Archive | San Francisco RSS feed for this section

10 Things I Love About Flipper’s in Hayes Valley

18 Apr

Flipper's Sign

Flipper’s, A Gourmet Hamburger Place

482 Hayes St, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102
(415) 552.8880
Online Menu

There’s no denying it. Flipper’s is truly “a gourmet hamburger place”.

First of all: every single the burger is made of charbroiled ground chuck. And, all the unique burgers (with the fries/salad) are under $9. A decent price for some food that isn’t very common.

Second: you aren’t limited to just any plain old burger, cheeseburger, or “Big Mac”. The burgers come in so many different varieties with all unique names, like The Granny Flip (burger with eggplant, jack cheese, and tomato with their famous pesto sauce), the California Sunshine (a burger complete with aged cheddar cheese, avocado and alfalfa sprouts), and the Maui Treat (burger with Canadian bacon and pineapple with a teriyaki sauce glaze).

Mediterrean Chicken Burger

The Mediterranean Flavor Burger with eggplant, garlic and tomato, sauteed in olive oil

Not a burger fan? Then they also have chicken breast, turkey patty, veggie patty, and tofu patty available.

(Have I got your mouth watering yet? How about that imagination? The varieties are endless!)

Three: Their curly fries are so flavorful and crispy! I’ve been to some places where the fries are so dull and lifeless I feel bad for the poor things.

Four: Flipper’s serves breakfast all day and brunch specials until 4 pm! For breakfast, you can choose some kind of combination of two eggs (any style), sausage, bacon, or choritzo, and breakfast style potatoes with toast on the side. Their brunch specialties do seem to be various benedicts and florentines. The short and full stack of pancakes with optional blueberries are also on the menu as well as traditional french toast. And of course, there are omelets (the Greek, Denver, and Salsa are just a few).

Five: Got kids? They have a kids (12 & under) menu too. From what I saw, I believe there was a small burger (chicken, beef, or turkey), chicken tenders, breakfast special (pancake, egg, meat), and something else.

The Morning Blast
The “Morning Blast”: two eggs scrambled with chorizo, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and cheddar

Basically, a condense version of the full menu.

Six: Crepes, crepes, crepes. A small list (6, I think) of different savory crepes: chicken, eggplant, and vegetarian to name a few. The dessert crepes include the strawberry, Nutella, apple and cinnamon, and banana varieties.

Seven: When the weather is nice, Flipper’s has an outdoor garden area with sturdy tables and chairs shaded by personal umbrellas that you can eat in.

Eight: The waiting staff is very friendly! It’s nice to walk into a place that’s very accommodating and smiling. Not to mention that the servers do not hover while you eat your food so you don’t feel rushed.

Nine: There is a restroom! Okay, so this isn’t the most important thing about a restaurant, but it does come in handy when  you need one, especially today when it’s very hot and we had plans to walk around.

Ten: Once you’re done eating, you can enjoy the rest of the afternoon in the beautiful, boutique-filled Hayes Valley, home to Citizen Cake, La Boulange Bakery, Stacks, and more. There’s also a small little grassy square with this giant metal art structure in the center where you can hang out afterward.

So I shared this place with you because I had a good experience going here. I felt very comfortable here and enjoyed the food. Amazingly enough, though the food had lots of exotic creative names, there was a sort of home-style feel to it. I liked the fact that there were different kinds of people there too: families, couples of all ages, and cute excited dogs outside.

I’m not sure where you are, but in San Francisco, it’s beautiful and warm, so if you’re experiencing the same thing, enjoy it! If your weather is slightly gray, I’m sure it’ll get better soon. Spring is here and summer is coming soon.

Hopefully I’ll get to write more soon. I haven’t actually been baking this weekend because it’s too hot! I’ll try to get back in the kitchen sometime this week weather permitting.

Until next time~

St. Patrick’s Day Bake Sale: Green Treats Galore!

17 Mar

My school newspaper The Emerald and literary journal The Oracle held their annual charity bake sale this beautiful, sunny St. Patty’s Day. All the proceeds went to aid the relief in Chile. (Don’t worry other student clubs held previous drives for the people in Haiti). As members of either of these two publications, we were asked to donate our time, talent, and money to this bake sale. Some chose to buy their treats from local grocery stores while others like myself decided to push off homework for a while and get down to baking!

