Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ms. Lin and I were looking for new places to try and she had happen to come upon Molinari Delicatessen online. It's usually not our type of place but we wanted to head out and give them a try. They have a nice selection of cheeses, meats, and prepared food. It's a really tiny market packed full of delightful products. I guess we were able to beat the crowd and grabbed a number before it started getting busy. Be sure to grab the number as soon as you enter. There are plenty of staff members behind the counter that are eager and willing to help. They are all very friendly and knowledgeable.
People rave about the sandwiches here so we had to drop by to try them out. Ms. Lin and I decided to share the Luciano Special Sandwich. It's Parma Prosciutto, Sweet Coppa, Fresh Mozzarella, Sun-dried Tomato, Lettuce, and Onions all in a grilled Focaccia. Man! They pack in the meats! Everything is freshly and delicately sliced in front of you eyes. The sandwiches are pretty big and packed full of ingredients. I like how they only put in one thin slice of lettuce and tons of meat. My kind of people! ^_^
There was so many meats staring us in the face that we had to succumb to our desires and pick some up for home. It's not like we ever eat at home or have time to finish all the food, but we just got to have some! ^_^ I guess our sin is gluttony. We asked the guy some questions about the meat and he immediately sliced some pieces for us to try. Then we asked him the perfect question, which Salami was the best. He immediately lit up and sliced us up a few more pieces to try. We decided to get 1/2 lb. for home. The people who work here are truly professionals. All the slices were so delicately and precisely sliced. It's almost like a work of art!
All in all the service was spectacular and the food was good. I liked the service so much that I even left a tip. They really pack the sandwiches full so it's definitely worth the price and they don't skimp on the products. Everything was good, but I still feel like it's nothing special. All the meats were good and the sandwich was done well. It's just not anything that we would avidly seek out. Maybe because we are not sandwich people? Still it's a great place to pick up meat and cheeses, or even a sandwich if you are too lazy to put one together at home! O=)
Molinari Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This was definitely one of the best dining experiences I have had. My sister and I went to Luce on a Friday night. It took us a long time to find parking since it’s located near Union Square. For those of you who have been around this area, you know parking can be brutal. Eventually we were able to secure a spot and walked on over to the Intercontinental Hotel in San Francisco. It’s a pretty new hotel and conveniently located next to the Metreon. You enter through the hotel and you will pass the bar area. At that time it was empty, but it can become a business haven later in the evening.

