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Archive for November, 2009

Total Tuesday: Tidbits

I have been very busy eating lately. Unfortunately, I have not taken many photos. Oh well. Let me replay some of my recent foodie moments for you.

  • Thai Me Up – Take-Out

Last Friday, The Boy and I set out to make homemade pizza, including homemade crust. This did not seem an overly daunting task. However, we truly took wrong turns the whole way through the process. We used this Quick and Easy Pizza Dough recipe. The dough seemed ok. The Boy rolled it out thin on a pasta board and we topped it. Oh course, the sticky thin dough did not want to budge from the pasta board. Eventually, we got it on a peel and put it straight on the rack in the oven. Very bad. Not sure why we did that. The dough proceeded to slide through the cracks. A cookie sheet was quickly slid on to the bottom shelf of the oven to prevent too much damage. The pizza ended up a half burned/half raw heap of dough and toppings. Sigh. This is likely the biggest FAIL in the Snickie kitchen in awhile. I don’t think the dough was necessarily the culprit – it was really our technique that got us in trouble. We should have kept the dough thicker and used a pizza stone.

The pizza being truly inedible, I called up Thai Me Up (1925 E Carson – BYO). I ordered Pad Thai and Summer Rolls (to split). Twenty minutes later, the Boy and I were in front of his fireplace with a bottle of red and our plates of noodles. Not bad. The chicken in the Pad Thai was a bit dry, but the flavors were tasty and it was not overly greasy or saucy. The summer roll was fresh and light. The bill was $14.

  • Café Davio – Return Trip (see first trip here)

A last minute invite from the one and only Uncle Big D found me at Café Davio after a long day at work. I ordered from the a la carte menu but ended up eating all the courses anyway – they were brought family style to the table. I had linguine with mussels (listed as clams on the menu, but they were out). The pasta was lovely and lightly dressed, the mussels very tender and sweet. Ordering from the a la carte menu, this large dish of pasta was just $13. Can’t beat that. Other standouts of the evening were the warm, salty, crusty bread and the chunks of lovely sweet/savory sausage included on a plate of braciole. Mmm. A lovely meal with lovely company :).

  • Yet Another Dinner at Cafe Du Jour

Still love this place. BYO and super casual, but with great and thoughtful food. On a recent evening I had salmon with a tomato aoili, curry dusted zucchini, and cous cous. This place is also great for lunch (located at 1107 E Carson – Southside).

  • Piccolo Forno – Lunch

The Boy’s grandmother was recently in town. Therefore, a Saturday lunch out was on the menu. Originally, we planned to go to Pusadee’s Garden (read about a prior visit here). However, no Saturday lunch at Pusadee’s. Bummer, but not a problem. We zipped right down the road to Piccolo Forno (read about previous visits here and here).

Despite some bumpy service issues (my lunch arrived WAY before the other’s pizzas) the food was again pretty tasty. I had the caprese panini which was really quite lovely. Roma tomatoes, mozzarella, pesto. I expected the sandwich to be a bit more pressed – it was really just simply warmed and crusty but not necessarily pressed. However, the flavors combined beautifully and the pesto was great. The panini came with a light bean salad.

Of all the pizzas ordered, the Pizza Bianca really caught my eye. Perfectly gooey and fragrant. I did not try any but might be ordering that on my next trip.

  • Chili Cook-Off

Now, you may think you have attended a “chili cook-off”. However, you have likely never seen anything like the event my extended family puts on. It includes renting a hall, projecting the Steelers game on multiple screens, and 20+ chilis ready for judgment. This year, The Boy decided to enter. He whipped up a batch of his chunky chili and hoped for the best. Sadly, he did not win. However, Mom of Snickie (MOS) did! Congrats! She made a great tasting chili with black beans, corn, red pepper, jalapeño, etc. The 2nd and 3rd place chilis were also tasty but leaned more toward smoky/sweet. MOS went more with the fresh ingredient spin. Delish. The chilis are  ‘judged’ by five chosen judges.

