Posted in Food

Off to the Lobster Shack

I’d had one too many days of Thanksgiving ham, potatoes, and creamed corn (no bird this year) and wanted something totally different.

How about seafood?

I’ve been wanting to try the Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City, anyway. And a couple of friends originally from New England had mentioned it wasn’t bad for this part of the country. So we loaded up the kid and headed over.

It’s an ‘order at the counter’ kinda joint, so it’s a good takeout option if that’s what you’re looking for. We ordered ourselves a side salad, a bowl of New England clam chowder, steamed littleneck clams, and the sauteed shrimp plate.

My chowder was good. Very creamy. Almost a little TOO much cream. It seemed to almost override the seafood flavor. Just a tad less would’ve done the chowder a lot of good.

Then I had my steamed clams. The flavor of the white wine, garlic, fennel seed, parsley and other seasonings were strong. The clams, themselves, were impressive. Meaty, big, juicy and delish. But again, they were a little heavy handed with the seasonings and salt. I would’ve loved a little more allowance to let the clams’ natural flavors come through.

My husband says his shrimp dish was clean and flavored well. The shrimp were fresh and plump. But the blueberry cole slaw was just plain weird. It was obvious they were trying too hard and it didn’t work. His salad, however, was pretty standard and the elements were all very fresh and melded together well.

I was impressed with the service and the quality and freshness of food. Big plus for being a family friendly joint that doesn’t compromise on food quality.

However, they really need to tone down the extras and let the seafood’s natural flavors shine through. A place like this needs to stick to the basics and do them well. Good quality seafood is already so flavorful that they do a big disservice to themselves by adding things it doesn’t need.

Old Port Lobster Shack on Urbanspoon

Posted in Food, San Francisco

Top 100?…Really?

Bar Bambino has been on the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of Top 100 Restaurants for the last two years. And since it’s close to BART, it was the perfect place for a get together between foodies. So, I met Jo (Taking Over the World One Bite at a Time), Stephanie (Lick My Spoon), and Danielle (Bon Vivant) for dinner and good conversation on a weekday night.

We started with a lovely small bowl of calamari dressed with a light lemony dressing that was delightful and studded with celery for crunch. Nice mix of textures. It went well with the pomegranate sparkling wine we all had.

We shared the pork belly with braised lentils and the chicken livers bruschetta to start. I was surprised by both, but in very different ways. The pork belly was seared for a crisp exterior, but it was boring, unimaginative and even slightly dry! Almost impossible for a piece of fatty pork belly. I was disappointed that it wasn’t more inventive. And the lentils were a little too “al dente” for my taste.

However, the chicken livers bruschetta was wonderful. I have to thank Steph or ordering this because I would never have otherwise. It was flavorful, not gamey, and the bread it was on was the perfect partner for the soft and flavorful livers. It was actually the highlight of the evening.

For entrees we ordered the pappardelle with braised rabbit, tagliatelle with bolognese, bucatini with cauliflower, panchetta, raisins and pine nuts, and the roasted and pan fried chicken.

Both the pappardelle and the tagliatelle were probably the highlights of the meal for me. The pastas were housemade, buttery and delicious. The meats were braised well and had a good flavor to them. However, the rabbit was less tender than I expected and I actually would’ve liked more sauce.

The bucatini was a good effort but it was a little discombobulated. And like with all the pastas we had, I think a larger portion, just slightly, would’ve been nice. This dish had great elements, but together, it didn’t quite work.

The chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside. I LOVED the exterior. It has the perfect texture and was more like fried chicken on a more gourmet level. However, the interior was dryer than I’d like and the was lacking flavor. A common problem with ordering chicken breast, but since this is a Top 100 restaurant, I expected a whole lot more. Again, great elements but overall, a failed dish collectively.

That was basically how I felt about the restaurant and the food. Service was off, as well. They were professional enough but not friendly or personable. There was something missing or lacking with just about everything. It was almost like the restaurant was doing what it knew well, but the food and the service had no soul.  Maybe it was an off night, but I don’t believe I’ll ever be back.