As you walk into the restaurant you will notice a poster board that recognizes Chef Dominique Crenn as Chef of the Year 2008 by Esquire Magazine. At first I didn’t pay too much attention until she came out to greet us. My sister, Ms. Lin, called to ask what the menu was for the night because we were debating on going out. The online menu said there was Foie Gras and Lobster! How could I not overcome my laziness to head out for dinner when they offer two of my favorite things? When my sister called to ask what was being served, they immediately put the Chef on the phone to give a detailed description. This is how personal the Chef is. We immediately booked a reservation and began getting ready to head out.
After we were seated, we immediately stated that we would like to get the tasting menu. Being that it was around 8:45PM, the server said that she would have to check if they are still serving the tasting menu. My sister casually said that she spoke to the Chef earlier and said that we would be coming. She came back and told us that we would be able to order the tasting menu. Soon after she left, Chef Crenn came out to greet us. One thing led to another and it turns out that my sister and Chef Crenn had attended the same event recently in New York. Even though they did not have the chance to meet, a very passionate discussion about food ensued! What a small world!
Chef Crenn is a WONDERFUL person and chef! It definitely was one of the top dining experiences we’ve had together. She’s giving my beloved Chef Ron Siegel a run for his money! Unlike Chef Siegel who is extremely shy, she is very personable and friendly. Luckily we sparked an in-depth conversation about Chefs and restaurants all over. We were lucky enough to see Chef Crenn throughout the night. Of course she went to everyone’s table to greet the guests, but we got to spend a lot more time with her. Being able to talk with her was a joy and she is definitely passionate and devoted to her craft. She had wonderful recommendations of top restaurants around the world. If we only had met her before our trip to Europe last summer. Anyone who has met her could clearly see that she deserves the title Chef of the Year 2008 by Esquire Magazine. She proudly represents all the fabulous female Chefs out there that have yet to be recognized.They have a huge array of wines to choose from, but not as much by the glass. I am always looking for a glass of Moscato d’Asti. The server offered a taste of the Bellefon, which she described as a Strawberry Champagne. It was not for me because it wasn’t sweet at all. One taste and Ms. Lin knew I wouldn’t like it. This is only because I am not much of an alcohol fan; it’s not because of the drink itself. Ms. Lin ordered a Demetria Pinot Noir to go with the meal. This was very smooth and flavorful.To start off the night we received our Amuse Bouche of Foie Gras Mousse with White Truffle Powder. Chef Crenn personally brought these out and we ended up getting an extra one. The aroma of the white truffle filled the air and we both admired the engaging spoons. I particularly loved the one with a curved handle. Everything was soft and delicate on the palette with the truffle flavor lingering afterwards. The menu online stated that there would be 3 amuse bouche and we were a little saddened. Then we reasoned that it’s because we got a better one with two wonders of the world. It’s quality vs. quantity, but don’t fret for us because the rest of the night continued to be splendid!The next course was a Venison Tartare with Cranberry and Horseradish. The dish came out vibrant and colorful. Each dish used seemed to be custom made and complimented the dishes. Normally I am opposed to eating venison as it reminds me of Bambi’s mother and I find it quite gamey. After one bite I was convinced that she died for a good cause! The delicacy and flavor of the meat was stupendous. You could not tell this was venison at all. We discussed that this must be so fresh because there was no hint of gaminess and the meat just melts in your mouth. The flavors were totally on point. If anyone can turn something I do not particularly like into something delectable then that person truly has skills, deserves praise, and gets extra points.
As many of my readers know that I am always won over by anyone who serves foie gras! Of course this was one of the reasons why I forced Ms. Lin off the couch for a grand evening of fine-dining. Next course was Foie Gras Apple Theme. A seared Foie Gras is placed atop a crispy and buttery Brioche. Accompanied by Apple Puree, Apple Gel, another Apple Puree made with the Peels, Onion Soubisse, and Apple Fritters. There was a puree below the Foie Gras that added a smooth, with a slight hint of gritty, texture to amplify the taste. We both loved the onions. The flavor was a perfect balance between sweet and saltiness. I just wished we had a bigger piece of Foie Gras, but that is always the case as I can never get enough.One reason why my sister really wanted to try this place out was for all the palette cleansers inserted between the courses. So when you order a 6 or 8 course meal it turns out to be even more. It’s needless to say that we love both quantity and quality. They served a German Beer Sorbet that was iced to perfection. The temperature was just right with no hard clumps embedded inside. I loved the dish it was served in as well. It might be hard to see in the photo but the sides had a gold shimmer that illuminated the snowy white sorbet.
I travel far and wide for a succulent piece of lobster. Luckily it’s on the menu at Luce. We had a poached Lobster with Bone Marrow topped off with Celery Leafs. The plate is specially designed to hold the sauce paired with the meal. Marrow always has a soft delicate texture. It often reminds me the texture of fat. You get half a tail encompassing half of the bone. The lobster is nicely poached and seasoned. Each bite danced within my mouth leaving me wanting more. I think I might be salivating onto the computer just thinking about it!
