce served with dirty rice. The dish was delicious... the only issue I had was that at the center, my salmon was severely undercooked. The server was pleasant and immediately brought out the dish completely redone. I was never a fan of crawfish out here in California but this trip made me enjoy mudbugs. The crawfish there was amazing... juicy, flavorful, delicious! The topping had huge chunks of blue crab meat. The lemon garlic sauce rounded off the spice very well and it was my first time enjoying dirty rice!
Sam chose the soft shell crab served two ways and had it prepared as a blackened version and a fried version. The blackening and cajun spices they used in Texas were amazing... I still haven't found a comparable brand out here yet. The softshell crab was fresh and delicious. I was especially partial to the cajun blackened one.
His parents split an entree, knowing how large the portions were going to come out. They ordered the Opelousas prepared with Mahi Mahi instead of catfish. It was a mahi mahi steak blackened with oysters, shrimp, and crawfish in a lemon butter sauce with dirty rice. We shared and I have to say... blackened seafood is now one my favorite lists of things to eat...
In the morning, Sam took me to a long time Texas establishment. Now keep in mind that I am not a fan of donuts... I never really enjoyed Krispy Kreme... but just thinking about this donut makes me drool. Shipley's!!! The donuts were light and fluffy and had a good chew to them. Absolutely delicious!!! You can see my eager teethmarks before I finally remembered to take a picture of it first. Lastly... I'll leave you with a lovely portrait of their family dog - I would hear so many stories about her. She would hang out underneath the kitchen table as we ate. It was great to have seen Houston and hang out with his family.
Hello! It's Vicky again. With another installment of another fantastic meal available up here in the beautiful SF Bay Area.. (Man I need to think of another tagline... That's getting old.)
As of the the writing of this post, I am finishing up my 2 week trip wandering around Taiwan. (Hopefully I'll be able to go through my 2000+ pictures of food and scrounge together a post in the future.) Right before I was to leave for my trip, Sam got us tickets and treated me out to the SF Taiko Festival. I in return, treated him out to Lark Creek Steak. Which is now my FAVORITE steakhouse. Ever. Even more so than Donavan's. I have to say though, Donavan's is still my favorite steakhouse in San Diego. (I have an extensive review on Yelp, so I won't go into great detail here.) But it has lost its place as my favorite steakhouse. The reason? Lark Creek serves Dry Aged Steaks. Yes. I will say it again. Dry. Aged. Steak. *puddle of drool.* Ever since purchasing the dry aged babies from Bristol Farms and grilling them up in my kitchen when I was living in La Jolla, I've become a steak addict. I question my servers at steakhouses like we're in Guantanamo Bay about their aging processes.
I was very happy to hear that Lark Creek served up a fantastic NY Strip that was dry aged in house around 30 days.
It was delicious... and nutty... and everything a hunk of meat needed to be. It was cooked to my perfect medium rare, without butter, spices, toppings, etc. It was just a piece of meat that was cooked the way it should be. (To this day, I still don't understand why Morton's and Ruth's Chris slathers their beef with butter... it may explain why the plate's like a gazillion degrees... so all that butter doesn't congeal!)
In any case, here is a pictur eof the lovely steak I had:
Ahh... Served with some nice organic mixed greens and a dollop of Cabernet butter (ON THE SIDE!)
Sam ordered a burger... Yes... A burger... Equally delicious... Probably one of the best burgers there are. It also came with a gourmet chocolate shake. Behold:
If you're in the Bay Area, come by Lark Creek and check it out... At least the dry-aged stuff is AMAZING!!
Lark Creek Steak 845 Market Street Emporium Rotunda Area San Francisco, CA 94103 415.593.4100
You can drool at their menus here: www.larkcreeksteak.com
Hello there! It's Vicky again... Blogging about the latest act of gluttony.
