Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Slanted Door

I've been to San Francisco four times now, and each time with a list of places that I hope to visit. I've been lucky in stumbling over great finds; however it doesn't hurt to do some research prior to the trip. The Slanted Door has been on my list from the first time that I visited, and it was only on this last visit that I was finally able to experience it! My mom was slightly hesitant about going to this restaurant, as she said, "I don't like Vietnamese food;" however, after her first bite of food at the Slanted Door, I can proudly say that I expanded her horizons in the food realm!

The restaurant offers Vietnamese food, with a San Francisco flair. The modern twist of Vietnamese cooking is accented with a plethora of locally grown produce and ecologically farmed meant, game and poultry.

There is a relaxed and open atmosphere with large glass windows overlooking the San Francisco Bay.

Although it was a foggy day, we could see the San Francisco Bay Bridge peaking out from the haze from where we were sitting.

We were overwhelmed by the extensive menu offerings (everything sounded so delicious!), so we made our choices based off of the recommendations from the waitress. The Crispy Imperial Rolls included shrimp, pork, glass noodles and peanuts, served with fresh lettuce leaves to wrap and a light dipping sauce. Absolutely delicious!

The Green Papaya Salad was very original, and included tofu, rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) and roasted peanuts. The dressing was unlike any other papaya salad I've eaten. It was fresh and vibrant without the overpowering fish sauce and chili pepper that I'm accustomed to.

My favorite was the Caramelized Tiger Prawns. They were smothered in a sticky sauce of garlic, onions, and chilis. There was a slight sweetness from the caramelization, with a kick of heat at the end. Finger licking good!

My mom and sister ordered the Chicken Claypot, which was chicken thigh pieces with a caramel sauce, chilies and fresh ginger. This one wasn't the greatest, a little on the salty side.

The Slanted Door lived up to my expectations and changed my mom's perspective on Vietnamese food. The San Francisco twist on Vietnamese food worked perfectly, in my opinion, and I would definitely recommend this restaurant to those in the Bay Area!

The Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building #3
San Francisco, CA 94111

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pizzeria Delfina

Pizzeria Delfina was another accidental discovery that my mom, sister and I stumbled upon while walking through the Castro and Mission districts in San Francisco. It was a cold and rainy day, and we were on a quest to re-visit Tartine. To our disappointment, it seemed as though everyone else decided that Tartine was the perfect cozy escape for such a rainy day. The crowd was not our idea of relaxation after the long, cold walk, so we backtracked our steps to a pizzeria that we spotted along the way.

Owners Craig and Anne Stoll have a menu inspired by their memories of New York pizzerias and Craig's childhood in Naples. They offer classic pizzas as well as daily special pizzas using seasonal ingredients. Their menu has portions that are both printed and handwritten, as selections change daily. There's also an array of antipasti beautifully displayed along the counter as well as daily soup and salad selections. Desserts are also tempting... if you leave room for them, that is! To round it all out, they offer a nice selection of wine Southern Italy.

The restaurant is set up almost like a diner, with both tables and counter seating. The kitchen is wide open, and customers can watch as the pizzas are being prepared. Upon being seated, you are served with breadsticks, a plate of cheese, oregano, and red pepper flakes, and a glass bottle of water. So simple, yet artistic.

We started off with an antipasti of Satsuma and Walnuts served with fennel and arugula. It was a wonderful pairing of seasonal ingredients. The licorice flavor of the fennel and the peppery arugula were balanced out with the sweetness of the satsumas. All the flavors were brightened up with a light vinaigrette dressing and the walnuts added nice texture.

It was tough to decide upon just one pizza, but we decided to try the classic Margherita. This one was tomato, basil, and Bubalis Mozzarella di Bufala and finished off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil just before serving. The thin Neapolitan inspired crust was crispy on the outside with a thin, chewy center. When I took my first bite of this pizza, my face explained it all! Eyes wide open, a huge grin on my face, and all I could say was "mmmmmmm...." The texture and flavor of the Buffalo Mozzarella is incomparable to plain mozzarella and its definitely worth it to pay a little extra for this one! Combine it with a glass of Italian wine and you have heaven!

If I had any more room in my stomach I would have tried the Clam Pie, which includes cherrystone clams, tomato, oregano, pecorino, and hot peppers, or the Broccoli Raab, which is topped with broccoli raab, mozzarella di bufala, parmigiano, olives, and hot peppers. They also offer a Salsiccia with housemade fennel sausage, tomato, bell peppers, onions, and mozzarella. Looks like I'll have to go back for more next time I visit my sister!

Pizzeria Delfina
3611 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Second Helping of "Mediterraneo"

I just got back from celebrating my dad's birthday at Mediterraneo. Last time, I said that it was worth another try... well, I sure am glad that I went back! We had an awesome time tonight. The food was superb, service was exceptional, and we even got to meet the owner (Fabrizio poured us some Grappa and sat down at our table to chat)!! This place is now my favorite place to eat Italian food!

The Northern Italian Seafood Risotto was made with a saffron broth and included muscles, fish, shrimp and clams. The flavor of the saffron really brought out the flavor of the seafood.

