Tag Archives: food

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!

Israeli Cuisine: It’s Real and It’s Spectacular

1 Apr

I have a dumb habit of the second that I bite into a pupusa saying, “I am getting in touch with my brown side.” My dad is no longer alive but he was a Salvadorean revolutionary and refugee and I feel very disconnected with that side of me. Sure I can so-so speak spanish, but it is the second that I bite into the food that I get in touch with that culture.

Being Jewish is quite different. That I get and I know. I can’t speak Hebrew, but I have my own special relationship with that side of me. Obviously I am a food-centric person, but there is no specific food where I say, “I am getting in touch with my Jewish side.” Pastrami, brisket, and a kosher pickle do it for me, but that feels New York. My Jewish grandma was an amazing cook and we spent a great deal of time in her kitchen, but that cuisine was very worldly. I fondly remember her stuffed cabbage rolls (my favorite “Jewish” food), but we just as often made chinese food, dumplings, curries, spaghetti and BBQ together. I know that a lot of the Jewish culture and holidays take place over meals and yet when I went on a Culinary Trip to Israel in February, I really had no idea what that meant. Sure, I know middle eastern food, but nothing that was “Israeli” specific.

It turns out that much like being Jewish, which has no clear and cut definition: a religion, a race, an ethnicity, a culture; Israeli food is also all over the map. It sounds so cliche but it is an absolute melting pot, not just with the bordering countries, but with the entire word.

Right outside the shuk in Jerusalem, we visited one of the first neighborhoods that was built out of the city walls and there was this great legend that we heard. These neighborhoods often had a central stove outside and each family would have their own special meals cooking and when the sons would fetch the pots sometimes they’d mix them up. The Ashkenazis would get the Iraqis’ food and think it was too spicy and vice versa and the Iraqis would think their food was too bland. Then over time the families would request that their sons would grab the wrong pot on purpose. Thus, the cuisines do meld together and there is room at the table for each place the wandering Jews wandered to make its way back into Israeli cuisine.

During my visit I did hear a great talk by Janna Gur, the Queen of Israeli Cuisine, and learned that some things are strictly Israeli. For instances, Israelis are the only people in the world that eat salad for breakfast, they invented the cherry tomato, and date syrup called “silan” is more popular than honey and sugar.

However, the real joy about Israeli cuisine is that everything comes together: schnitzel in a pita is the epitome of that. Another example I saw was at Shuk HaNamal (The Port Market), where the slow food movement is very much embraced. We got a demonstration from a chef that showed how an Israeli would make a panzanella salad: a variety of the freshest tomatoes, za’atar thrown on and strained yogurt.

I have never been to Yemen but this Yemenite flatbread that was all of over the country was a personal favorite. This four cheese and mushroom dish I got in the Kabbalah town of Tzfat was delicious.

In Tel Aviv, I dined with friends at a very cool Georgian restaurant called Nanuchka. There was a picture near the stairwell of a man with his very large member showing, after much questioning, I learned that all of its glory belonged to the DJ at the restaurant/louge. However, nothing compared to the warm chickpeas in the hummus at Abu Hassan in Jaffa. The picture of the DJ didn’t ruin all other men for me, but one bite of this warm hummus ruined me forever with the refrigerated packaged stuff.

Another great thing I put in my mouth was a Persian Jewish dish called Gondi, which reminded me of matzo ball soup mating my all time favorite, meatballs. As soon as I took a spoonful of this ball and broth, I grabbed my ipad to tweet this very import message: Gondi > Gandhi.

During my ten days in Israel the highlight was picking carrots in, of all places a tomato farm in the desert, Shvil Hasalat. Later that same busy day, my carrot relationship became even deeper as I found myself cutting pounds and pounds of carrots with the dullest of knives at Nahal Brigade for a vegetable soup my group and I cooked up for more than 350 soldiers.

