Sunday, August 26, 2012

Everett and Jones

SUNDAY FUN DATE: 08.26.12 @ 7 PM

Under the umbrella.
At checkered  picnic table.
Sit on a long bench.
And feel like you are at a backyard barbecue indoors.

Water with lemon or Iced Tea out of a MASON JAR.
Or get the Saucey Sistah Ale.

The FOUR WAY COMBO for two.
You will get brisket, hot links, ribs and chicken.
Plus sides of candied yams, mac&cheese, collard greens, baked beansAnd cornbread with butter.

The meats were flavorful inside while heavily slathered with mild, medium or hot barbecue sauce (your choice). I only wanted to eat the chicken but I ate the pork ribs by mistake  thinking it was chicken. It was good, though. Our chicken arrived not a minute later because they forgot.

I usually do not like chicken but E&J barbecue chicken was delicious! Very flavorful and not dry! Enrique ate and enjoyed all the meat.

The candied yams were runny. I was disappointed.
The collard greens with pork was not as flavorful but still good.
Enrique finished the mac&cheese and cornbreads which I did not touch. Must be good.

$29.99 for the 4-way combo
Paid $36 before tip with 1 Iced Tea

A big thing of leftover links and brisket to enjoy again the next day.

Everett & Jones Barbeque on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 17, 2012

Troya (Fillmore)

DATE NIGHT: August 17, 2012 @ 5 PM

Troya on Fillmore is the sister of the original Troya on Clement Street. Troya Fillmore took over the previous Citizen Cake  but did a good job of transforming it into a space that is classy, bright and airy.  The decor consists of red brick walls,  exposed pipes on high ceiling and naked bulbs for lighting. The understated decor was minimal but elegant.

At 5PM on a Saturday, the place was empty but as we were leaving at past 6 PM, the place started to get packed.

One look a the menu and I knew this was what I wanted. Sure enough, it managed to fight my tastebuds numbed by the nasty cold  and I was able to taste the lovely spices. It was smooth, so flavorful and so comforting!

I even tried to eat my soup with the complimentary herb flat bread. These flat breads were thin, crispy and I managed to taste the dill.  I ate just one since it was not worth wasting my carbs on something I could not fully taste but these delicious flatbread were much appreciated.

 I got these as my main meal thinking it was one big piece of savory pie.  They turned out to be 3 little itty bitty phyllo dough pies stuffed with spinach, currants and pie nuts. They were good! I could have easily eaten a dozen of these little ones!

Aside from the soup, this turned out to be the dish that I enjoyed the most.  Enrique commented "eggrolls!" when they were placed at our table. Wrapped in phyllo dough and deep-fried, they did resemble eggrolls but what you will get in each cigar is  hot gooey melting cheese that you will dip in honey and ground nuts before taking a blte. Delicious savory sweet small dish!

I honestly thought it was just okay. They even tasted bitter to me  but it was not fair to judge this given I could barely taste or smell anything because of my cold.

A huge plate of traditional eggplant casserole with bechamel sauce. I had a little bite from Enrique's plate and it tasted good. He liked it as well but he complained that it was mostly eggplant and the ground beef was pretty skimpy.

TOTAL: $53 with 2  sodas and before tip

Troya in Fillmore is a  pleasant bright and spacious place to share Mediterranean tapas with your friends and loved ones.   Definitely order a bunch of little plates to have a full appreciation of Troya's cuisine.  I would not mind going back someday when my senses are all fully working to really enjoy the food next time. Troya is a also great as a pre-Sundance Kabuki movie dinner where we headed after our meal to see "Borne Legacy."

Troya on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Taqueria Vallarta (Mission)

LUNCH DATE: 4th of July 2012 @ 11:30 AM

You only have $1.75 in your pocket?

Taqueria Vallarta's TACO BAR will feed you for mere change. And you don't need to wait for Happy Hour.

On  July 4th, Enrique and I decided to drive to the Mission for a spontaneous Mexican food adventure. We did not even have a particular place in mind. It was Divine Intervention in the form of an empty parking spot across the street from Taqueria Vallarta that decided our lunch destination that day.

Taqueria Vallarta is colorful and full of murals of cultural Mexico and San Francisco. Eating at this taqueria was a feast not only for the palate but for the eyes as well. It was well-patronized by Latin families drinking traditional Mexican sodas in bottles.