To cleanse the palette we were given an intricate palette cleanser made from Granita. The flavors were light and refreshing. I enjoyed the different textures that created a tingling sensation in the mouth. The dish used made my sister and I smile. It reminded us of Chef Siegel’s nuveau creation. He used saran wrap to hold in the applewood smoke that seeped through a small hole into the quail egg and caviar. Chef Crenn used this dish in a different and fashionable way.
Recently I have developed a new love for quail. They offered Quail, Chanterelles, and Pickled Onions in a Port reduction. The quail was tender and lightly flavored. We thoroughly enjoyed the Chanterelle mushrooms that were cooked and seasoned to perfection.
The final palette cleanser of the night was a Grappa drink. It went down really smoothly and had a sweet aftertaste. My sister and I cheered, knocked our glasses together, and down the hatch it went. After all it’s in a shot glass. This was probably my favorite in taste. It was a flavorful drink that preceded the meat course.After our magnificent conversations with Chef Crenn, she offered to make a meat trio so that we may sample all the fantastic dishes offered. The server told us that they had ran out of the pork belly and we could choose from lamb dish or a Kobe beef dish. Chef Crenn generously offered to prepare all three! We had Bacon & Eggs, which was a modern take to something traditional. The Pork Belly has a Quail Egg on top, a Celery Root Puree under, and followed by some nicely seasoned Spinach. I thought the meat was tender and flavorful, which was only enhanced by the egg. The Lamb was nicely cooked and tender. It was accompanied with flavorful baby Carrot that melted in your mouth. My favorite was the Kobe Beef served with a Chestnut and Chanterelle Mushrooms. The meat was well marbleized, a premium cut, and simply heavenly! It melted in my mouth and was extremely flavorful. I wished for more! Chef Crenn informed us of how they carefully choose and import the meat directly. This just goes to show the quality and care that she has for each and everything she prepares. Each dish was beautifully presented on the dish, but I could’ve done without the purees.
They have a Cheese course included in their tasting menu, which is something I truly love. The cheeses are carefully selected by Chef Crenn. We received 3 cheeses that went from light to strong, right to left. The cheeses at the ends were carefully paired with dried Champagne Grapes and finely sliced Apples. There was a stream of honey that is recommended to be paired with the cheeses to intensify their true flavor. Our favorite cheese was the Chaource. We asked Chef Crenn the name and if she could write it down for us. She informed us that this cheese was hard to find and she was delighted to come across it herself. Being as generous and thoughtful as she is, she brought the cheese out to show us and gave us the remaining block! We were astonished and at a loss for words. I tried to decline because I felt bad, since she has done so much for us already! Chef Crenn is an incredible person and so considerate in sharing her glorious findings with others.For dessert they served the Greek Yogurt “Gnocchi” in Rose Hibiscus with foam. This modern take of gnocchi was very light and clean. The texture was very smooth and the flavor was enhanced by the rose hibiscus.
Towards the end of the meal Chef Crenn came out again with her Sous Chef and introduced him. They were all working in LA before joining Luce in SF. It’s too bad I was not able to run into them earlier in LA. They were both very pleasant and asked for our honest opinion of how dinner went. You can feel that they would really like to hear feedback and improve on anything. They are very devoted to the craft. The entire meal was amazing and there wasn’t anything I can really pinpoint faults. There were only a few things that I could have done without, but that is just my personal opinion. I mentioned in passing that the dessert was my least favorite of the night and I had to explain why. The taste was good and the idea used was unique. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but it would not be anything that I would seek out or order again. In passing, my sister tried to make them feel better by saying that I love chocolate and immediately Chef Crenn started to talk about one of their special signature desserts. Before our conversation can finish, she generously offered to make it so that I can try it. Her generosity is truly beyond words!
Chef Crenn made their famous Chocolate “Egg”, where they actually cook the dark velvety dessert inside an egg! The plate was adorable with the egg cupped inside and paired with a Chocolate Bonbon. She explained how they clean out the egg and gently place the batter inside and bake it. I believe that cooking is an art and the possibilities are endless. The chocolate bonbon had a Macha filling that oozed out. We both loved the flavor of the filling.
All in all this place deserves applause. The credit goes to Chef Crenn’s brilliance! No only was the menu extensive, it also contains all the finer things in life that I love. She uses the freshest ingredients. While conversing with her you can feel how much time, effort, and thought to each and everything she does. Any restaurant with her in the kitchen would be a success. Chef Crenn has definitely won a place in my heart. I can clearly see why Esquire Magazine has named her Chef of the Year 2008 and I couldn’t agree more! Everyone who visits San Francisco should stop by for an extraordinary dining experience. I had the pleasure to chat with her throughout the night and I hope to become better friends with her. When she comes back down to LA or the OC, I would love to show her around and experience all the wonders with her. Not only are her cooking skills impressive, she is a remarkably gracious person. I hope that I have made a life-long friend.
Luce on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 27, 2008