Bar Bambino on Urbanspoon

Posted in Events, Food, San Francisco, Street Food, Travel

Street Food Night for Foodbuzz Foodies

IMG_4248I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural Foodbuzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco this past weekend. What a crazy 48 hours! Free artisanal gourmet meals, the freshest ingredients, superior wines, specialty food purveyors, endless freebies, and most of all, amazing people!

After getting an over five pound free gift bag to start off the event, the weekend’s food festivities started with the Street Food “Fare” they arranged for us just outside the Ferry Building Marketplace. This was nothing ordinary being served out of a taco truck (no offense to some superior taco trucks). We had some of the most expertly prepared food you could have in the city, and that’s saying a lot.

IMG_4277We feasted and grazed from so many vendors, including chicharrones from 4505 Meats, neapolitan-style pies being made on the spot from Pizza Politana’s mobile wood-fire oven, cupcakes from Mission Minis, and fresh-shucked oysters from Hog Island Oyster Company.

IMG_4285But two vendors stood out from the crowd. I mean REALLY stood out.

First, the Beef and Gruyere pie from The Pie Truck. Since it’s like a mini pot pie, I figured I’d get some ground beef in a pastry shell and be done with it. Oh, how wrong I was! This was quality beef that was sauced wonderfully, moist, rich and so flavorful. And that pastry was light, flaky, buttery, and not at all too thick. I was kicking myself for not taking a few more to stuff in my purse!

But as good as The Pie Truck’s edibles were, it can’t compare to what was believed by most to be the best thing we had all night, by a mile! Frankly, I think it’s one of the best damn sandwiches I’ll ever have in my whole life. Seriously, it IS that good.

IMG_4262The folks at Roli Roti are genius. Their porchetta sandwich is just culinary genius! Now I know why people line up at the Ferry Building Farmers Market on Thursdays for 30-45 minutes just for one of these babies. It’s a rotisserie pork loin stuffed with pork belly (!) and herbs. Decadent, right? But it’s also got pieces of the pork’s crispy skin for texture. Wait, there’s more! They take the bread and use it to sop up the meat’s juices on their cutting board! They top it off with a wonderful onion marmalade and curly watercress. This is not a greasy, sloppy mess. It’s about as perfect as a delectable sandwich can get.

This event made me appreciate the artisan foodies, both consumers and producers, that make San Francisco’s culinary scene so exciting. We are spoiled. Truly.

Stay tuned for the memorable dinner we had to cap off the weekend.

Posted in Events, Food, San Francisco, Travel

Foodbuzz Last Supper: A Communal Table Like No Other

So what’s it like to share a family-style dinner with over 200 food bloggers in a produce warehouse? Well, it was cold. But not enough to dampen the mood ;).

So this was our big dinner event to cap off the Foodbuzz Bloggers Festival in San Francisco, and it was definitely a night to remember.


It was big. Very big. The table was connected. Seriously. It twisted and curved around the warehouse to accommodate all of us. All 250 of us. An ingenious way of planning a dinner, courtesy of the folks at Outstanding in the Field. And plates of food went around (albeit slowly). Plates of wonderfully prepared and devised Asian dishes from the crew at Namu Restaurant in San Francisco.

And the warehouse? The famous Greenleaf Produce. These guys have known organic, locally grown, sustainable produce before the phrases were even in vogue in foodie circles. They are the trailblazers of the movement.

Here was the menu:

Various wild mushroom dashi

Udon w/grilled calamari in browned butter ponzu, cucumber, tomato and chojan & sesame vinaigrette
Salmon baked with dashikombu, fried garlic, and Japanese curry powder (this was my FAVE of the night)
Mushroom risotto with Japanese rice and crispy mushrooms
Soy braised beef cheeks and oxtails, baby carrots and fingerling potatoes
Roasted brussels sprouts with ponzu fried garlic, guanciale (a Spanish “bacon”), bonito flakes
Japanese rice pudding w/cookie crumble and warren pears from Frog Hollow Farm

The meal was subtle yet deliberate in its conception and it’s execution. An inventive and ambitious menu to pull of for such a large group. However, it was the experience itself that made it a memorable night. It’s something I will never see again. The best food experiences are when they’re shared with great people. This was definitely something to remember.