The Crew manning the Bake Sale Table

What did I end up baking up for this worthy cause? Well, I decided that I was going to risk baking two dozen vanilla cupcakes two nights before the actual bake sale. I didn’t have too much time to actually make cupcakes from scratch BUT I did try to make as homemade as possible. The major change that I made was whipping the egg whites and egg yolks (3 each) separate from each other to make the cupcakes fluffier and more like sponge cake. (This is always a request at home because I have a mom that simply loves sponge cake, angel cake, chiffon cake, and any other air-like cake possible).

Denautred Egg WhitesI would like to say that whipping the egg whites made the cupcakes better but I’m not too sure if I’m bias. I do not know if I mentioned this before, but I’ve actually denatured egg whites twice before … by hand. The first time, I did not really know what “denaturing” meant so it was only half-way whipped and consequently the cake was a flat dud. The second time, I had already attended the Sur La Table baking class so I knew what denatured egg whites were supposed to look like. However, what I did not know was how long it was going to take me nor how tired my hand was going to be after. I think it took me about 40 minutes to denature 6 egg whites. “Never again,” I remember thinking, “at least not without a hand mixer”.

So this time, I used my handy-dandy yellow hand mixer to denature the 3 egg whites. In the words from Wicked the Musical, “I couldn’t [have been] happier” to finally: 1) use my hand mixer and 2) denature egg whites ‘perfectly’. Still, I’m very proud to say that I denatured egg whites by hand. Too bad I didn’t have any pictures. Guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.St. Patty Cupcakes

Anywho, this is how my St. Patty- themed cupcakes turned out. I was just so glad that every single one of my cupcakes sold out! And to think that the entire table was filled with different delectable treats! The price of everything was the same too: $0.50 each. At the end, things starting for selling for $.25, but by that time, my cupcakes were all gone.

The exact amount we made today has not been officially released to us yet but I’m hoping for something in the range of $50 – $70. We’re crossing our fingers!

[On a random tangent…This gets me thinking though. Last year, I sold my baked goods at my mom’s office last year and was able to raise about $25 all by myself. I donated all the money to The Great American Bake Sale, which provides funding for after school and breakfast programs in the United States. I was thinking I could do this again, but somehow I wish I could raise more than that, like somehow sell on a larger scale. Hm… I guess I’ll have to think about it and let it simmer for a while on the back stove top.]

Well, at any rate, I hope your St. Patrick’s Day was as festive and fun as mine! And, I do hope that you wore green today or else your arm is probably sore from all the pinches. :)

Omnivore Books and Peter Reinhart & Friends

5 Mar

This is one of the days that I actually like my school administration. Giving the students a day off while the faculty are discussing the future plans was a great idea. (Thanks, Mr. Scudder and Dr. Hogarty!)

As you know if you read my last post, I wrote about how nervous I was for the anticipated trip to Omnivore Books to hear Mr. Peter Reinhart talk about the art of bread baking. Not to mention the fact that I had no idea what to make!

Recipe Story: The Applesauce Cake with Oatmeal Streusel

Last night I hastily did an inventory check in my apartment kitchen to find that I had no nuts, no raisins or cranberries, no gruyere cheese, or sour cream. I was completely at a loss of what to do. I mean, there went all my ideas for cinnamon rolls, gruyere puffs, and blueberry buckles. I took out all my baking books flipping madly trying to find a recipe that I could actually make when I saw it:  Applesauce Cake with Oatmeal Streusel.

“Brilliant!” I remember thinking as I remembered having applesauce somewhere in the fridge.

I read the directions which consisted of four simple steps, then began to measure out the ingredients. I took out the flour, sugar, baking power, applesauce, etc. I made the streusel part and then proceeded to make the cake part. I had everything prepared and sifted when it came time to add the applesauce. I opened the jar and frankly, my stomach lurched in disgust.

The applesauce was no longer applesauce. It was pink, fuzzy, and I think it winked at me.

However, I did not come all this way to give up, so I chopped up four medium apples, softened them in a microwave, added about 1/4 cup of brown sugar, and then swiftly pulsed them in a food processor. Ta dah – homemade applesauce!

Two cups of that went into the batter and it was ready to go. Lucky for me, it was well-received (and eaten) at the Omnivore Bookstore.

Omnivore Books – the one and only food bookstore in SF!

Omnivore Books on Food
3885a Cesar Chavez Street
San Francisco, CA 94131
Tel: 415.282.4712
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 12-5
Omnivore Books Sign

Speaking of Omnivore … I was excited to head to this bookstore. How could I have not heard about a food bookstore in San Francisco? It is the only one of its kind and it escaped my knowledge. Before I had arrived, I browsed through the website and instantly felt that I was going to like this place. It had new books, old books, signed books, and pictures of a cute and well-lit bookstore in a vibrant and friendly neighborhood on Caesar Chavez Street.

