Monday, February 13, 2006

San Francisco Good Eats #1 - Grease and Organs

After a few months of job hunting, I finally landed something at a bigger and better ad agency. I decided to give myself a week buffer before the mice in my head started rolling the wheels again. My friend DY had moved up to San Francisco to attend art school and her time up there was ending this month. Both of us being foodies, I had to experience the San Francisco restaurant scene, which I had heard so much about. It would be my first taste of delectable food and her last. I love road trips. It’s just you and the iPod. And of course, the Parliament lights. The open road is truly a launch pad for free thinking. Course the only thing on my mind was: What was I going to eat? I left early in the morning and got to San Francisco in 5 hours. How fast? 95ish.

As soon as I arrived, DY and I talked about the places we’d be eating at. Our first stop was Tartine Bakery, a cozy cafĂ© that sits on a corner of the Mission district, known for their pressed sandwiches and decadent desserts. San Franciscans, occupied by their PowerBooks and pets, filled up the outdoor seats and enjoyed the fresh food and serene environment. A line was formed inside and most of the people were gazing at the sweet treats inside the glass display. We all looked like children in a fish store. DY recommended that we order the Pecorino & Almond Pressed Sandwich filled with stuffed cheese and crushed almonds with olive oil, lemon and sage. I’ve never eaten Croque Monsieur and just liked the sound of it. We paid the cashier and took a number. About 10 minutes later, the food arrived. The Pecorino & Almond sandwich ($7.75) resembled a panini, only way greasier. The outside was coated with butter and olive oil. I swore that I could taste the oil oozing out of the bread as I bit into it. But, boy was it good. All the robust herbs and richness of the Pecorino made this one tasty sandwich. DY and I had to split that one. Next we tried the Ham & Cheese Croque Monsieur ($7.25). This came on a crispy bread stuffed with warm ham and melted cheese. Loved this better than the pressed sandwich because I’m weak when it comes to anything with ham. I definitely recommend this to anyone looking to sit outside on a nice day and enjoy the city. Warning: it gets PACKED on weekends in the morning.

DY’s aunt was an active figure in the SF Asian community. She was responsible for organizing a Chinese New Year party at the City Hall. So we ended up driving her all over SF for FIVE HOURS. I was exhausted. Remember, I just spent 5 hours driving up here in the morning. More hungry, than tired, we were ready to hit our next joint.

DY, her roommate JP and I headed over to Walzwerk for dinner. Also situated in the Mission district, Walzwerk serves some authentic East German cuisine. Sausages, schnitzel, you name it. And of course, a great assortment of beer. Before, my only experience with German food was at the Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake – which I love. I’ll walk in their sober and end up having a friend drive me home. That’s what friends are for.

Walking in, we were greeted by girls with German accents. Fake? I think not. It was a sure sign of authenticity. As we sat on the table, we noticed a small picture frame showcasing the many German beers they served. I felt like something dark, and not my usual Hefeweizen. I can’t remember the name though. Compared to the Red Lion Tavern, the food here was much lighter and crisp tasting. Here’s what we had:

A. Fried Veal Chop with Brussel Sprouts and Sauerkraut - Oh man this was sooooo good. The sweetness of the crisp veal chop was balanced out by the wasabi-like bitterness of the brussel sprouts.
B. Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce - excellent. Didn't care for the sauerkraut because it had a sweet, cinnamon taste to it. Not what I'm used to.
C. Lamb Shanks with Red Wine Sauce - also excellent. I actually envied DY's friend who ordered this. Grrrr.

After Walzwerk, DY and I hit up the Skyy Vodka with some orange juice for a night cap. Turns out that one drink led to another, and we got the munchies. I felt like Mexican food and she knew just the place. We drove down to what I thought resembled Santa Ana. As soon as I got out of the car, I recognized the delicious smell of an outdoor Mexican grill. A man stood behind a sneeze-guarded cart with his bovine delights. Carne asada. Check. Pollo. Check. Carnitas. Check. Brain (sesos) and beef cheek (cachete) tacos. Wait – what? I looked over at DY, who insisted that those were her favorites. All of a sudden I visualized Anthony Bourdain with a nasty smerk on his face. C’mon you little prick. Alright, let’s do it. Ok now, maybe this was easier to digest because I was somewhat buzzed. But seriously, they were damn good. The brain tacos had a light grey color and tasted fatty. The beef cheeks had black lining on some of the pieces of meat, which tasted like thin rubber. I was thinking that they could’ve been part of the lips. The funniest part of the night was actually finding an antique from my younger days - an actual working Street Fighter machine. I couldn't play it of course, because of my careless finger incident.