While at the farm, I heard that carrots were initially from Afghanistan and that they were white. When they were imported to Holland, orange was an important color to the country so they only grew orange carrots and that’s how they became known as orange. I have no idea if that story is true but I like the metaphor for Israeli cuisine and I love that I got to pull out some O.G. carrots from soil in the Middle East. Jews have spent generations living all over the world, taking in cuisine influences and now they get to bring it all together in their own country, which is beautifully delicious!

Hey Tony, That’s A Good Meatball…

17 Oct

Meatballs are my absolute favorite! They are the lasagna to my Garfield and if anyone ever wanted me to give them singing lessons (trust me, they don’t) I would be like Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer and let cute little old ladies pay me in meatballs. One ball per hand and a special squeeze for good luck is all I need to make me happy.

 

There is an Italian, with East Coast/Jewish influences, gourmet-to-go spot near my house called Pasta Gina, I just call it Dammmmn, Gina that serves up some delicious balls and is my regular go to joint. But when we are talking sit down restaurant and a serious meatball no one makes a bigger, better ball than Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. I am not much of pizza person, I get bored after a slice or two, but Tony’s is the hands down best and the people behind the World Pizza Cup in Naples agree with me. I am a huge fan of the New Yorker pizza with natural casing pepperoni and fennel sausage as well as mozzarella and ricotta, but if that is not enough meat and cheese for you…then you must, I repeat, must order a Meatball Gigante with Sea Salted Burrata ($13). The meatball is absolutely enormous with burrata on top. It is such a major meatball that it definitely wouldn’t fall off the table with a sneeze, unless maybe it was done by a giant.

I get a bit baffled about how something so large can be so evenly and perfectly cooked but I don’t worry much as I am too busy sticking my knife and fork into this monstrosity. It is the size of a softball or a grapefruit and each piece of the ball gets re-dunked in the sauce for extra coating and then forked with fresh burrata and ribbons of basil. This dish is truly a victory and is a great starter for those who won’t or can’t be satisfied with just pizza alone. The meatball gigante also comes in more fun options like wild mushroom, pancetta, and robiola or with a farm egg and calabrese but for me I like the cheese, please.

The P Mack and Its Babies: The Pub at Ghirardelli Square

18 Mar


Fortunately, I have never been pregnant but my taste-buds and cravings would tell you otherwise. I have been known to go from pickles to gummy candy to frozen grapes on many a nights. I love craving stories almost as much as I love insider restaurant stories and on a recent visit to my new favorite stomping ground, The Pub at Ghiradelli Square, I heard a story that combines both. I have become friends with the owner, Scott Broccoli, as I do some projects for him, and he told me this story that I am about to share with you. Scott is a new first time father and when his wife was pregnant she was really craving a Big Mac. He worried for the love of his life and his unborn child and said, “You can’t eat that, you’ll kill our baby!”  I am a huge Mickey D’s fan (nothing makes me happier than boot-shaped chicken nuggets in sweet and sour sauce) but I appreciated the sentiment.  He attempted to create his own bigger, better, Big Mac that was healthier because he knew exactly what was in it. His wife approved and he added it to The Pub menu. Now it is the must-have item for pregnant women throughout San Francisco. He named it the P, for pregnant, mack. Well, that is great and all, but I have only ever experienced food babies and this burger satisfies my every craving. Also, their kitchen is open til 1:30A, something all Baby Daddys -and all of my future boyfriends- need to know because I foresee this midnight craving. I first ordered it with salad to try to be “healthy” and within seconds I traded it in for french fries to get the full effect (you can also get it with tots!)

The end of January brought Scott’s first child and the P Mack also gave birth. Along with the real life baby Lucca, came Lil Luccas to The Pub’s specials: a twin slider version of the P Mack. I will admit it, I tried both, and I preferred these cute little babies. They were more manageable, I could hold one in each hand (double fisting, yo) and didn’t get as messy. In case you’ve been living under a rock since 1950: the Big Mac secret ingredient is thousand island dressing. I love the sauce at The Pub; all of my fries were dipped into the delectable sauce oozed from my burger(s). The crunch of the pickles was so nice that I asked for an extra side of pickles. Again, I am not pregnant but at The Pub I can eat like I am.

