Sunday, January 30, 2011

I certainly have died and gone to heaven for receiving a thoughtful gift from Ms. Lin. She brought me Truffle Honey straight from Italy. My one regret is that I didn't open that jar and savor it right away! Still, I am super grateful that I have this wonderful jar made with real truffles and not infused with the normal chemical truffle essence that you smell from truffle oils. Don't get me wrong, I adore the real stuff and appreciate the synthetic as well. One whiff and it sends my head reeling!
After I returned from SF, I had a huge craving for fine gourmet cheeses and The Cheese Store of Pasadena was the perfect solution. The best way to eat pungent cheeses is to add a dab of honey or a cut honeycomb to bring out the natural savory taste of the cheese. It is a great contrast to any salt crystal formations in the cheese. My favorite is to pair honey or honeycombs with a strong pungent blue cheese like the Blue de Bocage I bought at The Cheese Store of Pasadena. The strong flavor looms in the mouth and is enhanced by a well crafted honey, truffle honey, or honey comb to add a whole new layer of flavor. Try it out at home! Once you start, you just might never stop.
As soon as you pop the lid of this truffle honey, the aroma just fills the air and you are sent to cloud nine. Unfortunately I waited a little too long so the smell was greater than its taste. Ms. Lin informed me that I am missing out because she ate it fresh after the trip and it was just unbelievable! Thanks for telling me that NOW! Still, I am super grateful for the thoughtful gift. I am currently experimenting with my own truffles to infuse the scent and flavor into my own jars of honey.
I simply can't take my eyes off the gorgeous slices of real truffle embedded in the honey. Will have to save those special slices for a very special occasion to enjoy! When I do, I will make sure that I have all the right components so that I will be sent to foodie nirvana. My biggest regret is that I didn't buy the fabulous artisan bread at The Beverly Cheese Store of Pasadena. The bread I used was a multi-grain from Cream Pan. Even though they make fabulous pastries, the bread was not meant to be paired with pungent cheeses. My advice is to go simple on the bread because you don't want too many flavors fighting for your tastebud's attention.
Hope you find a wonderful jar of truffle honey in your local store and sit down to enjoy it to the last bite!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Newly opened Caffe Pascucci is located across AT&T Park, home of the SF Giants who just won the World Series. It's close and convenient especially for anyone attending the games. They offer free wi-fi for customers to sit back and relax on their computer. I love the clean and elegant decor. As you open the door and walk in, you feel like you have stepped back into Italy. The vibe is really relaxing yet posh.
They offer some desserts and pastries to enjoy with your custom designed coffee. At Caffe Pascucci they supposedly serve a rare Italian coffee. Their menu is nicely done with great photos of each drink. They all looked so pretty that it made it hard for me to decide. Then came the descriptions of each drink... so much information to process but in a good way.
For my inaugural cup I chose the Gianduio. They smear Nutella around the cup and fill it with cappuccino, Gianduio whipped cream, and topped off with chopped hazelnut. I enjoyed the bits of Nutella intermixed with the coffee. Anything tastes better with Nutella. As for the drink, it was just alright. The drink looks and sounds very nice but it wasn't anything I'd ever crave or all that memorable.
PK was being very adventurous and decided to try the Ciaobello Pistachio made from their classic cappuccino with pistachio cream that's topped off with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. The drink was very light and you couldn't taste as much of the strong coffee flavor. I was not a big fan but PK liked it and that is all that matters.
Apparently the trick here is to tip. Ms. Lin gave a small tip and the better barrista made the drink and it definitely looked better like the photos on the menu. She chose the other drink I was looking at, the Caffe Confuso Caramel. It's made with their gold espresso with their original confuso cream, caramel, and topped off with amaretto biscuits. The drink was sweet and flavorful. Now this was more like it. I'd come back for this to enjoy on a cold day to sip and people watch through the windows as if I was back in Europe.
All in all it is a cute new addition to the area. I enjoy that on most any given day the owner is sitting in the corner enjoying the day. Yes, it is Italian owned and it is great to see them enjoy their own product. It's local and a good place to just hang out with friends and relax, so I will definitely be back.