After we ate at Sanmi, we just had to ask where they got that ice cream from! It was the best Black Sesame Ice Cream EVER! O=) Needless to say we had to go on a hunt to buy some for home and try some of their other flavors. We didn't really understand the name and where to find the place when we asked the nice lady from Sanmi, but persistence helped us find it online. After dinner at Sushi Bistro we crossed Golden Gate Park in search for Polly Ann Ice Cream. It was quite an adventure. Eventually we arrived at our final destination and headed in to check this place out. Since it's so far away Ms. Lin voted to stock up so that she won't have to make the drive out any time soon again.There is a big wheel on the wall as you walk in and it will help you decide on what to order! At first I was still kind of confused about the wheel, but after reading more online I understood more about it. Unfortunately I didn't spin the wheel, but if you do there is a chance you can win free ice cream! So ask about it if you go. They have a huge Wall of Flavors to choose from. The people there were pretty nice and definitely from mainland China. They have very Asian flavors and textures.

The Black Sesame Ice Cream was great as usual! When we got home it was too soft and we needed to freeze it for a while to regain it's composure/texture. It's filled with black sesame seeds and flavor with the perfect amount of creaminess. I highly recommend this ice cream. Speaking of which, I need to run to the freezer to eat more before I go home!

The Green Tea Ice Cream was very flavorful and not too sweet. You can definitely taste the tea flavor and it is not overpowering. The texture is very smooth and it isn't too creamy. Definitely one of the better green tea ice creams around. I think a lot of restaurants up here use their brand.

The Mango Ice Cream was not your typical American flavor. It has the Asian essence where it has a flowery after taste and isn't as sweet. I thought it wasn't bad so I picked up a huge tub for home. Why not? We are not going to make another trip any time soon.

The Durian Ice Cream was a little funkier than I expected. Unfortunately they ran out at the store so I could not try it there! I found one in the pre-packed freezer and went on blind faith! It's scary but for the sake of trying new things, I am always willing to go out on a limb. It's pretty creamy and you can definitely taste the durian. I just wished there was more durian taste, less funk, and sweeter. If that makes any sense to you. ^_^

The Lychee Ice Cream was not too bad. It had lychee bits inside and it's a snowy white color. The flavor was only so-so, but I like lychee so I decided to buy a mini-tub for home. It has a little hint of the flowery Asian taste and the lychee flavoring is very light as well.

All in all it's a great new discovery! The people were pretty nice in letting us try a bunch of flavors so I gave them a tip at the end. We ended up buying 4 big tubs and 1 small tub. The total was only $32! It's also a great bargain for "gourmet" ice cream. If you just buy scoops there you end up paying a lot more for a lot less. So I recommend stocking up, going home, and sitting in front of the TV eating it all away! O=9

Sunday, October 26, 2008

So we took an adventurous drive to get some great ice cream and we ended up so far away from home in Outer Sunset. We were driving around looking for the ice cream store and Ms. Lin pulled into a spot right in front of Eggettes. I was about to jump out of the car and get some egg cakes, but she said no. She put her foot down that we are just going to go get ice cream, so she pulled out... and then pulled into a spot 1 car away... why you might ask. Well, the place was right next to Eggettes! Irony. So immediately I jumped out and ran into the store before she could veto my plot. I placed an order of the "Eggettes" hoping that they would be good since the store is named after them.Apparently this is a cyber cafe and pretty vacant. It's a little sad and void of life/decorations. The girl wasn't too friendly behind the counter. After she took the order she went back to her HK movie. I looked at the menu and couldn't find any decent drinks to try. As for the egg cakes... they were kind of blah. I didn't really want to eat them because they were flavorless. At least the cakes were crispy, but I wished the center was softer. They offer other flavors of the "Eggettes", which are probably better. Maybe one day I will go to another chain and get the chocolate or coconut flavor. I most likely won't come back here to get anything else even if I am next door picking up some ice cream.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Alright... I didn't even have to try to make reservations and now I am going to the French Laundry in Yountville! YAY! It's like a dream come true! I have been wanting to try this place out for the longest time, especially after I have become such a serious Foodie in the past few years. Having been to Pierre Gagnaire's restaurant in Paris, which is ranked #3 in the world, I have been on this constant quest for the ultimate preparation skills. Now I can finally see Chef Keller's masterpiece and taste it too! ^_^ I promise to put top priority on that post to Burumun already, so please stay tuned! Let's see if he can beat my favorite Chef Siegel in my heart!