  • And just for fun (and to save this from being a picture-less post)…

To commemorate the laying to rest of ‘Jon and Kate + 8’ as we know it (last night was the final episode – gasp!) I will post a photo of The Boy and I in our much-beloved Halloween costumes.

RANDOM!

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Holiday Goodies Time!

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, the holiday entertaining season has begun!

Although I don’t really host any large scale holiday festivities on my own, I have quite a few social engagements coming up to which I have agreed to bring ‘something’. Hmmm. Usually this ‘something’ would be an appetizer or sweet. This time of year, I usually like to go with items I have made before. Less stress.  However, I usually cannot help myself and do make something new.

So what ‘somethings’ are my tried and trues and what items may be entering the line-up for 2009?

I) Sweets

A few years ago, I baked TONS of cookies. I am not really sure who I was even baking them for. I have cut back on the cookie baking, but still have some favorites. Also, if you have some cookies on hand, they can easily and quickly count as that ‘something’ referred to in the above paragraph.

Favorites:

  • Ginger Spice Cookies (I usually also add a tablespoon or so of fresh minced ginger to these cookies)
  • Sugar Cookies (going to attempt some better decorating this year – I usually slop on icing and roll around in sprinkles)
  • Almond Bark (I add some chopped walnuts or almonds on top to make it look nice)
  • Puppy Chow (um, super easy, kind of lame – but everybody likes it!)

Possible 2009 additions:

II) Appetizers

I am a sucker for a tasty, creamy dip. I am trying to branch out of my reliance on dips – they are just so easy though! Easy to transport and/or make ahead of time.

Favorites:

  • Buffalo Chicken Dip – not necessarily my favorite, but people do go wild over this stuff (made with poached shredded chicken breast instead of canned and low-fat dairy ingredients and served with baked tortilla chips and celery)
  • Warm Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Bacon – (usually served with pita chips although I may try the toasted baguette mentioned in the recipe)
  • Greek Layer Dip (see my recipe here)

Possible 2009 additions:

  • Ina Garten’s Caramelized Onion Dip (will likely cut down the butter and oil here and use low-fat dairy – will serve with thick cut potato chips and veggies)
  • Caesar Salad Cups (also from this month’s Food & Wine – no link available – basically a mini Caesar served in endive)

Another great ‘something’, particularly for a brunch or afternoon event, are the goods needed for making mimosas. A decent champagne (of course I like Domaine Chandon – a bottle can be found in state stores for under $20 – although you certainly could go lower, especially because you are mixing it) and quality OJ (TJs usually has something kind of fancy and reasonably priced) are super easy to pick up while running errands and I promise everyone will appreciate the festivity champagne brings to any event.

On that note, I also plan on attempting a cranberry based drink for some event during the holiday season. This Cranberry Gin & Tonic recipe looks promising. Over on the Chowhound boards, someone mentioned adding this same cranberry base to the Rick Bayless Topolo Margarita recipe. Sounds damn tasty to me.

If and when I actually attempt these recipes over the coming weeks, I will let you know and hopefully post some pictures.

What are your holiday favorites? Anything ambitious planned for your holiday cooking?

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San Francisco Trip: Part II of II

Part II – Saturday, Sunday, Monday

Saturday morning finally brought some sun! I could not wait to get to the Ferry Building.

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The Ferry Building is home to many artisan shops and eateries (Cowgirl Creamery, Acme Bread Co, Slanted Door, etc). On Saturday mornings, the area around the building also hosts an amazing farmer’s market. The Boy immediately hit up Blue Bottle for coffee and Roli Roti for a 9am porchetta sandwich. He has been talking about this sandwich since having it a year ago on a previous SF trip. He was all smiles as he devoured the salty, satisfying, fresh sandwich. I had some soft scrambled eggs and toast from another small stand near the entrance to the farmer’s market. From there out, we just wandered through the stalls and enjoyed the tastes and sights.