The TACO BAR will greet you as soon as you enter TV. It can be more appropriately described as a TACO KIOSK manned by Taco Dude.  You tell him what you want and he will make the taco for you. In less than 5 minutes you can be holding a taco loaded with meat which you can garnish according to your heart's desire.

1. Choose your meat: Tripita or tripe, Carnitas,  Lengua or tongue,  Beef neck, etc.
2. Garnish it with:  Red or green salsa,  onions, cilantro, radish, lemon
3. Proceed to the counter to pay or if you want to order other dishes aside from tacos.

The best part -- each taco only costs $1.75!!!!

Tripita Taco

Enrique and I went a tad crazy once again. We kept on adding to our orders. He started off with CHILE RELLENO then before paying added an order of MENUDO.

Chile Relleno

I ordered POZOLE.

While waiting for our food, I could not resist the call of the Taco Bar, got up and got me a TRIPITA TACO. Chips and salsa were provided for us while waiting. Sinful and a quick snack. The meat was flavorful although slightly dry.

~ POZOLE : Last time I had menudo was probably about 5 years ago. I love offal, pig's feet, snout, you name it. Eventhough my doctor pronounced me as being in excellent health,  my  determination to live a healthy, low-blood pressure and cholesterol-free life sometimes turns me into an irrational health nut.
Sadly all I could do was stare at the gelatinous pig's feet in front of me. I was salivating but I ate the broth which was very flavorful and finished the pozole. I tried a little bit of the meat but I left most of it untouched. All dishes came with about 5 piping hot corn tortillas each. It was a nice try, though, but I just really cannot ingest fat because of this paranoia that it might just attach itself to my heart.

~ MENUDO and CHILE RELLENO: Enrique who is a 3rd generation Latino finished and enjoyed his order. He complained that his menudo did not have a lot of meat but came mostly with fat. He also pointed out that my pozole should have been lighter in color and flavor than the menudo. I do not know any better. It just tasted good to me.

~ TACO: I loved and enjoyed my tripe taco. It was packed with meat which was tender and nicely seasoned. Next time I will order me a 12 tacos at Taqueria Vallarta. LOL!

Service was very slow if ordering other dishes. One person cooking and one woman handling the cash register, delivering food and answering phones. Order some tacos as appetizers if waiting for other food. The place got packed at around noon.

We had a very enjoyable spontaneous Mexican food adventure in the Mish. The Taco Bar at Taqueria Vallarta  was fun and one of the best deals in town.  Taqueria Vallarta is a great place to grab authentic Mexican food in the Mission.

TOTAL: ~ $32 including water and soda before tip (the dishes were about $8.75 each)

Taqueria Vallarta on Urbanspoon

Chop Bar (Oakland)

Dinner Date: 08.11.12 @ 4:45 PM

CHOP BAR resembles  a converted garage (or at least made to look like one) at Oakland's Jack London Square District. 

On this gorgeous warm weekend, Chop Bar was the place to be.  The restaurant was very open and airy, with the  open street side patio area flowing into the dining area.  Chop Bar is more industrial-rustic than industrial chic.

We arrived at the Chop Bar during Happy Hour (daily from 3pm to 5:30 pm)   Since they would not serve dinner until 5:30 PM, we decided to get an appetizer and drinks.

*This appetizer was on the small side but packed with flavors!  It is savory sweet because of the apples but the ribs were juicy inside and had a crispy caramelization on the outside. Delish!

I ordered a GINGER GREYHOUND $5 which was a  Happy Hour drink made with rain organic vodka, grapefruit juice topped with ginger beer.  It was refreshing but weak.

It as funny because we waited for the dinner menu but ended ordering burgers which were also available during Happy Hour.

I judge the yummy-ness of my burger by how many crumpled paper napkins are left at the table by the time I finished it.   I used 4. That means it was good!
And not only because I only ate half of the bun. (TIP: That's a low-carb diet technique. You still get to taste the bread that way without eating lots of carbs.)

The burger at Chop Bar was finger-lickin' good. I asked mine to be sans bacon but asked for a side of Cowboys Onions $1 which were caramelized, sweet and delish! The burger was dressed in aioli and topped with heirloom tomatoes and avocado.  Instead of fries we got fresh greens which was perfect for this "low carb eating" gal.
The burger patty was so juicy and flavorful! A really good burger bordering on great!
Enrique also ordered a burger with bacon and extra cheese on his.

