Tag Archives: events

I’ve Gone to GoPago; Meatballs for All!

26 Jul

I am very happy to announce that I am now working with the awesome team at GoPago. This free mobile app combines all of my favorite things: reading menus, restaurants, shopping, customizing, ordering, purchasing, technology, efficiency, community and my smartphone. The community aspect is of the utmost importance to me so please be sure to follow us on Twitter @go_pago, on Facebook and on the app to keep the community expanding and to let me know what you think!

Speaking of expanding, the amount of restaurants offering our services is ever-growing but I wanted to highlight a few dishes at some of our restaurants because I am currently meat and chickpea ball obsessed. I have already written quite extensively about my love for the Meatball Gigante at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. Although, if you can’t order one of the 25 made daily, the regular size are equally delicious and a more manageable ball.

For my vegetarian friends, GoPago has three Sunrise Deli locations where you can try one of the best falafels in the city. The Super Falafel with eggplant and potato included in the pita pocket or lavash wrap is the way to go.

For those looking to combine the best of both worlds and marry the most awesome things together, like GoPago does, I have an awesome Frankenstein-esque ordering  kind of solution. You must try the dish I recently wrote about that combines Italian with Middle Eastern. The Safeehat Falafel at Jannah, which is basically a pizza with a falafel crust and the most delicious toppings: pesto, eggplant, roasted red bell pepper, green and red onions, shitake mushrooms, tomato, feta, and goat cheese.

I want to offer you $10 in credit to try some of the restaurants out, since I am so excited about my new role, the company, the app, and these food selections. Simply download the app and enter my special promo code “Meatball” to try one of these awesome dishes, all under $10, for the next 48hrs. Come over to the new way of ordering/paying quickly and let’s have a ball!

Grappa Galore at Bar 888

15 Sep

There are 3 things you should know about me: I like grapes, 8 is my favorite number and I like hard alcohol. Pull the slot machine of luck and we have a winner at Bar 888. A few weeks ago, I got a message on Twitter from the InterContinental Hotel asking me to follow them so they can DM me an invite. It sounded mysterious, so I followed and they hit up my DM box with a grappa tasting invite. Done! I like the word grappa and I knew involved grapes and alcohol. I remember it listed as an ingredient in a few cocktails that I had and I knew it alone was very strong. But that is where my knowledge stopped. I will save you all a Wikipedia visit by saying that grappa is made from distilling the pulp, seeds, skins, and stems from grapes. In other words, the waste product from winemaking.

I arrived at the hotel lounge and was escorted to Luce where the grappa bottles were hand selected from the Bar 888 bar to try. The rest of the evening went something like this: a welcome grappa cocktail, two grappas made from muscat grapes that tasted very different, some light bite food consuming, another grappa cocktail, and more straight grappa samplings. The Luigi Francoli muscato grappa was one of my favorites of the evening. It was floral and easily as complex as wine as each one poured gave off a completely different aroma and taste.

Some were aged for a long time and almost bourbon like, others were more like a high quality vodka that had been flavored. Normally, I would have thought Tagliatella to be a pasta, but it was a flavored grappa by Nardini with a fruity and bitter taste that the sommelier explained was a bit like Fernet Light. Ugh please, I have lived in SF for more than a year, I don’t even ginger back anymore; I go straight…and hard.

I spent a good amount of time really delving into the grappa menu that is endless. First there are more than 10 grappa cocktails and there is a list of bottles that simply never ends. I asked the som if this was the biggest grappa list in San Francisco, he nodded and then said, “Probably the biggest west of the Rockies.” It’s pretty incredible. I am now at that point in my life when I can see an item on a menu or a dress in a store and without tasting it or trying it on I can be right about 90% of the time that it will be a Cinderella fit for my body/palate and that I will love it. I read the word chamomile on the grappa menu and I knew I just had to have it. I am a sucker for tea infusions it accounts for all of my favorite desserts, macarons, and ice creams so it may as well work for my grappa. I begged to try it and I was right, it was my dream spirit. Smooth like honey and tasting of honey. One sip and I was transported to my childhood, picking the yellow buds of chamomile off the field. Squashing it on my fingers and putting my nose as deeply into it as possible to pull out the tea scent that I knew. My cups of tea that I would make around this single digit age would have so much honey and sugar at the bottom that the first few sips were watery torture while I waited for the thick sweet stuff that could hardly make its way down the cup. Yeah, this bottle of Marolo Grappa & Camomile was pretty incredible.