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At one point, I turned a corner and saw some familiar looking faces. I realized I was looking at Jenna and Kath. Kind of a creepy moment – I have read both their blogs at one time or another and have recently really enjoyed following Jenna’s CA adventures. I wasn’t sure if I should say something or not? Finally, I introduced myself as a reader and said some quick hellos. They were there for the Foodbuzz Festival. Check out all their blogs for more  SF goodness. Nice meeting you ladies!

After the Ferry Building there was some more walking and some football watching at a bar near AT&T park. AT&T park sits on the Embarcadero. Gorgeous views.

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Saturday night dinner took us to Zuni Café (1658 Market), a restaurant well known for their ‘California cuisine’. California cuisine is frequently described as a fusion of various cooking styles focusing on fresh/local ingredients. Although the Zuni Café space felt slightly dated to me (we were seated in the upstairs loft), I had a really good meal there. The Boy and I did the infamous roast chicken for two. The meal takes an hour to prepare, so we had lots of time for wine and appetizers (a Ceasar salad and steamed clams). The chicken was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The crispy, dense bread salad served with the chicken was divine. The Boy was originally skeptical of a $48 roasted chicken – however, I think the execution of the dish changed his mind. I am glad we sought out Zuni Café and California cuisine.

On Sunday morning, we made our way to the Napa Valley. Along with another couple, we hired a car and driver (so nice for a day of wine tasting!). We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on the way – more great views.

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We visited Domaine Chandon (sparkling wine house), Pine Ridge, Goosecross, Del Dotto, and Honig. Yes – we consumed a ton of wine. I probably enjoyed Pine Ridge the most – the reds there are so nice and the guy pouring tastes was knowledgeable and very friendly. We purchased wine at each stop.

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We ended the day with an ahi tuna burger at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher. Yum. This place was featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives awhile back. The ahi was rare, topped with a gingery slaw. The sweet potato fries were crisp and addicting.

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There were plans to do a casual dinner Sunday but I promptly passed out when we returned to the hotel. The Boy grabbed some California Pizza Kitchen take-out later in the evening, as it was close to the hotel. The pizza wasn’t bad, but certainly not our most memorable meal in the city.

Monday morning brought the last of our San Francisco trip. We ended on a high note by making our way to Dottie’s True Blue Café.

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This is a great little spot located in/near the Tenderloin. We had a bit of a wait at 9AM Monday morning (about 30 mins) but we decided to stay and eventually grabbed seats at the counter. The kitchen is tiny and we watched the line cook work with precision and grace as he pumped out dish after dish of eggs, potatoes, etc.

I had cinnamon pecan french toast and The Boy had a lamb sausage and spinach omelet. The portions were quite large. My french toast held gooey pockets of cinnamon and the lamb sausage in The Boy’s omelet was unique and well seasoned. I can’t eat like this every morning (totally stuffed) but it was a fun way to end the trip 🙂

After breakfast, it was a train ride back to SFO and a five hour plane ride home.

I can’t wait to go back.

(On another note, The Boy and I chose to ‘ship’ our wine by packaging it well in our suitcases and checking them. PA leaves you with few other desirable options. We have used this method before and had no problems. However, on this trip, we had a casualty. A lovely Del Dotto Pinot Noir broke in The Boy’s bag. It was in a box wrapped in mounds of tissue paper and newspaper – somehow, most of his clothes were fine, as the paper soaked up all the liquid (wonderful, tasty, expensive liquid). Ugh! He plans to complain to the airline – however, we realize we also took a risk. Anyone out there share in my annoyance with PA wine shipping rules?)

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San Francisco Trip: Part I of II

As was to be expected, San Francisco was amazing. So much food, so much wine. I plan to break the trip report into two parts – I think this is the most food centric trip I have been on in awhile – it deserves it!

Part I – Thursday and Friday 

We arrived Thursday afternoon and promptly set out on a dim sum/site seeing adventure.