Caffe Pascucci
170 King St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 957-1100

Monday, January 24, 2011

On my way to AYCE shabu I happened to stumble across Kingdom of Dumpling. Might I say that I don't think I have ever been to Parkside in SF, but there is always a first for everything. Both Ms. Lin and I were starving for dinner and had our mind set on AYCE shabu but this secret hole in the wall caught my eye. It was a cold night and the windows were all steamed up. They have about 10 tables and they were packed so if you don't want to wait they have another shop just for take out on Noriega. Of course we immediately pulled out the phone to see the reviews and people were raving. I had to go in for a peak and once I stepped in... I wouldn't and couldn't leave without ordering a bunch of stuff!
They have a small white board on top with all the specials written there and they all sounded really tasted. Unfortunately I had to give up some stuff because this was not going to be my dinner. At first I was just going to buy an order of dumplings and chive pockets but my greed got the best of me and I wanted more.
Everyone there was very friendly and inviting. They were very nice and brought out trays of their hand-made dumplings. After looking at the xiao long bao, xlb, I almost caved and sat down for dinner! I love xlb, but that will have to be saved for another night. They were all perfectly hand-made and beautifully strewn out. I did inquire about purchasing for home and I believe it is available but a word of caution... be sure to read their site on the proper techniques on how to cook their xlb and dumplings so that none of the flavor will go to waste.
For the night I decided to try Pork and Shrimp Dumplings with Green Chives, $6.45. While we were waiting for our order, we looked around at other tables and agreed that they really know how to cook their dumplings. You can taste whole chunks of the shrimp mixed in with the pork in each bite.
One of my favorite snacks is the Green Chive Pocket but I think they might have called it pancakes here. Either way it is a nicely kneaded dough filled with a savory combo of clear noodles, egg, chives, dried shrimp, and tofu. The pungent flavor of chives emanate through each bite. Usually these are pan fried to give the outer dough a little crunch/bite, which really adds another level of texture to the ensemble.
While looking over the menu I got curious if they have a typical breakfast roll that I like to eat. Normally it is just called a beef roll where a more translucent pancake is used to roll and hold slices of marinated beef paired with fresh slices of green onion then topped off with hoisin sauce. Not sure which item I ordered, but ended up with Beef in Sesame Biscuits. It was similar to the beef roll I was thinking of except the carbohydrate used. Instead of a soft pancake it was a crispy and flaky sesame biscuit. Still it was flavorful and great for on the go.
Were you thinking I gave up AYCE shabu? HA HA If you know me, the answer is NO! I chomped down many bites and gathered myself up to continue on for "real" dinner. The left overs did come in handy because we ran out of time before our flight back to So Cal and they were easy to eat for lunch! I will be back to try more, but to be honest I like Luscious Dumplings more but then again it is for their pan-fried ones so not quite the same. =p

Kingdom Of Dumpling
1713 Taraval St
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 566-6143

Saturday, January 22, 2011

So where is the Dogpatch? As it turns out not that far away! It's very close to SOMA and in this area you will find Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous to fulfill your ice cream needs. The staff here was super friendly and very welcoming. I enjoyed the classic design where you can sit and enjoy your ice cream by yourself, with a friend, or even make some friends at the table! Pour yourself a cup of water from the clean milk bottles. I enjoy the environmentally consciousness of the store.
Now onto the delicious treats! I have been ill for a while and ice cream is probably the last thing a doctor ordered, but neither rain nor sleet would stop me from trying Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous Ice Cream! As soon as you step up to the counter, you can't help but notice the assortment of treats available.
Ms. Lin and I just couldn't help myself and grabbed the last Vanilla Caramel with Sea Salt. The size was pretty good $1 and we enjoyed it. I only wish there were more there for me to grab and hoard. We are super big fans of finely crafted caramel with little bits of sea salt to enhance the buttery flavor and sweetness of the caramel. They are definitely worth checking out!
Of course don't forget the other side of the table! There were cookies and cake. I can't resist the notion of Peanut Brittle and Brown Sugar as a cookie. The secret is to put it in the microwave for 15 seconds or more depending on the size of the cookie to have soften and hot, which is more like a fresh cookie from the oven. Word to the wise though on this cookie, it has brittle so don't use a napkin because you will loose some of that gooey sweetness.
Feel free to ask for a taste of their different ice creams. I went towards the end of the day so a lot of flavors were out but some were put back on the list later. It's probably smarter to go early so you can get the opportunity for all the flavors!
One of their most well known flavors is Burnt Sugar and the main reason I had to stop by. As many people know, I simply adore Bi-Rite's Salted Caramel so Burnt Sugar should be right up the same alley! We both enjoyed the texture of the ice cream and hints of burnt sugar. If you want a heavier, creamier, and sweeter ice cream then Bi-Rite would be right up your alley but if you want a lighter but still flavorful ice cream then Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous is the place for you.
Both Ms. Lin and I enjoyed the Chicory Coffee for its strong delectable coffee flavor. Scoop please! They are very generous in their scoops and all for a great price! $3.75 for 1-2 scoops and $4.75 for 2-3 scoops. Even though I was having a bad cough, I couldn't forgo paying $1 more for an extra scoop! Bring on the Egg Nog! It's Christmas all over again. O=)
They make their waffle cones fresh and on-site. It was really interesting see them roll a fresh cone up. I was hoping it tasted like the ones at Ici but it wasn't nearly as good. Don't know if it was an off day but the cones that day tasted a little salty. Maybe it is their way of adding a little savory to bring out the sweetness of the ice cream? For me, I might give the cone one more chance but it's not anything I'd crave. Still, everyone there is so sweet and enjoyable to talk to... I'd give them many tries. O=)
The parking around this area doesn't seem very hard so definitely a plus! It is also very close to SOMA so it is convenient to drop by to satisfy my sweet fix.

Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous
699 22nd St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 970-0750
Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I have made a pact with the kind people of Cachamai that I would post pictures of their tea in honor of their adorable donkey mascot and upon completion I will be able to welcome it home! They have a wonderful symbol/logo/mascot! Everyone at the booth was super friendly and knowledgeable about all their teas. They were a refreshing change for South Hall at the NASFT Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco after the horrendous experience I had at the Italian section. The specific company doesn't even deserve to be mentioned here. I have launched complaints on my fan page for full information. That aside, the Argentinian tea offered by Cachamai are herbal teas that offer a lot of healthy properties.
One of their signature teas is the Boldo. A special herb named by the Mapuche tribe of South America. This exotic herb is originally from Chile and is unique for its medicinal properties. Having the Boldo after a heavy meal is great.
So why the mascot of the donkey? They kindly explained to me that back in the days the donkeys were used to carry the tea leaves. Cachamai has been around for over 50 years and they offer a wide variety of healthy teas that are safeguarded with the highest quality control.
Hopefully I will have my donkey soon! =)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Are you a lover of fine foods? Are you a purveyor or buyer? You need to attend the NASFT Winter Fancy Food Show that's happening right now at Moscone in San Francisco. It is a foodies' paradise! Chocolates, Cookies, and Sauces! Oh My! There are so many vendors from all over the world showcasing their wonderful products. My advice, come hungry and pace yourself. There really is just so much to go through that my head started spinning, but in a great way. I am working my way through North Hall and trying to find the best products around to showcase here.
So far I have found a few products that have really caught my eye so stay tuned for even more updates, features, and even a few product giveaways of the new products I discover and love. O=) It's hard to get Kat's 9 Lives approval but I will be doing a Top Ten Products list at the end of the show. Of course there is still so many booths left to discover that I can divulge everything yet! One booth that definitely caught my eye was the Man Bait Bacon Lollis! If only they really work and that we could hook ourselves a great catch, I'd be impressed! lol They do offer a delectable assortment of caramels. Stay tuned for further information if they remain on the Top Ten Products list.
Another booth today had the cutest packaging and fun for kids products. I had to stop and snap a picture of the Hello Kitty Pink Hot Chocolate packages. Fun for any age and around $1.50 a pouch. Sure... the drink was not the best, but it was cute and fun. I think these would make great stocking stuffers or party favors for kids.
Who can say no to Mint Chocolate Penguins? I have a special soft spot for penguins and why not in chocolate form? Although my sadistic side came peeking through when I bit the heads off for fun. I couldn't resist!
In between all the sweets, I had to take a coffee break and cleanse the palette. Although I really should have picked up a maple candy, caramel, or chocolate to melt into the coffee. They also had a wide variety of teas set up throughout the show. I have yet to decide which is my favorite but there are many strong contenders. The loose leaf teas displayed were beautiful to look at and wonderful to smell.
There were so many great chocolate creators set up throughout the show that it will be real tough to single out my favorite new chocolate discovery. I love the vast selections of salted caramels and hazelnut centers. The chocolates everywhere were not only beautifully designed, they are also finely crafted for the public. I think this show is much better than the Chocolate Taste Salon to really introduce a new product to consumers.
For the next few days I will tough it out with my severe cold and sample as much of the great gourmet products I can to share with my readers. There are a lot of new products that really deserve to be featured and would be great for the home. They are both savory and affordable! I have been asking every vendor about their retail prices and the retailers that carry their product. Can't wait to share the final Top Ten Products and I am working with each company to set up some giveaways so others can enjoy the delectable products! Stay tuned for more! =D