 
The Pub at Ghirardelli Square
851 Beach St
San Francisco, CA 94109

(415) 351-0500

www.thepubsf.co

Izakaya Sozai: Practically Perfect in Every Porky Way

15 Dec

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but a bowl of hot ramen is so delightful. And if you’re looking for some place to go, go to Izakaya Sozai! Sozai! Sozai! Sure, we’ve all indulged in ramen in our college/broke years and we have also all tried the biggest foodie trend in 2010, but my trip to Izakaya Sozai was the first time I “GOT” ramen. Get it? I am normally an udon or sukiyaki girl when it comes to my Japanese noodle soups but the ramen at Sozai is a whole  different story.

Izakayas are the tapas of Japanese food, which means that the menu is vast, approachable, and affordable. My favorite of the yakitori offerings at Sozai is, without question, the bacon wrapped mochi. For the most part, bacon wrapped food is trite. However, this lovely skewer is anything but boring. You have soft and doughy mochi with the contrast of fatty and crispy bacon. The combination will take you there. After consuming this stick of heaven you are done and left with only five words “Put a skewer in me.”

Although, you can’t be done, the printed menu is only one small piece of the izakaya experience. A board on the wall features a plethora of daily specials that are not to be missed. However, if you are looking for something more filling that will warm your tummy and soul then you must head to the “After Sake” section of  your menu. You better down a cup of sake prior because you are in for a divine dish.  The Ritsu Tonkotsu Ramen ($8) is the ultimate must-have at Sozai. Splurge with the $2 upgrade and add in some melt in your mouth pork belly. My goodness, this is some perfectly porky ramen. Every detail, from the boiled egg that was cured in miso to the crisp sheet of seaweed, is on point. This dish will allow you to do more than order ramen, this dish will allow you to “get” ramen on a much deeper level. If you are looking for a religious ramen experience there is no need to head to the South Bay, you just have to make a short trip to the Inner Sunset. Happy Holidays and go pork it!

Izakaya Sozai
1500 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122 

(415) 742-5122

www.sozaisf.com/

Pagolac Packs A Lotta Beef

1 Dec

“I may be ugly, but at least I am not a bitch like you.” “Why aren’t you smiling, bitch?” These were the greetings I received on my two most recent trips to the Tenderloin. Other weaker souls may be scared to revisit such parts of town after such verbal attacks. However, I am a food baller, I shrug it off. Nothing can get between me and good food at a great price. After first hearing about Pagolac and their “7 Courses of Beef” for $16, I knew that this was at the top of my restaurants to try list. I just finished the brilliant Patti Stanger’s Become Your Own Matchmaker book and she recommends that you kill two birds with one stone: if there is something you have always wanted to try you add it to a possible date list. That way, when a guy says to you, “What do you want to do on a Friday night?” you have a list full of answers. Examples: I have always wanted to go wine tasting, go horseback riding on the beach, or try that cute Italian restaurant on main street. When my date approached me with the question recently, I had one answer: 7 courses of  beef in the T-loin. The date was set and I was starving, excited to cross this restaurant off my list. Walking in, there’s an aesthetically stark (antithesis of Starck) dining room, packed only with people, and you add your name to the list at the front table. We knew what we were ordering far in advance but I wanted to get the night rolling with Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls). Jdates are always funny because I feel the need to ask, “Are you kosher?” Many of us, Jews, eat pork and shellfish but having the two wrapped in the same roll is doubly bad, which means extra awesome.

I was going on and on to my date about how we got to roll the rolls ourselves and was a little saddened when these babies came out already rolled. However, when the first of the seven courses arrived it became clear that we were the master rollers and cooks for the rest of the evening. The first course was citrus marinated rare (read: raw) beef in onions, basil, and peanuts. All of the classic Vietnamese flavors were present and I was in heaven.