I recommend you save the grappa cocktail drama for your mama, and head to Bar 888 for some serious straight up grappa tasting.

My Six Top Bites from SF Street Food Fest

29 Aug

In the Mission district of San Francisco a couple of  Saturdays ago, an expansive variety of street food was served at the 3rd annual San Francisco Street Food Festival, put on by La Cocina. Food carts, trucks, stands, coolers, grills, and brick-and-mortar restaurants showcased their offerings of food and drinks priced from $1-$8. People carried cash or special event passports in search of all the best food they could find. I was on the scene scouting local foodie goodness.

Here are the top picks from this indulgent day:

#6 Watermelon Gazpacho from Commonwealth

In several years of covering food events, I like to think that I have reached some kind of method for the madness. For instance, after judging a cupcake challenge, I go straight to a vegan restaurant for some on-the-fly cleansing. Rational? My approach perhaps makes no nutritional sense, but it’s what I do. Another well-honed tactic: There is something to be said about starting an event off with a shot of liquid courage, so that is another food fest rule. For this afternoon, I started with a shot of watermelon gazpacho with lemon verbena oil artfully decorating the top. It was sweet and tart as I shot it down, prompting a handful of fellow foodie goers to ask, “That looks so refreshing, where did you get?”

The answer was Commonwealth, a top Mission restaurant who had a stand for this event and offered the shooter for $2. It was an inexpensive way to coat my stomach with something ostensibly healthy before the delicious abuse it was about to endure.

#5 Thai Grilled Chicken with Sticky Rice from Lers Ros

Next up was the most beautiful-looking chicken and sticky rice I’ve ever seen. I was on the prowl for something substantial but not too heavy (read: fried). I was excited to encounter Lers Ros, a top Thai restaurant in San Francisco. The restaurant features a diverse menu including items such as frog legs and alligator. I have yet to visit and try these exotic meats that “taste like chicken,” so it was beneficial to see how they actually prepared their food. They do it very well. It fell off the bone. I generously rescued it with a spoon and grabbed some sticky rice for a full dip in the sweet and spicy chili sauce. My first thought? Oddly enough, that this is how mall food should taste.

#4 S’mores from Kika’s Treats

In an interview I did with San Francisco local and Top Chef: Just Desserts winner, Yigit Pura, he confessed that Kika’s Treats were one of his favorite sweets. I endured the long line to see what spell the chocolate-dipped graham crackers held over a master pastry chef. One look at the torch turning a marshmallow and a graham cracker into a S’more and I got it.

#3 Banh Mi and Pad Thai Taco from The Peached Tortilla

Some out-of-state vendors were present and I was so intrigued by one menu that I had to try all of the offerings. A food truck from Austin, Texas that was serving a Pad Thai taco and a Banh Mi taco? Obviously I had to try both. I got the Pad Thai taco with tofu and was a little turned off by the look it. Noodle-free, essentially a mash-up of toppings, I had my doubts. One bite in and I realized the best part of pad thai: the sauce, the crushed peanuts, the bean sprouts and the lime wedge. The tortilla was just the vessel for this flavor powerhouse. The Banh Mi taco was similarly fashioned, but had Vietnamese braised pork belly with pickled Daikon and carrots topped with Srichacha mayo and cilantro. Once again, the toppings were supreme. If I lived in Texas, you can guarantee this would be my go-to truck after a night of cocktailing.

#2 The Yes Please! from The Crème Brulee Man

Living in San Francisco, the Crème Brulee Man – and his Twitter feed – is one of my regular haunts. For the festival, I had a mouthwatering brulee featuring Nutella and balsamic strawberry. I can now die and go to heaven.

#1 Arepa de Queso from The Arepa Lady

I do not recall when or where I first heard about The Arepa Lady, but like a mythical creature, I knew she existed. Hailing from Jackson Heights in New York, she also goes by the nickname “Sainted Arepa Lady.” As part of the visiting vendor program, she graced us and gave us all a great Arepa gift. It may have the same appearance as a Salvadorian Pupusa, but the Arepa version is much denser and sweeter. Summed up? Imagine tender dough cheese-filled, buttered and grilled to a brown and crispy sweet perfection – and then topped with more cheese. This was, without question, the best thing I ate at the festival. Possibly ever. (Butter! Cheese!)

