San Francisco Food Crawl

Sunday, September 30, 2007

You know when those young people today turn 21, do the pub crawl and then end up on videos sold on late night infomercials? Well, I did that in SF from Thursday-Sunday. Okay, minus the alcohol. And minus the drunken behavior. Okay, sure, add in good food. And it is EXACTLY the same.

Came up with my college roommate to see our old RA from the UCLA Sproul Hall dorms, but work schedules went crazy, and Agnes and I spent our time eating, visiting friends, and acting like tourists. Here are a few photos:

What's great about traveling with someone?
Splitting food so you can have two tastes!
After we arrived on Thursday, we ate some pizza at Escape from New York in the Haight. Later, we had dessert at
Crepes on Cole with some Nutella and Banana crepes (pictured) and a strawberry jam crepe.

Holy Moly. We went to Burma Super Star on Clement and 4th with another college roommate, Diane. I'll be forever in debt to Librarian Jessica (guest blogger #2) for this recommendation. Staff was so friendly, food was delicious and I can't wait to return. Photo #1: The famous Tea Leaf Salad with nuts, sesame seeds, garlic and all things delicious - as the menu says, "It's a party in the mouth!". #2: Delicious coconut rice and Tan Poi rice (Basmati with cardamom, cinnamon, raisins and nuts). #3: Pumpkin (kabocha) and shrimp stew.

Friday morning: Enjoyed this caramel-filled muffin and lemon topped mini-cookie/tart at the Boulange de Cole Valley

We happened to enter the SF City Hall at the exact moment a tour was beginning! The SF City Hall Tour was definitely an unexpected highlight! It was a wonderful tour and our docent, Judy was lovely. Free tours three times a day - be sure to check it out. You'll learn the history of the City Hall clocks, and watch a few weddings. We even saw Gavin walk out of his office!

Don't let cynical people tell you "Dreams Don't Come True." They Do.
I dreamt of coming back to Delica in the Ferry Building for the roast beef sushi, and here I was. We met up with Cousin Stan and David. Yum. Yum. Yum.
Stan introduced us to an awesome chocolate spot in the Ferry Building: Recchiuti Confections.

We met Brian (just moved back to the Bay Area last Friday!) for dinner at Zazie, a wonderful French bistro in the Cole Valley. Brian and Agnes had Zazie Burgers and I had the Grilled Salmon. The bread was sooooo delicious we had to ask for more rolls!

We got up early on Saturday and took the Muni to the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked across the bridge and back on a BEAUTIFUL day. The sun was out and the wind was slight. Lovely! After, we went to the massive Big Book Sale to benefit the San Francisco Public Library at Fort Mason. To all San Francisco residents: Be sure to vote Yes on D to renew the library fund!

After all the shopping and walking, we stopped at Bittersweet Cafe on Fillmore Street. Cousin Stan recommended it and it was sooooo delicious. I had the dairy-free bittersweet drink and Agnes had the classic hot chocolate. Amazing!! Wonderful!! Chocolate heaven!!

Can you believe we were still up to eating?! We ended our Saturday at Thanh Long on Judah and 46th. This is the original An family have probably heard of their other restaurant Crustacean in SF and Bev Hills. We had the famous garlic noodles (to die for), shaken beef (party in the mouth), seasonal veggies (fresh and perfect), and grilled calamari (squid is my friend).

Two tarts from Tart to Tart on Irving. We were too stuffed to eat these last night and ate them on Sunday morning after our second walk across the bridge!

Finally, the last supper (or lunch). Pam (of Pam Jam fame) and I went strollin' in the Mission on a really beautiful day! We ended up at eating a huge falafel platter. I must have been very hungry because I forgot to photograph the platter AND get the name of the place!
Here is Pam - about the eat the very last bite before I scream, "Photo!"

Well, that was a great 4 days!

Note to F."S."S.: Agnes and I were thinking about you the whole time and will come back as soon as you are done to take you away!

Here I am walking across the GG Bridge (eating an apple, of course!)

Did you think I photographed everything? Well, I didn't...Not pictured: Escape from NY Pizza in the Haight, small cafe near Fort Mason for sandwiches, popcorn at the book sale, lots of red grapes, bananas and gala apples, vast quantities of Choice peppermint tea and Mike & Ike candies during the DVD - Stranger than Fiction!

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Williams-Sonoma's Carrot Cake

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

At the library where I work, everyone knows I'm trying to learn to bake...they get to taste the trials. This new book came in and they told me about it: Williams-Sonoma Mastering: Cakes, Frostings & Fillings.

I made the Carrot Cake (page 70) and it turned out delicious! Wow. I tried carrot cake once before and that was a disaster.