In my previous post, I blogged about Gluttony Partner and my trip up to Point Reyes to gorge ourselves on oysters. (And speaking of Gluttony Partner, after a short conversation with him, he's willing to forgo whatever anonimity he has remaining and is allowing me to use his name. Voila! Now we're both going to ousted as societal gluttons. Muahaha!) We had lunch at the ever elusive Long John Silver's (Yes... what is up with that anyway? I remember seeing all these ads for them on tv when I lived in SD, and even when I moved up, I'm continuously flooded with blown up pictures of fried goodness. Yet, there was never a location convenient to me. Argh!)
Fortunately, I found out there was a new one that had just opened up in South San Francisco so that was where we made our second stop for food.... the first being a donut shop in Half Moon Bay. I did mention it was a trip of gluttony right? Sadly to say, in our hunger and elation of finding Long John Silver's I forgot to take the pictures of the food prior to gobbling it all down. We just have a few silly pictures of us wearing the paper cut out pirate wannabe hats, which if you even glance in the mere direction of, is enough to make you blind. Hence, they're not posted.
So after a breakfast of donuts and milk (yes... we are the poster kids of the healthy food pyramid....) and a lunch of fried seafood at Long John Silvers (man... I'm making my nutritionist mother proud!)....and a pit stop at a farmers market fruit stand (oh yes. must have our one peach to balance out all the fried goodness! See! I know how to eat healthy!)... and over 50 oysters at Hog Island...we finally made it to dinner. Thank god this little restaurant closes at 11! We finally drove out of the Point Reyes area around 930pm and made it down to San Mateo. Sam and I absolutely love ramen. We constantly need to get our ramen fix. I had introduced him to this restaurant after a hike we took in the San Mateo hills and needless to say, it was the perfect way to end a great day of excercise. I shall now present to you.... HIMAWARI in downtown San Mateo. The main thoroughway of downtown is 3rd Avenue. Himawari is located a little off to the side on 2nd.
We walked in and got seated immediately and ordered our usual appetizer. I absolutely love the Buta Kakuni ($7.95) appetizer they have. Early on, Sam had cooked me an amazing meal of Dong Po Rou (Braised Pork Belly), and ever since then, after discovering our mutual liking for fatty cuts of pork, I've been raving about the Buta Kakuni here. Unfortunately, in our eagerness to polish off the dish, I forgot to pull out my camera and take a lovely picture. All I have to offer the dear readers is a picture of the last piece of Buta in the precious death grip of Sam's chopsticks, with of course, his upper body cropped out. Don't worry, he doesn't really look headless in reality.
I think Himawari just has large vats of this braised fatty goodness bubbling behind the counters. In the appetizer version, they take the cubed pieces, lightly dust them in what I think is Mochiko powder, and fry them so that the outsides are dry and crispy. Placed on a bed of thinly sliced onions and topped with scallions, they serve the Buta Kakuni with this tangy and slightly sweet soy based sauce. Absolutely divine!! The textural contrast of this dish is amazing. The outsides are dry, crisp and fragrant, and the center of the cubes are braised to the point where the fibers of meet are falling-apart tender. Yes... you read that right, it is a fried piece of cubed pork belly. No, I do not care to know how bad it is for me and how clogged my arteries are. They do a very good job of rendering out most of the fat from the meat during all the braising so I'd like to think that most of it is cooked out.... Thank god Himawari is around half an hour away from us. Otherwise we'd turn into roley poley's from eating this all day long. This stuff is so good, that all I have to do is mention "Hima..." to Sam, and I can see his eyes glaze over and images of this dish dancing like sugarplums above his head.