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I had a pedicure EMERGENCY! What was I to do when I had a flight out the next morning up to SF and no time to resolve the issue? Well I had to turn to the internet and do some research on which nail salon in SF could solve my problem and not cost me an arm and a leg! We all know that living in SF is expensive and the rent must be through the roof so of course the prices for service are the same. After a long time of researching online, I came upon Juicy Nails. They offer a mani/pedi for $29. In So Cal I usually pay $15 for a pedicure and know some great places that are $15-$20 for a mani/pedi, but hey I am no longer in Kansas anymore.
Tucked away behind the massively busy streets of Chinatown is the quaint Juicy Nails that also offers waxing. The women working here are super nice and attentive. They were all very welcoming and working diligently. June, Jerrica, and Lynn are really great. I had read online about June and how hardworking she is at what she does and by luck got her as both my manicurist and pedicurist. It is true that she doesn't talk that much but that is only because she is concentrating super hard at what she is doing to provide the utmost service. I had a severe injury on my big toe that was so painful that I needed immediate attention and fast. Throughout the whole service, I took note that she was always aware of that toe and took precaution not to put me in more pain, which was very sweet of her. After she worked on the toe, to be extra sure that the nail was fine she asked Lynn to help and they both tried their best. I was grateful that they were trying so hard and provided a great service.
For the manicure, I thought it was very interesting the way she was filing the nail and ensuring that they would be even. After they have done the traditional manicure, they use hot paraffin lotion to massage your hands and feet then wipe it off with a hot towel and a dry towel. What really set them apart in my book is how they do their pedicures. I am really tall and I always hate how I have to sit uncomfortably squished to get my toes painted. Here they let you rest your feet on the chairs foot rest and they paint your nails. I can comfortably recline as they make my toes beautiful. They did a great job painting my nails. I love how they look a little fake but they are my real nails. =D
Juicy Nails is a great find. I have convinced Ms. Lin to visit them next time for her hands and feet. The room has is always filled with a nice smell and no strong odor of nail polish. They have nice hot stones in all the soaks and they offer a wide variety of special pedicure soaks with real flowers that would be great for a rainy day. The prices may be low but service is great and they really take their time to make sure that you are satisfied with everything. Be sure to book ahead of time because they are a quaint little business that can get very busy and become fully booked. They are definitely worth it! I will be back again the next time I am up.

Juicy Nails

1015 Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

(415) 931-8881

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Right before our journey up to Napa, Ms. Lin and I stopped off at Deli Board for a bite. I was dropped off to pick up the sandwich and let me just say that they are truly a hole-in-the-wall in every sense! If there wasn't a bunch of people gathered outside, I would have walked right past it. I tried to walk in and they stopped me because there is no inside except a kitchen! =D It is really a pick up and go place. Also I'd HIGHLY recommend that you call ahead of time to order because there tends to be a long wait on orders since they can be swamped or have big orders to deal with. You might end up waiting for 20-45 mins for a sandwich if you don't call ahead. They also deliver! I am hoping to the apt so I can get these yummy sandwiches all the time!
Everyone talks about their corned beef sandwiches so I had to try one of their more popular sandwiches. They recommended the Mish with Corned Beef, Jalapenos, Bacon, Grilled Onions, Mayo, and Brown Mustard on a French Bread ($9). The jalapenos added a nice kick to the sandwich, but it is all about the bacon for me. I probably should have ate this sandwich first because the Paulette Chicken Salad Sandwich was so tasty to me that this sandwich didn't quite hit the mark. All I could think about was turning the car around to get more of that delicious chicken sandwich.
The Paulette ($8) has Chicken Salad, Bacon, Muenster Cheese, Pepperoncini Blend, and Board Sauce all on their Dutch Crunch. This was simply deli-licious! ^_^ I still dream and drool about this sandwich. The perfect crunch from the nice layer of bacon mixed with all the savory components. I was licking any sauce that was trying to get away from me. This sandwich was freshly toasted and the cheese was oozing out. If you know me, I am a sucker for mouth-watering melted cheese! Every bite was a little bit of heaven from me. Bacon, cheese, and chicken! Oh my!