This book is really fantastic. I'm going to try to make many more of the cakes. The book has lots of photos with step-by-step instructions. My favorite part is that they indicate how many minutes you should be mixing, blending and pouring. For instance, "slowly pour the oil in the mixture, 1 minute" or "mix on medium-high speed until light, about 2-3 minutes." It is difficult for a new cook to know when to stop when the instructions say, "Mix well."

The only problem is that it took about 12 minutes longer to cook than indicated. I did use my Even-Bake strips, so I don't know if that slowed the baking. I was stressing as I kept opening the oven to insert toothpicks. I think I went through about 10 toothpicks! But, luckily, everything worked out!

The carrot cake has finely grated carrots (that is very important to not have the cake very fiber-y), crushed pineapple, and the usual stuff. I used those sweet Nantes carrots from Trader Joe's (I had someone grate them for me) and I'm sure that added a touch of sweetness. The frosting was lots of good-for-you cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, and a pound (about 4 cups) of powdered sugar. Yum.

One co-worker strolled into the office and said, "I heard you are giving out vitamins know, vitamin A in the carrots." Yes, this is health food.

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Bakin' in Duluth

Monday, September 24, 2007

I was so lucky to see the start of the changing of the leaves...
as I told everyone, "Palm trees don't change color in Los Angeles."

Yes, that is close to 80 degrees. In Fall. In Duluth.

The pond on the property freezes over in the winter.

Gorgeous "back yard" and woods!

"No, really, I can see," says Bates, the ever friendly dog

Beatrice ready for the day in her strawberry outfit!

Mom and Bea!

Today (September 24, 2007) was my last day in Duluth. :( And it was soooooo hot! Summer hot! Sunscreen hot! And, of course, I was wearing inappropriate clothing - a long sleeve shirt!

Beatrice and I hung out for a bit (Did you know she knows some sign language? Her favorite word is "more" - a very good word to know!), talking about the latest news on Britney (bodyguard saying she is a bad mom...who thought Kevin FedEx would be nominated for parent of the year?!), her thoughts on the presidential election, and whether she liked Law & Order: CI better with Vincent D. or Chris Noth. Well, since Bea is only 1, I think she is pulling for Winnie the Pooh with Tigger as V.P.

We toured the University of Minnesota Duluth campus where both Sunshine and Clay work. Sunshine is a librarian in the AWESOME library - it is so pretty (with skylights, sitting areas, and of course, the best librarians!). I toured Dr. Clay's lab-o-science with things that shake, bake and grow plants. Clay also had me look at my cuticles under a microscope...and I need a manicure stat! UMD has a great tunnel system that allows you to go from building to building without leaving the climate controlled environment...especially good during the winter!

Yesterday, I took a few photos of their enormous "back yard" or woods. They have a large grass area with a cool pond and a trail going into the woods. Many of the leaves were changing color for fall. (By the way, I hit Duluth in BOTH spring and fall seasons as fall began this weekend!)

Thanks Sunshine, Clay and Beatrice for making my trip super fun and relaxing! Everyone, go visit Duluth!!! :)

Beatrice, Clay and Sunshine near Enger Tower
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The Beach. In Duluth.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

On Sunday, we went to Enger Tower and Park. Funny, this place reminded me of Coit Tower in SF! There are great views of the city, Lake Superior and the St. Louis River.

We also went to the BEACH. Yes, the beach. In Duluth, Minnesota. That threw me at first, but there is a beach on the coast of Lake Superior in an area called Minnesota Point! There were even women in bikinis trying to catch the last few rays before winter. Yes, the Great Lakes are really great.

Minnesota Point is on the other side of the Duluth Canal area...and you have to cross that aerial bridge I saw on Friday. And I got bridged! A true Duluth experience! Our car was stopped for a ship from Cyprus (Note to Helen: Not Cypress)...I ran out of the car and took these photos of the ship and the aerial bridge lifting up.

I also got a chance to carry little Beatrice in the baby backpack. Being 22 pounds, she weighed as much as some big textbooks...only ones that move a little and are warm!

The view from Engel Tower

There is a lady in a bikini on the left. The temp was about 65 degrees and a bit windy.

We walked across the lift bridge to shop in the Canal area.
I picked up a small cutting board made in Duluth!

Getting bridged in Duluth!
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Three States in One Day!

Day 1 and 2 in Duluth!

For all those naysayers who said, "Duluth...why?" Well, quite simply, Duluth Rocks! Duluth is the Berkeley/San Francisco of the Mid-West (well, with a lot less diversity). It has a large college population, smart people, totally smoke-free, way "hillier" than you would expect, next to Lake Superior, has a natural food store Co-Op, and is surrounded by beautiful woods, trees, and wildlife (I saw a deer and her two babies walking on the road!)

After I arrived Friday afternoon, Sunshine and Beatrice (just turned one years old and is soooo cute) took me to lunch at Sara's Table, a yummy restaurant and coffee place.