*He wanted some french fries so we put in an order for Jo Jos  after we already received our burgers.  They arrived within 5 minutes and were piping hot. These are not french fries but steak cut potatoes which were surprisingly crispy on the outside.  It was more of a side dish than "finger food" like french fries. The flavors were "different" because of the chimichurri sauce but nice.

TOTAL: $56 before tip

Chop Bar is the place to eat burgers and have a drink or two while soaking in the warm Oakland sun.  Lively and casual venue surrounded by JLS's contemporary loft. Very urban with neighborhood vibe. The staff were very friendly and efficient.
Another gorgeous Saturday date night!

Chop Bar  on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cinnaholic (Berkeley)

I have always known about Cinnaholic because my vegan friend Alexis showed me this place. She makes a special trip from the City just to get her fill of these cinnamon buns.

Cinnanolic is located right across from the  UC Berkeley campus. It is one of the many eclectic stores on Oxford St:  chic boutique, Starbucks, Afghan buffet restaurant, print shop, etc.

The store is spartan like a small ice cream shop with nothing but white walls and a counter. There is a huge menu board that features the frostings and the toppings. 3 garden tables are outside if you want to devour your rolls before leaving the store.
The choices and combination were too daunting that I was staring at the board like Bambi caught in front of headlights.  They can customize the rolls according to your heart's desire like Elvis with his PB and Banana, Rocky Road, Pina Colada and Coconut, etc.

After ~ 3 minutes of being in catatonic state, I finally chose:


TOTAL: $10.50 for two cinnamon rolls

Cinnaholic rolls are gourmet VEGAN cinnamon rolls that are slightly different from the ones grandma bakes unless your granny is hip,  vegan and from Berkeley. The roll itself was a little bit denser than the melt in your mouth rolls like hot Pillsbury that's right out of the oven. (How dare I make such scandalous comparison?!!) It did taste like something was missing.

I did not tell Enrique that they were vegan. He devoured his butterscotch cinnamon rolls and told me that he they were good and rich. He liked them. I did reveal that they were vegan after he finished the roll. We both agree that the frostings were the best part while the bread itself was dry. However, Cinnaholics rolls were good nonetheless.

Despite the above observations and being on the pricey side of ~$5 a piece, I enjoyed my cinnamon roll so much that I licked the plate clean. Well, only my cat was my sole witness to such barbaric act.

Although I would have liked the bread to have been softer, the frosting was  bursting with the pumpkin and spices flavors of Fall although it was a blazing hot summer day in the Bay Area. The flavors were just plain lovely. The fact that they were vegan just sweeten the deal for me eventhough I devour animal products.

I usually wait until I have made at least a couple of visits before I write a review but since I have changed my lifestyle to eating "angel (good) carbs" only, it will be awhile before I would have the pleasure of enjoying a Cinnaholic again.

Not the best cinnamon rolls ever but on a beautiful quiet sunny day like today, over a hot cup of coffee, Cinnaholic is one of life's simple pleasures.
(And the staff were as equally lovely.)

*Dreaming of my next Cinnaholic........*

Cinnaholic on Urbanspoon

Christopher Elbow Artisinal Chocolates (Hayes Valley)

I am in trouble once again. I found another addiction. This time it is an obsession with HOT CHOCOLATES. My supplier? He goes by the name Christopher Elbow.

Christopher Elbow is a chocolate boutique. Instead of pretty clothes or shoes, you will find pretty chocolates: milk or dark, truffles or bars, nuts, fruits, edible (candies) or drinkable (hot chocolate)...

At Christopher Elbow, life turns into a box of chocolates for an hour or so.

And like the chocolates it sells, Christopher Elbow's venue is fabulous, sleek and contemporary. You will drink and eat your chocolate in a classy venue with dark wood seats and lighted tables. If you are lucky, you might be the only person at CE and you can sip your hot chocolate in bliss.

CE's is becoming my rendezvouz with my sanity. A place away from work. A place before calling it a day and hitting that commute.