And a shoutout to the wonderful foodies and food purveyors I had the pleasure of meeting:

Frog Hollow Farm
479 Popcorn
Black Stallion Winery
Recchiuti Confections
Neo Cocoa
Jimmy (The Thirsty Pig)
Arnold (Inuyaki)
Dan Lee (Namu Restaurant)
Danielle (Bon Vivant)
Marc (Chefectomy)
Loren (Foodbuzz)
Gudren (Kitchen Gadget Girl)
Stephanie (Lick My Spoon)
Jo (Taking Over the World One Bite at a Time)
Bonnie (Cocochanelella/Chrysanthemum)
Kathleen (Katz9Lives)
Elizabeth (Ms. Lin Guide)
Fanny (YummySF)

See you all next year!

Posted in Food, Peninsula, San Francisco, Street Food

Street Food Hits the Burbs

Trucks, carts, even guys on bikes have shown up all over San Francisco and Oakland to peddle their cheap and tasty food. You can find both gritty and straightforward eats, as well as the artisan gourmet variety disguised as street food.

Of course, not all food that comes out of a cart is good food. There are LOTS of posers who are jumping on this popular foodie bandwagon, lately. It’s officially become a “trend.”  It’s gone mainstream.  Perhaps, it’s even jumped the shark.

But when cheap food is GOOD food, I have no complaints. That’s why these two newer food trucks that have hit the burbs have made me very happy. No more trekking to the city to find good street food!

IMG_4194Tacos Peralta (342 E. Hillsdale, San Mateo) – There are mediocre items on the menu that I’ve tried (the carne asada and pastor meats, in particular). And I’ve heard only lukewarm reviews about their burritos, though I can’t vouch for that, myself. But fortunately, there are some excellent items, including the torta (nicely toasted bread and a good amount of meat and fillings), super quesadilla (great flavorful beans and cheese), and the carnitas tacos (well seasoned moist pork, fresh onions and cilantro, and great with a squeeze of lime juice). And I love their hot sauce. It strangely reminds me of the taco sauce I used to get on taco day in elementary school. I don’t know if that’s a complement or an insult, but I used to go nuts for the stuff.

And in classic street food fashion, it’s cheap. Tacos are only $1.25 a piece (of course you need at least four to feel satisfied). And I appreciate that their ingredients are fresh and they use good quality meats. I just polished off five carnitas tacos for dinner and I could easily eat five more for lunch tomorrow!

IMG_4223Curry Up Now (Primrose & Howard in Burlingame, Near Marine Pkwy. across from Oracle in Redwood City – @CurryUpNow on Twitter) – Let me just say that I like Indian food, but it’s usually on the bottom of my list because of the way it makes me feel. Four out of the last five Indian meals I’ve had in recent memory gave me a headache before leaving the restaurant because of the MSG, or left me reaching for my TUMS. Not fun.

So when I found out about this place foolin’ around on Twitter, I was excited because it seemed authentic, fun, and fresh. And again, I didn’t have to trek to the city to find it!

IMG_4224I’m so happy to say that this food truck exceeded my expectations. Everything we had was flat out fantastic! The food is a mixture of authentic Indian dishes with Mexican touches. Between myself and my other two diners, we had the Butter Chicken special, Tandoori Chicken “Taco”, Kathi Roll, Tikki Masala Chicken “Burrito”, and the Skirt Steak “Torta” sandwich. All the items were absolutely delicious with the perfect amount of spice that added flavor, depth, and character, not just heat. All the flavors just sang and melded together so well. It was just about the best Indian meal I’d ever had. IMG_4225The highlights were the Kathi Roll (so delicate in it’s mixture of special ingredients and sauce), the Tikki Masala Chicken “Burrito” (perfect amount of saucy flavorful chicken with special rice wrapped in parantha bread), and the Skirt Steak “Torta” (yummy special sauce again, and they did NOT skimp on the quality and amount of beef here!).

All that great food AND the owner was a whole lot of fun to talk to while we waited for our food. She was such a gem that it made me want to go back even more.

With such great “street food” options in suburbia, I don’t have to worry that I’m missing out on all the good cheap food in San Francisco proper. Let those city folks come down to suburbia instead!