Dim sum was had at Gold Mountain (644 Broadway) in Chinatown near the border of North Beach. I have previously had dim sum at Yank Sing in SF. While the quality of the Yank Sing dim sum was likely better, it did cost 4x as much. Gold Mountain was a perfectly acceptable and tasty alternative. We did dumplings and pork buns and lots of other things. The location also allowed us to peruse Chinatown.

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After Chinatown, we made the obligatory trek down to Fisherman’s Wharf. This is a very touristy area, but does provide some lovely views (see above – the Golden Gate Bridge is just visible in the background).

We also stopped in the Ghirardelli shop, in Ghirardelli Square. More great views and tasty samples.

Thursday night dinner/drinks/happy hour was at Amelie, a very cute wine bar in the Nob Hill area (1754 Polk). We met some local friends here and enjoyed big glasses of red, flatbreads, cheese, and conversation.

Friday morning dawned rainy and cool. Bummer. However, a trip to Tartine (600 Guerrero – Mission) was on the menu and this cheered me right up.

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We enjoyed quiche and croissants. So buttery. I swear I felt my heart struggling to pump through the butter sludging through my veins as we walked the San Francisco hills after this breakfast. Whew.

On Friday, I also visited Alamo Square (the area shown in the beginning of Full House). As children of the early nineties who lived for TGIF, it was a must for The Boy and I. There were a few dogs in the park and The Boy may or may not have pointed and loudly said “Comet!”. Haha.

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These homes are actually known as the ‘Painted Lady’ houses. Additionally, the ‘Full house house’, or the red and white house shown in close up on the show, does not exist in this stretch. A little on-site Googling with the blackberry turned up this info. Additionally, Google let us know that the red and white house does not exist in SF and was likely shot on a backlot in LA or something. Sigh. Regardless, we chose one of the houses in the middle and pointed out where Uncle Jessie’s attic apartment would have been.

Friday’s lunch was a ‘Mission burrito’ (at Taqueria La Cumbre – 515 Valencia – Mission) and ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery (3692 18th Street). Might have been the best ice cream ever. Seriously really really good. Go here if you are in SF. The burrito was tasty – the Mission-style burrito is supposedly the original giant stuffed burrito.

Friday night pre-dinner drinks were at Maya (303 2nd Street, financial district – meeting some other friends – nice $5 margaritas). Dinner took us back to the Mission yet again. We dined at Delfina (3621 18th Street – Mission).

Delfina was lovely – the interior was cozy yet modern, casual yet refined. I ordered a tagliatelle with mint and porcini mushrooms. The Boy had pappardelle in a duck ragu. The Boy and I also ordered a lamb’s brain appetizer and a bottle of vino nobile. Pasta portions were small but on scale with what we saw in Italy – I was certainly satisfied between the warm and crusty Tartine bread, the appetizer, and my pasta. Mmmm, thinking about that silky pasta makes me hungry 🙂

After dinner, we somehow found ourselves back at Bi-Rite. Shocking (it is right across the street). A scoop of salted caramel was a perfect dessert. After the ice cream, we hit the local bar scene. Beauty Bar and Doc’s Clock were certainly unique places with lots of local hipsters enjoying a night out. We may have been slightly out of place but enjoyed the experience nonetheless.  

Recap of the rest of the trip to come..

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Total Tuesday: 11.03.2009

Born twenty five years ago to the day. Whew.

I voted today, got myself to work at a decent time, and lunched at my desk. Nothing too exciting. I did enjoy some friends and family time over the weekend and received lots of wonderful and sweet messages today. Thanks all 🙂

However, the real celebrating starts when The Boy and I head off to San Francisco and Napa this Thursday. Yay! We went last year around the same time and had a wonderful trip. Eating and drinking are major components of the trip, obviously.

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It just so happens that the Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival is also happening in San Francisco this weekend. I did not sign up for any of the events as I had already planned this Snickie/The Boy trip. However, I am still wondering if I will happen to run into any familiar faces. I will let you know!

I promise a full trip report when I get back. I also have a few other recent foodie experiences up my sleeve to discuss, such as a visit to Piper’s Pub and my holiday cooking plans. Stay tuned for those as well!

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