My dad's Ciopinno was exceptional! It was a light, yet flavorful fish and tomato broth, packed with clams, muscles, fish, and shrimp. I couldn't stop sticking my spoon into his dish to get a taste of the soup! The best part was towards the bottom of the bowl where all the small bits of fish and clam were left.

The Puttanesca was also perfectly executed. This classic Italian dish is made with garlic, anchovies, tomatoes and olives. Its amazing how such simple ingredients paired with freshly made pasta can create such a wonderful dish!

Dessert was a thousand times better this time around. My favorite was the chocolate pyramid. It appears to be dense and rich, but its actually a lot lighter than it looks. The bottom of the pyramid had a ever-so-light crunch to it...perhaps some finely ground toffee? If you've had the chocolate pyramid at JJ's French Bistro, this one is a lot better!!

The tiramisu was light and fluffy, and not too sweet.

From the first time that I visited Mediterraneo, I knew that there was something special about it. Although I wasn't thoroughly impressed the first time around, this time made up for it ten-fold!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thanksgiving in San Francisco

After spending Thanksgiving in San Francisco with my sister and mom I have a lot to share! I finally had a chance to try The Slanted Door at the Ferry Building Marketplace, we had some great French food, and some authentic Italian Pizza!! :) I originally intended to post it all at once, but its been a crazy week! So for now, enjoy a taste of one of the French restaurants, Le Garage...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Le Garage

Our night at Le Garage turned out to be quite an adventure. First, we got to cross the picturesque Golden Gate Bridge to travel from San Francisco to Sausalito. Then as we approached Sausalito, our Google maps directions took us onto a beaten path of dark and windy roads and into a sketchy boat harbor. With a phone call and the help of a Frenchman (with a thick French accent) from the restaurant, we were able to locate the dimly lit, unmarked restaurant with a garage door opening. I couldn't help but wonder what were we getting ourselves into. The area felt as though a murderer might be lurking out behind the garbage bin and the unmarked building left us feeling suspicious...

But once we were inside, elegance and edge blended seamlessly and the sight of people happily enjoying their food eased our minds. When I think of a French restaurant, I think expensive food and snooty waiters. At Le Garage, the atmosphere is fun, yet classy. The waitress wearing a auto-mechanic uniform, speaks to you with a classy French accent, as she offers her knowledge of French wine and cuisine. The d├ęcor is edgy, with exposed ceilings and unfinished railings, and yet the classy flower arrangement doesn’t look all that out of place.

Chefs Bruno Denis and Olivier Souestre both are natives of France, who are committed to serving simple French bitstro food in a relaxed atmosphere. At Le Garage, the chef takes special care to use local, organic, and sustainable ingredients whenever possible. The wine list is mostly French wines, but also includes some California wines as well.

To start off, we had black mission figs stuffed with Fourme d’ambert (similar to bleu cheese), arugula, dried cherries, pistachios, and a pomegranate vinaigrette. I had always wanted to taste fresh figs, since they’re a rare find in Hawaii. I was not disappointed; this dish was delicious! Sweet figs, creamy and slightly bitter cheese, spicy arugula, tart cherries, and crunchy pistachios—varying elements coming together to create one great salad.

We also had Dungeness Crab Stuffed Squash Blossoms, fried golden brown and swimming in a savory tomato basil coulis. The delicate squash blossoms were preserved in the lightly crispy coating and the rich crab flavor permeated the dish.

I ordered one of the recommended dishes, the Bouillabaisse. Its a traditional fish stew with mussles, clams, red potatoes, and white fish, served with crispy baguettes and Rouille (a savory garlic, saffron and mayonnaise spread). The broth was nice and rich, perfect for dipping the baguettes into.

The Loch Duart Salmon was served with baby leeks, mini charm tomato confit, parsnip chips and a kalamata olive vinaigrette. Each of the ingredients offered its unique flavors which paired to create one delicious bite.

The Duck Confit was expertly prepared with an organic burgundy reduction, French fingerling potatoes, and garnished with baby zucchini and parsnips. The duck melted in your mouth as the intensified flavors of the burgundy coated your palate.

The Ravioles de Royans was quite an interesting surprise. Tiny little purses of French ravioli filled with French cheese, smothered in an artichoke pesto. The waitress shared that these tender bites of pasta are imported from France. The pasta was topped off with Massachusetts Dayboat Scallops and oven roasted tomatoes, all drizzled with a lithe olives confit.

We all shared an order of fries with roasted garlic aioli.

For a bit of French desserts, we decided to share two. The first was an Organic Cabernet poached pear served with spiced panna cotta.

The other was Fondant au Chocolate, a molten chocolate cake suffed with raspberries and topped off with fresh whipped cream and a raspberry coulis. The restaurant also served complimentary glasses of dessert wine with our dessert.

So what started off to be a suspicious and scary restaurant, turned out to be a French delight! If you’re not up trekking through the dark and scary boat harbor, try this place for lunch or weekend brunch!

Le Garage
85 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 109
Sausalit, CA 94695