They have yet to establish a sit down store but for now they are working diligently at this locale. Space is limited for them but they crank out the sandwiches! They started off as a catering business but they are exploring their options. With the sandwich craze on the rise, they are a perfect candidate! I will be back my love, this Friday! O=D

Deli Board
1080 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

(415) 552-7687

Deli Board on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tucked away on Lake Ave is The Cheese Store of Pasadena. After a grueling 3 hour drive from OC to Pasadena for Gourmet Pigs birthday party, I accompanied her to pick up some cheeses. Since my trip to the Truffle Festival in Napa, I have been craving some triple creme cheeses. The Cheese Store of Pasadena was the perfect answer to my foodie search. As soon as you open the door, the pungent aroma of ripe cheeses flow into your nostril. If you love cheese, then you'd be in heaven.
Even though it is not a huge store, they offer a vast amount of artisanal products. There were a few private rooms that seemed to have people tasting wines and cheeses, which would be a nice option to explore. It was a rainy evening and we were two gals with a party to start so we had to hurry. There were so many great products to peruse and a lot of holiday items that looked divine. Can't overlook the freshly made brie filled with truffles on their counter!
They have many cheese experts that will gladly help you find the right cheese for you to take home. There are a few different samples at the counter for you to try as you wait for the next available staff. The first thing I saw at the counter was a cute bag of Sea Salt Caramels from Little Flower Candy Co. They were a little pricey, 1/4lbs for $7. Nevertheless, I had to buy it to taste for myself and I know Ms. Lin loves salted caramel. The caramel and hints of sea salt were nice. I wished the caramel was a bit smoother and softer so that it would melt in your melt. Still, the caramel was solid and tasty.
I couldn't stop myself after trying all the different cheeses. The Delice de Borgogne made of Cow's Milk from France was simply divine! After trying this cheese GP had to buy this for her party instead of the Époisses. It was so creamy and smooth but with a strong pungent bite at the end. We loved the velvety texture and strong flavor. I admit it might have been evil of me to convince GP to buy the honeycomb they sold there, but it was so DELICIOUS! It was such a hit at the party. If you are to buy any strong cheeses then you need to pair it with honeycomb to bring out the natural sweetness and flavor of the cheese. It also matters what kind of bread you smear the cheese on. The artisan baguette sold at The Cheese Store of Pasadena went perfectly with the Delice or with just the honeycomb. C'est Magnifique!
My main purpose of finding a nice triple creme was to pair it with my truffle honey. Even though the Delice was great, I wanted to have a wide variety of cheeses to pair with my truffle honey. I asked for a lighter yet just as creamy cheese they suggested the D'affinoir made of Cow's Milk from France. This will allow the flavor of truffle in the honey to permeate through better and no strong flavor will be fighting for my tastebuds' attention. Be sure to serve these cheeses at room temperature so that they are soft and easily spreadable. The flavor emanates better as it gets softer.
Even though I had sworn off truffles because I have had my fill for the next year or so after the Truffle Festival in Napa, I couldn't do it! When they offered me a sample of their Boschetto made from Sheep and Cow's Milk from Italy, I couldn't resist! The first thing I did was inhale the fragrant aroma of truffle and I was hooked! Truffles are like a drug that I really can't say no to apparently. You really can't taste the normal pungent flavor of sheep's milk. There are slices of truffle embedded into the cheese. Honestly, it was just okay because I currently in love with having sliced truffles in the center of a triple creme.
Last but not least was the divine Blue de Bocage made of Goat's Milk from France. This blue cheese was fantastic! I think it is the goat's milk that they use that made it so soft and smooth with a pungent bite. We were both in love with this cheese because it was so flavorful. Behind the strong savory flavor was a slight sweet pinch of heaven that emanated through my mouth. After we left the store, the flavor resonated throughout and we ran to the car to eat the honeycomb so we can continue the joy. O=) Blue cheese is best with honey and even better, honeycombs.
The Cheese Store of Pasadena
140 S Lake Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 405-0050

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