Archive for May, 2011

May 24

Cuban-style Baked Goods from Porto’s Bakery & Cafe

Over the weekend, my sister was in Southern California and got us a box of Cuban-style baked goods from Porto’s Bakery & Cafe! I’ve never had anything from them before, nor have I ever had Cuban-style baked goods.  Everything looked so good in the box, the crispiness, the flaky pastry, I decided to put everything in the oven instead of heating them in the microwave.

When my sister gets us snacks, it’s no joke, she really gets us all the good stuff. So here it was: a Cuban style Pork Tamale wrapped in a traditional corn husk and made with a seasoned corn based dough, filled with tender pulled pork and Cuban spices, a fried Chicken Croquette coated in panko bread crumbs and made from a mix of ground chicken seasoned with their special blend of herbs and spices, a fried Ham Croquette made from ground ham seasoned with spices and breaded, some fried Potato Balls with soft mashed potato filled with seasoned ground beef,  a light and flaky puff pastry Meat Pie filled with seasoned ground beef,  a Chorizo Pie made with their empanada dough filled with seasoned pork sausage, and for dessert, Cheese Rolls made with sweet, flaky pastry dough and filled with a light cream cheese filling.

Yes, it was a lot of food, but we enjoyed every bite of it! They smelled so tasty and the seasoned secret surprises in every piece were scrumptious goodness! The golden brown fried delicacies were fried to perfection, the flaky pastries were thinly layered and light, and the tamale was just yum, yum, yum!  If I’m ever in the area, Porto’s Bakery & Cafe will be a must visit on my list!

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May 23

Goat Hill Pizza, A Neighborhood Pizza Joint!

Goat Hill Pizza has been around for a long time and quite a few of my friends have recommended it.  I’ve always wanted to try it and finally had a chance yesterday! We had a group of 8, arrived an hour before closing on a Sunday night, and they were very welcoming and a table was set quickly.

For appetizers, we ordered the Hot Wings and Caprese Salad, they were both good, fresh and simple. For the pizza, we got ourselves the Special Combination and Meat Lover’s! The Special Combination featured A LOT – salami, pepperoni, Italian sausage, ground beef, mushrooms, green bell peppers, green onions, black olives and garlic! The Meat Lover’s featured salami, pepperoni and Italian sausage!

Okay, both of them looked a bit oily, but hey, it’s pizza! With all the toppings, you would think that the pizza was soggy, but as I took a bite,  it was completely crunchy and crispy on the bottom. The sourdough crust was covered with bits of cornmeal from the bottom to the crust! I loved it! I personally love New York style thin crust pizza, Goat Hill Pizza is not like New York pizza by any means, but it is pretty damn good!

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May 19

Sweet Sweet Kara’s Cupcakes

My hubby came home and surprised me with something in a cute pink box! No, not the Tiffany blue box, a pink box with a Kara’s Cupcakes sticker! Oh how he knows the way to my heart…food…my eyes popped out and I had a big smile on my face! There they were, a plush Sweet S’mores cupcake which is a chocolate cupcake with a graham cracker crust on the bottom and toasted marshmallow frosting, a Vanilla and Chocolate cupcake with a coconut cream cheese frosting!

Of course we shared them! He’s not much of a dessert fan himself, but to his surprise, he REALLY liked them! They were all sugary delights but I LOVED the Sweet S’mores, I personally love marshmallow and the frosting was not too sweet, it blended perfectly with the rich chocolate, while the graham cracker was so good and such sweet surprise!

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May 17

A Little Bit of History at The Old Clam House

This weekend we went to the newly remodeled, Old Clam House.  Opened in 1861, The Old Clam House is one of the oldest restaurants in San Francisco!  What was once the Islais Creek which flowed into Mission Bay is now the Bayview District of San Francisco, not the most convenient and attractive areas in the city, but you will be surprised by this old charmer once you walk inside. We sat in the Main Dining Room, featuring traditional designed moldings and vintage San Francisco photos along the walls!

We had a group of about 15 people, the restaurant was slow and quiet on a Sunday night and we were immediately seated. Of course we ordered appetizers to share family style – the Clams Escargot, Shrimp Cocktail, Calamari, Golden Gate Clam Chowder, Arugula Salad in lemon oil, goat cheese & sun-dried tomatoes and the Fuji Apple Salad with arugula, raspberry vinaigrette, sun-dried cranberries & candied walnuts!  I really loved the baked cheesy Clams Escargot, as you can tell by the photo, two went missing right away! There was nothing special about the Shrimp Cocktail, Calamari and Salads, but they were decent. I did not like the Clam Chowder, it was like a creamy potato soup, I was wondering what happened to the heavy cream! Maybe it was a different style Clam Chowder, I’m not really sure.