I was not disappointed.Omnivore book shelves

Though I arrived late (I blame the alarm clock for not going off properly!), I somehow fit into the packed little bookstore. I  dissolved into the mass of people sitting in chairs and on the floor and the others leaning against the back bookcases quite easily. I was 20 minutes late, but as I always think “better late than never”. I was just thankful that my mom and I found parking only a block away.

As Mr. Reinhart was talking, I couldn’t help but notice how cute the bookstore was. I do not know if Mr. Reinhart chose this place or the bookstore invited him or a combination of a mutual agreement, but it was definitely the perfect location.

Owner of Omnivore Books: Mary

Owner of Omnivore Books: Celia

It was big enough to accommodate all 30 (or so) of us, yet it was small enough to have this familiar, cozy atmosphere. It was as if all of us had gathered humbly to hear an experienced baker and philosopher talk about his life findings and point of view. We all had crowded in together captivated by the eloquent speaker.

If an outsider had looked in, we probably looked like a family in a home because that is how it felt like: a home.

After Mr. Reinhart finished his lecture, I was able to meet the owner of this bookstore: Celia.

Assistant: Samantha; Owner of Omnivore: Celia

After talking to her, I knew that this was a bookstore I would be coming back to whether it was for the upcoming events, new baking books, or simply to visit a familiar place.

This is a must visit place for any foodie living or visiting San Francisco.

Like Omnivore? Check out their upcoming events here.


Peter Reinhart and Bread as More than a Symbol

I know that I am young so I cannot say with any truth at least “I have seen it all”. I have actually embraced the opposite outlook in life. I am so excited to explore the world around me, meet new people, and learn about new and different things.

Having said that, I’m sure that it comes as no surprise that when I walked into Omnivore and saw Mr. Reinhart, heard him talking about the 12 step process of bread baking, the techniques of professionals and tips for home bakers, and relating the literal process of bread baking to the spiritual transformation, I was completely stunned.

I could not believe that the man I had seen on the back flap of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice was there. This was the same man that I had written a letter to and emailed back and forth to! And there he was standing right in front of me. I was blown away.

As I listened to what he was saying what interested me the most besides the actual bread making techniques was his comment of the four layers of transformation especially how the basic literal level is usually over-looked.

Peter Reinhart lecturing

To paraphrase what he said, “I always knew that bread was a symbol, but I never considered that the actual process of bread baking in the oven was in itself a transformation”.

If you think about it, what he said is true. He went on to say that though the yeast dies when the center of bread reaches 140 degrees, the outcome of the soft, vulnerable living dough is a beautiful, tasty, crusty bread. The theme that he was talking about was “from death comes life” like a rebirth, or in religious terms, the Resurrection.

A religious interpretation from Mr. Reinhart might be expected from him since he was once a brother. (Even at the brother’s house, he worked as the cook there). But, his insight offers another view on the simple task of bread making. Bread has truly been a staple for many cultures all over the world throughout history. There must be a reason why. And Mr. Reinhart gave his interpretation that does indeed make sense.

The parallels between baking bread and Christianity do seem quite numerous. Whether or not it was intended to be so, I did enjoy Mr. Reinhart’s perspective and will most likely be sharing this revelation with my friends.

The book written by Peter Reinhart from a  Theologian’s perspective: Brother Juniper’s Bread Book.

*He also mentioned that he is in the process of writing another theological book as well due to come out in a few months.

The Other Noteworthy People: Wolfinger & Cohn

Eric Wolfinger - photographer and bakerAfter Mr. Reinhart finished talking, the event broke out into “casual mingling mode”. We were all encouraged to try the baked goods that the other guests brought including Raisin Bran Muffins, pecan(?) tartlets, puffs, and my coffee cake.

While walking around, I was able to meet some really cool people like Eric Wolfinger, a baker at Tartine, and Allen Cohn, photo secession baking assistant of Artisan Breads Every Day.

Talking to each of them made me feel that I could work as a full-time baker. I’m sure there are certain things in life I would not be able to do like perhaps buy a mercedes-benz every two years, but I realized that maybe I don’t mind being a “starving baker” (what an oxymoron, right?) If he could live out his passions for photography and baking, then so could I.

For Eric Wolfinger’s Website on photography and baking, click here.