While Sam was busy polishing off the last treasured piece Buta Kakuni, our server brought out our other appetizer. Make sure you take the time to read the cover of the menu. They post up their seasonal specials and this was one of the ones available during our visit. I now present to you, Seared Hokkaido Scallops w/ Wild Mushrooms on an Artichoke Tapenade ($10.95). (Now say that ten times fast!) These plump little babies were GOOOD! The restaurant definately did not skimp out on the quality of the scallops. They were sashimi grade - sweet, fresh, and tender. I really enjoyed the twist on surf and turf. The earthiness of the wild mushrooms contrasted nicely with the slight hint of sea from the scallops. The mushrooms were cooked in a sweet mirin/soy base and that went well with the tapenande. The tapenade had a very unique texture - being that it was made from artichokes... It was slightly tangy, reminscent of yuzu, and really pulled the entire dish together. Now if only I could have this for breakfast...and lunch... and dinner...
Patience, dear readers, we're not even onto our main course yet! This is yet ANOTHER appetizer we ordered: Asari Garlic Butter Clams ($6.95). I'm guessing it is the Japanese version of clams cooked scampi style. The clams are cooked in their own juices, and the broth tasted strongly of clam essence. It was balanced out with just enough sake and sweet butter. Oh the glory my tastebuds were in! The clams were firm and al dente, combined with the wonderful broth they were swimming in, I really wished I had a loaf of crusty ciabatta to dip.
That is my bowl of Shoyu Ramen with Extra Bamboo ($7.95 + $1 for the bamboo). Himawari also offers the Deluxe Ramen which comes with 3, yes THREE pieces of the braised (unfried) buta kakuni and extra toppings for a price of $10.95. The ramen was cooked to a perfect bite and the hot steaming soup warmed us right up. The broth carried a lot of depth and hinted at all the bones sacrified in the making of the soup. I honestly would not be surprised if they snuck in a couple spoonfuls of the braising liquid from the buta kakuni. Needless to say, it was a great way to have dinner. (And if you are wondering... we did have dessert after this... at Hong Kong Style dessert place around the corner. And no... we're not trying to set a new guiness record for stomach capacity...)
Hello Mmm-yoso! It's Vicky again, blogging about the amazing eats available up here in the beautiful SF Bay Area. (Yes.... the tourism department should seriously be paying me money... but sadly, they don't. Hmph. Maybe I should forward this blog to them... J/K!)
Months before I moved up here, I went on this oyster binge. I couldn't get enough of these sweet little morsels of seafood goodness. I scoured Yelp for oyster bars and came across a famous one for SF locals called Hog Island located in the converted infamous Ferry Building. Being known for being so picky about the freshness of my food, this place actually really appealed to me in the sense that they grow their own oysters on their own farm! Wow... it seriously couldn't get any fresher than that and the prices seemed reasonable considering there was no middleman taking a fat profit cut.
After reading up on their website, I found out that the farm was located approximately an hour north of SF, near Point Reyes, in beautiful Tomales Bay. Apparently the water made for perfect oyster growing conditions. Armed with this information and a lot of hint dropping, my fellow partner in gluttony (henceforth shall be referred to as "Gluttony Partner.") and I made a day trip up the coastline in search of these goodies. Actually, correction... a day trip of GLUTTONY which included oysters. Unfortunately we picked a weekend that everyone and their fourteenth cousins 7 times removed decided to go visit SF; not to mention Caltrans decided to pick that weekend to shut down the Bay Bridge for retrofitting. Hence, we were stuck in the parking lot known as "everyone trying to get onto the Golden Gate." Thankfully the weather was gorgeous and we passed the time with me napping and Gluttony Partner staring at the license plate ahead of him.
