Friday, March 20, 2009

Bacaro LA - Downtown

I discovered this downtown wine bar from a wine blog called Do Bianchi. After I picked up my Gaditano from Union Station the other night, we headed straight for this cozy and modern little wine bar. We landed the last available table by the front window, and sat in the banquette facing the chalk board filled with all the wines by the glass, and a nice rendering of Italy divided into its provinces (the wine list was pleasantly heavy on Italian wines, with many wines under $40).

Their menu consists of cichetti (small plates), very reasonably priced at $7 each or three for $19. At that price, I expected the serving to be skimpy, but they were not at all. We shared 3 crostini (the 3 for $7), our favorite being the mascarpone and sun-dried tomato tapenade. Then on to a create-your-own panino: we choose black forest ham, caramelized onions and gruyere a fail-safe combination.

The Bacaro burger was not your ordinary hamburger: open faced of thick toasted bread, beef patty, beefsteak tomato doused in a creamy steak-sauce. Not the best burger, but an enjoyable, creative surprise.

Also on the menu are cheeses, salame, bruschette, scallops, steak, chicken, nuts, olives, etc. I love the casual atmosphere, the tasty inexpensive food and out of the way locale in a quiet, not too dodgy area of downtown. I'll be back.

Bacaro LA
2308 Union St.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A-16 - San Francisco

I picked up their new cookbook a couple weeks ago, after reading about it in Gourmet Magazine, and I love it. When our trip to San Francisco came up, I made sure we had a reservation here. The place was absolutely packed. We waited a few minutes for our table in the very crowded bar area, which gave up time to check out all the dishes that passed us by. We started with a plate of soft, salty, sweet, delicate Prociutto San Daniele.

We shared the spinach gnocchi with mushrooms and broth (one of the dishes we saw at the bar, but I mistook the broth for butter) which were fluffly and delicate, not too rich at all (but I do wish they were in a pool of butter instead of broth!).

My Gaditano had their version of pizza bianca, which I have made form their book. Mozzeralla, basil, and olives, it was great, even better than mine (I need a wood fired pizza oven..).

For my main course, I had the trippa alla Napoleatana, which was just like the trippa all Romana I had in Rome, except with bread crumbs.

We sipped a nice cerasuolo from Sicily and enjoyed our selves and the meal tremendously.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

César - Berkeley

In Berkeley, next door to Chez Panisse is César, a Spanish tapas restaurant. Basically it is good, but a bit expensive. We ordered the piquillo peppers stuffed with queso fresco, raisins and pine nuts, which I enjoyed the combination very much, but they were tiny, especially for $9.75. The cheese plate was skimpy and ugly, at $11.75.

They should add some accompaniments such as mebrillo paste or almonds. The highlight was certainly the croque señor bacadillos.

We should of just ordered two of these and forgotten the cheese and peppers. A toasted sandwich of manchego, jamon serrano and a creamy ailioli for $10.75. A glass of manzanilla and house-made lemon mint soda proved to be refreshing.

1515 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Flour Girl Desserts

Minda Trotta, pastry chef and owner of Flour Girl Desserts offered to send me a sample of her rocky road to try, so, of course I accepted. I received this box filled with wonderful rocky road. It lasted mere minutes with my family. Rocky road typically is not my favorite, but this one was better than most, due to the rich dark chocolate and homemade marshmallows. I quickly forgot that I normally don't dig rocky road!

Flower Girl Desserts

Friday, March 06, 2009

Citizen Cake - San Francisco

On our way to see the seven painted ladies in San Francisco, we stooped at Citizen Cake for a little pick me up. A cappucino, an individual chocolate mousse cake, a brownie and an alfajore, and we were ready for the uphill trek to Alamo Square. The cupcakes and croissants were so tempting that we made a quick stop on our way out of town the next morning for one of each (and a bag of chocolate cookies). All were fantastic.

Citizen Cake
399 Grove Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Tel. (415) 861-2228

The Zuni Burger - San Francisco

We had a nice late lunch on our first day in San Francisco at Zuni Cafe. I had dinner there a few years ago and the meal was exceptional. I had heard about their burger, and went in with high expectations. It was good, but not exceptional. It was served on a buttery focaccia bun, and for a couple dollars more with a skimpy slice of cheese. For an extra $6, we got a pile of super crisp shoestring fries. The patty was moist and tender, but overall slightly under-salted, especially considering they salt all their meat a day or two in advance. Had I not gone in with such high expectations, I think I would have been more pleased. Instead, it was just OK.

Zuni Cafe
1658 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Real San Francisco Treat

The real San francisco treat is an Irish coffee from the Buena Vista - not the salt-carb-bomb of Rice o' Roni. Without fail I have had breakfast here on every visit to San Francisco. Two Irish coffees (try to have just one) with San Francisco sourdough bread, and a view of the cable car and the bay. The drink is so popular here that the waiters don't even have to order it by name, they just tell the bartender "make one."

Buena Vista
2765 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone: 415-474-5044