Originally from Los Angeles, Eric Wolfinger explained to me that he actually majored in Political Science, but then took on baking because it was his passion. Mr. Reinhart recounted a story from his book Artisan Breads Every Day in the Epilogue of when Eric brought a “smoky, crisp flaky crust[ed]” French bread to a dinner that made Mr. Reinhart stop in his tracks.

Calling himself “The Wandering Cook”, he currently works as a baker at Tartine where he and the other bakers produce the same french bread that caused time to stop still for Mr. Reinhart. Once I found this out, I was so surprised at who I was surrounded by in Omnivore. There were so many professional bakers in my midst! Being able to talk Mr. Wolfinger was such an honor that I was delighted with the few minutes we stood and chatted.

Tartine's Pumpkin Bread, Fruit Bread Pudding, Blueberry Cake, and Banana Cake

The other man who I had the honor of meeting was Allen Cohn, one of two the photo session baking assistants for Reinhart’s book Artisan Breads Every Day.

Talking to him, I realized that there are other things that I can do to enhance my knowledge of baking. He was kind enought to write down in my notebook (yes, I actually brought a real notebook to take notes) the list of things that I should look up.

I believe the first thing he asked me was, “How do you measure your ingredients?”Allen Cohn

I knew where this was going because I had read that weighing the ingredients is much more accurate than using measuring cups since everyone measures things differently.

I responded and smiled guiltily, “With measuring cups”.

“You should really buy a scale. They’re only $40. I held a class one time and asked each of my students to measure out 1 cup of flour, and they each came out with flour weighing from 3.5 ounces to 4.5 ounces. It should weigh 4 ounces”.

As I was talking more to him, so much useful information was being tossed out that I had to ask him to write in my notebook. In it, he wrote down several links including links to The Bread Bakers Guild of America and The Bakers Dozen. He also recommended Bread by Hammelman Bread Science by Emily Buehler, and Bakwise by Corrher.

As you can see, I’ve so much to catch up on! But first things first, buy the MyWeight kd7000 scale, or else I would be failing Mr. Cohn and the integrity of bread making would be soiled!

For Allen Cohn’s Baking Website, click here.


The Summary

I am glad that I went today and that my mom was kind enough to take the day off to take me. (Thanks, Mom!) I am glad that I did not hide my applesauce streusel cake at the last minute. (I had whispered to my mom, “Take it back to the car. No one is going to eat it”. She refused after seeing me work so hard last night). I am glad that I met so many wonderful people, including Celia and Samantha from Omnivore. (Celia was Omnivore’s photographer, I think, who was the first one to dare to try my cake! After she gave it a thumbs up, others followed suit).

Meeting other people like Eric Wolfinger and Allen Cohn made me realize that my dream to become a professional baker is possible if I just keep on baking. I was so lucky to be in the presence of so many experienced bakers who were willing to share their knowledge and experience with me.

I felt so honored to be mentioned by Mr. Reinhart in his formal talk ‘on stage’ in front of everyone too. At least five different people came up to me asking what my blog’s name is. (“Notebook Worthy”, I proudly replied with a smile). I’m also very thankful for Celia from Omnivore for tweeting about me to her 1,600 followers!, and Heidi Swason from 101 Cookbooks for re-tweeting her tweet! (ah, the beauty of the internet) Most of you are probably here because of her! :)

Also seeing Mr. Reinhart as a theologian and not just the bread baker was a nice experience too. Hearing him relate bread to religion was quite an experience, something I will take with me.

Hear Peter Reinhart Talk in the Taste3 Conference Here

Most of all, I was happy to be surrounded by people who shared my passion for baking. I have to admit that I do not run into too many student bakers at my school.

I have learned a lot about myself and the possibilities of the future because of the people I met today. It truly is rather exciting.

Double Treat: Omnivore Bookstore & Peter Reinhart!

2 Mar

Omnivore Event
March 5, 9:30 am:  Peter Reinhart

I am so excited for because in less than 36 hours I will be at San Francisco’s acclaimed Omnivore (Culinary/Baking) Book Store on Cesar Chavez Street. Why might I be so excited to be there at 9 a.m.? Well, because I finally get to meet and talk to Peter Reinhart, author of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice (and many other books)! He is coming to the Bay Area to talk about baking breakfast breads.

Complete List of Omnivore Events

At the same time, I am extremely nervous to meet him. Online it mentions that visitors can “bake some to share, if [they] feel moved!” I would love to bake something and bring it there, but I do not know if my baking skills are quite up to par to present it to the Bread Master himself! I was considering on baking cinnamon rolls using his recipe, but I thought that maybe that might be worse since he would know what the cinnamon rolls should taste like. Eh, I might just have to figure out something else. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment.