The next five courses were all a bit of a delicious blur. There was rice paper ready to be dunked in warm water to turn malleable, beef ready to be dropped into a broth and later grilled to cook, a bowl of veggies and herbs to use, and a fish sauce to dip it in. I am a strong believer that being tactile with your food increases the enjoyment of the meal and this was my playground. I was rolling out these babies non-stop. I am not sure if I talked to my date during this process, but I am sure that I was doubling up on meat in my concoctions. It is fair to say that my date had one piece of beef for every two that I had. What can I say? I am food baller, I could man the grill and roll like a pro. After the cooking process, courses four, five and six were all served on the same plate. There was onion wrapped beef, beef wrapped onion, and a beef sausage in a pepper leaf. Of course, we devoured all of these but they didn’t come close to my cooking in the second and third courses.

I was overly stimulated and having so much fun that something needed to slow me down and bring me home. Course seven did just that; it was delicious beef porridge. It was lighter than Chinese congee and was delicate while it warmed my tummy and closed my palate. I happily made it through seven courses of beef. It was quite an experience. Sure, I could have asked my date to take me on some other great adventure but in my mouth I just traveled to Vietnam and my childhood in seven courses of beef and for only $16.

Pagolac

655 Larkin St
(between Ellis St & Willow St)
San Francisco, CA 94109
Neighborhood: Civic Center/Tenderloin

(415) 776-3234

8 Great Things I Ate Since Moving to SF (that I didn’t already mention)

16 Nov

I have lived in beautiful San Francisco for 5 months and now feel like I want to give something back to my SF friends. I have eaten some amazing things since moving to this city by the bay and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you. San Francisco, my favorite city: where the  women are strong and the men are pretty…and the food is life changing.

#1 Strawberry Earl Grey Donut from Dynamo Donuts. I am normally a girl that doesn’t like donuts, they make me unbelievably thirsty and since I don’t drink coffee or milk I am out of luck. It’s as bad as a cop working the night shift without his cream filled fried dough friend. Thankfully, that is not the caliber of doughnuts that Dynamo serves up. This place is cool as hell. They post their daily donuts on their Twitter page, you order outside and then you can come inside and eat up. The Chocolate Spice donut gets a lot of attention but it is not the one on my taste bud radar. The best donut I have had here is the Strawberry Earl Grey donut, apparently it is not in the regular rotation because I don’t know anyone else that had it, but it is absolutely perfect. I am fruit girl that  loves Earl Grey tea so much that I plan on naming my firstborn son Grey. (To which my mother says, “But everyone will call him gay” and I respond, “Pssh, I should be so lucky!”) If this special donut isn’t available, then I like the Apple Bacon and the Banana Dulce de Leche, but really you can’t wrong at this place. All of the donuts will cream your hole!

#2 Dim Sum at Hong Kong Lounge. It is strange because everyone seems to think of San Francisco and Dim Sum together and yet finding a good dim sum place seems to be everyone’s mission. There is the all-famous round-eye place known as Yang Sing, which I have yet to try. In fact, I haven’t tried a lot of dim sum places, but for now Hong Kong Lounge is my dim sum place. You get a (raffle) ticket and have to wait a minimum of an hour for a table and you are then escorted into the large banquet room for quite a feast. There are no carts so boo on that but I do love all of their shrimp dumplings. It is clear as the dumpling itself that the pork filled dumplings play second fiddle to the stuffed plump huge pieces of shrimp.

#3 Falafel at Old Jerusalem Cafe. Alright, let’s talk balls…the falafel at Old Jerusalem Cafe are as scrumptious as can be. The shape of these babies resemble a mini bran muffin and yet the taste reminds you that this is a damn well-seasoned falafel. When I first ordered them I was getting it to go and by the time I arrived at home there were several balls missing from the bag and I was in delight with the flavor that these little balls packed. I made myself save some for a salad the following day and I was quite impressed. One of my dates told me that you can order these little guys stuffed, now that is something that I would like to try, but for now the unfilled ones do the trick quite nicely.