Long story short, we finally made it to the Hog Island Oyster Farm, just as they were about to close. The drive up there was absolutely beautiful. We took Highway 1, and drove high above on the cliffs along the coastline where we saw the breaking waves far below. As we got closer to Tomales Bay, we were graced with bucolic scenary next to a secluded bay. Absolutely gorgeous!! As we drove up, we walked in and looked over the baskets and trays full of oysters. They specialize in Sweetwater, Atlantic, Kumamoto, and French Hog varieties. Gluttony Partner and I are very very partial to the Kumamotos, so we ended up with a dozen of the Kumamotos, a dozen Sweetwaters (small), and half a dozen Sweetwaters (medium), and half a dozen Atlantic oysters. Needless to say, the guy picking out the oysters was very generous and we ended up with around 45 oysters for the price of 3 dozen. After popping them on a tray full of ice and giving us a really fast lesson on shucking, we settled down on one of their picnic tables overlooking the bay. We started shucking away and realized that the Kumamoto's were the sweetest. The Sweetwaters (small) were very good. Unfortunately, we did not have the acquired taste for the Atlantics, and upon walking back, I found that they had brought out more Kumamotos. They were nice enough to swap out the Atlantics for Sweetwaters, and in doing so, gave us the remaining Kumamotos since they were about to close. Wow.... 55+ oysters for around 35 dollars!!
We had a blast shucking and getting our monthly allotment of calcium intake from the first couple of oysters. It was a beautiful day out and the scenary was absolutely amazing. Word to the wise, we got lucky that day considering it was a weekend and reservations for the picnic tables are required. Because we walked in an hour before they were about to close, we nabbed an empty one. They also charge 8 dollars a person (w/ prior reservation) and 10 dollars for walk-ins, for the usage of their picnic areas. (Which includes lemons, sauces, and shucking tools.) It worked out for us, since I had called, and the were booked a month and a half in advance. We had brought our own sauces and condiments.... and EToH.... Needless to say, the oysters were absolutely amazing since they were just pulled from the tanks. Bring lots of towels, and it really helped that we had stopped by a grocery store early that morning and picked up two gallons of water. (It helped with rinsing off the little fragments of shell).
Amongst the different variety available, we found that the Atlantics were extremely briney from the salt water. They were probably better if grilled. Being the barbarians we are, we prefer our oysters raw, hence the swapping out of the Atlantics. The Sweetwaters lived up to their names. Tender, juicy, perfect with a little bit of garlic and lemon. Our favorites were the Kumamotos; extremely delicate, and the flesh was extremely sweet. They are probably by far, my favorite oysters to eat.
So if any dear readers ever find themselves up here, ignore the wannabe fishmongers on Fisherman's Wharf, don't bother standing in the long lines where the tourists congregate. Take a relaxing drive up to Point Reyes and get your oysters fresh from the source. After our feast of raw oysters, we drove over to Point Reyes to check out the sunset over the lighthouse. It was definately worth the drive and the scenary was gorgeous.
Beached deserted ship at Point Reyes.
The end to a fantastic day of oyster gluttony! (Actually... we still had dinner plans... which will be detailed in my next upcoming post... Yes... the day of eating was not yet over... in fact I did not even blog about breakfast, lunch, and snack.)
For those who don't have the time to check out Hog Island Oyster Farm, the Hog Island Oyster Bar is located at the Ferry Building. They have happy hours on Monday AND Thursday (NOT Monday through Thursday) from 4-7 at $1 an oyster, spaces are first come first serve. Yes.... you read that right, for that crumpled up George Washington wedged in your couch, you can get a fresh screaming oyster.
Hog Island Oyster Bar 1 Ferry Building (Located on the back of the building over looking the bay) San Francisco, CA 94111 415.391.7117 Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-8:00 p.m. Sat-Sun 11:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Hog Island Oyster Company 20215 State Route 1 N Marshall, CA 94940 415.663.9218 Open Monday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Hi Mmm-Yoso! It is Vicky again. I have finally revived my writing bug. Many apologies for the long silence, but life has been extremely hectic this past half a year. (Yes... I am gainfully employed... in fact, loaded down with three jobs! One of which is with a restaurant critiquing and consulting company!!) I relocated up to the Bay Area and will now be blogging for restaurants up here! (In case any of the dear readers want to come up here and eat.) Again, I would like to thank Kirk for the opportunity to be blogging here. Mahalo! I dearly miss San Diego, and look forward to visiting in the near future to continue eating and exploring down there. In the meantime... here are the records of the gluttony goodness that is available in the beautiful SF Bay Area!! (Apologies for not being able to respond to comments immediately and promptly, I am currently posting from Taiwan and will be traveling around for a bit.)