But anyway, I just wanted to share my anxious feelings as well as invite you to come out to this visionary bookstore. I have to say that I did not know that a cullinary bookstore like Omnivore existed. Then again, this is San Francisco I am talking about, so this should not come as much of a surprise. Still, I am quite interested to explore the bookstore itself.

Omnivore sells vintage books and signed books as well as newly released books. If you are looking for letter by M. F. K. Fisher, then you have found the correct place! These letters range from $50 – $200 so depending on how much you want to spend, you can have your pick.

So there you have it: a great upcoming event (Reinhart) and a lovely new bookstore (Omnivore).

And of course, I will write about Friday’s meeting and post up the pictures that I take. :)

Peter Reinhart: A Legendary Man, Philosopher, Baker

14 Feb

Peter Reinhart: Bread Master, Man of Philosophy

Peter Reinhart Links

  • Miniature Bio
  • Personal blog: Peter Reinhart’s Weblog
  • Amazon’s Collection of Peter Reinhart books
  • Video of Lecture at Taste3
  • Well, the topic for this post is really overdue because the person whom I am writing about deserves a lot of credit, but I digress no longer!

    My Story

    As I was trying to find a picture of Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Everyday (the book I used to make Peter Reinhart’s cinnamon rolls that I wrote about here), I stumbled across the Mr. Reinhart’s blog at: http://peterreinhart.typepad.com/. I easily found myself musing over the different posts amazed that such a well-known author would have time to keep a blog regularly updated. I somehow ended up on his October post in which he wrote that

    If you send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope to: Peter Reinhart, PO Box 79157, Charlotte, NC 29271, I will send you a signed bookplate to paste into your book. This way you can buy the book from your favorite bookseller at a better price than I can offer you and still get it signed. In your note, please say who you would like the bookplate(s) to be signed to.

    Honestly, after I had finished reading it, I re-read it again because I have a bad habit of skimming over things rather than fully reading them. So after I re-read it, I realized that I had been holding my breath because I felt a tightness in my chest building up. I could not believe it – the Mr. Peter Reinhart gave out his address online for his readers to write to him to receive the bookplate(s)! It did not matter to me that I did not even know what a bookplate was or that the post was from October of 2009 because I was stunned. I stared dumbly at his post for a while longer and then scrolled around madly trying to read his other posts for clues as to whether or not he would be able to send any more. I saw nothing more than this on October 13th:

    Thanks to one of our alert readers, Canan K., it appears as though I screwed up the zipcode in the previous post. For those wanting signed bookplates, the correct address should be:Peter Reinhart

    PO Box 79157

    Charlotte, NC 28271   <I had written a 9 instead of an 8>

    Please refer to the previous post for related details. So sorry–if you already sent it to the other zipcode it may take longer to find me or it may get returned to you. Please give me it an extra week or so; it should sort itself out and the book won’t be released for about 2 more weeks. Thanks for your patience!

    And this on October 25th:

    Hi Everyone,

    The zipcode screw up I made didn’t seem to stop the mail from arriving, so I’m sending out the first batch of bookplates tomorrow (Monday). Even the ones with the wrong zip still arrived. Thank you all for sending in for them and for including the self-addressed, stamped envelopes. I have over 200 requests already, so you can see how the costs can add up. My hand is cramped from signing the bookplates all weekend, but I’m just about caught up.  For those who still plan to request one, please see the previous two posts.

    I could hardly hope to think he would send me a bookplate – whatever it was – since I had read this post in January – JANUARY. This was THREE months after he had written the posts. He even mentioned the costs adding up. Still, I could not just let this go. After I had been waiting for a whole year to bake from one Mr. Reinhart’s books (particularly The Bread Baker’s Apprentice), I had received his other two books Artisan Breads Everyday and Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor. Now just two weeks later, I stumbled across this bread master’s blog and his P.O. Box, and was now in closer connection to him than ever.


    As the young, ambitious baker that I am, I was determined to write him that letter any how. I figured that the worst that could happen was that one of his publisher’s or agents would come across it eventually, screen it, and then maybe (maybe!) it would reach him so that he could read it himself. The letter turned out a lot longer than I had expected  – two pages longer – but I enjoyed writing every bit of it. I ended up kind of telling a bit of personal history and explaining my love of baking. The last little paragraph was where I mentioned the book plate. I was not even sure how to introduce the topic, but I wrote to the best of my ability. I proofread my letter, then sent it out by the end of the week in a large manila envelope along with two pictures of my cinnamon rolls and garlic pretzels that I had baked based off of his recipe.