#4 Pho broth at Pho Hyunh Hiep 2. Pho is something I take very seriously, before moving to San Francisco it was Golden Deli in San Gabriel that had my heart. Moving to San Francisco meant that I needed to find a new pho go to place. Even though I always forget the name when I recommend this place, Pho Huynh Hiep 2, I can use the simpler name  and call it Kevin’s Noodle House. Apparently this place has a few locations but it is the spot on Irving that does it for me. They are surrounded by several other pho joints but this one serves up my kind of broth with the hint of anise, cardamon, and cinnamon without being too overpowering.

#5 Shabu Shabu at Shabu House. Speaking of broth, shabu broth bores most people to death because of the lack of flavor. Shabu House brings something quite exciting with their spicy miso broth. Despite being a fairly lazy person in most aspects of my life, I love Do It Yourself kinds of meals. I like to crack crab, tear pizza, peel artichoke petals, and pull my nuts in two. Therefore, getting my own pot in front of me to cook my meal was quite exciting and the broth actually has a nice kick.

#6 Fried Rice Ball Salad at Champa Garden. Okay, this dish isn’t in San Francisco. It is across the bay in Oakland, but it is so unbelievably delicious that it had to be included. Champa Garden is not in the best neighborhood but step inside and you are lucky if you can find an open table in this small restaurant. The fried rice ball salad has crispy rice, preserved pork, limes, cilantro, and a variety of herbs and lettuce to wrap this salad up. The pork makes this salad but it is a refreshing flavorful package that makes this the most awesome salad ever. Plus, I like to pretend to sound gangsta and say that I am a Champa, it is an upgrade from calling myself a Food Baller.

#7 Chicken-Fried Rabbit at Comstock Saloon. I have already exhausted every innuendo and pun to express my love for rabbit but it is truly one of my favorite meats. The chicken fried rabbit at Comstock Saloon was one of my first dishes after moving here. I was catching up with an old friend that I hadn’t seen since high school and was sipping a whiskey cocktail. The fried batter on the delicate meat and the chili vinegar sauce was the topper on this night. Comstock Saloon is so effing cool and this dish along with the rabbit toast and the celery salad is a fantastic classic cocktail companion.

#8 Cioppino at Tadich Grill. For the last several months I have been writing for SF Weekly’s SFoodie and after I read their list SFoodie’s 92 best dishes in San Francisco I knew I needed to try their #1, which was Tadich Grill’s cioppino. I am a cioppino lover and my favorite restaurant version is at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing, that is my fish stew standard. A few months ago, I was having a perfect San Francisco day, I was driving (remember I only moved from LA 5 months ago) the weather was sunny and breezy and as I was driving down a hill, I spotted Tadich on my left. Again, I am still very LA so I called them from my car and asked if I could get cioppino to go. They are very San Francisco and said that I can’t call in my order but I can park right in front in the white zone and order at the bar. (I don’t want to jinx it but I have never gotten a parking ticket since moving here, I have parked in front of driveways and had expired metters but they aren’t as pesky about parking here, maybe that’s becaus eI am the only driving fool.) Anyway, walking in, I completely stepped back in time. It wasn’t in a themey way, it was just Tadich. I actually would have loved to eat it there but I had other places to go and sun to soak in before the fog rolled in. I was a little shocked by the price, over $30 for a bowl. However, it was a mighty big bowl that did not skimp on seafood in the slightest. When I had the first bite it was clear to me that I now live in San Francisco and this is my kind of food. You break a tough piece of classic SF sourdough and you dunk away. The sweet crab and the plump scallops melt in your mouth and this is truly a San Franicisco treat. My colleague, Jonathan Kauffman, at SF Weekly said it way better in the beginning and end of his article,

“Admit it: Every time you walk into Tadich Grill you fall back in love with San Francisco….We love the cioppino at Tadich not just because it’s a great dish but because it is ours.”

San Francisco, I officially love you, thank you for feeding me so damn well!