For my entree, I ordered off their Specialties and got myself the Clams Paella Acini with cioppino sauce, sausage, olives and raw milk white cheddar.  Acini is a pasta that looks like tiny beads! My Paella Acini was cooked thoroughly with lots of cheese and the clams were fresh! It was such a great dish! My hubby ordered the Seafood Cioppino and the flavors and fresh seafood (crab, mussels, clams and squid) were just delicious, the stew was not watered down at all and the crispy bread was perfect for dipping!

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May 16

Delizioso Dishes at Ristobar

Over the weekend, we tried Ristobar! We had a large group of people, but the service was good and they were very accommodating.   The ambiance was warm and dim with an Italian flair, featuring wines bottles along the parameter and colorful frescos on the walls and ceiling!  Since we were such a big group, every few sections of our table ordered different dishes. Our section ordered more than a few dishes to share family style.  Believe it or not, I almost enjoyed every dish!  Delizioso!

Starters

Duck Liver Pate, truffle sea salt, crushed pistachio – WOW, please order this smooth heavenly pate if they have it on the menu, you won’t be sorry!

Olive Condite, marinated castelvetrano olives – Sooo good, the olives were plump and perfect!

Mortadella, imported cured pork, pistachio, local escarole, pink lady apple, toasted pumpkins seeds – Not sure why,  but Mortadella reminds me of Bologna. Okay, I know that’s wrong of me to say since one is made Italian style and the other is just American! But really, it’s quite similar. This salad was good,  an interesting combination of ingredients.

Crudo, Raw Salmon, watercress, mandarin oranges, caper berry and lemon oil – This had no orange flavor whatsoever.  And honestly, the raw salmon was not that good and this dish didn’t have enough salt. Thankfully there were the capers to add some saltiness. I didn’t love this.

Artisanal Pizza

Vesta tomato sauce, ricotta, fennel sausage, speck, rucola – Very good combination, the pizza was thin and crisp, not soggy! Very good pizza!

Valencia ricotta, goat cheese, asiago, pear, watercress – Another great combination, you will enjoy this if you like goat cheese!

Pasta

Risotto, Arborio Carnaroli rice, spot prawn tails & soft shell crab, shellfish stock, prosecco – The risotto, as an Italian would say, was ‘perfetto’! However, the soft shell crab was very salty, it’s almost as if the chef spilled too much salt onto it by accident!

Entrees

Ossobuco, dolcetto braised veal shank, rainbow carrots, natural jus – One word, LOVE! The meat was so tender and fell off the bone!

Pan Roasted Wild Boar Sausage, carrots, turnips, brussel sprouts, natural jus – This was also a good entree, the spices with the sausage were tasty!

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May 12

Did Someone Say Bourbon? Yes, Bourbon Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookies That Is

I first tried Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookies last year and I loved it! You can read more about the other heavenly flavors from my previous blog! I finally found an excuse to buy some recently, and my friend who is the Dough Maker there included a package of their NEW flavor, the Bourbon Brown Butter Sea Salt cookies, made with dark brown sugar and a top shelf bourbon. Once I opened the little package, I could smell nothing but pure sweetness…and then I took a bite…soft, fresh, buttery, with a hint of bourbon and sea salt melting in my mouth…WOW! The next time I order, I have to add this to the mix!

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May 10

Spicy Original Vickles Pickles!

Last year when I saw Vic, he was talking about how he knew how to make pickles. I seriously thought he was kidding. The next thing I knew, I saw Vickles Pickles on Facebook, and now, you can also follow Vickles Pickles on Twitter! From my understanding, he’s been selling his specialty at food events featuring other creative food items by everyday people like you and me!

A friend of mine picked up a jar of Vickles Pickles and the Vickles Pickles Kimchi for me in March, I got it last weekend, it was sitting in their fridge for a bit. I actually shared them with friends during an event at home. We didn’t enjoy the kimchi too much, I think it’s because we’re used to the Korean kimchi at restaurants and the Korean markets. Unfortunately, that was not a big hit.

However, we all enjoyed the flavors of the Spicy Original Pickles cured with jalapenos, shallots, garlic, some other spices and vinegar. They were more crunchy outside than inside, but none the less, they were crunchy with great flavors-a little tart, a hint of spice and quite addicting! I put a plate out and it was all gone!  As a matter of fact,  I am enjoying them as I am blogging! Definitely try Vickles Pickles if you like pickles!

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May 09

Pork Belly with Steamed Buns

Over the weekend we had an event at our house, so I decided to make some Pork Belly (click for recipe) with Steamed Buns. I usually make this Pork Belly to eat with rice, but decided to make this as an appetizer instead! I didn’t make the steamed buns from scratch, I just bought a pack of frozen steamed buns at a Chinese supermarket! I slow cooked the pork belly, steamed the buns (just follow the package directions), and put them together, holding each with a toothpick.  After I put them together, I placed them back into the steaming pot at warm, so that everyone was able to enjoy a warm appetizer as they arrived!  It turned out great and everyone who were my guinea pigs seemed to have enjoyed it!

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