In mid September, I had the wonderful opportunity of dining at Parcel 104 located in the Santa Clara Marriott. Currently voted the "Best Fine Dining" in Silicon Valley, I've been wanting to try this place out for awhile now. I remember when it first opened, the concept was very interesting.... the head chef, Bradley Ogden, created the daily menu around whatever farm fresh ingredients were available within a 104 mile radius. I'm not quite sure if they still do that, but I do know that they try to use the freshest ingredients around, often scouting out farmers markets.
Upon walking in, the decor of the restaurant was a very warm contemporary American feel with rich mahogonies accenting warm beige. The service here was beyond superb and the food was excellent. It was a beautiful sunny typical California day so I brought my lovely mother along so we could have some Mommy/Daughter bonding time amidst our hectic lives. We started out with the bread service and the freshly blended strawberry lemonade.
I have to say... the strawberry lemonde smoothie was probably the most expensive smoothie I've had to date, but it was worth every penny. The lemonade was fresh-squeezed and the sweetness of the strawberry puree swirled in balanced out the tang. The bread sadly did not come in an all you can eat bread basket. Being the carb lover I am... I was disappointed that the server came by with the hot basket and served each of us with tongs. That definitely made it harder to hide the bread glutton in me. I have to admit... the ciabatta roll was VERY yummy! The crust was crunchy and the insides were light and fluffy... Behold the wonderful container of butter that came with all this yummy goodness.
Our appetizer came out; I ordered the BLT flatbread. The bacon was crisp and salty. The BEST part of this was that Parcel used Heirloom tomatoes!!! MMmmmmm.... There was a lovely basil aioli spread on the flatbread that gave this dish a reminescent Italian twist.
My entree... Hawaiian Mahi Mahi on a bed of corn relish with wild mushrooms and a citrus dill romoulade. Hah! Try saying that ten times fast!! I don't think I can pick a favorite component of this dish. The corn was freshly shucked off the cob, straight from the farm. It was AMAZING!! The earthiness of the mushrooms went well with the buttery fish. Mmmm.... Not being a dill fan, I thought the sauce would have been flavor overboard with such a variety of ingredients but I was proven wrong. The creaminess of the dill and the tang of the citrus brought everything together.
Mom's dish: Caesar Salad (oops... they called it "Romane Hearts tossed in Dressing....) w/ Pan Seared Seabass. Goodness.... it blew us away. The fish was seared with the scored skin side down, to produce this amazing crunchy/crispy texture. The actual flesh was soft, buttery, creamy, and slightly firm at the same time. Words can not describe and give it the credit it deserves.
And how can I possibly leave without having dessert?! There's a lovely dessert platter with a three layer mocha beautifully presented. We had the creme brulee, molten chocolate cake, crepes with grand marnier accentuated mascarpone cheese, and french toast with carmelized bananas. Oh the gluttony goodness!! I don't even know where to start.... the crepes were amazing... the creme brulee was amazing, and french toast was amazing. I really like the concept of using french toast as dessert! And now I leave all you salivating readers with the closeups up the desserts....
Molten Chocolate Cake
French Toast w/ Carmelized Bananas.
If any of you are up in the area, I highly HIGHLY recommend this restaurant. It can be a little pricey, all this food ran around $120, so try this restaurant on a business trip and try to expense it out...
Parcel 104 at the Santa Clara Marriott 2700 Mission College Blvd Santa Clara, CA 95054 408.970.6104 Reservations available via Opentable.
REGULAR DAYS AND HOURS: Breakfast Monday – Friday: 6:00am - 10:30 am Buffet 6:00am – 11:00am A la Carte Saturday & Sunday: 7:00am – 11:00am