We went to the Aerial Lift Bridge and Lake Superior Marine Museum. Duluth is on Lake Superior and they have several ports to transport grain and iron ore pellets. This cool bridge lifts when a boat passes underneath. It connects Minnesota Point to the rest of Duluth...and if you get stuck when the bridge is lifted, you tell people you got "bridged." (Great excuse if you are late to work!)

Bridge that lifts when a big ship comes into port

Lighthouse at the end of the Lift Bridge channel

Lake Superior looks like a wolf! Duluth is near the nose.

It was a bit windy, wasn't it Beatrice?!

We picked up some "Chicago Mix" popcorn from a local stand -
it is a mix of butter, cheese and caramel popcorn.

We drove across the Blatnik Bridge to Superior, Wisconsin. Yes, I was in Los Angeles at midnight, arrived in Minnesota at 6 am and was in Wisconsin at 5 pm. Three states in one day!

After we drove around Duluth for a mini-tour, we joined two of Sunshine's colleagues for dinner at the Lake Avenue Cafe. It was yummy and fun!

On Saturday, Sunshine and Clay made some delicious pancakes - they can open their own B&B! Sunshine, Bea and I drove up the North Shore (of Lake Superior) to Gooseberry Falls State Park and the Split Rock Lighthouse. Both were beautiful. The leaves are changing and the river was full of water from the 4 day rainstorm that occurred just before I arrived.

Gooseberry Falls

Split Rock Lighthouse - they used to pull equipment up this hill!

Split Rock Lighthouse
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Senator Larry Craig's Wide Stance

Saturday, September 22, 2007

During my 5 hour layover in the Minneapolis-St.Paul airport on my way to Duluth, my gate changed three times (D6 to C7 to F11). This airport should be renamed the NWA airport as Northwest Airlines operates out of all 7 terminals. Sure, there are some token US Airways flights, but it is pretty much all Northwest. I do love their chairs in Gate D6 as they don't have the armrests and I was able to take a nice nap (before moving gates again).

Based on the numerous news reports, I knew that the (former) Senator Larry Craig bathroom was on the concourse near all the shops, next to the shoeshine shop, near the lottery store, and across from the DVD kiosk. And a large figurine of Snoopy would be out front. Within minutes getting off the plane at 6:00 am (4:00 am my time), I found it!

Not very exciting and certainly a very strange place to be in the mood for whatever Larry Craig was (allegedly) is in the middle of all the shops and THE busiest part of the airport. I did see another tourist taking a photo as well!
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The Eating Librarian

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Food Librarian here. I haven't been baking, but I've been eating!

This weekend, I went to Disneyland and rode the new Finding Nemo submarine ride. It was okay, and I feel they did the best job they could. Blogger now allows you to post videos so here's my first attempt.

But my favorite was the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride where you can both ride and shoot targets. I scored 88,900 points! (That makes me a Level 3 player!). Since all the kids are in school, the lines are really short. 10 minutes to Pirates, 20 minutes to Space Mountain... it was great.

We planned to have lunch at the Blue Bayou, but they had sprinkler-system problems so they gave us a 40% off coupon for the Wine Country Trattoria [Speech software wrote: track to read] at California Adventure. It was actually quite tasty and super cheap with the discount! Of course, that left money for my favorite corn dog on the planet. Normally, I would get the corn dog from the original red stand just right of Main Street in Disneyland, but I read on Chowhound that California Adventure also sells them. After "Soaring Over California" (I never get tired of that ride!), we headed to the Corn Dog Castle: Where Corn Dogs Rule. At this location, you can get a cheddar cheese corn dog and a hot links corn dog. I went for the original and Brian got the hot link. Both were excellent. It is covered in a thick batter of corn meal so it's almost like a hush puppy and a hot dog... all on a stick. I simply love food on a stick - kabobs, pineapple spears, frozen bananas, chicken sate...and I even love things on toothpicks! Brian is leaving for his new job up at Stanford (Good Luck Brian!) and I think a superb corn dog is an excellent good-bye from So Cal.

Yes, Corn Dogs DO rule at the Corn Dog Castle!

As I continue on my "no baking to rest my hands, but lots of eating" campaign, I went to Musha in Torrance. It's a Japanese fusion izakaya restaurant. My friend Gary and I had some delicious treats... the kabocha (Japanese pumpkin) dip, fried chicken with ponzu sauce, cheese risotto (served in a big block of cheese), and a lovely rib eye steak. Yum! [You really don't want to know what words my speech software tried to use for those Japanese words!]

Heading off to Duluth, MN tomorrow for fun south of the border (the northern border, of course!) I heard that the Larry Craig bathroom is now a tourist attraction! I'll check it out on my 5 hour layover!
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