For the final paragraph, please see the full article on EcoSalon.

Side note: My whole life I’ve wanted nepotism but despite the awesome editor and I having the same last name, sadly, we are not related.

Lunching at a Gentlemen’s Club: Gold Club

22 Jun

Get ready folks, I’m here to tell you about the deal of the century. I have found a place that offers a buffet of food and women baring their breasts for $5. That’s right, five bones. For your post hump day workweek, Thursday and Friday, you can head to the Gold Club and spend your lunch break, from 11:30am-2:00pm with girls and all you can eat food.

Before I headed there for a friend’s birthday and my first time, I received these pearl necklace words of wisdom from my friend Irvin of Eat The Love via his Twitter:

There are 3 stages of dining at all-you-can-eat buffet at the Gentleman’s Club “The Gold Club” here in SF

Stage 1. The food. You go to the buffet & marvel that the food looks decent & edible (it’s relative).

Stage 2. The entertainers. Once you’ve eaten a little, you start to marvel at the dexterity of the women.

Stage 3. The clientele. Pole dancers novelty wears off. You look around & get creeped out. Time to leave.

Plus, really, who can give you advice about a female strip club better than a straight woman and a gay man? Let’s continue, I arrived well prepped and ready and with a stack of singles. Five of them went to the person just past the door as an entrance fee. Once I entered, my eyes went straight to stage one, the buffet. I am a foodie, above all else. I was curious, what would be served? There is actually a Meet Chef Juan page on their website and apparently he comes from The Globe and Tres Agaves. I instantly found myself on a hunt for a double entendre as much as for actual stuff to fill my plate. Along with fried and baked chicken there was a plethora of humorous undertones: biscuits and cookies, taquitos and churros, there was also a tossed salad and a fruit salad. My mind was chuckling in the most juvenile of ways.  I stuffed pineapple in my mouth and laughed about knowing what that is good for (it makes you taste better), I spread butter on my biscuits in a giggle, and when it came down to sitting and watching the show I was riveted.  The birthday girl that I was with got motorboated by a stripper and a good time was had by all.  Although, just as Irvin warned, I went into stage three and started looking around at the crowd. The men in suits had gone back to their offices and the crowd of regulars left, well, left something to be desired. Time to go, I finished my last whiskey and walked out into the sunlight of day. If you are looking for that dreamlike effect that normally comes from a weekend night bender or seeing a movie in the middle of the day, then head to Gold Club at the tail end of the workweek. It is a great deal, but just remember don’t stay too long!

Il Cane Rosso: Can Really Cook

26 May

Tyler, Emily, Michelle, & Chef Ryan Pollnow photo from Il Cane Rosso

Sure, San Francisco has Off The Grid and farmers markets every day of the week but ask anyone and they will tell you that the ultimate mecca for foodies is the Ferry Building. The options are overwhelming, especially on Thursdays and Saturdays when it joins forces with the farmers market and even more food stands. It is like a Hindu god with multiple arms and you are unsure of which of the limbs to grab; it all looks so good and you are so hungry. My one always safe bet is Il Cane Rosso. I can’t ever be disappointed, even on those rare days that I am good and just order a half sandwich and soup, I may long for the reunion of the other half the sandwich but one half is more valuable than 5 mediocre sandwiches. The brisket sandwich puts me in my place in the best possible way, just me lost in the moment with this sandwich. You see I share the Liz Lemon philosophy, “Can I share with you my worldview? All of humankind has one thing in common: the sandwich. I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.”

When I was invited to a special winemaker dinner at Il Cane Rosso, I was excited for many reasons. First, I knew and loved the wine and the winemakers because the agency that I work for, Ink Foundry, reps them. Romililly is the brainchild of two cute young brothers and it is a labor of love and a family affair. Aaron and Jesse grew up in the wine business because their uncle was August “Joe” Briggs and when it came to naming their very own Russian River Pinot the grandmother wrote down the name of her grandkids Jesse Robert (RO), Aaron Michael (MI) and  little sister, Susan (LILLY) and Romililly was born. As much as I love a cute story, I also love a good glass of pinot and this one stands tall. I was in LA at the beginning of the year for another winemakers’ dinner and was blown away. The second reason I was so excited was because I knew Il Cane Rosso slays lunch so I was beyond anticipation to see what they could do to dinner.

