t says: g’s mom visited in January, which was a ton of fun. In between all of the cooking we made her do (that’s right: meatballs, lasagna, chicken parm – all the classics) so she could stock our freezer, we also went out a few times. And when we have family in town, we like to deal with “known quantities” – no crazy-new adventures – just the greatest hits!
t says: Mission Bay, where we live, isn’t exactly a hotbed of restaurants. As a result, we were super-excited to find that on Wednesdays, there’s a farmer’s market that pops up right outside our apartment! Sure, there are fruits and vegetables, but there are also things like nuts, fresh pressed juices, a Lebanese food stand, a fresh bread stand and then the requisite vegan stand, gluten-free stand, etc … As we visit more of the stands, we’ll report back. For now, the one stand I bought prepared food from was this one:
Piccino gets an A- from the sneeze, but with potential for the full A for sure – we need to do some more “testing”. And the cafe next door as well as the wine store two doors down (Dig), which we think are associated with Piccino (we can’t tell if they’re associated, or if they just share the same building) show a lot of promise as well. Rest assured that we will be back! And when we have visitors, I’m sure we’ll bring them with us – we just have to prep them ahead of time: this isn’t Barbuzzo … but it’s still really good!
t says: The $1.5 billion powerball was coming a week or so ago (spoiler alert: we did not win) so I had to find a place to buy a ticket. Being that I have been spending a large amount of time working in Oakland, I searched: “where to buy lottery tickets in Oakland” and one place in particular jumped out at me … Golden Gate Donuts. Yea man! I knew I had no chance of winning anything, so I might as well get some donuts out of it!
In all, we liked Portal and would totally go back, as they had a few other items on their menu worth trying. We’ll have to remember to show up a few minutes before 11, though because the place fills up fast (with a small line outside), and before you know it, it feels like Friday night at a bar, with people loudly talking but downing bottomless mimosas rather than beers.
My most recent foray into Oakland’s dining scene allowed me to stumble across this nondescript space:
t says: What do San Franciscans do on the weekend? It seems that they like to go “hiking”. Now, because g and I are new to the area, we needed a “warm-up” hike – you know, something in the city, something easy to climb, something easy to get an Uber from should we fail … Fortunately, we had experienced hikers k and cm show us how it’s done …
Now that our first hill has been conquered we’re looking forward to developing our hill-climbing muscles so we can take on the bigger, badder sites throughout Cali. Who knows where we’ll wind up next?
t says: Since moving here, g and I needed to re-visit a few places we’ve eaten – you know – just to make sure they were still good. It’s not that we’re afraid of trying some place new, but we needed to start off with the familiar before venturing out to the boundaries of the SF dining scene!
t says: Not satisfied with letting distance come between our fun, a, v, g, and I got together on FaceTime for a “long distance blind wine tasting”*. While not officially a “restaurant visit in SF”, we had so much fun I just had to write about it! g whipped up her pasta-a-la-g, which was delicious as usual. Meanwhile, a and I uncorked the wine-of-the-night and got to blind-tasting …
a sensed some “wet laundry” on the nose – I can’t say I could confirm that. It did smell a little “wet” but more like forest floor moss than wet laundry (which in my mind smells kind of gross). Nitpicky scents aside, the major nose element for me was more like a raspberry fruit roll-up. On the palate, it was plush and smooth, with flavors of red and black berries, maybe even a little “plummy”. But then on the moderate length finish, there was a nice spicy quality. It tried to straddle between being a “t-wine” (plush and round) and a “v-wine” (spicy, leather, manly). However, it wasn’t quite an “a-wine” – he’d prefer a little more tannin, a little more kick in the tongue. a guessed “New World, Kitchen Sink Blend, America”. I agreed with the new world style, but felt that the spicy finish just wasn’t right for an American Kitchen Sink blend (i.e. usually zinfandel, petit verdot, syrah, cab franc – grapes that are “left over” in California). So I went for “new world Spain”, but for the life of me couldn’t think of any Tempranillo-based wine coming out so smooth on entry. a adjusted his response to include “new world South America”. We then did the big reveal:
Holy cow! If you put all our guesses together, we kind of guessed it! It’s a South American wine (Argentina), a new world blend of malbec (which is known for being fruity and very plush) and tempranillo (known for being a bit more “masculine” flavor profile with leather, tobacco, and spice). And that’s exactly how it tasted – malbec up front, tempranillo on the finish. We’re calling our guesses to be pretty spot-on! What we didn’t appreciate at the time was that this wine was under $10! Not bad! If you see this on a shelf, go for it! I imagine the production is large enough where it shouldn’t vary that much year-to-year, so I doubt vintage will change it THAT much. Go ahead and compare it to 100% malbec bottle and a 100% tempranillo bottle. It’s fun!
*”long distance blind wine tasting”: Weird, right? Before we came to SF, we made it so that the PHL crew (a + v) and the SFO crew (g + t) had the same six bottles of wine (range: $9-$29), fully wrapped and numbered, in a manner such that bottle #1 in PHL corresponded with bottle #1 in SFO. However, the buyer (t) and the wrapper (g) were not in communication, and the buyer also has a terrible memory (having purchased a bunch of wines all at once), so the end result is that no one (neither g, t, a, nor v) has any idea of the identities of the wines aside from the numbers 1-6 emblazoned on each bottle. When the time comes, a number is randomly selected, a corresponding bottle is opened simultaneously in Philly and SF, the wine is blind-tasted (bottles still wrapped), opinions recorded, and then there’s a “big reveal”! Fun, right! Someone should totally make a wine club like this!
t says: So as we’ve alluded to in the previous posts, we have now moved to what some call “The Best Coast”. Moving to SF was full of issues, as it seemed that every little thing we planned did not go smoothly, from finding an apartment, to giving up our Philly apartment, to the movers arriving in SF, to the weather waiting for us (RAIN!) … it was a nightmare. g and I think that the next time we move, we’re just going to burn all of our possessions to the ground and buy everything new …
Fortunately, we had the moral support of family to remind us that the terrible parts of moving would be short-lived, and they have been. Despite the moving-related drama, we have had quite a few delightful meals here in SF!
Finally, we also went to Brenda’s French Soul Food for brunch, but as we’ve covered it so often here, it should be no surprise that it was nothing short of every bruncher’s dream – eggs, carbs, sweets, beignets. Just go there.