    About a week later on January 19th …

    I received an email from the legendary bread master himself! As you can imagine, I reread the email a thousand times before anything clicked in my head. I knew that I had written about my blog and included the link, but he actually found my email address on the site, and sent me an email! I could not imagine how my letter had gotten me that far! People do indeed read letters – no middlemen attached! Moreover, he mentioned my blog on his blog, which is probably how you ended up here in the first place. :)

    Well, after another email, he informed of several important places to eat at in San Francisco, namely ACME at the Ferry Building and La Boulange Bakery and Cafe on Filmore and California Street. I resolved to go to either bakery with my mom the next available weekend that we could to which she responded that we could go to La Boulange the very next weekend; so that’s just what we did. We went there, ate there, and indulged ourselves with the open-faced chicken with mushroom cream sandwich with tomato soup, the BLT with fries, and a vegetable galette. It was complete bliss. I ate everything single thing from every morsel of the freshly baked whole wheat bread to the last drop of the tomato soup. We left feeling happy and satisfied glad to have tried a restaurant reccomended by the bread legend himself. As for ACME, I wrote about it in my blog here. But basically, my favorite thing there was what was called the “Teeny Bread” because it was so soft and moist like a sponge cake.


    Now, about a month after the legendary email …

    • I set on my calendar for  March 5 to go to Omnivore books to see Mr. Reinhart for his book signing. I do not exactly have any more books for him to sign since he already sent in the bookplates, but I am going to show up anyway just to see him in person. I have no idea what to wear or what to say or what to bake! (On his blog, he wrote “Bring something delicious!”) I am open to suggestions of all kinds so please comment below.
    • After researching more about Mr. Reinhart, I came across his lecture in which he talks about the science of fermentation and whole grain breads. I listed the link below.
    • For my birthday (February 4th) my mom completed my initial “wishlist” book by getting me Mr. Reinhart’s award-winning book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which I have yet to try something from it. I have made the cinnamon rolls twice now. :)
    • Because my mom also got me other baking books and some friends pitched in and bought my some baking equipment, I think I’m going to try to create another page listing my baking tools and recommended baking books. I’ll probably call the page “In my Kitchen & On the Shelf: the baking tools and baking books I use”. This can be useful at times to understand how I bake and why certain things turn out the way that they do.

    I suppose that the end of my little update and story. However, I must thank Mr. Reinhart for his wonderful encouragement and for his wisdom:

    In the end, the goal is to work with your head, not just your hands.

    P.S. I want to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Chinese New Year! I wish I had made something more festive, but I’ll try to make something later today and then post about it on Monday.

    Rainy Adventure to San Francisco’s Ferry Building

    24 Jan

    Since my mom and I went to the Ferry Building two weeks ago, I could not wait to go back there again. When we first went, it was the Monday before school started back up again so there was no farmer’s market or arts & crafts tents. Plus it was mostly deserted. But, not this time.

    This time there was the Walk for Life peace demonstration so the entire Embarcadero and Ferry Building area was jammed packed. The crowds were probably from the demonstration and because it was simply a Saturday. Weekends are when the farmers’ market and arts & crafts fair are set up and roaring to go. The rain did not prevent people from traveling to the Ferry Building either – it sure did not prevent us – it only forced all the crowds that would have been lounging outside into the building. It literally felt like walking through a New York subway! My head was spinning trying to take into the different sights, smells, and sounds.

    Once inside and my head stopped spinning, I began to enjoy it. There were so many different kinds of people there: tourists (mostly Asian and Europeans), wet demonstrators, families with little kids and grandparents, and the young couples in their 20’s and 30’s. There were so many good smells coming from everywhere: the Ciao Bella gelatto place, Cowgirl Creamery’s Artisan Cheese Shop, San Francisco Fish Company, Farm Fresh to You, Far West Fungi, Stonehouse’s California Olive Oil, Imperial Tea Court, ACME Bread Company, Miette, and so much more. The whole directory can be found here.

    I was actually surprised how busy and alive the Ferry Building was compared to the time we went there. The storekeepers of all the food shops were giving away samples like how Costco does. This one moment came when the flow of people stopped and across a couple of walking lanes I saw the Farm Fresh to You (grocery store). This older gentlemen with an apron on stood there next to a table with some kind of chocolate treats. He smiled and waved over my mom and I. It did not take much to attract us: it was simply the chocolate

    .