The first course was Local Sardines “Scapece” with rhubarb, shaved radish & fresh mint paired with a 2010 August Briggs Rose. Any of the initial hesitation that I had with the idea (read: fishiness) of sardines was immediately mediated when I paired the small fish with the rhubarb and mint in the bite. The dish just went so beautifully and was so balanced.

The following course of Fregula Sarda & parmesan brodo with spring vegetables, fresh herbs & wild flowers paired with the 2009 August Briggs Chardonnay was easily the main highlight of the night. I am a sucker for a good soup and this broth and aroma was simply heavenly. I wasn’t familiar with Fregula Sarda and, yes, it sounds like a Harry Potter word but it is actually an Italian couscous. Since I am looking for a Jewish man obviously Israeli couscous is more on my radar but I am now a convert. Every element of this dish from the peas to the flowers can best be described as spring in a dish.

The main course was Braised Range Brothers Pork Cheek with preserved plum mostarda, smoked lardo, which was paired with the wine of the night the 2008 Romililly Pinot Noir. Now obviously this site is Mission Fruition and I love fruit worked into almost every dish, especially my meat, so I am sure you can imagine my delight with the plum mostarda (a condiment made from candied fruit and mustard). One of my favorite wine bloggers Sonoma William of  Simple Hedonisms even made this note on the 2008 pinot, “Wonderful expression of RRV fruit, balanced with nice acidity. Modest red color and red fruit, soft finish. Pairing wonderfully with pork cheek.”

Valley Ford Cheese Company Estero Gold with lavender roasted strawberries, toasted hazelnuts & balsamic with the 2009 Romililly Pinot Noir closed the meal. Also I also got a handful of the famous caramel corn. Even with four courses and four glasses of wine, I left feeling completely satisfied but not unbearably full, which was good because right after dinner I saw Diddy Dirty Money with Tamara Palmer. What I love about Il Cane Rosso and Romililly is that even though they are full of flavor they both are much lighter than what you’d imagine. Il Cane Rosso despite knowing meat so damn well has a knowledge and use of produce and herbs that never allows the meat to get weighted down in the mix.

Keep your eyes out for upcoming Il Cane Rosso events and your tummy and mouth open for their nightly 3 course dinners for $25. Romililly isn’t an easy wine to find but it is definitely a pinot worth seeking out, as it won’t soon be forgotten…follow the brothers on Twitter @RomilillyWines for all of the latest.

Sony WX-9: A Camera Love Story for Foodies

30 Apr

There are certain times when I can categorically say that my life does not suck. Building a career based around my love of food and words is pretty good, even if at times my waistline and wallet disagree, but then every once in awhile you get these invites that truly and eternally make it worth it. Last month, I got an invite from Sony Electronics to take part in a foodie event with bloggers from all over the country. Towards the end of March, I flew to San Diego and met up with some of my favorite food writers that I consider close friends and then people that I have just admired from my Twitter feed or Google Reader. The Minty, pretty much my favorite person from my LA food blogging days, Yay Fiona from FoodSpotting and the Punk Domestic boys also came down from SF and made me very happy. The first night I was introduced to the rest of the group, which included some big name bloggers like  No Recipes and Mouth of the Border. I can’t explain enough how good it feels when you are surrounded by your kind of people. People that love making up hashtags for events on Twitter, adding venues for Foursquare, taking pictures of every bite before it hits their fork, and giving a proper intro that includes a Twitter handle. I’ll happily admit it, food bloggers and twEATers are my people. The next day, during breakfast, we were introduced to our new lover – Sony Cyber-shot WX-9. It was ours and we were going to take it for our test drive at our mecca: a farmers’ market. The camera is very impressive, a ton of easy settings for food, pets, soft skin, and fireworks, there is also 3D functions, photo layerings, and an easy panorama mode. All of the pictures from here on out were taken with my new cyber-shot, as genius as the camera is, I couldn’t figure out how to photograph the camera with the camera. Here were some of my first photos taken, a quick lesson and my silly mind just pointed and shot. As far as I am concerned, this camera allowed me to shoot like a professional.