Alright this will be the beginning of a new format for the titles of each post. The restaurant name will be first and separated by a space and a colon then the title will follow. This post was rushed to appease ST! ^_^ Not that he has called me or anything since I am extending my stay by a week! **cough cough** So as soon as ST got back from Costa Rica we planned a night to meet up. I decided on Eiji because of their famous Mochi Strawberry, which they ran out of! =***( It would be wise to book reservations because it's an extremely tiny place and packed. We were seated immediately and we found parking easily. What we didn't find was the restaurant. Maybe we were too caught up in our conversation and we kept passing by it, but also they are really inconspicuous.

We sat there and debated for a while on what to order. Eventually we made a long list of what we'd like to start out with. I wanted to get the Steamed Wild Duck Breast on the specials. It's quite EXPENSIVE for the amount of food you get. They are tiny thin slices atop a vegetable, but each piece was packed full of flavor. I can't quite decide if I loved the texture, but the meat was a little on the dryer side for my liking. The flavor lingered in my mouth and was very tasty, but it only made me hungry for more food! Luckily I ordered this because nothing came out for another 30-45 minutes! We were both starving and eagerly awaiting more food! O=PFinally after looking around greedily they brought out the huge platter with everything we ordered. Of course we were enjoying our chat, but Itadakimasu! We dug in and started sharing the food. ST wanted to try the Awabi (Abalone) and I decided to order Uni (Sea Urchin) in honor of Ms. Lin's absence! We made a compromise and shared the two. I personally detest abalone's extremely chewy texture and lack of flavor. Their's was your typical abalone with no flavor or sauce on it. Normally I hate uni too, but lately I am starting to tolerate it more. It was decently fresh. They gave a huge generous portion and the flavor was only so-so. I wasn't too thrilled about the Katsuo (Bonito).We both ordered Toro (Fatty Tuna) because it is the best fish! ST ordered Sake (Salmon) and Maguro (Tuna). We shared the Shiromaguro (White Tuna). I ordered Amaebi (Sweet Shrimp), Negihama (Yellowtail Scallion Roll), and Hotate (Scallop). The fish were decently fresh and had a soft texture. It was ST's first time trying white tuna and he enjoyed it. They usually are white ono and I have always liked the slight chewier but smooth texture of the fish. The amaebi and hotate were just your normal everyday sushi that you can buy at Mitsuwa. I never got my heads! So robbed! =*( They probably ate the crunchy goodness by themselves! lol
The food disappeared immediately and we started to order more. ST got more salmon and some Hamachi (Yellowtail). I had to have more toro and ordered a filler roll, the Rock n Roll. It's just Ungai (Freshwater Eel) and Avocado inside. There was nothing special about this roll, kind of flavorless. All the flavor was washed away by the rice. The hamachi was a very nice cut and melted in your mouth. I was tempted to order more but I just didn't want to sit there too much longer. The best fish of the night would have to be the yellowtail for taste, cut, and freshness.
When they came by to order dessert, I immediately asked for their special that they didn't list. She apologized that they were out! **sobs** If I only knew earlier from Ms. Lin to pre-order them! Darn! I was too depressed to order dessert and ST decided to try their daily dessert, Yokan. It's Sweet Potato mixed with Agar to make the gel/pudding and topped with Vanilla Ice Cream. I only took a small bite of the colorful purple dessert. You can taste the potato and velvety texture with microbits embedded. It's not bad if you like sweet potatoes. I am still sad that I didn't get the pretty mochi! >_<#
All in all the food was only okay and kind of pricey for certain things! Their regular sushi is not as expensive, it's just normal pricing. The service is fine but EXTREMELY SLOW! How long does it take to cut fish?? It's not really a sushi bar... maybe I should have ordered cooked food? Seems like it comes out much faster than raw stuff. I think I was underwhelmed but I did enjoy the company! Isn't that what really matters? Of course it's fun trying out new places so I will chalk this up as an experience. As for me I would never come back to this place again, but since I missed out on the dessert and Ms. Lin said that their mochi is pretty good... I need to go back! Just for the dessert! Can we say, Take Out! O=P

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