    Farm Fresh to You & CJ’s Bitz

    CJ's Bitz: Hand Rolled in Toffee Chips (Original); sold at Farm Fresh to You

    The grocer handed us a piece of toffee chocolate pretzel (the original flavor) and then when we smiled, nodded our heads that it was delicious, he handed us the peanut butter version which was the same thing but the pretzel was filled with peanut butter. As we stood there with our mouths glued shut with peanut butter, he proceeded to tell us about the white chocolate version with the peanut butter and without the peanut butter. Before we knew it, we agreed that the Original Flavor and the Peanut Butter Milk Chocolate versions were the best. And indeed, they were! Which is why we bought a small bag of each kind for $5.99 each, which is a $1 cheaper than their online price here.

    After we left the Farm Fresh to You with their delicious organic fruits and vegetables, we headed outside equipped with umbrellas where the real produce stands were. Unfortunately, none of the pictures that I took came out well because of the rain, but I have to say that it was a nice variety. There were organic pastas, breads, vegetables from all over the Bay Area, and even a rotisserie chicken place!  This I got a picture of. (I am a big fan of rotisserie chicken, by the way. I always buy one at my local Lucky’s).


    DELICA: A Japanese Delicatessen

    After coming back inside to dry off, it was about 11:30 am so everyone was lining up at all the restaurants. We already knew that we wanted to go to DELICA – rf1, a Japanese Delicatessen. (On their sign, it reads more like “Deli CA”). They serve what the Japanese call “bentos”, which are basically like lunch combinations for a special price. The original Japanese bentos consist of rice, chicken, beef, or pork, seaweed, and fruit. It is much like a school child’s lunch.

    They do serve various deli items such as Roast Beef sushi, Organic Agedashi (“ah-geh-dah-she”) Tofu Steak, and a Chicken Dumpling with Sweet Chili Sauce. Their salads are superb fusions of their original counter parts. I tried the Hijiki and Soybean Salad, Spicy Burdock Salad, and the Spinach and Sesame Salad. Their Carrot Ginger soup had a delicious taste and slightly thick texture. They had samples of this soup, which is why we bought a cup of it. They also have different sushis and fried items, but we did not try those. If you want the full menu (PDF), go here, or (HTML) here.

    Here are the photos our lunch.

    Hijiki Rice Ball & Salmon and Sesame Rice Ball - $2

    Lunch Plate Combination Displays (Food displays are a typical Japanese custom)

    Cold Cases of Deli Items and To Go Foods

    Roast Beef Sushi in the Deli case; Tofu and Chicken Patties got cut off

    My take-out box: spinach and seasme salad, Hijiki and Soybean Salad, and Tofu-Chicken Pattie with Miso Sauce

    Mom's Take Out Box: Spicy Burdock Root Salad, Steamed Rice, and Chicken Dumpling with Sweet Chili Sauce

    Chicken Dumpling with Sweet Chili Sauce

    Carrot Ginger Soup

    Lunch Time Music: Jazz, courtesy of the Man with the Oboe

    I tried to get a picture of the little girl, but at the last moment, the woman with the stroller moved in the way. But, just look at everyone's smiles!

    While we were enjoying a delicious meal from DELICA, my mom and I opted to sit outside where we were shaded by the roof. Surprisngly, there were still a good number of people seated at similar wire tables and chairs. The best part of the lunch and the view was the beautiful jazz music played by this man on his oboe.

    I am not too sure if he was homeless or if he was just playing to play, but he was nonetheless talented. He seemed to be in his 50’s, but his heart was of pure gold. He was smile and laugh as little kids were captivated by his music. When in the presence of any little kid, he usually switched from his jazz tunes to children tunes like “Old McDonald” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. He even made one little boy who was crying so loudly to quiet down and actually giggle. I am sure that the parents of the little boy were so happy. Another little girl was so delighted with him and his music that she started dancing in front of him. Her parents stood by watching their daughter interact with the friendly man.

    ACME Bread Company

    Because I knew that I could not pass up trying the ACME Bread Company because it was reccomended by Mr. Peter Reinhart himself, we headed there next even though we were quite full from DELICA’s lunch. But, I did try to save room so I was able to squeeze in one of their Teeny Rolls, a palm-sized piece of bread.

    It should not come as a shock to know that when we got there, there was a line forming. We quickly go into line and waited to step up to the counter where all the bread displays were. While waiting, I was watching the bread makers in the back punching the dough, rolling it out, and then using the super-sized, commercial ovens.