The attraction for me really was the lure of hot cup of exotic flavored chocolates. These two are my faves so far:

I saw the server open a whole can of Chaokoh Coconut Milk and do her magic. What I got was a deliciously hot cup of spiced coconut chocolate. The curry was mild and complimented the bittersweet-sweet cocoa. It was topped with 2 squares of marshmallows that slowly melted as I sipped my hot chocolate.

No, it does not taste like Chinese food. This Asian-inspired hot cocoa has a deep sophisticated taste for mature audiences. I do not think kids would love this but I do!

The chocolates are equally awesome. If they promise you the taste of sweet unicorn breath, you will get it. Their flavors are subtle yet distinct and balanced:

I put together a care package for a friend who needs cheering up. I picked up a box of 4 chocolates for her. I chose them because they were colorful and pretty--with the hopes that they will bring a smile to her face.

-Balsamic Strawberry
-Citrus Tea
-Hazelnut Praline
-Spiced Mango

Of course, I had to grab some for myself:
Spiced Mango, Venezuelan Spice Turtle, Balsamic Strawberry

*The BALSAMIC STRAWBERRY was exquisite while the SPICED MANGO tasted like freshly harvested tropical mangoes and sunshine. 

Wowza! Sweet, spicy and salty. Powdered outside then a gooey deliciousness inside. ! I am glad that they are selling this for $3 a pop because otherwise, I will make a meal out of these!

Sadly, I would rather eat Reese's PB cups instead which are my all time faves.


-CHOCOLATES: $2 each ($1+ more if boxed.) They will break the bank if you make a meal out of them. As treats, I think it's a fair value for artisinal high-end chocolates.

-HOT CHOCOLATES: $4.50 each which are cheaper than Ghirardelli's but CE's hot cocoas are a lot yummier.

CHOCOLATES MENU: http://www.elbowchocolat

Christopher Elbow on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mochica: Peruvian Fusion

DATE NIGHT: 07.21.2012 @ 6 PM

FRIED CHICKPEAS @ PIQUEO'S: # 82 on SFs 7x7  Big Eats 2010: 100 Things to Try Before You Die

 Mochica and Piqueo are sister restaurants.

Since I do not foresee going to Piqueo's anytime soon, this will do for now.

Mochica's FRIED CHICKPEAS, if they were as good as Piqueo's, deserve the special mention in the much-followed "7x7 SF Big Eat." 

These complimentary  fried chickpeas were crunchy and tasty. The crunchy peanut like texture is contrasted by tomatoes and red onions. 

Armed with an expired Groupon, Enrique and I made it to Mochica for our date night.
Mochica is a tiny restaurant located at South of Market. Just like SoMa's signature loft-style architecture, Mochica has high ceiling and exposed beams. A big chalkboard  on the wall is functional as a menu display and piece of art.

 Bottles of wine on the walls were also used as art pieces. The place was cramped and loud.

I had the CHICHAMOSA $8 which is a combination champagne and chicha morada (Peruvian non-alcoholic sweet drink made from purple corn). I have not had this before but I found it very nice and very refreshing!

Enrique and I shared BEEF HEART (Anticuchose de Corazon) $12 as our appetizer It was served with potatoes and huacatay sauce

Avocado Stuffed with Chicken Salad and Beef Heart with Huacatay Sauce

Since heart is a muscular organ, I was expecting tough meat. Our beef heart tapa was actually pretty tender. However, the sauce that came with it was just one dimensional in flavor and quite salty.

We also also shared an AVOCADO STUFFED WITH CHICKEN $9 which is another appetizer. It was served with a very fresh avocado with simple chicken salad.  Lovely and great as a palate cleanser.

Enrique had the BRAISED LAMD (Seco de Cordero) $21 as his main entree. Leg of lamb slowly braised in cilantro-peruvian dark beer sauce with white beans.

I had a taste and this dish was very flavorful and the meat was very tender. The beans were also nicely seasoned.

I had the BRAISED HALIBUT AND SEAFOOD STEW (Pescado a lo Macho) $22

This bowl of seafood reminded me cioppino but in lighter tomato-based sauce.

Our check was came up to $81 including tip before Groupon.

Mochica serves tasty Peruvian-Fusion dishes.  We liked everything we had. Every single dish was delicious.  Despite the middle of the road, friendly service, our dinner at Mochica was satisfying.

Mochica on Urbanspoon


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