After a long, but quick drive up north and another five hours of bussing DY’s aunt around SF, I’d say my first day of finding good eats in SF was a very successful one. Day 2 next.


Kirk said...

Great post, made my stomach start growling.... Since living in SoCal I've developed a taste for La Cabeza, but have still yet to try Sesos. Great photos, and wonderful description of the food! Hope the new job won't be interfering with your other (more important!) avocation.

BoLA said...

Yes! Great post Mr. Dealin! Can't wait to visit the City's been YEARS! :(

Anyhow, Happy Valentine's Day!

Saul T. Knuts said...

Lots of grub on your trip, and I like how you added the title of the location with your picks, that is a nice touch. I like the food at china town and little italy.

The Stars concert was great. I thought they were better at Avalon then they were at the Troubadour.

yoony said...

ooh croque monsieur. that's yummy!

rick james said...

wow.. the veal chop and lamb sounds really good..

Bird Flu... uhh don't eat the dead chicken dear..

Mad Cow, (thanks kirk for reminding)..uhh don't eat the Sesos..

dylan... you are a brave dude!

Daily Gluttony said...

That's the one thing I miss about the City is the food. The parking, the constant smell of pee...uh not so much.

I gotta try the sammiches at Tartine next time I'm there. Last time we only got desserts and they were just OK.

Congrats on the new gig!

Jeni said...

Nice layout on the pics. Props on making the taco cart look get Bou-ghetto points... bougie but ghetto baby!

Street Fighter II...haaaay!

Passionate Eater said...

I'm so glad that you came to SF EDNBM! Your friend truly brought you to tasty places in SF. Hope to see the other pix soon.

Happy Valentine's Day and Take Care,
Passionate Eater

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Kirk, the thing is, i was kinda drunk, which made it easier to consume the brains and beef cheeks. Eating it for breakfast may prove fatal. With the new job, there will be opportunities to travel all over the world. For a foodblogger, that is complete paradise.

Bola, i told MS that HE HAS to take you up to norcal and go wine tasting in Napa. It's simply awesome. Happy Hallmark Day to you too.

MS, thanks mang. I only ate at Chinatown, not in North Beach (L'italy). Yes Stars rocked, but Dieselboy this Thursday will rock even more.

Yoony, i tried Croque Monsieur at this small french cafe across from Beacon (Culver City) on Monday - and it was also very good. I will be making it soon.

DCFC, the German restaurant was definitely one of my favorites of the trip. It's hard to find a place that has both good food and good beer. Unlike TGIF. Well, life is short, so I'm gonna try as much as I can. Anthony Bourdain is also my hero.

Pam, Chinatown was truly fun. Food everywhere. Red/Pink grocery bags in everyone's hand haha. I'm going back again for sure. Thanks!

Jeni, thank you. *Sigh. Street Fighter. Seriously when's the last time you saw a working machine haha. Have you been up to SF for good eats?

eatdrinknbmerry said...

PE, it was great meeting you too. I'm really bummed that I had forgotten the camera batteries b/c the food was great - and such a cool part of town. When you come down, it'll be my turn to show you good places to gluttonize at.

Yuzu said...

You didn't stop at Taco Town to get your salsa tote? Haha. Looks like you had some good eats there in SF.

Hope the new job goes well! :)

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Speaking of tacos... watch this clip from SNL. a true reflection of America's gluttons.

Jeni said...

SF...not yet. My brother just landed a design job with Williams-Sonoma Inc. this I've been helping him find YAAAY-AREA (raising the roof) food blog sites. I'll probably go up in March or April...I'm soo excited. My big bro owes me a lot of money and I expect to be treated!

eatdrinknbmerry said...

Jeni, just wait for day 4 of my SF posting. You'll see a lot of good SF eats.

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