    Once at the counter, I was dazzled by the different types of breads that they were selling. I couldn’t really choose which ones to buy, but somehow the words “onion bread”, “pumpkin bread”, and “three teeny rolls, please” came out. While walking around, we munched on a teeny roll. It was the best bread I have ever tasted. It was not like a sourdough or a sweet french roll. It was soft, moist like a cake but not sweet, with a hint of salt. I swear that it was just like dessert except that it was a piece of bread.

    Sur La Table

    Here’s just a quick area of where I ended up. (Predictable, aren’t I?)

    Oh, and just for you who do not know what “Sur La Table” is, it is a cookingware and bakingware store. I’ve taken classes at the Sur La Table downtown. It’s a good place to go.

    I saw this linen napkin and couldn’t help but smile when I saw it too …

    The Wrap Up

    If you go to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, then you have you try these places:

    I did not write about all of them, but these are my personal favorites. Of course do not forget the Weekend Farmer’s Market.

    So, if you ever come to San Francisco, come to the Ferry Building. It is a foodie’s heaven! It’s better than Disneyland. :)

    Last Summer Getaway: Nick’s Restaurant (at Pacifica), reviewed

    4 Sep

    Well, as I’m sure you have realized by now, I’m not posting as much as I used too. But I’m making the effort!

    About a week ago last Sunday, I went to dinner with my mom and Uncle. The weather was scorching hot and the city was just not the place to be. Where to go when the weather’s being a real bugger? One word: Pacifica.

    Why go to Pacifica? It’s less than 35 minutes away, has good restaurants and shops, and the beach! (duh!) Need I say more? :)

    My family and I have a personal favorite when we go to Pacifica though. We always head to Rockaway Beach, about an extra mile or two away from the heart of Pacifica. At Rockaway Beach, you can find a small little romantic town with small shops with some restaurants both fancy and casual. The cuisine ranges from American to Mexican to Italian. Regrettably, there’s not much in this area, but we keep coming back for big reason: Nick’s Restaurant near the Sea Breeze Motel.

    Nick’s Restaurant

    At Rockaway Beach, Pacifica
    near the Sea Breeze Motel
    Off of Hwy 1


    Nick’s Restaurant is good for families and first dates! The tables have white table cloths and candles are automatically placed on tables when the sun goes down. There are large windows that face the beach which is perfect when the sun sets. The colors illuminate the room creating this really good feel to it.

    Another great thing about this restaurant is that it has a full-service bar and dance floor equipped with a real stage for real bands. You can rent this space out for parties and events. It’s pretty cool since it’s separated from the fancy white tables. Check out the band calendar here.

    As for the food, you will not (and I repeat) will not be disappointed. It’s impossible. If you are, well then, you’re just not human. I’ve come here for their breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I can honestly say that everything was really delicious, tasty, and well worth the effort of the drive down. I recommend their Onion Rings, hamburger, and any of the breakfast. Click here for their menus.

    The last time I went there I was craving dinner. And since they have their own parking lot, which is another good thing, we were able to walk inside quickly. The only bad thing about this place is that it’s greatness is not a secret especially when you have tourists from the Sea Breeze Motel eating there. If you get there after 6:30 pm, you will have to wait. Come any time before then, and you’re set. Of course, once tourist season dies down, you can probably be seated in no time. We had to wait 30 minutes, but let me tell you, the food is worth it!

    I and the Uncle ended up ordering their Chicken Picatta.

    Chicken Picatta – $15 (roughly)

    Two breasts of chicken served with wild rice, sauteed green beans, and capers in a delicious lemon sauce

    Two breasts of chicken served with wild rice, sauteed green beans, and capers in a delicious lemon sauce

    My mom ordered their Broiled Salmon Filet. Mhmm…good! Since they are near the ocean, they get all their fish fresh! Indulge in the goodness!

    Broiled Salmon Filet – $16 (roughly)

    Salmon filet served with wild rice, sauteed vegetables, and tartar sauce

    Salmon filet served with wild rice, sauteed vegetables, and tartar sauce

    Overall, I was not disappointed with their dinner! It was fantastic and worth the wait. With the view, lovely ambience and pleasant servers, you cannot beat Nick’s Restaurant at Rockaway Beach off of Hwy 1. It’s a bit pricey compared to the diner style Mexican restaurant next door, but it has good satisfying food. Plus, the entrees pretty much all come with their famous garlic bread! For a weekend getaway, you can always stay at the Sea Breeze Motel, eat at Nick’s, and then head to the beach to relax. :)

    Hope you’re summer was/has been good to you! Enjoy it while it lasts!