We then took our cameras to the beach of Ocean Beach for an amazing lunch thrown together by Chef Chris Ivens-Brown who let’s just put it this way, has enough power to make a fish extinct.  He is the VP of Culinary Development  and Executive Chef at Compass Group, the leader in foodservice management including for the Sony corporation, there are only a handful of corporations whose food he does not touch. In the words of Spiderman, god, and everyone else with a conscience, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” He preached sustainability, local, and organic with such vigor that I had to make sure that I wasn’t still in San Francisco. It was actually refreshing as was his strawberry lemonade, the ocean view, and the buffet lunch spread that just didn’t quit.

After this feast I napped, watched Oprah, and got ready for dinner. I couldn’t help but laugh at the Sony Execs who looked like they were in so much pain on the shuttle from lunch. They were so not used to eating such large lunches and then having to prepare for dinner in only a few hours. Leave it up to the professionals; this is what I call Tuesday. Dinner was where it was at and my crew was ready. We arrived at the breathtaking Sony Headquarters, went up to the top floor dining room and were lead into the kitchen where Chef Chris was leading the team. He gave us some appetizers and gave us a behind the scenes on how to make a potato basket that we later saw in one of our 9 courses to be had.

Being lead in to the dining room is where the Chef, Sony, and the trip sparkled. Interesting and inspired food, more than one pairing with Nickel & Nickel wine, and a chance for mixed tables and mingling with new people from the group.

Everything from the carrot and cilantro Soup to the surprise beta swimming in the bowl beneath my lobster salad and up until the steaming pineapple potpourri was breathtaking and mouth watering.

For the final course we moved on to petit fours and Veuve on the patio with the fire pits and got to begin our goodbyes after a magical couple of days. All of us food bloggers discussed how pleased we were that Sony “got it,” we go to so many food type events with shitty food and people/companies who don’t care. Rocco DiSpirito may have a perfect penis but sending him to a food event with frozen dinners in hand, just won’t cut it. You know what I am sayin? This was delightful and yes I left with a nice and easy to use camera, but more importantly I left with some fun memories, new foodie friends, and much more. My camera did showcase my memories and meals perfectly and, really, what else can a food blogger ask for?

Here I am with my SF crew and my Minty.

Here is what the others had to say and shoot:

The Minty on the farmer’s market, lunch, and dinner.

Travel + Wine

Chickpease Please

Foodspotting

Wayfaring Wanderer with the most insanely beautiful photos and posts on the event

Amy Blogs Chow’s posts

Sukhjit’s video teaser

The Flickr photo pool

Secret Menu: Betelnut & BlackboardEats Serve It Up

8 Mar

Photo Credit: Cooking With Amy

Secret menus are the foodie equivalent of Members Only jackets: you feel special just to know about it, you don’t even have to indulge in it. My little brother is all about the Pink Starburst smoothie at Jamba Juice and I like a Flying Dutchman that gets it done without the buns, hun. What, you don’t know? Pfft. Two meat patties with two slices of American cheese between them, a top-secret part of the In-N-Out secret menu.

I got word from the fine folks at BlackboardEats that they have partnered with Betelnut to offer a super special and secret menu.

Here are the details:

Chef Alex Ong created four offal-ly good dishes

Crispy chicken liver, black pepper sauce, $9.88
Cured lamb tongue, galangal, lime, crispy taro, $11.88
Salt-and-pepper veal sweetbread, $12.88
Fish head tamarind curry, $15.88

This fish head curry is so rare that it is rarely seen outside of Malaysia and even the secretive Michael Bauer wrote about it.

So, how do you get in on the secret? It’s easy, go to http://www.blackboardeats.com/san-francisco be a member (for free) and get the code (for free) but here is the real exclusivity: you only have until 2pm on March 9th. There’s a countdown…..get on it……

Side Note: Here’s a joke that reminds me of “Secret Menus”

Q: How many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

A: It’s like a really obscure number, you wouldn’t have heard of it.